October 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 26 Oct, 2015 09:48PM
Five weeks ago our second daughter was born. In the months leading up to her arrival we began introducing a variety of new picturebooks to our shelves and bedtime story routine that feature pregnancy, birth and new babies to help our daughter prepare for our new arrival.
There are many wonderful picturebooks that take on this theme. Below is a selection of six that we found enjoyable and helpful as a means to discuss with our daughter the momentus change that was to come, and to help explain the changes to mummy's 'tummy' that were incrementally noticeable. We started including these reads soon after our daughter turned 2, about three months into pregnancy. Miffy and the New Baby (Dick Bruna)
This was our first Miffy book. It's distinctive illustrations combine with a gentle rhyme, depicting the lead up to and arrival of a new baby bunny to Miffy's family. It's useful for preparing children for the day or night when mummy and daddy have to be away for a time and how when they return they will bring a baby with them. It focuses on the pride that Miffy has at the new arrival, being the "big" sister and even baking celebratory cakes to take to school. Aren't You Lucky! (Catherine and Laurence Anholt)
This is a great option for helping toddlers understand their potentially mixed feelings about a new baby sibling. As the girl does here, they might have lots of people saying "aren't you lucky!", and yet they might not feel very lucky at all - they now have to share an often tired mummy and daddy, and the baby can't even play or talk or do much at all.
But as baby grows so does the fun and soon there is lots for a big sister or brother to enjoy - including being a great helper with looking after their little sibling. As well as conveying a nice set of messages alongside pleasing illustrations, it is also helpful as an example of a picturebook that clearly depicts breastfeeding. There's Going to be a Baby (John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury)
This is a poetic tale of a pregnancy through the seasons. For us, the pregnancy for our second child seemed far quicker than the first, but for our toddler the wait for her baby sister may have seemed very long indeed. This book is helpful for depicting a pregnancy and the passing of time through a toddler's eyes. It's also amusing in its depictions of a newborn acting out adult jobs, which our daughter finds funny. I Love You Baby (Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd)
We've reviewed this lovely book previously, but wanted to include it here too as it was also a frequent choice in recent months. With lovely pastel illustrations and a sweet rhyme about the many cute features of a new baby, it's also ideal as an evening read, ending with a bedtime sequence where the toddler helps put baby to sleep. 15 Things Not to Do with a Baby (Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling)
This is a bright and breezy picturebook filled with amusing scenes of what a toddler is not to do with their family's new arrival. While some of the ideas are clearly just for fun ("don't give your baby to an octopus to cuddle"), these are interspersed with some rather more sensible and practical limitations too ("don't play your trumpet when your baby is trying to sleep")! Mummy, Mummy, What's in Your Tummy? (Sarah Simpson-Enock and Linzi West)
A short, sweet read, with pleasing artwork and cute couplets proposing a variety of suggestions for what might be inside mummy's growing tummy. Could it be a boat painted blue, or a birthday cake, or a big red balloon? It's fun to all say "No!" together and then at the end to declare "It's a baby!" when all is finally revealed.
October 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 15 Oct, 2015 09:30AM
Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb
, published by Macmillan Children's
Three weeks ago, our second daughter was born. In the run up to her arrival, and in the bleary-eyed days since, we've sought out a wide variety of books to read to our toddler that feature siblings - one of the ways we tried to prepare her for the tiny yet huge addition to her world.
Aunt Amelia has been a favourite for a long time (as are all of Rebecca Cobb's other wonderful creations, such as Lunchtime
and The Paper Dolls
, also reviewed on this site). It is a fun, bright and charming book, which wonderfully captures the nostalgic joy of childhood. It now has a new resonance and relevance as a picturebook that depicts a sibling relationship.
Written in the first person by a young boy and his little sister, it tells of a day and night full of pure delight, when their low expectations are most happily confounded. In the opening line they tell us that "we were in a bad mood" - their Mum and Dad are going out, and 'Aunt Amelia' is coming to look after them. They don't know who this is, but do know "we didn't want looking after". Worst of all, Mum and Dad have left a list of instructions for their mystery babysitter.
Little do they or their parents know, but Aunt Amelia - a matronly crocodile, with her a huge peach sunhat adorned by flora and fauna, equipped with a Mary Poppins-esque purse and umbrella - likes to bend, and even reverse, the rules!
The gorgeous tapestry of spreads that follow are accompanied by details from the list of strict instructions. Where mum and dad said "they can have an ice-cream, but just one" Aunt Amelia gives them each a cone with a dozen different flavours, flakes and wafers. With the command that "they help you with keeping the house clean and tidy" we see scenes of whole-room (and whole-face) painting extravaganzas, and a wild dressing up bonanza. Alongside the request that they eat a "sensible" dinner, we see them reveling in a child's dream feast of berries, cakes and pizza, while the order that they have just one story before bedtime is contravened with a pile of 20 books apiece.
In the morning, when it's nearly time for Mum and Dad to get home, the pair help Aunt Amelia get the house spick and span. "I hope they've been good?" asks mum. "Good as gold" Aunt Amelia replies, winning over the children as friends for life.
October 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 11 Oct, 2015 09:22AM
Snow Bear by Piers Harper, published by Macmillan Children's
The first time our daughter explored this book she was just a few months old. At that time, it was the soft to touch illustrations that she found most interesting - with each character depicted in a snow white felt.
Now, more than two years later, it's the sweet story and icy world of the little polar bear that she most enjoys.
Little snow bear is at first delighted to leave his den and explore the world around him, playing all afternoon in the water with a friendly seal. As time passes, he edges further away from home, despite his mother asking him to stay close by.
Just as he starts to become fearful, a friendly reindeer helps him out of a gloomy forest. As he becomes hungry, a small Inuit girl gives him a hearty fish supper and then takes him home on her sleigh.
His mother is relieved to see him back and explains that she'd been worried. The little bear has experienced the wonder of the world, and learned what it means to be lost, deciding that home is the best place of all.
Snow Bear delivers a gentle and reassuringly familiar story depicting the fun and excitement of a child's yearning for exploration, their testing of boundaries (in this case the literal one of the water's edge) and the relief of returning home when faced with too much adversity.
October 2015 ReviewsPosted by Max 04 Oct, 2015 04:49PMHooray for Hat!
by Brian Won, published by Andersen Press
In the words of our daughter, Hooray for Hat is a book that is "grumpy, so sad and then all friends and happy."
Brian Won's colourful and vibrant illustrations depict this tale of sharing and friendship, where a surprise hat in a box helps to turn any frown upside down.
It begins when elephant wakes up in a grump, cleverly expressed with fierce downward eyebrows and a dark scribble above his head. The doorbell rings and he stomps downstairs shouting "Go away, I'm grumpy!" Yet on opening the door he finds a large box wrapped in a huge red ribbon - an instantly irresistible curiosity.
As we turn the page we're met with a double page spread of the now-beaming elephant, adorned with his gift - a multi-level hat extraordinaire. "Hooray for Hat!" we all sing together.
Now in a happy mood, he wants to show his friends. However, he finds that each of them, in turn, wants him to "Go away, I'm grumpy!" - that is until he shares with them a piece of his hat to wear: "Hooray for Hat!"
Our daughter enjoyed this book from her very first read - it's told with simple language and a clear narrative, perfectly matched by a bright colour palette and highly expressive animals.