Tag Archives: Puffin Books

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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The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s abc by Eric Carle

An abc book which adults will enjoy to look at too

An abc book which adults will enjoy to look at too

Very few people will not know who the character of Eric Carle’s famous book The Very Hungry Caterpillar is which is a childhood favourite of mine. This book explores the abc with help of the hungry caterpillar and lots of animal friends who I believe can be found in several other Eric Carle books.

The book was first published in 2015 by Puffin Books.

The very first page and last page has the letters of the alphabet set out in the same colours and style as you find throughout the book i.e. the letter ‘a’ is red with what looks like finger painted dots.

Each letter of the alphabet has a separate page on white background making a very good visual impact to all who read the book. Under each letter which are all lowercase letters there is a picture of an animal which starts with that particular letter which is then followed by the word of what the picture is, the first letter written the same colourful way as what the letter is first depicted as.

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The alphabet doesn’t just concentrate on the animals most alphabet books have which as an adult certainly makes it more interesting. Below is the list of animals alphabetically used.

Ants

Bird

Caterpillar

Dog

Eagle

Frog

Gull

Horse

Iguana

Lizard

Mouse

Narwhal

Owl

Penguin

Quetzal

Rhino

Snail

Tiger

Unicom

Vulture

Walrus

Xolo

Yak

Zebra

There are a few in the list I’ve not heard of before which makes it interesting to both the adult reader but also perhaps to an older sibling reading the book to their younger brother/sister.

I've never heard of a narwhal have you?

I’ve never heard of a narwhal have you?

Boo is too young to fully appreciate this book yet and yet she recognises the picture of the Dog and bird the rest of the time she points at pages randomly and I tell her the letter, point to the picture and tell her what he picture is of which she enjoys doing a lot at the moment.

Since Boo is too young to review the book properly I have to go on what she thinks of this book compared to others and I have to say this is slowly becoming a favourite of hers, in fact at the weekend I put it in our bag to take out for the day and she happily looked through this book while I read my son’s comic to him. To make it even better my son when he became bored of the comic looked through this book with Boo it was such a lovely sight to see Monkey age 7 explaining to his baby sister Boo age 19 months what all the letters were and pointing out all the beautiful bright colours, I’m sure sure this will only get better as Boo grows so I think she would give this 9/10 at the moment.

I love this book, so many abc books concentrate on the boring and same suggestions such as b for butterfly and s for snake with usually boring illustrations but each illustration is a true piece of art which I would happily display and not necessarily only in a children’s playroom. On the back of the book there’s a website address for information on Eric Carle’s books, information about him, resources, ideas, lots of interesting information on how the illustrations are made – it’s certainly worth a look I was impressed with the amount of information available there. There is also a link to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art which I would love to visit one day. The website is:
eric-carle.com

I will give this book 10/10 as it will certainly grow with children and can be used for lots of things not just simply learning letters. It could be used to start a conversation, research on the various animals depicted especially the lesser known. The colours of the illustrations can be used for colour recognition. Some children might want to make a story up about the animals to help remember the alphabet. It can also be used as a way to learn how to do collages which is how Eric Carle creates these illustrations. This is just a few ideas I’m sure there are many more, have fun read learn and create.

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James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

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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.

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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).

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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

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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.

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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.

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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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Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

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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!

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

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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”

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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.

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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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