Tag Archives: Liz Pichon

#BookADayUK The One I Have Reread Most Often

I’m not sure which book(s) I have reread most often. There have been a few loved to death books over the years. I know I read the first Red Dwarf novel repeatedly as a teenager, and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I don’t really reread books for myself now, and haven’t for a long time. But as a parent of young children, I do read certain books over and over and over again. Today’s choice is one that has been an almost daily request for May and June.

Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk: Rachel Mortimer & Liz Pichon (Orchard Books, 2014)Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk: Rachel Mortimer & Liz Pichon (Orchard Books, 2014)

Danger Girl (5) loves fairy tales / fables / traditional tales. Whatever you call them, they are her favourite genre of story. Humorous twists on familiar tales always go down well, and adding sweeties into the mix makes this a piece of genius storytelling.

In Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk, the familiar tale of poverty starts how we’d expect. Jack goes to market to sell his cow, but on the way he’s offered twenty gold coins for her… Hold on a minute, Jack just sold the cow for something sensible, this can’t be right? Of course it will go wrong shortly, and in this case Jack’s eye is caught by a huge bag of jelly beans in a magical sweet shop…

The tale then returns to what we expect: Jack’s mum’s ire, beans thrown out of the window, Jack sent to bed without any supper, and then… More familiarity with a giant (jelly) beanstalk, a giant, a goose, and a harp, with an imaginative way of escape and enough jelly beans to last every meal for years. The final page is hinted at earlier in the book, but makes DG and MG giggle every time as they shout out the last few words.

This is the third in a series of alternate fairy tales from the team of Rachael Mortimer and Liz Pichon, and I am regularly told off by DG because we don’t own them all. Fun to read for all ages, and with lots to inspire children’s own storytelling.

Disclosure: Jack and the Jelly Bean Stalk received for review from Hachette Children’s Books

#BookADayUK Makes Me Laugh

I think I used to laugh more. I know I used to laugh more. I have been stared at on the bus as I couldn’t keep in a laugh from what I was reading. Depression takes its toll, and I haven’t been laughing as much as once I did.

A little before my 17th birthday (22 years ago – eek!) I borrowed my first Terry Pratchett book from the library. Wyrd Sisters. By the time of my 17th birthday two months later, I’d not only read every Discworld book that I could find in the library, I also owned almost all the ones published in paperback to that point. Discworld were my comfort reads. Discworld were novels I laughed at loud at.

I don’t laugh as much as I used to. One recent book that I have been giggling though as Mighty Girl (7) reads it to me is Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell. She looks at me and keeps saying “I don’t get it” but she’s reading it all the same. It’s not today’s choice because we’re only a few chapters in.

Today’s choice is the second in a series that has made me laugh so much.

Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes: Hilary Robinson & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes: Hilary Robinson & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children’s Books, 2013)

Mixed Up Fairy Tales and Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes are both amazing books. They are split page books where you make your own story at random. My children also like to find the ‘correct’ story. This is easier in Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes as the flaps are in order, but a more complex in Mixed Up Fairy Tales where the pages are mixed from the start.

Mixed Up Fairy Tales is also more complex with four parts to every story, whereas Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes has three parts. This gives more story options with the Fairy Tales. The Nursery Rhymes are therefore more suitable from a younger age, but any age from pre-school and up can enjoy both. It helps to have a certain grounding in fairy tales and nursery rhymes to really get the humour, which shouldn’t be too difficult for most children!

I am in awe of how Hilary Robinson has managed to make phrases that fit together in any combination to make a sensible (silly) story. For Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes, that’s three parts to 12 rhymes, making possible 1,728 combinations, and for Mixed Up Fairy Tales, that’s four parts to 12 stories, making 20,736 combinations! And they all work!

(* It might be 1,320 and 11,880 combinations. My maths is very rusty. It’s something to do with permutations. Whatever the answer, it’s a lot of laughs…)

Some random examples from Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes:

Old Mother Hubbard went to town riding on a pail of water.

Polly found a crooked sixpence and lived in a cup of tea.

The Grand Old Duke of York went to Gloucester in a shower of rain and stood on a plum.

The Queen of Hearts put the kettle on and drank a spider.

Highly recommended essentials for every bookcase (not that they’ll stay on the shelves for long, these live under my daughters’ beds for easy access most of the time…)

Disclosure: Mixed Up Nursery Rhymes received for review from Hachette Children’s Books.

Red Riding Hood and the Sweet Little Wolf by Rachael Mortimer and Liz Pichon

Red Riding Hood and the Sweet Little Wolf: Rachael Mortimer & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children's Books, 2012)

Red Riding Hood and the Sweet Little Wolf: Rachael Mortimer & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children’s Books, 2012)

The story follows the Red Riding Hood plot from the wolf view-point. Sweet Little Wolf is sent out by her parents to get dinner (one onion, two potatoes, one tender and juicy little girl…) but gets sidetracked by listening to Red Riding Hood’s fairy tales and dressing up in Grandma’s lovely pink nightgown! Red Riding Hood finds Sweet Little Wolf snoring and screams, so a woodcutter runs in to help. But all ends happily with Red Riding Hood writing a nice letter to Mr and Mrs Wolf.

Interview with DG about the story:

Me: What did you like best?
DG: The sweet little wolf. When she dressed up. The little girl had lots of apples.
Me: What didn’t you like?
DG: Mummy and Daddy wolf. They were naughty.
Me: Is this a good book?
DG: Yes!

This book is worth having for the illustrations and the focus on writing lists and letters – great encouragement for early school-age children – you could do some lovely writing projects based on this book as a starting point.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Red Riding Hood and the Sweet Little Wolf by Hachette Childrens Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Dave by Sue Hendra & Liz Pichon

Dave: Sue Hendra & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children's Books, 2009)

Dave: Sue Hendra & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children’s Books, 2009)

I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve read this book. It’s a huge success with both MG and DG and I generally have to read it at least twice in a row whenever it is chosen. Look at the praise on the front cover: “I laughed so much I farted!” says six-year-old Edward. That might give you an idea of the humour in this book.

Dave is a BIG cat who eats fantastically sized meals until one day he gets stuck in his catflap. The whole garden of bugs, birds, squirrels and more try to help free him but it’s not until one bright bug has the idea of feeding Dave beans that he manages to get free. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Blast Off!!!

As you can imagine, this book is wonderful to read to small children and great to add sound effects to! We all do a great line in raspberries in the Chaos household.

Dave was originally published in 2009 and has been reissued with a lovely glittery cover this year. Sue Hendra and Liz Pichon are both hugely (and deservedly) successful separately and this is a lovely combination of their talents. It will not suit you if you don’t like fart humour, but will be a huge success for children who love David Roberts’ Dirty Bertie picture books for example. Or children aged about two to… um 37 and counting?!

We all LOVE Dave, and recommend him wholeheartedly. Wholesome and full of beans 😉

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Dave by Hachette Childrens Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.