Friday, 29 March 2013

You Can't Eat A Princess by Gillian Rogerson & Sarah McIntyre

This picture book ticks many boxes for us. Princess - yes (groan but actually I approve of Princess Spaghetti, she's ballsy and likes chocolate, it's all good). Aliens - yes (when we look at the night sky and we pick out what we can see Rosie also always mentions aliens, hmmm!). Chocolate - yes (we both love chocolate, who doesn't?). So I guess we were always going to love it. I also enjoy reading Sarah McIntyre's tweets and blog posts - partly because she's based in our old stomping ground around Greenwich.
It's Princess Spaghetti's birthday but her father, King Cupcake is missing. It turns out he's been kidnapped by aliens who are rather partial to a juicy human. It's down to the princess to rescue him in the Royal Rocket. Once she's located him she tries to persuade the aliens of the joy of chocolate instead of eating humans by inviting them to her birthday party.

This story was so successful the first time we read it that the next day we did a complete re-enactment of it before breakfast. For some reason I had to be nearly every character while Rosie directed me, but that's another blog post.

I love the text, I think it's imaginative and reads really well. And the illustrations are fab, except for the fact that they make me a bit hungry!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Child's Garden by Michael Foreman

This book is such a beautiful and hopeful story that even though it's a bit old for Rosie we have read it a lot.

Set in a war torn setting it tells the story of a little boy who sees a plant growing amongst the rubble and starts to water it. As the vine grows it provides shade and a place for children to play but then soldiers on the other side of the fence see it and demolish it. The winter comes and goes and with spring comes more new life, on the other side of the fence this time. A little girl tends her garden and the boy watches until suddenly he spies life his side of the fence and is able to nurture his garden once more. One day he hopes to be able to walk into the hills once more with all the other children and have peace. It's a lovely tale of hope and promise of a better future with children.

Although this is a bit old for a three year old and the concept of war and what the children are living in is beyond her comprehension (thank goodness). I think that it's important to try and establish how fortunate we are to live in our safe streets and lovely houses and be able to enjoy nature without even thinking about it.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Fancy Dress Farmyard by Nick Sharratt

'There's a party at the farmyard'! This is a fun vibrant picture book - it's actually a little young for my three and half year old but she still loves it. What's great is that it's suitable to read to both my children even with a three year age gap. It has rhyming text (tick for pre-speakers), bold contrasting colours (great for developing those eyes) and lots of interactivity (ideal for the 3 year old). Now to be perfectly honest the six month old doesn't do much more than sit on my knee and try to grab the book to shove in her mouth but I know that she is learning (deep down!) about what you do with a book and the great fun you can have with it.
The rhymes are short and not always that wonderful! But my three year old loves to finish them off for me or even recite them in total (sigh - yes it's one of those, we've read it every night for the last month. It's going to be time to hide it soon!). She also loves to shout out who is hiding beneath the fancy dress costume and when we lift the flap to reveal we make the animal noise, for the benefit of the 6 month old.

At the end of the book you lift the flaps of the barn and all the animals in their fancy dress are revealed. We then always have a heated discussion which goes like this:
'Mummy, which would you like to be?' 
'I'd like to be the pirate.'
'No, Mummy, you can be the princess or the fairy.'
'But I want to be the pirate.'
'Girls can't be pirates.' (shouting!)
'Girls can be anything they want to be.'
'No, you have to be the fairy.'
'Ok, but girls really can be anything they want.'
'And boys can too, ok?'
'No, mummy. I'm the princess and you're the fairy.' (pause) 'Daddy can be the pirate.' 

I think I've even been guilty of saying 'girl power' in one of these discussions before. I just cannot believe that my daughter can be so gender specific! It will get better won't it? I won't be having this argument when she's twelve (to pick an age randomly!). One of the first times we had this discussion she got so upset she started to cry about it. I don't think I ever envisaged having a daughter sobbing her heart out about not being a princess when I first had kids.

For all the crazy politics that go with this book it's definitely one of our current favourites and as I mentioned it is great to read with different aged children.