Below are some reviews on the Ruby and Grub series and on Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan. There is also some feedback from schools and pre-schools following my visits.
Reviews of Ruby and Grub:
Spring Highlight: Review from The Bookseller
‘Family and belonging are at the heart of this amusing tale of Grub, a very mucky pup, who becomes too much trouble and is sent away. However, before long his grubby charms are missed and he is accepted back into the family just the way he is.’
Review from Story Time Books
‘Ruby and Grub is a welcome addition to the small list of books about dogs and girls. A wonderful mucky dog story with illustrations which enhance the text.’
Review by Jane Howarth, Birmingham Post
‘Youngsters with pesky pets will be able to empathise a great deal with Ruby and Grub. Grub is mucky, naughty and makes a mess everywhere he goes. But in this touching and warm tale, we see that love conquers all. It is a subtle lesson in what’s important in life.’
Reviews of Grub in Love:
Review by Janet Tansley, Liverpool Echo
This is one of those picture books that really makes your heart glow and your face light up. The story is simple but encompasses humour and life lessons that even the most small child can appreciate. Full of muck and mischief, it’s one that will stay on the family book shelf for a long time to come.
Review by Parents in Touch
‘A lovely story which shows that the most important thing in families is love – a lesson children are never too young to learn – and demonstrates the value of friendship. The simple story, told in the words of Ruby, will have instant appeal to children. Really appealing characters, beautifully drawn by Sarah Warburton.’
Reviews of Grub’s Pups:
Review from School Librarian
‘The story benefits hugely from being told from Ruby’s perspective and the lively illustrations present the dogs as engaging characters: their changing feelings show in their faces. This is an ideal story for young readers and listeners who are about to have a baby brother or sister and need to know something about the joys and worries of having a family.’
Review from Fiona Noble, The Bookseller
‘The mischievous Grub becomes a father in his third outing. These are very sweet stories with some gentle life lessons and lots of fun.’
Review from Books for Keeps
‘A gentle and warm book about pregnancy, birth and babies… When Ruby’s dog Grub is about to become a dad, he misses his regular romps with Tilly, his friend next door. But Tilly, Billy’s dog, has got a tummy full of pups and she needs a lot of rest. Slowly and simply told, we feel the impatience of having to wait for the ‘something special’ to happen and we share the frustration and loneliness of Grub whose world is changing. Siblings will identify with the difficulties surrounding new offspring and they will applaud the joyous ending where life does not exactly get back to normal but is even better.’
Review from Parents in Touch
‘This is the third story in the Ruby and Grub series and it sees Grub becoming a father – but not taking his responsibilities very seriously! Poor Tilly is very tired and doesn’t want to play – but then five enchanting puppies put in an appearance. Children will love to spot the puppies who can be found throughout the book, getting up to all sorts of fun. This is a warm, fun and gently humorous story – a lovely one for children whose dog is expecting puppies.’
Review from Carousel
‘Grub is, in fact, the father of the five pups that arrive to his mate Tilly, and he isn’t always sure they are welcome. A new look at an old situation, therefore, nicely told by Abi Burlingham and wittily illustrated by Sarah Warburton in huge pictures bursting with light and life. Children with or without their own dogs will surely enjoy this one.
Review from Edward Owen
‘A charming and fun story about a natural event and how it affects all the characters. Artist Sarah Warburton’s whimsical drawings are great, especially for those just learning to read. My three year old nephew loves books and the pictures really got his attention. If you have kids, especially if they have pets, this is a fun book for them.’
Reviews of ‘Buttercup Magic: A Mystery for Megan:
Review from Vivienne Dacosta
‘What a delightful and charming little book! I was so taken with this tale full of gorgeous magical creatures I desperately wanted to hug that I finished it in one sitting. It really brought back the magic that childhood should be full of, with the air of Enid Blyton surrounding it, I felt it really captured the excitement and mystery of the unexplained that fascinated me as a child. A magical little tale.
Review from Beth Kemp
‘My 8yr old read this in bed before I could get my hands on it. Her excited babbling about it in the mornings was a joy to hear. She reads nightly in bed, but we don’t always get such a reaction. I hope this special little book gets the recognition it deserves. The story is sweet and charming, whilst avoiding sentimentality. It will undoubtedly appeal to girls – magic and animals, what’s not to love? – but it doesn’t succumb to the cloying girliness sometimes thrown at this age group. Abi Burlingham respects her young readers and doesn’t insult their intelligence. It was reminiscent of my own childhood reading: plenty of Enid Blyton, sprinkled with a little fairy tale magic’.
Review from Jayne Howarth – for the Birmingham Post
‘Abi Burlingham – author of the lovely Ruby and Grub picture books – has created a very sweet and gentle book that is squarely aimed at girls of around 6-9 years. Readers will identify with the main characters – they are ordinary little girls, just like them – and while the story might be light on action, it deals with the central theme of these animal protectors in a way that young readers will find very appealing. Readers will also recognise that it is a story about friendship. It is quite magical and utterly charming and I’m sure little girls will love it.’
Review from Ed the Owl
‘When Megan moves to Buttercup House she has no idea of the wonderful things she is going to discover there. She is delighted to find a treehouse in the garden and a new friend next door. She also meets some very special mice, a cat and a dog who seem to have been there as long as the house and who can only be seen by the children. But what is the story behind them? This is a super story for newly confident readers or for reading together. The imaginative idea of animals protecting children will appeal to boys and girls alike’.
Review from PawsPaws
‘This dear little book is the kind of thing childhood is made of. It tells the story of Megan, a little girl who leaves her friends behind, and moves to a new house with her parents. She makes friends with Freya, her new neighbour, and discovers some of the secrets behind her new home. This book is full of the things which make childhood so special: tree houses, friendship, and animals. All brought together with a sprinkling of magic. This is the sort of book which children sleep with under their pillow. A must read for any little girl. But ‘Sssh!’ Don’t tell everyone. ‘Some things should be kept in the box.’
Feedback on workshop activities:
“We enjoyed the story and the follow up activities. The children thought Grub was funny… Can’t wait for the next one!” (Next Generation Nursery, Shirebrook)
”We all really enjoyed the Ruby and Grub story-time. The children were all engaged in the story and thoroughly enjoyed the activities.” (Bolsover First Steps Pre-School)
”The session was very good. Abi was lovely and very calm. The colouring and sticking activities were a great idea and helped the children to engage with the story. Brilliant! Would like to book Abi again in the future.” (Etwall Children’s Centre)
“A brilliant session. The children thoroughly enjoyed it and we’ll be able to follow it up next week! You’ve hopefully inspired lots of budding authors.” (Heath Primary School)
“The children thoroughly enjoyed the session. The introduction gave them an insight into making a book. The books were well suited to the age and were engaging. The puppets focussed them too.” (William Levick Primary School)
“The children really enjoyed the activites. It was a lot of fun and they loved making the Grub Ears.” (William Shrewsbury School)
“One of the best speakers we have had. Lovely to hear from a local successful writer. The number of questions our members asked was indicative of the level of interest in the talk.” (The Women’s Institute)