Tag Archives: Jamie Littler

Famous Five Colour Reads

Famous Five Colour Short Stories: Enid Blyton & Jamie Littler (Hodder Children's Books, 2014)

We had all twenty-one Famous Five books when I was young, and I read them all. Actually, we had twenty, number two in the series was missing so I begged my mum to buy it because I needed to read them all! With much older siblings (aged 12, 11, 10 & 5 when I was born) the books had been bought over the years and had a variety of covers from late 1960’s versions to late 1970’s with pictures from the TV series (which I’ve still never seen) I forget what ‘my’ cover was, whatever was published in about 1983/4 when I voraciously read the series aged 8 or 9.

Mighty-Girl is now seven and although a great reader, she doesn’t seem to have the concentration span to read novels and gets distracted very easily. Something I find hard to relate to as I was powering my way through books at her age! She loves colour pictures too, so finds novels off-putting, but most colour reads are too ‘easy’ for her.

I therefore jumped at the chance to review one of these Famous Five colour short stories aimed at 7-9 year olds. However, getting MG to read it in time for a review is apparently a tall order (she does things her way) so I ended up reading it aloud instead. It works well as a read aloud, and is short enough to read in one sitting. At 80 pages split into eight chapters, it’s also challenging enough for newly independent readers to get their teeth into.

It was hard not to giggle at some of the language with an adult mind, but of course children aren’t aware of the connotations of Dick or Aunt Fanny, and also aren’t phased by phrases like “golly gosh” (I went to school with someone who used this phrase in all seriousness) and “jolly exciting”. I’m not entirely sure that Anne really should have been “fondling Timmy” though…

We received Five and a Half-Term Adventure, the first of a series of eight colour reads (two currently published, with two more following in April and a further two in September) and jokes about the language aside, it’s actually much fun.

The Five are at Kirrin cottage for half term (four whole days! I remember being mortified that my secondary school had four day half terms, although by the time I left they were longer) and decide to go for an Autumn walk. Silly old Ju has forgotten to wind his watch though, and by the time they realise it’s too late to walk back so they catch a train (this is pre-Beeching, of course, with local trains.) But who are those two suspicious characters on the train, and could it be a mystery to solve? I say!

What really makes these books though, is the fabulous artwork by Jamie Littler. Picturing the children as modern children, with modern trains, and modern phones, allows the story to work for a modern reader. And Timmy the dog is adorably cute! The pictures are full of interest and fun, I’d buy these books for the illustrations alone.

Oops, I seem to have managed to have written this entire review without mentioning Enid Blyton. She wrote the stories of course. But these gorgeous little books are all about the illustrations! You can see some of them at Jamie Littler’s blog. These are books which modern children will find a joy to read, and may tempt them into more ‘classics’ from bygone days…

Disclosure: Received for review from Hachette Children’s Books.

Mother’s Day Picture Books

Mother’s Day is on Sunday 30th March in the UK this year, and we’ve been sent a selection of delicious picture books perfect for mums to share with their little ones. Although, significant others, you might also want to try to supply a lie-in or time for a nice bath too if you can!

I Love You Night and Day: Smriti Prasadam-Halls & Alison Brown (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2014)I Love You Night and Day: Smriti Prasadam-Halls & Alison Brown (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2014)
The two characters in I Love You Night and Day aren’t specified as a mother and child, but I’ve chosen to interpret them as such (although this would work just as well for fathers, grandparents, and other significant carers.) There are no genders mentioned either therefore you can take the ‘child’ (rabbit) to be male or female easily. There is so much to love about this book – lot of different words for increasing vocabulary, sharing the love you have for a child, spot-on rhyming couplets and gorgeous illustrations. One for sharing at any time of year.

Mum's The Word: Timothy Knapman & Jamie Littler (Hodder Children's Books, 2014)Mum’s The Word: Timothy Knapman & Jamie Littler (Hodder Children’s Books, 2014)
The illustrations for Mum’s the Word are almost edible in their deliciousness. A puppy bounds with endless enthusiasm through the pages (so that would be any small child too, then!) trying to think of the word that means so many different things to him/her. No gender is mentioned so the pup could be male or female. Small children will love all the bright images throughout, and can you guess what the word is? Oh, I think the title might have given it away 😉 “It’s a word as warm as a goodnight kiss. There’s no other word that’s as good as this.” 

Me and My Mummy: various (Little Tiger Press, 2014)Me and My Mummy: various (Little Tiger Press, 2014)
This is such a lovely little set for any tot to share with mummy. Consisting of a cardboard case with carrying handle so little ones can carry it everywhere, and sealed with velcro for easy opening, the box contains four paperback stories, a card, envelope and sheet of stickers. Even very little ones can decorate mummy’s card with the stickers, and can proudly present their card in the morning, with stories ready for sharing. The books are small sized paperbacks, that can be easily transported without taking up much room in a bag, and would be good for toddlers to pretend to have ‘school reading books’ as they have a similar feel. The four stories are: The Most Precious Thing: Gill Lewis & Louise Ho; Big Bear Little Bear: David Bedford & Jane Chapman; Little Bear’s Special Wish: Gillian Lobel & Gaby Hansen; My Mummy and Me: Tina Macnaughton. Although all four books celebrate a mother and child’s special bond, Little Bear’s Special Wish does specifically mention ‘birthday’ rather than mother’s day. This is a very cute gift set with a low RRP of £9.99 (ISBN 978-1848958722)

I Want My Mummy!: Tracey Corderoy & Alison Edgson (Little Tiger Press, 2013)I Want My Mummy!: Tracey Corderoy & Alison Edgson (Little Tiger Press, 2013)
This is an adorably cute story about a little mouse who is spending his first day away from mummy. It’s lovely on many levels. Little Arthur is so cute in his dragon costume and this book is aimed at little ones who don’t go to nursery as Arthur’s first day away is with his granny. My children did go to nursery but I hear many parents asking why ‘first day away’ stories are always about nursery / playschool settings when they’ve chosen not to put their children into daycare at any time so this book will really suit. And even if your little one has spent time away before, it’s comforting to share Arthur’s fears and worries in the comfort of home again and again to remember that Mummy always comes back.

Mummy's Little Sunflowers: Angela McAllister & Alison Edgson (Little Tiger Press, 2014)Mummy’s Little Sunflowers: Angela McAllister & Alison Edgson (Little Tiger Press, 2014)
More cute little mouses! This is a lovely story about sibling love. Big brother Scurry brings home a sunflower seed from nursery but baby brother Scamp eats it! They then search for more seeds but when Scamp realises how long it will take for a sunflower to grow, Scurry helps them both become sunflowers for Mummy. Perfect for mums of a toddler and baby, or pre-schooler and toddler. After reading you could plant seeds or dress up too.

Dino-Mummy: Mark Sperring & Sam Lloyd (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2014)Dino-Mummy: Mark Sperring & Sam Lloyd (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2014)
I’ve not read Dino-Baby but I assume this book is similar so if you like Dino-Baby, you might like Dino-Mummy. Personally I find this book appallingly sexist in its depiction of the mother dino dressed in pink heels vacuuming, cooking, doing all the childcare, washing, cleaning ovens etc while in one spread you spy father dino sitting behind a newspaper and doing absolutely nothing. I think it’s supposed to be a celebration of everything that mums do, but the portrayal of a domestic goddess mother and unhelpful father does not suit our family.

My personal favourite ‘mum’ book is Just Like My Mum by David Melling (Hodder Children’s Books, 2008)

Disclosure: Received for review from Little Tiger Press, Hachette Children’s Books and Bloomsbury Children’s Books.