Tag Archives: Children’s literature

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

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Apologies for the blurred image Boo was trying to run off with the book see her hand

Somehow this book passed me by the first time I became a parent. I truly don’t know how as it’s a beautiful book.

It was written in 2008 published by Walker Books Ltd the edition we have was published in 2011.

Rosie Rabbit getting ready for bedtime reading

Rosie Rabbit getting ready for bedtime reading

The text has a rhyming repetitive way of taking you through the story of explaining that although babies can be born in various places around the world and although they can each look slightly different they (on the most part) are all the same really as they have ten little fingers and ten little toes.

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Without a very young child knowing about differences around the world it’s a lovely way to introduce this subtly. The book however can grow with the child and could be used as a starting point of discussion suggesting where some of the babies may be from and showing them on a globe for example “there was one little baby born on the ice and another in a tent who was just as nice”.

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Each double spread page has illustrations of two different babies born in different cultures and then the rhyme continues over the page with illustrations of all the babies shown already up to that point with the repetitive rhyme “and both of these babies as everyone knows has ten little fingers and ten little toes”

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Boo who is 20 months loves this book she likes the illustrations of the babies and points to each one saying “baby”. It’s been a lovely way to reinforce where her fingers and toes are as I read it to her I get her to wiggle her fingers and show me her toes.The rhyme is not too energetic so it’s perfect for bedtime.

Our favourite part though which Boo gets excited about is the last few pages and where I do actually kiss her on the nose. The rhyme changes slightly in this part and it focuses on the narrator talking about their own baby;

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“But the next baby born was truly divine, a sweet little child who was mine, all mine. And this little baby as everyone knows, has ten little fingers, ten little toes and three little kisses on the tip of its nose.”

I often change the last bit instead of “tip of its nose” I change it for her I could change it for her name instead although this would change the rhyme perhaps too much.

As I noted earlier Boo likes this book, it has helped her remember which are her fingers and which are her toes and where her nose is and has started pointing them out on her doll too. She likes the illustrations and loves the anticipation of the end and receiving kisses on her nose! I think she would give this 10/10.

I wish I had found this book earlier not just for Boo but for Monkey who was born the year it was published. The book can be used for many starting points of discussion as children grow noticing the different cultures, different landscapes, discussing where in the world they could be from. Explaining all babies are the same no matter where they’re from. It’s a lovely book and would be perfect as a baby shower gift or a gift for a newborn I would therefore give this book 10/10.

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Angelina Ballerina by Katherine Holabird illustrated by Helen Craig

wp-1470895465538.jpgI hadn’t realised the story wasn’t written as recently as I thought having been written in 1983 to many a classic story however I don’t remember having this read to me as a child. The edition we have is a board book published in 2007 by Puffin Books.

The story is about a young mouse called Angelina who wants to be a ballerina however she hasn’t had lessons and she dances all the time when she’s meant to be doing other things such as tidying her room, getting ready for school even dancing around the school yard!

The story continues and I’m sure you can guess what happens, she has ballet lessons and as she has the lessons she doesn’t dance when she’s not meant to be much to the relief of her parents.

I bought this book for Boo for a couple of reasons, after quickly reading the book to myself in the bookshop (love I can do this with young children’s books as they’re not too long) and thought what a lovely story it was.  The illustrations are beautiful and are highly detailed. The cover caught my attention with the little silver hearts and the illustration of a mouse asleep in bed. But the main reason is Boo was given a music box as a present which has a pretty ballerina spinning round and round as the wind up classic music is played she loves it and has tried to copy going round and round many times so thought a book about a ballerina would appeal.

However it doesn’t seem to be the case….yet. I have read the story a few times now to Boo and she’s not very interested. At 20 months I think she’s a little too young for it at the moment as it has a lot of words unlike most of the other stories I’ve read to her recently. The last time I read it to her she got up from sitting on my knee and took the opportunity to play with a full size football of 7 year old Monkey’s while he was out!

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Boo does however like the illustrations which I thought she would as she loves the detailed illustrations in her two Beatrix Potter books.

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At the moment I think Boo would score this 5/10 as she likes the illustrations but the story hasn’t caught her attention yet. I think she will like it more when she’s 2+

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I on the other hand really enjoyed the story. I liked how the story starts with Angelina not having had ballet lessons still practices really hard and also how this can be related to all children who want to busy themselves doing something else instead of what they’re supposed to be doing like tidying their room. I find the illustrations are lovely I have always liked detailed illustrations in children’s books especially reading with an older child where you can ask them to look at the illustrations and point a particular item out. I know this book will grow with Boo and I think I will be asked to read it to her many times repeatedly in the coming years. I will score this 8/10.

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Jemima Puddle Duck by Beatrix Potter

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Probably one of the best known stories written by Beatrix Potter about a duck called Jemima Puddle Duck who wants to find somewhere suitable to lay her eggs but Mr Tod a fox has other plans when supposedly helping her.

The edition we have is dated 2007 published by the Penguin Group. As with the Jeremy Fisher book this is a board book which is a lovely shape to hold.

The original story was first published by Fredrick Warne & Co in July 1908. She wrote the story on her farm which she bought in the Lake District. The characters are based on real people she knew at the farm.

The illustrations are the original Beatrix drew not the newer versions I have seen. I bought this at the same time as Mr Jeremy Fisher on a day trip to the Lake District with Boo when she was about 9 months old. I knew instantly shed like this book as she loves ducks. The illustrations have completely drawn her in and she loves this book more than perhaps some of her other books as she really takes the time to look at the illustrations in detail and has started pointing at Jemima when I ask her where the duck is.

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I would therefore suggest Boo would give this story 10/10 I too would give it the same 10/10 I remember my mam reading this to me one Christmas morning when I received it aged 5/6 I think it was one of the first of Beatrix Potter’s books read to me and I was hooked straight away and remain a fan even as an adult.

On a slightly different note today marks the 150th year since Beatrix Potter was born and strangely today of all days my son and I came across a hedgehog Mrs Tiggy-winkle in the middle of the road shuffling around, which thankfully a kind stranger rescued. If you follow my Instagram feed you may have seen the picture already if not you can find me @ccrainbowflowers

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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.

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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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The Jolly Rogers and the Monster’s Gold by Jonny Duddle

wp-1468389427861.jpgThis is a story about Matilda who has a pirate family for friends. To the pirates she is a ‘landlubber’ someone who stays on dry land but she is best friends with one of the pirates Jim Lad who often sends her notes in bottles whilst he’s out to sea.

One day she finds a treasure map in a bottle she has fished out of the sea but it’s not from her best friend. Matilda does know though that Jim Lad’s family would like to see the map. The pirate family consists of Jim Lad’s mum, dad, Nugget his sister his Grandpa, Bones the dog and Squawk the macaw.

On the treasure map there’s a message “Dear fellow private….Do ye want to be rich?” And so the adventure begins.

I bought this book for Monkey as a little Christmas present, I just seen it one day in a supermarket and as it was about pirates I picked it up to have a look.

I have to admit I stood in the supermarket aisle having a little read of it and was completely drawn into the story straight away. Not only did I find the way it was written intriguing as a lot of it is written the way a pirate may speak but it also has fantastic illustrations all in black and white but they are drawn so brilliantly and have a lot of detail.

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We’d reached a point with me reading a bedtime story to Monkey where he still wanted me to read to him which I am more than happy to do but the picture books were too young for him but most books with chapters were too long or didn’t have many engaging pictures, so when I found this book I knew it would be a good starting point to move onto chapter books as although it’s in chapters they’re not too long for a child to become too bored or the reader to spend all night reading. The text is very clear, the size of the book is perfect and although being 159 pages long it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

The story is by Jonny Duddle who has written a couple more books in this series The Jolly Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon and The Jolly Rogers and the Cave of Doom. This story was first published in 2015 by Templar publishing illustrations by Jonny Duddle.

Well Monkey thoroughly enjoyed this book and was more than happy to go to bed just to have another chapter read to him and I too even got excited about reading to him again and reading a longer story meant I could enjoy the story too and feel like I wasn’t just reading to him for the sake of it.

Monkey without too much hesitation gives this book 10/10 as it’s about pirates, the story is exciting but not scary and the pictures are “really cool”.

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I really enjoyed this book too. It has a believable story, the illustrations are fantastic and it got me enjoying reading again to Monkey. We were both in fact sad when it finished so we went and bought another of Jonny Duddle’s books the next day which I will review in another post. In the meantime I give this book 10/10.

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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.

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Boo's favourite

Boo’s favourite

 

 

 

 

 

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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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George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl

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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.

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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”.

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Scary…

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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That’s not my mermaid by Fiona Watt

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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.

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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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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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