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The Monster Café by Sean Leahy and Mihaly Orodan

2019, pre-school, ages 0-4,  

This delightful picture book is published by innovative publisher Unbound. This works a little like crowd-funding.  Would-be readers pledge a certain amount and receive an appropriate award. More often than not this is a special edition of the book. Obviously friends and family may vote with their cash, hopefully so will fans and followers. There could be some dangers there. Thankfully most books make it to funding because they have merit.    
Indeed, this has many of the usual characteristics of a picture book that a young child who has not yet learned to read would share with a caring adult: it has quirky, stylized pictures that tell more of the story, a limited amount of text, a sophisticated font and reasonably complex language.
The story might be scary – is the café cooking people? Indeed, the final dish to arrive is “Baby food”. “Oh,” thinks our protagonist. We pause for a moment. That might just be food for the baby or it might be food made from the baby. We just need to reflect a little. We’ve seen “Mummygatwany soup”  “father beans” and “nana split” and Mum, Dad and Nana are alive and well.         
This is a very attractive book with great attention to detail; even the end papers are amusing.    


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Hilary McKay’s Fairy Tales

2017, fluent reader, Key Stage 2, ages 9-11, upper primary
Here are some familiar fairy stories though the titles may fool you: Rapunzel becomes The Tower and the Bird, Rumpelstiltskin becomesStraw into Gold, and Cinderella is Roses Around the Palace. We are also offered some rather interesting details about some well-known stories. The mayor of the town with the rats tells us how the children who replaced the lost ones were much more amenable than the ones who were piped away. A young girl has a sliver of the looking-glass that once belonged to a wicked queen.Whilst the girl has chickenpox her grandmother tells her Snow White’s story. It is true she assures her granddaughter. How does she know? Because she is Snow White. Hansel and Gretel tell the story of what they did in their holidays.
There is perhaps an assumption that the reader will be familiar with the original stories. Certainly they are amusing and not just for the young reader.Adults can enjoy them too. 
This is quite a …