Book review: Yucky yaks, bouncy bubbles and pungent ponies with Maverick

Enjoy the big picture this autumn with a hunky, funky selection of books from Maverick Arts Publishing.

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 31st October 2014, 9:00 am
Yucky yaks, bouncy bubbles and pungent ponies with Maverick
Yucky yaks, bouncy bubbles and pungent ponies with Maverick

This small publisher with outsize ideas has gained a well-earned reputation for producing children’s picture books with quirky and inventive themes.

Set up in 2008 by Steve and Karen Bicknell to market animal calendars, Maverick, based in Horsham, West Sussex, has found a new and imaginative line in its ever-expanding range of brilliant books.

As well as marketing a wide selection of greetings cards, children’s puzzles and educational and environmentally friendly toys, Maverick has a books list which goes from strength to strength with new titles produced every year.

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Yuck Said the Yak by Alex English and Emma Levey

Big is definitely beastly in a wonderfully wacky and imaginative debut book from up-and-coming author Alex English.

Little Alfie discovers that animals can be very picky eaters when an outsize yak turns up at his house on a bicycle. The yak has come for a short stay and helpful host Alfie cooks up some real treats for his hungry visitor. But eggs, peas, cheese, apples, strawberry jelly, chocolate ice cream and even a truly delicious cake only make the sulky yak say ‘Yuck!’ There’s only one way to deal with this rude yak… put him out to grass!

Talented illustrator Emma Levey dishes up a feast of outrageously large and expressive drawings to bring to life this simple but impressive story which takes a wry look at the world from two very different perspectives.

Read it aloud and share the fun…

(Maverick Arts Publishing, paperback, £6.99)

I Wish I’d Been Born a Unicorn by Rachel Lyon and Andrea Ringli

St Helens author and mum Rachel Lyon lives up to her nickname as ‘the Poetess’ in an enchanting picture book about a smelly horse who longs to make friends.

In the follow-up to her popular debut The Childe of Hale, Lyon gets into her rhyming stride again with this gorgeous little tale which puts love, respect and the real meaning of friendship in the spotlight.

Mucky is a very smelly but very playful horse who doesn’t bathe or brush his teeth and never combs his mane. The only problem is that no one wants to share his field or play with him. Mucky decides it would be much, much better if he was a unicorn so a clever little owl tries to help. But when the owl’s scheme goes awry, Mucky discovers that his true friends like him just the way he is.

Andrea Ringli provides the colourful, characterful illustrations for a story that resonates with warmth, wisdom and camaraderie.

With its addictive rhymes and appealing animal star, this book is set to gallop into the hearts of children everywhere…

(Maverick Arts Publishing, paperback, £6.99)

Bibble and the Bubbles by Alice Hemming and Sara Sanchez

Let your little one’s imaginations take flight with a warm, wistful tale about the magic of bubbles.

There’s nothing Bobby likes better than blowing bubbles but where do they go when they float up into the sky? Meanwhile, 667 million miles away, Bibble loves catching bubbles but would love to know where they come from. So Bibble heads down to Earth in search of the bubbles and finds himself a new friend in Bobby. The two don’t speak the same language but discover that actions sometimes speak louder than words.

Illustrator Sara Sanchez’s piquant pictures add life, vigour and a rainbow of brilliant colours to Alice Hemming’s inventive and ultimately invigorating story which demonstrates the power of the imagination and the pleasures of friendship and sharing.

Real life issues in a bright and bubbly picture book…

(Maverick Arts Publishing, paperback, £6.99)

A Scarf and a Half by Amanda Brandon and Catalina Echeverri

Sometimes a story is as long as it is short…

Take this funny, playful tale about an overly long scarf which gets short shrift from its young owner.

Granny Mutton loves to knit but her grandson Little Lionel is not impressed with the birthday scarf for him that she couldn’t stop knitting. He reckons you can’t have a laugh with a scarf that is so long you can’t skip with it and it makes you trip over. Luckily Lionel’s friends have other ideas and find lots of fun things to do with it like swinging from a tree branch and playing tug-of-war. It’s amazing just what you CAN do with a scarf and a half!

There are plenty of laughs here for youngsters who love the anarchy of madcap antics and all-action escapades, but there is also plenty of food for thought in learning that it pays to be inventive, and that gifts should be appreciated and family members loved.

Catalina Echeverri’s bold, busy and fabulously multi-coloured array of illustrations ensure that this cuddly, cosy scarf tale is perfectly wrapped.

(Maverick Arts Publishing, paperback, £6.99)