Books My Toddler Loves

Books My Toddler Loves

A Pair of Picturebook Cuddles

September 2016 ReviewsPosted by Max 28 Sep, 2016 08:29PM

Sometimes, we all need a hug – whether it's a grazed knee, a popped balloon, a dropped ice-cream, or those times when you're one and you just can't keep pace with your big three-and-a-half-year-old sister.

Picturebooks can be a great source of comfort, and we've featured many reassuring classics on this site. Our first review ever, 'I Love You Night and Day', was one of the first we read to our elder daughter when she was a newborn.

It remains a family favourite, joined now by two more by the same author, Smriti Prasadam-Halls, who's gentle ryhmes and soothing words are like a soft blanket fresh from the tumble dryer.

'I'll Never Let You Go' is in a way the sequel to 'I Love You Night and Day', beautifully delivered by the same author/illustrator partnership (with pictures by Alison Brown).

It features pairs of animals and birds (probably a parent and child but could also be siblings) experiencing life together. Most of the images are set against an autumnal backdrop, making this an ideal choice this month as the leaves start turning brown.

It begins with a scene of joy: “When you are happy, I hear you swoop and you soar, you LOVE everything”. From here the book addresses a range of other emotions, including sadness, excitement, uncertainty and fear, before concluding: “When you are high and when you are low, I'll be holding you tight and I'll never let go”.

In every scene the overarching themes of support, comfort and love are depicted in sweet, colourful yet calm acrylic and pencil illustrations.

The final spread is a lovely scene of all the pairs of creatures together, watching a firework display in the moonlight.

'Kiss It Better' (also by Smriti Prasadam-Halls, illustrated wonderfully through mixed media and a charming use of collage by Sarah Massini) is also a 'snuggle up with a blanket and cup of hot chocolate' kind-of-a-book.

Starting on its inside pages with a double page of whispy pink and white hearts, which go on to flow throughout the book, we join a family of bears whose scrapes and bumps mean they need lots of kisses.

We find out that there is a kiss for every occasion, accompanied in each case by a lovely image: “An I'm sorry kiss helps make amends. It whispers softly, “Can we be friends?””

While: “A see-you-soon-kiss says, “Ill miss you, too” and a go-to-sleep kiss shouts out, “MONSTERS, SHOO!””

A scene of the bear family's extended relations and friends, picnicking under a tree adorned by heart bunting to welcome a new cub, is one of our favourites. We also love the one of daddy bear returning home from work to their cave home to be greeted by his two little ones (which is the best bit of my day, too!).

'I'll Never Let You Go' by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Alison Brown, and 'Kiss It Better' by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Sarah Massini, are both published by Bloomsbury Children's Books.

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Adventures on the High Seas

September 2016 ReviewsPosted by Max 19 Sep, 2016 11:27AM

Mayday Mouse
by Seb Braun, published by Child's Play

This is a tale of brave Captain Mouse who sets off across the sea determined to get a birthday gift to her brother on the other side. Her journey begins on a lovely day, perfect for a cruise in her walnut shell boat with its toothpick mast. As she departs, two of her friends, a frog and dragonfly, remind her that if she needs help they'll be there for her.

Dark clouds descend and the sea becomes choppy, and before long great 'watery perils' appear, depicted with extraordinary movement and colour by Sebastian Braun's wonderful illustrations.

Crashing waves hurl her and her small craft towards a narrow miss with rocks and a dark cave, before she lands, stranded, on a small island. With the water closing in she calls upon her friends for aid with a cry of "Mayday!" They arrive just in time, bringing her materials for a new cork boat, which sees her on her way. Finally she reaches the shore and embraces her brother on the other side with a sigh of relief.

For the final spread we zoom out from her level to a bird's eye view, and a surprising reveal, which always causes our three year old to laugh out loud in delight, showing us her world in a very different way. A lovely bonus is a final scene on the inside cover where we see the mice siblings sharing the gift that Captain mouse so determinedly clung to during her various ordeals.

This is terrific tale of determination, overcoming adversity, friendship and the importance of perspective.

Claude All at Sea
by Alex T Smith, published by Hodder Children's Books

This is Claude's first adventure in picture book format and it certainly lives up to the reputation of the popular Claude series for young readers.

It's a fun-filled frolic of a read following Claude on a bath-time expedition on the high seas where he encounters all kinds of characters from Captain Poopdeck, Cindy Seaweed, Nigel the not-so terrifying sea monster and of course, Claude's faithful sidekick, Sir Bobblysock.

Alex T Smith's witty prose combines brilliantly with distinctive, predominantly red and white illustrations. The illustrations themselves are full of life and movement - two particularly memorable double page spreads being the moment when the bath tub escapes along the street with a "whoosh" and lands in the ocean with a "splash".

This is a great introduction for a younger audience to the Claude series and will have little ones laughing out loud.

This pair of picturebook adventures on the high seas would form a lovely trio alongside Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek, reviewed previously and in full here.

Petr Horacek's distinctive, colourful and full of life animals and birds are vivid wonders to behold. Here, his illustration is combined with a charming story of Peter, a small puffin, separated by a storm from his best friend. After the storm passes, Peter sets out to look for Paul with the help of a kind whale. This is a sweeping and satisfying adventure, filled with vistas of bold colours, and a sweet, happy ending. It's a perfect depiction of the value of friendship and persistence and a great book to introduce young children to useful adjectives through scenes from nature.

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