Tag Archives: Children

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl illustrations by Quentin Blake

wp-1469372593956.jpgFollowing on from my last post about the summer reading challenge and the discovery that this year marks the 100th year since Roald Dahl was born I thought I’d review another of his great books Fantastic Mr Fox.

The edition of the book we have is dated 2016 and was published by Puffin Books however it was first published in 1970 by George Allen and Unwin.

The story is about a fox family and the head of the family is Mr Fox or as Mrs Fox calls him Fantastic Mr Fox. They live on a hill in the wood under a large tree. Below is the valley where 3 farmers live farmer Boggis kept chickens, farmer Bunce kept duck and geese and farmer Bean was a turkey and apple farmer. All 3 were mean and no one liked them.


Mr Fox would go to each of these farms and have the best choice of food from each. However one night the farmers have had enough and wait for Mr Fox to try and shoot him dead. Here begins the story of how crafty Mr Fox and the other animals living in the wood find a way to outsmart the farmers and live in harmony together.

For the older reader the story could be used to examine how foxes are classed as pests for farmers stealing and killing their animals. It could also be used to talk about hunting and there is a great number of descriptive language used which could be useful for students studying this topic.

For the younger child such as 7 year old Monkey it was a great adventure to read what the farmers would try next and to see how Mr Fox would escape.

Monkey enjoyed this story and thought the farmers were “silly”. He rated the book as 7/10 as it wasn’t as funny as other Roald Dahl books.

I remember reading this when I was a child however I was older than Monkey and read it one wet Easter when I was about 9 or 10 therefore at that age I could understand the darker side of the Fox family being hunted and knew that Mr Dahl would have ensured this fox family would come to no harm unlike other foxes. As an adult reading this to Monkey I enjoyed it possibly more than I did as a child and as it had been a while since I had read it I couldn’t remember all of the story. The parts of the story about the farmers trying to plot to kill the family and in particular Mr Fox and the worried fox children in the below page “how will they kill us mummy” I didn’t enjoy but this was only because I know how sensitive Monkey can be thankfully he was enjoying the adventure and the sad parts like this are well balanced with the calmness of Mr Fox and the outlandish ideas the farmers have to capture him. I give this story 8/10.


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My First Words Let’s Get Talking! By Dawn Surety

wp-1467265397643.jpgAs you can probably see from my recent posts Boo is on a huge learning mission and she loves books with photographs in best which she can point to and ask “what’s that” age 19 months she is enquiring daily what everything is which I love and therefore we have a lot of these photograph books.

This book is published by Dorling Kindersley (DK) in 2008 and features an incredible number of photos each one categorised into the following areas;

wp-1467265464905.jpgAll about me – pictures of babies showing various actions, different faces, words with lines pointing out different parts of the body such as hand, nose etc

wp-1467265511721.jpgClothes and shoes – photos of various clothes for boys and girls it doesn’t distinguish whether certain clothes are only for boys/girls unlike a lot of similar books.

wp-1467265548688.jpgAround the house – this category has photos of things found in all houses such as kettle, sofa, table etc

wp-1467265592922.jpgFood and drink – this shows a variety of food not just fruit and vegetables it also shows fairy cakes.

wp-1467265616176.jpgPets – I like how this section shows puppies as well as dog and same with kittens and cat so this can start discussions of who the baby adult animal belongs to. It also includes other animals which are often pets like rabbits and goldfish it even includes pony!

wp-1467265636674.jpgPlaytime – this is Boo’s favourite at the moment it shows various toys, she keeps pointing to the ring tower which I’m currently trying to find something similar and she likes the picture of the teddy bear she points at this and correctly says teddy, aww.

wp-1467265653180.jpgThings that go – this section has many pictures of vehicles if my son had this book at her age this would certainly have been his favourite. It features a picture of a digger, fire engine and train. My only problem with this page is that the lorry is labelled as truck.

wp-1467265667210.jpgAt the park – this features items found in most parks such as bench, tree and even has a photo of a sparrow!

wp-1467265681858.jpgAt the seaside – photos included are deck chair,  seashells and crab.

wp-1467265692860.jpgOn the farm – as you would expect it has the usual animals horse, donkey but again includes photos of adult animals along with their young such as sheep and lamb, goat and kid. It also has photos of non animals such as tractor, wheat and scarecrow.

wp-1467265703562.jpgIn the wild – this section covers animals that most children will only ever see at the zoo such as penguin, lion and giraffe.

wp-1467265718797.jpgColours and shapes – this is a lovely little section to include it shows various colours but not as usual paint swatch type pictures but shows photos of items of a particular colour grouped together such as green is shown as leaves and a green apple. White is a group of white rabbits. Along the bottom of the page there’s shapes in various colours so for an older child you could ask them to match up the pink heart to the pink flowers for instance.

wp-1467265730580.jpgNumbers – this shows numbers 0- 10 with the correct amount of the same pictures with the number such as 7 fish with the number 7 and 9 bananas with the number 9. It also has a photo of 2 child hands so for older children this could be used as a first look at numbers and counting.

Each section is easily found as each section has a tab with a photo which is perfect for young children.

Boo really enjoys this book and I can see how much this will grow with her as her curiosity grows about things in the world. The book could be used to find same/similar objects around the child’s own house for instance as not everyone’s sofa will look like the one in the book as an example.

Given she’s too young to really give a proper rating I have to look how she reacts to similar books, in this case she does enjoy it however she appears to prefer another set of DK books which I’ll write about. I think this book although fantastic value for money and consists of many pictures is perhaps a little too big, heavy and even overwhelming at the moment which is why she seems to prefer the smaller books of a similar nature. On her behalf the rating would be 7/10 however in time I am sure this will change.

As I have mentioned before it really does have a fantastic number of photos, showing various objects/animals/babies displayed in an easy to understand format with lovely clear photos. It is a book which I can see grow with her and provide many future starting points of conversion and therefore I give this book 10/10.

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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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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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The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson & illustrated by Axel Scheffler


The story is about a giant called George who always wears the same pair of brown sandals and the same patched up gown.  One day he notices a new shop and so he buys himself a new shirt, a smart pair of trousers, a smart belt, a smart stripy tie, some socks with diamonds up the side and some shiny shoes.

On his way home though he meets lots of animals who are all upset for one reason or another such as the giraffe who has a cold neck he gives his tie and the giraffe uses this as a scarf, a goat whose sail on his boat blew away – George gives him his shirt – and this continues throughout the story until – well the smartest giant in town with his new clothes is no more as he’s given all his new clothes away.

The story has a lovely rhyme and an equally impressive story almost like an Asop fable in that the story revolves around giving to those in need and you will then be rewarded as George is at the end of the story and throughout he is happy that he is helping those around him who had previously been upset before his help.

Another fantastic book by Julia Donaldson and the illustrations by Axel Scheffler beautifully accompany the story so that a young child who can’t read is able to read the story by looking at the pictures.

This is certainly another favorite in our home, and I’m unsure how many time’s I have read this story to Monkey .  I would rate this 10/10.  Monkey loves this story and says the best bit is the giraffe – as he thinks it’s funny that he’s using a tie as a scarf!

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Read, Give, and Share with We Give Books!

Read, Give, and Share with We Give Books!

I just found an amazing free resource and I wanted to pass it on to all of you.

We Give Books is a free online library of children’s books that enables your kids to help other children around the world while they’re reading. The best part is, your reading will directly impact the great work of non-profit organizations around the world! Their tagline says it all, “combining the joy of reading with the power of giving.” It’s the perfect tool for parents, teachers, caregivers, and anyone who loves children’s books!

When you go to http://www.wegivebooks.org, you’ll be able to read a special selection of books without a We Give Books account, but you have to sign up to access their full library. It’s definitely worth it, though. It’s just a quick form, and once you’re signed up, you’ll have access to over 150 quality children’s books! There are a lot of familiar classic titles, and even more new ones for us to discover. You can sort the books by age level, genre, author, and seasonal selections in the “Featured” section, so everyone can find something they like.

On the Causes page you can learn more about where your donated books are going. This fall, We Give Books is focusing on early childhood literacy across the United States and supporting great causes like Jumpstart for young children. In the winter, you’ll be able to read to support global literacy and give books to non-profits like Room to Read. They also give you the option to donate to help your book donations reach even more children.

We Give Books is a program of the Pearson Foundation and Penguin Group. Penguin works with its authors to provide an outstanding selection of online books while the Pearson Foundation donates print books to charity partners. We Give Books is a great way to get your children excited about reading and to teach them about the importance of helping others.

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Romp in the Swamp by Ian Whybrow & Adrian Reynolds

This is one of the books in the Harry and his Bucketful of Dinosaurs series of books my son loves.

I feel like I know this story word for word off by heart as I’ve read it so many times.

If you’re not familiar with this series of books it’s about a little boy who has lots of dinosaurs which he takes everywhere with him in a blue bucket.  They don’t have names like Fred or Simon – no they use the proper dinosaur name which is a good way to teach children although I struggle to say their names!

This story revolves around Harry staying at a friends house whilst his nan and mum take his older sister Sam to see her new school.  He doesn’t really want to go and neither do the dinosaurs “Don’t let Charlie play with us Harry,” said Apatosaurus “she might do bending on our legs” said Anchisaurus”.

Harry is very apprehensive about going to play at Charlies house so they both sit on opposite sides of the sofa not speaking, then Charlie has an idea and runs off to find a washing basket which she puts her dumper truck and tractor in, she puts cushions and cardboard and pans, plants and string. Harry and the dinosaurs follow Sam out to the garden where she has created a swamp and they have lots of fun together.

This story as with the rest in this series are very imaginative and takes you on an adventure with Harry and his dinosaurs.

Monkey loves this book so much that it goes most places, he first had it read to him at nursery and we didn’t understand what he meant by him saying he wanted swamp and he loved the swamp – it wasn’t until we were at a parents evening at the nursery that we put two and two together when we saw the book in the classroom!

I would highly recommend this series of books and I think this is the best one out of the series of books we currently own (we have a few) – so you’ll probably see some more posts re this series.  I would rate this 10/10 and I know Monkey would say the same.  The set of books we have comes with a CD and so we have the talking book version of this also.  In addition to the books we stumbled across a DVD set of Harry and his Dinosaurs so you can imagine some days our home is wall to wall Harry!

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The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This book is certainly a tongue twister of a read.

It’s about a snail who wants to go on big adventure into the big wide world – but how to do this when you’re clinging onto a “rock as black as soot” – you hitch a ride on the back of a hump-back whale of course!

They explore the sea, icebergs, far off places with mountains and golden sands, explore caves, experience different weather conditions being sunny and warm and sometimes thunderstorms.  The whale gets beached on some sand and it is up to the snail to find a way to get help.  I won’t spoil the end of this as I really wasn’t expecting it – it’s a happy ending though.

My son says he “loves this story” – think he just likes the fact that as it is a bit of a tongue twister in places I struggle to be able to say some of the lines first time correctly which makes him giggle!

I give this story 8/10 – I would give it more but I really do struggle to read it sometimes!

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Maisey Goes on Holiday by Lucy Collins

I have to admit we don’t usually get Maisey books from the library as they seem too young for my son (even though on the back of this one it is actually aimed at children aged 3+) and he is 4 1/2.

The story is a simple story about Maisey going on holiday, starting with taking the train, arriving at the hotel, going to the beach and writing postcards.

As previously noted above we don’t usually get Maisey books out but we got this a couple of days before we went on our first family holiday so it was useful to explain what a holiday is and what you might see and do on holiday such as build sand castles (and we were actually going on a train for part of the journey so that was a useful part of this story for us).

Monkey was only interested in the part about the train as he loves trains, I feel the story was a little bit too young for him with very little detail and would be better used as a first reader book for him.

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Danny’s Adventure Bus by Lucy Marcovitch & Illustrated by Paul Cemmick

I don’t know how many times we’ve got this book out of the library – I’ve lost count!  It is certainly one of those stories that delights my little boy when he see’s it to the point where I may have to try and purchase it!

It’s a story about a little boy and his mum who are on a bus, which gets stuck in a traffic jam (doesn’t sound interesting to begin with I know) – you know that feeling when you’re going at a snails pace stuck behind several hundred cars, vans, lorries etc well this little boy in the story – Danny doesn’t like traffic jams either and pulls out his special drivers hat and declares “jam jumping is my specialty”.  He takes them on an imaginative bus ride away from the traffic jam but instead getting stuck in various other jams – such as the camel jam, elephant jam, goat jam and under the sea.

Every time they get stuck in another jam Danny declares “jam jumping is my specialty”.

My favorite bit is when they do a u turn around a coral reef and Monkey likes the camel jam and finds this bit very funny!

It is very imaginative, the illustrations capture the story perfectly but I’m always left wondering were they asleep and just having a lovely dream or did it happen????

Danny's Adventure Bus

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