Page 45 Graphic Novel And Picture Book Reviews Early May 2020

Featuring Sarah McIntyre, Brigita Orel & Jennie Poh…

Don’t Call Me Grumpycorn Page 45 Signed Bookplate Edition (£6-99 s/c, Scholastic UK) by Sarah McIntryre.

First 100 copies come with a FREE, EXCLUSIVE PAGE 45 BOOKPLATE SIGNED AND DESIGNED by Sarah McIntyre!

Welcome back, my lovelies, for a brand-new all-ages adventure by our biggest-selling picture book creator, Sarah McIntyre! Please pop ‘Sarah McIntyre’ into our search engine or visit our dedicated Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre webpage here for all her other books and our reviews.

FABULOUS! It’s all going to be FABULOUS!

And discovery is everything, especially when it comes to friendship.



Dawn beckons you into a brand-new day of fresh air, enormous potential and limitless possibilities. And oh, but the patterns of colour!

The northern sun radiates dazzling displays of prismatic gold, and then streams across a quite chilly sea, rippling its liquid light over cool blue and purples.

Out on a wooden jetty, Unicorn has evidently been fashioning something very big and very exciting and very, very mysterious – and he has done so with a DIY diligence that puts me to shame.



It is a rocket!

“I’m going to discover the most FABULOUS planet in the universe,” he said.

Do you believe him? I do!

“This made him feel very pleased with himself. He already liked being an astronaut.”

He‘s certainly put a lot of work in; and a great deal of thought too. For as well as the buttons and switches and levers, as well as the gizmos and views screens and astronomical charts, Unicorn has decked out his new cockpit domain with hand-drawn portraits of his favourite friends (all his friends were his favourites, but too many more pictures and there’d be no room for doughnuts) and all the other essentials for intergalactic travel.

His tea and coffee making facilities won’t let him down!

There are biscuit dispensers and foil-wrapped boiled sweets in case his tummy rumbles or his mouth runs dry… I spy a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste too! Very wise! There’s a bell jar with a miniature fruiting orange tree inside. Underneath I spy a sleeping bag complete with cuddly Teddycorn! What else can you and your young ones spot? Sarah always packs her pages with so many fun things for bright eyes to discover and relish! Those ‘accelerate’ and ‘brake’ hoof pedals made me howl!!!

And that is a disco ball, yes!

There should always be disco! He might want to dance!



Unicorn might also want to get his ego back under control again too. Do you remember where he went wrong in GRUMPYCORN? I do!

For when Mermaid and Narwhal and Jellyfish are keen as can be to accompany him on His Expedition (for which he is secretly grateful – most of the best experiences are shared experiences and nobody wants to be left all alone), he doesn’t half make himself the centre of attention and demand that he must do everything FIRST and LOUDEST like…




Or whatever he booms: whatever he booms is bound to be FABULOUS!



Best beloveds, we have barely begun, but I’m going to leave you there to discover for yourselves what happens next.

Clue: they do discover a planet, and it is FABULOUS!

Another clue: Unicorn needs to get one – a clue. A clue as to what are really the most important things in life.

Final clue: the answers are true friends and friendship.

Mermaid and Narwhal and Jellyfish are thrilled with their voyage, as loyal as ever and so very patient with Unicorn’s self-centred commands, but he really does need to rein himself in!



Far from saccharine, like THE NEW NEIGHBOURS, this is another exuberant belter from Sarah McIntyre about getting your priorities right early in life and so setting yourself firmly on course for maximum fun and frolics.

Did I mention the details? There are no spoilers here, but you’re in for a riot of running jokes that grow cumulatively funnier, and a planetary sphere which could only be called Disco!


Buy Don’t Call Me Grumpycorn Exclusive Page 45 Signed Bookplate Edition s/c and read the Page 45 review here

The Pirate Tree h/c (£11-99, Lantana Publishing) by Brigita Orel & Jennie Poh.

“The breeze is generous and the ocean is wide before them.”

Look at the language there; it’s all so very positive!

The breeze is “generous” and the ocean is “wide”, plus it’s now a new shared experience: “them”.

This is such a thoughtful, poignant and positive book which, like Sarah McIntyre’s THE NEW NEIGHBOURS, has at its heart the warm welcoming of strangers.

But first, there are obstacles to overcome. Reservations, shall we call them.

‘The gnarled tree on the hill sometimes turns into a pirate ship. A rope serves as an anchor, a sheet as a sail, and Sam is its fearless captain.
‘Today, the tree watches as another sailor approaches.’



I love the warm antler-grey of the venerable tree and its long, feathery, willow-like leaves; the cool blue above them and the exotic orange blossom which is reflected, a little paler, in the stripes of Sam’s t-shirt. Then there’s the strong red of young Agu’s long-sleeved shirt, picked out in the parrot which later wears a pirate hat.

(Yes, yes, it’s a Macaw! A Macaw is a parrot. I was making maximum use of my ‘p’s!)

I also adore all the clean white space, so that those colours stand out and breathe.

‘“Can I play?” Agu asks, standing on the ship’s leeward side.
‘Sam hoists the sheet up over a branch and glares.
‘“I don’t know you. You’re not from my street.””

Ah yes, the reservations…



‘Agu’s face falls. He watches her struggle with a thick rope.
‘No one wants to play with him because he’s a newcomer.’

However, Sam hasn’t rejected him; she’s just so immediately swept up again in her imaginary game that she’s forgotten him. Nevertheless, the effect on Agu is profound, and Jennie Poh nails the boy’s body language, his arms drooping heavily to his sides in contrast to Sam’s wild gesticulation, his head bowed in introspection.



‘When Sam doesn’t as much as look his way, Agu’s shoulders slump. Auntie told him to be patient, but he’s been patient for days.’

Oh, the poor love! There’s no self-pity, merely dignity and disappointment. Unlike the pirate tree, he’s had the wind knocked out of his sails, once more.

But what makes all the difference in the world on the very next page is… well, Agu’s difference!  It’s his specialist knowledge that there are no diamonds in Nigeria. He tells Sam that he used to live in Nigeria, and he has sailed on a ship! His voice rising, Agu offers to tell her all about it, and that has Sam most intrigued!



“They set sail again.”

Hooray! Which is where we came in, but where will their shared imaginations take them?!

My heart soared while reading this book, and so will those of families so keen for their young ones to make new, exciting friends. I adore all of mine for their individuality and all the knowledge and mad skills that they possess which are way out of my current capabilities. I do love to learn, though!



Indeed, I’ve loved all the books I’ve seen published by Lantana like Chitra Soundar & Poonam Mistry’s YOU’RE SAFE WITH ME and YOU’RE SNUG WITH ME and YOU’RE STRONG WITH ME which are full of warmth, reassurance and maternal wisdom and the most meticulously composed, radiant illustrations.

You can see those on the bottom rung of our central Young Readers section here:



I also have enormous respect for Lantana’s committed, progressive policies, addressing the very real imbalance which persists in Young Readers Picture Books and comics alike:

‘In the United Kingdom, almost a third of school children identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) yet fewer than 5% of children’s books feature BAME characters and fewer than 2% of children’s book creators are British authors of colour. And the picture is even more bleak for those who identify as working class, LGBTQ+ or disabled.’

That’s truly shameful, isn’t it?

‘At Lantana, we’re changing the game and publishing inclusive books that celebrate our differences – whatever they may be. And because we all live on one extraordinary planet, we print our books with non-petroleum-based inks on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper to minimise our carbon footprint.”

They’ve won so many rewards. Please visit their website!


Buy The Pirate Tree h/c and read the Page 45 review here




Also Arrived Online & Ready To Buy!

New releases arriving imminently!

After two months delay due to all our suppliers’ warehouses being understandably closed, distribution looks set to begin again in a week or so.

We’ll keep you updated, but for the current situation about purchasing what we have in stock now, please read my recent blog…

Page 45 Temporarily Switches To Mail Order Only. We Ship Worldwide!




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