Tag Archives: Caryl Hart

Interview with Stupendously Talented Author Caryl Hart

Caryl Hart is the stupendously talented award-winning author of amazing picture books such as Supermarket Zoo, Rhino, What Rhino?, The Princess and the Peas, Whiffy Wilson, and more. She is now also the stupendously talented author of early reader chapter books for children of all ages about Foxy DuBois and Alphonso Alligator.

Whiffy Wilson - The Wolf Who Wouldn't Go to School: Caryl Hart & Leonie Lord (Orchard Books, 2014)Hello, Caryl. Our first question is from your big fan Mighty-Girl (7) who is a writer and very interested in the writing process. She asks, what is your next book going to be? 

Hi! The next book to come out is a new story about Whiffy Wilson.  It’s called Whiffy Wilson, the Wolf who Wouldn’t go to School, published by Orchard Books.

Luckily, Dotty is on hand to sort him out.  She takes him to her school and Whiffy is suprised to discover that school is actually lots of fun.  What a silly wolf he is!

I also have another Princess book coming out with Nosy Crow and a new Albie book next year with Simon & Schuster.

The next thing I’m starting work on is a series of three chapter books for 6-8 year olds for Nosy Crow.  It’s going to be about a girl called Little Pip and her friend Mervin Marvin.  It’s not out till 2016 though because I’m waiting for a very special illustrator to find time in her extremely busy schedule.

I’m also working on some baby books, but I don’t know if they’ll be published.  We’ll have to wait and see!

Wow, that sounds really busy! And great news for us: more Whiffy Wilson, Princesses, Albie and chapter books – perfect! The Princess and the Peas is one of Danger Girl (4)’s favourite books ever. Did you have a favourite book when you were little, and what was it?

My favourite book was Snuffy written by Dick Bruna. He also wrote the Miffy books and Snuffy was similar.  It was about a little brown dog who helps a lady find her lost child.  Snuffy gives the child a ride on his back when he takes her home.  I always wanted to be the lost child being taken back to her mummy!

Foxy Tales The Cunning Plan: Caryl Hart & Alex T Smith (Hodder Children's Books, 2014)I’ve not heard of that book, it sounds so lovely! Being lost is one of a child’s biggest fears and a theme that seems to inspire a lot of picture books. What books inspire or influence your writing?

Oh gosh, so many!  But the book that really inspired me to have a go at writing myself was Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury.  I adore the rhythm of Martin’s words and love Helen’s watercolour illustrations.  I think its a very clever book.

I also love Shirley Hughes – she writes great stories and beautiful, simple poems that I think children really relate to.  My children memorised lots of her poems when they were very small and we used to chant them together on long journeys.

Lots of my books have a moral or a message for the readers, and I think I get this from Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales, which I read over and over as a child. They were written in verse and are wonderful stories about naughty children getting what they deserve including being eaten by lions and burned alive!  Not very nice, I suppose, but very funny!!

Those are all fabulous choices, and thank-you for reminding me about Cautionary Tales, I must see if Mighty Girl likes them, I loved them when I was little too!

Caryl Hart & Mighty Girl, Feb 2013

Caryl & Mighty Girl at the Red House Children’s Book Awards, Feb 2013

Before you go back to creating more wonderful stories, could you tell us about your event at Hoo’s Kids Book Fest?

I’m going to be reading from Foxy Tales, the Cunning Plan and Alex T Smith is going to be drawing some pictures.  He might even draw Alphonso in his knickers if you’re lucky!

We’ll also tell you a bit about how the book came about and how much fun it’s been to create it together. I’ve also heard a rumour that Alex is bringing his little dog Coco, but you’ll have to wait and see if that rumour is true!

How exciting! We can’t wait to see you there. The whole day sounds wonderful! How excited are you to be appearing at Hoo’s Kids Book Fest?

Like.. VERY!!

Thank-you so much for answering our questions, and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Caryl will be appearing at Hoo’s Kids Book Fest this Sunday with the equally stupendously talented Alex T Smith, talking about Foxy Tales, and being generally awesome.

Red House Children’s Book Award Ceremony 2013

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On Saturday I was delighted to go to the Red House Children’s Book Award Ceremony for the first time, representing Oxford Children’s Book Group. I joined the group (and committee) thanks to the encouragement of Zoe from Playing by the Book and Mélanie from Library Mice who are both on the national executive of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups. This is a personal account of MG and my experience of the day, 23rd February 2013.

The Red House Children’s Book Award is owned and coordinated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and is the only award where all the books are nominated and voted for by children. This blog was part of this year’s blog tour, hosting Caryl Hart who I’ve got to know on Twitter as a wonderful person as well as talented author so MG and I were beyond happy to be sitting on her table for lunch.

I didn’t realise that we’d get to have lunch as well as go to the awards, so that was an added bonus to a wonderful experience. Originally I was taking both MG and DG but was then advised that the day was really for children aged seven and up. MG is a bright and (generally) patient child so the fact it was one day after her sixth birthday wasn’t a problem but I am glad I didn’t take DG because she would have been bored and grotty as there was a lot of waiting around which MG only just managed.

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A trip to London is a special treat for MG and something we’d only done once before. I’m glad we had that trip because we went to South Bank which is where the Awards were based so we were both familiar with how to get there. On arriving, my anxiety hit because my phone decided to stop working. I have a basic android smart phone but I rely on it far too much it seems: it is my clock, my alarm, my communication, my train timetable… Without it I felt somewhat lost, because I didn’t even know what the time was. Plucking up courage, I asked several people and managed to end up in the right place at the right time and once in the building at 11am knowing the time didn’t matter because everything was run beautifully.

I spied Caryl fairly quickly and we made our way to say hello. MG was instantly smitten, and Caryl is as lovely in real life as she appears. Despite her nerves, she treated us like old friends and during dinner she was sat next to MG engaging with her. Thank-you, Caryl! In the pre-dinner reception we also found Zoe and Mélanie to talk to, despite them both also being incredibly busy. Before the meal all the authors and illustrators were pulled off to signing tables and the children from around the country were excitedly meeting their heroes and getting books signed. It was a lovely sight to see. I would have loved to have brought my copy of A Monster Calls and met Patrick Ness in person but the day was about the children, so we bought new copies of Can You See Sassoon? and Spooky, Spooky House and lined up to get those signed along with the copy of Welcome to Alien School that we already owned.

Sam Usher signing

I love Dog Loves Drawing, but it wasn’t such a hit with my daughters sadly, so we didn’t buy that one or get it signed. To be honest, by the second queue MG was fed up and wanted to sit down again but I was a mean mummy and we lined up to meet the authors and illustrators for the three books we’d chosen. Sam Usher and Louise Yates had the longest queues because they drew fairly complex doodles in each book they signed and therefore took longer for each book. I hadn’t been sent with any requests from my group so we just had books signed for us, but some people had four or five copies of each book. All the authors and illustrators were fantastic for the time they put in, not to mention the organisers!

There were two authors missing. Pittacus Lore, on account of being an alien on the run, and David Walliams, on account of being a ‘sleb. David Walliams did turn up to the ceremony for his part of the awards and I’m glad to see the behind-the-scenes pictures on the FCBG website where the children who should have presented to him during the dinner did get to meet him and present his portfolio in person.

Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves recieving portfolios

Before the meal, every author and illustrator was presented with a portfolio of drawings and writing from various school children. MG got to sneakily look through Caryl Hart’s because she was sitting next to her! I thought this was a lovely thing, and really added to the child-centred aim of the awards. Every child who was attending from a local book group was involved in the ceremony in some way. Groups of three or four children presented the portfolios at the meal, and groups of children also presented the awards for each category. As MG was the only person for Oxford, she ended up with a different surprise…

Welcome to Alien School portfolio

The meal was very well organised. Every table had at least one author or illustrator plus representatives from FCBG, Red House, or a publisher as well as the adults and children from local book groups. Every child got a teddy and a goody bag with things to keep them amused like book samples and colouring. The event was all about the children and they could all happily mill with the authors and illustrators, chat and get books signed. Being at the younger end, MG stuck with me, but the delight on the faces of children meeting their favourite authors and illustrators was lovely to see. The food itself came in child-sized portions served on long wooden trays for everyone to help themselves. This was an excellent idea, as the food just kept coming so the adults could eat whatever they needed and the children had a good choice from a healthy and varied selection including the ever-popular mini burgers and ice cream cones!

After the meal, we went into the venue for the ceremony. The various VIPs from the meal (and their parents or carers in the case of the children) were in the front rows getting a great view of everything. The Awards were hosted by James Campbell who also hosts Red House’s Big Book Babble so he’s both very familiar with the authors and illustrators, and with keeping children amused. The event consisted of introductions, interviews, children from Stagecoach performing, and the winner announcements. I could write more, but there’s good write-ups at Red House and FCBG already!

Look at the crowds, no wonder MG was shy! Image (c) Dominic Turner from FCBG

From a personal viewpoint, the main part of the ceremony for us was during the interviews of the Younger Children shortlisted authors and illustrators where everyone was invited to try to find Sassoon under their seat. It was under MG’s seat. We’d actually had a bit of a head’s up on this and when I saw it was there when we sat down I talked to MG about going onto the stage and whether she wanted to do it. This is the girl who refused to have her picture taken at the table, but she said she would go up and when the time came she held up Sassoon, smiled excitedly and ran to the stage.

I found Sassoon! Image (c) Dominic Turner from FCBG

Image (c) Dominic Turner from FCBG

At this point, she realised how big the place was and how many people were there and became very, very shy. I probably should have gone down and held her hand but I was stuck to my seat with nerves too. Here James Campbell showed how good he is with children. He spoke to her on her own level at all times; he found her name tag so she didn’t have to say her name out loud; he tried to get a smile out of her; he didn’t force the Sassoon model on her (we got it after the ceremony!); and he carried her back to her seat! She was in tears so we had a huge snuggle and she asked to leave but she only cried for a minute because it was a huge thing for her and then she was happy again. She stole my camera and started to film the end of the ceremony, her favourite part being this tiny snippet where James Campbell asks after her:

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdCKYYoJ23I”]

Sadly we don’t have too much of the ceremony filmed, my camera stops filming at ten minutes so we completely missed the part where Patrick Ness repeatedly used the work b*ll**ks in order to avoid using the word b*ll**ks. I did find this amusing, especially when MG said to her dad: “I’ve learnt a new rude word. But it’s not from mummy, it’s from an author.” I have a different opinion on swear words than my husband 😉

Here is some near the end. Patrick Ness does say the b-word: it’s so noisy you don’t really hear it, but I feel I should add that warning! Bear in mind all of this was filmed by a newly minted six-year old, it isn’t great footage.

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRZuqo3mWVE”]

The memory card in the camera ran out too, and after I deleted some pictures to make space MG didn’t press the record button hard enough. But she loves the part she did record, and watches it to remind herself of the day out. As soon as the awards were finished, we rushed off to catch a train because MG was feeling very worn out by this point. Looking at the pictures on the FCBG site, it seems that most of the book group children got their pictures with Andrew Weale and Lee Wildish, the overall winners, but we didn’t stay to congratulate them sadly. MG did drag me to say goodbye to Caryl, who lifted her up for a big goodbye hug. We also went to ask for Sassoon but just missed Sam Usher to thank him in person.

In summary, it was a wonderful experience and MG enjoyed it thoroughly. It was a little too much for her at six but she did really well and I’ll hopefully take her again next year; and DG in a couple of years’ time. We may not be representing Oxford CBG for a few years, as other children will get a turn, but the ceremony alone was good fun too.

Both MG and DG chose Spooky, Spooky House as their first choice so they’re very happy about the winner. As I said in my summary review of the four picture books, it was so hard to choose between them myself but I had a feeling Spooky, Spooky House would at least win the Younger Children’s category given the reaction of the children we tested on locally. Congratulations Andrew and Lee, and to all the other winners, shortlisted authors and illustrators, organisers and children. Well done all.

Overall Winners, Andrew Weale and Lee Wildish. Image (c) Dominic Turner, from FCBG website

The top five photos and two video clips were taken by myself or MG; the bottom four photos are from FCBG, copyright Dominic Turner.

Red House Childrens Book Award 2013 Younger Children Short List

Welcome to Alien School: Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves (Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, 2012)Welcome to Alien School: Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves (Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, 2012)
We’re fans of Caryl Hart in the Chaos household, and bought Welcome to Alien School when it was first published. It’s the third in a series following a boy called Albie and the strange things that seem to happen to him – I’m not quite sure if it’s all in his imagination or not. He’s been to a supermarket that sells zoo animals, planted dinosaurs in the garden and here he ends up on another planet for school. It’s a very fun story with much appeal to small children who may feel that going to school is an alien experience in itself.

Can You See Sassoon?: Samuel Usher (Little Tiger Press, 2012)Can You See Sassoon?: Samuel Usher (Little Tiger Press, 2011)
The bright primary colours and packed illustrations make this a lovely book to curl up with and try to spot all the things in the pictures. I struggled to find Sassoon, the striped snake, in some of the double page spreads but MG’s beady eyes spotted him quickly! There are various scenes that he is hiding in, including food, toys, a bookcase and outer space. DG found the search more challenging but still enjoyed looking and was very excited when she first spotted him without assistance! Great fun and beautifully illustrated.

Spooky, Spooky House: Andrew Weare & Lee Wildish (Picture Corgi, 2011)Spooky, Spooky House: Andrew Weare & Lee Wildish (Picture Corgi, 2011)
This book has flaps to open, pop ups and a heat-sensitive picture on the last page. In a similar vein to Jan Pienkowski’s Haunted House, an unseen narrator tells the reader to keep away from the house because it’s full of so many terrifying monsters. But children, peeking through their hands, insist on each flap being opened and each page being turned before discovering the scariest spook of all on the last page – under a heat sensitive patch which adds another element of exciting discovery, and a twist to the tale…

Dog Loves Drawing: Louise Yates (Red Fox Picture Books, 2012)Dog Loves Drawing: Louise Yates (Red Fox Picture Books, 2012)
If you’ve already read Louise Yates’ Dog Loves Books, you’ll know that Dog loves books so much that he’s opened a bookshop. In this tale, he received a sketchbook from an aunt, and somewhat daunted at first he starts an exciting adventure through the pages joined by a host of friends. This may appeal to fans of Harold and the Purple Crayon and is a clever and fun journey through the world that books and drawing can open up to small children. Plus it has a monster in, which always appeals. Beautifully illustrated and a fun tale of trying out new things even when you’re not sure.

Who do I think will win? They are all brilliant books and well deserving of their nominations, but based on the reactions of children I’ve tested with I think I can guess which might win… I don’t know which one I’d choose as my favourite to be honest, we’ve loved Welcome to Alien School for some time; but Dog Loves Drawing is such a fun idea; but Can You See Sassoon is brightly coloured and challenging; but Spooky, Spooky House has great monsters and cute twist… They should all win!

Voting is open until 27th January, you can vote online as an individual or as a school / library. The books can be purchased from Red House for £2.99 or £3.49 each, click on the images above for the direct link to Red House. The winners will be announced on 23rd February.

Disclaimer: I am on the committee for Oxford Children’s Book Group, part of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups who run the award, and have been test reading the younger children short-list to various children. My opinions are my own and I receive no financial reward for supporting FCBG.

The Princess and the Peas at Tales on Moon Lane

Invitation

I was so excited when the invitation arrived in my mailbox and said “Yes! Yes! YES!” immediately. I live near Oxford and have no clue about London but it generally seems fairly easy to visit. The night before when I actually checked the route and realised it was going to take me three hours to get there I panicked but still thought it was worth it. On the actual day, DG had her pre-school booster inoculations and was really upset so I turned into overprotective mummy mode and didn’t want to leave her!

I missed this fab event, but Caryl and Sarah very kindly e-mailed me lots of pictures to share instead. Thanks to Dom from Nosy Crow who sent me a copy of the book to review and I also want to give special thanks to Elli, who offered to ‘hold my hand’ finding the event and in my absence got a copy of the book signed for my girls 🙂

As I wasn’t there, I’ll have to let the pictures talk for themselves, it looked like an amazing time was had by all and the children look so captivated. Well done Nosy Crow, Sarah, Caryl and Tales on Moon Lane!

Caryl & Sarah with Lily-Rose May, Tales on Moon Lane

Caryl & Sarah with Lily-Rose May, Tales on Moon Lane

Caryl reading, Sarah drawing, crowd laughing - Tales on Moon Lane

Caryl reading, Sarah drawing, crowd laughing – Tales on Moon Lane

Caryl reading, Sarah drawing, crowd laughing - Tales on Moon Lane

Caryl reading, Sarah drawing, crowd laughing – Tales on Moon Lane

Caryl & Sarah signing for their fans

Caryl & Sarah signing for their fans

Sarah & Caryl join the Tales on Moon Lane wall of fame

Sarah & Caryl join the Tales on Moon Lane wall of fame

The end of the evening, and it looks like even the made up characters had too much bubbly... ;-)

The end of the evening, and it looks like even the made up characters had too much bubbly… 😉

Friday Pick{ture Book}: The Princess and The Peas

The Princess and The Peas: Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton (Nosy Crow, 2012)

The Princess and The Peas: Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton
(Nosy Crow, 2012)

I am a teeny (huge) bit of a fan of both Caryl’s and Sarah’s work separately, so this combination was hugely exciting to me. It looks like I should dislike it intensely: see the princess, see the pink cover! But this is Caryl Hart, Sarah Warburton and Nosy Crow so you know you’re going to get something wonderful and this book doesn’t disappoint.

“With all things considered, I have to assess
This disease has no cure! The girl’s a princess.”
“You have to be joking!” her father exclaimed.
“Shes a princess all right,” the doctor explained.

Forgive me for going off on an adult-focussed commentary but I absolutely love this book and need to write about it in detail! Lily-Rose May lives with her dad in a lovely home in the woods. All the pages set at home are in beautiful natural colours with a lovely garden, rabbits, nature everywhere. Lily-Rose has a dress which is white with cherries on and a red ribbon in her hair. She is wonderfully, happily, girly without the default pink-ness. Her room is shown as being bright and feminine with the natural green and yellow that permeate the ‘home’ images and there are pink things in it because why not, girls do like pink too and that is just fine.

She lives with her dad. In the background of the pictures there are photo frames where you see a happy couple on their wedding day, plus baby pictures. The whole aura is of a well-loved little girl with a very caring dad who tries his best to give her a great and healthy life. There is no mention of the mother so there seems to be a tinge of sadness behind the story but Lily-Rose and her dad are having a lovely life together. The sadness behind the scenes may be why her dad tries so hard to get her to eat peas, but this is a children’s story so it’s also a slightly surreal point that drives the story on too.

http://swillustrators.co.uk/illustrators/sarah-warburton

The doctor is quite utterly mad, and has very much the look of a mad scientist about him. The diagnosis of Princess-itis and taking Lily-Rose away from her idyllic, but normal, life is probably one that many children brought up on a diet of unrealistic expectations and reality TV dream of. The cautionary tale of “The Princess and The Pea” retold beautifully in monotone with the main characters peering around the side of a gigantic book is the second distinct colour-scheme in the book making each location very distinct from each other.

Lily-Rose is torn between her love for her dad and the promise of great things and her loving father soothes her and does what he thinks is best for her future. Onto the palace location and pink becomes the primary colour in the illustrations. There is everything a princess could wish for: dressing up room, shoe room, a huge library, a room of her own with a television, jewels and pink dresses!

She’s initially taken in by all the material things, she puts on the frilly pink dress and tiara, she bounces on the luscious pink bed, she’s smitten by the enormous library (I’ll give her that one!) but of course reality soon hits in the life of a real princess isn’t wearing clothes and looking pretty, it’s hard work meeting people, representing your family, giving speeches and encouragement, shaking hands and deportment… The food also isn’t up to much 😉 Peas may be off the menu but the replacement certainly isn’t an improvement!

http://swillustrators.co.uk/illustrators/sarah-warburton

Lily-Rose soon realises that home and her dad are where she belongs so she gives back all the jewels and clothes and goes back. The odd pea is a minor inconvenience in the wonderful life with a loving family, and all’s well that ends well.

There is too much to love in this story: the lyrical rhyming, the fun and funny story, the encouragement to eat what you’re given, the pro-books imagery everywhere, the moral that for most children, home is the best place to be and celebrity isn’t all it may seem… Maybe I read too much into it but I love, love, love what this book says to me!

As for MG and DG, they love the book for its funny story, for its beautiful illustrations, for all the details they can pick out. And of course they also love the pink palace and all the princess things but I hope the message is going in too. There’s no reason not to like pink, or to play dress up and pretend to be a princess, and to like a variety of things (including tons of pink if you want!) but reality is a different matter too and happy ever after comes in all sorts of forms…

Disclaimer: I requested & received a copy of The Princess and the Peas by Nosy Crow for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Addendum: I also bought a copy which was kindly signed by Sarah and Caryl for MG and DG, so I’ll be donating the review copy.




Red House Children’s Book Award Blog Tour: Caryl Hart

Welcome to Child-Led Chaos and the fifth day of the Red House Children’s Book Award blog tour! I have a sneaky feeling you might find a closely related post at Babbleabout, as well as the list of the whole tour in my earlier post.

I’m delighted to be hosting Caryl Hart for her nomination in the Younger Children category for Welcome to Alien School. I ‘met’ Caryl on Twitter. Before that, the Chaos household hadn’t read any of her books (although I didn’t realise Rhino, What Rhino? that we’d heard and loved was one of hers.) I’d won copies of Supermarket Zoo and How to Grow a Dinosaur which she signed for MG & DG. Shortly after this Welcome to Alien School, the third in the series, was published and I bought it straight away (not to mention several others!)

Later today I have the honour of meeting Caryl in person so it’s even more special to me that she’s guest posting here for her Children’s Book Award nomination. I am so pleased that Welcome to Alien School has been shortlisted, and thrilled to welcome Caryl to Child-Led Chaos:

A Life in the Day of a Children’s Author

Before I became a full time writer, I found mornings unbearably stressful. I hated nagging the kids to get ready for school and would often end up shouting. Not a good way to start the day.  Now, six years after leaving work, the mornings are almost pleasant. The kids get themselves ready, my husband does the school run and I set my own agenda.  Amazingly, I earn more now than I did working three days a week, and I’m much, MUCH happier.

If I’m doing a school visit or library workshop, I usually head off early, having coerced various friends into walking the dog and collecting the kids from school.  Luckily, my valiant husband is an expert at getting the kids up and out in the morning.

Writing Day

If I’m having a writing day, I take the dog for a good stomp along the river.  It’s a national nature reserve and very, very beautiful. Even if I start the morning feeling glum, walking the dog always puts me in a good mood and I have written many a rhyme in my head whilst pounding along the footpath.

Then it’s down to work. On a good day, I can write three or four picture book spreads.  That’s about 200 words. It doesn’t sound like much, but for me this is REALLY good going!  Most days, I don’t write anything comprehensible, just lots and lots of notes.  More like verbal sketches than text. And then suddenly part of the story will come together and I’ll write it down properly. I spend a lot of time thinking out the details of a story, and then editing and re-editing to make the text as tight as possible.

I absolutely love the discipline of writing picture books.  With only around 800 words to play with, it’s a real challenge to make my stories exciting, meaningful, funny, believable, sell-able and to my editors’ liking.  Trying to do all this in rhyming verse can leave me ready to hurl the computer out of the window!  But when it works, it’s SO satisfying that I instantly forget the hours of frustration I’ve been through.  Rather like giving birth, actually.

Caryl Hart

At precisely 3.00 pm the Air Raid Siren goes off.  This is my phone telling me to wrench myself away, often mid-flow, and collect the kids from school.  Then I’m on Mum duty, though I do sometimes sneak back to the computer for a bit of extra work if I’m buzzing with ideas.

Evening meals around the table are usually dominated by the children telling funny stories about their day. And even if we don’t manage to eat together, we always end up in a pile on the sofa for a bit of telly and a snuggle before bed.

It’s a good life. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

Welcome to Alien School: Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves (Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, 2012)Welcome to Alien School has been shortlisted in the Younger Children category of the Red House Children’s Book Award 2013. The Red House Children’s Book Award is the only national children’s book award voted for entirely by children. It is owned and co-ordinated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, and sponsored by Red House.

Useful links:
http://www.fcbg.org.uk/
http://www.redhousechildrensbookaward.co.uk/
http://www.carylhart.com/

Friday Pick{ture Book} #7 Rhino? What Rhino?

Rhino? What Rhino?: Caryl Hart & Sarah Horne
(Hodder Children’s Books, 2010)

This is a book that we first heard on CBeebies, being read as the lunchtime story by Alex Winters. It’s so quotable, that it stuck in my mind from the very first time I heard it and I’m not sure what took me so long to add a copy to the girls’ library.

Rhino? What Rhino? That cannot be true. There’s only one Rhino and he’s in the zoo.

This book is very re-readable. Both DG and MG enjoy the story. DG loves the repetition and joins in with “it must have been you!” and then says “It was you, Mummy!” and has great fun with all the different animals. MG really enjoys the humour and illustrations, and also joins in with “Rhino, What Rhino?” We’ve all taken to jokingly accusing each other for things and then saying it’s the Rhino, this book has really entered the day-to-day consciousness of the Chaos family.

There’s some lovely Rhino activities to download from Caryl’s website, featuring Sarah’s wonderful illustrations. MG, DG and I all recommend this book, with so many lines to quote, great repetition and very fun illustrations.

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I’m Looking for a Book about… Space

It’s the third “I’m looking for a book about…” carnival from Playing by the Book and this month’s theme is Space.

There is obviously a discrepancy between what I think is on my shelves and what is actually on my shelves because I thought we had loads of books on Fairies (but found none), and loads on Space (but not as many as I thought) and none on the Seaside, Beaches and Oceans (but found far more than on any other subject so must go back and enter that carnival…)

Welcome to Alien School by Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves.

The third of a series of books about Albie, an ordinary boy who extraordinary things happen to. We’ve previously reviewed this book.

 

You Can’t Eat a Princess! by Gillian Rogerson & Sarah McIntyre.

Since reviewing, we now own our own copy of both You Can’t Eat a Princess! and You Can’t Scare a Princess! and they are both still very well loved.

 

Winnie in Space by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul.

Winnie the Witch! In space! What’s not to love? I am a huge fan of Korky Paul’s work, the details are wonderful and make re-reading books a joy. Winnie in Space is the eleventh Winnie book. Valerie Thomas’ text is spot on, these are proper picture books with text and pictures telling the stories together.

In Winnie in Space, Winnie conjures a rocket and off Winnie and Wilbur go for a picnic. But, oh no, space rabbits are coming to the picnic! “Chocolate Muffins? Disgusting. Cherries? Yuck!” but space rockets? Yum! How will Winnie and Wilbur get home after the rabbits have chewed their rocket up?

Every page also has a picture of a planet or object from the solar system with their astronomical symbols, a nice touch to lead to further study if your child shows an interest.

Meg on the Moon by Helen Nicol and Jan Pienkowski.

It’s Mog’s birthday and for his birthday treat he wants to go in a space ship.  Meg makes a spell (that works!) and off they go. This book actually covers a lot of educational activities: counting down from 10 for lift off; weightlessness in space; moon buggy, lunar module and spacesuits; food in bags; jumping high with the moon’s lower gravity; what the Earth looks like from space… Another gem of a book.

Basher’s Astronomy by Dan Green and Simon Basher.

I love these Basher Books, I’ve not written about them before because they’re too old for my girls but I’ve been collecting them nonetheless because they are brilliant. Manga-style characters with simplified explanations of the concepts they represent. This book deserves a post to itself

Finally a free book to download (or buy in physical form) for early readers: Tick Tock Little Facts Blast Off! Lots of photos of real space images and only 100 words for new readers to attempt themselves.

There is also a series of books about the solar system from the same publishers for early readers who want to read a bit more detail.

Next month’s carnival theme is (Starting) School. Thank-you Zoe for these carnivals, it’s been great fun thinking of books to fit each theme!

Fiction Fridays #27: Whiffy Wilson


FF#27
Whiffy Wilson: Caryl Hart & Leonie Lord (2011)

There was a wolf called Wilson
Who never brushed his hair.
He never washed his paws or face
Or changed his underwear.

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Extra Info:
Rhyming books are lovely to read aloud, the rhythm carries the story along and they’re easier to memorise (I remember reciting the whole of the Gruffalo to MG to calm her on a trip out when she was younger, although I can’t any more!) I also like that it gives children the chance to guess the next word by working out the rhyme. Whiffy Wilson has a fantastic example of the word you’re *supposed* to guess being replaced by a non-rhyming word which makes me giggle (although my girls haven’t quite ‘got’ that idea yet but I’m sure the eldest will soon…)

Sadly there are several children’s books written in rhyme that just don’t scan and use words to force the plot that don’t rhyme, or make sense. I once said that I prefered prose books because a bad rhyme can be so awful but a good rhyme is perfect. Whiffy Wilson is on the perfect side.

Wilson is a wolf who doesn’t like to wash, but through the intervention of his good friend Dotty he learns that washing is good. As a parent I love the fact that the book distinguishes between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ dirt. I do want my children to have fun, to splash in puddles, to play with mud, to climb trees, to get dirty because they were exploring and adventuring… So I love that there is a distinction made between this and dirt that can make you ill. Nice and educational 🙂

The artwork along with the verse is beautiful. Leonie Lord appears to use pencils for her art which give a lovely scruffy feel to Wilson. Wilson is an adorable character (despite being smelly in the beginning) and Dotty a great friend. The duo make a book suitable for boys and girls, and I love the non-sterotyped girl swinging through trees.

Between the wonderful artwork and the humourous verse, this book is a delight to read over and over again. I hugely recommend Whiffy Wilson.

Fiction Fridays #23: Welcome to Alien School

FF#23
Welcome to Alien School: Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves (2012)

“Red-Five? Red-Five? This is mission Control. Get ready for countdown.”

Read more about Fiction Fridays here.
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Extra Info:
This is the third book in a series about Albie, a small boy with a huge imagination. In the first book, Albie went with his mum to the supermarket where the shopping list included reptiles, parrots, monkeys, lions and a very large surprise… In the second book, Albie planted some seeds with his mum and the next day his garden is a prehistoric jungle full of dinosaurs and jelly bean trees…

In this book, Albie’s mum drops him off at the wrong school – on a different planet! Here he has to cope with strange lessons, strange new friends and even stranger food. But by the end he’s had great fun and wants to take a friend home – but they can’t because he has to go swimming. And that’s another adventure…

Welcome to Alien School has really caught MG’s imagination. She requests it regularly (I had to prise the three books from under her as she slept in order to take a picture!) and she plays pretend school with alien teachers, bossing her little sister: “Time for Alien School!”

One thing that I particularly like in this book is the maths lesson at Alien School. It’s a pet hate of mine how it’s socially acceptable to say maths is difficult, which therefore becomes self-fulfilling as kids believe it is so don’t try so find it hard etc… But Albie loves maths! Yay! He may not be able to do Alien maths, but that’s because it’s Alien!