Tag Archives: #bookadayuk

#BookADayUK Would Save If My House Burned Down

I’m writing this exactly three months late (but backdating it so it looks like I did a full month of #bookadayuk, instead of taking four months to complete them…) and I still can’t choose just one book.

I would be utterly devastated in so many ways if my house burned down, it’s always been one of my biggest fears (I panic about it any time we’re away. I don’t like going away.), which is probably partially due to my hoarder mentality. Books are definitely a part of that. We have so many irreplaceable books. Signed books, first editions, out of print. None of them worth money to anyone, but priceless to us.

I think the first things on Mr Chaos’ list to save (assuming everyone was safe of course, and all the photos were backed up off site) would be the signed James Bond memorabilia, including signatures from several sadly deceased cast and crew.

It would have to be the signed books for me too, but we have quite a few and there isn’t exactly a ‘signed books’ section on any of the bookcases so it wouldn’t be easy to save them. I feel a bit sick just thinking about it. It really is something that affects me deeply.

But for today, I am going to cheat, and instead of a book it’s the prints and original art that I’ve been fortunate to mostly be given or won in competitions. Embarrassingly, only one has been framed (by me, badly), the rest are kept safely but really need to put up. And, after taking the picture, I realised I forgot to get one out…


#BookADayUK June 2014 complete at last! 21 on time, and three months to finish the last nine. Oops! Here’s a summary of all thirty:

ChildLedChaos #bookadayuk June 2014

#BookADayUK The One I Have Reread Most Often

I’m not sure which book(s) I have reread most often. There have been a few loved to death books over the years. I know I read the first Red Dwarf novel repeatedly as a teenager, and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I don’t really reread books for myself now, and haven’t for a long time. But as a parent of young children, I do read certain books over and over and over again. Today’s choice is one that has been an almost daily request for May and June.

Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk: Rachel Mortimer & Liz Pichon (Orchard Books, 2014)Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk: Rachel Mortimer & Liz Pichon (Orchard Books, 2014)

Danger Girl (5) loves fairy tales / fables / traditional tales. Whatever you call them, they are her favourite genre of story. Humorous twists on familiar tales always go down well, and adding sweeties into the mix makes this a piece of genius storytelling.

In Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk, the familiar tale of poverty starts how we’d expect. Jack goes to market to sell his cow, but on the way he’s offered twenty gold coins for her… Hold on a minute, Jack just sold the cow for something sensible, this can’t be right? Of course it will go wrong shortly, and in this case Jack’s eye is caught by a huge bag of jelly beans in a magical sweet shop…

The tale then returns to what we expect: Jack’s mum’s ire, beans thrown out of the window, Jack sent to bed without any supper, and then… More familiarity with a giant (jelly) beanstalk, a giant, a goose, and a harp, with an imaginative way of escape and enough jelly beans to last every meal for years. The final page is hinted at earlier in the book, but makes DG and MG giggle every time as they shout out the last few words.

This is the third in a series of alternate fairy tales from the team of Rachael Mortimer and Liz Pichon, and I am regularly told off by DG because we don’t own them all. Fun to read for all ages, and with lots to inspire children’s own storytelling.

Disclosure: Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk received for review from Hachette Children’s Books

#BookADayUK Bought At My Fave Independent Bookshop

We are very fortunate in where we live that there are several easily accessible independent shops nearby. Given the decline of indies in recent years, this is quite amazing, but I do live in Oxfordshire so I suppose it’s expected of us!

Mostly Books, Abingdon, is not only my favourite independent bookshop, it’s one of my favourite places to go. It’s the place where you’re greeted as a friend, where you’re left to browse for hours, or can ask for a recommendation in a hurry. It’s the place that would rather find you the perfect book to fit than sell you dozens of titles on the cheap. And it’s the place that can find that perfect book too.

I’m a bit of a book addict, and Mostly Books is a wonderful place to find new books. But they also enforce my self-imposed book buying bans and chat (in quiet periods) without trying to sell a thing. No matter what your interests, they’ll find something to suit and everyone is genuinely passionate about what they read.

Mighty Girl (7) already plans to work there (when she’s not running her own school or writing novels…) and, for a usually shy child, she pushes herself behind the till and demands to stay (she’s seven so she can’t, but Mostly Books very kindly let her help serve me sometimes!)

I have purchased one or two (cough!) books there over the years, but I’ve chosen this one because I felt like it…

Walk This World: Lotta Nieminen (Big Picture Press, 2013)Walk This World: Lotta Nieminen (Big Picture Press, 2013)

Walk This World is a chunky hardback with panoramic spreads depicting various cities and places from around the world. The robust card pages hide a multitude of flaps to lift (over 80 in total) and each spread can inspire a wealth of investigation and discussion, not to mention quiet time as children browse through the pages. On the one hand, the countries are covered in a slightly stereotypical way, on the other, they are a simple introduction to different cultures.

Walk This World is a stunning work of art, suitable for all ages. For more pictures, see the wonderful write up at Brain Pickings.

#BookADayUK Want To Be One Of The Characters

There are probably several books where I’ve wanted to be one of the characters, but I can’t think of a specific example now. Embarrassingly, I probably still want to be the female lead in a dystopian YA. These may be the in thing now, but I was writing them aged 15/16 (I shouldn’t have stopped writing, but then I wasn’t very good) which is over twenty years ago now. Cry. I like the idea of being a hero I guess, because it’s nothing like I am in real life.

Trying to think of a picture book to fit the theme, I’ve twisted it again and chosen a series where you are part of the creation process. These are not merely colouring books…

Picturaline selection

Pictura are a series of (so far) sixteen titles by some of the best illustrators working today. From Shaun Tan’s Metropolis, through John Howe’s Draconis; from Niroot Puttapipat’s Faeries, through Aleksei Bitskoff’s Monster Party; Pictura are amazing bundles of imagination that are perfect presents for any age.

They come as a little booklet made of eight connecting panels. The eight pictures work separately and connect as a whole panoramic view. On the reverse of the panels is a drawing guide related to the theme.

Most suitable from age nine and up (but talented younger artists may also enjoy), these are a treat and (for me at least) excellent relaxation therapy. With four new 8-panel books and two new sets of 12 prints out on October 1 2014, there is bound to be one to suit every taste, and they’ll make excellent Christmas presents.

Picturaline: extracts from Metropolis, Faeries, Monster Party and Hedgerow Year

Disclosure: John Howe’s Draconis and David McKee’s The Fair Comes to Town received for review from Picturaline.

#BookADayUK Should Have Sold More Copies

Another theme that stumped me, I don’t know a lot about book sales. So I’ve chosen a picture book about numbers instead…

The Hueys in None the Number: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2014)The Hueys in None the Number: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2014)

This is the third in the Hueys series, which seem to follow a philosophical theme. All Hueys books would be good to kickstart discussions in a classroom or home setting.

None the Number could be seen as a counting book for young children, that also introduces the concept of zero; it could be seen as something surreal (3 is a collection of chairs, 7 is oranges balanced on some things…); or it could be seen as a fun but silly story with a bunch of loveable characters.

This is my personal favourite of the three Huey books so far, but sadly none of them have caught the imagination of MG or DG. Although they’re not for us, I recommend them for their uniqueness and power to make you think.

Disclosure: The Hueys in None the Number received for review from HarperCollins Children’s Books.

#BookADayUK Never Finished It

I don’t like not finishing books, but the older I am the more I put aside. I guess life is just getting shorter. Mostly it’s not because the books are bad, but they’re not what I feel like reading at that time after all so I put them aside. I put The Lord of the Rings aside at least twice when I was younger, before I actually got into it…

Ghost Hawk: Susan Cooper (Bodley Head, 2013)Ghost Hawk: Susan Cooper (Bodley Head, 2013)

I felt obliged to finish this book because I got it via Net Galley. But I applied for it purely on the basis of the author, and loving The Dark is Rising sequence when I was a child, and the premise of this one didn’t really appeal to me.

I thought the part of the book that I did read was interesting and well written, but it still just didn’t grab me. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever go back to this book because it’s not a story that interests me. Having read the Nosy Crow Reading Group verdict, and being spoilered for something I wasn’t aware of, it seems like I’m still in the ‘best third’ of the book so if that’s not grabbing me then it’s best to move on.

I can’t say anything negative about this story because I haven’t finished it, and I didn’t have a problem with the part that I have read. This is more of an excuse post than a review, so I’ll finish for now.

Disclosure: received for review via Net Galley.

#BookADayUK Hooked Me Into Reading

At first I struggled with this theme, as I’ve always been a reader so there is no particular book that ‘hooked’ me, but when I was young, a book I read over and over was a ‘Me Book’ – one where my name, and some other details, were typed in spaces of a generic story. Mine was The Great Sesame Street ABC Hunt, and I still have it thirty-something years later.

You can still get a variety of character books with personalisations, but they’re mainly not great stories, and the personalisations seem a bit forced. However, Lost My Name has a different approach, and I think it’s just right.

The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, or The Little Boy Who Lost His Name (Lost My Name, on demand)The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, or The Little Boy Who Lost His Name (Lost My Name, on demand)

I first became aware of these books via a friend who was working for a font design company, and therefore had a deep interest in words. So when I was offered the chance to review, I already had experience of the website and the books available, and I definitely wanted to try them out.

The premise of the book is that a child has woken up and their name has been stolen. The book takes the form of a wandering quest, with each letter of a child’s name given a two page spread where they meet a creature starting with that letter and collect the letter from the creature. At the end, all the letters are put together and it’s your name. How exciting!

The website is very easy to navigate, and the fact you can preview your whole book in advance is a huge advantage to me. Being the personality that I am, I’ve played with the website to see what combinations you can use.

You can use names with between three and twelve characters. If you have a name with only three or four characters, an extra double page spread of wandering is added, to make the book longer. A very nice touch.

Another nice touch is that the website accepts hyphens! As someone with a hyphenated first name, I live with the frustration of being known as ‘Anne’ or ‘Annemarie’ on some computer systems. They’re not my name. But all hyphenated children everywhere can rejoice with Lost My Name! The hyphen is not counted as one of the twelve character limit, and doesn’t appear in the story, but it’s used when the full name appears.

The combinations allowed (every letter of the alphabet once, with A and E twice, and up to three additional duplicate letters) mean that most names are covered. For example, with my name ANNE-MARIE, there are two As, two Ns, and two Es. The second A and E have their own creatures, and the second N has a generic double page. It is possible to come up with a plausible contrived name that doesn’t work, but it’s unlikely that your child’s name won’t work.

Example of generic page from The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, or The Little Boy Who Lost His Name (Lost My Name, on demand)

After ordering, the book(s) chosen are printed on demand and arrive within a few days. I was really impressed with the speed of delivery, and the books were packaged well so as not to be damaged in the post. I can’t stress highly enough how excellent the quality of these books are. They are gorgeous, thick quality pages and excellent binding. A friend remarked how they didn’t look ‘on demand’ printed as they were so well made.

As someone who is anti gender stereotyping, I usually get annoyed when gender is requested, but in the case of Lost My Name, the only difference in the books is the use of his/her, the girl/boy images are different, as are the cover colours. However, girls get Robots and Dragons (if their name has an R or a D), and boys get Mermaids and Princesses (if their name has an M or a P), with no ‘girl’ letters or ‘boy’ letters in sight. I also like how the boy/girl characters skin could be seen to match a variety of skin shades. Five stars for lack of stereotyping.

My daughters absolutely love their books, and it was wonderful watching Danger Girl (5) work out that the letters were her name when we read the story the first time. It’s been often requested for bedtime (as “The Girl Who Lost Her Gnome” sometimes!) and who knows, maybe in 30+ years these will still be treasured possessions too.

At £18.99 per book, including postage, and with discounts for multiple purchases, these books make wonderful gifts (new baby, Christening, first birthday, first Christmas, starting school, just because) and are worth every penny. This is a very clever concept, and highly recommended by the Chaos household.

Disclosure: The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name books received for review from Lost My Name.

#BookADayUK Made To Read At School

I had no interest in nearly all the books I ‘studied’ in secondary school. I can’t even remember what most of them were. I didn’t mind the ones we read in the younger years, things like My Family And Other Animals, The Children of Green Knowe, Tom’s Midnight Garden, even Animal Farm, Of Mice And Men, Zuleika Dobson or A Room With A View. But I really disliked the thick heavier ‘classics’ including Silas Marner, Jane Eyre, and The Mayor of Casterbridge. I couldn’t tell you much about any of the books either, and if we were to ‘finish in our own time’, I never finished them. I was too busy reading Stephen King age 14/15 to bother with whatever was on the GCSE syllabus.

Instead, today’s choice is a book about school, more or less…

I Don't Want To Go To School: Stephanie Blake (Gecko Press, 2014)I Don’t Want To Go To School: Stephanie Blake (Gecko Press, 2014)

This is our first introduction to Simon the rabbit, star of previous books Poo Bum, Stupid Baby, and A Deal’s A Deal, and it definitely makes me want to find all the others to read (Danger Girl (5) is particularly keen on reading Poo Bum!)

This is a particularly toddler-friendly book, with bright coloured pages and an introduction to an unfamiliar situation, however it works on many more levels – the 7yo & 5yo can see younger versions of themselves in Simon, and get the humour of the last spread, and parents and carers will definitely recognise many children in Simon.

Simon’s parent’s tell Simon that he will be going to school the next day and try to alleviate his worries, but he just replies “I’m not going!” to everything they say. When the day comes, of course everything is fine (after a bit of a cry – I love that this is included, because it is okay to cry) and guess what he says when mum comes to collect him at the end of the day?!

Great fun, and lots of giggles from all of the Chaos book fans.

Disclosure: I don’t want to go to school! received for review from Gecko Press.

#BookADayUK Out Of Print

I probably have a few out of print titles, but I’m not sure which ones are. With the internet, it’s usually not too difficult to get second hand copies of titles, although rarer titles are sadly way out of the average person’s price range.

Twisting the theme again, I’ve chosen a picture book that I think should never be allowed out of print…

You Are (Not) Small: Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant (Hodder Children's Books, 2014)You Are (Not) Small: Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant (Hodder Children’s Books, 2014)

I’m not going to be able to express how wonderfully perfect this book is, but hopefully the fact I think it should never be out of print will give you some idea.

From the adorably cute (non gender specific) cover (who could fail not to be enticed by such a cute creature), to the title and copyright pages that pull you in; from the minimalistic illustrations focussing on the characters and their feelings, to the minimal text conveying all you need to know;  You Are (Not) Small conveys the concept of relative sizes, and how we think about each other in an easy to understand and humorous way. More importantly, it gives a message that we’re not all that different after all.

Important messages aside, this is a lovely (albeit short) read that can be enjoyed over and over. The use of simple words and repetitive text would also make this an excellent book for a learner reader. From an equality viewpoint, no gender pronouns are used and there is diversity in the characters. You Are (Not) Small is a perfect package of a book, and we recommend it highly.

I probably have a few out of print titles, but I'm not sure which ones are. With the internet, it's usually not too difficult to get second hand copies of titles, although rarer titles are sadly way out of the average person's price range.  Twisting the theme again, I've chosen a picture book that I think should never be allowed out of print...  <strong><img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-10940" src="http://childledchaos.me.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/youarenotsmall.jpg" alt="You Are (Not) Small: Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant (Hodder Children's Books, 2014)" width="247" height="300" />You Are (Not) Small: Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant (Hodder Children's Books, 2014)</strong>     <em>Disclosure: You Are (Not) Small received for review from Hodder Children's Books.</em>

Disclosure: You Are (Not) Small received for review from Hodder Children’s Books.

#BookADayUK Summer Read

I was going to be awkward for the summer read, and choose a wintery themed book, but then this popped through my letterbox this week and it was the only choice really 🙂

I Heart Holidays (Martha and the Bunny Brothers #3): Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2014)I Heart Holidays (Martha and the Bunny Brothers #3): Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2014)

I am hugging this book to my chest as I contemplate how to describe how much all the Chaos family adores Martha and her bunny brothers. I gave some examples of all the wonderful little details in my I Heart Bedtime review and all the little touches are back in this third volume.

It starts with “This is a happy book, all about MARTHA – that’s me!” and has the different fonts, lists, news, things to choose from, menus, expressions, happiness and pure joy that the first two books are packed with and is still unique and fun and brilliant on its own merits. “I love this!” says Danger Girl (5).

I tried to get Danger Girl to choose her favourite of the three Martha books. “I love all of them!” But if you could only have one? She looked completely downcast at this, “But I want them all!” After a little chat she decided that I Heart Holidays was best for packing for a holiday, I Heart Bedtime was best for packing for a sleepover, and I Heart School was best for taking to school, but all three were best for under her pillow at home.

In I Heart Holidays Martha has a shiny new suitcase that she’s packing with all the essentials for a summer holiday – scrapbook, pencils, bucket and spade… Monty and Pip are packing too, and so is Paws (and mum and dad somewhere!) but it’s time to hurry to pack everything into Bluebell, the gorgeous blue camper van. [All of a sudden, I really really want a camper van, Clara makes everything look so gorgeous!] The image of everyone squished into the back in their car seats is wonderful – and we even get a peek of mum and dad.

Martha’s family are having what is probably now an ‘old fashioned’ beach holiday, but it’s the holiday of my childhood, and the holiday of my children’s childhood (we’re off to a Scottish island again this year, bliss) and is full of everything you’d expect – sand sandwiches, ice creams dropped (repeatedly), rain as the children paddle, and happiness, sunshine, and love.

I have an extra reason to love I Heart Holidays, on top of the lovely story and beautiful illustrations. Last year I found some material that I thought matched the cover of I Heart Bedtime and sent it to Clara, and she used the material as Martha’s sleeping bag. I sort-of-almost-not-really-but-I’m-pretending-I-did contributed to a Martha Bunny book 🙂

I Heart Holidays (Martha and the Bunny Brothers #3): Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2014)

I Heart Holidays is published on 3rd July 2014, and the Chaos family recommends every Martha Bunny book for all happy bunnies everywhere.

Disclosure: I Heart Holidays received for review from HarperCollins Children’s Books.