Tag Archives: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

Red House Childrens Book Award 2013 Younger Children Short List

Welcome to Alien School: Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves (Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, 2012)Welcome to Alien School: Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves (Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, 2012)
We’re fans of Caryl Hart in the Chaos household, and bought Welcome to Alien School when it was first published. It’s the third in a series following a boy called Albie and the strange things that seem to happen to him – I’m not quite sure if it’s all in his imagination or not. He’s been to a supermarket that sells zoo animals, planted dinosaurs in the garden and here he ends up on another planet for school. It’s a very fun story with much appeal to small children who may feel that going to school is an alien experience in itself.

Can You See Sassoon?: Samuel Usher (Little Tiger Press, 2012)Can You See Sassoon?: Samuel Usher (Little Tiger Press, 2011)
The bright primary colours and packed illustrations make this a lovely book to curl up with and try to spot all the things in the pictures. I struggled to find Sassoon, the striped snake, in some of the double page spreads but MG’s beady eyes spotted him quickly! There are various scenes that he is hiding in, including food, toys, a bookcase and outer space. DG found the search more challenging but still enjoyed looking and was very excited when she first spotted him without assistance! Great fun and beautifully illustrated.

Spooky, Spooky House: Andrew Weare & Lee Wildish (Picture Corgi, 2011)Spooky, Spooky House: Andrew Weare & Lee Wildish (Picture Corgi, 2011)
This book has flaps to open, pop ups and a heat-sensitive picture on the last page. In a similar vein to Jan Pienkowski’s Haunted House, an unseen narrator tells the reader to keep away from the house because it’s full of so many terrifying monsters. But children, peeking through their hands, insist on each flap being opened and each page being turned before discovering the scariest spook of all on the last page – under a heat sensitive patch which adds another element of exciting discovery, and a twist to the tale…

Dog Loves Drawing: Louise Yates (Red Fox Picture Books, 2012)Dog Loves Drawing: Louise Yates (Red Fox Picture Books, 2012)
If you’ve already read Louise Yates’ Dog Loves Books, you’ll know that Dog loves books so much that he’s opened a bookshop. In this tale, he received a sketchbook from an aunt, and somewhat daunted at first he starts an exciting adventure through the pages joined by a host of friends. This may appeal to fans of Harold and the Purple Crayon and is a clever and fun journey through the world that books and drawing can open up to small children. Plus it has a monster in, which always appeals. Beautifully illustrated and a fun tale of trying out new things even when you’re not sure.

Who do I think will win? They are all brilliant books and well deserving of their nominations, but based on the reactions of children I’ve tested with I think I can guess which might win… I don’t know which one I’d choose as my favourite to be honest, we’ve loved Welcome to Alien School for some time; but Dog Loves Drawing is such a fun idea; but Can You See Sassoon is brightly coloured and challenging; but Spooky, Spooky House has great monsters and cute twist… They should all win!

Voting is open until 27th January, you can vote online as an individual or as a school / library. The books can be purchased from Red House for £2.99 or £3.49 each, click on the images above for the direct link to Red House. The winners will be announced on 23rd February.

Disclaimer: I am on the committee for Oxford Children’s Book Group, part of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups who run the award, and have been test reading the younger children short-list to various children. My opinions are my own and I receive no financial reward for supporting FCBG.

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.

Red House Children’s Book Award Blog Tour: Caryl Hart

Welcome to Child-Led Chaos and the fifth day of the Red House Children’s Book Award blog tour! I have a sneaky feeling you might find a closely related post at Babbleabout, as well as the list of the whole tour in my earlier post.

I’m delighted to be hosting Caryl Hart for her nomination in the Younger Children category for Welcome to Alien School. I ‘met’ Caryl on Twitter. Before that, the Chaos household hadn’t read any of her books (although I didn’t realise Rhino, What Rhino? that we’d heard and loved was one of hers.) I’d won copies of Supermarket Zoo and How to Grow a Dinosaur which she signed for MG & DG. Shortly after this Welcome to Alien School, the third in the series, was published and I bought it straight away (not to mention several others!)

Later today I have the honour of meeting Caryl in person so it’s even more special to me that she’s guest posting here for her Children’s Book Award nomination. I am so pleased that Welcome to Alien School has been shortlisted, and thrilled to welcome Caryl to Child-Led Chaos:

A Life in the Day of a Children’s Author

Before I became a full time writer, I found mornings unbearably stressful. I hated nagging the kids to get ready for school and would often end up shouting. Not a good way to start the day.  Now, six years after leaving work, the mornings are almost pleasant. The kids get themselves ready, my husband does the school run and I set my own agenda.  Amazingly, I earn more now than I did working three days a week, and I’m much, MUCH happier.

If I’m doing a school visit or library workshop, I usually head off early, having coerced various friends into walking the dog and collecting the kids from school.  Luckily, my valiant husband is an expert at getting the kids up and out in the morning.

Writing Day

If I’m having a writing day, I take the dog for a good stomp along the river.  It’s a national nature reserve and very, very beautiful. Even if I start the morning feeling glum, walking the dog always puts me in a good mood and I have written many a rhyme in my head whilst pounding along the footpath.

Then it’s down to work. On a good day, I can write three or four picture book spreads.  That’s about 200 words. It doesn’t sound like much, but for me this is REALLY good going!  Most days, I don’t write anything comprehensible, just lots and lots of notes.  More like verbal sketches than text. And then suddenly part of the story will come together and I’ll write it down properly. I spend a lot of time thinking out the details of a story, and then editing and re-editing to make the text as tight as possible.

I absolutely love the discipline of writing picture books.  With only around 800 words to play with, it’s a real challenge to make my stories exciting, meaningful, funny, believable, sell-able and to my editors’ liking.  Trying to do all this in rhyming verse can leave me ready to hurl the computer out of the window!  But when it works, it’s SO satisfying that I instantly forget the hours of frustration I’ve been through.  Rather like giving birth, actually.

Caryl Hart

At precisely 3.00 pm the Air Raid Siren goes off.  This is my phone telling me to wrench myself away, often mid-flow, and collect the kids from school.  Then I’m on Mum duty, though I do sometimes sneak back to the computer for a bit of extra work if I’m buzzing with ideas.

Evening meals around the table are usually dominated by the children telling funny stories about their day. And even if we don’t manage to eat together, we always end up in a pile on the sofa for a bit of telly and a snuggle before bed.

It’s a good life. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

Welcome to Alien School: Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves (Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, 2012)Welcome to Alien School has been shortlisted in the Younger Children category of the Red House Children’s Book Award 2013. The Red House Children’s Book Award is the only national children’s book award voted for entirely by children. It is owned and co-ordinated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, and sponsored by Red House.

Useful links:
http://www.fcbg.org.uk/
http://www.redhousechildrensbookaward.co.uk/
http://www.carylhart.com/

Friday Pick{ture Book}: The Spider and the Fly

The Spider and the Fly: Mary Howittz and Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon and Schuster, 2002)

The Spider and the Fly: Mary Howittz and Tony DiTerlizzi
(Simon and Schuster, 2002)

It has taken me a ridiculously long time to buy this book, I have coveted it for about 5 years but I wasn’t sure MG would like it so I put off buying it and every time I saw it I put off buying it… Then there was a repeat of Bookaboo on that the children happened to watch featuring this book and not only did I fall even more in love with it, but they liked it too. Oh, how I wish I’d got it five years ago!

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly

This book is sublime. The poem dates from 1829 and although the language is dated it is still completely accessible and wonderful to read aloud. I can even manage voices with this one (I’m rubbish at voices…) The poem is freely available, but this book improves on the classic with wonderfully gothic creepy imagery.

"Oh no, no," said the little Fly...

There is so much to love about this book: the art itself is beautiful, this book deserves to be on any and every bookshelf. The ‘subtle web’ which grows on each text-only page until it is complete by the end of the book; the text-only pages being reminiscent of silent film title cards; the timing of the page turns in the poem increasing the tension; the etherial ghost bugs observing the proceedings; the locations; everything in black and white…

The Spider turned him round about...

My terrible photography does no justice to the images, but even decent photography would barely cut it. This is a book to be savoured, to snuggle up and shiver with, to soak in each little detail and to be read again, and again, and again. DG requests I read this roughly twice a day since we got it; the sinister spider and the unhappy ending fill her with glee (she’s my daughter!) MG enjoys it too but DG is my book girl at the moment, MG prefers media so will watch the Bookaboo version instead:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd1tQLSYGrA]

If you don’t already have this book, treat your family for Halloween (and the rest of the year too…) A fantastic cautionary tale in it’s perfect form. Worth every penny and more.

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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

Click on the image above or here to see all links visually in Blogpinner. Huge thanks to:
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