Tag Archives: Macmillan Children’s Books

World Book Day 2014 £1 Picture Books

World Book Day 2014 Picture Books

It’s (UK) World Book Day on Thursday, and as always there are a wonderful selection of £1 books available. You can see the full range on the World Book Day website.

I love the concept of £1 books. We generally use the £1 vouchers that Mighty Girl and Danger Girl get from school against other books, and buy a selection of the £1 range too. The very first WBD £1 book I ever bought was a Garth Nix, Creature in the Case, which was before I’d even heard of World Book Day (or had children…) The first one I waited for was Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants (MG was a year old, DG didn’t exist…)

All that is entirely irrelevant, but is slight background as to how I skipped (not literally) into my local indie bookshop (Mostly Books) on Friday to grab this year’s picture book selection.

Hello, Hugless Douglas is a half-pint-sized morsel of Douglas’ world packed with favourite characters from the books (rabbit, the sheep, the funny bunnies – they’ll be staring in their own board books later in the year) following Douglas through his day from waking up to going to bed. Small it may be, lacking in detail it is not. Full of Mr Melling’s wit and humour, and with a couple of new hugs in the included ‘hug gallery’ at the back, this is an essential purchase for all toddlers, pre-schoolers (and mums, dads…) Grab a handful and stash them everywhere: perfect amusement for mornings, lunchtimes, bus journeys, waiting rooms, and snuggling up for bedtimes full of hugs.

Emily Gravett’s Little Book Day Parade is an interactive mini-book encouraging children to grab some colouring in materials and help create the dressing up costumes for a variety of familiar Emily Gravett characters. The pictures are too lovely to draw over, so it’s a good thing these are only £1 and I you can buy some more… Great for filling in moments of boredom – just add crayons, pencils, pens…

Both books would also be excellent party bag fillers – a Hugless Douglas party or a Dressing-Up party, which would you prefer?

Please support your local independent bookseller on World Book Day this year, and don’t forget they take on the full cost of the WBD vouchers so buy as many books as you can afford. There are now less than 1000 independent bookshops left in the UK, it would be a tragedy if we lost any more.

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.

Little Wizard by Kazuno Kohara

Little Wizard: Kazuno Kohara (Macmillan Children's Books, 2010)

Little Wizard: Kazuno Kohara (Macmillan Children’s Books, 2010)

I saw this book hidden on a shelf in a discount bookstore and pounced on it quickly. It drew me in with the vibrant colours and a quick flick through showed that we needed this book! I later realised that I had heard of other books by Kazuno Kohara and they are now all on my wish list.

This book is beautiful. The images are linocuts (that’s what they look like, I haven’t been able to find behind-the-scenes book creating for her work which is a shame as it’s so gorgeous) in two colours on purple paper. It works so wonderfully well. The black print lines stand out against the purple, and the only other colour is green for the dragon. Perfection.

The story is one of friendships in unlikely places, and the things that really matter not being what you originally thought. I have lost track of the number of times I have read this book today, DG has requested it over and over. It was one of DG’s Christmas present books and I’m so glad I found it. Hugely recommended, and well loved by DG and MG.

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.

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.

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