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!"