Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Fairytale Hairdresser and Sleeping Beauty by Abie Longstaff, illustrated by Lauren Beard

Hooray! Another Kitty Lacey story. We were watching the post for this one since we'd been promised a copy and Rosie kept asking me everyday when it was going to arrive. But finally it did and we've been enjoying it greatly.
It follows the same format as the other Fairytale Hairdresser books in that Kitty Lacey (the hairdresser) comes across a fairytale character in need of some help and hey presto with a wave of her scissors she fixes the problem - and then it usually ends with a wedding, like all good fairytales.

In Sleeping Beauty the fairy godmothers turn up at Kitty Lacey's shop in need of some cheering up because their beloved princess Rose has been put under a sleeping spell by the wicked fairy. Thankfully Kitty has a handy prince doing some gardening for her who turns out to be Rose's true love. Together they battle their way through the thicket of thorns and put the situation to rights.

There are lots of quirky references to different fairytales and nursery rhyme characters throughout the book and I particularly like how they deal with the wicked fairy (I won't spoil it!). Basically it's fun, funky and fabulous! There are two books before this one: The Fairytale Hairdresser and The Fairytale Hairdresser and Cinderella. What will be next?!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ladybird Classics: The Secret Garden; The Railway Children; The Little Princess; A Tale of Two Cities

I was given six boxes of my childhood books from my parent's attic the other day. Along with most of the Chalet School series (all my hard-earned pocket money went on them!), the Sadler Wells series by Lorna Hill (I'm still a little bit in love with Sebastian!), the Little House on the Prairie series and Swallows and Amazons there was a box with all the Ladybird Classics in. I thought that Rosie might now be at an age where she would enjoy listening to the stories and I was right, we've been working our way through The Secret Garden, The Railway Children, The Little Princess and A Tale of Two Cities.
Unfortunately only a handful of them are still in print but at least some of them still are. You can find them here. Now I know that this series is slightly contentious in that some people think that these classics should never be abridged to this extent and that children should wait until they are older to read the proper versions but I see them with slightly rose-tinted glasses due to reading them all when I was a child and I wanted to share them with my daughter. I know that some of them are cut down to a basic plot but I think they still work and of course when Rosie is older she will probably read the full versions. This is just a taster!
Some of the phrasing and words used are a little too old for her still and of course some of the content is way over her head (French Revolution?!) but she is enjoying them on her own level and we've been reading a little bit of one each night before bed. I think my favourite is still The Little Princess. It's opened up some interesting discussions, we've talked about how Sara is trying to be like the ideal of a princess rather than actually being one, how people used to have tiger skin rugs with the head still attached - this is quite hard to explain! And lots of different things beside this. I guess this is our precursor to chapter books and I think it's a very good stepping stone. That's not to say we've leaving picture books behind. We're having a great Julia Donaldson run at the moment - I may blog about that next!

Unfortunately only Alice in Wonderland, Black Beauty, Gulliver's Travels, Oliver Twist and Treasure Island are still in print but you can see from the picture above all the ones we will be reading!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Pip and Posy - The Little Puddle by Axel Scheffler

We've had the Pip and Posy app on my phone for quite a while now but for some reason we hadn't made it to the books themselves. By the by the app is brilliant - do download it if you can, it's full of puzzles and games.

Pip and Posy - The Little Puddle is a sweet picture book about two friends enjoying playing together and then one of them having a little accident! It's a lovely first picture book to read to children who are just starting to listen to stories. It's a bit young for Rosie really but she likes it. I wish we'd got this book when Rosie was potty training because it brings a great softly softly approach to the whole thing. It tells a very simple story and then leaves the child and adult to discuss what has happened. Of course the illustrations are completely gorgeous (it is Axel Scheffler after all). Rosie loves the fact that when Pip has to change he is a bit perturbed by the choice of dresses to wear but then happily wears one. The only niggle I had was that they end up in the bath (I thought he was just over to play?) but it does make for some very lovely pictures - of course it doesn't bother Rosie in the slightest!

I think we will be getting the rest of the series: The Super Scooter, The Big Balloon and The Snowy Day. And what is also nice is that Rosie's younger sister (just turned one) is becoming very interested in books and it won't be long before she will enjoy sitting and listening to a story and this level of text will be perfect for that.

Monday, 7 October 2013

A First Book of Fairy Tales - Mary Hoffman and Julie Downing

I was given this book at a recent event I spoke at by Sandra - a storyteller. I told her how I liked the Grace stories from Mary Hoffman and she very kindly gave me the book. What I didn't expect was how much Rosie was going to like the book. I know she loves fairytales - she acts out at least one a day, usually putting her own unique twist on it! But this has been our bedtime story book for the last few weeks and there are no signs it's going to flung aside for a while.
What I like is the variety of fairy tales and the fact that the sources are named and that they are true to the original tellings. The stories included are: Cinderella; The Selfish Giant; Rapunzel; Jack and the Beanstalk; Sleeping Beauty; The Little Mermaid; The Frog Prince; Beauty and the Beast; Diamonds and Toads; The Twelve Dancing Princesses; The Fisherman and his Wife; The Princess and the Pea; Rumpelstiltskin and The Snow Queen. Some of these are lesser known tales and it's great to see them in print. The only thing I would say is that because each tale has had to fit into around six pages sometimes the stories are a bit abrupt and jump around without explanation. It doesn't bother Rosie but it does me, a bit!

Our favourite at the moment is The Little Mermaid and it's the true version where the prince doesn't fall in love with her and she takes herself away to be foam (at the last minute being rescued by the spirits of the air). In this disneyfied world I like the fact that Rosie's first introduction to this story (and she should remember it since we've read it about a thousand times) is the proper one. I'm glad that the ending isn't happy and that we know the little mermaid is unhappy at not being loved by the prince. I don't think everything has to be sugar-coated for kids and I know that Rosie has taken this all in her stride and accepts the story for what it is. Sorry about the soap-box! I just become increasingly frustrated by all the pink, pretty and cute!