Thursday, 5 October 2017

Great Women Who Changed The World by Kate Pankhurst

Rosie was given Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World for her birthday and she's been dipping in and out of it and really enjoying relaying facts from it to us for the past few days. Written and illustrated by a descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst it's a great non-fiction title which is proving to be a real inspiration and hit with our suddenly rather grown up eight year old! 
I particularly like the mix of great women they have included in here, it's diverse and also spans many interests from swimming, reading, science, flying and even fashion. It's nicely set out with fun facts and interesting summaries of their lives. I think it will serve well as a stepping point to finding out more about these people. Rosie is particularly interested in the Anne Frank story and although she's a bit young to read the actual diary yet it's a good start.

The woman featured are: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Anne Frank. I would imagine it was pretty hard to narrow it down and choose who made it into the book!

The publisher of the book, Bloomsbury, have also provided an activity pack you can download from their website. It's got a sort of quiz about each woman first but afterwards it is more about the child and discussing what they think about things and how they see themselves and the world which I think could be a really lovely and interesting thing to do with your child.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Katie and the Dinosaurs by James Mayhew

At first my eight year old seemed more interested in Katie and the Dinosaurs than my five year old, who I'd picked it up for. But then suddenly my five year old started flicking through it and now we're reading it every night. I'd like a little more variety in reading habits but I think at this time of year something familiar goes a long way, especially since she's just started school. She's totally knackered already! How are we going to get to half-term and then Christmas?

The Katie books by James Mayhew are a very well-loved series which started out as a picture book with a little girl called Katie going to visit famous paintings. We haven't actually read those ones and they're on my list to pick up next.

Katie and the Dinosaurs has Katie and her Grandma in the Natural History Museum (I think we're on a museum-themed-roll at the moment - after The Missing Mammoth last time!) on a visit to look at the dinosaurs. I must say the last time I went to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs I gave up after half an hour because the queues were so crazy. But that was during a school holiday. Katie and her Grandma seem to have the museum to themselves, they must be there on a Monday, during term-time and just as it opens!

Katie wanders off, leaving Grandma resting on a bench and finds herself in a bit of the museum she doesn't recognise, at a door which warns her: 'ABSOLUTELY NO ADMITTANCE WHATSOEVER'. Of course she can't resist a peek and finds herself in a world where dinosaurs are living. She makes friends with a Hadrosaurus who is hiding from a T-Rex and can't find his family. They climb an Apatosaurus to get a better view and find the Hadrosaurus' home and then they set off. But on every page an unsuspecting Katie and her new friend are being followed by the T-Rex. I can imagine a younger child would particularly enjoy spotting it each time.

Hadrosaurus is eventually reunited with his family and Katie shares the contents of her lunchbox with them all (cucumber sandwiches because they are plant eaters). But then disaster! The Tyrannosaurus Rex has found them and he fancies a tasty snack in the shape of Katie. They all have to run away, until Katie remembers the meat pie she has, handily still in her lunchbox! The T-Rex is placated and Katie manages to escape back to the museum after a slobbery dinosaur kiss from Hadrosaurus. She finds Grandma who asks her where on earth she's been? Katie replies that she's seen all kinds of dinosaurs and would Grandma like to see them too? They set off together. We never know if they go back in, which is quite nice really since it makes a good activity to ask your child 'what happened next?'.

I really like the mix of dinosaur information and story that is so well combined in this book. It's not overloaded with dinosaur facts but there are plenty of name checks and the plant eaters and the meat eaters are noted and the landscape is great to look at and understand the different types of environment. All in all, a lovely book!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth by Ellie Hattie and Karl James Mountford

We picked up a copy of The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth from our local library (in fact they had some lovely books just loitering on a table so we took a whole armful home with us!). It's a lovely whimsical book which takes you through a beautiful Victorian museum room by room with the ruse of finding a young mammoth that has gone missing. The premise is that at midnight there is a magic hour when everything in the museum comes alive, the problem is that the young mammoth, Teddy, has gone missing and needs to be back in place before the hour is over.

There are lovely funny touches like the room containing the Extinct and Endangered Creatures doing an aerobics class. It's full of eclectic stuff, like all the best museums, with lots of different (some quite random!) information. There are loads of fun facts under the different flaps. It's great for reading to different levels of reader since you don't have to examine every flap and read all the text but you can if the child is interested or wants to read it themself (in the case of my nearly eight year old!).

I think this book would make a really lovely gift for a museum mad (or mammoth mad!) child. It has really lovely thick paper and beautiful flaps that work well inside each spread. Gorgeous!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long

The happiest of places, the Super Happy Magic Forest is home to the happiest of people. But one day the source of all the happiness (the mystical crystals of life) go missing. So five willing heroes (a unicorn, a fairy, a gnome, a faun and a mushroom) band together and go after the magic crystals, battling against all the odds they reach the source of all evil, Goblin Tower. Except the crystals aren't there!

I won't ruin the ending for you (of course it all comes right in the end!) but would just quickly like to point out that there are several similarities to Lord of the Rings in this brilliant picture book. That's not a nit picking thing, since I'm rather impressed that it has managed to work so well. The combination of artwork, speech bubbles and text gives it a fresh feel and there are quite a few contemporary references to modern films which is really quite clever. I think this is quite an ambitious story which manages to work really well within the picture book confines. My two daughters (four and seven years old) have certainly really taken a shine to it and indeed this morning I heard them playing a version of the story combined with the Trolls movie plot - which they're currently obsessed by. So the highest praise indeed - re-enactment!

I love the fact it works on a variety of levels, you can just read the simple story, you can add in the funny speech bubbles and you can also work out a couple of puzzles as you go. It's sort of a picture book version of an early graphic novel. It would make a great interactive app!

So in conclusion we love this book! And it's being very well used. We got our current copy from the library but we'll be purchasing it as soon as we send it back. Matty Long has a website which has several of the pages from the book so if you want to try before you buy take a look! And the sequel Super Happy Magic Forest and The Slug of Doom came out last year too, we will be hunting it down very shortly!