CKG review: A First Book of Animals – illustrated by Petr Horacek

Not one, not two, but three reviews in one day! We’re so close to he CKG winners announcement now – and so close to getting all our reviews of the shortlisted titles posted! Here are Lizzie’s thoughts on A First Book of Animals from the Greenaway list, which sees Petr Horacek shortlisted for his stunning illustrations.

What the publisher says…

Nicola Davies, the award-winning author of A First Book of Nature, presents a spellbinding treasury of poems about the animal world, illustrated in breathtaking detail by Petr Horacek. … From blue whales to bumblebee bats and everything in between, A First Book of Animals takes you all over the planet to visit all kinds of different creatures.


What we say…

It’s impossible to tell which came first here – the text or the illustrations – as both work so perfectly together to create an outstanding work of vivacity and exuberance. Nature bursts from the page in abundance. Petr Horacek’s double page spreads allow Nicola Davies’ poetic text to dance across the page whilst his jewel-like colours and textured collages express the remarkable diversity of the natural world on a grand scale. Clever layout and design, with the occasional nod to works of natural history from yesteryear, make this a book which works on several levels with appeal across a wide age and ability range, A true treasury!” 


See Petr Horacek talk about A First Book of Animals here:

View the full CKG 2018 shortlists here:



CKG Review – What you need to know about the Greenaway Shortlist (Part I)

Just in time for today’s medal ceremony – brush up with our handy visual guides to the eight outstanding titles nominated for this year’s Greenaway Medal. Can you decide who’s going to win the coveted prize?

Harry Potter - Greenaway 17A Great Big Cuddle - Greenaway 17Tidy - Greenaway 17Wild Animals Of The North - Greenaway 17

What We’re Reading Wednesday – Greenaway shortlist – There’s a Bear on My Chair

There’s a Bear on my Chair by Ross Collins is a delightful tale of a disgruntled mouse and a rather uncooperative bear, who has made himself comfortable on mouse’s favourite chair.

The front cover sets the tone of the story perfectly with the bear waving casually and looking relaxed and comfortable – if a little large for the chair he’s happily perching on – and the cross-looking mouse scowling whilst pointing at his nemesis (although the mouse’s rather fetching patterned jumper means there’s a limit to how seriously even the smallest child could take him. Definitely cute-angry rather than scary).  


The text is in rhyme, with all the rhyming words ending in the ‘air’ sound and, as the story goes along and the mouse gets crosser and crosser, more of the words are highlighted  in red. Indeed when the mouse reaches breaking point, the whole background is red and the text more than doubles in size with exclamation marks galore.


The illustrations in this book perfectly complement the text and the fact that each spread has a simple block colour background means that the main focus is always on the expressions and interplay of the characters. And these are very expressive characters – you can feel the mouse getting ever-angrier as everything he does fails to get the attention of the bear.

Some of the most striking pages are those on which there are no words at all. I particularly love the ‘stand-off’ page where mouse and bear are back-to-back, in opposite corners, and you wonder how the situation will ever be resolved. I found myself feeling totally sympathetic towards the mouse whilst also secretly admiring bear’s gumption.

As with all good stories there is a twist in this tale, when bear nonchalantly climbs down from the chair and swaggers home, only to find he has an unexpected visitor of his own. Perhaps he’ll find himself wishing he had been kinder to mouse after all…


Invitation to vote for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal regional nominations from YLGNW

The Kate Greenaway and Carnegie Medals are amongst the most prestigious awards in children’s literature. The Carnegie Medal was first given in 1936 and is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children.  The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children or young people.  Past Greenaway  winners include Charles Keeping for The Highway Man and Shirley Hughes for Ella’s Big Chance.  C S Lewis for The Last Battle and Penelope Lively with The Ghost of Thomas Kempe are amongst the eminent Carnegie winners.

YLG NW Shortlist of Nominations For Kate Greenaway Medal 2015

YLG NW Shortlist of Nominations For Kate Greenaway Medal 2015

One of the things that distinguishes these prizes from others is that all nominations are made by, and all judging is carried out by members of The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), prominent in this process are members of CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group (YLG).  As well as individual members nominating books YLG’s regional branches can nominate two books for each of the awards.

The North West branch of YLG would like to invite CILIP members attending our Unconference on Saturday 11th October at Liverpool Central Library to take part in this process.  Below is the list of books we will be considering on the day.  It would be great if you could have a read of some before then.  If you can’t, don’t panic.  Members of the branch committee will be championing each book, helping you decide which book to vote for.  Copies of the books will also be available on the day, so you can get a feel of them.


Oi Frog – Jim Field

Captain Cat – Inga Moore

Fortunately the Milk – Chris Riddel

Tinder – David Roberts

Nuts in Space – Elys Dolan

The Stone Lion – Ritva Voutila

 Carnegie Nominations 2014


Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan

Picture Me Gone – Meg Rossoff

Apple and Rain – Sarah Crossan

Scarlet Ibis – Gill Lewis

The Middle of Nowhere – Geraldine McCaughrean

Echo Boy – Matt Haig

I look forward to seeing you at the Unconference. Happy reading.

Kathryn Flagner

North West YLG’s Carnegie/Kate Greenaway judge