Books My Toddler Loves

Books My Toddler Loves

Dinosaur Roar!

August 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 29 Aug, 2015 02:03PM

Dinosaur Roar!
by Henrietta and Paul Stickland, published by Doubleday Children's (Random House Children's UK)

When our daughter was just over a year old, her geophysicist uncle bought her a cuddly Diplodocus. 'Dippy', as she has called him since, has always had pride of place among the VIP cuddlies in her bed.

Around the same time, she was given a copy of Dinosaur Roar!, Henrietta and Paul Stickland's marvelous creation, a fun-filled adjective adventure, which has delighted children for more than two decades.

The book contains a series of dinosaur opposites scored by a gentle rhyme: "Dinosaur sweet, dinosaur grumpy; dinosaur spiky, dinosaur lumpy".

From her first read, our daughter's favourite has been Dinosaur tiny, while she always remarks "I don't like that slimy one". She also loves the final page, a feast for the eyes and the tummies, as the dinosaurs all join together for their lunch: "Gobble, gobble, nibble, nibble, munch, munch, scrunch!"

According to Paul Stickland's website, his book was created in a tiny Somerset village, fittingly only 30 miles from the Jurassic Coast - it has since reached a truly global audience. With its bold colours, huge (and tiny) characters, and fun rhythm, this is sure to be a hit with readers of all ages for many decades to come.

P.S. We also recommend the Dinosaur Roar! Playbox - a large fold out mat and a set of miniature dinosaurs - which has been a huge hit!

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The Dawn Chorus

August 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 21 Aug, 2015 01:45PM

The Dawn Chorus
, by Suzanne Barton, published by Bloomsbury Children's

Our toddler has been a keen singer for at least as long as she's been able to talk. The first songs we can remember her singing include her take on ABC that occasionally broke into Twinkle Twinkle, and the Sesame Street version of 'We All Sing with the Same Voice'.

Lately, she's become proficient at delivering the words and accompanying actions of the washing up song from CBeebies show 'I can cook'. While we're reassured that she responds well to accomplished singers such Aretha Franklin and Buena Vista Social Club, she adores accompanying Elsa and Ana to melodies centred on 'frozen fractals' and other seemingly unlikely subjects.

The Dawn Chorus, Suzanne Barton's debut picturebook, is a celebration of singing and song, set among the trees, flowers and riverbanks of a forest. Its pages are adorned by an array of poppies, autumnal leaves and musical notes. It is also, we think, a new iteration of the tale of the ugly duckling, promoting the important message that we can all find a place for our innate talents if we practice hard and keep trying after a set back.

When the wonderfully-named young bird, Peep, wakes to the sound of a beautiful tune, we join him as he seeks out its source. On discovering the forest's Dawn Chorus, Peep asks to join them. He is invited to attend an audition before their next morning's recital. Peep practices all evening, before falling asleep, waking too late.

He's given one more chance, and returns home to practice, singing "so sweetly that all of the forest animals stopped to listen". Not wanting to miss his big moment, he keeps himself awake all night, but is too tired to perform when morning comes. "Perhaps you're just not meant to sing", says the conductor, and a despondent Peep walks away.

As the sun sets, Peep starts to sing again, but this time hears the song of a bird that looks just like him. Asking his new friend why it is that he can only sing in the evening he is told: "Because you're a nightingale, just like me".

As this sweet, reflective and wonderfully illustrated book draws to a close, the moon shines and the forest sleeps, and the nightingales sing their duet in perfect harmony.

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Not Me!

August 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 19 Aug, 2015 02:53PM

Not Me! by Nicola Killen, published by Egmont

In recent weeks, we’ve found ourselves inadvertently interpreting our daughter’s actions as possible indicators for her professional future. Recently she’s developed a keen interest in Duplo, particularly building steps and towers, and often creates structures that inspire us to wonder if she’ll become an engineer or an architect. She loves being part of cooking dinner, particularly making breadcrumbs, peeling onions and plucking grapes from their stalks – maybe she’ll be a famous chef? When in artist mode, she enjoys painting, chalk drawing and decorating cardboard boxes – she might be the next Barbara Hepworth?

One talent she’s not yet honed is tidying up. She knows it’s a good thing to do in principle – indeed, she’s mastered a song about it (happily singing “this is the way we tidy up” as she removes puzzles and dinosaurs from her toybox) but hasn’t yet adjoined the lyrics with the representative actions.

'Not Me!', by Nicola Killen, depicts a series of happy children engaged in the sort of creative play on which toddlers (including ours) thrive, along with the accompanying mess. Alongside each scene of disarray, the question is asked as to who is responsible and, on the page that follows, we are presented with the small culprit, along with clear, visual clues to highlight their guilt. An additional give-away is that each child’s name rhymes amusingly with the act for which they are (quite literally in one case) caught red-handed.

“Who’s been making the carpet dirty?” “Not me!” said Bertie (as he rides his muddy bike across the room). “Who's been dropping all these peas?” “Not me!” said Louise (as we see a pile forming under her chair as she eats). A useful final scene depicts all of the children featured having fun together as they tidy up.

With charming illustrations that have been masterfully created using what appears to be techniques often found in primary school settings (stencil, collage, sponge painting) and the use of pleasing pastel colours, this book is a real treat and great fun to read aloud.

Author Feedback

@NicolaKillen said: "Thanks for the great review - it's lovely to hear that the book strikes a chord with you AND your toddler!"

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THANK YOU!! Reflections on our first 60 days

August 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 19 Aug, 2015 12:02PM


We started BooksMyToddlerLoves as a way of keeping a record of the books our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter enjoyed, so that we'd be able to remember both the joy of reading with her, and the moments of laughter and fun we've shared that we might otherwise forget.

We also wanted to create a way to show our appreciation for the amazing talent that exists in the picturebook industry - the wonderful writing, the beautiful illustrations and the passionate, sometimes risk-taking, agents and publishers.

Since we launched our site on 22 June (60 days ago), we've posted 31 reviews, had 4,950 visitors and more than 400 followers on Twitter (@books4mytoddler).

The feedback we've had from authors, publishers and picturebook lovers has been far beyond what we'd ever imagined. A summary of the responses is below. We're planning many more reviews in the coming weeks, months and maybe years!

Author feedback about our reviews:

Catherine Rayner ('Norris the Bear Who Shared' and 'Solomon Crocodile'):"Thank you for the loveliest review. I'd love to hear the 'Plorringe' song! Very very happy you like my creatures!"

Pip Jones ('Daddy's Sandwich'): "Lovely new site for thoughtful, detailed reviews of picturebooks here....Gorgeous review of Daddy's Sandwich. Thank you very much!"

Chris Haughton ('Oh No, George!'): "Your toddler has very good taste in books! Lots of my favourites there"

Rebecca Cobb ('Lunchtime' and 'Paper Dolls'): "Thank you very much for a lovely review!"

Jim Field ('Oi Frog!'):"Thanks for the lovely review. Bonus point for using the word juxtaposition, a fave of mine"

Linda Sarah ('On Sudden Hill'): "Thank you SO much for a gorgeous review. The box-tree-house-post-office...made me so happy!"

Smriti Prasadam-Halls ('I Love You Night and Day'):Thank you SO much for this wonderful review. Delighted that you liked the book"

Ed Vere ('Max the Brave'):"Thanks guys...Great site!!"

Benji Davies ('Grandad's Island'): "Thank you for the wonderful, thoughtful review - so pleased you liked the book"

Louise Yates ('Dog Loves Books'): Thank you very much for your lovely review. I enjoyed reading many of the others too"

Laura Sassi: "LOVELY NEW BLOG - What a great way to remember the books you and your toddler love (and share your faves with others)"

Steve Antony ('Please Mr Panda'): "Thanks for the great review!"

Peter Bently ('Meet the Parents'): "Thanks for the lovely review!"

Petr Horacek ('Puffin Peter' and 'Animal Opposites'): "Thanks for reviewing the book so nicely, really glad you like it"

Nicola O'Byrne ('My Little Star'): "Such a lovely review!"

Sam Usher ('Snow'):"What a lovely review - thanks!"

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August 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 16 Aug, 2015 08:14PM

Snow by Sam Usher, published by Templar

We recently came across a newspaper article highlighting an apparent shortage of children's books that feature grandparents in leading roles. Although this may be the case, two of our daughter's current favorites certainly buck this trend. One is Grandad's Island (by Benji Davis, reviewed earlier this month), and the other, discovered recently on a visit to our local library, is the wonderful Snow, in which author and illustrator Sam Usher masterfully conveys a range of important themes, including the unique bond of grandparent and grandchild, the thrill of adventure and the joy of imagination.

Snow opens with the magical moment when a boy wakes to find freshly fallen snow covering his outside world as far has he can see. In one of the most impactful picturebook spreads we've come across, we see the boy opening his front door to discover this gleaming white world outside - nearly the full two pages of the spread are filled with a huge, blank, emptiness of pristine potential.

In his excitement he urges his grandad to hurry up and get ready to leave. The boy frustration with his grandad, who is apparently oblivious to the urgent need to get to the park, increases when first his friends, then some dogs, and even zoo animals, pass his front door. While the boy feels ready to leave, his grandad is still in the shower, still brushing his teeth, still eating his breakfast! Worried that he'll miss all the fun, he makes to leave, before his grandad points out that the boy has forgotten first his gloves, and then his hat, and that there really is no need to rush.

When at last they set off, the boy finds he needn't have worried - great fun is still to be had and grandad, it turns out, is fantastic with a snowball - winning their match against the others "six slushings to three".

Returning home for tea and cake, Snow ends with a delightful nod to the tale of the Tortoise and the Hare, as both the boy and his grandad agree: “some things are definitely worth waiting for“.

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