Tag Archives: Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart School

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.

Oxford Literary Festival: Clara Vulliamy and Emma Chichester Clark

Despite living in or near Oxford my entire life, and the festival running for 16 years, I’ve never been to an Oxford Literary Festival event before. I have truly been missing out. It was hard choosing just one event, but also a no-brainer: how could I turn down the opportunity to meet Clara Vulliamy? The day of the event dawned grey and dreary, after a week of lovely weather. It also came with a small child who whinged constantly about everything from the moment she woke at 7am until eventually cheering up slightly on the bus into Oxford at about 10.30am. Given that the event was at 12pm, we made a pit stop for snacks and drinks to minimise extra whinging. We arrived about 15 minutes early but there was already another family waiting and it wasn’t too long before we were all invited in.

I’d actually been so nervous at meeting Clara, and wondering how to introduce myself: “Hi, I’m Child-Led Chaos”?! But then I remembered she does know my name, so I ended up saying “Hello, I’m Anne-Marie.” and was greeted like an old friend before she had to rush off to find some pens!

Firstly, I must say that although Clara Vulliamy is lovely, friendly, amazing and welcoming on Twitter; she is even more lovely in real life, talking to everyone as if they were the only person there and yet taking the time to talk to everyone. I’d never actually heard of Emma Chichester Clark before (ooops) but I also managed to have a chat with her and she was also very lovely, talking to everyone. All the people involved in the event were friendly and approachable and I’d recommend anyone who gets a chance to go to an author event in Christ Church JCR to go, it’s a lovely intimate venue (I guess you can pack more in but because this event included crafts, half the room was taken with tables).

My daughters were in a clingy mood, so although there were cushions set out for the children at the front and chairs for the grown-ups, I had to sit with them on the floor. I wasn’t the only parent on the floor, but the others at least managed to get more than two inches away from their children! Sitting down, surrounded by bags (spare clothes, wipes, snacks and drinks) and coats I felt like I was taking up half the floor but wasn’t really, and there was plenty of room for everyone. The event started with the housekeeping notices, which started with “no photography”. So I dutifully put my camera away, only having the one picture of the front of stage. I wish I could have taken more.

The first person to talk was Emma Chichester Clark who went through slides of all the characters from Wagtail Town, which was really nice to see them all separately. There were a lot more characters than included in the first book, Lulu and the Best Cake Ever, but there is another book ready for publication next year and possibly a third in the works (I asked while she was signing our book). After going through the characters, she read the book (which I will review later in this post).

After Emma had finished reading, Clara came on with a large cardboard cut-out Martha which she hid behind the sign for the children to guess what it was. She then read her book (which I will review later in this post) and showed a felt rabbit that all the children could make.

During the readings, MG and DG were very well behaved. They did ask for drinks and snacks and I tried not to rustle too much as I got things out of my bag, but considering how whingy the rest of the day was, they were on their very best behaviour for the whole event.

MG’s artwork on the left, DG’s on the right.

The craft session was centred around making the felt rabbits, although there were also Wagtail Town badges for the children to colour in. The four tables were covered in felt shapes, buttons, ribbon and pens. I was in heaven 😆 I had to help DG quite a lot with her rabbit, but she did all the decoration herself. MG managed to follow the instructions more, but still needed some help. I was somewhat trapped behind a table with them, so saw David Melling getting books signed and leaving without managing to introduce myself (although it wasn’t his event, so a bit of an invasion of privacy therefore I didn’t try too hard!)

The rest is somewhat of a blur. I got to talk to Clara for a while, the girls ran around getting in everyone’s way, I got both books signed to both girls and I gave Clara a very silly little gift as a thank-you for how kind she is which she was very nice about! We were probably the last non-event people to leave the room, although I could have talked to Clara for hours!

The girls were fidgety so instead of going out for lunch as planned, we got the next bus home and DG fell asleep on my lap almost as soon as we were back and slept for three hours (she stopped naps seven months ago, so this is very unusual but explained the grotty morning). Sadly this meant we missed a live drawing event with Clara and Emma that afternoon, although apparently it wasn’t well advertised and I didn’t know about it until after it had finished.

The picture above was taken by David Melling who kindly gave me permission to include it in my post. He also tweeted finished pictures by Emma Chichester Clark and Clara Vulliamy, Chris Riddell, Korky Paul, Emily Gravett and Joe Berger. I am utterly gutted to have missed all of this, but MG and DG weren’t in the mood for being out that long on that day so it wouldn’t have been a good time even if we had managed to see.

Wagtail Town: Lulu and the Best Cake Ever by Emma Chichester Clark

The story is about Lulu, a little dog with big ideas who gets carried away with wanting to make the best cake and disappointed when the cake she makes isn’t a winner. But that doesn’t mean Lulu isn’t a winner in other ways and all ends on a happy note. Emma certainly seems to know her dog breeds and all the characters in Wagtail Town have accents befitting the country the breed comes from, for example Lulu is French and lives in a house that looks like the Eiffel Tower. There appears to be a huge amount of background to this book – each character has a name and personality, there is a map of the town at the front and a final page that feels like the end of an episode. I get a feeling that this could easily be adapted into a TV series and I wonder if there are any plans for this. I think it would be very popular. The book also educates because of all the different breeds and any child with an interest in dogs will love looking up more about them (I will have to get a copy to send to one of my nieces who adores dogs!)

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Love School by Clara Vulliamy

I was so excited about getting to read this book (see I [Heart] Martha Bunny) that there was a chance it could have been a disappointment. I needn’t have worried, this is a lovely book and already a favourite with both my girls (especially DG who is already the biggest fan of Muffin and the Bear with Sticky Paws). Martha is a very sunny bunny who loves everything and is very excited about her first day at school. But she has to leave her two little bunny brothers behind which makes them all feel sad (bunnies put their ears down when sad, and Clara has captured this perfectly). The book is full of lists and side notes, and text that bounces around the pages. Each page has so much to explore, and cute little moments like Paws the puppy appearing in the corner of (almost) every double page. One of my favourite parts is the realistic breakfast with small children: all three have a different breakfast, one bunny brother will only eat his wearing a cardboard box on his head and the baby (toddler) is squeezing egg through his fingers delightedly saying “Mud!”. It’s a beautifully observed moment in a book full of such great observations of small children’s habits. It’s a book that children will understand because it speaks to them, and one filled with moments that parents will relate to. I still [Heart] Martha Bunny, her brothers and her creator.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of both Wagtail Town: Lulu and the Best Cake Ever and Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Love School by Harper Collins for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post and bought the tickets for the festival event myself.

I [Heart] Martha Bunny

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart School by Clara Vulliamy is being published by Harper Collins on 29 March. I’m almost bursting with excitement about this book! Before Christmas, Clara posted patterns on her blog to make felt versions of Martha and her bunny brothers Pip and Monty. Then there’s been a fantastic series of behind-the-scenes creating a picture book for the next in the series I Heart Bedtime. And yet more felt bunny making… And to top it off, she’s coming to my home town to share more bunny crafts. So when I got this Martha Bunny picture in my inbox, I couldn’t wait to have a go decorating her myself.

I decided to do a collage Martha. First there was cutting the shapes (poor Martha!) Then choosing magazine pictures, felt, paper, ribbon and just the right buttons to go together…

Oh, yes, the children were in bed asleep at that point. I was testing it out for them to have a go. Honest. It wasn’t because the picture was too cute not to play myself… I used the template to cut felt and paper pieces that were big enough to make the clothes, and cut lengths of ribbon that were long enough to use as trim for the cardigan, dress and shoes if needed. I printed out two more copies of Martha and went to bed. The plan was that I’d present the girls with the project after school the next day.

But I left everything in sight, so bunny making happened at breakfast time instead. And it was so much fun that we might have been a teeny bit late for school… All in a good cause I think!

MG also decided to do a collage, and she traced around the templates I’d cut out to make the clothes: a felt dress and different colours on each side for the cardigan. She also complained that mine was boring because I didn’t colour in the bunny so she decorated Martha’s legs, hands and face too. Ribbons for ears and buttons for eyes, wonderful! My children are a lot more imaginative than I am.

DG chose small pieces of shiny paper to decorate her Martha and stuck those where she felt they needed to be. Then I opened the button box, and she had even more fun. What I find interesting is where the pictures of the buttons were, she chose to line her buttons up and the same with the eyes but everywhere else she was freestyle. She had a great time choosing her colours and sticking everything down.

Huge thanks to Clara for creating Martha, and to Rosi from Harper Collins for sending us the picture to decorate.