Tag Archives: Friday Pick{ture Book}

Friday Pick{ture Book}: The Octonauts Explore The Great Big Ocean

The Octonauts Explore The Great Big Ocean: Meomi (HarperCollins' Childrens Books, 2012)

The Octonauts Explore The Great Big Ocean: Meomi (HarperCollins’ Childrens Books, 2012)

MG, DG, and pretty much every single child we know were enrapt by the Octonauts TV series from the moment it arrived on CBeebies two years ago. Actually, every adult we know too. Octonauts are brilliant! When I found out there were original books, they went straight onto the wish list.

We now have three of the four original books and at first I wasn’t sure because they didn’t seem as realistic as the TV series (because talking animals are so realistic!) but they are not the TV series and are wonderful in the own right and for being the inspiration of it.

This is the fifth book of the series, and I think the first to be written after the TV series which is evident in some changes (“Sauci Sausage Dog” is now “Dashi Dog” like the TV series!) It is also the first to be in portrait format, the other four being landscape.

The story follows the Vegimals wanting to find their natural habitat. It therefore is wonderfully educational with mentions of biomes and habitats plus gives a back story to the Vegimals – I hadn’t worked out that Tunip was half tuna, half turnip for instance – although it contradicts “The Only Lonely Monster”‘s comment that Vegimals are all the same…

The Octonauts Explore The Great Big Ocean: Meomi (HarperCollins’ Childrens Books, 2012)

This book is probably my favourite, and a huge hit with MG and DG too. How could it not be, including a pull-out spread of the internal workings of the Octopod, Shellington’s notebook on the Vegimals, lots of pictorial lists and a glow-in-the-dark double spread!

Glow-in-the-dark sections inside books can be a pain – they’re shut up inside a book so can’t charge in the light, plus you can’t read the words if you turn the light off to see the glow-in-the-dark parts – but it’s not a problem with this book. The glow ‘recharges’ really quickly (10 seconds or so in front of a lamp or other light source) and shines very bright and clearly. We’ve been reading the book with a lamp on, then turning it off to see the wonderfulness of this spread but you could maybe read with a torch for added fun.

This is a book to be flicked through, back and forth, to grab the other books and read them again, to play Octonauts games (again!) and for both studying the packed illustrations during the day as well as snuggle up with before bedtime. Great fun, and hugely recommended!

You can see more of Meomi’s art here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/meomi/

This will be the last Pick{ture Book} for a while. I’ve put the linky up for a month, but not sure whether I will continue after that point or just review books as and when instead of having a Friday deadline I generally keep missing! Thank-you to everyone who has joined in so far, and please feel free to tweet me your reviews. I read every one.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Octonauts Explore the Great Big Ocean by HarperCollins’ 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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Friday Pick{ture Book}: Katie and the Starry Night

Katie and the Starry Night: James Mahew (Orchard Books, 2012)

Katie and the Starry Night: James Mayhew
(Orchard Books, 2012)

James Mayhew is a simply a genius. As well as the Katie and Ella Bella books, he also paints live at classical concerts and is currently designing the sets for a stage version of Katie and the Mona Lisa. I’m still only really newly discovering James and only just starting to appreciate the depth of his talent and commitment to sharing the arts with all children.

I’m probably a total cretin when it comes to “the arts” but I’m also of the opinion that “I like what I like” is a perfectly valid viewpoint. I like Starry Night, it’s a beautiful painting. I like that Van Gogh was a character in Doctor Who! We were going to watch that episode as part of the “Starry Night” week I planned for half term to go with this book but the week flew by and it turned into one day of projects.

We had a Playing by the Book moment, and I looked up lots of ideas related to Starry Night to go along with reading this book. In the end we made a starry jar (or four), and MG copied the picture freehand (I was going to print off a colouring sheet!) in a painting session. You can click to see my pinboard of collected ideas.

MG painting Starry Night

This is the twelfth Katie book (which means there’s one we don’t own!) and follows Katie through five Van Gogh paintings: The Starry Night, Noon, Vincent’s Chair, Fishing Boats on the Beach and The Olive Grove. James Mayhew seamlessly melds these paintings together as Katie wanders through them and the art gallery to collect missing stars while her Grandma sleeps…

At the end of the book there is additional information about the paintings, providing a springboard for further study if required. All the Katie books are lovely introductions to various art and any (or all!) of them deserve a place in every household. Katie and the Starry Night is a beautiful addition to the series, we all enjoyed reading it and then making messy art too!

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Katie and the Starry Night by Hachette Children’s 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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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.




Friday Pick{ture Book}: The Jolly Postman

The Jolly Postman: Janet & Allan Ahlberg (Puffin, 1986)

The Jolly Postman: Janet & Allan Ahlberg
(Puffin, 1986)

Apologies, this is another week of me posting a holding page instead of a proper review! Half term week has been hectic, and my brain doesn’t have the power to give this book the write-up it deserves. Justifiably famous, this really is a book that should be in every house. I’m currently wondering whether we should add The Jolly Christmas Postman given how much MG & DG love this one…

In the meantime, please join in the linky and why not read a review of The Goldilocks Variations, a new addition from the Ahlberg family that looks amazing – I’ve bought it for MG’s Christmas present on the strength of Zoe’s review 🙂

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Friday Pick{ture Book}: The Spider and the Fly

The Spider and the Fly: Mary Howittz and Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon and Schuster, 2002)

The Spider and the Fly: Mary Howittz and Tony DiTerlizzi
(Simon and Schuster, 2002)

It has taken me a ridiculously long time to buy this book, I have coveted it for about 5 years but I wasn’t sure MG would like it so I put off buying it and every time I saw it I put off buying it… Then there was a repeat of Bookaboo on that the children happened to watch featuring this book and not only did I fall even more in love with it, but they liked it too. Oh, how I wish I’d got it five years ago!

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly

This book is sublime. The poem dates from 1829 and although the language is dated it is still completely accessible and wonderful to read aloud. I can even manage voices with this one (I’m rubbish at voices…) The poem is freely available, but this book improves on the classic with wonderfully gothic creepy imagery.

"Oh no, no," said the little Fly...

There is so much to love about this book: the art itself is beautiful, this book deserves to be on any and every bookshelf. The ‘subtle web’ which grows on each text-only page until it is complete by the end of the book; the text-only pages being reminiscent of silent film title cards; the timing of the page turns in the poem increasing the tension; the etherial ghost bugs observing the proceedings; the locations; everything in black and white…

The Spider turned him round about...

My terrible photography does no justice to the images, but even decent photography would barely cut it. This is a book to be savoured, to snuggle up and shiver with, to soak in each little detail and to be read again, and again, and again. DG requests I read this roughly twice a day since we got it; the sinister spider and the unhappy ending fill her with glee (she’s my daughter!) MG enjoys it too but DG is my book girl at the moment, MG prefers media so will watch the Bookaboo version instead:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd1tQLSYGrA]

If you don’t already have this book, treat your family for Halloween (and the rest of the year too…) A fantastic cautionary tale in it’s perfect form. Worth every penny and more.

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Friday Pick{ture Book}: When I Dream of Christmas

When I Dream of Christmas: Oakley Graham (Top That! Publishing, 2012)

When I Dream of Christmas: Oakley Graham
(Top That! Publishing, 2012)

I know, it’s still October and you’re only just starting to think Halloween thoughts but even though there’s still 66 days until Christmas; there’s 6 weeks until 1st December and the Advent countdown which this book would be perfect for! Also I tend to collect for Christmas early so I can completely avoid shopping in November/December 😉

Each double page of When I Dream of Christmas consists of a gorgeous Christmas image on the right and simple humour-filled text on the left. I especially love that the main text font is an easy to read font (i.e. the ‘a’ is a circle with a tail rather than the more complicated print ‘a’; ‘b/’d’/’p’/’q’ are easily differentiated; capital ‘I’ and lower-case ‘l’ easily differentiated etc) which works well for handwriting practice too. MG loves to copy text from books to practice her handwriting.

A Bright Star

*apologies for quality of picture, lighting not good enough*

There are so many pages of this book that I want to share, it’s hard to choose a favourite! The descriptions make me smile as we read through the book, and MG and DG love all the different Christmassy items as well as the glittery cover. We are feeling quite festive already, but I’m putting the book away until December now!

Always hang out a stocking for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. Never hang out dirty socks as this is considered quite rude and can make your presents smell like cheese.

With twenty-seven double page spreads, this is a very substantial book that is still easy to read all the way through to children but also can be dipped in and out of one page at a time. It covers both secular and Christian elements of Christmas and I think will appeal to all religious backgrounds who want a humourous and not-particularly-factual coverage of the festive season!

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of When I Dream of Christmas by Top That! Publishing 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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Friday Pick{ture Book}: I Want My Hat Back

I Want My Hat Back: Jon Klassen
(Walker Books, 2011)

I have been meaning to buy this book for months, but I decided to wait for the paperback and what a very long wait it has been… This book is absolutely worth the wait on the one hand, but oh how I wish I’d got it earlier on the other! If you’ve read any other children’s book blogs in the last year, you probably already know about this book and the story but are maybe wondering if it can really be as good as everyone says it is? It can, and it is.

This is a simple story of a bear looking for his hat. He walks along, asking every animal he meets whether they’ve seen his hat, to which they invariably answer in the negative (if at all).

“Okay. Thank-you anyway.”

Then he realises that he has seen his hat on the way. Did you notice it as you went through the story? Did you listen to what the rabbit said? This book is wonderful for children to sit up and take notice. It does have a fantastically macabre twist making this a book very much fun for adults to read as well as children.

I Want My Hat Back - Jon Klassen

Image (c) Jon Klassen, taken from http://www.burstofbeaden.com/

I also love how simple the text is, it is possible for MG to read quite large chunks of this book although because of the repetition she tends to race ahead and have to stop and look again where the words actually change (this is a good thing, getting her to concentrate on what she’s reading instead of just guessing all the words!) It works well as an early reader. All the text is speech, who is speaking is differentiated by the colour of the text: subtle and effective.

The bear may love his hat; we love this book. Jon Klassen‘s second solo creation, This is Not My Hat has just been released in hardback and I will be adding it to our shelves very soon…

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Friday Pick{ture Book}: Walter & the No-Need-to-Worry Suit

Walter & the No-Need-to-Worry Suit: Rachel Bright (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2012)

Walter & the No-Need-to-Worry Suit: Rachel Bright
(HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012)

This is really the second pick of the week, as Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleep is the first, but as I reviewed that back in April originally I have an excuse to choose another 😉

I cannot emphasise enough just how gorgeous this book is, and I am delighted to know it’s the first in a series because in the Chaos household we all definitely want more of Walter, Winnie and their friends.

“What if… [..] my trousers completely come off… and at that very moment, a TV crew arrives and films the no trousers thing, and so I am basically on TV IN JUST MY PANTS!”

Walter, Winnie and their friends live in the gorgeously named Woollybottom. Walter worries about everything. He even worries that he’s forgotten something to worry about. He gets so worried about the upcoming sports day that his friends all work together to provide Walter with the perfect answer: a “no-need-to-worry” suit to protect him from everything (including his trousers falling off, and being stranded on an alien planet).

Except, with the suit on, Walter finds that he can’t actually do anything at all. Eventually he realises something really big: his friends have helped him out with more than just a suit, and worries can be overcome.

At the top of a very tall hill in a very small place called Woollybottom, is a horseshoe of houses.

The book has a wonderful printed typeface throughout, uneven and interesting to look at. The art is wonderfully printed, slightly (purposely) smudgy in places, edible colours… I utterly adore this book! Not just me, of course, DG and I have snuggled and read this over and over with DG pointing out all the characters, talking about them and commenting on what’s happening. I just giggle throughout, I think I am a bit like Walter in my worries to be honest (and I also HATE bananas!)

Highly recommended, I can’t wait for more from The Wonderful World of Walter & Winnie. Water & the No-Need-to-Worry Suit was published in paperback on 30 August with RRP £6.99.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Walter & the No-Need-to-Worry Suit by HarperCollins Children’s 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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Friday Pick{ture Book}: Three Month Roundup

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed choosing my books every Friday, and am hugely greatful to everyone who has joined in. This post is a roundup of the first thirteen weeks of Friday Pick{ture Book}.

In future, I’m going to avoid numbering the weeks (other than mentally), and depending on how popular the linky gets I will also try to do a roundup like this every three months, or a selection if there are too many 🙂

Aaaarrgghh, Spider! – Lydia Monks (Egmont) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
Alphabet Explosion – John Nickle (Landmark) reviewed by Menai Newbold
The Big Katie Morag Storybook – Mairi Hedderwick (Random House Children’s Books) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
Black Dog – Levi Pinfold (Templar Books) reviewed by Read it, Daddy!
Brave – Disney Pixar reviewed by Menai Newbold
Catch Us If You Can-Can – Alex T Smith (Hodder Children’s Books) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
The Champion Hare – InteractBooks LLC (InteractBooks LLC) reviewed by Capptivated Kids
Class Two at the Zoo – Julia Jarman & Lynne Chapman (Hodder Children’s Books) reviewed by BookARoo
Colours – Shirley Hughes (Walker) reviewed by Mini Bookworms
Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! – Emma Chichester Clark (HarperCollins Children’s Books) reviewed by Mini Bookworms
Denver – David McKee (Andersen Children’s Books) reviewed by Read it, Daddy!
Dogger – Shirley Hughes (Random House Children’s Books) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
Duck Sock Hop – Jane Kohuth & Jane Porter (Dial Books) reviewed by Menai Newbold
Ella – Alex T. Smith (Scholastic) reviewed by Overdue Books
Farmer Duck – Martin Waddell & Helen Oxenbury (Walker) reviewed by Hertfordshire Mummy
The Fearsome Beastie – Giles Paley-Phillips & Gabriele Antonini (Maverick Arts Publishing) reviewed by The Little Wooden Horse
Grandma Bendy – Izy Penguin (Maverick Arts Publishing) reviewed by Read it, Daddy!
The Green Line – Polly Farquharson (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) reviewed by Mini Bookworms
Haunted House – Jan Pienkowski (Walker) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
A Hundred Cartloads – Devika Rangachari & Bindia Thapar reviewed by Menai Newbold
I Like It When… – Mary Murphy (Egmont) reviewed by Menai Newbold
In the Forest – Sophie Strady & Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud (Tate) reviewed by The Little Wooden Horse
The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble – Angela Mitchell & Sarah Horne (Maverick Arts Publishing) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble – Angela Mitchell & Sarah Horne (Maverick Arts Publishing) reviewed by Natasha Worswick
Miffy’s Garden – Dick Bruna (Egmont Books) reviewed by Capptivated Kids
Monkey & Me – Emily Gravett (Macmillan Children’s Books) reviewed by Overdue Books
The Monster at the End of This Book – Jon Stone & Michael J. Smollin (Random House) reviewed by Capptivated Kids
The Monster Machine – Nicola L Robinson (Pavilion Children’s Books) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
Monstersaurus – Claire Freedman & Ben Croft (Simon & Schuster Childrens Books) reviewed by Mini Bookworms
Mother Goose Remembers – Clare Beaton (Barefoot Books) reviewed by Mini Bookworms
Muffin and The Birthday Surprise – Clara Vulliamy (Orchard Books) reviewed by A Mummy’s View
Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! – Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children’s Books) reviewed by Capptivated Kids
Owl Babies – Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson (Walker) reviewed by Hertfordshire Mummy
Rhino? What Rhino? – Caryl Hart & Sarah Horne (Hodder Children’s Books) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
The Scallywags – David Melling (Hodder Children’s Books) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
Six Dinner Sid – Inga Moore (Hodder Children’s Books) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
Stuck – Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books) reviewed by Bookaholic Mum
The Super Sandwich – Catherine Vase (Campbell Books) reviewed by Menai Newbold
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury (Walker) reviewed by Menai Newbold
The Tiger Who Came To Tea – Judith Kerr (HarperCollins Children’s Books) reviewed by Menai Newbold
Tip – McKee Readers (McKee Readers) reviewed by Menai Newbold
Topsy and Tim at the wedding – Jean & Gareth Adamson (Puffin) reviewed by Menai Newbold
Wanted: The Perfect Pet – Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children’s Books) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
Where’s My Sock? – Joyce Dunbar & Sanja Rescek (Chicken House) reviewed by Bookaholic Mum
Winnie’s Dinosaur Day – Valerie Thomas & Korky Paul (Oxford University Press) reviewed by Child-Led Chaos
The Wrong Book – Nick Bland (Scholastic) reviewed by Capptivated Kids

Click on the image above or here to see all links visually in Blogpinner. Huge thanks to:
Menai Newbold
Capptivated Kids
Mini Bookworms
Read it, Daddy!
Overdue Books
The Little Wooden Horse
Bookaholic Mum
Hertfordshire Mummy
A Mummy’s View
BookARoo
Natasha Worswick

Friday Pick{ture Book} #13: The Monster Machine

The Monster Machine: Nicola L Robinson (Pavilion Children's Books, 2012)

The Monster Machine: Nicola L Robinson
(Pavilion Children’s Books, 2012)

I can’t remember who choose this book. Whether is was me, or MG, or DG. I do know we saw it on a wander through Blackwell’s and we all liked the look of it so it came home with us…

Monsters are made of lots of things… Slugs, bogies, toenail clippings, sprouts, earwax, spiders, and some special dust and goo from Dad’s cupboard.

This is such a fun book, there’s the intricate steampunk-esque Monster Machine, monsters of all shapes and sizes, the kind of dad every kid would want to have, fun, inventiveness and a lovely ending for your little monsters!

We all love: the ingredients that go into making monsters; the inventing and machines; and best of all the different shaped and sized monsters. I particularly like this spread where the monsters are researching and finding out where they come from. It’s a lovely way of showing learning is fun, can be done in many different ways and something that might encourage little monsters to look up something they’re interested in.

The monsters [..] made a discovery.

The Monster Machine (and Nicola) have their own website and blog too, with some more monstrous monsters, but Nicola’s website is a must-visit packed with examples of her art. Wonderful fun for all monster lovers and their monsters 😉

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