Tag Archives: Random House Children’s Books

Phoenix by SF Said

Phoenix: SF Said (David Fickling Books, 2013)Phoenix: SF Said (David Fickling Books, 2013)

I think this is a book to buy in real book format rather than electronic. I read it on my (now considered ancient) Kindle 3 which can hardly do justice to the pictures, plus some of the formatting of the electronic version text is out of sync, which will affect my opinion. I think the book works well as text only, but I suspect the full impact has been lost.

The plot follows a boy named lucky (I’m not sure if the odd capitalisation throughout my version is intentional but I assumed it was*) who dreams of the stars singing to him and awakes one day to find a hole burned through his sheets. This starts a chain of events as his mother rushes to hide him, knowing all along that something like this would happen.

Starting with the you’re-not-who-you-think-you-are premise, and losing the only connections to finding out early on leaves a mystery to solve wrapped up in alien warfare, a galaxy-wide quest, and a host of endearing characters both human and alien.

To talk much of the plot would give away intended twists and turns. There is a review on Amazon, written by a fourteen year old, says the book has twists that will leave everyone open-mouthed. As a thirty-eight year old who has read a few books in her life, I found the twists to be predictable from the hints scattered throughout so no, not even the ending surprised me (although I hoped it wouldn’t be what it was) but that aside, this is a very enjoyable and compelling read.

I can’t give it 5 stars though, and I don’t know whether that’s because the e-book took away some impact because I’ve not seen a real book version to compare. An enjoyable, page-turning, proper science fiction novel for approx age 12+ but please get the real book to fully appreciate it.

*Addendum: I’ve looked at the Kindle preview on Amazon, and the odd capitalisations and out-of-sync text appear to only be in the Netgalley preview.

Second Addendum: Working out the twists from the hints in the plot isn’t a bad thing. I liked that it stuck to its logic and that it was possible to ‘guess’ certain things because of what had been told already. Having an illogical ‘twist’ that makes no sense in the context of the story would have been annoying. I liked that you could work things out, and it still was a page-turner to see if you’re right and find out how the story progressed.

Disclosure: Electronic copy received for review via Netgalley.

Gifts for Curious Children

All children are born explorers, engineers and investigators. Here are a selection of books for curious children to feed their need for discovery, all of which would make excellent gifts.

Alphasaurs, and other Prehistoric Types: Sharon Werner & Sarah Forss (Blue Apple Books, 2012)Alphasaurs, and other Prehistoric Types: Sharon Werner & Sarah Forss (Blue Apple Books, 2012)
There are so many dinosaur books for dino fans, but this one is particularly good for curious children due to the unique illustrations. Each dinosaur is made out of a single letter, in a variety of fonts. This could potentially encourage reluctant writers to have a go at letter formation, but also introduces a world of design – can your child design their own book or magazine using just letters? There are plenty of large flaps to keep interest and a plethora of bitesize dino facts. Our full review can be found here. The same team also created Alphabeasties and Bugs By The Numbers, for your animal loving explorers.

The What on Earth Wallbook: Christopher Lloyd & Andy Forshaw (What on Earth Publishing, 2010)The What on Earth Wallbook: Christopher Lloyd & Andy Forshaw (What on Earth Publishing, 2010)
What on Earth Happened? by Christopher Lloyd is a chunky tome that tells the known history of the planet from creation, through prehistoric eras, to people and world history. The Wallbook is based on this, and is a huge elongated poster packed with illustrations of events across history, that can either be hung on a wall or left in ‘book’ form to pore over and discover interesting snippets that can start a conversation or a project. It has its faults, but is an ambitious idea to try to cover the world in one narrative and the Wallbook is great fun to browse through.
woewallbook

The Story of Things: Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books, 2009)The Story of Things: Neal Layton (Hodder Children’s Books, 2009)
This is such a fun book! It takes us through a history of ‘things’ from cavepeople who had no possessions, to developing civilisations (I love the page which is of a desert, with four hidden pop-ups of civilisations that came and went, such a clever illustration of the concept), to industry and modern day electronics. There are so many things to lift and pull and peek under that you barely realise that this is actually a history book. Some of the pop-ups are a little flimsy (or maybe that’s just my copy), so it’s not one for heavy handed toddlers, but fixing the odd break is a good engineering skill for the reader too! There are two other books in the series too: The Story of Everything, and The Story of Stars. Excellent fun.

Barefoot Books World Atlas: Nick Crane & David DeanBarefoot Books World Atlas: Nick Crane & David Dean
This really is the perfect primary-age atlas which not only gives an overview of the shape of the world and its countries but covers important information for each continent (or part continent, as some are split) under the headings Physical Features; People and Places; Climate and Weather; Land Use and Natural Resources; Environment; Wildlife; and Transport. Capital cities are clearly marked on the maps and they’re also full of images from the countries to give a sense of the diversity in the world. Lift-up flaps give more ‘did you know?’ facts of historical significance. Not only useful for homework projects, the accessible text and interesting layouts (with something to lift on every page) are likely to have children pouring through this just for fun (and learning lots about the world along the way!) There’s also a world poster in a pocket on the back page for displaying on the wall if wanted. Written in 2011, this is an up-to-date introduction to continents, countries and cultures for a modern audience. Did you know that the Mount Rushmore sculptures took 14 years to complete, The Great Wall of China isn’t visible from the moon, Rubik’s cubes were invented by a Hungarian sculptor, and the keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize? You would if you had this Atlas 😉

Maps: Aleksandra Mizieli?ska & Daniel Mizieli?ski (Big Picture Press, 2013)Maps: Aleksandra Mizielieska & Daniel Mizielieski (Big Picture Press, 2013)
This book is HUGE. It is also utterly beautiful and worth every penny of its £20 price tag. Writing about it can’t possibly do it justice. You can view a sneak peak in the video at the end of this list but it’s really one to get in real life and spend hours and hours pouring over. On a simple level, it is literally a book full of maps. It can’t cover the entire world, so there are huge swathes of countries that have been missed out (Maps 2 maybe?!) but each country that is included has been illustrated with a host of national facts: significant buildings, native animals, examples of popular boy and girl names, food, work, historical figures… Major or important cities are marked, and there is a list of capital, languages, population and area. The text is minimal, on the whole it is there to label the illustrations and yet Maps still managed to be packed full of facts. It’s not an Atlas, and doesn’t pretend to be. It is unique, beautiful, and perfect for curious children (and grown-ups).

Ocean Deep: Richard Hatfield (Child's Play, 2011)Ocean Deep: Richard Hatfield (Child’s Play, 2011)
This is a beautifully illustrated exploration into every part of the ocean from rock pools to the deepest depths. The sturdy card pages make this suitable even from early ages, and all ages can appreciate the illustrations before reading the labels to learn all the names, and the text to find out more about the ocean. Each page is cut so you can see further pages into the book, so it feels like you are diving deeper and deeper into the ocean. The design also gives lots for little hands to explore, and the entire book can be displayed on a surface due to the concertina pages. Another one that needs to be seen in real life to be appreciated, full of facts, and some really creepy critters the deeper down you go…

Metamorphoses: Egg Tadpole Frog (Child's Play, 2006)Metamorphoses: Egg Tadpole Frog (Child’s Play, 2006)

This is a(nother) brilliantly clever book from Child’s Play. The shaped cover is tied with ribbon, and inside you find the life cycle story of frogs (Butterflies and Dragonflies are covered in other titles in this series.) This can be read as a book, with very clear and simple text, and pages that sort-of pop up. But… open it up and you have another table display of the entire life cycle with sticking out bits, and… Oh, you just have to see this in real life again, it’s just brilliant! I didn’t hold it very well (one-handed) in the video below but it gives you a rough idea. It really is brilliant, and perfect for young explorers. The back of the pages shown are illustrated with various frog species. The pages are strong card so will withstand lots of play too.

eggtadpolefrog

snowrolypolySnow Roly Poly Box Book: Kees Moerbeek (Child’s Play, 2008)

Child’s Play are definitely getting my thumbs up and full marks for ingenuity for books to entice even the most uninterested-in-books child. There are currently a dozen roly poly box books to choose from, but Snow is perfect for this time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere at least!) It looks like a cube, but pull the arrow on the outside and up pops and owl. follow the arrows and you unfurl a whole host of snow-loving creatures from across the globe. And it’s just as easy to roll back up again too. This is the least book-looking book you’re likely to find! Great for small people to explore.

headoverheelsgymnasticsBoys & Girls Floor Skills: Gemma Coles (Head Over Heels About Gymnastics, 2013)
I have occasional bug bears with independently published books, especially when cost cutting results in a flimsy and unattractive paper book, but it’s clear that careful thought has been put into both use and content with this beautifully produced guide. With a spiral spine, and the ability to stand upright, this book can be used whilst practising the skills inside. The clear, real-world, photographs illustrate gymnastic skills in easy to follow steps from simple to complex. It can’t replace hands on tuition, but it’s been giving my extremely active climbs-the-walls six year old a lot of new fun things to try. I especially love how it is aimed at boys and girls, and the pictures have a boy and girl equally illustrating the skills. For any child with an interest in gymnastics, this would be an excellent starting point before (or as well as) proper tuition. Check out the Head Over Heels About Gymnastics website for a discount on this clear and well produced guide.

How Many?: Ron Van Der Meer (Random House Children's Books, 2007) How Many?: Ron Van Der Meer (Random House Children’s Books, 2007)
When I was searching for pop-up books a couple of years ago, Ron Van Der Meer was recommended and I found How Many? in a discount store. It is full of complex pop-up sculptures in bright colours and geometric shapes. The text asks you to count shapes, colours, lines… or you can just marvel at the complex sculptures. This is definitely not for small children without supervision, as the detailed pop-ups are delicate. It appears to be out of print, although you can get used copies online. Whilst searching for a replacement to write about I discovered this newly reissued Interactive Art Book reviewed at The Little Wooden Horse, which although it doesn’t quite replace the mathematical side of How Many?, does showcase paper engineering skill and artistry.

Because these are all very interactive books, I made this brief video whizzing through a few pages of each to give a taster of what they’re like. They are all much nicer in real life. (The video is soundless)

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDOwtYfc2HE”]

Disclosure: Alphasaurs, The Story of Things, Ocean Deep, Egg Tadpole Frog, Snow, and Gymnastics Floor Skills were sent to us by their respective publishers for review. All other books were purchased or borrowed independently. Barefoot Books links are affiliate links. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Dixie O’Day: In the Fast Lane

Dixie O'Day: In The Fast Lane: Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy (Bodley Head, 2013)

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been written over and over in blogs and newspapers already? I can’t write an unbiased opinion of Dixie O’Day because I love Shirley Hughes and Clara Vulliamy so much. As Polly at Little Wooden Horse says, the names on the front cover should have had you rushing out to buy this book as soon as it was released!

For anyone who has found this page by accident, and doesn’t already know, Dixie O’Day is a gentleman dog who, with his best friend Percy, drives an excellent motor car that he takes great care of. The car was not new but it was a very clean machine. Dixie and Percy get into some exciting scrapes, and this tale involves an all-day race between two towns. They have a worst enemy, Lou-Ella from next door, and lots of helpful friends.

Dixie O’Day is adoringly ‘retro’ in style. You’d be more likely to find Dixie and Percy listening to the radio than playing on iPads. Children are immensely adaptable. They may not have the cultural reference for the era (1960’s) that the book represents, but they accept it in the same way that talking dogs driving cars is completely normal.

The Dixie O’Day series has been designed with seven chapters so it can be read one for every day of the week. The chapters may have exciting cliff-hangers, encouraging anticipation for the next night’s story. It’s also possible to read in one go if you read lots to children but separating it into chapters allows busy parents a natural break point, and is just right for building early reading stamina.

I have been thinking, and writing, a lot about gender recently and it would be lax of me not to mention gender in relation to this book. The main characters are male, and the lack of female animal characters in picture books is something Carmen at Rhino Reads writes about compellingly. However, this book comes from the pens of two author / illustrators who are exemplary in their inclusion major female characters throughout their work. This particular story does happen to have more male characters. But let’s look at the two main female characters from In The Fast Lane in detail:

Lou-Ella
Lou-Ella is the neighbour from hell. She is a character you love to hate, somewhere between Cruella de Vil and Penelope Pitstop. She’s self-centred, mean and thoroughly unlikable. I’m not really selling this character to you? But she’s also an independent woman who can afford to buy a brand new car every year. There’s no husband behind the scenes or any implication that she’s a ‘kept woman’; she’s earning well and is motivated to get what she wants. There’s a lot of unknown back-story here, and much potential.

Auntie Dot
Auntie Dot may only appear on one page, but she is absolutely pivotal to the plot. Without her input, Dixie and Percy wouldn’t get the outcome they achieve. In a similar manner to Dave’s big sister Bella saving the day in Dogger, Auntie Dot is essential. You can’t get more positive than that. She’s also adorable and I hope we see more of her in future stories.

Dixie O’Day: In The Fast Lane is packed full of extras to hold the interest of today’s iPad generation. There’s the map of the route, interviews, quizzes, and so many things to see on every page that you could easily fill at least a month of activities riffing off different interests. There’s even a sneak peek at the second book in the series: The Great Diamond Robbery. MG and DG are huge fans of Dixie in his own right already, and this is a book we re-read regularly. I get to both read and be read to by MG, which is a lovely role reversal!

Future books will have different colour covers for instant identification, but the duotone interior will remain the same (how could we lose Dixie’s gorgeous red car?!) Dixie O’Day: In The Fast Lane is not only an important entry in the world of children’s literature on account of its creators, it’s an excellent start to an exciting series that children will love.

Related posts:
Interview at The Book Sniffer
Interview at Library Mice
Interview at Playing by the Book
Review from Little Wooden Horse
Review from Read It, Daddy
Review from Kate Louise (includes book trailer)

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Dixie O’Day: In The Fast Lane by Random House 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.

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.

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

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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

Friday Pick{ture Book} #5: The Big Katie Morag Storybook

The Big Katie Morag Storybook: Mairi Hedderwick
(Random House Children’s Books, 1996)

What other choice for pick of the week when we’re on Mull? Katie Morag lives on the Isle of Struay, a small Scottish island. Struay is based on Coll, which is just west of Mull.

Katie Morag’s island is called the Isle of Struay. Nobody can walk to Katie Morag’s island, or take a bus or a train. The only way to go is by boat.

We have several Katie Morag stories but the book I choose to bring away with us is a collection of short stories, poems and pictures. The pictures and stories are lovely to share with young children and I imagine older children will love pouring through this book and using it as a jumping point to make up their own stories. The book includes Katie Morag’s family tree and a map of the island. I used to make up lots of fantasy worlds and people when I was younger (mainly inspired by J R R Tolkien!)

There is a lotsto learn from the Katie Morag books, even if you don’t have the luxury of getting to the Inner Hebrides yourself. Looking online, it seems that ‘An Island Home’ is a KS1 topic used in schools so there are plenty of resources to look at for inspiration of things to do after reading Katie Morag’s stories.

The Big Katie Morag Storybook contains three short stories, our favourite being ‘The Baking Day Secret’ where Katie Morag has to take her little brother with her on baking day, and they are loaded up with cakes and treats from all the islanders – what’s not to love? There’s a recipe for porridgies (flap jacks) in the book too, which the girls will love making.

Other positives in Katie Morag are the strong female characters, especially Grannie Island, and the introduction to a different kind of life for city-based children. It’s easy to fall in love with Katie Morag’s island life, and sitting here on a beautiful day in Mull, we don’t want to leave…

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