Spot Looks At Shapes by Eric Hill

img_20160527_0651190_rewind_kindlephoto-47828131.jpgThere can’t be many of us who don’t remember or know Spot the Dog. For those that don’t know Spot was created by Eric Hill who wrote many different Spot the Dog books. The books are aimed at very young children before school age.

Boo who is now 17 months old loves dogs even though as a family we have 2 cats. She is also fascinated by shapes showing a real interest in completing a simple Melissa and Doug peg puzzle so I thought this book would be good for her.

This book was first published by William Heinemann Ltd in 1986 however the copy we have was published 2010 by Fredrick Warne. The version we have is a lovely small square shape easy for little hands to hold and is a board book ideal for chewing when teething!

The book is on 12 pages long which is long enough to keep young children engaged and as it’s not a story a child can start in the middle of the book without really missing much.












Boo's favourite

Boo’s favourite











Each shape is introduced by an object that Spot is holding,playing with etc and the opposite page shows the shape with its name for instance the first page says “Spot’s rubber ring is a round shape. The opposite page says round with the rubber ring clearly showing on a plain white background. Other shapes are square, rectangle, star, triangle, oval. Boo’s favourite is the star.

Although Boo being 17 months can’t tell me how much she likes this book I can easily see she enjoys it as she often carries it around the house stopping briefly to sit and flick through the pages giggling to herself and asking everyone to look at it with her most days therefore I am going to suggest she would give it 9/10.

Being a fan of Spot from when I was a young child I love all things Spot the Dog and this is no exception. I love the brightness of the pictures, the simple to understand text and I particularly like how the shape is then shown isolated on a separate paper unlike a lot of other shape books therefore I give this little book 9/10 I would have given it 10/10 if they had put circle instead of round as this is the only shape that feels wrongly described – yes the ring is round however most children when learning shapes would say it’s a circle but it’s only a small issue.

I have reviewed other Spot books previously – Where’s Spot and Spot Says Goodnight. We have other Spot books to review so if you were unsure of who Spot the Dog was come back and see or if you know Spot come back and relive some old favourites.

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Usborne Baby Very First Play Book Animal Words

img_20160223_200413_kindlephoto-5146283.jpgThis book published by Usborne is a lovely lively book of animals for babies and toddlers to enjoy on their own or with parents/older siblings etc

The book was first published in 2016 and was written by Stella Baggott.

The front cover shows various animals and many have shapes cut out of them lovely for little fingers to poke through and makes it easier to turn pages. The fun part though is that for every animal which has a shape cut out of it underneath you can see the colour of the animal underneath the gap for instance the eyes of the owl on the page below become the spots of the ladybird on the page below. In addition to this there’s shapes which you can follow your finger along such as the worm you can feel the wiggly shape of it instead of just seeing it which adds to the interest but offers another way for young children to learn and understand.


Pages showing what may be found in a woodland

Boo who is now 17 months old loves looking at this book but also with me telling her what the creatures are. She also enjoys it when her older brother Monkey who is now 7 looks through the book with her and does animal sounds or pretends to be a snake or an elephant when she’s looking at those animals.

I really like the feel of this book and even though we’ve had it for a couple of months it still looks new despite it being read several times a day and eaten by Boo as she’s teething!

For a colourful lively book with cute cartoon animals this is a lovely little book. It gives enough information to small children with animal names and the pages of animals are grouped i.e. farm animals, forest animals, insects, sea creatures and jungle which can lead to further reading and understanding as the child grows.

As Boo is unable at this time to tell me how many out of 10 she’d give it I can only go on how much she looks at this book and requests it so I would suggest 8/10 as she has other books she enjoys more. I will give this 8/10 as it can grow with the child demonstrated even by my son being still interested in flicking through the pages with Boo and it has led to discussions with him regarding the many featured animals.

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James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl


This is a classic Roald Dahl book, it was first published in 1961 the edition we have is from 2001 published by Puffin Books. Illustrated as always by Quentin Blake, the illustrations in this book are outstanding and have a lot more detail than some other illustrations in Roald Dahl’s books.

The story starts with James living with his parents however something terrible happened one day which means James has to go and live with his 2 horrible aunts Spiker and Sponge who make James do all the jobs, never let him go and play, are always shouting at him and he’s not allowed to go further than the bottom of the garden so he never gets to see anyone other than his aunts.

That is until one day something magical happens and so begins the adventure of a lifetime with some unusual new friends.


I had tried reading this story myself several times when I was a young child but hadn’t got very far. I thought when I started reading it to Monkey it had just been because of some of the old fashioned words which I wasn’t familiar with at the time had put me off however I think it was in part also because within the first chapter there is talk of death. I started reading this story to Monkey before his 7th birthday and I will be honest I had completely forgotten what the story was about and had simply took it from his shelf one night to read at bedtime. It was only as I started reading it that I realised we’d never really read a book involving a death least of all one about the death of parents. I did consider putting it back on the shelf for some other time but after asking Monkey whether I should continue he told me to carry on. If you have a sensitive child the book does get happier after chapter 5 (which is how many chapters I read that first evening as I didn’t want to leave him with something sad).


The story unlike many other Roald Dahl books is less obviously funny and after reading it I suggest it’s perhaps more suited to an older child although Monkey did enjoy some of the story and thought the creatures were funny. Monkey gave the book 4/10 as he simply didn’t think it was as funny as previously read Roald Dahl books. I give the book 7/10 I’m pleased I finally got to read it all and was able to explain the old fashioned words to Monkey but I didn’t think it was as enjoyable.

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The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl


Roald Dahl books are characteristically funny and part of many people’s childhood, I for one have been a fan for many years and yet I have never read this story before so it was a great read to have at bedtime with Monkey just before his 7th birthday.


The story is about a boy called Billy who dreams of having a sweet shop One day the abandoned building he has past many times before had been bought when much to his astonishment a bathtub comes flying out of the second floor window crashing in the middle of the road. However more surprising than this more things follow the bathtub in the same manner through the window – lavatory pan, kitchen sink, empty canary cage, four poster bed, hot water bottles, rocking horse and a sewing machine! Then silence – Billy decided to visit again the next day to see what happened next!

The next day in the window of this bizarre building is a sign “The Ladderless Window Cleaning Company. Get your windows cleaned without a lot of dirty ladders leaning against your house”

Billy soon discovers the owners of this company are not people they are instead a singing Pelican, Giraffe and a monkey!

Billy helps this unlikely group and together become the best of friends having exciting fun washing windows for a Duke and becoming heroes.


This edition was published by Puffin Books in 2001 and was first published in 1985. The accompanying illustrations by Quentin Blake are as equally great as they are in all of Roald Dahl’s books.

Monkey thought this book was very funny and each night couldn’t wait for me to read the next instalment and I often found him sitting in bed looking through the book to see what was going to happen next! Monkey gave this book 8/10 as he thought George’s Marvellous Medicine was better. I give this book 8/10 only because I wished it was longer and I was expecting a different ending. My favourite quote though is at the end sang by the Monkey “All you do is to look at a page in this book because that’s where we always will be. No book ever ends when it’s full of your friends, the Giraffe and the Pelly and me”.

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George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl


Roald Dahl books and the accompanying illustrations of Quentin Blake don’t need much of an introduction as they have been part of most people’s reading at some point or other either as a child or to your own children. George’s Marvellous Medicine is one such book. I remember quite well being 7 years old and having this story read to my classmates and I by a very enthusiastic young student teacher.

The story is about a young boy who lives on a farm with his mum, Dad and his Grandma. His Grandma is not the cuddly rosy checked Grandma that bakes cookies and knits thick woolly jumpers. No George’s Grandma would not be described like that at all. She was instead a grumpy little old woman who didn’t like people, wasn’t interested in playing board games and never smiled. She spent her time sitting by the window grumbling and complaining.


His Grandma doesn’t seem to like children and George is no exception. One day she says some truly scary things to George whilst he is alone with her “some of us have magic powers that can twist the creatures of this earth into wondrous shapes”… “some of us have fire on our tongues and sparks in the tips of our fingers”. “Some of us know secrets that would make your hair stand on end and your eyes pop out of their sockets”. “We know how to make your nails drop off and teeth grow out of your finger nails instead”.



To this George come up with a plan to replace the medicine given to Grandma 4 times a day with his own concoction which has some fantastic results. I won’t say more on that as for those of you who either haven’t yet enjoyed this book or perhaps you can’t remember it from your childhood you will be fascinated and surprised at the extraordinary results of George’s truly marvellous medicine.

The edition we have was published in 2001 by Puffin Books however it was first published 35 years ago in 1981!

Monkey enjoyed this story more than some previous stories. I read this to him just before his 7th birthday which seemed the right sort of age onwards to enjoy this story.

Monkey particularly enjoyed the parts of the story that focuses on the ingredients used for the medicine (as they are quite unusual) and also enjoyed what happened to those who have the medicine.

There’s many extensions you could do after reading this story such as make your own potion with water and food colouring, write your own marvellous recipe, or bake some cookies like we did adapting the recipe but adding extra chocolates chips and marshmallows (delicious)! There’s also some great activities I found via Pinterest just search George’s Marvellous Medicine activities.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this as I had forgotten some parts of the story and looked forward to the bedtime story as much as Monkey did which is the best sort of bedtime story to have.

Monkey gave this story 10/10 and I also give it 10/10. Superb writing a true children’s classic which is still enjoyable to adults.

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A Recap of Some of Our Favourite Books We’ve read in 2015

There’s nothing better than at the end of a year to look back at what has happened before and I believe that the same can be said about previous books we’ve enjoyed.

So let me take you on a little journey back in time, sit back and enjoy:-)

Brown BearBrown Bear What do you see? By Bill Martin Jr illustrated by Eric Carle

Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

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

That’s Not My Mermaid by Fiona Watt

A Dog Day by Emily Rand

Seashore by Lucy Beckett-Bowman

Happy New Year, may 2016 be a successful year for you and your family xx

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Esio Trot by Roald Dahl


It seems another classic Roald Dahl book passed me by as a child as I hadn’t read Esio Trot until I read it to Monkey.

This edition is from 2001 published by Puffin Books however was first published in 1990. As usual the illustrations are by Quentin Blake.

The story is about how two neighbours Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver are brought together by a tortoise, yes you read that right a tortoise!


Mrs Silver lives in the downstairs flat with her tortoise who is quite small, Mr Hoppy suggests a way to make her tortoise larger and so he begins to secretly get Mrs Silver’s tortoise to grow but you’ll have to read the story to find out how he does it.

Monkey wasn’t too sure of this story, he was fascinated how Mr Hoppy made the tortoise grow but didn’t particularly like the growing relationship between the two neighbours – as like most young boys the thought of love just didn’t interest him, however he gave the story 7/10.

I on the other hand picked up on some of the subtle love interest of Mr Hoppy for Mrs Silver and enjoyed another fantastic simple idea for the story and although having only read this story as an adult I thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s quite clear that on the most part Dahl’s books are not just for children but perhaps the young at heart too. I give this story 8/10.

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Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon illustrated by Tony Ross


This is the first book in the series of Horrid Henry written by Francesca Simon. This book was first published in 1994 by Orion Children’s Books.

Monkey had received this as a birthday present and although I had heard of the series of books I wasn’t sure what they were about.

This story introduces Henry to the reader and also to his family Mum, Dad and his brother Peter (who is always perfect in everything he does and therefore he is referred to as Perfect Peter throughout the book.  Every character in the book has a nickname such as Moody Mary, Lazy Linda and Vain Violet.

There are 4 chapters which with the illustrations by Tony Ross which although in black and white show great detail and helps the reader imagine what the characters look like.  The chapters are short enough to keep the reader interested but not too long to induce boredom.  The chapters are:

Horrid Henry’s Perfect Day
Horrid Henry’s Dance Class
Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret
Horrid Henry’s Holiday

Monkey’s favourite chapter was the second chapter Horrid Henry’s Dance Class as Henry likes to dance but not the way the others in the class dance he likes to stomp stamp stomp his elephant dance rather than tap tap tap the raindrop dance which of course causes a bit of chaos on stage.


Monkey enjoyed this book, especially chapter 2 he actually got out of his bed to show me what the elephant dance looked like to him and couldn’t stop laughing at many of the situations.  He gave this book 10/10.

It’s quite clear throughout the book Henry doesn’t like to conform and would much prefer to do whatever he pleases to do. Although I liked the book and it has some quite funny situations which you can imagine happening in real life I couldn’t help but feel as though Henry shouldn’t always get his own way all of the time  but maybe that’s just me as the parent.  I give this book 7/10 as I said it was funny and it kept Monkey interested.

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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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