Mood swings and piggy heartstrings

23rd March 2001 at 00:00
Shirley Hughes' Alfie will soon turn 20, but in the books he is still a curious and loving little boy, with his troublesome but loveable sister, Annie Rose, forever chasing his heels. Alfie Weather (Bodley Head pound;10.99) is a new collection of stories and poems about this country's favourite topic of conversation: a celebration of days spent jumping in puddles, squelching through mud, dreaming in the summer sun, gazing into the starlit night.

This book shows Hughes at her most assured. Alfie is expressively drawn against an impressionistic landscape that shimmers with pure colour. A gift for a new generation of emerging readers to treasure, with plenty of themes to explore with both teachers and parents.

Today I Feel Silly and Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell (Collins Children's Books pound;9.99) is an inspired picture book that takes a full-frontal look at the highs and lows of young readers' mood swings. Cornell's invetive pictures, full of light and colour, follow the trials and tribulations, joys and jubilation of a little girl with a penchant for her mum's green high-heeled sandals and a tendency towards big emotions. Full of wit and insight, this is a book that gives comfort and pleasure.

It was bound to happen. Preston Pig is in "lurve" - and it's reciprocated. Mr Wolf doesn't get a look in. Oomph! (Andersen Press pound;9.99), Colin McNaughton's latest Preston picture book, follows his unlikely hero to the seaside, where he is wooed ardently on the beach by a very pink piggess in a very green and yellow costume. Mr Wolf, who strapped himself to the roof rack for the trip, is lurking ravenously as always. This pantomime of a wolf persistently thwarted and a pig persistently and blissfully unaware of present danger, never ceases to delight.

McNaughton's mischievous ironic humour and his consummate skill as a draughtsman ensure this series continues to be a winner.

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