Tag Archives: Children’s Books

Fiction Fridays #32: My Daddy

FF#32
My Daddy: Curtis Jobling (2004)

Sophie and Sue and Molly (that’s me), we like to go to the park.

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It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, so a book about dads is essential. And a book about little girls and their daddy even more so in this household.

Molly and Sophie and Sue like to go to the park. Sophie and Sue talk and talk making up bigger and bigger fibs to impress each other, while Molly just listens. But in the end, Molly’s truth seems more outlandish than Sophie and Sue’s one-up-manship because her daddy really is the best in the universe.

Curtis Jobling is well known for being the designer of Bob the Builder, Raa Raa the Noisy Lion and Frankenstein’s Cat. He’s now also the author of a series of were novels (which I really must read!) but amongst all that, he also found time to produce some lovely picture books.

My Daddy is a lovely book celebrating the hero-worship small children have for their daddies. The pastel-looking art is just strokeable and the images alternate between the reality of playing in the park to the girls’ imaginations: “My daddy got bored with taming sharks,” says Sophie. “Now he tames DINOSAURS…”

Cute, funny and silly, this is a great book for little ones (girls or boys) to share with daddy (or to talk about daddy…) We love it.

Books, Books, Books

I may have mentioned my minor addiction to books… I’ve tried cataloguing them several times, but get lost and bored of writing them down! Now I’m starting to review regularly, I’m making yet another attempt to list every (children’s) book we have on our shelves, starting with picture books. There are a lot. It really is an addition. Oops…

I’m probably about a quarter of the way through. Or 20% ish. It’s hard to tell 😆

Go have a nose at the page called Too Many Books? Books are mainly included on a page by both author and illustrator. Each author/illustrator page also has links to any online presence for the author/illustrator or their characters that I’ve managed to find.

I’m open to any additions for websites I’ve missed, and any other author/illustrator blogs not listed there or on the Book Blogs page. In due course, there should be a page for every author/illustrator on the Book Blogs page (and many more besides!)

Fiction Fridays #31: Ouch I Need A Plaster

FF#31
Ouch I Need A Plaster: Nick Sharratt (2009)

Ness the nurse has a nice, kind face.

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This book came in one of the Bookstart packs, MG’s toddler pack, and although it’s a board book I can’t bear to ‘retire’ it as MG loved it so much. I have already mentioned that MG has always (and still does) taken a liking to Nick Sharratt’s art. It’s one of the reasons she’s loved the Tracy Beaker TV shows for so long, as she didn’t understand most of it when she first discovered it (and probably still doesn’t…) but she loves the animated parts!

Ouch I Need a Plaster goes through a variety of children as they each get a plaster from Ness the Nurse for various scrapes and bumps, while at the top of each page the plasters are shown in a line disappearing as each one is used. For some reason “one, two, three for poor old Lee” has always been a favourite part!

The rhyming text and colourful pictures make this a perfect book for toddlers and it also subtly introduces counting backwards from ten as each plaster is used. But don’t despair, Ness has kept one last plaster just in case you need it.

A perfect gem of a book, especially for when toddlers get the inevitable bumps and scrapes that they pick up on an hourly basis… I think everyone in the Chaos house can recite this one from start to finish and it’s not been grown out of quite yet 🙂

It looks like you can only get this book pre-loved, and only in board format, but I still recommend trying to get a copy if possible if you have babies or young toddlers.

Fiction Fridays #30: The Pirate Cruncher

FF#30
The Pirate Cruncher: Jonny Duddle (2009)

My dear fellow pirate, Do ye want to be RICH?

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I was going to review The Pirates Next Door, also by Jonny Duddle but then I read The Pirate Cruncher and just had to review that first. Because I read The Pirates Next Door first, I thought The Pirate Cruncher would be about the same characters so the whole book was a lovely surprise. The Pirates Next Door deserves its own review as it’s also a wonderful book but I have totally fallen for The Pirate Cruncher and DG likes it best too so we’re doing that one first.

Jonny Duddle’s art is breathtakingly gorgeous. Forget picture book, this works as a (very short) graphic novel too and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to adults (in fact, I have: “You must read this!” I say, thrusting the book into unsuspecting hands…)

The first time I read this book, I didn’t concentrate fully as I was reading it to myself late at night so I was caught by surprise about a fact that now seems glaringly obvious. However, it is so subtly portrayed in the images that I shan’t mention what because it was lovely to go back and re-read with a different view the second (and third, and fourth, and many more…) time(s)!

MG loves pointing out all the little hints in the pictures to me: Is that a wave…? DG of course loves the book because it’s pirates and has a monster 🙂 There is a lovely large flap page where you get to see the Cruncher hidden under the water. Today MG was studying it and said “He’s a really good drawer, isn’t he?” She’s clever is that girl (of course I’m biased!)

The only slight negative (and it is very slight) is that because I read The Pirates Next Door first, I was expecting rhyming text but The Pirate Cruncher changes between rhyme and prose, mainly the fiddler sings in rhyme but some of the rest of the prose is rhyme too which confuses me slightly (I’m easily confused). It doesn’t bother the children and is probably just due to the slightly odd way my brain works!

Hilariously funny as well as beautiful, this is a book to be read again and again, and to pore over the pictures spotting all the little details that you missed the other times you read it. I utterly recommend it for all children who like their pirates or monsters, or just some fabulous artwork.

And if you want to read a review of The Pirates Next Door right now, there’s a lovely one at The Book Sniffer plus an unmissable interview with Jonny Duddle. There’s also a review, social commentary and great ideas for pirate activities over at Playing By The Book (this is a must read, off you go now!)

The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers

As I said in my Fiction Fridays post for Stuck, we’re fairly new to Oliver Jeffers in the Chaos household. But his work is very easy to fall in love with so we’re already fans!

The New Jumper is the first in a planned four book series about The Hueys, egg-shaped characters who are ‘all the same’. This story follows Rupert, a Huey who does something different. It’s a story about individuality, and a good book to approach philosophy for children, posing interesting questions about what’s different or the same:

The pencil sketch style encourages children to have a go, and the use of occasional colour pages highlights the Hueys nicely. There is a surprisingly large amount of character and detail in the minimalist art and the book really is a joy to read over again. MG and DG think it’s good fun, MG calls it “the egg book” and loves that she can make her own Huey online too.

Because The Hueys is having a big launch, there are fun things online to play with. You can make your own Huey, here’s MG’s:

… and here’s mine:

Yesterday there was a PDF of Huey’s activity sheets to download from here, but I can’t get it work today so finger’s crossed it will because there was a Huey to colour in, to cut out, spot the difference and a maze.

The trailer for the book:

You can also download sample pages from Oliver’s books from LoveReading4Kids (registration needed).

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The New Jumper by HarperCollins for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Fiction Fridays #29: Stuck

FF#29
Stuck: Oliver Jeffers (2011)

IT ALL BEGAN when Floyd got his kite stuck in A TREE.

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Stuck isn’t the first Oliver Jeffers book we read, but it was the first one to be given proper attention as the other was borrowed from the library and ignored in favour of others borrowed that time so not fully appreciated. We got Stuck at the end of last year, and have been building up a small collection of his books since.

It seems everyone knows far more about Oliver Jeffers than I do so I’m probably ‘preaching to the converted’ but this is such a wonderful book. It is from the completely surreal stock of picture books which children either happily take for granted or laugh along at the absurdity.

In Stuck, a boy called Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree and tries to get it back by throwing a series of larger and more improbable objects into the tree to dislodge it. One of my favourite lines is: “A lighthouse to knock down the house no longer across the street…” It’s hugely imaginative, hilariously funny and ends with a quote from The Italian Job (1969). What more could you possibly want from a picture book?!

Here is a video of Oliver reading Stuck:

Fiction Fridays #28: Meg’s Eggs

FF#28
Meg’s Eggs: Helen Nicoll & Jan Pienkowski (1972)

It was suppertime, so Meg got out her cauldron.

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Meg and Mog is a book I loved from my childhood, and one I included in my Six Books posts. But the others in the series are also fantastic. I love Jan Pienkowski‘s art, and MG honed in on him as a favourite artist from a young age (along with Nick Sharratt and Lucy Cousins).

MG at 5 months old, with Meg’s Eggs

Meg’s Eggs is a favourite of both MG and DG, and has been for a long time. We used to have a board book version but it was loved into bits 😉 No wonder this one is a favourite, it has dinosaurs!

Meg makes a spell to get eggs for supper but the eggs are too big and they can’t open them, but then… There is one small thing that annoys me about this book: at the end Meg uses bacon and eggs to make a spell to save them from the dinosaurs, but if she already had bacon and eggs why didn’t they have that for supper?! 😆

A lovely book, another essential along with the original Meg and Mog. We have nine of the stories plus two ladybird books with stories from the animated series and all are well loved. The animated series is well worth getting too: five minute episodes so they’re good pre-bedtime treats (who am I kidding, my two sit and watch the entire DVD…) or to get five minutes peace. Made by Absolutely in 2004 the series is available on two DVDs for around £3 each, a complete bargain.

I’ve just realised that there are seven out of print Jan Pienkowski books available to read online here, including Owl at the Vet. The Jan Pienkowski books we own probably deserve a blog to themselves one day… 😉

Other Worlds at The Story Museum

The Story Museum centre opens in Oxford in 2014 but before then they’ve starting putting on events in the building. Other Worlds is open for the whole of May and is a series of art installations in rooms in what was the post office and telephone exchange. It is somewhere that needs at least a couple of hours of exploring, which I certainly didn’t get with a 3 and 5 year old but here are the highlights of our little exploration.

We visited on Sunday 13th May in the morning because I knew Korky Paul would be there for a workshop. He will also be there Sat 19th May in the afternoon and Sun 20th May in the morning (check with The Story Museum for times).

Firstly, all the staff were absolutely wonderful. They greeted everyone enthusiastically, spent time chatting with the children and were completely approachable to talk to. They made the whole visit a delight (even with slightly clingy small children!) MG spent most of the time saying “can we go now?” until we left when she said “when are we going back?” Typical five year old?! DG explored, she likes exploring. We missed out at least half of the exhibits.

MG’s favourite was the Word Storm. We didn’t go in properly and read the walls but the room with its thunder and lightning was intriguing enough and the peephole in the wall to look through was great for the children.

The second favourite was A Crafty Fag, although I have no idea what was going on because I didn’t get to look for more than five seconds! But the girls climbed the ladder and looked through a periscope to see a video which seemed very curious. I think the ladder was of more interest to my children though!

Both of these were on the first floor, we didn’t go in any rooms on the ground floor but the main entrance had audio and paintings so you walk straight in to the experience. The portaloos (very important when you have small children, we had several visits!) were behind some bean poles with tags that looked interesting and I loved the notice in the courtyard about smoking!

The second floor housed Korky Paul’s PlessieOsaurus and the workshop, where the children were free to draw and paint an underwater scene on the walls and floor with Korky drawing outlines of Plessie and fish for everyone (not just the children) to colour plus giving impromptu advice on how to draw fish, how to make the paint more watery to look underwater etc. He spent the entire time engaging with the children and if I wasn’t totally shy I would have said hello as it was a very informal and intimate workshop. I think there were about 20-30 people there so it wasn’t overcrowded. There was a bit of drama when the Plessie fell over when the staff tried to move it to make space but no one (including Plessie) was hurt.

DG, being DG, happily painted the walls, looking for me when she wanted to change colours and when she wanted to stop. MG, being MG, clung to me at all times and didn’t do any drawing at all (which is a shame, because it is her favourite occupation usually). So MG and I kept out of the way and looked at the other exhibits in the huge room that we were in while DG happily painted, looking out for me on the odd occasion (I kept an eye on her at all times, in case she got stressed.)

There were tables with books spread around (which of course I couldn’t resist) and posters, postcards etc to support the museum. I bought a small handful 😉 It was a lovely trip and although the girls had their ‘bored’ moments while we were there, we did stay for about an hour and a half and they said they really enjoyed it afterwards and wanted to go again.

This review is a tiny taster of what Other Worlds has to offer, it really deserves a longer visit. Other Worlds is open until 27 May on Thursdays to Sundays (see website for details) and costs £3 per person, children under 2 are free.

Elves and Fairies

Zoe from Playing by the Book is starting a new monthly series called “I’m looking for a book about…”, the first theme of which is Elves and Fairies. I love children’s books, I love reviewing books, I read lots of fantasy therefore this should be an easy one for me to join in. Right?

My bookshelves are packed with books filled with creatures from the realm of Faerie – from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld (especially the Tiffany Aching stories) to Neil Gaiman (e.g. Sandman and The Books of Magic) to the fairies in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels to classics like Lord of the Rings, Kipling’s Puck of Pook Hill and humour like Brian Froud’s Lady Cottingham’s Pressed Fairy Book… I’m more a lover of humourous fantasy and twists on tradition, rather than extraordinarily long series on the whole.

But they’re my books, there seems to be a dearth of fairies on my children’s bookshelves. Fairy tales we have a-plenty, but they don’t seem to have a lot of actual fairies and elves in them… I shall therefore be reading with much interest about the books suggested for this month’s theme. With much twisting on the theme I have the following to offer:

The Tough Princess – it does have fairies in at least!

The Tale of Jack Frost – I’ve always thought of Jack Frost as a sprite, which I think is a type of fairy, and he does get wings at the end of the book… There are also Goblins, and David Melling’s Goblins seem to me to be distant cousins of your bog-standard fairy type.

A Goblins review may be up in time for Monday’s Elves and Fairies carnival (I did say I was twisting the theme!) but until then, here are my fairy daughters 🙂

Six Months of Fiction Fridays

On 11th November 2011, my big sister turned 42; I failed my eighth practical driving test and I re-found a passion for picture books… It was week one of Fiction Fridays from @homedad and despite several late postings I’ve kept it up. Six months, 27 books…

Here are five favourites (although really they’re ALL favourites!)
The Bear With Sticky Paws
Ernest
The Ghost Library
The Tough Princess
You Can’t Eat A Princess!

In order of year of publication, the twenty-seven books I’ve chosen are:
Don’t Forget the Bacon! – Pat Hutchins (1976)
What-a-Mess – Frank Muir & Joseph Wright (1977)
Badger’s Parting Gifts – Susan Varley (1984)
The Tough Princess – Martin Waddell & Patrick Benson (1986)
Winnie the Witch – Valerie Thomas & Korky Paul (1987)
Dirty Bertie – David Roberts (2002)
The Wolves in the Walls – Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean (2003)
Jack Frost – David Melling (2003)
The Ghost Library – David Melling (2004)
Just Like My Mum – David Melling (2004)
The Ravenous Beast – Niamh Sharkey (2004)
Mixed Up Fairy Tales – Hilary Robinson & Nick Sharratt (2004)
Uncle Alonso’s Beard – Emma King-Farlow & Anna Laura Cantone (2006)
Two by Two and a half – David Melling (2007)
The Bear With Sticky Paws – Clara Vulliamy (2007)
Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure – Kristina Stephenson (2007)
There are Cats in this Book – Viviane Schwarz (2008)
Shark in the Dark – Nick Sharratt (2009)
The Pencil – Allan Ahlberg & Bruce Ingman (2009)
Ernest – Catherine Rayner (2009)
You Can’t Eat a Princess! – Gillian Rogerson & Sarah McIntyre (2010)
Press Here – Hervé Tullet (2011)
The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man – Michael Chabon & Jake Parker (2011)
Muffin and the Expedition – Clara Vulliamy (2011)
Whiffy Wilson – Caryl Hart & Leonie Lord (2011)
Welcome to Alien School – Caryl Hart & Ed Eaves (2012)
Ella – Alex T Smith (2012)

All these books, and other fiction fridays entries can be found on the Fiction Fridays Pinterest Board – currently at over 130 books and counting…

Here’s to the next six months!