July 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 28 Jul, 2015 08:58PMOwl Babies
, Words by Martin Waddell, Illustrated by Patrick Benson, published by Walker Books
This heart-warming and beautifully illustrated classic tale, about three baby owls awaiting and celebrating their mother's return, has always been one of our favourites. It's a book that has been a part of our daughter's life from her earliest months, when we first introduced her to the nocturnal grove of Sarah, Percy and Bill.
The owl babies snuggle together and await the return of their mother with varying degrees of confidence (Sarah: "She'll bring us mice and things that are nice"), anxiety (Percy: "Or a fox got her!") and longing (Bill: "I want my mummy!).
The mild peril lasts just long enough before finally their mother returns, and the owlets (and our toddler) express their relief and pure, wondrous joy (Mummy Owl: "What's all the fuss? You knew
I'd come back").
In recent weeks it's been a helpful book for reassuring our daughter that we will always be there for her, too. It's also a good analogy for the range of emotions felt by young children, ideal for our daughter (now 2 and a half) as she starts to gain in confidence, shows an interest in increasing her independence, and then comes running back into our arms.
July 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 25 Jul, 2015 08:51PM
Monkey and Me
, by Emily Gravett, published by Macmillan Children's Books
This was one of the first books our daughter was given, when she was around 2 months old. We started reading it to her from then on. It's always been a favourite, but recently it took on a new significance as it is the first book our toddler ever read aloud, unprompted, by herself!
Monkey and Me follows an energetic, adventurous girl and her cuddly toy monkey, as they get themselves dressed and set off on an animal-filled day-trip. Each animal they meet is introduced by the irresistibly chant-able verse:
"Monkey and me,
monkey and me,
monkey and me, we went to see,
we went to see some......."
As we join their journey we see them meet and impersonate waddling "penguins!", boing-ing "kangaroos!", flappy "bats!" and parading "elephants!", before finishing with a double page of cheeky "monkeys!!!". Our daughter loves to call out each of the animals' names in turn, and to do her own impressions.
As the girl and her monkey friend tire from all this excitement, the words take on a slow, sleepy tone, and we follow them back "home for tea". As the book ends, we find the girl and her monkey snoozing at the kitchen table, next to a nearly finished dinner plate and a drawing of her day, while one of the cheeky monkeys sneaks away with a banana.
July 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 21 Jul, 2015 08:36AM
Penguin by Polly Dunbar, published by Walker Books
This is a tale of patience, loyalty and friendship. It's told in clear language, with moments of genuine surprise and humour, perfectly pitched alongside beautiful illustrations.
When a young boy unpacks a penguin from a box, he finds his new companion to be a reluctant and reticent playmate. Despite the boy's efforts to engage his feathered friend through funny faces, jazzy dance and even space travel, "Penguin said nothing".
When the boy and his attempts to communicate become exhausted, he finally loses patience, gets upset and is rather loud. A passing lion makes an unfortunate gastronomic intervention, but Penguin stands up for his friend with a brave and daring defence.
The final two pages, a wondrous showcase of shared experiences as "told" by Penguin, expressed with a newly articulate voice, is a joy to behold and one of our favourite scenes in picturebooks.
Penguin is a charming winner and an equally perfect choice for daytime and bedtime.
Penguin was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.
July 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 14 Jul, 2015 12:27PMPicnic
by John Burningham, published by Random House
Since the recent arrival of some warmer days, our daughter asks, every weekend, to go for a picnic. She loves picnics: the novelty of having lunch outside, nibbling small pieces of lots of things from little boxes and running around afterwards, probably too soon after eating.
This warm, sunny, breezy and delightful picturebook, by the two-time Kate Greenaway Medal winner John Burningham, has become a firm favourite in our house. Our toddler loves to join Boy and Girl as they leave their house on the hill, hamper in hand, in search of the perfect picnic spot.
Accompanied on their way by pig, sheep and duck, boy and girl have many challenges along the way, such as fleeing a hungry bull, coping with a gust of wind, chasing a ball down a grassy slope and retrieving a hat from the lake. Finally they find their idyll, and enjoy a delicious al fresco feast.
This book is not just a charming tale with beautiful illustration, which it is, but also great fun. Several times we are asked to help boy, girl and their luncheon partners to find items that they misplace along the way, with readers posed the question “Can you help to find it?”.
In the final scene, making the book a perfect choice as a bedtime read, a golden sunset lights their way home, and before long all tucked up in their own bed, with the final question: “Shall we find your bed?”
July 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 10 Jul, 2015 08:48AM
I Love You Baby by Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd, published by Orchard Books
This favourite read is one of a series of charming books by the prolific and enormously talented partnership of Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd.
Giles Andreae's sweet rhymes combine a gentle rhythm with an educational benefit, helping young readers learn about numbers and how they relate to themselves and others: "Ten little fingers, ten little toes. Two little ears and one little nose."
Emma Dodd's inviting, lively, full-of-fun illustrations, depicting the arrival of a new baby into a loving family, are drawn with the use of warm, pastel colours and presented with a child's eye view of his new sibling.
It's a book our daughter loves to read aloud with us, completing the couplets as we go along. It was also a book that helped her learn a whole range of new words for her vocabulary, providing as it does a corporal tour "from head to foot".
It's great fun as a general read, and is also an ideal choice for parents looking for a book to help build a toddler's awareness of the arrival of a sibling.
The final line makes it perfect for bedtime too, ending as it does with the words: "One sleepy face on one sweet head, sleep tight, love you, it's time for bed".
With thanks to Emma Dodd for allowing use of the book's cover image with this review.