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Book reviews: The power of the imagination comes alive with Gecko Press

Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldnt work by Malgorzata Mycielska and Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski
Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldnt work by Malgorzata Mycielska and Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski

There is a distinctly international flavour to a colourful selection of new books this Christmas from the rather aptly named Gecko Press.

Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Gecko Press is an independent publisher of ‘curiously good’ children’s books and is on a mission to translate works by some of the world’s best writers and illustrators. By championing eclectic stories, rich in language and illustration and with a strong ‘heart factor,’ it aims to encourage children to love to read.

Age 5 plus:

Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn’t work by Malgorzata Mycielska and Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski

Let your children revel in the power of the imagination with some amazing and oddball inventions that many of us have never even heard of!

Polish author and illustration team, Malgorzata Mycielska and Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski, have put together this entertaining and creative fully illustrated book which uncovers 28 extraordinary patented inventions that never saw the light of day.

Some are revolutionary, some are extraordinary and some are downright oddball and comical but each one testifies to the remarkable imagination of their inventor.

Marvel at Leonardo da Vinci, the 15th century artist who invented an elevator, a tank, a helicopter, a pair of shoes for walking on water but was considered to be just a dreamer, yet today is recognised as a genius way ahead of his time.

And have fun discovering other inventions like a flying bicycle, a bubble messenger, passenger clouds and passenger birds, a robotic chess master, a concentration helmet and many more astonishing – and almost impossible – ideas.

This brilliant book, which includes ideas ancient and modern, revolutionary and comical, is simply brimming with witty, richly coloured illustrations and concise, fully accessible descriptions and will hopefully inspire a new generation of youngsters to get inventing themselves!

(Gecko Press, hardback, £14.99)

Age 5 plus:

Wolfy by Grégoire Solotareff

With over a million copies sold in its original French edition, Wolfy is an enduring and endearing story about a rabbit and a wolf who want to be best friends.

Wolfy is a beautiful story about the youthful innocence of friendship, full of fun and humour and featuring prolific author and illustrator Grégoire Solotareff’s world class artwork with dramatic perspectives and warm characters.

Once upon a time there was a rabbit who had never seen a wolf, and a young wolf who had never seen a rabbit. The pair meet and become good friends. Tom the rabbit teaches the wolf to play marbles, read, count and fish. Wolfy teaches Tom to run very, very fast. But eventually their friendship is tested by the classic game, Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Can the little rabbit and the young wolf remain the best of friends after playing such a scary game?

Beautifully offbeat, gorgeously illustrated and with an uplifting message about friendship, diversity, understanding and loyalty, this is a warm and wise book which will delight both youngsters and their parents.

(Gecko Press, hardback, £11.99)

Age 5 plus:

Follow Finn: A Search-and-Find Maze Book by Peter Goes

Everyone likes a challenge and children will be raring to go when they open the pages of this magnificent search-and-find book of mazes and puzzles from Peter Goes, Belgian illustrator and author of international bestseller Timeline.

Readers can follow adventurer Finn through the story while completing the super search-and-find mazes and exciting puzzles.

Finn wakes up with a start. Goblins are on the loose and the house is in uproar! When they flee, Finn’s dog Sep follows so Finn quickly gathers his clothes to join the chase… but can he find his way through this fabulous fantasy world?

Each spread in this exquisitely drawn book is packed with detail, and the text gives the reader tasks along with telling the story…help Finn gather his clothes, find a mouse, three bulls and five rabbits, work out the right keys for the right lock, and locate the beginning and end of each maze.

The busy, highly detailed, two-tone illustrations make the book a thrilling challenge for youngsters as they follow Finn on his magical, mystery-packed tour which is guaranteed to keep youngsters absorbed and entertained for hours.

(Gecko Press, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

Good Night Sleep Tight by Kristina Andres

Award-winning German artist Kristina Andres works her special magic in a beautiful read-aloud book featuring 11½ goodnight stories from friends fox and hare who help each other get to sleep… sometimes!

Full of heartwarming stories of friendship, fun and life in the country, this is a gorgeous hardback, gift book and the enchanting stories are destined to become a family favourite.

Fox and Rabbit live quite far away in a bright little house beyond the molehills. If they can’t sleep, they count the goodnights (335 in total) and when they wish each other a goodnight, the rustling pear tree, the raspberries and the stars join in. But sometimes when they can’t sleep, they do outrageous things like swing on the light shades, jump from the wardrobe on to the mattress and invent new words and ways of saying goodnight. But whichever way they get to sleep, they are always best friends.

The perfect wind-down book for reading at bedtime… it might even help to send little ones off to sleep!

(Gecko Press, hardback, £12.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Longest Breakfast by Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins

What is the best meal of the day? It has to be breakfast!

Young readers will be hungry to feast their eyes on this warm-hearted, fun-filled and riotous picture book romp about the best – and busiest –meal of the day from top New Zealand duo, poet Jenny Bornholdt and illustrator Sarah Wilkins.

The baby wants breakfast so kind-hearted Malcolm gets out of bed to get started. Then in comes Toby. And Una and Toto, then Alice… they are all hungry too. And then Conrad and his sister Ruby arrive from next door in search of breakfast. Malcolm is rushed off his feet now because everyone wants to eat something different. But who is taking notice of the baby?

The Longest Breakfast is a fun story full of recognisable scenes from family life and with an adorable baby at the centre. Every parent will relate to the kindly Malcolm as he tries to handle all the requests for food while children will love following the joke that is hidden in the illustrations.

And with a brilliant twist in the ending, this is a book that children will want to return to time and time again!

(Gecko Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age one plus:

Bim Bam Boom by Frédéric Stehr

Here’s a colourful and playful board book that will have your little music maestros dancing for joy!

Bim Bam Boom – the work of French illustrator Frédéric Stehr – captures the addictive delight of making music with anything to hand as well as celebrating the all-too-familiar cheekiness of a typical toddler.

A pot and two wooden spoons… bim, bam, a little owl is making music! Canary, sparrow, chick and raven join her to create sound and rhythm with a selection of pots and pans, two saucepan lids, a bowl and a ladle. Boom, boom. What ARE you all doing? asks Big Owl. It seems this kind of tin-pan music isn’t for everyone.

Full of quirky characters, energy and naughtiness, Bim Bam Boom is a symphony of fun and frolics, and little ones will love following the flock of noisy birds right up to the delightful twist in the tail!

(Gecko Press, board book, £7.99)