Belle & Boo by Mandy Sutcliffe

Belle & Boo are new to me, but I am totally in love. And based on the blissful silence and total concentration from both MG and DG (alone and together) these beautiful books grab the attention of small children too. Belle & Boo is described as a ‘lifestyle brand’, which is actually a negative for me because phrases like ‘lifestyle brand’ generally make me feel like vomiting! However, what this means in reality is that these beautiful characters already exist as stationery, party accessories and even clothing.

Again, this could be perceived as a negative, but the text in these books is written by Gillian Shields which makes them thoughtful, readable books instead of just ‘character tie-ins’. The delightful vintage feel to the illustrations will appeal to many. I’m usually not a huge vintage fan but Belle & Boo have completely won me over. They are adorable.

So far there are three books: Belle & Boo and the Birthday Surprise (available in hardback and paperback); Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss (available in hardback, paperback published on 7 Feb 2013); and Belle & Boo and the Yummy Scrummy Day (published in hardback on 21 Feb 2013 & paperback 6 Jun 2013). There are also two sticker activity books to be published in July 2013.

I was sent one paperback and one hardback book by Hachette Children’s Books to fall in love with review, and found the books themselves beautifully made. Gorgeous matt pages add to the vintage feel and the hardback cover again has the vintage attention to detail. I’m in danger of completely overusing the word vintage but it fits so well! A set of the hardbacks would make a lovely Christening present, especially when coupled with Belle & Boo stationery.

This is Belle, and this is Boo.
They are always together –
on sunny days,
rainy days,
and dreamy let’s be lazy days.

Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss: Mandy Sutcliffe, text: Gillian Shields (Orchard Books, 2012)Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss: Mandy Sutcliffe, text: Gillian Shields (Orchard Books, 2012)
It’s the end of a busy day, full of ‘very lots of busy’ and Belle & Boo are tired. But first they must do all their bedtime rituals: bath, putting the other toys to bed, milk and cookies, story… But then Boo decides to hide to give Belle a surprise and when she can’t find him, she worries he’ll miss the most important part of bedtime: a goodnight kiss. This is a lovely, gentle story with a familiar bedtime routine that’s perfect for sharing at bedtime. The gorgeous muted pastel illustrations are eye-catching and uncluttered so as not to overwhelm before bedtime. I love little details like Belle’s stray hairs sticking out of her bob, and Boo’s expression with the dust under the bed. Just beautiful.

Belle & Boo and the Yummy Scrummy Day: Mandy Sutcliffe, text: Gillian Shields (Orchard Books, 2013)Belle & Boo and the Yummy Scrummy Day: Mandy Sutcliffe, text: Gillian Shields (Orchard Books, 2013)
Boo is having a ‘hungry sort of day’ but everything Belle offers him is wrong. Porridge is too hot; toast too crunchy; and a boiled egg is just too ‘eggy’! He wants cookies and cake, but Belle wants to show him that fruit and vegetables are lovely too. Belle takes the role of grown up here, taking Boo to pick fruit from the orchard and vegetables from the garden. Boo takes the child role, agreeing with Belle that he doesn’t like soup (‘too soupy’) even though actually it smells delicious. A brilliant idea saves him from showing his changed mind, and cuteness ensues. This is so true-to-life of children who can come up with any excuse not to eat something, I particularly loved ‘too eggy’ and ‘too soupy’ as reasons. Simple perfection.

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss and Belle & Boo and the Yummy Scrummy Day by Hachette Childrens Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

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