Tag Archives: Gillian Shields

Belle & Boo by Mandy Sutcliffe

Belle & Boo are new to me, but I am totally in love. And based on the blissful silence and total concentration from both MG and DG (alone and together) these beautiful books grab the attention of small children too. Belle & Boo is described as a ‘lifestyle brand’, which is actually a negative for me because phrases like ‘lifestyle brand’ generally make me feel like vomiting! However, what this means in reality is that these beautiful characters already exist as stationery, party accessories and even clothing.

Again, this could be perceived as a negative, but the text in these books is written by Gillian Shields which makes them thoughtful, readable books instead of just ‘character tie-ins’. The delightful vintage feel to the illustrations will appeal to many. I’m usually not a huge vintage fan but Belle & Boo have completely won me over. They are adorable.

So far there are three books: Belle & Boo and the Birthday Surprise (available in hardback and paperback); Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss (available in hardback, paperback published on 7 Feb 2013); and Belle & Boo and the Yummy Scrummy Day (published in hardback on 21 Feb 2013 & paperback 6 Jun 2013). There are also two sticker activity books to be published in July 2013.

I was sent one paperback and one hardback book by Hachette Children’s Books to fall in love with review, and found the books themselves beautifully made. Gorgeous matt pages add to the vintage feel and the hardback cover again has the vintage attention to detail. I’m in danger of completely overusing the word vintage but it fits so well! A set of the hardbacks would make a lovely Christening present, especially when coupled with Belle & Boo stationery.

This is Belle, and this is Boo.
They are always together –
on sunny days,
rainy days,
and dreamy let’s be lazy days.

Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss: Mandy Sutcliffe, text: Gillian Shields (Orchard Books, 2012)Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss: Mandy Sutcliffe, text: Gillian Shields (Orchard Books, 2012)
It’s the end of a busy day, full of ‘very lots of busy’ and Belle & Boo are tired. But first they must do all their bedtime rituals: bath, putting the other toys to bed, milk and cookies, story… But then Boo decides to hide to give Belle a surprise and when she can’t find him, she worries he’ll miss the most important part of bedtime: a goodnight kiss. This is a lovely, gentle story with a familiar bedtime routine that’s perfect for sharing at bedtime. The gorgeous muted pastel illustrations are eye-catching and uncluttered so as not to overwhelm before bedtime. I love little details like Belle’s stray hairs sticking out of her bob, and Boo’s expression with the dust under the bed. Just beautiful.

Belle & Boo and the Yummy Scrummy Day: Mandy Sutcliffe, text: Gillian Shields (Orchard Books, 2013)Belle & Boo and the Yummy Scrummy Day: Mandy Sutcliffe, text: Gillian Shields (Orchard Books, 2013)
Boo is having a ‘hungry sort of day’ but everything Belle offers him is wrong. Porridge is too hot; toast too crunchy; and a boiled egg is just too ‘eggy’! He wants cookies and cake, but Belle wants to show him that fruit and vegetables are lovely too. Belle takes the role of grown up here, taking Boo to pick fruit from the orchard and vegetables from the garden. Boo takes the child role, agreeing with Belle that he doesn’t like soup (‘too soupy’) even though actually it smells delicious. A brilliant idea saves him from showing his changed mind, and cuteness ensues. This is so true-to-life of children who can come up with any excuse not to eat something, I particularly loved ‘too eggy’ and ‘too soupy’ as reasons. Simple perfection.

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of Belle & Boo and the Goodnight Kiss and Belle & Boo and the Yummy Scrummy Day by Hachette Childrens Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Two Picture Books About Manners

We like all sorts of picture books in the Chaos household, but as a parent I do like it when a good book also happens to cover a subject that worries children (school, doctors etc) or something you’re trying to teach them (sharing, eating nicely…)

The two books below are new out this year (both were published in hardback on 5 Jul 2012) and have been thoroughly enjoyed by MG and DG. I’m not sure they’ve necessarily learnt any more manners, but subconsciously it all goes in 😉

Elephantantrum: Gillian Shields and Cally Johnson-Isaacs (Hodder Children's Books, 2012)

Elephantantrum: Gillian Shields and Cally Johnson-Isaacs (Hodder Children’s Books, 2012)

Ellie has lots of things but she sulks at her dad until he gets her an elephant. She’s expecting to boss the elephant around, but he has his own mind and by treating Ellie how she was treating others, Ellie learns about sharing and saying please and thank-you.

She had a terrible tantrum.
“I don’t want that elephant,” she shouted, “Get me a different one!”

It’s too easy to spoil children. We want the best for them, and the market is flooded with toys, books, clothes, furniture, gadgets and adverts all aimed at younger and younger children. So many things are now easily and instantly available ‘on demand’ that building patience is made an even harder job. So it’s no wonder that children tantrum, even if it wasn’t just a normal development phase (which it is!)

Wanting an elephant is a surreal but also fairly normal wish for a small child, and this special elephant soon works his way into your affections. The book is gorgeously illustrated by Cally Johnson-Isaacs and heaving with personality. The story is silly, funny but also has a good moral. A lovely book to share 🙂

Yucky Mucky Manners: Sam Lloyd (Orchard Books, 2012)Yucky Mucky Manners: Sam Lloyd (Orchard Books, 2012)

In contrast, this book’s unseen narrator tells us all the disgusting, smelly, impolite and rude things that various animals are doing in a (failed) attempt to find someone in the jungle who is polite. This is all told in rhyme with brightly coloured pictures and will probably be a hoot for toddlers and up.

Swinging through the trees with the warm wind in his hair,
This ape shows his botty … a botty that is BARE!
Although it’s very pretty – pink, and squidgy too –
It’s really not the nicest way to say, ‘How do you do?’

Yucky Mucky Manners is a very fun, and very funny read. Rhyming, bouncy text will appeal to the very young and the descriptions of all the impolite things that the animals do gets lots of giggles from older children who know what they should do, but don’t necessarily want to all the time…

I think it’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves, and this book gives an excuse to giggle along with the ‘yucky mucky’ animals. But we’d never act like that, would we? 😉

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of Elephantantrum and Yucky Mucky Manners 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.