Book Review: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr illustrated by Eric Carle


A classic story which somehow both myself and Monkey have never read before. First published in 1984, this edition was published in 2007 by Puffin books.

The rhyming story begins with:

“Brown Bear,
Brown Bear,
What do you see?
I see a red bird looking at me”


And so the rhyme continues with a red bird, yellow duck, blue horse, green frog, purple cat, white dog, black sheep, goldfish, teacher and the pupils.

The book is aimed at young children who are first learning about colours however it’s also perfect to discuss different shades of these colours ie the bear has shades of light and dark brown.


The illustrations are quickly recognised as being drawn by Eric Carle and as it is a classic many people may have some of these illustrations as artwork in children’s bedrooms and nurseries.

Monkey being now 7 is a little too old for this book but he still enjoyed the rhyme and looking at the different shades of the animals. Monkey gives this book 8/10.

I enjoyed the rhyme and I wasn’t expecting the inclusion of the teacher and pupils at the end. I love Eric Carle’s artwork in this book which perfectly shows the different shades of the colours described. I give this book 9/10.

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Book Review: Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner


Sometimes when helping Monkey find a book in the library I can’t help but look at the cover and decide whether it looks a good read or not, the cover on this one made me smile instantly and a quick look through assured me it would be a good read.

Published in 2014 by Macmillan Children’s Books and written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner. I haven’t came across Catherine Rayner’s work before but she won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2009 for another book she wrote called Harris Finds His Feet

This story follows a dog called Louie in search of regaining his smell, the smell of Louie after he has had a bath.

The bath has made him smell of roses and apple blossoms which I’m sure would smell nice to Louie’s owners all clean and fresh but poor Louie is not impressed, he doesn’t want to smell like that. Louie starts his search for his smell in the garden where he finds a fox who suggests he look in the brambles as there’s something smelly there. Louie takes the advice from the fox and starts sniffing where he finds a smelly old boot – not his smell. The snails suggest the alley where he finds stinky bins, the flies suggest the sticky sludge which after Louie has rolled around in he feels he’s starting to get his smell, but not quite. Louie then remembers the pongy pond and of course any dog owner will know Louie splashes about in the pond and his smell is back. Happy Louie goes home smelling of him, but will it last long when his owners smell him?!


I read this to Monkey at bedtime and he thought it was very funny how Louie the dog was trying to get smelly again after having a bath as so far Monkey likes the clean smell after bath time. When I asked him which was his favourite picture in the book he said all of them although he did like the picture below of the Fox. Monkey gave this book 8/10.



I enjoyed the story and having bathed my Grandparents dog after a pongy pond incident I can relate to the owner of Louie wanting a clean dog (why do dogs have to find the worst ponds to jump in)?! I loved how the illustrations seemed to pull you in and even after I had read the story to Monkey we looked at the pictures and retold the story using the beautiful illustrations, I give the book 9/10 and will be looking for other titles by this author.

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Santa is Coming to…. by Steve Smallman illustrated by Robert Dunn


Apologies my cat decided this was the time he wanted to play with some ribbon!

Christmas is coming, there’s no stopping it now that it’s November sorry but it’s true and my son and I like a good Christmas book so we’re starting early this year with this one.

This is part of a series of books about Santa doing his Christmas Eve deliveries in various UK locations such as Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Milton Keynes etc each book in the series has localized place names mentioned to make it feel extra special.  As with the usual kind of personalized stories you can see the story would be the same in each book with just local areas, landmarks etc changed.

The basic story starts with Santa looking through his list of children’s names for the location the book is about to see whether the children have been good. They set off to deliver the presents but the new reindeer has wandered off and can’t be found oh dear!

When the reindeer returns they are ready to get to their destination, Santa has gone hi-tech and has a Santa-nav to help him find the correct place. After a bumpy ride with an almost wrong turn Santa finds the correct town and gets to work delivering all the parcels making sure to take a bite out of each mince pie, taking a sip of what has been left (milk in our house), and picks up the carrots for the reindeers. Once all the presents are delivered Santa rewards his trusted reindeers with the carrots he’s collected for them.


The illustrations by Robert Dunn have a lovely fun quality, with Santa and the reindeer taking centre stage on each page. Monkey enjoyed looking at the reindeer illustrations particularly the one below.


Monkey enjoyed this story mainly because it was all about Christmas Eve and Santa however didn’t seem to notice the place names and landmarks mentioned even though it was for somewhere near us this is perhaps something only older children would take more note of or perhaps it’s because the areas of the city mentioned are not near us and therefore the connection wasn’t made. It certainly didn’t affect the story for him as he gave it 10/10.

I on the other hand did notice all the landmarks and sometimes it felt like there was too many mentioned. The story is simple ideal for children of all ages as the place names may interest the older children and younger children will love having the place they live mentioned in a book which could help young children learn where they live and lead onto discussing where the other locations are on a map perhaps (something I will try with Monkey).  The illustrations really capture the story and it certainly feels like a lovely read for Christmas Eve therefore I will give the book 9/10 only losing a point because it felt the name of the city was mentioned too many times and didn’t always naturally fit the story ie it didn’t need mentioned 13 times! A good read nonetheless, merry Christmas (nearly)!

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Lego Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu Secret World of the Ninja


My son Monkey is obsessed with Ninjago so we bought him this book as a birthday present. His face kit up when he saw it and he’s been looking through this book on his own quite a lot since his birthday.

If you’re not aware of this craze it’s another Lego creation with the characters all made from Lego. This book tells the reader about all the different characters (useful for me as I need to learn all their names), the weapons they use, the vehicles they drive – basically if you have a Ninjago fan then they’ll definitely want this book.


Just a few characters names

It’s quite a long book with 94 pages and also has an index. Each page has colourful pictures with lots of facts/information for the fans. Contents include:

What do Ninja wear?
Where do Ninja live?
Building Zane
Ninja vs Snakes
Find your paths

Along with separate pages for each of the Ninjas


Sword of Fire ouch that's what I stood on!

In addition to the book you also get one of the Lego character’s an exclusive Sensei Wu Minifigure. Due to the small size figure the publishers DK have said it’s for ages 6+


Monkey loves this book and gives it 10/10 I will also award this book 10/10 for fans of Ninjago this is definitely a good buy possibly a Christmas present or birthday present at least now when I stand on one of the Ninjas weapons I’ll know what it’s called and who uses it!

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That’s not my mermaid by Fiona Watt


This is another Usborne touchy feely book which Boo my 10 month old daughter loves at the moment.

The Usborne touchy feely series of books is aimed at the very young child but is suitable for toddlers. Each picture has varied patches of texture to develop sensory awareness and language.

This story is about finding the correct mermaid and as with all the books in this series the illustrations each have a little white mouse hidden in the page.  The illustrations in this title are by Rachel Wells and capture the story perfectly. The illustrations are bright but not garish and the textures are inviting to both children and the adult reading the story.

Boo particularly likes the below page and is often found with the book over her head or her curled up in front of it sticking out her tongue to feel the bumpy texture of the mermaids hair clip.


During the summer I took this book along to the beach for Boo to look at while my husband and son went looking for crabs in rock pools. However in my haste to try and stop Boo eating a handful of sand I put the book front side down onto the sand only to realise later that as with all of these books in the series the story starts on the front cover including texture. The front cover (as you can see at the top of this post) has a lovely illustration of a mermaid with flowing hair the texture is fluffy! Yes our poor little mermaid got a lot of sand in her hair but thankfully being a robust made little book I managed to rub the sand out of her hair and it still looks lovely and fluffy.

Given Boo is very young she can’t really score the book however as she often asks for this book and often sits quietly mesmerized by the pictures I can see she really loves this book.

I will score this book 10/10 I love the illustrations and is perfect for both boys and girls (this book was originally my son’s which I kept for Boo). The words are simple but explain the illustrations lovely. Next time I take it to the beach I’ll remember about her hair!

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Another way to follow blog

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Hi in addition to following my blog on twitter or email (full details on contact page) you can also follow on bloglovin.  Happy reading :-)

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Children’s Book Review: A Dog Day by Emily Rand


This is the first children’s book the author Emily Rand has written published in 2014 by Tate Publishing.

The story is about a Terrier dog being taken on a walk and is written in the perspective of the dog. The dog thinks he’s  going to be taken straight to the park but his owner has a few other stops to make first. You can feel the excitement of the dog at the start of the story but you also feel his disappointment when he’s not taken directly to the park.

Unlike most children’s books the illustrations (also by Emily Rand) are all black and white and yet there is a depth to them with the details for instance the bricks in the wall are not just black they have some variation in the colour and pattern and the dog isn’t simply plain, you can see his curly fur.



My son, Monkey wasn’t too sure of the book at first because of the lack of colour however once I’d read the the story which has a lovely rhythm and rhyme he actually really liked it. His favourite part was when the dog got to the park as he liked the illustrations of the other dogs.


Monkey gave this book 7/10 as he prefers colour pictures but he enjoyed the story.

I give this book 8/10 I loved the way the story was from the dogs perspective taking you on a lovely journey.  It made me wonder if perhaps it’s how young children feel too when you don’t take them directly to the park so it would be a lovely story to share with perhaps a toddler to help explain that sometimes adults have to do other jobs first before going to the park.  I also liked that despite it being a children’s book the author has not used any colour.  I showed some of the illustrations to Boo (who is 10 months old) and she sat clapping with a grin on her face so clearly a winner for her.  I have put the book on my wishlist as this copy was from the library and will look out for future stories from the author.

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Usborne Quicklinks Website

Having a school age child has meant for the past few years helping him do his homework which mostly involves researching for fun facts online about the subject being taught.  I usually go online first to find suitable websites for children and so I can find information which he would find interesting before I let him loose on the computer.  This can be time consuming and is often surprisingly difficult.

So when I stumbled upon the Usborne Quicklinks website after reviewing one of their books Seashore I thought it would be a fantastic starting place to help Monkey with his homework this week to write facts about lifeboats and Grace Darling.

Usborne Quicklinks website is a useful resource for children where you and your child can find links to websites with interactive games and activities, virtual tours, video clips, picture galleries and puzzles. The website links have been specially chosen to support the information in Usborne books, so you and your child can discover more information about a topic, or use multimedia activities to make the learning more interesting and fun safe in the knowledge they are suitable websites for children to access.

You can also hear sound clips to hear how to pronounce the words in Usborne language books, and download pictures from many Usborne books.

So for the homework this week we typed lifeboat into the search engine on the website but didn’t find anything so we went to the Inside Ships book and found a link about building lifeboats which led us to the RNLI website called Shorething where we found all the facts we needed.

Yes it’s true we could have just gone directly to the RNLI website but by looking at the Usborne Quicklinks website first we have came across many other links to games and puzzles we’re going to try out after completing the homework and I will certainly keep checking the Quicklinks site as it states it’s constantly updated so website links should stay current and relevant.

Monkey really enjoyed going on the website and is very eager to return to the site.

I can’t believe I didn’t know about this website before now as its fantastic. I love how I could just leave Monkey to search through the website on his own as everything has been vetted beforehand. The only thing that lets it down is that some videos and puzzles don’t work on Tablets as the software isn’t supported however they do work on a laptop/computer.

Monkey gives the site 10/10 as its “cool” I give it 9/10 simply since I can’t access it fully without plugging in my very slow laptop, but this is the only thing that lets it down and I know the site will be a firm favourite for the whole family for years to come.

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Seashore by Lucy Beckett-Bowman published by Usborne


We borrowed this book from the library as Monkey has been learning about the seaside at school so we thought it would be perfect to look at in the quiet space at home.

I hadn’t realised it was an Usborne book at first, it’s actually part of their Beginners series for children to read by themselves so there is not as much text but as you would expect from Usborne still very informative and there’s still beautifully detailed illustrations mixed in with stunning photographs.


There are in fact 45 beginner books in this series covering topics such as space, Romans, weather and penguins amongst other things so definitely something to look out for the next time we go to the library.

This book covers topics such as high and low tides, seashells including creatures who live in the shells, seaweed and had information about the coral reef.

Although it is an easy reader it is 31 pages long. At the back of the book it suggests going to the following website Usborne Quicklinks (follow the link choose the country you are in) which has links to other websites suitable for children to access further information, games and colouring in.

For this book the websites suggested have the following fun activities:

*Watch a video clip of scallops swimming.
*Print out and colour in pictures of seashore
*Find snails and sea urchins in a rocky pool
*Spot shells on the seashore then print out and colour in pictures of shells.
*Watch a video clip of baby turtles leaving their nest and scurrying to the sea.

I have reviewed this site separately as I feel it’s a fantastic online resource, you can find my review here

Anyway back to the book review…

Monkey really liked this book giving it 8/10 as he would have liked to have seen more about each topic (so I’m going to have to find another book for him) but he enjoyed looking at it and especially liked the photo of the Puffer fish.

I enjoyed the book in fact I actually had a quick read of it before looking at it with Monkey and found it fascinating as it has many little facts and for such a small book it really does fill the pages with quick bite sized bits of information, ideal for young children to look at to find something they want to look at further online or with a book which covers the topic in more detail. It is an early reader but perhaps one for a confident reader. I will score the book 9/10 simply as it does cover a lot of topics and I even learnt a few fun facts such as when seabirds swallow too much seawater they get rid of it through their nose!

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Nuts In Space by Elys Dolan


Monkey loves space in fact he often tells me it’s cool, so when we seen this book we thought it looked like a good bedtime read as the book is quite large, has animals and there’s lots of illustrations. Elys Dolan also illustrated the story which was first published in 2014 published by Nosey Crow.

The story is about a group of animals consisting of a badger, duck, owl, Fox, squirrel, beaver and moose who all have important jobs manning the spaceship. They have managed to find The Lost Nuts of Legend which can only be found at the very edge of deep space. Whoever should eat the nuts the legend states they will be immortal, invincible and most importantly it will never be past their bedtime!

The crew are not allowed to eat the nuts, they must instead deliver them home safely however they have a problem they have no food left and they are lost and are unsure how to get home. The story continues with the crew asking for directions home by visiting various places. Along the way a certain member of the crew wants to eat the nuts but the rest of the crew keep saying not to until… well I won’t spoil it for you.

The illustrations are lively with the animals dressed in uniform not too dissimilar to those worn by the crew of Star Trek and there’s clear pictures of the character’s and the layout of the spaceship. Among the pictures there are various characters with speech bubbles which if I’m honest often distracted us from the story so I didn’t read them all out. Perhaps the story should be read without taking in the speech bubbles first and then go back to each page to see what was being said as they are quite funny but I feel they don’t add a lot to the actual


Layout of the spaceship

The wording of the book is clear and at the start of the book it again feels like the opening sequence to Star Trek or Star Wars.

Monkey enjoyed parts of the book but wasn’t as interested in it as I thought. He liked the below picture as he thought it was funny but the story didn’t hold his attention so he scored the book 6/10


Monkey's favourite picture

I liked the story as it was a simple straightforward story which didn’t need explaining but as I’ve previously said the illustrations of the extra characters with speech bubbles was distracting and I only read a few of them out to Monkey so as not to confuse the story being told. Perhaps it would be a better book to curl up with during the day to explore what other characters are saying rather than a bedtime story where you don’t really want to excite or confuse a child too much therefore I score the book 7/10.

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