Encouraging Exploration 1: Gregory Goose Adventures by Hilary Robinson, Illustrated by Mandy Stanley

Cover image by Mandy Stanley, published by Catch a Star
Cover image by Mandy Stanley, published by Catch a Sta

With so much evidence based research pointing to the positive benefits of reading on mental health, educational outcomes and development of empathy it is so important to encourage a love of books in children from a young age. These two latest titles in the Gregory Goose series are perfect for sharing with toddlers and pre-schoolers to help develop an intrinsic love of books. As with everything from Catch a Star/New Frontier Publishing they are made with the highest production values; printed on quality thick card, with eye-catching shiny highlights on the covers and made to a perfect size for a pre-schooler to hold comfortably.

I had the privilege to meet both the author Hilary Robinson and illustrator, Mandy Stanley earlier this year and I know how much effort they put into their collaboration to perfectly combine the simple rhyming text and pictures so that they perfectly complement each other. Hilary’s text is written with precise rhyme and rhythm and I love the way that she does not compromise on vocabulary so that children are introduced to words such as chalet, clinging and zooming. Mandy’s illustrations are full of colour and energy and feature the most sartorially elegant fowl in fiction! The end result are books which will give endless hours of pleasure to children and adult readers alike.

The pictures are full of detail, in stunningly vibrant colours blending simple shapes with more detailed artwork. For example in Gregory Goose is on the Loose Up the Mountain the pine trees are portrayed as both simple green triangles and also as beautifully detailed branches of pine needles and pine cones. Triangles are in evidence throughout this book, as flags on the ski slopes, the rooftops of chalets and of course Gregory’s beak. This gives opportunities for discussing shape and number as well as the huge opportunities for chat about the action taking place on every page. In Gregory Goose is on the Loose At the Fair the pictures are full of circles: lights on the rides and attractions, round windows on the rocket ship ride, toffee apples and the Hoopla hoops. Finally, I should mention that these are “seek and find” books with the challenge to discover Gregory’s whereabouts on every page – there are hints in the text, but it is not always easy! With so much detail to observe, Gregory Goose certainly encourages children to concentrate on the page, thus building a stamina which will be required to develop reading skills.

If you are the parent, grandparent, Godparent or in any way related to pre-school children, do put these on your Christmas/birthday shopping list, you will be making a hugely positive contribution to the future of any child with whom you share these books.

For my reviews of other books in the Gregory Goose is on the Loose series, please click here.

I am grateful to New Frontier Publishing/Catch a Star for sending me copies of these titles in exchange for an honest review.

Fabulous First Books


I have recently been very grateful to receive a selection of fabulous first books published by Catch a Star, an imprint of New Frontier Publishing. All of the following books are printed on glossy, thick, quality card, making them sufficiently robust to share again and again with young children. They are 16.5cm squares, an excellent size for toddler hands to grip.

The Little White Fish series, written and illustrated by Guido van Genechten follows the adventures of a very cute little fish whilst introducing young children to colours, comparative language and prepositions, IMG_2783 2

The first book Little White Fish opens with our small marine hero crying because he has lost his mummy. On each subsequent page he meets an ocean creature which is named and described by colour; in a nice scientific touch they appear in the order of the colour spectrum, until at last he finds his rainbow-hued mummy. 


Little White Fish Has a Party presents comparative vocabulary (big/small, long/short, sad/happy etc) as we are introduced to all of the party guests.  Finally Little White Fish is So Happy introduces prepositions as the little fish bids his friends goodbye and describes where they are positioned. All three books share strikingly colour-block illustrations, with simple, clear outlines perfect for young children alongside simple, repetitive language. IMG_2784

The Can You Find? Series, illustrated by Nancy Bevington are a gorgeous introduction to animals and objects: At the Beach, In the Forest, On the Farm and Under the Ocean.  The illustrations are exquisite – detailed enough to encourage even the youngest reader to lingerIMG_2779IMG_2780 and enjoy, with all of the creatures possessing cute, googly eyes which make them hugely appealing and friendly-looking. I am not an expert in fonts, but these books have been printed with a clear, handwriting-style font, which to my eye looks like sassoon, perfect for the target audience.

It appears to me that great care has been taken with the production of these books, ensuring that they will be wonderful for sharing with very young children. The simple, repetitive language, rhythm and beautifully realised illustrations being perfect for an early introduction into the pleasure of shared books. In my school I can also see these titles being extremely useful as an EAL resource, especially in Reception class. Where, again, the simple text and bright clear illustrations will be perfect for vocabulary acquisition 


My thanks to New Frontier Publishing for gifting me this collection in exchange for an honest review.