Tag Archives: Picture Books

8 Places to Discover Amazing Children’s Books

Where Can I Find Great Books to Share with Children?

I’ve seen this question asked so many times and for me the answer is definitely bloggers. There is a wonderful community of children’s book bloggers out there who I’m proud to be a part of. This week is Children’s Book Week and in honour of the occasion I’d like to share some amazing picture book blogs with you.

The Book Sniffer
The Book Sniffer
If you want to know what books are being published today, The Book Sniffer is the place to be. Emma has her finger on the pulse of the latest in picture books and shares sneak peaks of upcoming books plus a host of interviews and exclusive content from authors and illustrators. Like her alter ego, Emma is bubbly and enthusiastic and her tweet stream is definitely one to keep an eye on. Twitter: @maybeswaybe

Library Mice
Library Mice
For the most beautiful picture books published in the UK, Library Mice is the place to go. Mélanie brings a European sensibility to her choices and only reviews books that meet a high standard. As a librarian and parent, Mélanie sees a lot of books so you know that each one reviewed has been hand picked by someone with an eye for what appeals to both children and adults. Twitter: @librarymice

Playing By The Book
Playing By The Book
Playing By The Book contains a treasure trove of book-inspired activities. Each book reviewed is put through its paces by Zoe’s children as they use it as a starting point to explore art, culture, science and maths. Zoe also hosts interviews, book recommendations by theme, book charity links and her tweet stream is full of children’s literature news and events. Twitter: @playbythebook

Read It, Daddy
Read It, Daddy
With approximately ten reviews added each week Read It, Daddy hosts an extensive collection without sacrificing quality. Phil covers a breadth of picture and early reading books from the newest published to library finds. There are weekly themes pondering on areas of literacy, and regular press releases from publishers and literacy organisations. If you’re looking for a picture book review, you’ll probably find it here. Twitter: @Readitdaddy

Rhino Reads
Rhino ReadsRhino Reads covers books that promote inclusivity and exclude gender stereotyping. Unsurprisingly, I love this blog. Carmen also carefully selects books to take to nurseries in deprived areas actively getting books in the hands of children who don’t have any at home with her Rainbow Library scheme. She’s one of my heroes. Twitter: @carmenhaselup

Story Seekers
StorySeekers UK
Story Seekers is an exploration into starting book-based baby and toddler workshops. Loll shares her musings on starting a business along with sharing books that are great for storytelling sessions. There are also some wonderful nostalgia trips with ‘loft treasures’ and the blog is brimming with ideas and recommendations. Twitter: StoryseekersUK

Story Snug
Story Snug
For tried and tested picture books that have withstood repeated reading, Story Snug is the place to go. Catherine is a teacher and chooses books that have been enjoyed over and over by the children she’s shared them with. The books chosen are not the ones that look shiny from the outside, but they are the true gems. Twitter: @cjfriess

Overdue Books
Overdue Books

Written by a family of librarians, Overdue Books explores picture books through themes, activities and wonderful children’s art. Damyanti shares her love of books and libraries with well thought out recommendations. Overdue Books is also home to an extensive list of picture books about libraries. Twitter: @damyantipatel

A Few More Children’s Book Blogs

I’ve concentrated on blogs that primarily review and recommend picture books (and a bit more) but I also thoroughly recommend these wonderful children’s book blogs: Barefoot in Belfast; Barefoot Mum; CApptivated Kids; Did You Ever Stop To Think And Forget To Start Again?; The Little Wooden Horse.

I’d be a bit remiss in my role as a Barefoot Books Ambassador if I didn’t mention the wealth of books that you can only find at Barefoot. From sing-a-longs to story collections; bilingual books to baking; puppets to puzzles, Barefoot Books include everything you need for storytelling sessions, parties, gifts, educational resources and of course snuggling up with a good read.

For me, every week is Children’s Book Week, and I expect this is the same for regular readers. But if you’ve stumbled on this page I hope this has given you a starting block for discovering wonderful children’s books that are as unique and individual as the children who read them.

Disclosure: Barefoot Books links are affiliate links.

Picture Book Roundup

July / August 2013 Picture Book Selection

Time for Bed, Fred!: Yasmeen Ismail (Bloomsbury Children’s Books; PB Jul 2013) Beautifully illustrated and perfect for toddlers / pre-schoolers, this is a book with the text style of you talking to the character in the book “Fred? What are you doing up there?” Lots of humour as Fred the dog tries to avoid going to bed by doing all sorts of messy things before eventually going through bath, story and bed! A quite familiar story for most parents of small children, this is a perfect bedtime read.

Eddie and Dog: Alison Brown (Little Tiger Press; HB & PB Aug 2013) Two friends looking for adventure find each other but are kept apart until they come up with a solution. A story of friendship against the odds, full of transport (Eddie and Dog meet at an airport) and humour, and how to keep a pet when you live in a block of flats without a garden. Plus, dog on a moped, it’s just too cute!

The Littlest Bird: Gareth Edwards & Elina Ellis (Picadilly Press / Templar Publishing; PB Aug 2013) Littlest Bird is fed up being squashed in the nest by all her brothers and sisters so sets off to find a space of her own before missing her mum and returning. There are dragons in the middle of the story too, what more can you ask for?! A sweet tale of finding your place in a family.

Captain Brainpower and the Mighty Mean Machine: Sam Lloyd (HarperCollins Children’s Books; PB Aug 2013) Captain Brainpower and Mojo are two toys who end up on a rubbish tip and the story follows their adventures as they fight the Mighty Mean Machine and create lots of things from rubbish. Great for junk modellers, the plane created can easily be copied and made out of household rubbish and there’s lots of interest in the pictures. Great for EYFS & KS1.

Where’s Tim’s Ted? It’s Time For Bed!: Ian Whybrow & Russell Ayto (HarperCollins Children’s Books; PB Aug 2013) Tim is staying at his grandparents farm, but where has his Ted gone? A moonlight stroll through the farmyard, with lots of animals joining in, eventually reunites them and Tim can sleep happily. Ian Whybrow expertly weaves a fun rhyme, and Russell Ayto’s pictures are always a joy.

Penguin on Holiday: Selina Yoon (Bloomsbury Children’s Book; PB Aug 2013) Adorable lino-print style illustrations follow Penguin as he heads for a holiday in the sun, makes a friend and gets a visitor back home. A lovely story of long distance friendship in both hot and cold climates. Beautiful.

September / October 2013 Picture Book Selection

Noisy Farm (Little Tiger Press; BB Sep 2013) I’m a big fan of the Little Tiger Kids imprint and this is another hit for younger children. Big, chunky board pages full of all-important real images of farm animals along with a texture to feel and a button to press on every page. The animal sounds actually sound like the animals too. After the two hundredth time the noises might annoy parents a little but compared to many noisy books I don’t find this one too annoying and I am easily irritated by repetitive sounds. I highly recommend this for babies and toddlers and MG & DG think it should be for them too! There’s also Noisy Trucks for vehicle loving children.

Wibbly Pig Picks a Pet: Mick Inkpen (Hodder Children’s Books; PB Sep 2013) Wibbly Pig and Scruffy Pig discuss all the brilliant animals they’d chose as pets like elephants, giraffes and dinosaurs but then find out that rabbits are perfect after all. I’m not so keen on this one, it’s basically a story where two friends completely rubbish a first friends’ choice of pet before she’s even chosen it. But it’s Wibbly Pig so toddlers will love.

Wibbly Pig and the Tooky: Mick Inkpen (Hodder Children’s Books; HB Sep 2013) Big Pig’s Sister steals a toucan from the zoo and a Wibbly Pig and friends take him back before he’s missed. Gorgeous illustrations as you’d expect, and a tiny bit of tension makes this an exciting adventure for toddlers.

How to Babysit a Grandad: Jean Reagan & Lee Wildish (Hodder Children’s Books; PB Sep 2013) A guide for all children on what to do when your parents leave you with a grandparent to look after. Try to take very special care of him and let him know that your parents will be back soon, and after so much fun it’s nice to know that you can babysit again! Humourous role reversal sure to appeal to all small children who have ever been left to look after their grandparents.

Spider Sandwiches: Claire Freedman & Sue Hendra (Bloomsbury Children’s Books; PB Oct 2013) If you love Morris the Mankiest Monster, then you’ll love Spider Sandwiches with its lists of disgusting foods. Sadly the final food – worse than beetle biscuits, grasshopper smoothie or even cockroach curry – involves sprouts. I like sprouts and find sprout-hatred annoying, if everyone says they taste horrible then how will children ever even try them? A minor quibble in the grand scheme of things I know, and all the other disgusting foods are great fun. The spiders are too cute to eat!

Splat the Cat Fishy Tales: Rob Scotton (HarperCollins Children’s Books; PB Oct 2013) This is not a Splat the Cat book. It is a spin-off book based on Rob Scotton’s characters. The front cover shows this with the all important phrase “created by”. If you have a Splat-mad child then they’ll probably love it but really it’s not a patch on the others.

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of these twelve books by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, HarperCollins Children’s Books, Hodder Children’s Books, Little Tiger Press, and Templar Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

The Super Swooper Dinosaur by Martin Waddell & Leonie Lord

The Super Swooper Dinosaur: Martin Waddell & Leonie Lord (Orchard Books, 2012)

The Super Swooper Dinosaur: Martin Waddell & Leonie Lord (Orchard Books, 2012)

The Super Swooper Dinosaur is a ‘sequel’ to The Dirty Great Dinosaur, which we also have. I bought The Dirty Great Dinosaur because of loving Leonie Lord’s art in Whiffy Wilson and was delighted to be sent the second book in the series. The first one confuses me slightly: at the end the pet dog is shown with a toy dinosaur and I’m not sure if you’re meant to realise that the dinosaur was all in the child’s imagination or whether it was supposed to be real. A bit too deep for small children perhaps, and there seems to be no ambiguity in the sequel.

The Super Swooper Dinosaur tries to play different games with Hal, but he’s not very good at any of them because he’s too big. In the end, they do what he does best – swoop! Seeing a pterodactyl/pteranodon crying is a very silly sight, but the subtext of the story is probably on how to make playdates feel okay when they visit?

Oh, I read too much into these books sometimes! It’s a lovely story of a boy, and his dog, and his dinosaur, in an idyllic village setting with lots of outdoor space, lots of playing, and lots of fun. Great for any child who likes dinosaurs. So, about 90% of all small children then 😉

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Super Swooper Dinosaur 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.

Lily Gets Lost by Jane Simmons

Lily Gets Lost: Jane Simmons (Orchard Books, 2012)

Lily Gets Lost: Jane Simmons (Orchard Books, 2012)

You can’t go far wrong with Jane Simmons for beautifully illustrated gentle books for toddlers (and older) and Lily Gets Lost is no exception. In this story Lily, an inquisitive little lamb, hears a noise and goes off to investigate. Then she hears more noises, and investigates some more. Before long she’s lost but a kind mother pig helps her find her way home.

There are so many things to love about this story. Lily is inquisitive and brave. Yes, it gets her into a spot of bother but actually she’s in no danger. Enforcing the ‘stay in sight of your parent’ is a good lesson alongside this book. Encouraging investigation and questioning is an even better lesson in my opinion!

Lily hears lots of animal sounds, so the book teaches (or reinforces) animal sounds to very young children, and encourages listening to the sounds around to older children. At the end, Lily has to listen very carefully to hear her mother and find her way home. Learning to be quiet and listen to all the sounds around you is an extremely important skill.

Then, of course, there is the beautiful soft, pastel art that make all the animals jump out of the page and into your lap as you read the story. Lily is a lovely character (and a female animal star, something that is surprisingly rare) and one I hope to see more of in the future.

Perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers, and lovely to read aloud, we all enjoyed Lily and her adventure in the Chaos house!

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Lily Gets Lost 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.

The King of Space by Jonny Duddle

The King of Space; Jonny Duddle (Templar Books, 2013)

The King of Space: Jonny Duddle (Templar Books, 2013)

Some books are worth every ounce of anticipation, and are even better than you expect them to be. The King of Space is one of these books. Having utterly loved both The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door, it was almost a given that we’d love The King of Space but there was some trepidation as I opened the book to read…

As soon as the book opens to the first end paper, there is a treat awaiting you: the contents of Rex’s desk with blaster, blue-prints, planner book and wonderfully retro calculator showing 531608 (for those of us who grew up with trying to make rude words on calculators, this is a treat!) I read the book to myself first, loving all the little sci-fi in jokes and ‘graphic novel’ feel plus slight surrealness of the plot.

Then I paused. I loved this book, but would my daughters understand it? I paused a while before reading it to them. Several days of pausing… But of course, I read The King of Space as an adult and got all the things that were aimed at me, and all the little details in the backgrounds. As I read it to MG and DG, they got all the things that were aimed at them, and different little details in the backgrounds! “Again!” DG shouted as soon as I’d finished. “Yes, Mummy, can we have it again?” added MG. It’s been regularly requested ever since 🙂

I have always been a nerd, a geek, a lover of sci-fi. This book was always going to appeal to me. But it is also another little packet of perfect awesomeness from the incredibly talented Mr Duddle and has all the silliness (and comfort) required for small children with all sorts of interests.

The plot follows Rex, a small boy who lives with his parents on a Moog farm (cows with space helmets!) and has Big Plans. Somehow this time all his plans work out and before he knows it, he’s wiped out all resistance in the Western Spiral with his warbots (dung blaster attachments essential) and caught the attention of the Galactic Alliance. What’s a boy to do, other than kidnap the Emperor’s daughter and bribe her with choco-goo? Soon things get Serious, and Rex realises he doesn’t want to play anymore. Fortunately there’s someone who can always save the day: Mum.

I’m usually a fan of traditional artists, as I find a lot of digital art too ‘shiny’ (for want of a better word!) but in all three of his books Jonny Duddle has packed the pages with grime and details. I’ve read them so many times and still have the odd “oh!” moment when I notice yet-another connection between the stories in the background (the climbing frame in Pirates Next Door and King of Space; the ship in Pirate Cruncher and Pirates Next Door; the Cruncher popping up everywhere…)

I personally find The King of Space hard to read aloud because it’s like a comic, with lots of speech bubbles and lots to look at. But my girls forgive my uselessness and help along by pointing out everything I miss! This is a beautiful, huggable book and one I’d put on every bookshelf. I’ve given several copies of The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door as birthday presents to friends’ children, and I’ll be doing the same with The King of Space.

Too good to miss, grab a copy as soon as you can.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The King of Space by Templar Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen

The Dark: Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen (Orchard Books, 2013)

The Dark: Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen (Orchard Books, 2013)

I have started writing a review for The Dark many times over. I just seem to end up being overly negative every time, which it doesn’t deserve. This is one of the most highly anticipated picture books of the year, a collaboration of two of the finest contemporary children’s book creators. But anticipation is a duel edged sword and knowing the talent behind this book I think I was expecting something other than it is.

There is nothing wrong with this book. It is a very good picture book. Not every book will be loved by every family, and this one didn’t work for us. So instead of struggling with words, I’ll leave you with this fantastic trailer, narrated by Neil Gaiman, which gives you the first few spreads of the book and a very good feel of the story. Enjoy!


Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Dark 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.

I Heart Bedtime Blog Tour: Bunny Crafts

It’s PUBLICATION DAY!!!! If you haven’t already, get running to your nearest bookshop and grab a copy of I Heart Bedtime! After you’ve done that, why not read on about my bunny crafting attempts 🙂

Clara Vulliamy is the sort of person who could inspire practically anyone to have a go at some kind of craft. From her website packed full of things to try; to events where there’s always something to make involving felt, button and ribbons; to tid-bits that arrive in the post occasionally from the Happy Bunny Club. We’ve had the pleasure of bunnies in matchboxes, bunny ears, felt bunnies with satin hearts inside, colouring and sticking…

Not only is Clara an extremely talented author illustrator and crafter, she can do mechanics too. Look at this amazing music player that she actually made: (You can watch the video of it playing at www.claras.me)

I Heart Bedtime: Clara's Music Box

I jumped at the chance to be part of the I Heart Bedtime blog tour, and knew something crafty would end up happening. I’ve already reviewed I Heart Bedtime in a separate post, and to celebrate publication day I offer you: my rubbish sewing skills! Don’t worry, there’s also a little treat from Clara herself to download too 🙂

I didn’t know what I wanted to do so just wandered into the local haberdashery (I know how lucky we are to have one: Masons in Abingdon, if you were wondering) and wandered. Near the entrance I saw the most utterly perfect material for the book: mini hearts in pink, blue, yellow and orange. Squee! And then my latent inner-crafter took over and I came out with a bag including white fleece, felt, mini sewing kit (I didn’t even own a needle and thread) and from their sister shop next door, embroidery thread in pink and black.

We had a paper colouring-in template from last year, which I traced around to make a simple bunny doll template. Actually there was about five iterations, because the picture was designed for colouring in, not for cutting out. I traced around the head, and then moved the body to make a neck; then I ditched the idea of fingers as they’re too small and fiddly; and I moved the legs closer together so they looked better as a doll; plus I widened the arms and legs (but not enough as it turned out!) Finally I drew a dotted line around my template for the seam and cut it out.

I Heart Bedtime: Martha Pattern

The only way I know to make soft toys is the very simple “cut two of the same shape and sew them together” method! I do know enough to leave room for a seam, and to sew inside out and then turn round to fill, so I realised that I would need to create the face first. I pencilled in the face and cut out two inner ears in felt to sew in place then used the black and pink embroidery thread to sew her sunny smile.

I Heart Bedtime: making the bunny toy smile

Next, I put the two fleece pieces back to back and sewed around, leaving the head unsewed for turning. I used backstitch – at least, I think that’s what it’s called! – to make the seams stronger. Oh, I wish I had a sewing machine! Hand-sewing seams takes forever! As I was sewing I thought the arms and legs were a bit thin, and I’m not going to admit to how long it took me to turn them the right way round, with copious help from the back end of a pencil. When the body part was turned, I used the same backwards method to sew the face and ears, leaving a small hole at the top for filling.

I Heart Bedtime: Sewing the bunny toy and dressing her

My plan was to use a funnel and fill the bunny doll with rice. Could I find a funnel anywhere? Hah! We have at least three plastic funnels in the house and the last time I saw one it was in the correct drawer but Destructo-Girl does have a habit of stealing things from the real kitchen for her pretend games and after searching through three boxes of their toys I lost patience! I then looked up toy fillings and it said rice was a bad idea because it went mouldy when wet too, so the next day I went back to Masons and bought proper hollow fibre toy stuffing instead.

I Heart Bedtime: Not Quite Martha Bunny

Of course, having made Martha for Mighty-Girl, I had to make Pip for Destructo-Girl. I made a couple of changes when cutting round the same template, widening the arms and legs, ditching the feet (they were so fiddly) and thinning the neck. I think the original one looks better, maybe third time lucky I’ll get a suitable template, or just leave that to the experts!

I used the perfect material for Martha’s dress (nightie) and decorated it with mini buttons and ric rac we already owned (I’m a bit of a button and ribbon addict!) It was a very simple “cut round the outline and sew it up” design! My plan was for the dolls to have several outfits to dress and undress but I got the sizing totally wrong and it’s a good thing Martha was filled with her outfit on or it would never have fit her! Pip is obviously wearing Monty’s old pyjamas because they’re Monty’s favourite colour and Monty loves stars too (well, he loves rockets, so he probably loves stars too), DG wanted Pip to have stars because he is wearing stars in I Heart Bedtime. I didn’t do any seams on the clothes so they are fraying and rubbish, but it’s the thought that counts?!

I Heart Bedtime: Two soft toy bunnies, entirely hand made!

All the above was something that was a little more complex than my little bunnies could cope with so I begged the lovely Clara for some paper dress-up bunnies and she e-mailed me a set of bunnies and their pyjamas. I printed out a few sets and they’ve been lying around this week for my girls and any guests to have a go. There’s been some great decorating and cutting going on, and a whole lot of mess!

I Heart Bedtime: DG and MG's paper doll bunnies (I might have coloured in one of them!)

You can download your own paper bunnies too! I made two sizes – one where all three bunnies fit on one page and their pyjamas on a second sheet; and another where each bunny and two pairs of their pyjamas are on each page.

I Heart Bedtime Paper Doll Templates

Bunny Paper Dolls small (takes you to OpenDrive to download)
Bunny Paper Dolls medium (takes you to OpenDrive to download)

I Heart Bedtime is a dream of a book, and has spent its life so far in the Chaos household being dragged up and down stairs like a yo-yo so that it can be read just one more time… 🙂

I Heart Bedtime Blog Tour so far:
23 March: Clara Vulliamy guest post at Netmums
24 March: Bedtime routines with Jax and family from Making it Up
24 March: Illustrated interview with Martha herself from The Book Sniffer
25 March: Princess C interviews Clara Vulliamy at Read It, Daddy!
26 March: Bedtime routines with the Library Mice
27 March: Bedtime with Smiling like Sunshine

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart Bedtime

Martha and the Bunny Brothers I Heart Bedtime: Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013)

Martha and the Bunny Brothers I Heart Bedtime: Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)

Occasionally, when I review books, I look at them almost entirely from an adult perspective. This is usually when the book is so loved by my daughters and me that I feel it really needs some extra attention in the review. This is one of those books.

I Heart Bedtime is the sequel to I Heart School and is just as utterly delicious as the first book. There is a wonderful adult-centric review as to why I Heart School is such a great picture book on the blog Did You Ever Stop to Think…?, which I thoroughly recommend.

For a child-centric reason why both Martha books are wonderful, I offer up the examples of my daughters. Destructo-Girl (almost-four) has slept with a variety of Clara Vulliamy books under her pillow for chunks of the mere fifteen months since we first discovered them. Martha Bunny was a favourite from the moment it arrived a year ago, and DG could find it spine-out on a bookcase at age two. Mighty-Girl (six) is a good reader but currently stuck in the mindset that she can only read banded books, but she has read the entire Martha books to her little sister – and they are fairy verbose books even though they don’t feel it when you’re reading them. Both DG and MG can quote huge sections of the text from either book, and they both relate to almost all of the scenarios. These are picture books for children that children enjoy, but are packed with so much that they are a joy to read over and over again as an adult.

From the very first page, the bright colours and happy smiling bunny entice you to read more, but more than that the links between both I Heart School and I Heart Bedtime are cemented in this first page too. Small children love and need the familiar, the world can be a scary enough place and often children latch on to a familiar toy or comforter. The Martha books understand this need in small children and keep the familiar not only in the situations that children will experience, but in the structure of the book too starting on this first page:


Other similarities are more subtle, but bring the child into the second book with ease once they are familiar with the first book (in whatever order they are read):


I often comment on fonts used in picture books and how I like easy-to-read fonts for early readers. But for some books, the array of fonts used is part of the story. In the Martha books, there is a script font that can be challenging to read but it is used sparsely and for similar words (see examples in images above) so familiarity/guesswork can be used!

On the subject of fonts, and being such a part of the story, I have to share these examples of words (doodling is from I Heart School, and sharks is from I Heart Bedtime). What an absolutely wonderful use of typography in the text:


My final example of book love for the two Martha books is Martha’s clothes. In I Heart School we are shown a selection of Martha’s favourite clothes, and in I Heart Bedtime we are shown her favourite pyjamas. What is absolutely wonderful is that Martha is shown in pyjamas in I Heart School which then appear in I Heart Bedtime, and shown in a dress in I Heart Bedtime that appeared in I Heart School. Just wonderful!


And I haven’t even mentioned that lovely expression Martha has in both the inset pictures above, all because of her bunny brothers! Or that their toothbrushes in I Heart Bedtime are the favourite colours listed in I Heart School. Or that no adult characters appear, all the images are about Martha, Monty, Pip and Paws. Or that my Destructo-Girl copies Pip’s antics regularly including the necessity for strawberry toothpaste…

And really finally, I don’t know about other parents, but I am certainly guilty of this little white lie in order to get children to bed on time:


In this case, Martha is so excited to spend some time with her best babysitter that she starts trying to get her bunny brothers to bed as early as possible. Later in the text, mum says “Now it really IS bedtime, little bunnies,” as they have taken so long coming up with excuses not to go to bed that the time has flown past. There is a delightful scene where Martha, Monty and Pip are shown going up and down the stairs with one excuse or another. Something else that is very familiar in the Chaos household!

There are too many little (and big) familiar moments in I Heart Bedtime that makes it a delight to read. Not only that but the highlight for MG and DG is the Bedtime Bunnies Song. My singing is rubbish but I do try! To listen to the song pop along to www.claras.me.

Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart Bedtime is published on Thursday, 28 March 2013, and I’ll be sharing some bunny-inspired crafting with you then as part of the official blog tour. I can’t wait! 🙂

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Martha and the Bunny Brothers: I Heart Bedtime by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.


What Do Squirrels Do by Hazel Nutt

What Squirrels Do Trilogy: Hazel Nutt (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2013)

What happened to March? Seriously, how is it the eighth already? I was going to share this lovely trilogy of books last week but apparently I didn’t actually post the review. Or write it. Which doesn’t help…

What Squirrels Do is a trilogy of picture books written under the pseudonym of Hazel Nutt, a little girl who is ‘nutty about nature’. Hazel can talk to squirrels and finds out all sorts of things about what they’re really up to when we’re not looking.

The books are available as paperback or e-versions. We were very kindly sent e-versions for review and to whet your appetite you can get the books free on certain days in March. The first book was free on Kindle on 3rd & 4th March. The second is free on 16th & 17th March; and the third is free on 25th & 26th March. They can also be purchased from a variety of places listed on the What Squirrels Do website.

In What Squirrels Do When You’re Not Looking, many of the double page spreads have a lovely set up where you’re shown, for example, an empty swing and asked to think about why it’s swinging; then when the page is turned there’s the cheeky squirrel. We found the squirrel in trench coat doing his shopping particularly amusing! The rhyming text works well and I love books that make you look at the world in a different way, starting a child’s imagination running.

The Squirrel Olympics is a lot sillier, and I love it for that! There’s bungee jumping, limbo dancing and pigeon curling! More seriously it introduces a range of sport names to small children and shows how fun being active can be. I think this is my favourite of the three and I usually dislike sport!

What Squirrels Do For Fun features more of the author herself telling why she knows so much about squirrels and sharing some of their relaxation activities. It also sneaks in some more education in the form of talking about spreading seeds from flowers with some lovely funny images of squirrels waving flower pom-poms!

These books will appeal to young children due to their rhyming text and silliness. They were published to celebrate the real Hazel’s second birthday, what a lucky little girl!

What Squirrels Do Trilogy: Hazel Nutt (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2013)

Disclaimer: We were sent copies of these books by ‘Hazel Nutt’ for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Dave by Sue Hendra & Liz Pichon

Dave: Sue Hendra & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children's Books, 2009)

Dave: Sue Hendra & Liz Pichon (Hodder Children’s Books, 2009)

I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve read this book. It’s a huge success with both MG and DG and I generally have to read it at least twice in a row whenever it is chosen. Look at the praise on the front cover: “I laughed so much I farted!” says six-year-old Edward. That might give you an idea of the humour in this book.

Dave is a BIG cat who eats fantastically sized meals until one day he gets stuck in his catflap. The whole garden of bugs, birds, squirrels and more try to help free him but it’s not until one bright bug has the idea of feeding Dave beans that he manages to get free. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Blast Off!!!

As you can imagine, this book is wonderful to read to small children and great to add sound effects to! We all do a great line in raspberries in the Chaos household.

Dave was originally published in 2009 and has been reissued with a lovely glittery cover this year. Sue Hendra and Liz Pichon are both hugely (and deservedly) successful separately and this is a lovely combination of their talents. It will not suit you if you don’t like fart humour, but will be a huge success for children who love David Roberts’ Dirty Bertie picture books for example. Or children aged about two to… um 37 and counting?!

We all LOVE Dave, and recommend him wholeheartedly. Wholesome and full of beans 😉

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Dave 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.