The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart & illustrated by Sydney Smith

By Maureen Tai, 18 February 2019

“So it goes. To each his own.” – from Pangur Bán by Anonymous.


A solitary white cat approaches a brick building. All is shrouded in darkness. But the cat knows its way, as it sure-footedly climbs through an open window, then gently pads along a corridor with vaulted ceilings. Soft moonlight illuminates the interior of the monastery. The columns are strong and solemn, the floors well-swept, the wooden barrels in neat rows. The animal makes its way purposefully to a closed door from under which leaks a golden light. A feline paw reaches into the room, and the door opens.



Continue reading

Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake

By Maureen Tai, 14 February 2019

“It all started when Mom said it was time for a bath.”

IMG_1843Some picture books are little doses of “pick-me-up,” enchantment and whimsy in less than 1000 words, skilfully packaged within 32 pages of illustrations.  Still Stuck is such a book.

An endearing, yet mildly infuriating little boy is commanded to the bath by his no-nonsense mother.  You can just tell she means business by the way she stands with arms akimbo, her clenched fists on her hips. Mom pulls her child’s t-shirt over his head, literally lifting the little boy off the ground. His short legs thrash furiously as she struggles to get the garment off.

Uh oh. He’s stuck. Continue reading

The Christmas Truce: The Place Where Peace Was Found by Hilary Robinson & Martin Impey

By Maureen Tai, 20 December 2018

“These are the bells that started to chime
When friends were made at Christmas time,
When enemy soldiers held out a hand,
A sign of peace in No Man’s Land,”

IMG_1039.jpegSome years ago, I chanced upon a Sainsbury’s TV advert that turned me into a blubbering mess (you can see it here once you’ve armed yourself with a box of tissues). It told the almost unbelievable true story story of the Christmas Truce of 1914, when soldiers on either side of an unoccupied piece of land lay down their arms on Christmas Eve. Continue reading

A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker

By Maureen Tai, 19 December 2018

IMG_7542How does the loss of a beloved family pet tie in with the story of a cosmic rock that has been in existence since the world began?  You will have to savour Aaron Becker’s stunning wordless picture book, A Stone for Sascha, to find out, and I promise, you will be all the richer for it. Continue reading

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

By Maureen Tai, 18 December 2018

“Unk gladdenboot!” “Iz unk gladdenboot!”

IMG_0783Du Iz Tak? is the story of a small community of insects, the changing seasons and the vagaries of life, all told in the little known language of Bug. It is utterly charming and such fun to read aloud that you will be conversant in Bug in no time at all – and the amazing thing is, you will half understand what you’re saying just from having read this picture book …
Continue reading

Home by Carson Ellis

By Maureen Tai, 16 December 2018

“Home is a house in the country.”

img_0781.jpegThe word “home” means the same thing for everyone – a place where one lives, more or less permanently – but how it looks is different for different people. Through her detailed, imaginative and beautiful watercolour pictures, Carson Ellis offers a visual exploration of the myriad homes that exist in the world (and beyond) whilst playfully inviting the reader to think about the inhabitants, who they are and how they might live. Continue reading

Coming Home by Greg Ruth

By Maureen Tai, 9 December 2018

“I missed you so much.”

IMG_0457With just 18 words and a restrained colour palette of burnt ochre, green and brown, this realistically illustrated picture book about an American solder’s homecoming packs a hefty emotional punch. Continue reading