Tag Archives: Top That! Publishing

Angry Birds Magnets and Masks Books

Angry Birds books from Top That! Publishing

When I was offered Angry Birds books to review, I asked Mighty-Girl, the Angry Birds player, if she was interested. The answer was a resounding yes! We’ve had these for a while now, testing them out ready to report back.

Angry Birds Magnetic Mash-Up!
This magnet book is actually about the piggies. There is however another magnet book, Angry Birds Magnetic Mix-Up!, which is about the birds. This book contains five double page spreads of blank pig faces and lots of magnetic face pieces – I’m sure we’ve probably lost some but I’ve just counted 32 magnets. In theory there’s a story; in practice this is a play book. Destructo-Girl (4) loves magnet books and imaginative play and is quite happy playing with this book. Mighty-Girl (6) has shown very little interest in it, and to be honest I can see her point. This is more for the younger sibling toddler / pre-schooler who wants to play along but can’t quite manage the game yet. Or for any younger child who likes making faces from magnets but isn’t necessarily an Angry Birds fan.

Angry Birds Playground: Ca-Cool Masks
This contains six bird and two pig masks to make. The front pages contain pictures, a short intro about each character, an Angry Birds fact, plus instructions on how to make the 3D mask. The masks are created from push-out pieces on card pages so no cutting required, and the elastic to complete them is included. This is great for dress-up play in itself but would be absolutely brilliant for an Angry Birds themed party. There’s also Paper Craft Fun! and Fun Things to Make and Do which might come in useful for a themed party too – or just for rainy day fun when you want to tear the children away from screens for a bit. I’ve not seen the other books but based on Ca-Cool Masks I’d expect them to be good quality.

You can see all of the Top That! Publishing Angry Birds books on their website. We found the two that we received to be fun, colourful, full of characters from the games, and have great quality pages and magnets.

Disclosure: We were sent copies of Angry Birds Magnetic Mash-Up! and Angry Birds Playground: Ca-Cool Masks by Top That! Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

The Froobles: Little Jack Potato and the big surprise

The Froobles: Little Jack Potato and the big surprise (Top That! Publishing, 2011)

The Froobles: Little Jack Potato and the big surprise (Top That! Publishing, 2011)

Froobles is a brand I was not aware of before receiving this book for review, but consists of 12 fruit and vegetable characters in books, enhanced e-books, apps and free online games.

I received Little Jack Potato several months ago but avoided writing about it because I couldn’t find anything nice to say. On re-reading it this week I can say that the font is excellent for early readers being just like the letters children are taught at school. I really, really love the font.

The gist of the story is that the potato character plays a bunch of dangerous tricks on his friends (unscrewing wheels off roller skates; turning volume of music up too high; tripping up with elastic – all potentially extremely hazardous). The friends then gang up and humiliate him whilst laughing at his discomfort. Then finally, he hasn’t really learnt anything from the events anyhow.

So now Little Jack Potato thinks twice about playing tricks on his friends.
Well… most of the time!

The website states the aim of these stories is to “have fun adventures and learn valuable lessons” but I don’t believe this story meets that aim. MG and DG weren’t that impressed, other than with the stickers. I am reviewing Little Jack Potato in isolation of the rest of the Froobles brand as I’ve not seen any other product.

The aim of the series is good, and I like the idea that the scenes are based on children’s pictures. The colourful characters appear to be a modern take on The Garden Gang stories from my childhood, and given the media reports on many children who don’t know what fruit and vegetables look like, this can only be a good thing. The books are priced at £2.99 each and have stickers so could be bought instead of a pre-school magazine, and I’m all for books getting into children’s hands in any form.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Little Jack Potato and the big surprise by Top That! Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

How to Draw 101 Cartoon Characters

How To Draw 101 Cartoon characters (Top That! Publishing, 2012)

How To Draw 101 Cartoon characters (Top That! Publishing, 2012)

Our copy of this is extremely tatty, despite being only four months old because MG has flicked through, drawn on and coloured in throughout the book! MG is five and this book is probably too ‘old’ for her but it’s still useful for her to see stages of drawings building up. She’s not used it as intended, choosing to attempt to finish the step-by-step pictures in the book and colouring in the final pictures. DG has also joined in with scribbles…

Not quite as intended...

The book does exactly what it says! It gives 101 4-6 (mostly six) step cartoon characters which are relatively straightforward to copy and improvise from. This book would be more suited to children 8+ I think, and still be enjoyed by teenagers and adults! It’s fun for younger children, and some younger children may enjoy attempting the steps but my two are more free-range in their art so preferred to do things their own way – and still loved the book!

This is one of a series of How to Draw 101… books, and at only £2.99 each they really are a bargain. I have my eye on Monsters, Dinosaurs and Pirates for a start!

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of How to Draw 101 Cartoon Characters by Top That! Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

A Book in every Stocking

Sally Poynton has started a brilliant campaign this year: A Book in every Stocking. I wholeheartedly agree, and of course MG & DG will be getting a few books under the tree.

But for many children this is not the case, and if you can give the gift of a book to a child this Christmas, please do. Blackwell’s in Oxford have a Children’s Book Tree to collect gift books for The Children’s Society. You will probably find a similar scheme running somewhere near you if you’re not in Oxford.

Here’s a roundup of a few recently published books worth considering this Christmas (or any time!)

Flying to Neverland with Peter Pan: Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Carolyn Leigh & Amy June Bates (Blue Apple Books, 2012)Flying to Neverland with Peter Pan: Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Carolyn Leigh & Amy June Bates (Blue Apple Books, 2012)
This stunning picture book covers the start of the Peter Pan story where Peter gets his shadow from Wendy and the children fly to Neverland. The text is lyrics from the musical (which I’d never heard of before to be honest, but you can listen to at the Blue Apple website) but it is the art that really makes this book. Peter Pan is a story that I need to re-read as an adult to make any commentary on, but due to strange co-incidences there are people named Peter, Wendy, Michael, John, James and Matthew in my very close family (the J.M. of J.M. Barrie being James Matthew), so I always feel a connection to the book. There are no Tinkerbells or Hooks in my family that I know of! I can’t say the songs are my kind of thing, but I liked musicals when I was younger and if your children are anything like mine they’ll listen over and over and start singing and acting along with the book, so it’s a good wake up exercise book too! Alternately, you can snuggle together and share the beautiful illustrations. Perfect for fans of musicals of all ages, and a lovely Christmas gift book.

The Phlunk: Lou Rhodes & Tori Elliot (Strata Books, 2012)The Phlunk: Lou Rhodes & Tori Elliot (Strata Books, 2012)
The Phlunk is a cat-like alien who lives on a moon shaped like a spoon. His huge ears mean he can hear everything you do… MG & DG really enjoy this book, getting engaged throughout: “He’s listening to us now!” I really want to like this book, but it’s just not my cup of tea and I find some of the pictures quite scary-looking. However, my opinion doesn’t count and MG described the book as “supurve”. I said I’d write superb but she corrected me saying supurve meant super-dooper brilliant. So there you go! This is MG’s top pick of this week’s books.

The Silent Owl: Clemency Pearce & Sam McPhillips (Top That! Publishing, 2011)The Silent Owl: Clemency Pearce & Sam McPhillips (Top That! Publishing, 2011)
This is a lovely book. The collage-style pictures which look like they’ve been made from old notebooks, the muted colour palette, and I love that the font used is a primary font making it easier to read (b/d easily distinguishable; a is round with a circle how most children write; l is clear etc etc). However in my opinion the text lets this book down and makes this merely a good book rather than the brilliant one it could have been. It’s an example of where a rhyme has been forced to fit, when prose might have worked better. Despite my misgivings about the text, this is still one of my favourites for all the positive reasons, and MG and DG love all the noise the owl makes at the end. A positive tale showing you don’t need a voice to make an impression, I probably love it because I was such a shy child myself.

One Starry Night: M Christina Butler & Tina Macnaughton (Little Tiger Press, 2012)One Starry Night: M Christina Butler & Tina Macnaughton (Little Tiger Press, 2012)
Cute fluffy animals and bright silver stars adorn every page of this perfect-for-bedtime tale. Little hedgehog spies some shooting stars and rushes to share with all his friends. Friend rabbit tries to catch the stars with a net and all the friends end up in dark badger’s sett needing to find their way out. The bright stars lead the way so they can all enjoy the beautiful night sky. A gentle, calming tale with adorable animals. The silver foil stars give added interest but very young children will probably adore all the animal characters, and can be introduced to animal homes and the sky at night in a safe, non-threatening manner.

Zoom, Rocket, Zoom: Margaret Mayo & Alex Aycliffe (Orchard Books, 2011)Zoom, Rocket, Zoom: Margaret Mayo & Alex Aycliffe (Orchard Books, 2011)
This is a brilliant book for introducing the concepts of what people have achieved in space – satellites, lunar modules, robot rovers, astronauts… All with some lovely rhythmic text. A great book for toddlers and up, the clear and brightly coloured illustrations have enough detail to be interesting without being overwhelming for younger children. This is part of a series from the same author & illustrator featuring animals, vehicles, dinosaurs etc. I wish we’d found them when MG & DG were younger as I probably would have collected several of them! It’s sad to think that the images of astronauts on the moon is actually a long-distance memory, the last person on the moon having left before I was born, but the pictures are iconic and I know I would have absolutely loved this book when I was a child (I was space-mad!) It’s definitely a book I would gift to encourage the start of a love of space and science in small children, and would be enjoyed by children who prefer factual to fiction books. This is DG’s top pick of this week’s books.

Wibbly Pig has 10 Balloons: Mick Inkpen (Hodder Children's Books, 2011)Wibbly Pig has 10 Balloons: Mick Inkpen (Hodder Children’s Books, 2011)
For small fans of Wibbly Pig, this is a lovely book which includes some counting backwards practice as Wibbly Pig gives his balloons away one by one to his friends. But not the Teddy Bear balloon, because that’s his favourite. There’s a bit of tension as a tantrumming toddler pig loses Wibbly’s last two balloons but of course all ends happily with every friend getting a balloon that suits. Cute, minimally illustrated with easy text, this is one suitable for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and all Wibbly Pig fans.

For Christmas-focussed #Book_in_every_stocking ideas, please see Advent Books posts.

Disclaimer: We received review copies of all six books from their respective publishers. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Friday Pick{ture Book}: When I Dream of Christmas

When I Dream of Christmas: Oakley Graham (Top That! Publishing, 2012)

When I Dream of Christmas: Oakley Graham
(Top That! Publishing, 2012)

I know, it’s still October and you’re only just starting to think Halloween thoughts but even though there’s still 66 days until Christmas; there’s 6 weeks until 1st December and the Advent countdown which this book would be perfect for! Also I tend to collect for Christmas early so I can completely avoid shopping in November/December 😉

Each double page of When I Dream of Christmas consists of a gorgeous Christmas image on the right and simple humour-filled text on the left. I especially love that the main text font is an easy to read font (i.e. the ‘a’ is a circle with a tail rather than the more complicated print ‘a’; ‘b/’d’/’p’/’q’ are easily differentiated; capital ‘I’ and lower-case ‘l’ easily differentiated etc) which works well for handwriting practice too. MG loves to copy text from books to practice her handwriting.

A Bright Star

*apologies for quality of picture, lighting not good enough*

There are so many pages of this book that I want to share, it’s hard to choose a favourite! The descriptions make me smile as we read through the book, and MG and DG love all the different Christmassy items as well as the glittery cover. We are feeling quite festive already, but I’m putting the book away until December now!

Always hang out a stocking for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. Never hang out dirty socks as this is considered quite rude and can make your presents smell like cheese.

With twenty-seven double page spreads, this is a very substantial book that is still easy to read all the way through to children but also can be dipped in and out of one page at a time. It covers both secular and Christian elements of Christmas and I think will appeal to all religious backgrounds who want a humourous and not-particularly-factual coverage of the festive season!

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of When I Dream of Christmas by Top That! Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

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