The Dinosaur Who Lost Her Voice is Julie Ballard’s debut picture book, it’s a wonderfully inspiring story about a singing dinosaur, Milly Jo, whose life changes when she is injured in a storm. We’re delighted that Julie has joined us on Story Snug to tell us about her five favourite picture books but first let’s meet Milly Jo...
The Story: Milly Jo has a beautiful voice and her dinosaur friends love to dance when she sings. But one night as a storm rages Milly Jo is hit by a falling tree. Her voice is damaged and she can’t sing any more so her friends decide to sing to her. But they can’t sing! Can Milly Jo help them and find a new way to keep singing in her life?
The Dinosaur Who Lost Her Voice has a wonderful rhyming text with fabulously illustrated double spreads. Despite her new disability Milly Jo finds a way to teach her friends to sing and helps them to form a choir.
We love the positive message that the book conveys, when one door closes another door opens. Singing can still be a big part of Milly Jo’s life, just not in a way that she planned!
Francesca Gambatesa’s illustrations are beautiful and we love hearing Milly Jo sing on this video. She has also created three free to download colouring sheets. Thank you so much for sharing them with us Francesca 🙂
Age Range: 3+
Congratulations on the publication of The Dinosaur Who Lost her Voice Julie. We love how kind, considerate and resourceful Milly Jo is, she’s a great role model for dinosaurs and non dinosaurs everywhere!
It’s quite a challenge to choose your favourite picture books and we were intrigued to know which Julie would choose. Several of Julie’s favourites are favourites here too.
Picture Book Love: “These Are a Few of my Favourite Things”
It’s fair to say that being asked to choose your five favourite picture books is rather like being asked to choose your favourite biscuits or sweets – they’re all yummy, but some days you prefer something soft and gooey while other days you need something with added bite.
Despite vowing to cut down on my picture book buying habit, the pile keeps growing. I have hundreds at home and love them all in different ways.
However, ‘sifting’ through them, it’s plain to see they often fall into two discrete categories – anarchically humorous or warm-hearted with a message (never sickly sweet!).
Rhyming books are my favourites but if stories in prose are sufficiently strong or make me laugh, I’ll buy these too.
Number 1: Sir Scallywag and the Deadly Dragon Poo by Giles Andreae and Korky Paul
Despite it being five years old, this 900-word tale ticks all my boxes for a riveting read.
It’s hilarious, anarchic, rhymes and Korky’s Paul’s illustrations are sublime. His attention to detail is unparalleled and his wild and wacky pictures deliver every time.
The story revolves around King Colin’s giant sweet machine which Baron Greedyguts is intent on stealing. Six-year-old Sir Scallywag is the only knight in the kingdom who can save the day (he hasn’t grown fat and lazy scoffing sweets like the rest). And save the day he does! With a few judicious tweaks of the coveted machine and lots of dragon poo, Sir Scallywag sees off Greedyguts and his army. What’s more, there’s a nice ‘get fit’ twist at the end.
The message about curbing your intake of sweets is a loose one but it’s really the hanger for a right-rollicking, rambunctious read! I defy anyone not to like this, especially if they have boys. It’s the type of book Key Stage One children will be giggling at in the corners of every classroom.
Number 2: Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, this rhyming book rightly deserves its status as a modern classic. Imbued with warmth and heart, the story about Gerald the giraffe carries a positive message about what it means to be an individual and to dance to one’s own beat.
It’s beautifully written and drawn and delivers a life-affirming message to children that everyone is unique and has their own talents.
Giraffes Can’t Dance was one of the very first picture books that we recommended on Story Snug. We really love this one too and can’t believe that it is celebrating its 20th birthday!
Number 3: Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam – The Cat Burglar by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton
Corderoy’s reformed robber dogs Shifty and Sam have a special place in my heart – her rhyming books having been read and re-read countless times with my youngest son.
In ‘The Cat Burglar,’ the two former criminals have given up their thieving ways and are running a successful bakery. But there’s an infamous cat burglar, ‘Kitty Le Claw,’ on the loose, intent on robbing the bank.
Cue ‘Ruby’, a sad-looking bedraggled cat who law-abiding Shifty and Sam take in. Little do they know the cellar door of their bakery leads to the bank’s vault or that Ruby is not quite who she seems.
With an action-packed plot and a message that it’s wrong to steal, this meter-perfect rhyming book is a fun-packed, pacey read which children will enjoy revisiting time and again.
Shifty and Sam’s stories are really well loved here too. We have a real soft spot for the very first book, Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, it was a birthday present and we read it repeatedly for a long time!
Number 4: Edgar and the Sausage Inspector by Jan Fearnley
I have long been a fan of Jan Fearnley’s writing and illustrations, particularly her anarchic offerings like ‘Mr Wolf’s Pancakes’ and ‘Mr Wolf and the Three Bears.’
Fearnley has the rare capacity to be able to write on two levels – the first being to amuse children – but the second to amuse adults without children knowing.
In ‘Mr Wolf and the Three Bears’ children are left believing that badly behaved Goldilocks has run off from the birthday party Mr Wolf has graciously thrown for Baby Bear and his family.
Adults, however, realise that rude and spoilt Goldilocks, whose behaviour has repeatedly spoilt the party, has got her comeuppance when Grandma Wolf presents a magnificent golden pie.
The wavy pastry crust resembles the waves of Goldilocks’s curls and, while guests are unable to eat the piping hot pie, Grandma informs them the pie is a dish ‘best served cold.’
No points for guessing where Goldilocks has ended up!
In Fearnley’s 2017 picture book ‘Edgar and the Sausage Inspector’ she is back in anarchic top form with her hungry feline protagonist, Edgar, who goes shopping to find his equally-hungry sister a feast. The rat Inspector has other ideas and constantly confiscates Edgar’s food insisting it’s ‘mmm – mmm – mmm BAD!’
After one too many confiscations, when the rat inspector has grown so fat he waddles, Edgar finally returns home with the feast for his sister.
But, rather than tucking in with her, he isn’t hungry and has to admit that he’s had a cheeky little something earlier. And of course, it was… ‘mmm – mmm – mmm BAD!’
On this occasion, children are able to work out what’s happened to the rat Inspector when Edgar is pictured wearing the Inspector’s hat and badge as a tell-tale trophy.
Devilishly irreverent, this book is a must for children and adults with a wicked sense of humour.
Number 5: You MUST Bring a Hat by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley
Hats off to this book for making me laugh so loudly in Sainsburys another shopper glanced my way in curiosity. Such was its impact, I bought the book immediately and was delighted my son had the same reaction.
In short it’s a book about an invitation to a party, with one stipulation – you MUST bring a hat.
And so starts this ridiculously absurd, but hilarious, tale as the protagonist tries tirelessly to gain entry to Nigel’s party.
The list of demands become ever more crazy – a monocle must be worn, a badger named Geoff must be in attendance, the badger has to be able to play the piano and an elephant has to wear a tutu.
The twist at the end is uproarious and one I can say I never saw coming. Hats off, too, to Kate Hindley for her fantastic illustrations. They are so impactful and engaging, they divert attention away from the visual clues to the twist that are missed on the first reading.
You’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t see them earlier!
This is a fabulous picture book and one that I still have on Story Snug’s to be recommended list, the twist is fabulous and we didn’t see it coming the first time either!!
Thank you so much for visiting today Julie! We always love hearing what authors like to read. We have similar tastes to you but would really struggle to choose our favourites!
About Julie Ballard
A qualified teacher, former journalist and communications and PR specialist, Julie suppressed the urge to scratch her creative itch until her sons were born.
A love affair with picture books re-kindled Julie’s passion for children’s literature until she knew she had to dust off her keyboard and get creating. Today, like all the best people, she can be found hanging out with fairies, dinosaurs and dragons!
‘The Dinosaur Who Lost Her Voice’ is Julie’s debut picture book.
Thank you to Egmont Publishing for sending us a review copy of The Dinosaur Who Lost Her Voice. We love Milly Jo’s optimism and determination to succeed despite her disability – she’s a very inspirational character.