Books My Toddler Loves

Books My Toddler Loves

Leaf-fall favourites

Seasons and naturePosted by Max 07 Oct, 2017 03:13PM

Autumn has very much arrived - the chill in the air and a carpet of crunchy leaves, our walk to school coloured by gorgeous orange, brown and yellow hues.

Here are some lovely books on the theme of the changing of the seasons that our youngest daughter has been enjoying.
Alfie in the Woods by Debi Gliori, published by Bloomsbury Childrens

This is the tale of Alfie's autumnal adventures in the woods one morning with his father.

Alfie is joined by a host of woodland creatures, who come peeking out of the trees, for his imaginative play in the russet leaves covering the forest floor. Each double page spread depicts Alfie imitating an animal, with a "snuffle, rustle" or a "buzzzeee bizzzeee" and the use of some forest props.
Debi Gliori's distinctive illustrations bring Autumn to life, and we can almost hear the crunch of all those fallen leaves. Our daughter loves joining in with the sound effects for each of Alfie's imaginations.

The end of the tale sees Alfie carried home by his Daddy, thoroughly worn out by his outdoor play and hoarding his forest treasures.

We find this book ideal for the transition from board books to longer picture books for our youngest daughter as it holds her attention with an ideal word-to-picture ratio.

Up and Down - A walk in the countryside by Rosalind Beardshaw, published by Nosy Crow and the National Trust

This is a lovely autumn/winter tale, in board book format and is a collaboration between the National Trust and Nosy Crow.

The book follows a pair of friends as they adventure their way through a chilly, snowy day. Each pair of pages bears just two words in opposite, starting with "inside" and "outside", as one puts on her cosy boots and the other is already outside in the snow.
The fun begins "up" the hill and whizzing "down" again on a sledge. The pair enjoy all the countryside has to offer on a winter's day, from the tall to the short, the quiet and the loud, all the way to the end of the day when they happily return home to the inviting light shining from the house, leaving the darkening skies behind.

Each double page spread is beautifully illustrated and depicts all kinds of fun and discoveries that a walk in the countryside has to offer.

Your Hand in My Hand by Mark Sperring (words) and Britta Teckentrup (illustrations), published by Orchard Books (Hachette)

This beautifully illustrated story follows another walk through the countryside - this time a mouse and their little one.

The walk starts in the depths of winter, progresses through spring, summer, then autumn before returning to winter again. It's a lovely story to introduce little ones to the joy that can be found in observing the passing of the seasons. The gentle verse rightly observes "the world's full of wonders, there's so much to see".
The book demonstrates the wonders to be found in each season, whether it's splashing in the puddles of autumn or the "long hazy days" of summer. The message of having fun in the outdoors whatever the weather or season will resonate with parents of young children - allowing the children to burn off seemingly endless energy and the fresh air giving the next best thing to a caffeine shot for the parents.

Some other books we've reviewed previously, which also feature the changing of the seasons:

Wow Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood
Snow by Sam Usher
Apple Pigs by Ruth Orbach

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Blocks: Let's Share!

FriendshipPosted by Max 21 Sep, 2017 07:16PM

Blocks: Let's Share by Irene Dickson, published by Nosy Crow

Our youngest daughter, who is soon to be two, is very loyal to her favourite books, often requesting them over and over again in one sitting. One such current favourite is this simple, lovely board book, which is fitting to feature on International Day of Peace. It's theme is sharing and, ultimately, learning that there is more pleasure to be had in collaboration than division.

The book starts with a peaceful scene of Ruby, building with her red blocks, whilst wearing her shiny red shoes and red stripy top. Ruby is content until...along comes Benji with his enticing blue cart full of blue blocks. For a while, Ruby and Benji play side by side, each with their own coloured blocks.

After a while the allure of Ruby's red blocks becomes too much for Benji and he helps himself to one, much to Ruby's dismay: "Ruby wants her red block back" and they grapple it between them, until - turning to our daughter's favourite double page spread - "CRASH", and they and the blocks all come tumbling down.

Ruby, who has lost a shoe in the melee, and Benji sit amongst the mixed up blocks looking forlorn and rosy cheeked. Happily, it doesn't take the toddlers long to find a new and better way to play - "together" - with both the red and the blue blocks.

Peace is restored and they harmoniously build a magnificent tower of red and blue blocks. But wait: Here's Guy, with a cart full of green blocks! Guy is smiling though, and the sense at the end of the book is that these toddlers will soon find a way to incorporate a third party into their play.

Beautiful, bright, block colour illustrations are a perfect match for the crisp, clear language. It's an ideal choice visually and verbally for an early listener and early reader, and is sure to remain a firm favourite in our home.

For more books featuring peace-making, reconciliation and making amends, try these (all reviewed on our site):

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Edgar and the Sausage Inspector

Cats, dogs and dinosaursPosted by Max 17 Sep, 2017 07:36PM
Edgar and the Sausage Inspector by Jan Fearnley, published by Nosy Crow

Authority is often found in a hat, a badge and a notepad - this is true in many situations and certainly is true in this tale of an alleyway cat called Edgar. When Edgar sets out to get a treat for his sister, he's delighted to find her favourite - a string of tasty sausages.

But as he heads home a rat in a hat declares he is The Inspector. Furthermore, he states that the sausages are required for testing as he suspects them to be "bad" (there have been "reports"). Off scampers the scrawny rat, squeeeeeeezing through a hole in the wall, and Edgar returns to his house empty-handed, much to the disgruntlement of his hungry sister Edith, who is not impressed by his story of the hatted rat.

The next day, the rat requisitions Edgar's cakes, and Edgar feels unable to challenge The Inspector's authority - as he's now added a badge that states his title for all to see. The rat, plumper than before, scoots away.

The third time, rat has added a notebook and pen, and demands Edgar hands over his latest hamper of goodies. Edgar is impressed, but the rat's successes as an inspector have made him large and juicy now, and Edgar is less interested in his credentials and more in his taste...

This is a gloriously funny tale, with great set pieces and a delightfully acerbic ending of cat comeuppance. Fine double page spreads are packed with detail (can you spot the pair of tiny birds in every scene?) and we are treated to a mouth-watering series of Parisian patisseries and boucheries.

The words are lively and some are given extra emphases to help with dramatic retellings, alongside memorable characters that are full of expression. 'Edgar' is a big hit with us and is sure to become a long-term household favourite.

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First Day at Bug School

Starting schoolPosted by Max 08 Sep, 2017 04:35PM

First Day At Bug School
(by Sam Lloyd, published by Bloomsbury)

Our older daughter starts school next week. It's a happy relief that she's excited, but we're stereotypically emotional. There are many wonderful picturebooks that take on the theme of starting school - which can be hugely useful for helping little ones (and their parents) get in the right frame of mind and ease some of the worries and uncertainties away.

One of our favourites over the summer has been First Day at Bug School. This is a delightful depiction of day one for the new insect intake.

After greeting the children and taking the register, Miss Bee directs the creepy crawlies to their own area of learning. Mr Wincy is teaching the young spiders not to go up the water spout, the crickets are rehearsing a new song, and the little ladybirds are counting each other's spots. The fleas are excelling at PE and the dung beetles are desperate for the loo.

The pages are packed with delightful details and bright, engaging illustrations. A clever and fun rhyme throughout moves the story along at a nice pace. Before we know it, it's home time and the parents are waiting at the gate - met by their children with a great cheer of "can we come again tomorrow?"

This is a terrifically entertaining and comforting picturebook which nicely depicts a balance of the fun and the routine of school, of making friends and trying new things.

Other recommended new school titles include:

School for Dads - Fun and frolics in this tale of child and parent role reversal;
My Busy Being Bella Day
- Superb depiction of the push and pull of sibling rivalry;
School Gremlins - Fabulous flapping fun as gremlins take over the classroom;
I Am Absolutely Too Small For School - Charlie and Lola prepare for school

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Three Feline Favourites for International Cat Day

Cats, dogs and dinosaursPosted by Max 07 Aug, 2017 08:57PM

As our nearly two year old discovers an adoration for books and being read to, our four and a half year old is starting to explore a new dimension - recognising letters and reading words for herself.

Books that suit them both are therefore ideal for quiet story times, where engaging illustrations are matched by easy read font and clear language.

Here are three favourites, featuring feline friends to mark International Cat Day.

Lulu Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn (words) and Rosalind Beardshaw (illustrations), published by Alanna Books

Published today, the latest in the delightful series of Lulu stories describes the responsibility and reward of caring for a pet. Lulu really wants a cat. Her mum has told her how much work looking after one would be. Together, they find out more, borrowing a book from the library, reading up about them and practicing good pet care.

After finding out about pet adoption, Lulu is chosen by a little grey kitten when she visits a cat rescue shelter. Her dad helps Lulu get the house ready and, once home, kitten Makeda (named after an African Queen) cautiously shrugs off her shyness and comes out to play.

We see Lulu having lots of fun, and keeping track of her responsibilities with a wall chart of duties. A final spread shows them both enjoying a read of Puss in Boots. The words are charming and clear, ideally matched to warm, happy and colourful illustrations - perfect for engaging young readers.

Jaspers Beanstalk
by Nick Butterworth (words) and Mick Inkpen (illustrations) published by Hodder Children's

In this instalment of the ever-determined Jasper we follow his efforts to nurture and grow a giant Beanstalk. We see he's been inspired by the tale of Jack. Taking on a different task each day, we watch him dig a hole on Monday and then plant a bean, water, rake, hoe and mow.

When Sunday arrives he waits all day but nothing seems to be happening. But, "a long, long, long time later", after being distracted by a good book, sure enough the beanstalk grows and on the final page we see Jasper disappearing up the stalk and out of the book.

This story of how patience reaps rewards is told with a minimum of fuss (in fewer than 100 words), through a simple and engaging narrative that highlights the passing of time through clear references to the days of the week. Mick Inkpen's illustrations are light, fun, and as distinctive as ever. This is a perfect choice for both new listeners and early readers.

by Linda Newbury (words) and Catherine Rayner (illustrations), published by Orchard Books

We've written before that Catherine Rayner is our favourite illustrator of the natural world, and our view that her depictions of animals are second to none. Here, her distinctive watercolour and ink artistry brings to life a tiny kitten called Posy, who is discovering a new world of fun and mischief.
A light and breezy narrative tells us of Posy's alliterative adventure as a whiskers wiper and sofa scratcher. Gentle rhyming informs us that she's also a mirror puzzler and an ice cream guzzler, a sandwich checker and a board game wrecker.

A final spread shows her curled up in her mother's embrace, sound asleep, making this a lovely choice for bedtime.

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