Tag Archives: Hachette Children’s Books

Beautiful Picture Books for Giving

I think any picture book from a child’s favourite theme or illustration style is a wonderful gift when it’s a hardback edition. Hardback books, especially picture books, have a special air about them. Here are a selection of recently published books that are available in hardback and are especially beautiful.

The Tale of Jack Frost: David Melling (Hodder Children's Books, Anniv. ed 2013)The Tale of Jack Frost: David Melling (Hodder Children’s Books, Anniv. ed 2013)
I hadn’t seen this anniversary edition when I first wrote this list, but now I have it’s at the top of it. The Tale of Jack Frost is a near-perfect winter story, beautifully illustrated in watercolour. It’s a fairy tale and a winter tale, full of unique magical creatures, horrible goblins, forgotten pasts and hopeful futures. I’ve written about the paperback version before, but this hardback (signed and limited to 1000 copies) takes a beautiful story and packages it perfectly. With shining snowflakes on the cover and endpapers full of sketches, the anniversary edition is also individually hand numbered and signed by the author. Search out a copy now, before they all disappear.

Abigail: Catherine Rayner (Little Tiger Press, 2013)Abigail: Catherine Rayner (Little Tiger Press, 2013)
Every Catherine Rayner picture book is a piece of beauty, and Abigail is no exception. Abigail is the newest animal character from Catherine, and she is a giraffe who loves to count. The hardback edition is a near-square with gorgeous matt covering depicting Abigail against a night sky. The story follows Abigail as she tries to count things, but they keep moving. Eventually she gets her friends together and they find something to count that doesn’t move. Stunning imagery of the African plains and its inhabitants pack the book, with a lovely gentle story suitable for all ages but especially for 3-5 year olds because of the focus on learning to count. A flip-up page adds to the interest, and ending with night-time makes this the perfect bedtime read.

Winter's Child: Angela McAliister & Grahame Baker-Smith (Templar Publishing, 2013)Winter’s Child: Angela McAllister & Grahame Baker-Smith (Templar Publishing, 2013)
This book truly is an object of beauty, and a perfect Christmas story. The story is about Tom, who loves winter and wants it to stay forever. He finds a friend in a strange pale boy and every day they play in the stunning icy landscape. But at home, Nana is getting frailer, food and fuel is running out, and Tom’s mother is worried… I cannot describe how beautifully illustrated this fable is, it is a book to be poured over and enjoyed on many levels. Suitable from 3+, it will probably most appeal to 5-8 year olds, but older children will get so much from the story too.

All Through The Night: John Ceiriog Hughes & Kate Alizadeh (Simply Read Books, 2013)All Through The Night: John Ceiriog Hughes & Kate Alizadeh (Simply Read Books, 2013)
This book has perfect Christmas stocking filler written all over it. It is a small square hardback with words of a traditional Welsh lullaby (translated into English) with beautiful pastel illustrations. The lyrics are very Christian and refer to God and Guardian Angels so will appeal more to people with Christian faith. The book is a small package of beauty, lovely for bedtime reading. It may even be a thoughtful gift for someone who is grieving, but that would be a very personal choice.

Barefoot Books - The World of Miss Clara Gift SetThe Princess and The Pea; The Twelve Dancing Princesses; and The Snow Queen: Miss Clara (Barefoot Books, 2013)
I’m cheating a little here, because I haven’t seen these books in real life yet. I have however seen the chapter book versions and know how stunning Miss Clara’s illustrations are. These three hardback editions are new to Barefoot Books this month, and are also currently available as a gift set saving 10% on individual prices. You can get a further 20% off ordering online with the code TWENTY13. All Barefoot Books are produced to a high standard, and these will be no exception. A trio of classic fairy tales with beautiful illustrations, what more could you ask from a Christmas gift?

Rules of Summer: Shaun Tan (Lothian Children's Books, 2013)Rules of Summer: Shaun Tan (Lothian Children’s Books, 2013)
I don’t ‘get’ Shaun Tan’s picture books. The art is stunningly beautiful, weird and unique, and wonderful for getting lost in. But the picture books make absolutely no sense to me at all. I read this one to my four year old and she told me I was reading it wrong, because I must have missed out some of the words! These are not books for small children. Stunningly beautiful, cinematic and wonderful, this could be read to any child, but is probably of more interest to children aged 8+. I think this is one to add to the Christmas stockings of any art students you know too. This would be perfect as a springboard for discussion about… Well, I have no idea what the book is about at all, which I think may be the point, so the discussions from this book are potentially limitless.

The King of Space; Jonny Duddle (Templar Books, 2013)The King of Space: Jonny Duddle (Templar Publishing, 2013)
The paperback version is already out but the hardback is still available. You can read my full thoughts on this book here. This will appeal to all space-loving children (so most of them) of any age, but under threes probably won’t appreciate it as much. It’s also perfect for all sci-fi geek parents too. I’m usually a fan of traditional artists, as I find a lot of digital art too ‘shiny’ (for want of a better word!) but in all three of his books Jonny Duddle has packed the pages with grime and details. I’ve read them so many times and still have the odd “oh!” moment when I notice yet-another connection between the stories in the background…

The Tiger Who Came To Tea: Judith Kerr (HarperCollins Children's Books, Gift ed. 2013) The Tiger Who Came To Tea: Judith Kerr (HarperCollins Children’s Books, Gift ed. 2013)
This story probably needs no introduction. The fun, and surreal, tale of a Tiger who visits Sophie and her mummy to eat everything in their house has been well-loved since it was first published in 1968. To celebrate Judith Kerr’s 90th birthday this year, a beautiful gift edition hardback complete with slipcase has been released. This gift edition deserves its place on every child (and children’s book lover’s) bookshelves, and makes a perfect gift.

The Girl With A Brave Heart, A Tale From Tehran: Rita Jahanforuz & Vali Mintzi (Barefoot Books, 2013)The Girl With A Brave Heart: Rita Jahanforua & Vali Mintzi (Barefoot Books, 2013)
A traditional tale from Tehran which starts in a Cinderalla-like way; Shiraz’s mother dies young and her father remarries but after he too dies, her life changes from one of happiness to drudgery as the step-mother and step-sister make her their maid. Unlike Cinderella, no prince is required for a happy ending. Because of Shiraz’s kind heart, and the good that she does, it appears that she receives the gift of beauty. In reality it is Shiraz’s own personality shining through. Beautifully illustrated, this is a very positive and non-stereotyped story; the perfect antidote to Disney princesses. Available to buy from Barefoot Books.

amelienanetteSparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties (Amelie and Nanette): Sophie Tilley (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2013)
In a complete contrast to the non-stereotyped Girl With A Brave Heart, Amelie and Nanette are the epitome of girlyness, and you can read my thoughts on this book here. This is such a beautiful hardback that it deserves a place in this list, as it will make a lovely present. The theme of summer picnics will be a great pick-me-up on a cold, dull winter’s day and the beautiful illustrations should put a smile on even the grumpiest face. Suitable for reading to any age, this will be enjoyed most by 3-8 year olds.

Barbapapa and Barbapapa's Voyage: Annette Tison & Talus Taylor (Orchard Books, new ed. 2013)Barbapapa and Barbapapa’s Voyage: Annette Tison & Talus Taylor (Orchard Books, new ed. 2013)
The Barbapapa books were originally published in the 1970’s although I have no memory of them from my childhood so it’s with new and adult eyes that I was introduced to Barbapapa, a pink blob-creature who was found in a garden (in Barbapapa), and his family (in Barbapapa’s Voyage). The stories are a little strange and surreal, but full of adventure and concepts that small children will be familiar with. These books will either be a classic for parents who read them as children to share, or just fun new additions. They are very lovely, and the hardback editions are beautifully produced. Suitable for any age, but especially 3-5 year olds.

I hope that has given you some ideas of a tiny fraction of the beautiful books currently released in the UK that would make wonderful gifts. I will be writing more gift list ideas over the next two weeks.

Disclosure: All books (except Barefoot Books) received from their respective publishers for review. Barefoot Books links are affiliate links. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

MG Blog: Attack of the Slime by Tim Healey & Chris Mould

Attack of the Slime: Tim Healey & Chris Mould (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)

Attack of the slime

it is about mortimer keene/and his slime.

the teachers are called mortimer keene/mr bevan/mrs moray/mr field/mrs macnee/mr smart/mr green/mr james

there is a mouse in evry page exseped for 1 page dose not have the mouse in it.

it is mostley green/ black and white it ts quite intresting/100 times good/it is compleatley ok/it was icstremley intresstingley good/it was not bad at all.

i liked it when the mouse goed on top of the slime/and when the slime comes out from behind the door/i like the book a lot more than my sisster and 9999 my sisster only likes it about 100 but my sisster rosie can not read becuse she is only four 4 years old and i am six 6 years old and i am 1 one year older than her but i am near 7 years old and there is soon going to be 2 difrentses

it is quite a long book to read /and it is intresstinding than tunse of uther books i like it so much i can not discribe it a single bit/or a tiny wheeny bit not even the slitest moste smallest bit.

i all so like it when they made a big boat and sailed across the school*that was covered-in gooy sticky slime with out the chilldren it was so very funny.

 

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Attack of the Slime by Hachette Children’s Books for review. This means very little to a six-year-old, and it’s impossible to influence their opinion.

Editor’s Note: I added the picture, title, category, tags and disclosure. Everything else was thought up and typed independently by MG with no parental input. I’m not sure why she thinks she’s only a year older than her sister today!

Perfect Presents

We were delighted to receive these two sequels to books that we thoroughly enjoyed. Fiona Roberton’s almost line-drawings are a complete contrast to Rachel Bright’s colourful prints but the art in both is stunning. These are two wonderful series, and I thoroughly recommend both.

The Perfect Present: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children's Books, 2012, PB 2013)The Perfect Present: Fiona Roberton (Hodder Children’s Books, 2012, PB 2013)

We absolutely loved the first book about Henry and Spot, Wanted: The Perfect Pet, and the duo return here for Henry’s birthday. Spot has found what he thinks is the perfect present, but when Henry gets distracted by another present and doesn’t even open Spot’s, Spot leaves feeling dejected…

Oh, how I feel for poor Spot as he leaves. Not only that but it’s dark and miserable out too, with lightening and things do seem to get a bit hairy… But I’ll let you in on a secret, it does all end well, with Spot and Henry reunited. I am so in love with these characters, they are pitch perfect and adorable. The minimal art style still conveys so much emotion, and it’s all quite wonderfully surreal.

The books are also laid out into chapters, although they are very much in picture book format, but this makes them excellent for early readers. They are more suitable for older (late EYFS/KS1) children because of the subtleties in them, but can be enjoyed by toddlers and pre-schoolers too.

If you’ve not met Henry and Spot yet, I thoroughly recommend finding a copy of Wanted: The Perfect Pet first. The Perfect Present works well independently, but is just even better with the back story.

Love Monster & the Perfect Present: Rachel Bright (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013)Love Monster & the Perfect Present: Rachel Bright (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)

Another fabulous sequel following a wonderful first book. We loved Love Monster in his first tale, and this sequel he’s trying to find a special gift for the most special monster in his life. But although the shops are packed full of sparkling gifts, apparently fluff and buttons don’t go very far to buy them…

How wonderful it is for a book to extol the virtues of heartfelt gifts that do not need to cost the earth. We live in such a materialistic society with children constantly bombarded by the messages of consumerism, and I do fall into the trap of wanting to get my children nice gifts, but it’s good to be reminded about all the things that are worth far more than money.

Mighty-Girl has asked me what I want for Christmas, and I have requested one of her books because she writes such wonderful stories. I hope she realises that this means more to me than anything money could ever buy.

Beautifully illustrated, and full of love, this is a great book for Christmas (you can even borrow it from the library to eschew consumerism – but it would be really nice to put in someone you love’s stocking too!)

Disclosure: We were sent copies of The Perfect Present by Hachette Children’s Books and Love Monster and the Perfect Present 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.

[Word count: 523; November word count: 2,129]

The BIG-Hearted Book by Nicholas Allan

The BIG-Hearted Book: Nicholas Allan (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)

The BIG-Hearted Book: Nicholas Allan (Hodder Children’s Books, 2013)

Three and a half years ago, I nearly lost my Mum and my children nearly lost their Nanny, because she went to see her GP about chronic ‘indigestion’ and the GP immediately called an ambulance to take my mum to hospital where she was operated on the next day. She had a six hour open heart surgery (triple bypass) and spent six weeks in hospital, two of which in intensive care. Her heart stopped twice during that time.

To say that we, as a family, are indebted to the many health professionals involved in saving her life is an understatement. Heart charities are therefore very close to my heart (no pun intended!) The BIG-Hearted Book was inspired by another woman who underwent life-saving heart surgery: Helen Bower, Sales Director at Hodder. Proceeds from the sale of this book support the International Children’s Heart Foundation, and Hodder also held a charity auction last month in support of this charity.

That’s more than enough reason to buy this book even if it was terrible. Fortunately, it’s far from it! Nicholas Allan is more known for humourous books like Cinderella’s Bum and Father Christmas Needs a Wee but here we have a tale of friendship between Babette (a human) and Bill (a dog) who are linked together by an invisible ribbon of hearts. Babette and Bill do everything together, but one day Babette gets too tired to do things. She can’t run with Bill, she doesn’t cook or eat, she’s not interested in reading. All she does is stay in bed…

The story follows Bill trying to cheer Babette up, and his sadness when one day she goes away. The ribbon of hearts will not be broken though, and Babette’s heart gets fixed reuniting the friends again. This book is suitable for very young children and up because it uses simple language and does not go into details. In fact, it’s perfect for more than just heart illnesses.

I think this book could be used to explain parental depression to a very young child too. Babette loses interest in all the things she’s enjoyed before, and becomes too tired to do things, and then can’t get out of bed any more. All of which are symptoms of depression. The text reads “her heart was on the mend” but this can be taken figuratively rather than literally.

The book works as a story on its own too, but is a valuable addition to a library to help small children cope with illnesses of people close to them. I wish it had existed for me to read to three-year-old Mighty-Girl when my mum was in hospital. We talk about that time when reading the book, but she doesn’t quite remember Nanny being so ill and then getting better and Darling-Girl doesn’t remember at all as she was under one at the time.

There are some parts of this book that don’t quite work for me (Bill is quite selfish at the start so the friendship seems a bit one-sided – I really read too much into stories sometimes!) but the overall story and meaning, and opening for a dialogue with children, more than make up for minor niggles on my part. As for the children? They find it a sweet story with a happy ending, which is just right for cheering up on a grumpy day.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The BIG-Hearted Book 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.

Bears, Bears, Bears!

Bears, Bears, Bears!: Martin Waddell & Lee Wildish (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)
Bears, Bears, Bears!: Martin Waddell & Lee Wildish (Hodder Children’s Books, 2013)

Martin Waddell has been creating picture books for… a little while! His work covers a wide range including enormous classics like Farmer Duck and Owl Babies, and personal favourites like The Tough Princess. He is also, of course, very well-known for the Little Bear stories.

What I find particularly interesting in his work is how his writing has kept up with the changes in picture books over the years. Modern picture books involve tight wording, using as few words as possible to convey the story in conjunction with the pictures. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the early Little Bear stories were published, it was still the fashion to have large blocks of text within the picture book but the Little Bear books are beautiful examples of how text and pictures can be combined to appear more interesting.

Bears, Bears, Bears! is Martin Waddell’s latest book, illustrated by Lee Wildish, joint winner of this year’s Red House Children’s Book Award for Spooky, Spooky House. In contrast to the Little Bear stories, the text is sparse. There are 359 words in Bears, Bears, Bears! compared to 976 in Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? [I just counted them myself, so I may have missed a couple!]

I wouldn’t remove a single word from Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? any more than I’d want to add any to Bears, Bears, Bears! They are both right for the books they are.

Bears, Bears, Bears! is about a little girl called Ruby who wants to find some bears to play with. A friendly bear pops out from Bear Wood and they have great fun, but Ruby calls for more and more bears. Eventually all the fun becomes too much, and Ruby ends up with just what she needed: one good bear friend.

This is a lovely tale. “More bears mean more fun!” exclaims Ruby near the start, but more bears also mean less space for Ruby. Small children often want “More, more, more!” before becoming over-tired and overwhelmed (some adults too, for that matter!) and a book can be the best place to keep all the excitement, especially before bed time.

Ruby’s bears are a lot of fun and there are some fabulously funny moments throughout. With lots happening in the illustrations, the story is a joy to read. I adore Ruby’s bear especially, with his multi-coloured scarf. One for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and up.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Bears, Bears, Bears! 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.

Bubble and Squeak

I have been sitting on this book since April. Even by my standards, that’s a very long time not to write a review. Especially for a book I love. But that’s been the problem. I’ve been afraid I’ll not do Bubble and Squeak justice so I keep pretending I have something else to do and letting this review slide…

In summary, all you really need to know about this book is that it is well written, beautifully illustrated, full of detail, full of love, suitable for a broad range of ages and genders, (can you have a broad range of genders?!), and both my daughters request it over and over again.

Bubble is an elephant acrobat in Mr Magnifico’s circus. She is a very lonely elephant though because although everyone in the circus is lovely, they are all so very busy. One day, a tiny mouse arrives, but as everyone knows elephants don’t like mice. Or do they?

I’ve written before on how the first line of a picture book can just grab you and I have so much respect for authors having to create something that appears so simple. Bubble & Squeak starts with a seemingly simple four words: “Bubble was a star!” but you get so much from that which is reflected beautifully in the art. On the first double page we see people coming “from far and wide” travelling towards the circus tent with Bubble on the poster.

Bubble & Squeak: James Mayhew & Clara Vulliamy (Orchard Books, 2013)

I’ve learnt a lot about analysing picture books from other blogs, and LH from Did You Ever Stop to Think? taught me to look at how images pull the reader in and this first double spread is wonderful for that. On the right hand side you have an assortment of characters (some recognisable from Clara Vulliamy’s other books, which is even more of a delight) walking towards the left hand side where the entrance of the circus tent is barely visible, pulling you onto the next page while the text ends in an ellipsis so you can’t wait to read more.

It’s quite absurd to have an elephant balancing on the top of a pyramid of people, but it works. It works so well that it doesn’t seem odd or absurd at all, and when later in the story Squeak realised that without her bouquet of flowers Bubble will be in danger, again it makes perfect sense that the flowers are that all important. To pull your audience into the logic of the story so fully is no easy task but again it seems effortless.

I can happily read this book over and over (which is handy really) finding more delightful details each time, but here’s just a small selection of my favourite bits:

Bubble & Squeak: James Mayhew & Clara Vulliamy (Orchard Books, 2013)

Clockwise from top left: They all looked high… …and low; Bubble travelled to all sorts of places with her carefully packed trunk…; And so he hid himself away…; They were happy!

A lovely tale of finding friendship in odd places, suitable for toddlers, pre-schoolers, KS1… and anyone who loves candy-coloured imagery and a happy ending.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Bubble & Squeak 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.

Pirates and Pi-rats

Ten Little Pirates: Mike Brownlow & Simon Rickerty (Orchard Books, 2013)Ten Little Pirates: Mike Brownlow & Simon Rickerty (Orchard Books, 2013)

Five girl and five boy pirates start on an adventure in this delightful rhyming counting book; and are dispatched one by one by a variety of creatures, natural events and other means… This book is wonderful!

Told in rhyme, which scans beautifully, and leads children to correctly work out the next number counting down. The number symbol of remaining pirates is shown on the bottom left hand corner of each double spread, and the number word is in large, bold text (in the same font) on the top middle left spread. This will help cement number symbols and words into young children’s memories without them noticing 😉 Or if they already can read the number symbols, they will delight in pointing it out (in the case of DG, 4) or can just read the whole book (in the case of MG, 6!)

Six little pirates,
trying to stay alive.
Chomp! goes a giant squid –
now there are…

But what about all this chomping and zapping of pirates you may ask? Ah, well, maybe at the end the last lonely pirate isn’t alone for long, and there’s an opportunity to count up to ten again… DG has been choosing this book regularly (“again!”) and joins in with the “Arrrrrrr!”s and counting the numbers down. MG loves reading it. The clear cartoon art is attractive to young children, and still enjoyable for older ones. Suitable for little ones who love pirates and monsters, this has been a huge hit here!

Pi-rat: Maxine Lee (Caterpillar Books (Little Tiger Press), 2013)Pi-rat: Maxine Lee (Caterpillar Books, 2013)

Avast and shiver me timbers! Meet Pi-rat and his dastardly crew, afeared of no-one and nothing… Ah, but here comes the scariest hairiest creature of them all – to get pi-rat out of his bath!

Another wonderful piratey book. We’ve been utterly spoilt. This would also be a great introduction to the idea of comics, because it’s mainly told through speech bubbles and gloriously anarchic images. Every small child would love to have the freedom Pi-rat’s crew has, to do whatever they want. This shows that you can do anything in your imagination, and the scariest monster might just be your closest ally after all.

Another book that DG loves and requests be read repeatedly. Lovely for toddlers and up, but older children will understand the imagination / reality twist better. A must for all pirate-mad children and their grown-ups!

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of Ten Little Pirates by Hachette Children’s Books and Pi-rat by Little Tiger Press for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Belle & Boo and Mandy Sutcliffe

As part of the Blog Tour to promote the first two Belle and Boo Activity Books (reviewed here), we were given the chance to interview Mandy Sutcliffe. I asked our lovely local school if they’d ask the children for any questions and the KS1 class (5, 6 & 7 year olds) came up with the following:

Belle & Boo Stories

Children: How many books are there about Belle and Boo?
Mandy: There are 3 books currently in print ‘Belle & Boo and the Birthday Surprise’ ‘Goodnight Kiss’ and ‘Yummy Scrummy Day’ and a Christmas book out this September

Belle & BooChildren: Is there a reason that both names begin with B?
Mandy: As soon as I first drew the pair I knew their names were Belle & Boo, it was just a lovely coincidence that they began with the same letter.

Children: Are they based on a real child and a real toy?
Mandy: Belle is based a little bit on me as a child, I had the same hair style, mind you my mum based my hair on my favourite story book character Milly-Molly-Mandy, so there is that influence also. I had a pet rabbit when I was a child although he was pure white and called chalky. 

Children: What makes them best friends?
Mandy: Because they do everything together, because Belle looks after Boo and Boo makes Belle laugh a lot.

Children: Why isn’t there any other characters in the story? [They were read “The Goodnight Kiss” only]
Mandy: The only other characters that feature so far are the other toys, Snuffly Elephant, Raggedy Doll, & Yellow Duck. 

Belle & BooChildren: What else do they like doing together?
Mandy: They love to climb trees, kick leaves, bake cakes (especially carrot cake), draw, paint and sing.

Children: Who else lives in the house?
Mandy: The other toys & a few mice.

Children: How long does it take to illustrate a Belle and Boo book?
Mandy: Approximately 3 months, some spreads are super quick to draw and others can take a little bit too long, when that happens I try to leave the one I am struggling with and work on another and then come back to the troublesome one, that usually works.

Children: Does Belle have any other favourite toys?
Mandy: Yes she loves all her toys but Boo is definitely her absolute favourite.

Mandy Sutcliffe

Thank-you so much Mandy for answering our questions; lovely Sarah from Hachette for organising everything; and of course the staff and children at our local school for the questions.

We also have part four of the exclusive blog tour downloads, click on the image below to collect the hangers for your wardrobe.

Belle and Boo exclusive downloads

Collect the rest of the exclusive downloads by visiting the blogs below:
Colouring-in Dress-up Belle from Read It, Daddy
Belle’s Summer Outfits from StorySeekers
Belle’s Wardrobe from Book Sniffer
Belle’s Winter Outfits from Library Mice

Belle & Boo Sticker and Activity Books

I’m not the best person to review sticker and activity books because I’m not a huge fan. Despite my feelings on the activity book concept, the Belle & Boo books are beautiful examples of their type.

Belle & Boo Play DayBelle & Boo Play Day has four pages of dress-ups; a kite to design and colour; cupcakes to decorate; spot the difference; a maze; matching game; colouring page; story and more pages to add stickers to. There is very little freedom with the dress up clothes, most are one outfit to stick in the ‘correct’ place but I’m not one for teaching my children to follow rules so DG stuck her stickers wherever she wanted to anyway, and had a great time ignoring all the instructions! This is my favourite of the two books because the designing and colouring are more open-ended, and therefore I think it’s suitable for any age.

Belle & Boo My Favourite ThingsBelle & Boo My Favourite Things is, to me, more suitable from an older age (e.g. 4/5+) due to the activities included. There is a grid picture copy activity; wordsearch; spot-the-difference; sticker pictures; finding objects; weather words; shadow matching; writing and numbers. MG loves wordsearches at the moment, so she chose this book straight away, and I think she chose the right one of the two for her and her sister’s ages. There are more smaller stickers in this book, good for designing patterns after the bigger ‘special use’ stickers have been used.

Both books are A4 size with gorgeous matt pages and are filled with beautiful artwork. There are two double pages of stickers stapled in the centre, and 24 pages of activities. At £4.99 RRP they won’t break the bank, and would be lovely start-of-summer-holidays gifts. Easy to transport and beautiful to look at, these Belle & Boo books almost change my overall opinion on activity books.

For a taster, you can download the wordsearch here (although the one in the book is in colour) and a similar grid picture copy activity here.

Please read our interview with Mandy Sutcliffe, and collect your exclusive blog tour download (part four of five) after the interview.

Belle & Boo Giveaway

It’s Belle & Boo Blog Tour week, which means I not only get to promote one of my favourite publishers but also some of my favourite children’s book bloggers too. Make sure you pop by to these fantastic blogs on the dates below for an exclusive download (one per blog) and more…

Belle and Boo exclusive downloads

Monday 8th July – Read It Daddy! (http://readitdaddy.blogspot.co.uk/)

Tuesday 9th July – Story Seekers (http://storyseekersuk.wordpress.com/)

Wednesday 10th July – The Book Sniffer (http://booksniffingpug.blogspot.co.uk/)

Thursday 11th July – Child-Led Chaos (http://childledchaos.me.uk/)

Friday 12th July – Library Mice (http://librarymice.com/)

Not only that, I get to offer a wonderful prize to one lucky reader! A complete (so far) set of Belle and Boo story and activity books (in paperback), plus the cutest bag to keep them (or other special things) in. We reviewed two Belle & Boo books previously, and they are very lovely.

Belle & Boo prize

I’d normally do a Rafflecoptor widget for the giveaway, but inspired by the lovely Book Sniffer’s competition, I thought I’d make this one more interesting. For a chance of winning, please e-mail childledchaos @ gmail.com or tweet @childledchaos a picture of a rabbit that you’ve drawn or made. I’ll get my resident artist, Mighty-Girl, to choose her favourite. The deadline is 3.30pm, Monday 15th July. Entrants must have a UK address for the prize to be posted to. I’ll post all entries on Facebook and here.

On Thursday we’ll be reviewing the two new sticker and activity books, plus there’s an interview with Mandy Sutcliffe and the KS1 class of our local primary school.

Small Print: It would be nice if the e-mail subject was “Belle & Boo Giveaway” or you added #belleandboo to your tweet, but not required 🙂