Books My Toddler Loves

Books My Toddler Loves

Mamasaurus, Oddsockosaurus and other joyful Jurassics

Cats, dogs and dinosaursPosted 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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Smelly Louie

Cats, dogs and dinosaursPosted by Max 22 Nov, 2015 08:14PM

Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner, published by Macmillan

Our older daughter, who is nearly three, is a big fan of baths. She enjoys creating bubble beards and has mastered the bubble clap - taking a large clump of foam and clapping her hands together to create a flurry of bubble snow.

Catherine Rayner's Louie does not like bubbles, and he detests baths. Worst of all is "The Noise" - that awful sound of running water - and most of all, that most hated aroma: "roses and apple blossom!" Why? Because Louie is a dog who has worked hard to finesse his unique stink, and he doesn't like to give it up!

We meet Louie just after he's had a bath, mourning the loss of his radiantly rotten aroma. He is determined to regain his scent - seeking out its key ingredients, with a little help from a filthy fox and some whiffy flies. Along the way, he befriends an old boot, delights in dustbins and rolls in sticky sludge. Something is missing, though...Of course! The pongy pond!

We share in his delight as Louie reclaims his special smell and marches proudly home. We feel his pride as the impressed fox looks upon him. And we share his horror on hearing "the noise" and on smelling that terrible, revolting, perfumed smell and the call "Louie, come here". "Surely, it couldn't be?"

A beautiful book with a most lovable lead, Smelly Louie is a family favourite, full of fun, humour and brimming with colour and life. An aromatic treat for all the senses.

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Hickory Dickory Dog

Cats, dogs and dinosaursPosted by Max 20 Sep, 2015 08:09PM

Hickory Dickory Dog by Alison Murray, published by Orchard Books

As our daughter gets older, she takes an increasing interest in the concept of time: The pattern of the day, the appearance of the moon, ideas of tomorrow and yesterday. Part of her intrigue has been in relation to clocks, asking us what they are for and how they work. Recently, we discovered an effective method for indicating to her that it's time to go upstairs for sleep, asking her "what's the time on the clock", to which, so far at least, her answer has been: "Bedtime!"

The traditional children's verse that starts 'Hickory Dickory Dock' was first recorded in 'Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song-Book', an anthology of English-language nursery rhymes published in 1744. In Alison Murray's playful adaptation, we accompany Zac and his dog Rufus on a sunny Autumn day, first at home then at school.

As well as its two main protagonists, 'time' features throughout the book. Scenes are cleverly announced by a clock, striking the next hour of the day, accompanied by a rhyme to match: "Hickory, lickery, lunch. Some yummy crumbs to munch. The clock strikes noon, Zac's dropped his spoon! Hickory, lickery, lunch."

Their day is packed with activity: Getting dressed and ready to go; dancing, painting and gardening at school; returning home for bathtime and storytime, before snuggling down to sleep.

We love Alison Murray's colourful, warm and charming illustrations, which we first discovered in her excellent 'Apple Pie ABC', depicting the alphabetised antics of a small dog with his eyes on a tasty prize. More recently, we've enjoyed her adjective adventure 'Little Mouse', about a girl who wants her growing independence to be acknowledged. All three of these wonderful books come highly recommended.

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Dinosaur Roar!

Cats, dogs and dinosaursPosted 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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Dog Loves Books

Cats, dogs and dinosaursPosted by Max 01 Aug, 2015 06:24PM
Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates, published by Red Fox (Random House)

A few years ago, our toddler's grandparents opened a small antiquarian bookshop. Many of her Granny and Grampa's bookselling joys (and occasional travails) are beautifully reflected in this celebration of reading and imagination by Louise Yates.

At the start of Dog Loves Books, we meet a small canine bibliophile as he prepares for the Grand Opening of his new bookshop. When the initial public reception is less than he'd hoped for, a cup of tea and a good read takes him away from his temporary disappointment to the lands of dinosaurs, kangaroos and space travel.

When at last a real customer arrives, he knows just the book to recommend - the mark of a true booklover - for, as we learn on the final page, the one thing dog loves more than books is his love of sharing them.

Louise Yates' distinctive, charming and expressive characters bring to life this well-told story. Dog Loves Books is one of our favourite reads, and a perfect choice any time of the day.

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