Tag Archives: HarperCollins Children’s Books

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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Advent Books, part three

One Little Christmas Tree: The Curto Family & Rusty Fischer (2012)One Little Christmas Tree: The Curto Family & Rusty Fischer (2012)
I’ve called this section ‘favourite characters’ and am starting with an unknown – but not really as the Christmas Tree is the star of most Christmases in the UK so a very familiar character indeed! This is the story of a fir tree who is left alone in the Christmas tree lot year after year but eventually finds the perfect family to go home with. It’s the first of a series of three books, which seem to share a gentle, loving core. They are available as paperbacks and e-books from Amazon. You can find descriptions of all three books here. I was sent a paperback copy of the first book by the creators. It’s an enjoyable enough story, pitched somewhere between a picture book and an early chapter book. This is very much an American book, e.g. it uses “Mom”, and for that reason it doesn’t work as well for us. MG and DG enjoy listening to the story, MG comments on how the little tree’s nose grows through the story! Based on the first story, these are nice little additions to Christmas story times, but as a thin A5 paperback they are sadly overpriced. However, the clear text would work well on a tablet and it is available in electronic format.

Mog's Christmas: Judith Kerr (HarperCollin's Children's Books, 1976)Mog’s Christmas: Judith Kerr (HarperCollin’s Children’s Books, 1976)
I love Mog. Mog the Forgetful Cat is one of my all-time favourite children’s books. Amazingly, I still haven’t read all of the series, I think partly because I will sob when Mog dies… Mog is drawn with such love and her expressions are wonderful. In this book, she is scared by all the goings on at Christmas (as a side note, I love how Christmas only ever starts on Christmas Eve in children’s books!) There’s a walking, talking tree and everyone is busy so Mog hides on the roof, falling asleep on a nice warm chimney… Another lovely book to share at Christmas story times, MG and DG love Mog and her reactions almost as much as I do. One I definitely look forward to every year!

Merry Christmas Maisy: Lucy Cousins (Walker Books, 2000)Merry Christmas Maisy: Lucy Cousins (Walker Books, 2000)
This is a novelty book with lots of flaps to lift, a couple of tabs to pull and tons of sparkle in the pictures. It is aimed at very young children, and I forget when we bought it but it could have been before DG was born. It is still loved by both MG and DG, despite being technically years too young for MG. DG loves it best, as she still enjoys all the Maisy books where MG is more grown up now (although will watch the DVDs at Nanny’s house on a loop still!) But it’s Maisy, and Maisy is just so lovable and in bright eye-catching colours suitable for babies and up. Probably not one to buy for older children, but get when they’re babies and it will be treasured for years. Also our copy is still in remarkably good condition considering how many years it’s been mauled at Christmas!

Harry and the Dinosaurs make a Christmas Wish: Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds (Puffin Books, 2003)Harry and the Dinosaurs make a Christmas Wish: Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds (Puffin Books, 2003)
I think there’s a Harry and the Dinosaurs book for every ocassion and I am glad there is because every tale is lovely and full of fun. MG tells me there’s a TV version of Harry and the Dinosaurs that she’s seen at school and with MG, if it’s been on TV it makes it instantly more insteresting! To be fair, she also loved the books before that though. In this tale, the dinosaurs really want a duck for Christmas having seen ducklings hatch at the farm. Harry is distracted by other toys but the dinosaurs still want the duckling. On Christmas morning, they don’t quite get their wish but something even better – a new friend. The Harry books are wonderful. I adore how the subtle text covers sibling arguments, and how the Nan lives with the family.

Harry and the Snow King: Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds (Puffin Books, 1997)Harry and the Snow King: Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds (Puffin Books, 1997)
Another Harry book, but I had to include it. We all absolutely love this story, me possibly a bit more than MG and DG but there’s lots of snow, and snowmen, and Harry gets a ride on a tractor – all of which is incredibly appealing to small children, well incredibly appealing to my small children but it all seems great fun to me so why wouldn’t it appeal? 😉 I love the patience in which Harry collects up all the tiny amounts of snow in order to make his mini snow king, and the text is perfectly pitched with lovely illustrations. One of my absolute favourites of all the Harry books, I hugely recommend this book at any time of year but it really fits when you’re wishing for the snow that never comes at Christmas. A beautiful book.

The Gruffalo's Child: Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books, 2004)The Gruffalo’s Child: Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children’s Books, 2004)
This is not technically a ‘Christmas’ book, but look at that front cover, it’s so Christmassy. Plus the two animated Gruffalo films were both released at Christmas so there’s a definite Christmas theme… The Gruffalo needs no introduction, it is a wonderful book. I am not as keen as I don’t think the rhyme flows as well in the sequel but it’s a nice touch to have the Gruffalo use the “Big Bad Mouse” as the scary warning to his child, and her attempts to find the Big Bad Mouse with the Snake, Owl and Fox making appearances joining in with the Big Bad Mouse story links it heavily to the first story. Enjoyed by both girls, and who can resist a baby Gruffalo?

I was going to include Everything’s Rosie: The Last Snowball, but actually it’s a book set in spring so I left that one out. There’s Mr Snow from the Mr Men which I should include if I can find it. There’s also Mr Christmas and some other newer snowy and Christmassy Mr Men books, but anything after the first forty-three Mr Men books don’t count in my opinion! We don’t have a huge amount of character tie-in books but there are plenty of Christmas and winter books from all favourite characters that could be included.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of One Little Christmas Tree by Good Times at Home LLC for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

The Somethingosaur: Tony Mitton & Russell Ayto

The Somethingosaur: Tony Mitton & Russell Ayto (Harper Collins Children's Books, 2012)

The Somethingosaur: Tony Mitton & Russell Ayto
(Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2012)

 Russell Ayto and dinosaurs again 🙂 These are much nicer dinosaurs though, they’re curvy, less angular and don’t have such big sharp teeth! They’re also incidental to the story as the little somethingosaur may not be an -osaur at all…

He wanders the deserts, the swamps and the plains.
He travels through blistering heat and through rains.
He visits the places that no dino knows.
And little by little… He grows… And he grows.

An egg is lost and sits alone until out pops a very cute and very alone little… something. There are some very lovely little things in the backgrounds of the pages, like a “lost egg” poster where little Something hatches, not to mention an incredibly cute bug who follows Something on his adventure with his own story.

Something asks the dinosaurs he meets if he belongs to them but being rejected he goes on a long quest and eventually finds his mum. The mountain he climbs to get there is very dark and foreboding but there’s a happy surprise at the end. And is he really a dinosaur? Now that would be telling…

The book has gorgeous artwork throughout and a lovely happy snuggled-up-families ending. Great to read when snuggled together.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Something-O-Saur 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.

Of Moose and Landscapes

The link may be tenuous but both these picture books are lovely, written & illustrated by stellar talents, and include a moose plus gorgeous natural backdrops…

This Moose Belongs To Me: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2012)This Moose Belongs To Me: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012)

Somehow, this is only Oliver Jeffers tenth picture book. And although his style is distinct, and the books (the ones I’ve read anyhow) share a surrealism that just works, every one is so very different. This Moose Belongs to Me is a complete contrast to his last book The Hueys in The New Jumper, being full of colour and detail where the previous book was minimalistic.

Wilfred owned a moose. At least, Wilfred thought he owned a moose. The moose had other ideas.  In fact, the moose is just himself getting along with his life while others try to stamp ideas of ownership and rules onto him. These rules can’t contain nature and the moose carries on doing moose things in a beautiful landscape.

On the one hand, a beautiful and deep tale; on the other, a lightly surreal and humourous picture book. It works on many levels, or you can just drool over the beautiful painted landscapes.

Oliver Jeffers has the kind of talent where you’d probably buy his shopping list if he published it, knowing that it wouldn’t be quite what you expected and probably gorgeously illustrated to boot!

A House In The Woods: Inga Moore (Walker, 2011)A House In The Woods: Inga Moore (Walker, 2011)

This book is a slice of utter perfection, gorgeously illustrated and beautifully observed. There are too many details to love so my review will not do it the slightest justice, it really is a must-own book.

Two little pigs build a house of… Ooops, no, it’s not that story! But it does start with two little pigs – one builds a den, and one builds a hut. Except when they have unexpected (but friendly, and very welcome) visitors in the form of bear and moose who accidentally wreck their homes, the four friends set out to build their own house with the help of the beavers (because it’s too complex a job just for them). In two double spreads with minimal words and lots of picture, the beavers are shown felling trees (cue a conversation about how beavers use their teeth from a curious MG) and start to build (cue more discussion about how they’re cutting the leaves off to use the tree trunks, and yet more on house building – MG was really engaged by the themes in this book).

It is a perfect book for MG at the moment because her school has forest school sessions so she’s built dens in the woods with her friends, and their last half-term theme was homes so she’s been talking about types of houses (detached, terrace etc) and eras (“is it a Victorian house?”) and building their own houses from shoeboxes…

This is a lovely, non-threatening, friendly and co-operative story with lots of interest points to start discussions (“that’s a funny looking phone…”) It’s set in the anthropomorphic equivalent of times gone by, and we all love it. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of This Moose Belongs to Me 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.

Monster-ous and Beast-ly Picture Books

It’s a week until Hallowe’en, All Hallow’s Eve, when the supernatural roam openly and the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest… Or it’s a commercialised festival where we carve pumpkins and eat too many sweeties! In either case it’s a perfect time for reading monster-ous and beast-ly books. Here are a few from our collection.

Tamara Small and the Monsters Ball: Giles Paley-Philips & Gabriele Antonini (Maverick Arts Publishing)Tamara Small and the Monsters Ball: Giles Paley-Philips & Gabriele Antonini (Maverick Arts Publishing)
From the same team that created The Fearsome Beastie, another beast-ly book but with friendly monsters (and more) this time. Perfect for Halloween this book is filled with witches, skeletons, ghouls, ghosts, goblins and pretty much anything else you can think of! Although the beasies aren’t so fearsome here, the book starts with the rather terrifying act of a child being snatched from her bed. Being a parent, this is the part of the book I’m not keen on, but I was oversensitive when I first read it as April Jones had only just gone missing at the time. It didn’t scare my daughters in the slightest. With fun rhyming, scary moments and lots of cute and safe monsters, this is a book that should appeal to most children. My two monster-mad-munchkins love it, especially the break-dancing werewolf. A recommended Halloween read – and good fun the rest of the year too 🙂

Morris the Mankiest Monster: Giles Andreae & Sarah McIntyre (Random House Children's Books)Morris the Mankiest Monster: Giles Andreae & Sarah McIntyre (Random House Children’s Books)
I think the highest praise I can give this book is that I feel quite ill on reading it! Morris really is a very manky monster. Giles Andreae’s repulsive rhyme coupled with Sarah McIntyre’s disgusting(ly cute) illustrations make a great pair and most small children (and adult males who follow a certain stereotype for that matter!) will love Morris and his gross ways. Highlights include “pustules which dribble like hot melted cheese” and “breath [reeking] of rotten fish paste”. What a delight! Bleurgh! 😉

Bedtime for Monsters: Ed Vere (Puffin Books)Bedtime for Monsters: Ed Vere (Puffin Books)
This is very much a bedtime book, it doesn’t work nearly as well in the middle of the day for instance… Is there a monster out there? And does he, maybe, want to eat you up? Bedtime for Monsters is very much a read aloud book to share with small children with lots of word sounds (e.g. bumpity bump, scritch scratch, creak…) to wrap your tongue around. It’s a book to read when snuggled up tight with small children, teasing them with tickles and scariness until the delightful twist at the end giving you an excuse to kiss and tuck them in for the night. DG is a huge fan of this one, and we have some one-to-one time going through it with her. Wonderfully illustrated with a monster that is far too cute to want to eat you up really, great for any time of year but especially on dark nights…

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child: Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child: Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children’s Books)
On the one hand, these books need no introduction; on the other, they need an entire post to themselves. Is there anyone who isn’t aware of The Gruffalo? We all think that The Gruffalo deserves it’s reputation and the brilliant repetition in the rhyme makes it all too easy to memorise too – I used to quote this to MG when she was a toddler and I’d forgotten to bring a book out and about with us. For this time of year, where the nights are getting darker and the trees are losing their leaves The Gruffalo’s Child is perfect. I don’t think the rhyme works as well but the story is fun and, well, it’s The Gruffalo 😉

Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins Children's Books)Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
A classic of course, and all the more poignant since Sendak’s recent death, but not one of my favourites to read out loud. It’s a book with so many pictures to be savoured which I find difficult to ‘read’ to small children, they need to read it themselves! The story is of pushing boundaries; of limitations and freedoms; of imagination and of parental love. Perfect subjects for small children.

The Octonauts & the Only Lonely Monster: Meomi (HarperCollins Children's Books)The Octonauts & the Only Lonely Monster: Meomi (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
We all love the Octonauts cartoon series in the house. It’s packed with real information about underwater creatures making it educational as well as fun. The original books are more fantastical but we appreciate both on their own merits, and this book is a fine example. The octoalert is blaring, the octopod is under attack! Except, really, it’s a lonely monster who thought that the octopod was like him. Off the octonauts go to find the monster’s family – they search north, east, south and west. The search pages are wonderful, packed with creatures and each at a different orientation so you have to turn the book 90 degrees to view each double page. The monster may turn out to be the only one of his kind, but that doesn’t mean he has to be lonely. A lovely tale of accepting our differences, and sure to be appreciated by all octonauts series fans too!

I have a soft spot for monsters, which has rubbed off on my daughters so we have plenty of monster and beast books. Others we’ve already written about: The Monster Machine; The Ravenous Beast; The Pirate-Cruncher; Love Monster; plus a special mention for the perfect Halloween book Haunted House.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Tamara Small and the Monster’s Ball 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.

A Handful of Recent Picture Books with Grandparents

Grandma Bendy by Izy Penguin (Maverick Arts Publishing, 2012)Grandma Bendy by Izy Penguin (Maverick Arts Publishing, 2012)

Here is a Grandma like no other – she has very stretchy and bendy arms and legs. She’s a superhero to her grandchildren and great for getting you in the house when you’ve lost your keys, but she has a dark past. Grandma Bendy used to be… a burglar! I like how, although this is a humourous book, it does touch on how upsetting being burgled can be and that a life of crime can only lead to prison.

MG and DG liked looking for Grandma Bendy when she was playing hide and seek, and that she was good now. MG was a little worried about the burglaring part because one of her friends scared her by pretending there were bad men burglars out in the dark, plus she caught some adult chat about the missing child which accentuated her worries. Fortunately this is a happy and funny book, and just what she needed to not worry about ‘bad men’ in the dark when she’s safely at home.

40 Uses for a Grandpa by Harriet Ziefert & Amanda Haley (Blue Apple Books, 2005)40 Uses for a Grandpa by Harriet Ziefert & Amanda Haley (Blue Apple Books, 2005)

A lovely little book, this consists of a list of forty things a grandparent can be, each with an illustration. ‘Uses’ given are storyteller, teacher, referee, nurse, opponent, baker, friend… Various grandparents and families are included in the illustrations, covering different races making this an accessible book. This book does include Americanisms (veterinarian, entertainment center) but not in a way to distract from the overall purpose of the book.

When reading this with MG and DG, we talked about which things their Grandpa was very good at and which things he probably wouldn’t do! Another time I’ll talk about my dad and what he would have done with them if he were still alive.  This is a good book to spark discussion about all the things we have because of our grandparents and all the things they do for us and would also make a lovely gift for a Grandpa to share with their grandchildren. MG and DG’s Grandpa is ‘Grandpa’ rather than ‘Granddad’ or another nickname (my dad was ‘Daddo’ being the Irish pet version) so this works very well for us but the name doesn’t matter as the message is the same so I think it’s suitable for all!

The Great Granny Gang by Judith Kerr (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2012)The Great Granny Gang by Judith Kerr (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012)

A new Judith Kerr, and beautifully illustrated as you’d expect. The premise is lovely: a gang of crime-stopping grannies (the youngest eighty-two) who all do things that you don’t expect elderly ladies to do: like ballooning, chimney repairs and lion taming. I do love the Granny Gang members, but I am disappointed that the antagonists chosen are a gang of ‘hoodies’. I thought we were beyond blaming the youth of today and their fashion sense for all being disrespectful and criminal, and as this is a book to read to young children who may grow up into these youths I’d prefer a more positive role model. I would have preferred a gang of bad grannies for the good grannies to convert! However, my children are young and don’t read so much into this, and it is only a picture book… They like the grannies, the mess, and the crocodile. I like the art, the cats, and the wonderful grannies – especially Maud with her pneumatic drill.

Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth by Penelope Harper & Cate James (Phoenix Yard Books, 2012)Lollipop and Grandpa and the Wobbly Tooth by Penelope Harper & Cate James (Phoenix Yard Books, 2012)

I found this book whilst browsing the shelves in Mostly Books, vaguely looking for a book involving grandfathers as most of the books I had covered grandmothers but also just generally browsing when this caught my eye. There was also a copy of Lollipop and Grandpa’s Back Garden Safari which I flicked through and it looked great fun but I bought this one because MG is at the age where her teeth will start to wobble soon. Phoenix Yard are a relatively new independent publishers and looking at their catalogue, they are one to keep an eye on. I also flicked through I Have The Right To Be A Child and mentally added it to my wishlist!

Lollipop and her Grandpa have a wonderfully close relationship, she beams when he comes to stay and he loves spending time with her. Grandpa has a huge amount of joy and curiousness about the world, perfect for sharing with a child, and comes up with all sorts of mad ideas for helping Lollipop with her wobbly tooth.Throughout the book healthy teeth habits are encouraged (but not forced) and it’s a healthy snack that helps Lollipop’s tooth come out. I love the caring relationship between the grandparent and grandchild; DG and MG love all Grandpa’s silly suggestions, and to guess what will actually work. This is a happy and reassuring book, lovely to share with grandparents or to talk about them when they are not around, either through distance or loss.

Whizz Pop, Granny Stop! byTracey Corderoy & Joe Berger (Nosy Crow, 2012)Whizz Pop, Granny Stop! by Tracey Corderoy & Joe Berger (Nosy Crow, 2012)

This is the sequel to Hubble Bubble, Granny Trouble, which we borrowed from the library and loved (and will probably end up on the shelves at some point!) This granny is definitely very, very different. The first book has her granddaughter attempting a makeover to change her into a normal, ordinary granny but it’s really a story of how to accept people just the way they are. I don’t think the word ‘witch’ is used in either book, but Granny is very obviously a witch with her pointy black hat, black cat, cauldron and book of spells.

In Whizz Pop, Granny Stop the granddaughter wants Granny to stop making spells to try to fix things because they never seem to go quite right (pink hair and a missing rabbit being results of previous spells). For her party she wants it all to be done the long way so they bake cakes and sew clothes, and although the results aren’t perfect, it’s perfect for them. But after the party, there’s all that mess, and Granny’s magic comes in again. This book again is about accepting people for who they are, and for appreciating what we have rather than wishing for perfection. A great philosophy wrapped up in a fun, imaginative rhyme with utterly gorgeous illustrations Both books highly recommended – especially with Halloween just around the corner!

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of Grandma Bendy by Maverick Arts Publishing; 40 Uses for a Grandpa by Blue Apple Books; and The Great Granny Gang 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.

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

Learn With Hello Kitty: Alphabet Letters & Starting to Write

Learn With Hello Kitty

The lovely people at Harper Collins have sent us two Hello Kitty workbooks. I have mixed feelings on workbooks but MG and DG like to play school and they like to have workbooks to use.

DG is at a stage where she’s only just starting to control her pencil strokes and producing circles and lines on purpose rather than just squiggles (I try not to compare her to MG who could write her name at the same age!) MG loves to write but some practice with forming letters on top of her story writing and schooling would be useful to her.

I also have mixed opinions about these two workbooks. Both books are luscious, with lots of colour throughout so they stand out from many other workbooks. Hello Kitty is a familiar character and instantly recognisable so these books are attractive to young children. There is also a Numbers book which we haven’t seen plus three dictionaries in the series. Matching stationery can be easily found for those who want to co-ordinate!

Starting to Write is aimed at 3-5 year olds and is pitched perfectly at the age range, starting with tracing straight lines, moving through curves and shapes before showing the correct formation of the lower case alphabet. The pages are colourful and inviting, there are lots of stickers (including several oversize characters) and the letter size is big enough to be clear on how to form them and uses a primary font that differentiates between b/d/p/q easily.

Alphabet Letters is also aimed at 3-5 year olds, but I think it’s more useful as an activity book than an alphabet learning tool. There is a page for each letter of the alphabet but no consistency between the activities, for example only a handful of pages offer the opportunity to write the letter. Each page is cluttered and it’s not clear from the picture what letter is being highlighted. The font used does not clearly differentiate between b/d etc and uses a straight line for l without a tail. The ‘l’ page also uses a very curvy font for handwriting that, to me, completely defeats the object of the entire book. Using the same font as the letters to trace in Starting to Write would have been preferable.

There are no guidance notes for parents on using the phonic sounds for the letters, which is the best starting point for children to understand the correspondence between the marks on paper and the words we speak. Some of the examples are not simple phonetic words (e.g. ice cream starts with the letter name sound rather than the letter sound; xylophone doesn’t have the /ks/ sound, although words starting with x are awkward…)

I really don’t think Alphabet Letters succeeds as a book to “learn your letters” but is an enjoyable activity book with lots to talk about in the pictures and plenty of stickers to use too.

I used both books with DG because MG is on the outer end of the age range for the books and would get less out of them whereas DG is very much at the start of the alphabet & writing experience. MG would still get something out of the writing book as some of her letter formations are out (e.g. backwards) but I’d prefer to use the whole book with one child!

DG really enjoyed the pictures and talking about everything in them. She proved to me my thoughts about Alphabet Letters. It was enjoyable for her as an activity book with lots to talk about and stickers to stick but trying to concentrate on one letter was impossible given the cluttered pages, she also found it hard to find the illustration of the example word for some letters because they weren’t obvious. As an activity book to colour, stick, draw and talk about the pictures this book is lovely, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an alphabet teaching book.

Conversely Starting to Write does the job perfectly. DG and I have gone through the whole book talking through the pictures with her pointing things out, and she’s traced some of the lines with her fingers. At the stage she’s at, she needs more fine motor practise to control her pen strokes, although she can do circles and lines but I stuck to following lines with fingers to start. This book will last us for a very long time going through all the different activities, and the colourful pictures are very appealing to DG.

These are visually appealing, fun books that don’t feel like workbooks and have lovely stickers too. I would recommend looking for them in a real bookshop rather than online to see whether they suit what you’re looking for but DG and I have had fun using them together.

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of  Learn with Hello Kitty: Alphabet Letters and Learn with Hello Kitty: Starting to Write by Harper Collins 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.

Picture books about school

Playing by the Book’s monthly carnival of children’s books has the theme (Starting) School this month, perfect for this time of year! I have submitted Lucky Wish Mouse Starting School as my main entry for this month, but here are a few more…

Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester-Clark (Harper Collins Children's Books, 2012)Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester-Clark. Lily and Blue Kangaroo are well loved characters and in this latest adventure, Lily is about to go to a new school. It’s not said whether this is her first school or if she is changing school but the book works for either so would also be good for families that have moved and had to change schools. Lily is scared but her fears are shown via Blue Kangaroo – she asks his questions and is reassured by all the friendly adults in her life. Wonderfully reassuring and of course beautifully illustrated, this is a lovely book to share with small children.

Foxy by Emma Dodd (Harper Collins Children's Books, 2012)Foxy by Emma Dodd. Rather than showing the first day at school, Foxy is a funny book to take away worries from the silly things that Foxy does. Emily is worried about her first day but Foxy’s magic tail produces all the things she’ll need for her first day – eventually. Foxy’s mistakes – a penguin instead of a pencil; an elephant instead of an eraser; and so forth – bring smiles and fun. Most importantly, no magic at all is needed for Emily to make friends. Hugely fun illustrations and humour make this a lovely addition to any bookshelf.

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart School by Clara Vulliamy (Harper Collins Children's Books, 2012)Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart School by Clara Vulliamy – reviewed previously here.

 

 

 

The Bear with Sticky Paws Goes to School by Clara VulliamyThe Bear with Sticky Paws Goes to School by Clara Vulliamy. A third school book from Clara, and I wholeheartedly recommend any of them (and all of them!) The Bear with Sticky Paws is one of DG’s favourites, and in this story Pearl is dragging her feet because she doesn’t want to go to school. It’s not just starting school books that are useful, after a few weeks when the novelty has worn off those feet begin to drag and the complaints get more imaginative… The Bear takes Pearl to his school where you can do anything but messy, noisy and not sharing isn’t really fun and soon Pearl wants to go to the comfort of her own school and friends.

Lucy and Tom go to School by Shirley HughesLucy and Tom go to School by Shirley Hughes. Keeping it in the family, here is a lovely little book I found in a charity shop. Lucy is almost five and about to start school but her little brother Tom is too young. This tale full of nostalgia takes us through Lucy’s first day and how sometimes she loves school and sometimes she doesn’t. Tom really wants to go to, and he gets to go to playgroup. This is so like my two – MG likes school but some days she’s not keen but DG has wanted to go as soon as MG started, she tried on her (not compulsory) uniform as soon as I bought some second hand and on the first day she was allowed to start at three she ran in ahead of her sister! A little piece of nostalgia for the era I grew up in (first published two years before I was born) and more beautiful observations of family life.

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen and Mark TeagueHow Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. I love the How Do Dinosaurs… series. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? was MG’s bedtime book from a few months old for over a year and I don’t think I’ll ever bore of it. DG was always too fidgetty to do a bedtime story with at that age (we read several stories every night of course, this was just the final one every night for a very long time!) The series is lovely, brilliant rhyming text with huge pictures of dinosaur toddlers with human parents. It starts with things we shouldn’t do: Does he drag his long tail? Is he late for the bus? Does he stomp all four feet? Does he make a big fuss? and after a list of these there’s a No followed by what we should do: A dinosaur carefully raises his hand. He helps out his classmates with projects they’ve planned. A wonderfully subtle introduction to manners, the whole series is a must-have in my opinion!

Harry and the Dinosaurs go to School by Ian Whybrow and Adrian ReynoldsHarry and the Dinosaurs go to School by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds. I have a huge soft spot for Harry and the Dinosaurs too, maybe I just love dinosaurs. Did I say I? I meant my daughters of course… Seriously though, they do love Harry, he is a very loveable character. I love that proper dinosaur names are used, because I hate talking down to small people, and again the series covers ‘issues’ like the dentist (one I will definitely be using again this week as we’re all due a check-up) and of course school. In this story, Harry is starting a new school and notices a very quiet boy who he helps gain confidence playing with the dinosaurs. Lovely stuff, gorgeous pictures. If you haven’t any Harry books, go and grab one now. Preferably an armful…

Splat the Cat by Rob ScottonSplat the Cat by Rob Scotton. Splat comes out with lots of different reasons why he shouldn’t go to school: “Maybe I should go to school tomorrow instead?” At school, he questions everything the teacher says (I love this, independent thinking!) and then we find out why: he has a pet mouse! Seymour the mouse shows the cats that mice are friends after all and Splat can’t wait to go to school again. There are lots of very funny imagery for small children to giggle at, this is a book for any time of year.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo and Foxy 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.