Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Paddington's Picture Book

I have always looked forward to sharing books with my children that I loved as a child and my two have a special interest in Paddington since seeing the film at Christmas. 
We have occasionally got the current Paddington picture books out of the library but they've never been that excited by them. 

On a visit to my parents a while ago I suddenly saw my old edition of Paddington's Picture Book and quickly stowed it away to bring home. It even has writing in the front with my name, address, the last three digits of my phone number (was that all that was needed in the 80s?) and a picture of a bird with the word 'bird' written next to it. Priceless! 

I remember the stories in this book so well. I must have read them a lot when I first started reading properly. It has seven stories: Paddington Bear, Paddington's Garden, Paddington at the Circus, Paddington Goes Shopping, Paddington at the Tower, and Paddington at the Sea-Side. My girls particularly like Paddington at the Circus when he goes to rescue the high wire acrobats and then drops his ice cream on the Ring Master's hat. 

One of my favourites is Paddington's Garden where each of them get given a section of the garden and Paddington ends up making a rockery out of some cement from the builders after losing his marmalade. I can remember trying to make my own rockery as a child after reading that story. 

The Sea-Side is probably the most funny when Paddington thinks the Punch and Judy show is someone hurting the Brown's Judy and ends up with the show in the sea. 

The illustrations are beautiful and to me, because I grew up with this version, this is the definitive Paddington (I know Peggy Fortnum was the original illustrator for the paperbacks!). In fact Fred Banbery didn't do many of the Paddington illustrations and is probably one of the least known artists. It's got a very seventies feel to it but the detail and artistry is just lovely. It's wonderful having a trip down memory lane and enjoying sharing it so much. I'm not sure my kids are going to love all the books I loved as a child but so far so good! 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The First Hippo on the Moon by David Walliams and Tony Ross

We've had The First Hippo on the Moon out of the library for ages now. It's gone down a treat with both my girls and we've all been really enjoying reading it. So much so that I've been meaning to buy the Comic Relief book that David Walliams and Tony Ross have done called The Queen's Orang-Utan. That one looks fab too!
I did approach these with slight caution. I didn't want to be swayed by a celebrity name! It helped that I'd heard along the grapevine from trusted sources that these books are funny and also have a great style about them, not a million miles away from the comic twist of Roald Dahl. 

Anyway back to the Hippo on the Moon! Hilda (yes her name is Hilda!) has a dream and her jungle friends set about helping her to make it come true. It's a race to the moon for a very ordinary hippo and a rich, 'money will buy everything', hippo and guess who wins? It's full of little jokes and asides and some great bottom burps which really endeared it to my two year old and five year old. The typography is great as well. The 'BOOM' for the rocket really reverberates through the page! 
Dream Big everyone! 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

World Book Day 2015

Well I haven't done anything extraordinary for World Book Day this year but we did dress a potato up as Sleeping Beauty, a thing of absolute wonder I'm sure you'll agree. We love the Fairytale Hairdresser series where Kitty Lacey the hairdresser saves numerous fairytale characters. They are lovely twists on the original fairytales and the series seems to be going strong!

I was all ready to send daughter number one to school dressed as a jampire but the school announced it was doing 'decorate a potato as a book character'. We could have kept to our original character but the clock raced on and at 7.30am this morning Sleeping Beauty seemed easier.

Rosie took an extra book into school to show everyone. 'Help We Need a Title' by Herve Tullet is a brilliantly interactive and fun book and we've been enjoying reading it at home very much. The characters in the book talk to the reader and tell them that they're not quite ready to be seen because the author hasn't finished yet. Then the author appears! It's a great, imaginative read and I'd highly recommend it.

Finally I went into daughter number two's nursery and read them a story as part of their World Book Day celebrations. I couldn't decide what to read until I remembered Monkey Nut and how much fun we've all had reading it together. It has two spiders fighting over a monkey nut with a surprising conclusion. The main fun is reading the noises aloud and enjoying it together!

I also took Wow! said the Owl which is a lovely gentle book about colours. They seemed to enjoy it. They all sat still and shouted out when I asked them questions!
 So that's World Book Day from me. Keep reading!!

Monday, 19 January 2015

In praise of book tokens

This is a slightly different post in that I'm not going to focus on one particular book but I wanted to concentrate on drawing attention to the fabulous gift that is a book token. Rosie won one from her school last term for entering a writing competition. She did a wonderful job and came up with a character called Ferdie the Fox, she came up with the concept, the words and the drawings all by herself (so proud!).

We took Rosie to our local Waterstones (it was a Waterstones token otherwise we would have gone to an independent!) and she was able to choose something all by herself. Given that most children's books are under a tenner she was able to have the pick of the shop. If you gave a child a ten pound token for a toy shop it would be a very different story.

I wasn't that keen on the book she chose for herself and did try to steer her in a different direction but she was adamant that she wanted this one:

It's a very nice book, my main reason for being reluctant for her to buy it is that she already has a few of them (it's a series) and I thought she might find something with a bit more longevity in the story section. However I think the thing that I've learnt most from this whole process is the pride that Rosie has in having chosen something for herself (and knowing she earned it). She's shown it to everyone and has spent hours looking at it and placing the stickers.

We did also get the latest Kitty Lacey book - which we both love and has had many readings at bedtime already.

So I guess the message from this post is, get a child a book token and give them the gift of a book and freedom of choice!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Have You Ever Ever Ever? by Colin McNaughton and Emma Chichester Clark

This book feels like a love letter to libraries and for that reason alone I love it. I hate it when I read about libraries being forced to close or run by volunteers and their budgets being more and more squeezed. This coupled with a huge literacy push from the government is such a muddling contradiction and makes me mad!
Anyway I am not writing to rant about the failures of those on high to protect our precious libraries but to discuss Have You Ever Ever Ever which beautifully encapsulates the magic and brilliance that can be found within the four walls of a library. It's a cryptic tease of a book which draws you in and through a journey with different well-known (nursery and fairytale) characters. It points out the general craziness of nursery rhyme characters and fairytales in a gentle mocking way to a boy sitting in a playground on his own. It's a poignant image a child playing by himself in an empty playground and makes the big reveal that books can introduce you to a whole different world of friends and scenarios much more powerful. The idea that the library (and books) are full of these wonderful characters just waiting to burst out is a lovely image and just really rather fabulous!

I love the illustrations of Emma Chichester Clark anyway and this book is beautifully done, the repetition and rhythm of the text by Colin McNaughton is lovely. My daughters love it because they know all the characters (with the exception of Punchinello!) and they can join in the story telling. They like to chant the text back at me! All in all a wonderful book which celebrates the magic and secret worlds that books can draw you into.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Charlie and Lola's Extremely New Play

We're having a lovely time with Charlie and Lola at the moment, reading their books and going to see them at the theatre!

Charlie and Lola's Extremely New Play is on at Norwich Playhouse this week. It's a lovely theatre to take children to see productions because of its relatively small size plus the seating is great with clear views. I took both my girls (5 years old and 2 years old) to see it and they both loved the play. It is loosely based on the seasons with as many different plots from the books as they could squeeze in! The amount of effects they used was extremely impressive, I think they were only missing a smoke machine! I had the good fortune (or otherwise) to sit directly underneath the snow machine so that was hilarious for everyone in my party.
It was an unusual children's theatre production in that the voices of Charlie and Lola were pre-recorded (so very recognisable). The characters were puppets and skilfully manipulated by the puppeteers who also constantly changed and rearranged the set. The effects really were magical and the kids got very excited by the giant fish on sticks that swooped through the theatre and the leaves blowing, bubbles floating and the snow coming. All in all it was great and a lovely production, I'm not sure if the tour is continuing but if it comes near you, do go!

We're also enjoying a particular Charlie and Lola book at the moment, This is Actually My Party. The sibling relationship is presented so well in this book and I think it's why both my girls love it. They can understand the youngest wanting to be so involved that she nearly ruins the party for the oldest. It's a funny story of Charlie having his birthday (monster themed) party and Lola trying to help but not really thinking that maybe Charlie would like to open his own presents and cards and play his own party games. It's delightful!

I do like all the Charlie and Lola books we have read but my absolute favourite is I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, a sublime book - up there with the greats! A lot of the later books are based on Lauren Child's characters, and written with the TV scripts in mind, so although they are great stories they are not such complete picture books. So if you haven't read any of them yet I would recommend starting with this one.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Mrs Pepperpot Learns to Swim

I love Mrs Pepperpot Learns to Swim, it's a lovely, gentle fantastical tale about a little old lady being envious of the freedom of the children she sees frolicking in the water and deciding to do something about it. I remember reading Mrs Pepperpot when I was a child but I don't think we ever had this one.

My oldest daughter has recently really taken to swimming and is very confident about going on her own to her swimming lessons, as well as loving swimming as a family, so I think this really ticks all her boxes. My youngest daughter really likes it because she spends a lot of time being a frog at the moment and she also likes to swim, but not as much as she likes to pretend she's a frog! Ribbit!

Mrs Pepperpot is very special because she shrinks, usually when she least expects it. In this story she shrinks just as she is jumping into the woodland pool. It suddenly seems like an ocean to her and she panics and is rescued by what seems like a very large frog, who teaches her to swim. She's an unusual heroine, being a middle aged woman whose concerns are mainly domestic, but she's brilliant!

I must say that it has been a real joy rediscovering Mrs Pepperpot and I think we will be reading many more of them in the next year or so - I have my eye on Mrs Pepperpot's Christmas for the season which is nearly upon us (hold back, it's not quite December yet!).