Thursday 20 January 2022

A Mechanic, A Snail, A Bluebell and Ants... Self-published picture books for younger children (sent for review)

I don't get as much time as I'd like to review children's books nowadays, but today I am very happy to bring you 4 self-published illustrated story books for younger children. Full of pictures and ideal to read together, or for beginner readers to practise reading alone...

4 Children's Picture Books laid out in a square on the table

Harry In A Hurry is written by Gary Mitchell and illustrated by Jerry T Jones. It is written in rhyming couplets and suitable for children from age 2-3 or over.  

Harry In A Hurry Childrens Picture Book cover

Harry is a snail who dreams of excitement. He is jealous of his friends and how fast they can travel, so they try to help him launch himself at speed. It goes slightly wrong each time, and at the end of the story Harry realises maybe he just isn't meant to be fast - he's designed to be different. 

Harry in a hurry childrens picture book inside cover

And then it rains, and his friends all have to run home, but he just settles comfortably into his shell.

The illustrations are really very beautiful. Modern pencil coloured snapshots of life as a snail, watching the world seem to whip past you. The characters are great, and there are touches of humour throughout, and plenty to spot.
I really like this book, it's great to look at, fun to read, and has an excellent message (although maybe it needs stressing that Harry isn't 'giving in' as much as realising his own value).  

Harry In A hurry illustration of Harry snail and a speedy rat with a tracksuit and trainers

Harry In A Hurry is written by Gary Mitchell, illustrated by Jerry T Jones and published by Matador. Available to buy now, 32 pages, priced £10.50rrp.

Mechaniggle amazing iggles childrens picture book cover showing illustrated mechanic smiling

Mechan-iggle is written and illustrated by John Benneyworth. This is a fully illustrated glossy paperback suitable for reading together with children aged 3 or over.

One of the 10 book Amazing Iggles series, readers are invited into a world of friendly helpful characters, and in this volume Mechan-iggle finds out just how brilliant it can be to be part of a team. 

Mechaniggle childrens book review inside page with illustration of mechanic smiling

The story tells us about Mechan-iggle's childhood, and how he gained a love for mechanics helping his Dad. As he gets older this translates into becoming part of a racing team. It's an inspirational tale for youngsters who enjoy playing with tools and getting their hands dirty.

The illustrations are big, bright and bold, with minimal detail, but still lots of familiar items. Mechan-iggle himself has a very expressive face, and a big smile - and reminds me very much of 1980's pop star George Michael. 

Mechan-iggle childrens story book illustration of young mechan-iggle with his Dad

An especially good book for pre-school children, although the repetitive language is also excellent for early readers to practise with.

Mechan-iggle is written and illustrated by John Benneyworth, and published by Troubador. Available to buy now, 40 pages, priced £7.90 rrp. 

Lady Bluebell and Her Magical Gardens book cover showing very busy drawing of lady in a garden

Lady Bluebell And Her Magical Garden is written and illustrated by Teresa Biddle. Best suited for reading together with young readers aged around 5 or over, this is a glossy paperback which whisks you away to the land of the fairies - literally. 

Lady Bluebell travels far from her roots, and the Fairy of Peace and the Pixie of Colour have secretly gone with her, hidden in her pocket. We are told they follow her everywhere, creating harmony and colour as they go. 

Lady Bluebell drawing - in very smart skirt suit and smiling in her garden

Lady Bluebell shares short stories about her Garden with the reader. They are snapshots explaining events, locations and characters, and including some general knowledge - how to make cupcakes, how to mix different paint colours, or create a bird-friendly garden. 

The illustrations are full colour and very sweet, with plenty to see on every page. I am am bit dubious about Lady Bluebell's choice of a 2 piece skirt suit to do gardening, and she is clearly heavily influenced by the 80's, but she does at least look smart, and very much a 'Lady'. 

inside page Lady Bluebell and her flower garden showing text and imagery of butterfly and smiling Lady

Lady Bluebell is a character that the author/illustrator created while living in America, far from her own roots in an English young people's care home. A portion of the profits are being donated to Barnardo's - a charity supporting young people raised in care. 

Lady Bluebell And Her Magical Garden is written and illustrated by Teresa Biddle, and published by Austin Macauley. Available to buy now, 40 pages, priced £7.90rrp.

Strange antics picture book cover with image of illustrated ants forming the word ants in the mud

Strange Antics is written by Chris Blackmore and illustrated by Todd Moxey. It is suitable for reading together or for readers aged 5-11+, and is a book which mixes information and story - so you learn while you listen or read. 

The ants in the colony all have 'ant' names - Adamant, Attendant, Repugnant, Tyrant etc, so this is a great book for expanding vocabulary (although we have odd one out Speedy Edie?). At the beginning of the book are some ant facts, before we meet Margot, a young girl who catches sight of the ants racing around and develops an entire story around them... 

Strange Antics childrens book review inside page ant information

The story is of a planned mutiny and an attempt to kidnap the pregnant Queen Ant. The mutineers want to leave with her, but are very concerned for her well-being and keeping her safe. At first I assumed this was a fictionalised story version of genuine ant behaviour, but as I read on, it did become apparent it was much more standard fiction. It is a good story though - it would make a very good animated short. 

The illustrations are excellent. Very clear, very modern, great expression and tons going on! It's easy to tell all of the different ants, even though there are many. There are also a ladybird and woodlouse to find on every page, which is always popular and pulls in younger children's interest. 

Strange antics children's ant story book inside page showing story characters

Strange Antics is written by Chris Blackmore, illustrated by Todd Moxey. and published by Matador. Available to buy now, 64 pages, priced £8.99rrp.

All of the books shown above are available to buy on Amazon from Matador Books (affiliate link). 

We were sent our books for review, but I was not paid. *Amazon links are affiliate, which means if you order through my links I earn a few pence, as a thank you for adding them, but you don't ever pay a penny extra.

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