Tag Archives: Reading

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.

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!)

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… 😉

Fiction Fridays #27: Whiffy Wilson


FF#27
Whiffy Wilson: Caryl Hart & Leonie Lord (2011)

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

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Rhyming books are lovely to read aloud, the rhythm carries the story along and they’re easier to memorise (I remember reciting the whole of the Gruffalo to MG to calm her on a trip out when she was younger, although I can’t any more!) I also like that it gives children the chance to guess the next word by working out the rhyme. Whiffy Wilson has a fantastic example of the word you’re *supposed* to guess being replaced by a non-rhyming word which makes me giggle (although my girls haven’t quite ‘got’ that idea yet but I’m sure the eldest will soon…)

Sadly there are several children’s books written in rhyme that just don’t scan and use words to force the plot that don’t rhyme, or make sense. I once said that I prefered prose books because a bad rhyme can be so awful but a good rhyme is perfect. Whiffy Wilson is on the perfect side.

Wilson is a wolf who doesn’t like to wash, but through the intervention of his good friend Dotty he learns that washing is good. As a parent I love the fact that the book distinguishes between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ dirt. I do want my children to have fun, to splash in puddles, to play with mud, to climb trees, to get dirty because they were exploring and adventuring… So I love that there is a distinction made between this and dirt that can make you ill. Nice and educational 🙂

The artwork along with the verse is beautiful. Leonie Lord appears to use pencils for her art which give a lovely scruffy feel to Wilson. Wilson is an adorable character (despite being smelly in the beginning) and Dotty a great friend. The duo make a book suitable for boys and girls, and I love the non-sterotyped girl swinging through trees.

Between the wonderful artwork and the humourous verse, this book is a delight to read over and over again. I hugely recommend Whiffy Wilson.

Fiction Fridays #26: Muffin and the Expedition

FF#26
Muffin and the Expedition: Clara Vulliamy (2011)

This is Muffin, the yummiest small brown bear.

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This book has been a firm favourite of DGs ever since it arrived. She will request it again and again, she’s slept with it on several occasions and she knows exactly where to find it on the shelf even with only the spine showing. So I’m not quite sure why I’ve taken so long to choose it as a Fiction Friday (other than the fact that Nikki from Stressy Mummy already chose it!)

Fantastically fabulous Clara Vulliamy held a competition to win her artwork and sent all the runners up a book and mini picture, which is where we got this. Since then we’ve bought Muffin and the Birthday Surprise. For younger children, two Muffin board books are coming out in July.

These books are perfect for toddlers and small children. The pictures are huggable and uncluttered so as not to overwhelm small children, yet still packed with delicious details. Muffin really is yummy and would really suit being a soft toy. I can see him being many a small child’s favourite bedtime snuggle.

In Muffin and the Expedition (what a lovely word to introduce to small children, not talking down to them at all), Muffin um, er… goes on an expedition! He packs a snack and a cuddly friend and we travel with him to find his destination. But wait, what’s that noise? Nothing frightening, and nice repetition in the route back home. Promoting exploring your environment and time with friends, Muffin is just… edible! 🙂 You can make real Muffin muffins with Clara here, or print out a lovely picture to colour here.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Oxfordshire (like me!) then there’s another chance to see Clara at Blackwell’s Festival of Illustration on 19 May.

Picture Book Giveaway

To celebrate over 500 Twitter followers (wow), as a pay-it-forward thank-you for picture books I’ve been very kindly sent, and to pimp this blog and facebook page I’ve decided to run a small giveaway.

Any regular readers may have guessed I’m a teeny bit addicted to books. I like to support local independent bookstores and charity shops, but acquire books from many different sources. I recently purchased a Martin Waddell picture book collection from The Book People but we already had two of the books. These are what I’m offering as a giveaway 🙂

Martin Waddell writes a huge amount of varied books, many of which are well deserved classics. The two books offered in this giveaway are definitely classics: Owl Babies and Farmer Duck.

Farmer Duck (1991) is illustrated by the amazing Helen Oxenbury. It tells the story of a lazy farmer who overworks the poor duck, until the other animals come up with a plan. Beautifully illustrated and a firm favourite with children.

Owl Babies (1992) is illustrated by Patrick Benson (they also collaborated on one of my Fiction Fridays favourites, The Tough Princess). It is the classic tale of separation anxiety – three baby owls wake to find their mother missing and wait for their return. It’s probably the scariest scenario for small children but fortunately all ends well and Mummy Owl reassures that she said she would come back.

In order to be in with a chance of receiving these two books, you must have a UK address for the books to be posted to, and:

  1. Leave a comment on this post
  2. Follow Child-Led Chaos blog
  3. Like Child-Led Chaos on Facebook
  4. Tweet about this giveaway
  5. Write a blog entry about this giveaway

That gives up to five (optional) entries per person. For each entry, please leave a separate comment on this post. I’ll write the names and get MG or DG to pick one out randomly – nothing but the highest technology here! The closing date for entering this giveaway is midnight Monday 7th May. The winner will have one week to claim the books. I’ve not done this before so bear with me if I make mistakes!

Fiction Fridays #25: Ella

FF#25
Ella: Alex T. Smith (2012)

Once upon a time there was a ladybird called Ella.

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This is a lovely re-telling of Cinderella with incredibly cute bugs! Cinderella is a ladybird, her step-sisters are wasps and the prince (in this case, Pierre the artist) is a spider. This is a gorgeous book with a sparkly cover and a pallette of mainly  reds, pinks and purples. MG loves fairy tales and I get to read this to her over and over again to drool over the art.

Ella is not a straight re-telling of Cinderella, it is its own story with elements of the fairy tale. Pierre the artist is looking for his muse; there isn’t a ‘fairy godmother’ or magical pumpkins, but a very good friend who secretly helps (get the children to look for her hiding throughout the story); and there’s no royal family in sight. It does have probably the most famous element: Ella leaves to get home before her step-sisters and drops her glasses as she rushes away!

The artwork is luscious, I wanted to take pictures of almost all the pages to put in this review. But I have chosen just this one: Ella and Pierre’s first meeting with Paris subtly in the background.

This is probably a book more for girls. And lovers of buttons: look how the antennae have buttons on them 🙂

Fiction Fridays #24: Mixed Up Fairy Tales

FF#24
Mixed Up Fairy Tales: Hilary Robinson & Nick Sharratt (????)

Little Red Riding Hood had a mum who was a washerwoman and fell asleep in Baby Bear’s bed after eating a troll.

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MG got this from one of her friends for her fifth birthday this year, funnily enough only a week after I’d read this review from Polly at The Little Wooden Horse and mentally added it to my “books to look for” list.

No extra review from me because I recommend reading The Little Wooden Horse. The book has been a huge hit here, hilariously funny. The kids love it too 😆