Monday, 28 November 2011

Can You See Sassoon? by Sam Usher

This a lovely book that uses the same device as the Where's Wally books. Sassoon is a stripy snake who is hiding on each page. It has funny rhyming text and great detail in the artwork. Rosie calls Sassoon 'Bassoon' and takes great delight in finding him on each page. What she particularly likes is reading it with someone who hasn't read it before so she can show how clever she is by finding Sassoon before them!

The lovely details in the artwork make it a joy to read again (and again and again!) with the washing line animal underpants being a particular favourite of ours as well as the disgusting picnic - ham with custard? Although I actually think Rosie would like to try that, she looks quite thoughtful when I read it!

It ends with a whole page flap to reveal Sassoon in his full glory, perfect! This title has been nominated for the Kate Greenaway award 2012. We wish it luck and hope it makes it to the shortlist!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

I like peas by Lorena Siminovich

This book caught my attention the other week on a website and I decided that I had to have it. I am a big fan of vegetables and the carrot on the cover was bound to be a winner with me but what I really love about this book is the clever simplicity. It uses vegetables to talk about opposites, showing a cross-section of the carrots growing so you see above and below the ground.

The design and artwork on this series is lovely and I'm guessing it's aiming right at the heart of the grow your own, organic brigade. Well I'm not particularly from that ilk, more of a haphazard gardener who buys organic if it's on offer type of person, but I still love it. I might even have to buy the rest of the series!

Of course it's aimed at young babies but Rosie still seems to enjoy it. Although she will tend to pick it up and look at it on her own rather than bring it to me to read and it doesn't hold her attention for ages so I wouldn't really recommend buying it for a child above eighteen months/two years old.

The sturdy format and the nice big touch feel areas make it perfect for a younger baby to explore, tactiles can really help sensory development. This was really brought home to me when I noticed Rosie at around nine months touching different textures to see how they felt and experimenting with the rough, smooth and furry feel of them. It's so exciting when you can see a child learning and experimenting in front of you!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Mr Gumpy's Outing by John Burningham

This is just a beautiful picture book. The artwork is sublime and the story is lovely. Ah! enough said, I'm done!

Ok then for anyone who hasn't read it before, it's an oldie but that's part of the charm and the simple story and illustrations are timeless. Mr Gumpy lives in a house by a river and one morning decides to go on his boat, he gathers up many friends on his way and they all set off together. The culmination of the boat tipping over is beautifully set up and it's one of those books where the text and illustrations work seamlessly together to provide a great reading experience.

It's perfect from around 18 months/ 2 years and upwards. Rosie loves it and it's a book that she frequently requests, we tend to make the animal noises as we go through it - just because it's funny and my goat impressions are something pretty special.

If you're a big fan of John Burningham's artwork it might interest you to know that there's currently an exhibition of his work at the Fleming Gallery in London.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Egg Drop by Mini Grey

We love a Mini Grey book in our house, in fact Biscuit Bear is actually our favourite and I'm going to do a post on that soon. We're just waiting to make our own biscuit bears to photograph for the blog and then we'll be away!

Anyway Egg Drop! It's a cautionary tale of an egg who wanted to fly and thought that the simplest way would be to get up really high and jump. You can imagine the outcome. SPLAT!

Rosie adores this book, she calls it 'the Chicken one' and shakes her head at the egg when I read about its dream of flying. 'No egg, no!' There's nothing a toddler likes than being cleverer than someone or able to tell someone how to do something so I guess that's part of the satisfaction for her.

Then she really likes to discuss in depth why the egg shell can't be mended by chewing gum, nails and screws, string, sewing, plasters, sellotape or tomato soup (her personal favourite). And she's fascinated by the endpapers with the chicks hatching. I think we'll be taking a visit to a farm to watch an incubator next Spring!

It's a lovely book, quirky, fun, short text (good for 18 months plus I'd say) and incredible illustrations.

Monday, 14 November 2011

A child's first library

I recently had some lovely news that my friend in Birmingham had given birth to a little baby girl. So when it came round to getting them a present I went as usual to the shops to buy some clothes. I'm not sure why but this seems to be my default present for a little one. And then I stopped and thought, actually why not give the baby a selection of books that will be suitable for the first year and beyond? And so this is what I bought:

First up for those developing eyes and to help stimulate the senses I bought the Ladybird First Focus Cot book. Perfect to use in the pram as well. It's really good fun to use this book with a newborn since you can really see them getting excited by it!

Next I bought the Baby Touch Rhyme book - also from Ladybird. This can be used from around three months and with some lovely classic rhymes it's a great one to use with young babies. Nursery rhymes can really help with speech development since the lilting rhythm and the babbling nature of them are perfect for those little ears.

Then I also bought Where's Spot by Eric Hill, I know I've already written about this book but it's just great and should definitely be part of any first library!

And finally Each Peach Pear Plum, possibly my favourite children's book ever. It's the combination of brilliant text, lovely illustrations and the melding together of nursery rhymes and fairy tales in the cleverest way possible, it's practically perfect! But I shall be doing a blog post on it later so I won't go on too much.

So there you go. They're probably not what everyone would send and maybe a little safe and traditional but they are what I decided on. I hope the recipients like them!

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Gruffalo Magnet Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

This might seem a bit strange, posting a blog about The Gruffalo Magnet book rather than the actual storybook. It's partly because it has seemed to be the most popular storybook in the UK for the past years so I don't think there is any need for me to tell you how good it is! But it's also because Rosie really loves the magnet book.

Now before I continue I am aware that it has an age warning on the back about not being suitable for under 36 months. This is due to the small magnets that they're worried children might swallow. But Rosie uses this book with me and when I am in the room with her. It's the same thing with sticker books, they all have age warnings on but we use them all the time, not necessarily putting the stickers where they should go, but she just loves using them and has done for the last eight months.

The Gruffalo Magnet book has just eight pages and several activities, including a noughts and crosses style game, a quiz and a 'make your own' monster activity as well as several scenes where the child can add various characters and different insects, animals and foliage. The scenes are the bits that Rosie loves since she can move the Gruffalo around and the mouse and I guess it kind of comes alive for her. All I know is that she can sit with it for a good ten minutes totally absorbed! You also get a mini Gruffalo book in the front of the case perfect if you don't have it already or want a handy handbag sized one. Ok, changing-bag sized, not everyone carries kids books around in their handbags!

It makes you realise how good Axel Scheffler's artwork is and the detail he puts in. Julia Donaldson's lovely text is also echoed throughout with key phrases on each page. All in all it's really good fun! Another lovely Gruffalo related thing is the film, it's got an all-star cast and is just brilliant, although a tiny bit scary for little ones. Rosie cried during the tense moments of the mouse nearly being eaten the first time she saw it but now begs to see it again!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

Another classic picture book for this post. I can remember The Tiger Who Came to Tea from my childhood (and it was a while ago!).

It's one of the longest picture book texts that Rosie first managed to sit through and I think that's partly due to the imagination of the story and the familiarity of the setting. Rosie loves to serve tea and cake (yes I am training her to be my maid) although we don't generally have afternoon tea.

You probably know the story but I'll briefly recap. A mum and her daughter are having tea together when the doorbell rings and a tiger appears. He eats them out of house and home and drinks everything, even all the water out of the taps. I think it's that detail that is one of my favourite things, it captures perfectly a child's logic and imagination.

Then daddy comes home from work and takes them out for sausages and chips at the local cafe. Sophie is in her nightie and wellies - and has been envied by many children ever since! The next day they buy a big tin of tiger food but the tiger never comes back.

Judith Kerr is a really interesting author and I wish I'd got the chance to go to her talk at the Word Up festival in London the other week. Of course she's author of the Mog books too and I'm sure we'll be visiting them soon enough!

There's even a stage show of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and lots of resources online for teachers and extra activities to do with the book. It's a book that I think will grow with us since it works on many levels.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Where's Spot by Eric Hill

This is a recapping post because Where's Spot was for a long time our 'let's establish a bedtime routine book'. It has the right amount of narrative and novelty for a young baby to keep entertained and interested.

We read it every night before putting Rosie to bed from when she was around 6 months. At first we read my silver anniversary edition which is signed 'To Ruth from Eric Hill' but then the little blighter started to pull at the flaps. So we ordered a board book version and she pulled the flaps off that.

There's a lot that's clever about this book, it's a game of hide and seek - all children can relate to that. It has flaps to find the various characters. The text reads well and the little asides from the animals are fun to do in silly voices.

Once she was more interested in different books and could understand stories more we started to read other books as well but since we've read Where's Spot so many times it feels very special. It was the beginning of our reading adventures in a way!