Saturday, 15 September 2012

Potty Training and Picture Books


Most of you who follow here or over at Read, Write, Blog, will know that OJ is POTTY TRAINING!!! Hurrah!

Picture books are are wonderful tool in aiding young children to achieve their developmental milestones. There are picture books on most (if not all) subjects and events that you can think of or what you and your child(ren) will come across.

So, because OJ  has reached this wonderful milestone of leaving soggy nappies behind (mostly|) I thought it would be apt to post the three books OJ has been particularly enjoying at the moment.

"The potty's the place!" The time has come for the Little Princess to learn how to use the potty, as nappies are YUUECH! She doesn't like it to start with , but soon the potty is fun. Sometimes the Little Princess plays tricks on the potty, and sometimes the potty plays tricks on the Little Princess. (Never fails to make me chuckle!)

The story is light hearted and finds that though the Little Princess is very clever at using the potty, accidents will also happen.

The Little Princess stories by Tony Ross are delightful.

Ever wondered where that pair of pants disappeared to? Well, it's down to the work of aliens  - so keep your peepers peeled!

Aliens love underpants as they have none on their own planet and often pop down to earth to pinch your pants from the line, but they soon disappear when mum comes out to fetch the washing in...

A funny and rhyming picture book.

Big pants, small pants, frilly pig pants... So many wonderful pants!

Simple, funny, rhyming text and laugh out loud pictures. A picture book triumph!

And if that wasn't enough, the next book: More Pants is even more hilarious!

We love this picture book so much (it's how you read'em!) so I couldn't resist sharing this YouTube link with you - Enjoy!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Borrowed Book Bounty!

Hallelujah for libraries!

The rate that my son and I go through picture books is staggering... The library is a huge help, we get to change books every week which makes bedtime story telling much more interesting!
I am also encouraging OJ to discover and select information books. I want to teach him that books hold more than stories. He selected two information books this week; on his most favourite subject: Vehicles!

Here is the latest picture book haul, and I don't think there are any here that we have had before. Hopefully there will be reviews to follow.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Jaime Lea and the Bumblebee - Review

Title: Jaime Lea and the Bumble Bee
Author: Adrian Thorpe
Illustrator: Matthew Thorpe
Published: Mathelian Books 2012
Discovered: Won in a giveaway! (Yay!)

*Note: I won this lovely picture book at Pen to Paper, the review is all my own opinion and I was not in anyway influenced to write it.

What's it all about?
Jaime Lea has been in a wheelchair since the age of three. He enjoys playing games and watching TV, but what he loves most, is being in his garden amongst the flowers and the trees. He shows great kindness to a very tired bee, and in doing so, helps it to fly away. A fairy appears and asks Jaime who would he like to be. Jaime responds by explaining that he loves his life and likes being himself. The fairy, moved, grants Jaime a wish; and so Jaime becomes a bumblebee for a day...
I very much loved the ideas and concepts in this story. I liked that there was an element of magic and gentleness to it.

The language is simple and explores the sights and sounds of the garden. The use of rhyme by the author assists in giving the story it's rhythm and allows it to flow from each event to the next.

What stands out for me in particular, is the author 's choice of main character. I like that the author has chosen a child in a wheelchair for this adventure. (I think more books should feature children from all walks of life as the main character more often ) When faced with the opportunity to be someone else and to be free of the wheelchair, Jaime explains that he would only want to be himself. This is such an important message to young children. It's wonderful to discover a book that offers this kind of positive imagery.

There are many other messages within the story, an example of such is when Jaime is a bumblebee and helping the others to collect pollen; he reflects on how it feels good to work hard and help others.

When it comes to the illustrations, I have to honest, I thought computer designed illustrations would be 'blocked' and feel cold (I am rubbish at describing what I actually  mean by this, I guess  I just mean that they would feel 'flat') but the illustrations in this story are carefully layered giving them depth and warmth. They are vibrant and they are also the kind of pictures that you need to look at again and again to discover extra, interesting details. I was delighted that the fairy was hidden on each page as the story progressed (a detail we missed to begin with, but a fun discovery!)

I also liked that the text was surrounded by pretty, blossom images, it was if the reader is looking into the garden.

I personally would love to see this story in schools. (It could be used to support a variety of topics - it gave me plenty of ideas! Creative writing, garden displays, insect topics etc) The positive messages, coupled with the imagery would compliment any story shelf as well as the curriculum; focusing mainly on personal and social development; encouraging children to reflect on what it means to be themselves.

Overall, the story is put together with a lot of care and thought and the pictures that accompany it have just the same attention to detail.

OJ found this story a little difficult to follow. He was somewhat quiet as we shared the story, but this is not to say that I didn't think he wasn't enjoying it. The pictures appeared to engage his interest.
I feel that this book would be better suited to children 4 years and up, but OJ loved finding the insects in the illustrations.

Book worm rating:
out of 5

P.S. A huge thank you to Dani at Pen to Paper for setting up the giveaway; and thank you to Adrian and Matthew Thorpe for getting the book into the post so quickly!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Title: The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster
Author: David Conway
Illustrator: Melanie Williamson
First Published: Hodder Children's Books 2008
This Edition: Hodder Children's Books 2010
Found: Borrowed from library

What's it all about?

Miss Muffet is bored of her nursery rhyme and she has had quite enough of that scary spider that comes to sit down beside her. She decides that what she really needs is a change, so she's off to find another nursery rhyme to be in.
She wanders through the pages of the nursery rhyme book and stumbles across some of the most popular rhymes and characters. But during her search, things go from bad to worse when she manages to upset the dish in the "Hey Diddle Diddle" rhyme and chaos ensues...
I absolutely loved the whole idea! It's light, funny and an entertaining piece to read aloud.
Miss Muffet causes havoc and then returns to own rhyme but then along comes the spider and reminds her just why she wanted to be a different rhyme in the first place!

The pictures are wonderful; bold, bright and done to make you feel that you are following Miss Muffet through the pages of a nursery rhyme book. There are lovely additional details to the pictures that perhaps OJ didn't get, but then a child of around 5-6 years would. On each page there is an animal holding a sign directing the reader to the next page with funny little captions or clues to the next rhyme.

The language in the story is obviously based around the traditional nursery rhymes with Miss Muffet getting herself involved in it, which I thought was well done.

The text itself wasn't plain typed; there was variety in presentation of text. Examples of this include wavy, bold, swirled, varying font styles etc.

I think this book would work very well in reception class on a nursery rhyme topic and would be a engaging resource in encouraging children to use their imagination and creativity. My suggestion would be to encourage children to think of other nursery rhymes to mix up and then maybe produce a display board.

Over all, this was a very interesting book to share.

OJ joined in with the rhymes that he knew and enjoyed telling me that the rhyme wasn't right with Miss Muffet in the middle of it!

"That's not right mum-mum!" - OJ commenting on  Miss Muffet marching with the Grand Old Duke...

Book worm rating:
out of 5

A wonderful addition to any picture book bookshelf!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Toot Toot Beep Beep : Review

Look at all this traffic...
Title: Toot Toot Beep Beep
Author/Illustrator: Emma Garcia
First Published: Boxer Books Ltd 2008
This Edition: Boxer Books Ltd 2009
Found: Borrowed from library

What's it all about?

Look at all this traffic!
There's a lot of it and boy is it noisy!

"The cars go up and down, in and out and round and round all day long"

Each vehicle is in a rush and makes it's own sound. But when the day is done, all is very quiet. Where have all the cars gone?!

It only seems right to review this book as OJ has insisted upon borrowing it three times already. In fact, I am going to get him his own copy... On with the review!

I have to be careful how I word /explain this but this is definitely a book for little boys. This is not to say that little lasses won't enjoy this too; but it really covers some key points when encouraging boys to sit down with a book.
The story is short, snappy and enjoyable. It maintains the attention span of young children. The language is simple yet descriptive, which encourages speech and language development

There are a lot of noisy words to copy and imitate, which encourages a child's participation in the story. It has some repetitive structure; such as: "the *insert vehicle* goes *insert sound*" which also encourages a child's participation as they soon work out how the next line of the story will read.

The illustrations are bold, bright and captivating. They remind me of child-like paintings with big cartoon eyes which gives each vehicle character.

For me; I personally enjoyed sharing this book with OJ. Its fun to read aloud, short enough for bedtime and a pure joy as OJ is so enthusiastic about it.
There is a basic story in amongst the sounds and it is easy for a young child to follow and understand.

I feel that the author demonstrates a great understanding of what works with very young children. I would definitely recommend this for all little ones; especially ones who, like OJ, have a slight obsession with vehicles... 

OJ loves this book. We can spend ages looking at the pictures and he will always ask to read it again.. and again... and again.. and.. you get the picture!
He participates in the story, talking about the colours, sounds and repeating each type of vehicle. He always finds the big green camper van at the beginning of the book. 
The story is also appearing in his play. The other day, he lined up all his vehicles across the living room floor and then declared; "Look at all this traffic!"

"Can we read Toot Toot Beep Beep now mum-mum?"

Book worm rating:
 out of 5 (An early years essential)

Peanut : Review

The illustrations are gorgeous but...
Title: Peanut
Author/Illustrator: David Lucas
First Published: Walker Books Ltd 2008
This Edition: Walker Books Ltd 2009
Found: Borrowed from library

What's it all about?
A flower in a tree opens to reveal a monkey the size of a pea who turns brown like the colour of a nut: Peanut. (Cute)
The world is scary place to a monkey so small and who doesn't understand it. He thinks the insects are monsters that will eat him, when the wind blows he thinks his tree will be blown down and when the sun sets he thinks the whole sky is on fire. So when the night comes, he thinks it's the end...

This story sets out to show that the world is not such a scary place after all, especially when you make a friend... (well; I think this is where this book is going...)

Oh goodness. I truly dislike giving such a low rating to a picture book but this one did not capture the attention of my little book worm assistant at all. I am sorry to report that I couldn't enjoy it either.

The story was just too... loose. As I read it to OJ, I couldn't find a flow or rhythm. There was something missing. I liked the idea at the beginning; a cute little monkey in a flower... but it just didn't go anywhere and seemed pointless and flat, plus I felt the ending was abrupt,

Okay. So that was the painful, negative part to the review but there was a positive:

The illustrations were absolutely gorgeous!

The texture of the pictures looked like canvas. They were so well done. I think this was what drew me to this book as me and the mini bookworm were making our selection at the library It's just a shame that we "didn't get" or fully appreciate the subject of the text.

I was so disheartened that I looked for reviews other people had written, and it's mixed. I think the majority of people liked it, but then the reviews that were not so keen pointed out the same issues as I did.

I think you would have to check this one out for yourself and make you own assessment. Maybe OJ is too young to appreciate the concepts introduced in this book, but for me personally, I am glad this wasn't a purchase. I don't think I would read it again, and OJ wasn't asking for this one at bedtime either.

A real shame as the book itself is absolutely beautiful.

"Can we read Toot Toot Beep Beep now mum-mum?"

Oh dear.... Moving on...

Book worm rating:
out of 5

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Whiffy Wilson (The Wolf Who Wouldn't Wash) - Review

Eeeeuuw! What a stink!
Title: Whiffy Wilson (the wolf who wouldn't wash)
Author: Caryl Hart
Illustrator: Leonie Lord
First Published: Orchard Books 2011
This Edition: Orchard Books 2012
Found: Borrowed from library

What's it all about?

"There was a wolf called Wilson
Who never brushed his hair
He never washed his paws or face
Or changed his underwear."

Basically, this little wolf refuses to take care of his personal hygiene, so he is pretty gross! His mother tells him that he has to take a bath if he is to play outside but Wilson decides to run away.
A little girl named Dotty discovers him in her shed whilst she is looking for her toys, and decides to teach Wilson about personal hygiene and the difference between bad dirt and good dirt...

A fantastic way to tackle the hygiene issue with young children. The verses are very funny and make the story flow easily.

I very much liked the fact that this book wasn't all about keeping clean, that it also touched on how getting messy in play is okay too; so long as the dirt is washed off after!

I was trying to find a way to explain the look of the pictures, and feel that cartoon, simple and "a chunky-pencil-coloured-in" appearance is as close as I can get!
Very child-friendly, bright, engaging and very much suited to the humour of the book.

The characters are lovely. Dotty giving advice is funny; as she drags him  off to sort him out and Wilson has some habits that will make you (and yougsters) think (and probably say out loud!) eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeuuw!

I was very impressed with how the story covered the issue but in a simple and easy to understand way.
I have been trying to tackle some questions about germs from OJ. Whiffy Wilson explains it brilliantly! (Thank goodness!)

I would definitely recommend this book to other parents and those who are in child care settings who need to cover a "taking care of me" topic.
We have been talking about germs and why it is important to wash our hands/keep clean etc but also why it is okay to get messy.

OJ could talk to me about this whilst we were reading.

He enjoyed this book, especially if mummy exaggerated the voice of Dotty!
Book worm rating:
 out of 5! 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Where Is Fred? : Review

Title: Where Is Fred?
Author: Edward Hardy
Illustrator: Ali Pye
Publisher: Egmont 2012
Found: Borrowed from library

What's it all about?
Fred is a lovely, fluffy, white caterpillar and he is excellent at playing hide-and- seek. He chooses all the perfect places for a white caterpillar to hide. It's very tricky to spot him amongst white cotton wool balls or a fluffy white sheep...

And being a juicy caterpillar, it is very important to stay hidden. This would be simple if not for the fact that like most caterpillars, Fred loves to eat shiny, GREEN leaves. Therein lies the problem...

It comes as no surprise that Gerald,a hungry crow, spots Fred and wants him for his lunch.  And so, a hilarious game of hide and seek ensues with Fred finding some great places to hide.. right under the hungry crows nose... Erm... beak...

Will Fred be able to outsmart him? And can Fred remain hidden or will he blow his cover?!

Thank you Mr  Edward Hardy! Where is Fred? will probably be (and remain) our favourite picture book of 2012. It's a must-read!
The story is hilarious. Especially Gerald who obviously gets increasingly frustrated when he can't find Fred...

The story is complemented by Ali Pye's wonderful illustrations. My favourite is how Gerald is introduced to the reader in picture strip form down the side of the page. It's like a movie strip! (I swear you can almost hear the dramatic, tension filled music in the background: dun-dun DUUUUUN!)

The writer's voice in the story encourages participation from the child. "Look at how lovely and fluffy he is. You can stroke him if you like..." It feels as though you being told the story personally.

Gerald is probably the star of the book. "Gerald was not the cleverest of birds" The illustrations give Gerald so much character and portray his suspicions and frustrations in an amusing way.

I would probably make the observation that the language is wonderfully descriptive, though there may be words that a young child will not have come across such as "Despondent" but it is used in context with illustration so it's not off-putting, and can be easily explained. It just jumped out of the page at me as different/interesting language to use in a young children's picture book.
I love all aspects of this picture book. It feels that the writer has really thought about how to tap into a young audiences humour and, has made it a delight for adults to share with children too.
I don't want to spoil the ending, but the way Hardy finishes his tale is delightful and unexpected.

Some of OJ's reactions:
  • He always wants to stroke Fred at the beginning of the book
  • He always joins in with Gerald's catchphrase: "Are you sure?!"
  • When Gerald is sad that he can't find Fred, OJ wants to help him... "I can help Gerald mum-mum..."
  • Thinks it's very funny Fred pretends to be lots of items; especially when he pretends to be a moustache and a scarf...

Book worm rating:
 out of 5! "IT'S A WINNER!"

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Evies Mad Hair Day: Review

Title: Evie's Mad Hair Day
Author/Illustrator: Shane McG
First Published: Templar 2005
This Edition: Templar 2006
Found: Borrowed from library

What's it all about?
Evie has lots to get done in the morning; having a stretch, getting dressed and eating her breakfast. So is it any wonder that she hasn't got time to brush her hair?! She's having a mad hair day. Who cares? Not Evie, she has much more important things to take care of; like boxes that are really cars and brooms that are really horses... She really is too busy brush her hair, that is, until she sees her reflection in the mirror...

I thought this was a lovely story with a great character voice. Very child-like and funny. The illustrations complemented the style of language.
I loved the reasons Evie gave for not brushing her hair and how busy she was in her imaginative play. I also thought it had a good ending with Evie admiting that maybe it was good thing she got round to brushing her hair after all!
It takes a simple, every day snippit of a child's routine and turns it into a a delightful story

OJ could identify with parts of Evie's routine and particularly liked Evie riding in the car!

Book worm rating:
out of 5!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Hugless Douglas : Review

Title: Hugless Dougless
Author/Illustrator: David Melling
First Published: Hodder Children's Books 2010
This Edition: Hodder Children's Books 2010
Found: Borrowed from library

What's it all about?
In a deep, dark cave, a brown bear named Douglas wakes up and decides he needs a hug. So he gets out of his pyjamas, brushes his hair, puts on his scarf and goes in search of one.
He tries everything, but the hugs just don't seem right somehow. He also seems to annoy a lotof the other inhabitants in the process...

It turns out the best kind of hugs are the ones much closer to home in the arms of the person he loves most!

The story is simple, with a lovely message about the best kind of hugs coming from the ones we know and love the most.
The story is full of descriptive/positional language that will develop a young child's understanding and vocabulary. This includes words such as big, heavy, tall, bottom, middle etc.

The story itself is amusing, but what makes it hilarious and a pleasure to read aloud, are the pictures. It kept me giggling. I absolutely love Melling's artwork.
Douglas has so much expression and the situations the pictures portray are quirky and a lot of fun.

For example, Douglas tries to hug a bush that looks cosy, but it runs away! There are legs sticking out of the bottom with lots of pairs of eyes within the leaves. It's Douglas's outstretched arms and dumb-struck expression that makes me giggle. There is also a picture where Douglas has his arm down a rabbit hole, which "He felt something long-eared and rabbity and gave it a tug..."
There is just so much that could be discussed with a youngster in the pages.

Over all, it's a lovely story accompanied by some wonderfully funny illustrations.

OJ really enjoys the story, especially the last page with all the illustrations of various hugs. He  demands that we go through them all at least twice...

Book worm rating:
out of 5!

Scruffy Bear And The Six White Mice : Review

A very quick-thinking bear
Title: Scruffy Bear And The Six White Mice
Author/Illustrator: Chris Wormell
First Published: Jonathan Cape 2011
This Edition: Red Fox 2012
Found: Borrowed from library

What's It All About?!
Scruffy bear does not like the look of the gloomy woods, but when he hears the frightened squeaks of some little animals, he just has to see what the matter is.
He discovers six, frightened mice who fear they will be gobbled up by other creatures in the wood.
Scruffy bear decides to help.

They come across an owl, fox and a snake who are all on the look out for mice. Each time, Scruffy Bear tells the mice to curl up and tuck in their tells to fool the animals. Their is a close shave when one mouse forgets to tuck in their tail, but quick thinking Scruffy Bear finds an explanation.

It's not until the end of the book when the three predators realise that they have been fooled, but is it too late?!

What really does strike you when you read this to your little one, are the beautiful illustrations. The characters are so cute and drawn so well, giving them life and expression.. The scenery really give the characters a home too.

There is a beautiful double page, illustrating the faces of the snake, fox and owl at the point where they stop to realise that they have been fooled and the six white balls were actually mice. It is absolutely fantastic.

I felt the story was rather clever and imaginative. It was simple to follow and really engaged OJ's interest and he really wanted the mice to get away.

I thought it was creative how each time they bumped into an animal, Scruffy Bear had to come up with an explanation for the six white "balls". 

A clever story but kept simple and easy to follow. Children will want to find out what happens to the mice and if they make their escape.

OJ loves the part of the story where the animals realise that they have been tricked and can retell parts of the story especially the following:

"...and then the snake said, moon apples? That's ridiculoussssssssssss!"

Book worm rating:
 out of 5!