Tag Archives: #bookadayuk

#BookADayUK Favourite Cover

This was another hard choice, because picture books usually have gorgeous covers. I chose this one because Marmaduke is such a cute orange dragon, and the golden stars sparkle. DG(5) agreed that it was a beautiful cover.

Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon: Rachel Valentine & Ed Eaves (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2014)Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon: Rachel Valentine & Ed Eaves (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2014)

This is one of those special books celebrating individuality and non-conformity that I adore, and it’s a great story beautifully illustrated so ticks every box for me as a parent, and for my children as voracious devourers of good stories.

Marmaduke is different. He’s orange where all the other dragons are purple; he has sticky-out scales where all the other dragons are smooth; he has big ears where all the other dragons have small ears. He also doesn’t like to fly, for reasons that are completely given away on the front cover (I do think it is a beautiful cover, and it attracts you to the book, however it does ruin the ‘surprise’, but as children read books so many times, surprises never last long!)

He wants to protect a princess like all the other dragons, but the princesses reject him “My daddy’s getting a real dragon…”, as do all the other dragons. Meg is different too. She’s a princess but nothing like the others, and she does things her own way (I love her already!) but this does put her in a spot of bother (good lesson for small children – there are times when conforming is slightly useful, like not running into roads or disappearing off where nobody knows you are…) Fortunately Marmaduke’s big ears come into their own, so Marmaduke and Meg conform to the princess-dragon protector stereotype – hold on, no no, this is a great book, so Marmaduke and Meg continue to be different together, as friends.

Absolute perfection on many levels, and with a double spread full of sparkling gold stars this is a stunning book that I want to give to all little princes and princesses everywhere. We love Marmaduke.

Disclosure: Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon received for review from Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

#BookADayUK Still Can’t Stop Talking About It

This theme stumped me for a while, as I wasn’t sure which book(s) I talk about all the time because I like a lot of books. But then a #bookadayuk tweet caught my eye (recommending Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender, a book I love) and made me realise that the books I’m most likely to talk about are actually non-fiction ones.

Infographics: Animal Kingdom – Simon Rogers & Nicholas Blechman (Big Picture Press, 2014)Infographics: Animal Kingdom – Simon Rogers & Nicholas Blechman (Big Picture Press, 2014)

Infographics: Animal Kingdom is a book packed full of things to talk about. Organised into tabbed sections, this colourful book supplies bite-sized chunks of a wide range of facts. The style is instantly appealing, with contrasting colours and easy to compare differences due to the infographic style.

This really is an amazing book, and there’s also a human body edition in the same style. I like the bold colours that attract and pull children in to reading about the different facts, which are intriguing morsels that can set off a deeper study into a subject. Did you know Usain Bolt is slower than a greyhound; camels projectile vomit towards a threat; and rhinoceros beetles can carry 8,500 times their body weight? And that’s just from one double-page spread!

Definitely lots to talk about in this book. Aimed at 8+, it can be shared with younger children but will be appreciated more at an older age. I loved fact books when I was young, and would have loved this. Danger Girl (5) is a little young for it but Mighty Girl (7) loves looking at the different pages and picking out different nuggets of information.

Disclosure: Infographics: Animal Kingdom received for review from Big Picture Press.

#BookADayUK Bought On A Recommendation

When I was young, I was the youngest of five children so there were bookcases stacked with books for me to work through, and books at school, and books from the library, and I probably worked through everything fairly indiscriminately. When I was a teenager I remember having a few things recommended by my mum because she saw I had similar interests to one of my brothers so suggested things that he used to like even though she knew nothing about them (thank-you, mum, you were usually right!)

And then I’d just spend hours upstairs in Blackwell’s Paperback Shop (which no longer exists) in the sci-fi section, reading all the blurbs and deciding which ones to get (or in the library, doing similar.) Recommendations were alien to me because I didn’t know people who liked the same sort of books. But then the internet came into my life, and recommendations actually made sense at last.

For picture books, I have followed recommendations from a whole host of wonderful people whose opinions I trust – most of whom are listed on the picture book blogger page – and I am very grateful to them for introducing me to so many wonderful books, of which today’s choice is one of our favourites.

Rosie Revere, Engineer: Andrea Beaty & David Roberts (Abrams Books, 2013)Rosie Revere, Engineer: Andrea Beaty & David Roberts (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013)

I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly which blog I first read about Iggy Peck and Rosie Revere. It was Iggy Peck, Architect that was first recommended (although I still haven’t read it) but Rosie Revere looked essential for our bookshelves – positive female role model sharing DG’s name – I trusted the recommendations and bought a copy.

We weren’t disappointed. Rosie is a young girl who collects discarded ‘junk’ to create gadgets and gizmos. However, due to an embarrassment when she was younger, she doesn’t like to share her inventions. Fortunately help is at hand in the form of great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) who shows her that flops are all part of the creation process. The only failure is to give up.

There is too much to love about this story. Rosie and her contraptions, the great-great-aunt’s advice, showing girls they can be anything they want to be, failure is necessary for success… We love David Roberts illustrations (Dirty Bertie has been a huge favourite since MG (7) was a toddler) and they are perfect in this tale. The rhyming text doesn’t quite work for me, but I think that’s an accent issue (e.g. aunts and pants don’t rhyme in my accent) and it doesn’t detract from the story being told.

With illustrations packed full of fun details to spot, and an inspiring story for all little engineers (i.e. all children) to try and fail and try again. We can do it, we just sometimes forget that we can when we grow up…

#BookADayUK Future Classic

Is the definition of ‘future classic’ a really boring book that children will one day be forced to read at school? I think schooling destroyed my appreciation of many books!

Fortunately that definition of ‘classic’ doesn’t seem to apply to picture books 😉 Today’s choice is surreal timeless fun and one I think deserves to be a classic.

There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub: Catalina Echeverri (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2014)There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub: Catalina Echeverri (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2014)

Amelia has a secret – shhh! – there’s a mustachioed French dinosaur called Pierre hiding in her bathtub. Fortunately Pierre is good at hiding, so good that only Amelia can see him.

They spend their weeks doing the usual things that children and invisible French dinosaurs do – flying to the moon, dancing upside down, eating giant ice creams and stinky cheese, and sailing to magical lands – but it’s almost the end of the summer holidays and their fun must come to an end. Or does it?…

Full of humour, subtle surreal silliness, and packed to the brim with imagination, this is a story that will take children on a magical journey with a wonderful new friend. Danger Girl (5) and Mighty Girl (7) both love this tale. It’s great for imagination (who do we have hiding in our bathtub?) and packed full of lovely details (DG loves pouring over what Pierre packs in his suitcase.)

I think it’s brilliant too, and am quite happy to read about Amelia and Pierre’s antics over (and over and over) again.

Disclosure: There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub received for review from Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

#BookADayUK Can’t Believe More People Haven’t Read

I don’t think I know how many people have read certain books. I think I read bestseller types mainly. Not on purpose, but because that’s how I come to hear of them. I don’t read something just because it’s a bestseller though, but because I like the sound of the synopsis.

For today’s picture book I’ve chosen a book that I’d like everyone to read because I think it’s wonderful.

Dangerous: Tim Warnes (Little Tiger Press, 2014)Dangerous: Tim Warnes (Little Tiger Press, 2014)

Mole loves to label things. He’s happily labelling everything he finds (including a pile of poo – my five year old loved this, and it was a word she could work out herself too!) until one day he finds a strange lumpy bumpy thing and, not knowing what it is, he sticks lots of labels onto it.

Lumpy, bumpy, strange, unusual, huge, peculiar, green… But what if, actually, this new thing is DANGEROUS? Mole sticks on another label. The lumpy bumpy thing wakes up and starts to eat Mole’s labels, which upsets Mole and he wants nothing to do with the strange creature. But the lumpy bumpy thing wants to play and gets sad when it’s rejected. Perhaps there’s another label Mole can use?

Danger Girl (5) absolutely loves stories. Our bed is currently covered in the half dozen or so books that she dragged onto it early this morning, I read her at least three books every night or she can’t sleep (we compromise on which books – three longer ones, or more shorter ones) and she constantly flicks through books over and over, telling her own stories. She has always loved stories and books.

But where Mighty Girl (7) was writing her name and recognising words at three, Danger Girl has found learning to read and write a longer process and is coming to the end of reception year far ‘behind’ where her sister was at the same stage. This doesn’t bother me in the slightest, she will read when she is ready (and perhaps her recent eye test and prescription for glasses has had something to do with her being slower to pick things up too!)

Danger Girl balks at reading sentences in books, but left to her own devices, she carefully works out the words on labels. I have some labels on their toy storage that she’s worked out, I plan to add more. Reading Dangerous together means that she can attempt some of the words on the labels without being put off by whole sentences, so she’s practising and I’m sure one day soon all those individual words will add up to sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books, and she won’t stop reading.

That’s not the only reason I love Dangerous. The art is adorable, the story is heartwarming, and the whole book is full of so much humour that it’s hard not to giggle (especially at some of the expressions of creatures with labels stuck on!) Dangerous is a great start to thinking of describing words (Mighty Girl knows that these are adjectives, I never got the hang of the proper names for things…) and increasing vocabulary. Dangerous is one of my top picks of picture books for 2014.

Disclosure: Dangerous received for review from Little Tiger Press.

#BookADayUK Favourite Fictional Father

I’ve found this one extraordinarily hard. Extraordinary because I’ve read various posts on father’s day books and can see lots of fathers in the books mentioned but when I think the children’s books I enjoy I can’t think of any fathers. I’m not sure if this is because a staple of children’s books is to ditch parents at the earliest opportunity so the children can go on adventures, or whether I just have a blind spot for fathers due to mine being mostly absent for my childhood.

I didn’t want to choose a specific father’s day oriented picture book for today, but one where the dad plays a very important part.

Contains spoilers.

The Princess and the Presents: Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton (Nosy Crow, 2014)The Princess and the Presents: Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton (Nosy Crow, 2014)

As a huge fan of both Caryl and Sarah’s work, I love their collaborative picture books. The Princess and the Peas also has a wonderful father relationship, but I’ve already written about that one 😉 This not-really-a-sequel story introduces us to Ruby, the most spoilt child you can imagine.

It’s almost Ruby’s birthday and the delightful child has a huge list of wants, which her poor harassed dad tried hard to keep up with, but Ruby wants more and more and more… In some ways, this is a terrible example of parenting because her dad just buys her so many things. But you can see that really he’s trying hard and making mistakes along the way. As with The Princess and the Peas, I envisage a back-story where Ruby’s mother has died tragically and the King is too blinded by grief to get things right. Lily-Rose May’s dad is far more grounded, possibly because they live in a cottage in the forest and not in a castle.

I’m reading too much into this again, aren’t I?! In The Princess and the Presents, pandering to Ruby’s requests has led to so many presents being bought that… the castle falls down under their weight. Disaster! It looks like her dad has been buried under the rubble, and Ruby realises what is really important to her after all.

A modern fable about materialism, full of humour and a wonderful book for dads and daughters to share together. I’m sure many children will feel like MG and DG do and would love to end up living in a tree house too! They also think their dad is more important than lots of presents, but they like having both 😉

#BookADayUK An Old Favourite

I have lots of old favourites, some of which I’ve probably already mentioned. But when it came to thinking of a picture book to review for today’s theme, a very special old favourite came to mind…

Mog And Bunny And Other Stories (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013)Mog And Bunny And Other Stories (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)

This is a collection of three Mog books by Judith Kerr, in the modern large format (all the better for seeing the gorgeous artwork.) I am in two minds on picture book collections. On the one hand, I prefer individual picture books, partially for the endpapers and because my children never let me read only one story out of a collection, it has to be the whole book, but mainly because I just prefer individual books. On the other hand, collections like these often cost little more than a single picture book so are great value for money and also make wonderful gifts.

The three stories in this collection are Mog and Bunny; Mog and the V.E.T. and Mog and the Granny. In Mog and Bunny we’re introduced to Mog’s favourite toy. In Mog and the V.E.T. Mog hurts her paw and has to go to the vet to get better, and in Mog and the Granny, the family go on holiday leaving Mog to be looked after by a friend.

As always, the observations of cats are perfectly illustrated, and on reading these stories, I could see why there is a book called “All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome”! My only gripe is that the phrase Red Indian wasn’t changed to a more acceptable term.

I love Mog, and think she belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Disclosure: Mog And Bunny And Other Stories received for review from HarperCollins Children’s Books.

#BookADayUK Makes Me Laugh

I think I used to laugh more. I know I used to laugh more. I have been stared at on the bus as I couldn’t keep in a laugh from what I was reading. Depression takes its toll, and I haven’t been laughing as much as once I did.

A little before my 17th birthday (22 years ago – eek!) I borrowed my first Terry Pratchett book from the library. Wyrd Sisters. By the time of my 17th birthday two months later, I’d not only read every Discworld book that I could find in the library, I also owned almost all the ones published in paperback to that point. Discworld were my comfort reads. Discworld were novels I laughed at loud at.

I don’t laugh as much as I used to. One recent book that I have been giggling though as Mighty Girl (7) reads it to me is Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell. She looks at me and keeps saying “I don’t get it” but she’s reading it all the same. It’s not today’s choice because we’re only a few chapters in.

Today’s choice is the second in a series that has made me laugh so much.

Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes: Hilary Robinson & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes: Hilary Robinson & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children’s Books, 2013)

Mixed Up Fairy Tales and Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes are both amazing books. They are split page books where you make your own story at random. My children also like to find the ‘correct’ story. This is easier in Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes as the flaps are in order, but a more complex in Mixed Up Fairy Tales where the pages are mixed from the start.

Mixed Up Fairy Tales is also more complex with four parts to every story, whereas Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes has three parts. This gives more story options with the Fairy Tales. The Nursery Rhymes are therefore more suitable from a younger age, but any age from pre-school and up can enjoy both. It helps to have a certain grounding in fairy tales and nursery rhymes to really get the humour, which shouldn’t be too difficult for most children!

I am in awe of how Hilary Robinson has managed to make phrases that fit together in any combination to make a sensible (silly) story. For Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes, that’s three parts to 12 rhymes, making possible 1,728 combinations, and for Mixed Up Fairy Tales, that’s four parts to 12 stories, making 20,736 combinations! And they all work!

(* It might be 1,320 and 11,880 combinations. My maths is very rusty. It’s something to do with permutations. Whatever the answer, it’s a lot of laughs…)

Some random examples from Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes:

Old Mother Hubbard went to town riding on a pail of water.

Polly found a crooked sixpence and lived in a cup of tea.

The Grand Old Duke of York went to Gloucester in a shower of rain and stood on a plum.

The Queen of Hearts put the kettle on and drank a spider.

Highly recommended essentials for every bookcase (not that they’ll stay on the shelves for long, these live under my daughters’ beds for easy access most of the time…)

Disclosure: Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes received for review from Hachette Children’s Books.

#BookADayUK I Pretend To Have Read It

I don’t think I pretend to read anything, I’m usually happy to admit I’ve not read something (nor am I likely to in many cases.) I certainly pretended at school though, when we read certain chapters of a book in lessons and were supposed to finish for homework. I found Jane Eyre and Silas Marner and I-can’t-even-remember-the-others so utterly dull that I wasn’t going to waste my time reading them. I don’t really ‘do’ literature. On the other hand I’ve read thousands of books in my life and think I have a passable grasp of written English. I hope 😉

I try not to censor the range of books available to my children, although at the moment my choices influence what stays in the house – books that I object to because of the message I will cull but books that I don’t enjoy because of taste differences (funnily enough a 38 year old doesn’t quite have the same tastes as a five year old or a seven year old!) I read on sufferance and occasionally pretend to ‘lose’ temporarily…

The Cake: Dorothee de Monfreid (Gecko Press, 2014)The Cake: Dorothee de Monfreid (Gecko Press, 2014) 

I was going to write that I don’t like anything about this book, but that’s not true. I like the size of the book, I like the feel and quality of the pages, I like the full colour to the edges, and I like the emotional effectiveness of the double spread with the dark purple background (“Where is everybody?”)

Danger Girl (5) likes the animals, likes the way they fight with each other, likes that the story is told in speech bubbles, loves the bright colours and finds the ending utterly hilarious.

Oh, I also like how the front cover doesn’t give away how the story is going to go – it looks all happy friends baking a cake together, which doesn’t reflect the story at all. Um, actually, is that a good thing? I like it anyway!

Zoe writes eloquently on books where naughtiness is unpunished and unredeemed at Playing By The Book. The two books she includes (The Cake, and Children Are Naughty) are definitely polarising and I think people will either like none, one, or both, depending on personal taste and experience.

The Cake is definitely one to look out for, and with the potential to open up discussion, which can only be a good thing.

Disclosure: The Cake received for review from Gecko Press.

#BookADayUK Secondhand Bookshop Gem

I have lots of second hand book gems. Mostly they are books from my childhood that I’d forgotten about and then find and hug in memory, like The Fat Cat for 25p, or ones I did remember from my childhood and had to own again, like Frank and Polly Muir’s Big Dipper for 50p (I gave them more for it, because I was so pleased to see it!) Or there are the as-new looking ones, or the special signed ones… I have many second hand gems.

Today’s book choice is a brand new book in a retro style, that feels like it might have been published 30 or 40 years ago (yet is still fresh), and is definitely a gem.

Children Are Naughty: Vincent Cuvellier & Aurelie Guillerey (Flying Eye Books, 2014)Children Are Naughty: Vincent Cuvellier & Aurelie Guillerey (Flying Eye Books, 2014)

This is not a book for everyone. I think it’s fabulous, and want to buy it for many of my parent friends who I think will love this. I’m not sure all of them will share it with their children though. It’s probably a ‘marmite’ book, and I love it.

Danger Girl (5) objects to the title of this book: “Children are not naughty,” she says, “Children are nice.” I think some of the wording goes above her head, and we needed to discuss them so she could see that the book was actually saying that parents were just the same when they were children.

The anarchic spreads in bold colours are wonderful – you can peek inside the book at the Flying Eye website. The book is listed as for 5-7 year olds, but I think it might be better for 7+ (depending on the child) as the humour is subtle, plus the final picture spread is one some parents won’t feel comfortable with.

I’m not one of those parents. The final spread does, however, include decapitation, pools of blood, a hanging skeleton, various dismembered body parts… All caused by the dreams of the angelic sleeping child. “She cut the zombie’s head off!” says Danger Girl. My children grew up on Scooby Doo and Doctor Who. The pools of blood might be something new, but it’s in cartoon form so they can deal with it not being real.

Having read about French picture books, this may just be a cultural thing. I really wish I could read French, because they look fab. I can but hope for more translations. Children Are Naughty is a hilarious book with wonderful illustrations and I recommend it to all parents and teachers, and most children too!

Disclosure: Children Are Naughty received for review from Flying Eye Books.