Picture Book Nook: I Love Lemonade by Mark and Rowan Sommerset

Most Kiwi kids will be familiar with Little Baa Baa and Quirky Turkey, the characters in Mark and Rowan Sommerset’s award-winning picture book Baa Baa Smart Sheep.  I had no idea they were planning a sequel, but when I saw I Love Lemonade in a bookshop last week I had to read it.  When you end up getting dirty looks from other customers because you’re laughing out loud in the middle of the store, you know it’s a great book.

I Love Lemonade features the same characters as Baa Baa Smart Sheep, Little Baa Baa and Quirky Turkey.  After being tricked into eating Little Baa Baa’s ‘smarty tablets,’ Quirky Turkey decides it’s payback time.  But has Quirky got what it takes to pull the wool over Baa Baa’s eyes?

I Love Lemonade is absolutely hilarious and is, I think, even better than Baa Baa Smart Sheep.  It’s told in the same way as the first book, with Baa Baa and Quirky having a conversation with each other, using the back and forth speech bubbles.  At first I thought it was just going to be a role reversal of the original story, but it is far better (and funnier) than that.  Eating ‘smarty tablets’ definitely hasn’t made Quirky any smarter, but he’s out for revenge.

I love a story with some good toilet humour and Mark and Rowan write these stories so well.  I certainly don’t think I’ll look at lemonade the same way again (especially when it’s freshly squeezed!).  If you’re cracking up laughing while you’re reading it (like I was) you know that kids are going to love it.

Mark and Rowan are the perfect team and it’s the combination of their text and illustrations that make the book so funny.  You could act out the story, just using Mark’s text and kids would be rolling around on the floor, but Rowan’s illustrations give the characters their personality.  Their facial expressions tell you so much, especially Quirky Turkey’s expressions.  At the beginning, you can tell by the look in his eyes that he thinks he has tricked Baa Baa, and you can see him getting more and more excited as the story progresses.

If you want a picture book that will have you and your kids in stitches grab a copy of I Love Lemonade from your bookshop or library now.


Picture Book Nook: Two Little Bugs by Mark and Rowan Sommerset

Last year Mark and Rowan Sommerset brought us the hilarious Baa Baa Smart Sheep, which went on to win the Children’s Choice Award at the 2011 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  Their latest creation, Two Little Bugs, is sure to be another hit with children.

As the title suggests, the story is about two little bugs, Little Bug Red who lives underneath the leaf and Little Bug Blue who lives on top of the leaf.  They try to convince each other that life is better on their side of the leaf, but neither is willing to try something different.  Little Bug Red decides to start eating the leaf bit by bit, and so each page gets smaller and smaller, until there is no leaf left, just a stalk.  They discover that the end of their leafy home is just the beginning of a new adventure.

While Two Little Bugs doesn’t pack the same humorous punch as Baa Baa Smart Sheep, it’s a fun story with an interesting design that children will love.  I love the way that the pages mirror each other so that you can see both bugs in each double-page spread (the bugs can be seen poking through the holes in the leaves).  This design aspect will make it appealing to children, as they see the page (leaf) shrink every time they turn it.  The colour palette is simple (green and black of the leaf with the red and blue of the bugs) which draws your attention to the two bugs.  Mark and Rowan publish their books through their own independent publishing company, Dreamboat Books, and other self-publishers could learn alot from the quality of their beautiful picture books.

You can learn more about Mark and Rowan Sommerset and buy their books from their Dreamboat Books website.