Um. There are lots of books in this house that technically don’t belong to me. Mr Chaos has a selection. Mighty Girl and Danger Girl have lots. But most of the children’s books have been bought by me and part of parenting will involve culling them at some point (sniffle) so MG & DG don’t completely own their own things.
There are a couple of books I have borrowed from other people, and we even have four library books out (I’ve been rubbish with library books this year) but I’m not sure what to choose. I want to do one unreviewed book every day, so I guess I can choose any of the picture books.
The Story Machine: Tom McLaughlin (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2014)
I’ve chosen this one today because this story doesn’t belong to me, I’m old enough to remember typewriters. I even had a manual typewriter. Well, it was my mum’s, but I borrowed it lots. But my children have never seen one. Maybe in older television, but television is made up and not real so the idea of a typewriter is a strange and curious machine.
In The Story Machine, Elliott finds an old typewriter, but not knowing what it is he experiments until he discovers he can make pictures from the letters, and the pictures tell stories. Elliott thinks the machine is making the stories, but after things start to go wrong, he realises that the stories come from himself.
This is a lovely tale of the power of imagination and creating stories, beautifully illustrated. It’s perfect for my writer MG(7) and DG(5) is fascinated by it and often asks for the book by name at bedtime. The power of stories is something I’m glad that my children both know well, and they are drawn to the power of this one.
Disclosure: The Story Machine received for review from Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
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)
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)
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)
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 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.
Posted in Picture Books, Unsolicited Review
Tagged Advent 2012, Advent Books, Alan Snow, Alison Edgson, Children's Books, Christmas, Christmas 2012, Christmas Books, Christmas Traditions, Father Christmas, Father Christmas Needs A Wee, Father Christmas on the Naughty Step, How Santa Really Works Pop-Up, Little Tiger Press, Maggie Bateson, Mark Sperring, Niamh Sharkey, Nicholas Allan, Puffin Books, Puppy's First Christmas, Random House Children's Books, Saint Nicholas, Santa, Santa Claus, Santasaurus, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, St Nick, Steve Smallman, Tom McLaughlin, Walker Books