Tag Archives: Friday Pick{ture Book}

Friday Pick{ture Book} #12: Catch Us If You Can-Can

Catch Us If You Can-Can: Alex T Smith (Hodder Children's Books, 2012)

Catch Us If You Can-Can: Alex T Smith
(Hodder Children’s Books, 2012)

Alex T Smith is another favourite in the Chaos household, with the wonderful Claude series and Ella. Catch Us If You Can-Can is a sequel to Egg, which we haven’t read, but it works just as well as a stand alone book which is how we’ve enjoyed it.

Let me introduce you to Foxy DuBois, a fox with big ideas, and Alphonso, an alligator with attitude.
This is the story about how, one day, it all went horribly wrong for them both.

Foxy DuBois is down on her luck, but there’s a dancing competition that could just solve that problem. There’s just two drawbacks: she needs a dancing partner, and the competition is for birds only. How a fox and an alligator enter a dancing competition for birds, and what happens afterwards is just… brilliant!

The style is 1950’s America (I think!) and the art is exquisite. From the playbill style copyright page to the dazzling end papers, this book is a beauty to behold. Foxy and Alphonso are wonderful characters, slightly naughty, a little surreal and most of all fun.

Catch Us If You Can-Can was published in hardback on 2 August 2012. Egg is available in paperback.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Catch Us If You Can-Can by Hachette Childrenโ€™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} #11: Six Dinner Sid

Six Dinner Sid: Inga Moore (Hodder Children's Books, 1990)

Six Dinner Sid: Inga Moore
(Hodder Children’s Books, 1990)

This is one of MG’s favourite books. She had it read to her at school and when we found it in a charity shop it was a must buy. We read it regularly, although she can quote huge chunks of it off by heart, especially the beginning which we all find brilliant and funny:

Sid lived at number one, Aristotle Street.
He also lived at number two, number three, number four, number five and number six.

It’s hard work for Sid to maintain six different identities to get his six dinners, so he feels that he deserves them all. Eventually the neighbours find him out and plan to give him only one dinner a day. But Sid is a six-dinner-a-day cat, so he has other plans…

He went with six different people, in six different ways.

This book is lovingly illustrated with wonderful observations on cat mannerisms. The six different ways Sid is perceived by his ‘owners’ and how they treat him are shown in comic-style panels on the page and the fairly minimal text allows for early reading. This is a book that MG likes to copy sentences out of for practising her writing.

I find the place names (Aristotle Street and Pythagoras Place) a nice touch, and that it encourages neighbourliness. Both MG and DG love cheeky Sid and his six dinners.

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Friday Pick{ture Book} #10: Winnie’s Dinosaur Day

Winnie's Dinosaur Day: Valerie Thomas & Korky Paul (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Winnie’s Dinosaur Day: Valerie Thomas & Korky Paul
(Oxford University Press, 2012)

This is quite a special Winnie the Witch book. Not only is it published in Winnie’s 25th anniversary year but it’s the 13th picture book in the series, and Valerie Thomas & Korky Paul have really excelled themselves with both a wonderful story and some of my absolute favourite illustrations so far.

Her drawing looked exactly like the triceratops.
Well, it looked quite like the triceratops.

It helps that I am Oxfordshire born and bred, because the first page just jumps out for me: it’s the Natural History Museum! Or to give it the correct title, Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Instead of twelve roof windows, there’s thirteen (of course) but what a lovely sight for an Oxford girl like me! Er, yes, there’s apparently tons of Oxford references in all of Korky’s illustrations, but I’m a bit slow… ๐Ÿ˜†

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Museum from Winnie's Dinosaur Day

Museum from Winnie’s Dinosaur Day (image from Wikipedia)

Korky’s illustrations really make the Winnie the Witch books and Valerie’s text is perfect with some subtle dry humour for older readers as well as being enjoyable stories from a young age. In Dinosaur Day, Winnie and Wilbur are coming back from the library when they see something happening in the museum courtyard: a drawing competition! Winnie wants to win, and being Winnie she takes a non standard route to enter. Poor Wilbur unhappily tags along, but in the end everyone is happy even without winning.

I don’t know where to start with how perfect this book is. It’s got dinosaurs; and drawing; and visiting museums & libraries; and not having to win to be happy; and thinking ‘outside the box’ to solve problems; and dinosaurs! Did I mention the dinosaurs?!

DG is a fidget when it comes to reading, she always wanders about, and she talks about all the pictures whereas MG listens to the story first and then wants to go back through. DG also questions everything:

“… Winnie got out her drawing book and her coloured pencils. …”
“Is not pencils, is a paint brush! Look!”
“Yes… But there are pencils there too…”

MG said the book was both “Brilliant!” and “Magnificent!” I didn’t even know she knew the word magnificent. Her favourite parts were the end papers (if you’ve not read any Winnie the Witch books, all the end papers are drawn by various children); “Big dinosaurs, enormous dinosaurs, gigantic dinosaurs!”; and the final double spread (which is another moment of comic brilliance but I won’t post a picture so as not to ruin the ending.)

'I think we all know who has won the competition.'

One of my favourite parts is all the different dinosaur pictures for the competition, and the lovely little touches like the number 25 appearing on all the paint tubes ๐Ÿ™‚

At time of posting, the hardback is only ยฃ3.99 with Red House (free P&P if you’re an Extra member, or if you spend over ยฃ15), so there’s no reason not to buy several copies to give to every child you know ๐Ÿ™‚

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Friday Pick{ture Book} #9: The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble

The Jelly That Wouldn't Wobble: Angela Mitchell & Sarah Horne (Maverick Arts Publishing, 2012)

The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble: Angela Mitchell & Sarah Horne
(Maverick Arts Publishing, 2012)

How can you not like a book that starts with a princess’s 89th birthday? And is illustrated by Sarah Horne? Hilarious and subversive, this book is a delight for children and their adults.

“I. SAY. THIS. JELLY. DOESN’T. WOBBLE!” screeched the Princess hysterically. She prodded the jelly again and again… and again. It didn’t wobble!

Princess Lolly is distraught that her special birthday jelly won’t wobble, but the jelly doesn’t want to be eaten and refuses to. All the guests try different ways to make it wobble but nothing works until the smallest guest has a brilliant idea. This is a wonderful story, perfectly pitched and illustrated. Lots of scope for silly voices while reading and much (slightly gruesome if you think about it) humour. Look at the princess’s badge! ๐Ÿ™‚


Maverick are fairly new on the children’s picture book scene, and we’ve been lucky to also review The Fearsome Beastie and The Dog Detectives Lost in London already (with Grandma Bendy still to come), given this selection they are definitely a name to look out for and are collecting an amazing array of talent.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Jelly That Wouldn’t Wobble by Maverick Arts 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} #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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Friday Pick{ture Book} #6: Wanted: The Perfect Pet

Wanted: The Perfect Pet: Fiona Roberton
(Hodder Children’s Books, 2009)

Henry wants the perfect pet, the duck wants a friend. They might just be able to help each other.

“I want a pet with personality. I want a dog. [..] Because it is common knowledge,” said Henry, “that a dog is The Perfect Pet for a boy.”

… “Or a girl,” adds MG at this point in the story. I tend to read it as ‘child’ now ๐Ÿ˜† The ‘simple’ style of illustration in this book perfectly convey so much emotion and humour. It really is a joy to read aloud but with little details that make it a great reading book too. It could easily be reformatted as an early reader especially as it is made up of three ‘chapters’, however it deserves the bigger format in order to enjoy the art and story fully.

It completely tickles my funny bone – I especially like the classified ads including the castle for rent with ‘atmosphere of impending doom’. The story has a surreal edge in the vein of Oliver Jeffers and the story is wonderfully heartwarming.

This is just a gorgeous book to snuggle up with, and one I’ve read to myself without the children a few times too because it’s so lovely! It also shows us that what we think we want might not be what we actually need, and to take note of what someone is, not what they aren’t.

Wanted: The Perfect Pet was published in paperback on 5 Jul 2012, as was the hardback of The Perfect Present also featuring Henry and his perfect pet. We loved this book and will be looking out for the second in the series, and hopefully more.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Wanted: The Perfect Pet 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} #5: The Big Katie Morag Storybook

The Big Katie Morag Storybook: Mairi Hedderwick
(Random House Children’s Books, 1996)

What other choice for pick of the week when we’re on Mull? Katie Morag lives on the Isle of Struay, a small Scottish island. Struay is based on Coll, which is just west of Mull.

Katie Morag’s island is called the Isle of Struay. Nobody can walk to Katie Morag’s island, or take a bus or a train. The only way to go is by boat.

We have several Katie Morag stories but the book I choose to bring away with us is a collection of short stories, poems and pictures. The pictures and stories are lovely to share with young children and I imagine older children will love pouring through this book and using it as a jumping point to make up their own stories. The book includes Katie Morag’s family tree and a map of the island. I used to make up lots of fantasy worlds and people when I was younger (mainly inspired by J R R Tolkien!)

There is a lotsto learn from the Katie Morag books, even if you don’t have the luxury of getting to the Inner Hebrides yourself. Looking online, it seems that ‘An Island Home’ is a KS1 topic used in schools so there are plenty of resources to look at for inspiration of things to do after reading Katie Morag’s stories.

The Big Katie Morag Storybook contains three short stories, our favourite being ‘The Baking Day Secret’ where Katie Morag has to take her little brother with her on baking day, and they are loaded up with cakes and treats from all the islanders – what’s not to love? There’s a recipe for porridgies (flap jacks) in the book too, which the girls will love making.

Other positives in Katie Morag are the strong female characters, especially Grannie Island, and the introduction to a different kind of life for city-based children. It’s easy to fall in love with Katie Morag’s island life, and sitting here on a beautiful day in Mull, we don’t want to leave…

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Friday Pick{ture Book} #4: Dogger

Dogger: Shirley Hughes
(Random House Children’s Books, 1977)

It’s my birthday in a few days so this week’s choice is a book close to my heart. I’ve already briefly reviewed it in my Six Books post but it deserves its own entry. This is quite simply a perfect picture book and one I treasured when I was a child, reading and re-reading to myself often.

Once there was a soft brown toy called Dogger. One of his ears pointed upwards and the other flopped over. His fur was worn in places because he was quite old. He belonged to Dave.

I’m sure I don’t need to write anything about how wonderful Shirley Hughes’ work is, but actually I’m only really appreciating her as an adult reading the books to my children. Yes, I loved many of her books as a child (and so many paperbacks with her illustrations that I never realised were Shirley Hughes at the time) but it was all taken for granted. Now the moments of family life captured so perfectly are much more poignant and I spend longer looking at the pictures as I read the books again and again…

Dogger is a book that should be on every bookcase in my opinion. It’s a story of a lost toy and sibling love wrapped up in ordinary life.

I like to think I am still young, regardless of being three years (and a few days!) off forty, but I do remember times like these and with older siblings I was brought up on a diet of books from the 60’s and 70’s (despite being born after decimalisation I get nostalgic about pounds, shillings and pence too…) which further cements this era in my memory. Plus we live in a village (separated from the nearest town by a field, but a village nonetheless!) which has similar fetes and flower shows ๐Ÿ™‚

Dogger is not only a beautiful book but a moment of real family life captured perfectly. And how can you not like a book which has a child dressed as a dalek in it?

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Friday Pick{ture Book} #3: Aaaarrgghh, Spider!

Aaaarrgghh, Spider!: Lydia Monks
(Egmont, 2004)

Told from the viewpoint of a spider who wants to become a family pet, she gives us lots of reasons that spiders are better than other pets but the family still respond in the same way:

“Aaaarrgghh, Spider!

Poor spider, nothing she does seems to convince them until… This lovely book is great fun to read and the repetition of “Aaaarrgghh, Spider! Out you go!” can be picked up easily and joined in with from even young toddlers. There’s a lovely tactile glittery page of spider webs plus glittery webs on the cover to encourage children to touch and feel the pages along with the story.

It’s a book that showcases the good things about creepy crawlies spiders and different ways of humanely catching and disposing them if you decide you don’t want one as a pet! We tell our girls that spiders are good because they eat flies and flies spread sickness. I have a limit to the spiders I allow in the house though, and Mr Chaos disposes of the ones I don’t like outside. MG and DG aren’t keen on spiders despite trying very hard to be neutral in their presence but I am now persevering with picking up snails and worms and watching ants etc to increase their acceptance of small crawly creatures. Fortunately children seem to naturally like most bugs so that’s working.

Aaaarrgghh, Spider! is a lovely addition to any bookshelf for bug lovers or bug haters alike!

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Friday Pick{ture Book} #2: Haunted House

Haunted House: Jan Pienkowski
(Walker Books, 1980, 2005)

It’s Friday 13th so a spooky choice this week! This was one of my birthday presents last year that I begged for in a fit of nostalgia ๐Ÿ˜†

 “No, I don’t have many visitors.”

I don’t think we had a copy of this book in the house when I was younger (and I grew up in a house packed with books) but I must have read this at school or from the library. I was 5 when it was published, so I would have been older than that when I read played with it!

This really is a classic must-have book by the amazingly talented Jan Pienkowski. You could share it with younger children but as I like my pop-up books to stay in one piece, I prefer it to be left until 5+. Besides, as I said, this is one of my books!

What can I say? This isn’t a book to be read so much as played with. It consists of six spooky double-paged spreads. There’s some text, but it doesn’t matter what it says particularly, this book is all about pulling tabs and opening doors and turning wheels and monsters popping out at you. An utterly perfect pop-up book. Not for the faint hearted of course, but we don’t have those in the Chaos household ๐Ÿ˜‰

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