Books My Toddler Loves

Books My Toddler Loves

I Love My Birthday

Family funPosted by Max 15 Oct, 2017 07:44PM

I Love My Birthday by Giles Andreae (words) and Emma Dodd (illustration), published by Orchard Books

"Happy Too Too" declares our two year old daughter, reaching for this marvellous celebration of a young child's birthday. Her adaptation of the Happy Birthday to You song has already become one of her catchphrases.

This book is part of the excellent series written by Giles Andreae and illustrated by Emma Dodd, which depict the unconditional love of a family for its littlest members. The smooth and light-hearted rhyme is perfectly matched to the pastel and primary palette of the bold and engaging illustrations.

The book follows the whole of the little one's birthday, starting with the early morning wake up (at 6.05am according to the clock in the parents' room) and morning cuddles (at 6.10).

Having recently hosted our daughter's second birthday party with a large group of family and friends, we empathise with the parents' effort of entertaining, clothing and feeding the children with one hand and blowing up balloons and hanging banners with the other.

But, as ever, it's the small things that count - the child in the book is of course excited about his presents, but is most thrilled by helping to make the cake, with its "naughty treats" and chocolate flakes.

When it come to the page with the lit candles our daughter loves trying to help blow them out, while we adults join the boy's mum in giving "a little sigh" when the front door closes as the last guests leave.

This brilliant book rightly celebrates a special annual event, but is a perfect choice to read throughout the year.

(You can find our review of I Love You Baby, from the same series, in our A-Z search)

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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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