Book review: Tall stories, cute creatures and a sheepish sheep with Maverick

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A kind-hearted giraffe steals the show as innovative independent publisher Maverick rolls out a sunshine collection of enchanting picture books.

Maverick prides itself on championing new talent amongst authors and illustrators, and there is something for every pre-school taste in its ever-growing range of high-quality books.

Meet George, the zoo’s gentlest giraffe, two hedgehogs on a mystifying mission, a speedy lamb who is wrong-footed, and a boy who just doesn’t dig being a pirate.

A Gold Star for George Written by Alice Hemming and illustrated by Kimberley Scott

George the Giraffe might not be an official wildlife winner… but when it comes to friendship, he triumphs by a neck!

George the gorgeous giraffe makes a welcome return in the second book of Alice Hemming and Kimberley Scott’s much-loved George the Giraffe & Friends series, and this time the gangly giant proves that helping others brings the greatest reward.

The Heavenly Hippos Wildlife Park is awarding gold stars to the animals and George has the perfect spot on his fence for one. He is delighted when the penguins win the ‘Most Popular Animal’ star and more than happy to see the lemurs win (with a little help from George) the ‘Tidiest Animal’ star. But at the end of the day, his fence is still bare… until dawn brings a sparkling surprise!

Alice Hemming, who is passionate about picture books, provides the ‘aah’ factor in this appealing and heart-warming story while illustrator Kimberley Scott turns the menagerie of animals into quirky, lovable little characters.

There is plenty for youngsters to talk about and share in a super picture story brimming with warmth, wit and wisdom.

Perfect as a wind-down bedtime book…

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)

Hedgehugs: Horace and Hattiepillar Written by Steve Wilson and illustrated by Lucy Tapper

There is nothing prickly about the two charismatic hedgehog stars of a husband and wife team’s picture book series.

In fact, Horace and Hattie are the cuddliest creatures you could hope to find in your garden, and they have a new adventure to delight their young readers.

Horace and Hattiepillar is the much-anticipated sequel to Hedgehugs and features a simple but revealing story by television presenter and author Steve Wilson and beautiful artwork by his wife Lucy Tapper.

Horace and Hattie are the very best of friends who share the fun and discoveries of life. One day they find something small, shiny, smooth and interesting under a leaf. Imagine their surprise when it turns into a wriggly, stripy thing and crawls out from under the leaf. And it just won’t stop eating until it goes to sleep in a soft, silky bed. Whatever will it turn into next?

Enjoy watching young imaginations take flight as a butterfly emerges and the hedgehogs try to become beautiful, colourful and wonderful too!

Tapper’s beguiling, textured illustrations bring her husband’s adorable story to life, creating picture book magic for enquiring minds and inquisitive youngsters.

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)

A Box of Socks Written by Amanda Brandon and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri

Needles at the ready as Amanda Brandon’s gorgeous grandma unravels another super slapstick Granny Mutton Yarn!

Yes, Lionel the lamb and his nutty knitting gran have paired up again for the terrific tale of some maddeningly mismatched socks.

Granny Mutton loves to knit and so she has made a whole box of socks for Little Lionel’s friends. But Little Lionel gets all the socks muddled and now has the seemingly impossible task of finding out which pairs belong to which animals. He’s going to need a few helping paws!

There are some hilarious lines in this marvellously madcap story which pays subtle homage to the loving relationship between children and their grandparents. Amanda Brandon provides the wise words and comedy, and illustrator Catalina Echeverri brings the characters and the fun to visual life.

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)

Pirates Don’t Drive Diggers Written by Alex English and illustrated by Duncan Beedie

Ahoy there! Alex English is on top form in this rip-roaring, rhyming pirate tale which pitches a digger-mad boy against a band of ruthless pirates.

It doesn’t matter what his dad says, Brad knows he is not cut out for a pirate’s life. While his dad wants him to shout, fight and yell yo ho ho, Brad dreams of life on a building site. So when he sets sail with the pirates on Salty Dog, can Brad prove to Captain Blood that pirates do drive diggers after all?

Alex English serves up a real treasure trove of treats in this fun-packed story which follows Brad on his voyage of discovery through the high seas, and Duncan Beedie’s lively, detailed illustrations, including the motley crew of dastardly pirates, are a delight.

Ideal for all adventure-loving kids!

(Maverick, paperback, £6.99)