Books My Toddler Loves

Books My Toddler Loves

A Great Big Cuddle

Poetry and rhymePosted by Max 03 Jan, 2016 07:42PM

A Great Big Cuddle, Written by Michael Rosen, Illustrated by Chris Riddell, published by Walker Books

This week, when we asked our nearly three year old daughter if she'd like to read A Great Big Cuddle, she replied "yay, poems!" We like to think that this reaction is what the creators of this magnificent book were hoping for.

The combined literary alchemy of two Children's Laureates (words by Michael Rosen and illustrations by Chris Riddell), is fully realised in this original compendium of "Poems for the Very Young". This is a book of drum beating rhythm, stomping feet, clapping hands, and laughing out loud.

At 73 pages it might seem a bit daunting to read the whole book in one sitting. Although it is one that could be dipped into, we have found great value in enjoying the flow and music of the book as a whole. Our daughter has been captivated every time, and is yet to ask us to stop reading it part way through.

Favourite poems include:

"Music", an irresistible movement catalyst, with its opening lines:


"Gruff and Dave", about a grumpy and jumpy dog and his new friend, a jumpy and grumpy frog.

"Let me do it", which perfectly conveys the longing of a toddler for independence in a world they don't yet fully understand.

This is the picturebook equivalent of a winter's day tucked up in bed with hot tea and toast, taking part in a display of verbal gymnastics, going on a wild tour of menageries and monsters and, indeed, having a great big cuddle, all combined.

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Monkey and Me

Poetry and rhymePosted 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.

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My Little Star

Poetry and rhymePosted by Max 24 Jun, 2015 08:49PM

My Little Star, Words by Mark Sperring , illustrations by Nicola O'Byrne, published by Bloomsbury

In quoting the line “diamond dazzling, moonbeam bright”, I am also describing how we feel about this beautiful book. This is one of the first books we started reading regularly to our toddler, from about age 9 months, and it's still treasured nearly two years later.

Mark Sperring's gentle, charming and soothing couplets are perfectly matched by Nicola O'Byrne's majestic illustrations. Her tigers, penguins and polar bears are personal favourites. The book flows with scenes throughout of innate, familial love that give us a warm glow every time we read them.

It's an ideal choice to read just before settling for sleep, starting as it does with the setting sun, and ending with the night sky and the words “goodnight my little star”.

With thanks to Nicola O'Byrne for allowing use of her wonderful book cover image with this review.

Author feedback

@NicolaOByrne1 said: Such a lovely review for My Little Star! @Bright_Group @KidsBloomsbury

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Oi Frog!

Poetry and rhymePosted by Max 24 Jun, 2015 10:25AM

Oi Frog! Words by Kes Gray, illustrated by Jim Field and published by Hodder Children's

It's a unique feeling when you share a laugh out loud with your child. Reading aloud to our toddler has led to these moments on many occasions, but it happens consistently when we've read the very fun, enjoyably surrealist and joyfully illustrated "Oi Frog!"

A curious frog is told by a know-it-all cat to "sit on a log". The cat's rhyming logic (based on the traditional premise that cats sit on mats) is applied to create a series of juxtapositions, where animals are paired with unexpected sedentary venues, such as lizards sitting on wizards, lions on irons and apes on grapes. As the cat nonchalantly remarks, licking a paw: "it's very simple really". The denouement to the book provides a terrific punchline.

Kes Gray and Jim Field's partnership creates an infectious sense of fun that makes Oi Frog a delight. It's also a great example of a book that benefits all when read aloud.

Ps our toddler is especially keen on the final spread of images, after the main story has ended, where we find that the frog has been getting up to all kinds of mischief and some wild contortions.

With thanks to Jim Field for allowing the use of the book's cover image.

Author Feedback

@_JimField said: @Books4MyToddler @kesgray @hodderchildrens thanks for the lovely review. Bonus points for using the word juxtaposition, a fave of mine.

@KesGray said: @_JimField @Books4MyToddler @kesgray @hodderchildrens What do juxtapositions sit on Jim?

@_JumField replied: @kesgray @Books4MyToddler @hodderchildrens juxtapositions sit on statisticians

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The Paper Dolls

Poetry and rhymePosted by Max 23 Jun, 2015 12:32PM

The Paper Dolls
Words by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb, published by Pan MacMillan

"We're holding hands and we won't let go!"

This was the first time one of our toddler's book resulted in tears - not hers, but ours. Maybe it's because it ends with such a sweet reflection on the passing of time, as the little girl in the story becomes a mother herself. Perhaps it was the description and image of the kind granny who would always exist in the little girl's memory.

Paper Dolls is sentimental in the very best sense, brought to life through the dolls' joyful defiance, who can withstand both the perils of play and the test of time.

This was the first of many books illustrated by Rebecca Cobb that our daughter loves. It's a close call between Lunchtime, Aunt Amelia, The Something or Paper Dolls for our toddler's (and our) favourite. Her work is quite magical (we all adore her crocodile, bear and fox in Lunchtime).

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for permission to use the book cover image.

Feedback from the author

From @rebecca_cobb: Thank you very much @Books4MyToddler for a lovely review of The Paper Dolls!

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