Tag Archives: Ian Whybrow

Great Gifts for Nought to Five Year Olds

Puppet Books

Hugless Douglas Finds a Hug: David Melling (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)Puppet Books are great to engage older babies and toddlers, and because the puppet is attached to the book, you don’t have to worry about losing it either. Our favourite new puppet book is the adorable Hugless Douglas Needs A Hug, full of lovely illustrations and with the cutest Douglas puppet. The puppet is made for grown ups to operate, and for little hands to stroke and cuddle. We love Hugless Douglas here, and this book has been a huge hit.

Child's Play Puppet Books

For little ones who want to operate their own puppets, Child’s Play have a huge range of puppet activity books. Older babies and young toddlers will be able to stick their whole hands in to move the bunny in Bib on, Bunny and the monkey in Monkey and Me, plus the familiar settings will appeal. As always with Child’s Play, the children depicted are from various cultures and look fairly androgynous meaning that every child will be able to find a picture they can relate to in one of the books in the series. Older toddlers and pre-schoolers can improve their motor skills and learn as they play in titles like What’s The Time, Mr Wolf? Grown ups can operate the puppets with fingers (if they’re ever allowed to!) and the three titles that we tested got a huge thumbs up from the four and six year olds, so they have great longevity in use too.

Anything by Jo Lodge

Books by Jo Lodge from Hodder Children's Books and Nosy Crow

We first discovered Jo Lodge several years ago via Mr Croc. The few Mr Croc books we had were literally loved to death over a couple of years and after much fixing and re-fixing eventually went for recycling. This year we discovered Little Roar and Icky Sticky Monster too. Jo Lodge engineers her own books, and they are bright, colourful, attractive to small children and great fun. Little Roar is suitable from the youngest age, with chunky tabs to pull and turn. We used to have a fantastic Mr Croc board book suitable for the youngest hands too, Up and Down, but it appears to be out of print. I’m sure similar are still available. The Mr Croc pop-up and tab books are very innovative. Ours may have broken, but that was from a lot of use and not because of quality. The last page of the books is usually Mr Croc popping up to get you, which my two found utterly hilarious (and still do!) Icky Sticky Monster is more suitable for pre-schoolers and is the first from Nosy Crow, with two more coming out next summer. Hachette publish Mr Croc and Little Roar, plus a new series of crinkly cloth books for the smallest hands. I am not kidding when I say anything by Jo lodge is the perfect gift for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and up…

Explore and Play

Child's Play Little Explorers and Little Drivers

The Little Explorer and Little Driver ranges from Child’s Play are excellent for imaginative play on the go, with a small character attached by ribbon that you can put in and out of pockets on each page, to pretend to control different vehicles. The character card is shaped and double sided so the child can choose boy or girl characters. These are not only wonderful fun, but great for motor skills development too. There are also dress up books in the same theme. With chunky card pages, and see through pockets, these are great quality and durable books for lots of fun play.

A board book that’s also a mask? What a wonderful idea! The Look At Me range are a series of books you can hold over your face to pretend to be a robot, or a monster; an alien or a clown. Due to the shape, a child or a grown up can play pretend. Great fun.

Pull, Twist, Poke, and Push

Child's Play Books

Books with flaps to lift and tabs to pull are always good fun with small children, but some are quite complex for little hands. Peekaboo Little Roar has tabs suitable for very small hands, and there are a range of Tiny Tabs books from Nosy Crow that are also good for babies. For older toddlers, Ian Whybrow and Axel Sheffler’s The Tickle Book (Macmillan) is full of tabs to pull and things to move, and Nick Sharratt’s Octopus Socktopus (Scholastic) is another enormous hit here. For preschoolers, Child’s Play’s Ten in the Bed not only teaches counting backwards from ten, but you get to turn a wheel to get a child to fall out of bed each time (and the children represent a variety of cultures, making this perfect for any child)

I couldn’t do a list of the best touchy-feely-pully-pushy-twisty-movey-interactive-novelty books for younger children without mentioning Child’s Play’s books with holes series. There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly was published forty years ago, and it’s one of the first board books I bought for Mighty-Girl when she was born. But there’s not only the Old Lady. We also have Old Macdonald, and I find it so clever how the holes, pictures and text are positioned. The children, of course, just think it’s lots of fun. Books with Holes come in all sorts of formats from small board books to gigantic books for sharing.

For more innovative, interactive, and intelligent book gift ideas please see Gifts for Curious Children (non fiction) and Great Gifts for Children (age 4+)

Disclosure: Many of the books listed were supplied for review by Hachette Children’s Books and Child’s Play International. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

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.

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.

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.