Mayday Mouse by Seb Braun, published by Child's Play
This is a tale of brave Captain Mouse who sets off across the sea determined to get a birthday gift to her brother on the other side. Her journey begins on a lovely day, perfect for a cruise in her walnut shell boat with its toothpick mast. As she departs, two of her friends, a frog and dragonfly, remind her that if she needs help they'll be there for her.
Dark clouds descend and the sea becomes choppy, and before long great 'watery perils' appear, depicted with extraordinary movement and colour by Sebastian Braun's wonderful illustrations.
Crashing waves hurl her and her small craft towards a narrow miss with rocks and a dark cave, before she lands, stranded, on a small island. With the water closing in she calls upon her friends for aid with a cry of "Mayday!" They arrive just in time, bringing her materials for a new cork boat, which sees her on her way. Finally she reaches the shore and embraces her brother on the other side with a sigh of relief.
For the final spread we zoom out from her level to a bird's eye view, and a surprising reveal, which always causes our three year old to laugh out loud in delight, showing us her world in a very different way. A lovely bonus is a final scene on the inside cover where we see the mice siblings sharing the gift that Captain mouse so determinedly clung to during her various ordeals.
This is terrific tale of determination, overcoming adversity, friendship and the importance of perspective.
Claude All at Sea by Alex T Smith, published by Hodder Children's Books
This is Claude's first adventure in picture book format and it certainly lives up to the reputation of the popular Claude series for young readers.
It's a fun-filled frolic of a read following Claude on a bath-time expedition on the high seas where he encounters all kinds of characters from Captain Poopdeck, Cindy Seaweed, Nigel the not-so terrifying sea monster and of course, Claude's faithful sidekick, Sir Bobblysock.
Alex T Smith's witty prose combines brilliantly with distinctive, predominantly red and white illustrations. The illustrations themselves are full of life and movement - two particularly memorable double page spreads being the moment when the bath tub escapes along the street with a "whoosh" and lands in the ocean with a "splash".
This is a great introduction for a younger audience to the Claude series and will have little ones laughing out loud.
This pair of picturebook adventures on the high seas would form a lovely trio alongside Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek, reviewed previously and in full here.
Petr Horacek's distinctive, colourful and full of life animals and birds are vivid wonders to behold. Here, his illustration is combined with a charming story of Peter, a small puffin, separated by a storm from his best friend. After the storm passes, Peter sets out to look for Paul with the help of a kind whale. This is a sweeping and satisfying adventure, filled with vistas of bold colours, and a sweet, happy ending. It's a perfect depiction of the value of friendship and persistence and a great book to introduce young children to useful adjectives through scenes from nature.