Books My Toddler Loves

Books My Toddler Loves

Lion Practice

March 2016 ReviewsPosted by Max 31 Mar, 2016 05:44PM

Lion Practice by Emma Carlisle, published by Macmillan Children's Books

Our first read of Emma Carlisle's wonderful Lion Practice coincided with the development of our daughter's keen interest in lions. This week, after mentioning we might take her to London Zoo, she asked "Can I feed the baby lions and pat their manes? I promise I will be very careful." Looking at my hesitant expression, she pointed at her mum and exclaimed: "Mummy fed lions when she was a little girl, didn't you?"

Make-believe play is probably our three year old daughter's favourite pastime. She can spend hours engaged in preparing feasts for elaborate parties with her cuddlies, rescuing Anna and Olaf from Hans while trapped in an ice palace, or nursing 'sea-otters' and baby owls back to good health.

Lion Practice is a celebration of a young child's imagination. Emma Carlisle's warm and bright crayon and pencil illustrations are perfectly matched by a sweetly precocious first-person narrative, spoken by a small girl called Laura who tells us she loves to practice.

She enjoys nothing more than practicing the behaviour of a diverse range of animals, and we see that is accompanied in her imagination by an energetic, swirling menagerie. She bounces alongside kangaroos, splashes in the swimming pool with a crocodile and squawks in the supermarket like a hungry parrot.

She scoots past her mother's hopeful suggestion that she practices being something quiet, like a mouse - for nothing is as fun as practicing your ROAR and today is the day for lion practice.

What exactly do lions do? According to Laura they walk on all fours, have a very messy mane, pounce on daddies and roar very loudly. So loudly in fact that Laura wakes up her baby brother, causing him to cry and her parents to get cross.

Forlorn, she sits plaintively on her garden swing until her mum and dad come out to find her. Laura is sorry, and her parents offer her a 'big bear hug'. They persuade her back inside with the offer of an extra big dinner and lots of bubbles in her bath, essential requirements for a lion.

After her bath, Laura declares that lions don't wear pyjamas and her parents tell her she can be a cheeky monkey sometimes. Hmmm......a cheeky monkey? "I'm going to practice being one of those tomorrow".

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Mamasaurus, Oddsockosaurus and other joyful Jurassics

March 2016 ReviewsPosted by Max 17 Mar, 2016 08:43PM
Our three year old daughter has recently undertaken a new childhood rite of passage - acquiring a love of dinosaurs. Recently she was thrilled to be given a trio of dinosaur figurines from a natural history museum, a pack of stretchy dinos, and a dinosaur fact-file.

Prehistoric picturebooks have played a key part in her growing fascination. We've written previously about the excellent 'Dinosaur Roar', her first literary Triassic treat, which introduced her to the likes of 'dippy' and 'rex' as she used to call them. Recently, two more favourites have emerged, reviewed below.

Mamasaurus by Stephan Lomp, published by Chronicle Books

It had been a few months since our daughter had requested the same book several times in one sitting - that was until her first four reads in a row of the brilliant and bright 'Mamasaurus'.

The story follows Babysaurus' search for his diplodocus Mama, from whom he is separated after wooshing down her long tail. The pages are filled with near-neon reds, oranges, greens and purples, set against a pitch black background, lightly decorated with stencil-effect jungle foliage.

Babysaurus makes his way from one small dino-friend to the next, seeking out his Mama to no avail. In his final encounter he narrowly avoids becoming Rexy's lunch, thanks to his Mama's reappearance. "Hooray" cries Babysaurus, a cheer echoed by all of us.

Oddsockosaurus by Zanib Mian and Bill Bolton, published by Sweet Apple Books

In the excellent 'Oddsockosaurus', the many wonderful facets of a toddler's personality are explored through a humorous take on the Greco-Roman dinosaur names that fascinate our daughter.

The book is narrated by a small boy who acknowledges that he's "very complicated". Sometimes he's a Mudiraptor, jumping in mucky puddles his mum told him not to go near. Other times he's a Readabookadocus, enjoying stories and a love of reading every day; or a Lovelyonychus, which includes being kind to his sister. One of our favourites is Nofocusadocus, when "I just have to look for my favourite toy while putting my shoes on".

Each trait is perfectly matched to a cute scene of the boy dressed up as a different dinosaur undertaking an apposite activity.


Two other notable dino-books we've enjoyed include:

Gigantosaurus by Jonny Duddle (Templar Publishing) is an enjoyable reworking of "the boy who cried wolf", where four dinokids try to avoid the STOMP and CRUNCH of a Gigantosaurus that wants them for its LUNCH. A fun facts page at the end provides a spread of 'bite-size' learning.

Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul and Henrietta Stickland (Random House Children's Books), a sequel to their 'Dinosaur Roar', depicts a countdown of lively dinosaur antics through amusing rhymes and distinctive illustrations.

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The Snatchabook

March 2016 ReviewsPosted by Max 07 Mar, 2016 08:10AM

The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty, published by Alison Green Books

After her third birthday, our eldest daughter helped write thank you cards to all the people who came to her party by drawing some original art in each one. Some of these multicoloured felt tip creations were a little abstract, but she was adamant that each was representative of her intended subjects.

These included a plate of bacon and eggs, a seacow and a tree with leaves falling down. In several, including the card for her granny and grandpa, she drew a mouse's house, complete with a bed, stairs and a downstairs toilet.

On receiving her card, granny identified the source of the enclosed artwork's inspiration - the intricate world of Burrow Down, the cosy grove that provides the backdrop to the marvellous The Snatchabook by Helen and Thomas Docherty.

The Snatchabook is now well established as a favourite read. Its well-paced rhyme and warm, detailed illustrations perfectly combine to produce a delightful tale of nocturnal creatures whose books disappear, set in the dens, nests and warrens of a forest of old oak trees.

As all the little creatures settle down for bedtime stories, the book's protagonist, a young rabbit called Eliza Brown, is reading to herself in bed when suddenly her favourite book disappears. The same is happening elsewhere in the forest to hedgehogs, owls and squirrels.

Rumours spread as to who is to blame, as more books go amiss. Eliza hatches a plan to catch the mischievous perpetrator in the act. Happily, the mystery is solved and amends are made, with the story introducing subtle concepts of empathy and forgiveness.

As night falls we see a happy scene of families enjoying books together. Once again "in every house, in every bed, a bedtime book was being read".

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