Tag Archives: Geraldine McCaughrean

Treasuries to Treasure

I kept a selection of books from my childhood, mostly novels from when I was 12+ and no picture books. But the books I do still have from when I was younger are all treasuries. Lovely chunky hardback collections that people generally only buy as presents, especially at Christmas. Here are a selection of newly published, delicious additions to any bookshelves, all of which would make perfect gifts.

Just So Stories: Rudyard Kipling & Robert Ingpen (Templar Publishing, 2013)Just So Stories: Rudyard Kipling & Robert Ingpen (Templar Publishing, 2013)
Long ago, before your parents’ parents were born, O Best Beloved, there was a man who told stories about how things came to be… I would love to write this review in the style of Just So stories but using O Best Beloved is about as good as it gets. Kipling was a genius, there is no doubt. I’m embarrassed to say I have barely read any of his original work (I assume The Jungle Book doesn’t really have singing monkeys in it…) but I did grow up on a sprinkling of Just So Stories and therefore have a soft spot for them, though there are many in this book that I never knew, or don’t remember. But why buy a book when you can get them for free online, you might ask? And there are so many versions, why this one? Because Robert Ingpen’s illustrations are just so 🙂 This is a truly beautiful book, packed full of colour illustrations throughout, with many double-page illustrations, and coloured pages.  It uses the original text, which may lead to conversations about historical changes. I personally love the part where a father is furious with his daughter and is contemplating whether skinning her or not giving her a kiss at bedtime is the worst punishment – this is a book for all ages! This version is beautifully produced, and a nice size for reading too. I’m hugging it a bit as I write this (in between reading a bit more, and gazing and the illustrations.) The RRP is £16.99, which is a bargain for what you get, and I’d not be at all surprised to see this on the Greenaway long list next year.

The Emperor’s Nightingale and Other Feathery Tales (The Story Collector 1): Jane Ray (Boxer Books, 2013)The Emperor’s Nightingale and Other Feathery Tales (The Story Collector 1): Jane Ray (Boxer Books, 2013)
This is a beautiful collection of traditional tales involving birds in some way. The stories are perfect for reading aloud but even fairly early readers can attempt the easily laid out text (although the words may be challenging.) This is the first in a series of tales collected by the enormously talented Jane Ray and illustrated using scraperfoil techniques. The book has been formatted beautifully, and includes many coloured pages for interest. The stories are suitable for all ages, and include tales that have both sad and happy endings. It is a gorgeous book for any book lover, young or old, and a bargain at RRP £12.99.

Little Grey Rabbit's Story Treasury: Alison Uttley & Margaret Tempest (Templar Publishing, new ed. 2013)Little Grey Rabbit’s Story Treasury: Alison Uttley & Margaret Tempest (Templar Publishing, new ed. 2013)
Little Grey Rabbit books are ones I remember from my childhood and it’s lovely to see them all being reprinted in their original little book form by Templar. Because of course, they should be little books, unless they’re in a treasury. This book collects six of the tales together and includes information about the editor, author and illustrator, as well as the characters. I never knew Alison Uttley was one of the first women to gain a physics degree (in 1906), and that just makes me love the stories even more. These are delightful stories and, dare I say it, much more readable than many of Beatrix Potter’s tales. This is a beautiful gift edition that should delight any age. RRP £12.99.

The Orchard Book of Greek Myths: Geraldine McCaughrean & Emma Chichester Clark (Orchard Books, reissue 2013)The Orchard Book of Greek Myths: Geraldine McCaughrean & Emma Chichester Clark (Orchard Books, new ed. 2013)
I always loved Greek and Roman Myths when I was a child, and as this is the 21st anniversary edition I wondered why I never had this one. Then I remembered I was 17 twenty-one years ago, in the midst of A-Levels and was mostly reading Stephen King and Terry Pratchett. If it had been around as a child, I’m sure I would have loved this book. Containing sixteen famous tales from Pandora to Persephone, Orpheus to Odysseus, this is a beautiful introduction to stories that have been told for thousands of years. RRP £12.99.

The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems: Carol Ann Duffy & Jackie Morris (Barefoot Books, 2006)The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems: Carol Ann Duffy & Jackie Morris (Barefoot Books, 2006)
Introduced by Carol Ann Duffy and stunningly illustrated by Jackie Morris, this is a beautiful collection of many favourite poems to share with children, including selections from Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter De La Mare, A A Milne, Eleanor Farjeon, Elizabeth Browning, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Kipling, Shakespeare, Auden… I never studied literature beyond GCSE and I recognise almost every name, and almost every poem. These truly are classics. Accessible, enjoyable, and a beautiful addition to any bookshelf. RRP £14.99, but get 20% off with code TWENTY13 if you buy online (or look at these blogs for 25% off for a limited time.)

Old Bear Stories: Jane Hissey (Scribblers, updated ed. 2013)Old Bear Stories: Jane Hissey (Scribblers, updated ed. 2013)
Even though the original Old Bear stories were wonderful in their original format, Jane Hissey reworked them all this year to reduce the text, making them even more readable, and on a par with modern picture books. The reissued books seem even clearer and more beautiful that before (we have a mixture of old and new versions!) Old Bear Stories collects five favourites: Old Bear, Little Bear’s Trousers, Little Bear Lost, Jolly Tall, and Jolly Snow into one glorious hardback edition. Having had the delight of meeting Jane earlier this year, I am even more in love with these stories. Every picture is based on real-life models that Jane created, and the detail in the pencil pictures is breathtaking. Perfect for very small children and up, this is a very special book. RRP £16.99.

The Orchard Book of Funny Fairy Tales: Laurence Anholt & Arthur Robins (Orchard Books, 2013)The Orchard Book of Funny Fairy Tales: Laurence Anholt & Arthur Robins (Orchard Books, 2013)
A collection of six classic fairy-tales retold with lots of fun, lots of rhymes, silly pictures, and without any of the scary bits. Laurence Anholt and Arthur Robins also collaborate on a series of seriously silly stories for younger readers and this is a great addition to silly fun for threes and up. This would be a brilliant addition to any Christmas stocking, but you’d better be ready to read them all day as they’ll be a hit. Stinky stepsisters, gentle giants, hairy bears, and did you ever wonder what a house made of sweets would do to a witch’s teeth? Once you see the answer, you’ll be brushing your teeth very carefully! RRP £12.99.

My Rainbow Fairies Collection: Daisy Meadows & Georgie Ripper (Orchard Books, reissue 2013)My Rainbow Fairies Collection: Daisy Meadows & Georgie Ripper (Orchard Books, reissue 2013)
Regardless of what you think of Rainbow Fairies, there is a certain demographic (of which my eldest child is a part of) who think they are wonderful. This book contains the original seven rainbow fairy stories plus one special, Flora the Fancy Dress Fairy. The stories are about two girls who are independent and brave, and their adventures helping the fairies of fairyland. It’s not great literature, but it’s fun and (in this collection at least) doesn’t depict limiting gender stereotyping. Any series with over 100 titles will suffer quality issues over time, but these are the originals and are quite captivating. The best thing about this collection is that it is illustrated in colour. Mighty-Girl is a very good reader, but she doesn’t stick with books that she is capable of reading because she doesn’t like books without colour pictures. She is a very creative and visual child, so pictures are important to her. With this collection, she is flying through the stories, which can only be good for her literacy levels. The book itself has a padded cover, is covered in sparkling stars and butterflies, and includes a ribbon bookmark. Every page is in colour, and there are added character profiles, a map, and a pictorial list of all (so far) 169 books! A delightful gift for RRP £12.99.

Disclosure: All except The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems and Old Bear Stories were received from their respective publishers for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post. Barefoot Books links are affiliate links.

Eight Recent Picture Book Paperback Releases

I have realised that I am not going to be able to give every book we have to review a post of its own but I do want to write about them all so here’s a multiple review post with no particular theme or order!

Copycat Bear: Ellie Sandall (Hodder Children's Books, 2012)Copycat Bear: Ellie Sandall (Hodder Children’s Books, 2012)
Plot: A lusciously illustrated tale of Mango the bird and her friend, Blue the bear. Blue copies everything that Mango does until Mango gets fed up and leaves her friend…
Age range: Toddler; Pre-school; KS1
Concepts: Frustration; forgiveness; breaking and making friends
Activity: Make patterns on paper, cut up into leaf shapes to make a tree
Also read: Iris & Isaac by Catherine Rayner

Elephant Pants: Smriti Prasdam-Halls & David Wojtowycz (Orchard Books, 2012)Elephant Pants: Smriti Prasdam-Halls & David Wojtowycz (Orchard Books, 2012)
Plot: Bright, colourful and told in rhyme, this tale follows poor Major Trump who’s lost his knickers! Noah goes through all the animals in the ark until they eventually turn up.
Age range: Toddler; Pre-school; KS1
Concepts: Embarrassment; humour
Activity: Decorate underwear templates, make a washing line
Also read: Pants by Giles Andreae & Nick Sharratt

Jack's Amazing Shadow: Tom Percival (Pavillion Children's Books, 2013)Jack’s Amazing Shadow: Tom Percival (Pavillion Children’s Books, 2013)
Plot: Jack is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary shadow, and together they are the best of friends. Until one day Jack’s shadow gets him into trouble and he shouts at him. Emotions are conveyed beautifully in the artwork, making this a great book to discuss emotions as well as a feel-good story with fun illustrations.
Age range: Pre-school; KS1; KS2
Concepts: Anger; forgiveness
Activity: Copy the ideas on the endpapers to make shadow hands, or cut out black paper shadow shapes
Also read: Copycat Bear by Ellie Sandall

Tim, Ted and the Pirates: Ian Whybrow & Russell Ayto (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2006)Tim, Ted and the Pirates: Ian Whybrow & Russell Ayto (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2006)
Plot: Told in rhyme, a bored boy imagines a swashbuckling pirate adventure during a dull storytime at school.
Age range: Pre-school; KS1; KS2
Concepts: Boredom; imagination
Activity: Look at the cutaway pirate ship, think about what rooms you’d have on your ship and design your own
Also read: Captain Flynn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andraea & Russell Ayto

A Farmer's Life For Me: Jan Dobbins & Laura Huliska-Beith (Barefoot Books, 2013)A Farmer’s Life For Me: Jan Dobbins & Laura Huliska-Beith (Barefoot Books, 2013)
Plot: A sing-a-long book (with CD) about different aspects of farming.
Age range: Baby; Toddler; Pre-school
Concepts: Being busy; working
Activity: Sing!
Also read: Over in the Meadow (various versions available)

Pittipat's Saucer of Moon: Geraldine McCaughrean & Maria Nilsson (Hodder Children's Books, 2012)Pittipat’s Saucer of Moon: Geraldine McCaughrean & Maria Nilsson (Hodder Children’s Books, 2012)
Plot: A kitten imagines the moon is a saucer of milk and dreams of climbing the sky to drink it. The art is gorgeous but I find the text too tongue tripping to easily read aloud.
Age range: Pre-school; KS1; KS2
Concepts: Bravery; dreaming
Also read: watch In the Night Garden for similar surreality

Llama Llama Shopping Drama: Anna Dewdney (Hodder Children's Books, 2007)Llama Llama Shopping Drama: Anna Dewdney (Hodder Children’s Books, 2007)
Plot: Young Llama Llama is taken shopping and gets very fed up. Told in rhyme with lots of humour, and great expressions from the baby llama. A very familiar tale for any parent of young children, and great fun to share.
Age range: Baby; Toddler; KS1
Concepts: Boredom; tantrums; forgiveness
Activity: Play shops
Also read: More in the Llama Llama series; How Do Dinosaurs…? series by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

Florentine and Pig and the Lost Pirate Treasure: Eva Katzler & Jess Mikhail (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2013)Florentine and Pig and the Lost Pirate Treasure: Eva Katzler & Jess Mikhail (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2013)
Plot: Florentine enthuses about the fun they’re going to have in the sunshine outside, until Pig points out it’s raining. They then imagine they are searching for missing treasure and have a fun day inside instead.
Age range: Pre-school; KS1; KS2
Concepts: Imagination; creativity
Activity: Cooking and crafts already in the book
Also read: Tim, Ted and the Pirates by Ian Whybrow & Russell Ayto

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of all eight books by their respective publishers (Hachette Children’s Books, Harper Collins Children’s Books, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Barefoot Books and Pavillion 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.