Tag Archives: Search Books

Tom and Millie Books by Guy Parker-Rees

Tom and Millie: Guy Parker-Rees (Orchard Books, 2012, 2013)
Two months ago I was at a picture book social event and, as these things go, various circles of people start to chat. Someone said hello and then introduced himself: Guy Parker-Rees. There were many wonderful people there who I admire greatly and had been talking to, but I was still a bit floored by this and stuttered in awe.

Despite my admiration and the joy we’ve had from his books, I have had these two books for over seven months and still not written about them. Seven months. I’m not sure where the time went. I think we were all too busy enjoying the books…

Tom and Millie are a series of so-far two books about two sibling kittens and their friends, who exist in a world reminiscent of Richard Scarry.

In Tom and Millie’s Great Big Treasure Hunt, the kittens set off with a list of Very Important Things to find. At the beach they’re looking for a red square; at the playground they’re looking for two blue circles; in the town centre they’re looking for three purple triangles; and so on… Each search spread is packed with interesting things to see, as well as trying to find the Very Important Things.

The search is wrapped around a story that actually makes sense, something that many search books don’t quite get right, as well as being packed with familiar scenes for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

The pay-off is a summer fair including all the objects that we’ve found through the book to search for again, plus stars to find to ‘win’ the cake. Yum yum!

Mighty-Girl and Danger-Girl both love searching for everything. Technically it’s probably on the young end for the six-year-old and she finds everything easily but she still enjoys looking through all the different things in the pictures, and can read the words for herself.

Tom & Millie’s Whizzy Busy People follows Tom and Millie as they visit various family members doing different jobs. The pages are packed full of things to spot, and you can try to find everyone described in the text. They visit a hospital, fire station, recycling centre, airport, and many other work situations ending up in a library to find lots more.

I like the focus on libraries being a fantastic place to visit. I find it a bit of a shame that mummy’s a nurse and daddy’s a fireman, even if Auntie Alice is a pilot and Auntie Bella a builder/architect. There are male and female characters doing a range of jobs, so it’s not a stereotyped book but I think the parents as most important people could have been depicted in a different way. It is very Richard Scarry – or maybe that is the point, and it’s a homage?

The only other negative I could rail against these books are the names of the characters, they are very white-middle-class names: Freddie, Millie, Toby, Olivia, Alfie, Ruby, Arthur, Florence… It would have been nice to have seen more variety.

However, the books are much fun and keep my children absorbed for ages. You can’t include everything in one book and the range of genders and different animals working together doing all sorts of things more than make up for my minor niggles.

As for Tom and Millie’s best job in the world? Well, you could say it’s not very health conscious, but it will definitely appeal. I’m just looking for the ten red stars so I can ‘win’ the chocolate – it’s actually quite challenging. Oh, and there’s the ladybird…

Disclosure: Tom & Millie’s Great Big Treasure Hunt and Tom & Millie’s Whizzy Busy People were sent by Hachette Children’s Books for review.

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.