Tag Archives: Niamh Sharkey

The Gigantic Turnip (Barefoot Books)

The Gigantic Turnip: Aleksei Tolstoy, Stella Blackstone & Niamh Sharkey (Barefoot Books, 1998)

The Gigantic Turnip: Aleksei Tolstoy, Stella Blackstone & Niamh Sharkey (Barefoot Books, 1998)

Is it terrible to admit that I didn’t know that this story was written by Tolstoy? I guess I thought it was just a generic folk tale that had been around forever, like Little Red Hen (although on Googling I can’t find a definitive answer as to whether Tolstoy just rewrote the folktale or actually made it up!) The text for this version has actually been written by Stella Blackstone, and I think it’s a shame that she’s only credited on the copyright page rather than on the front cover as it’s her words we’re actually reading.

This is an excellent version of the story, starting with an old man and an old woman planting vegetables, and building up the addition of more and more animals trying to pull up the turnip once it has grown. It includes counting from one to six, a menagerie of farm animals, glorious repetition and illustrations to drool over. I am a fan of current Irish Children’s Laureate, Niamh Sharkey’s art and the humour in these illustrations is gorgeous.

This is a beautifully made book too. It’s a total cliché to fall in love with Barefoot Books, but I suppose there is a reason for that. I am getting very close to jumping in and signing up as an Ambassador for them to be honest.

The book also comes with a CD of the story being read as standard. Personally I’m not an aural person and my children don’t listen unless a real person is reading to them so CDs don’t work for us but it’s an added bonus for children who do like audio stories.

This is one of the best versions of the story I’ve read, and has been picked out by Darling-Girl as one of her bedtime stories for the last few nights since I collected all the unreviewed books together and she rediscovered it!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of The Gigantic Turnip by Barefoot Books as part of the BritMums Oxford meetup. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Advent Books, part two

Puppy's First Christmas: Steve Smallman & Alison Edgson (Little Tiger Press, 2012)Puppy’s First Christmas: Steve Smallman & Alison Edgson (Little Tiger Press, 2012)
This is a lovely Christmas book, and another one that I’ll be putting for opening near the beginning of the month so we can read it extra times. I have to say the cover didn’t appeal to me personally as it looks overly cutesy (which I’m not) but the illustrations and the rhyme are both lovely, cute but not overly so. Steve Smallman writes an excellent rhyme with lots of humour making it great for grown ups to read. The whole book has children written all over it, toddlers especially will love Puppy’s confusion with all the changes in the house and the added nice touch (literally!) of the red hats being fuzzy – also not on every page so you have to search out the fuzzy bits. Both MG and DG enjoyed this, both searching out the fuzzy pages! The humour is great too – Puppy is confused that the children didn’t fight all day, and thought the tree was a new place for him to pee! Adorable illustrations, especially in observing how small children puppies fight sleep before giving in when too tired… A book for both dog and cat lovers (I do get annoyed with dog vs cat books where one or the other are seen as evil…), parents and small children. Bigger children may enjoy reading it to their smaller siblings because of the humour. A surefire Christmas hit.

Father Christmas Needs a Wee: Nicholas Allan (Random House Children's Books, 2009)Father Christmas Needs a Wee: Nicholas Allan (Random House Children’s Books, 2009)
This is another one that Mr Chaos bought for the girls last Christmas, he’s far more into the Christmas spirit than I am (he and the girls put up and decorate the tree together while I stay out of the way!) I think we can all empathise with poor Father Christmas; he’s had far too many drinks and desperately needs a wee! But before he can, he has to deliver all those presents he forgot about. We all breathe a sigh of relief with him when eventually he gets to go! A very silly book, but with an educational twist as we count the house numbers and the drinks (at number one, he has one drink; and so on to number ten!) And as he forgets the presents, after counting up from one to ten we then get to count down again. Surreptitious learning at it’s best!

Father Christmas on the Naughty Step: Mark Sperring & Tom McLauglin (Puffin Books, 2012)Father Christmas on the Naughty Step: Mark Sperring & Tom McLauglin (Puffin Books, 2012)
Most children know the idea of the ‘naughty step’ even if it’s something you don’t use in your own house (I tend not to but do occasionally when one child has deliberately hurt the other…) This book is part of a series where we’ve not read the others but that doesn’t matter. It’s Christmas Eve and Sam is on the naughty step (we’re not told why). He’s soon joined by a pirate who lied on his letter to Santa, and by Father Christmas himself who is at the top of the naughty list for taking something that isn’t his. Sam helps him to learn to say sorry, says sorry himself and all is well for Christmas Day (with a little twist). This is a story that children will enjoy because they can relate to being ‘naughty’ and saying sorry and the power is on the child’s side because he helps the grown-up. There’s also the humour in the pirate and  Father Christmas being on the naughty step. It certainly appeals to my two.

Santasaurus: Niamh Sharkey (Walker Books, 2004)Santasaurus: Niamh Sharkey (Walker Books, 2004)
Niamh Sharkey. Dinosaur Santa. Do I even need to write any more? Good, just go and get a copy already… Niamh Sharkey’s illustrations are wonderful, packed with humour and interest. She’s created a wonderful world like-ours-but-not with dinosaur children and dinosaur parents planning for Christmas. This follows the current traditional British (Irish?!) Christmas of decorating trees, buying presents and leaving mince pies and carrots out on Christmas Eve. Youngest dinosaur Milo wishes more than anything to ride with Santasaurus on his sleigh and help deliver the presents. Does he get what he wants and is this the best Christmas ever? Yes, of course!

How Santa Really Works: Alan Snow & Maggie Bateson (Simon and Schuster, 2010)How Santa Really Works Pop-Up: Alan Snow & Maggie Bateson (Simon and Schuster, 2010)
Alan Snow is a humourous and talented illustrator. We have his ‘How Dogs Really Work’ and ‘How Cats Really Work’ books but don’t read them much (see my issues with reading aloud in the previous post!) as I think they are ones that will be more enjoyed when read by MG & DG themselves. This is a whole different concept though because it pops up! Five fantastically detailed pop-ups with so much to look at that we can tell our own stories (I have to admit I haven’t read the text yet) and MG and DG just enjoy looking at all the details and talking about what they see. As I may have mentioned, DG and MG are both hugely into pop-up and novelty books at the moment and they’re at an age where it can take entire minutes before they break them! Seriously though, MG is old enough to be left alone with novelty books and use all the pull tabs etc with no help; DG is a little rough (she is Destructo-Girl after all) but with mild supervision she can be left to experience pop-up books too. How Santa Works is a book that can be opened on the floor, experienced from all angles, looked at closely to see the details (even lift up Santa’s toilet seat!) It is beautiful and tons of fun, MG and DG really enjoy it. It’s new to us this year  so we’ll see how it holds up to serious reading, but on half a dozen reads from both children, it’s still in one piece. Highly recommended, but not for threes and under.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Puppy’s First Christmas by Little Tiger Press for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Fiction Fridays #21: The Ravenous Beast

The Ravenous Beast: Niamh Sharkey (2004)

“I AM THE HUNGRIEST ANIMAL OF ALL,” said the Ravenous Beast.

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The entire Chaos household loves this book. It’s one Daddy Chaos often chooses to read to the girls (and he can do the voices, I’m rubbish at voices) and we never tire of it. The book starts with the Ravenous Beast stating that he’s so hungry that he could eat “the big yellow house on the hill” then page by page another animal joins in with what they can eat (adding an extra item each time, ending with the whale listing nine items).

One touch I like is that often on one page, something from the next page can be seen in the distance (not always the case). The left hand page has text and the animals collecting together as each one joins in, the right hand page is a full picture with the animal and what it said it could eat (with bites out of each)!

The castle in the distance is one of the items on the next page...

Finally, the Ravenous Beast has had enough of the boasting, and proves that he is definitely the hungriest of them all by eating them! It’s a fantastically unexpected ending and an absolute hoot for small children. Although now my over-sensitive five year old does ask whether he really eats them and sometimes we decide that maybe they just all ran away very fast 🙂