Tag Archives: Novelty Books

My Cat Pip


I seem to be very good at completely missing out on ‘major brands’, having never heard of Belle and Boo before and now having never heard of Pip the Cat! In both cases this has been a good thing as it means we’ve had no preconceived notions of what to expect and can take the books on their own merits. And in both cases, these books are far more than you’d expect from the average brand tie-in, they’ve all been made with thought and care. The fact that they are ‘brands’ is the only thing Belle and Boo and Pip the Cat have in common, that and the fact they both have a wonderful series of books.

The first four My Cat Pip books were published this month, with a further four coming out in October. These four include two sticker books, a lift-the-flap book and a Where’s Wally style book. The next four include a doodle book, sticker book, search book and activity book. Plenty of different things to choose from and with these A4 books starting at £3.99 they’re good value too.

Purrfect PIP! and Showtime PIP! are sticker books with 11 double page scenes and over 100 stickers. The stickers include outfits to dress up the cats in the scenes and lots of accessories too. I’m so glad we were sent both sticker books because both MG and DG love to spend time on these books personalising the scenes. It’s a great boost for DG’s motor skills and I’m really proud of how she’s sticking the outfits on matching to the cats’ bodies rather than randomly sticking anywhere as she has a tendency to do. MG loves creativity and doesn’t use stickers so much, preferring to draw her own pictures, but she’s really taken to these books and the creative freedom they allow. These books would be great for a long car/bus/etc journey as there’s enough variety and stickers to keep children from a range of ages (approx age 2-8) amused. Great value at £3.99 each.

Where are you PIP? is a Where’s Wally style book suitable for younger children. Pip always has his white badge and can be quite challenging to spot (for me, MG got them all in no time at all!) Once Pip has been found there are a selection of six cute animals; the contents of his backpack; and even more things to spy listed at the back of the book. On top of the search pages there are a few other puzzles scattered through the book too. Unlike Let’s Find Mimi, there’s no overall narrative, this is an activity book and priced accordingly at just £4.99. There’s lots to look at, a great ‘busy book’ for children approx age 3-8.

Pip, Pip, Hooray! is a book packed with gazillions of flaps on every page. Maybe not gazillions, but there are over 50 flaps in the book. The narrative follows Pip and his friends on various activities from cooking, to the park, to a construction site to the beach! The flaps are really innovative in places: for example the see-saw flap gives the impression of the see-saw going up and down, with all the pictures in the background matching up on the flaps. Lots of interest for little hands to explore, this book is probably suitable from around 18 months (it has the “not suitable for children under 36 months” warning on it, but there are no small parts and the only risk would be eating the paper which I’m sure any parent/carer would supervise against!)

All four books have been thoroughly enjoyed and are especially suitable for toddlers and pre-schoolers, although older children will still enjoy them too. The bright and bold cartoon illustrations are attractive and fun. Every page is full of all sorts of things to see. We recommend all of them – Pip, Pip, Hooray! 🙂

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of four My Cat Pip books 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.

Princess Pearl and the Underwater Kingdom by Emma Thomson

Princess Pearl and the Underwater Kingdom: Emma Thomson
(Hodder Children’s Books, 2012)

This is a beautiful book; it is a fun book with all the interactive elements; and both MG and DG really enjoy the story but I’m afraid that fundamentally, I cannot like this book. It is the antithesis of everything I believe in when it comes to bringing up strong, independent women. Being strong, independent young ladies, my daughters have their own opinions and therefore pink culture does exist in our household despite my opinion on the subject 😆

Being a princess was everything Pearl had ever dreamed of. She had little sea-maids to carry her train… and a shoal of sea horses to brush her hair.

What’s good about this book (in my opinion)? Well… the pictures are nice. They really are nice, beautifully drawn and painted. What’s great about this book is the paper engineering – there is lots of variety in pop-ups and things to pull, open, turn and twist. For that, the book gets five stars; it is beautifully put together, robust and with lots of lovely little details.

The negative… You have to bear in mind that I avoid ‘pink princess’ books and toys like the plague, so this is pretty much my first real exposure to this style of book as a parent, because I have had no interest in buying other ‘pink princess’ books. By ‘pink princess’ I don’t mean a princess who just happens to love pink. Princess Cupcake, for example, is a strong likeable character. The fact she is a princess who wears pink is entirely incidental to the story.

I don’t have a problem with pink. It’s just a colour for goodness sake. I have a problem with pinkification, pink culture and the everyday sexism that is inherent with manufacturers producing all-pink versions of things; of catalogues showing boys playing with construction toys and girls with cleaning toys; of the celeb culture of wanting to be thin and rich with no other discernible talent or usefulness being offered to society.

And it starts here, with children, with books that are ‘harmless fun’ letting ‘little girls live out their princess fantasies’. Fantasies encouraged by well-meaning friends, parents and relatives who don’t see the harm in these stories. Apologies, rant over! I’ll now hand over to the correct demographic for their opinion:

MG’s review (based on Q&A session): This is a book about mermaids. I like that she becomes queen and I want to be queen. I love the pop-up, especially the one covered with mermaids because I like mermaids especially when they’re glittery. There’s something amazing that I like about this book, that the colours go underneath [about an accordion pop-up]. I could write a book like this with the same pictures for my friends.

DG’s Q&A, whist she’s eating a lolly:
Me: Did you like the book?
DG: I like the book.
Me: What did you like about the book?
DG: I like about the book.
Me: What’s your favourite?
DG: My favourite is lolly!
Obviously not the best time to interview her 😆

This is a book that will be loved by little girls everywhere and is beautifully put together, but please don’t ask me to like it 😆

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Princess Pearl and the Underwater Kingdom by Hachette 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.