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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That’s Not My Piglet – Usborne Touchy Feely Book


We love the Usborne books in our house and have lots of different books for various stages of child development and interests.

I was first introduced to the touchy feely books when my son was a baby and have in fact kept them all for my daughter who is 10 months old.

This book however was a brand new book bought especially for Boo when she was first born. I had shown her this book quite a few times but it’s only been since she was 6 months old and able to sit by herself that she’s really enjoyed the different pages.

For those not aware the touchy feely books have quite a few in the series all along similar lines telling the reader that’s not my…. until the final page where you find the correct animal for instance.

Each page has different textures for baby to feel such as fuzzy or scratchy. The different patches of texture are designed to develop sensory awareness and language. Every book has a main character but they all have a little mouse to find on each page.

Unlike most stories the touchy feely books actually start the story on the front cover so that baby is instantly drawn to them.

All the pages are brightly coloured however they are not garish like most young children books. My daughter’s favourite page is this bright yellow page with a black and white piglet with scratchy texture.

Although I’ve said this is a baby book it is suitable for
newborn babies and well into toddler stage. They are extremely well made and tough ideal for those looking for something to chew as you can see from the photo above.

My daughter is unable to tell me how much she likes this book but simply watching her grin at every page even when left to flip through the pages alone I can easily see this is certainly a favourite and I imagine she would give it 8/10 I would give it 9/10 as the colours are so striking and it has kept her entertained for a while now so it certainly has a well deserved place on our bookshelf.

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A Love of Children’s Books

I’ve always loved books and still love the feeling of happiness and a sense of calmness I get when walking into a bookshop and seeing row upon row of books, classics and newly published books. I even enjoy just going in and having a look around.

I particularly love children’s books and since having Boo who is now 10 months old I have spent a lot of time looking at baby books and also books for Monkey who will be 7 soon.

Since Monkey was little we’ve read our fair share of awful books and equally beautifully written and illustrated stories. Over the years I have read stories which I loved in my childhood such as Spot the Dog and most recently I have been reading him several Roald Dahl books including The Witches and The Twits. We’ve also read more recently published books such as Harry and the Dinosaurs series of books and The Whale and The Snail (a current favourite).

For Boo due to her age so far we’ve only looked at Usbourne touchy feely book series her favourites being That’s not my Puppy and That’s not my Piglet.

In recent weeks though I have started looking for new books or classics I haven’t heard of before, mainly for Boo but along the way I’ve spotted some good ones for Monkey. I’ve become quite addicted and looking at my Amazon wishlist it has grew considerably in the last few weeks from a measly 20 to 150 (at last count).

Looking around the internet shows there doesn’t appear to be many baby book reviews and even after tweeting a couple of times for suggestions and tweeting Waterstones no one it seems had any classic or newly published books for babies they could suggest I read.

Therefore I’m going to continue my search for baby books and will review them here alongside books I’ve read with Monkey.

If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear from you.

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Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

My regular readers will by now realize my son loves stories by Julia Donaldson.

Tabby McTat is a buskers cat who has a very loud miaow, their favorite song is “me, you and the old guitar, how perfectly perfectly happy we are; meee-ew and the old guitar, how purrrr-fectly happy we are”.


Tabby McTat has a friend got Sock – they like to chat.  One day a thief snatches the buskers hat which has the money in and as the busker chases after them he falls breaks his head and bangs his head and he’s taken to a hospital (oh dear).  When Tabby McTat goes back to find Fred the busker after chatting to Sock he finds that Fred has gone (aww poor Tabby McTat).  A week goes by and Sock see’s Tabby McTat who has become thin, Sock invites Tabby McTat to come stay with her.

In the meantime Fred returns to where he used to busk to find a band playing where he used to busk (oh dear poor Fred and no sign of Tabby McTat).

Although Tabby McTat enjoys his new home he still misses his friend – Fred – he goes in search of Fred but doesn’t see him.

Then the news that Sock has given birth to kittens – one of the kittens looks just like Tabby McTat – called Samuel Sprat – the other 2 kittens are found homes but Samuel Sprat no one wants him (aww) “his voice is too loud”.

Tabby McTat continues his search for Fred and he eventually finds him but he misses his home with Sock, but Samuel Sprat says he wants to be the buskers cat and from then on the busker Fred and Samuel Sprat sing together – aww.

As usual with stories by Julia Donaldson the rhymes are fantastic – if not a bit tongue tying! The illustrations are lovely and really sets the scene for the story.  Monkey gives this story 9/10 (sorry he still prefers Squash and a Squeeze another story by Julia Donaldson) – I’ll give it 8/10 as I don’t think it’s as good as The Smartest Giant in Town (yep you’ve guessed it another Julia Donaldson story) – we’re fans!

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Pants on the Moon! By Zoe Beans

This is a story about a little girl (Zoe) who is simply putting out her pants to dry one windy day when suddenly a big gust of wind sends her up into the air – she grabs hold of the washing line as it goes “ping” and says to dog Beans “grab hold Beans we’re going up.”

They go up and up and up and the washing line gets caught on an plane (at this point I love the picture the washing line gets stuck on a plan with the name Squeezy Jet – think we all know a similar named airline).  The pair fly up even higher into space and they land with a bump on the moon!


“Ouch now Zoe had a sore bottom, and her nice clean pants were covered in moon dust! But it’s difficult to stay upset when Beans is licking your face and making you giggle”.

Zoe and Beans wander around the moon and even have a party and then they come across a flag (American) “look Beans somebody’s put a flag on the moon”.  They then use the flag to get back home using it as though it’s a parachute.

It’s a lovely little story and could be used to start a conversation about flying to the moon and possibly even showing interested little children footage of the successful moon landing.

Although Monkey thought the story was funny he’s not interested in having the story read to him again – perhaps it’s because the main character is a girl as he usually likes stories like this.  He gives the story 6/10.  I on the other hand give the story 8/10 as previously said it could be used to start a conversation, used as a small teaching tool and thought the picture of the Squeezy Jet was funny.


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Dinosaur Roar by Paul and Henrietta Strickland

This is a very simple book it shows pictures of opposites for dinosaurs such as long dinosaur and long dinosaur, fast dinosaur and slow dinosaur etc

My son is 5 and he is dinosaur mad – he loves the pictures in this book – there’s no story as such but that’s ok as without him realizing he’s learning the differences between the dinosaurs shown on each page.  An excellent learning tool

The pictures certainly make the book.

Monkey gives this book 8/10 and I will give it 8/10 also.

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The Grunt and the Grouch by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Lee Wildish

This is a story about a grumpy Grunt who appears to like spending time on his own, hates parties, never cleans the bath, never does the washing up and he dislikes Tuesday’s as apparently they’re the most boring day of the week!

Then one Tuesday he receives an invitation to a party, however the party arrives on his doorstep – the Grouch arrives with a tent, balloons and food.  The Grunt pops the balloons with his dirty fingernails and they start a food fight.  This continues until the Grunt says “hang on a minute those maggot-cakes look great!” – they sit down and forget to be mean and forget to be bored.  The Grouch stays for a week and then on the Tuesday declares he’s moving on – however they’ve both had so much fun together that the Grunt asks the Grouch to stay and live together.  They are now “the happiest trolls you’d ever be likely to meet!” and together they cause havoc!

The illustrations make this story – they really are fantastic at keeping a young child interested in the story, Monkey certainly likes the illustrations – he likes the food fight bit the best.  Monkey gives the story 8/10 and I also give the story 8/10.

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The Boy on the Bus – a sing-along storybook by Penny Dale

This is basically the song wheels on the bus (and you do end up reading/singing it as though it’s the wheels on the bus tune) – which is ok but some bits are a little difficult to fit into the tune properly! I won’t demonstrate – I’m an awful singer!

It’s about a boy who is driving a red bus and he collects animals along his journey, he picks up cows, horses, ducks, sheep, goats, chickens – it’s almost old MacDonald meets the wheels on the bus – how the boy manages to squeeze all the animals into the bus I’m not quite sure!!

It’s a new take on the familiar tune, however to my 5 year old who knows the wheels on the bus – he was a little bewildered that I was singing it along to the tune he knows but not the correct words – he was however interested in all the animals getting on the bus – especially since we’ve discovered he likes sheep – which he refers to as being “cute.”

I think the next time I read this to him I may omit singing it to the tune of the wheels on the bus and just read it correctly – although on the cover it does suggest that it’s a sing-along storybook (but doesn’t insist that it’s sung to the tune of wheels on the bus – wonder if it would work to the tune of something else)??  I give the story 6/10 – as although it’s a new idea both myself and Monkey felt slightly confused.  Monkey gives the story 8/10 but I think this has more to do with the illustrations of the animals rather than the story itself.

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Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson illustrated by Jane Chapman

The story revolves around a bear who is bored one day and decides he’d like to see his friends as he’s missing them and that he would like to make a big dinner for them all to enjoy “but he looks through his cupboard, and the cupboard is bare” – oh dear poor bear.

But then his friend Mouse brings over a pie “and the bear says Thanks”, thus continues a flurry of his friends bringing various food items – such as Hare brings muffins, Badger brings fish, , Gopher and Mole bring warm honey nuts, Owl, Raven and Wren bring “pears from the tree and herbs to brew tea” and each time Bear says “thanks”.

But then… “Bear says wait..

Bear mutters and he stutters and he wears a big frown.  Bear sighs and he moans and he plops himself down.  You have brought yummy treats” You are so nice to share. But me, I have nothing. My cupboards are bare”

His friends tell him it’s ok and Mouse reminds him he has stories to share.

It’s such a lovely little story about sharing and saying thank you.  The illustrations are beautiful.

Monkey liked the story giving it 7/10, I like the meaning of the story and give it 8/10, could be used to explain sharing and perhaps explain that just because Bear didn’t have anything to give to his friends he had other things he could share with them instead – his stories and good company

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Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

This is a favorite of both mine and Monkeys (I’ve read this story to him since he was 1), it is a simple story and we have a hard back copy.  It’s a story about someone writing to the zoo and asking for a pet it has has flaps with animals hiding behind each one making it an entertaining and educational story for young children and could also be used as an early reader.

I hadn’t realized until writing this review that the story was first published in 1982!

Monkey likes this story as he does the sounds of the animals whilst I read the story and he tells our cats the story if they’re in the vicinity! Monkey gives the story 10/10 – I like this story as it can be used as a way to get a young child to do the sounds/actions of the animals in the story so I give this 9/10 – I just wish it was a little longer as it’s such a sweet little book.

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