Peapod’s Reading Round Up – Dog Days!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m going to split this week’s Round Up into a few posts then have a rethink as it’s getting longer and longer.

Yesterday we looked at bedtime books today I’m going to highlight some of the books he’s been choosing from his bookcase during the day.

There’s a fair bit of crossover, but I’ll only post in his daytime reads those that he’s choosing to repeatedly go back to.

What have we read during the day this week?

Peapod has a real thing about cats and dogs. We don’t have pets but he loves seeing them when we go out (we have been known to go out just to try and see some!) and he loves books about them.

We’ve talked about Axel Scheffler’s Pip the Puppy before, but along with that these are probably his three favourite ‘dog’ books and we have been reading them for months now!

100 Dogs by Michael Whaite

A rhyming, rhythmic book full of things to spot, including the ‘lost dog’. It bounces along, is full of fun and features every dog you could possibly think of!

Peapod’s favourite thing is to find the dogs doing a wee and a poo (of course it is!) and I love the final spread which shows all the dogs.

This really is an enjoyable book to read aloud – we’ve read it countless times over the past couple of months and I’m not tired of it yet!

Dogs by Emily Gravett

I love Emily Gravett’s illustrations and she captures beautifully all manner of dogs here.

A great way of looking at opposites, similarities and differences this is a lovely book that takes a more realistic look at the different types of dog you can find, with a great ‘surprise’ ending that Peapod loves!

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton

We’re big Chris Haughton fans so back at the start of the year when Peapod started showing such an interest in dogs, I knew we had to get the board book of this! As you can tell, it’s been well-loved!

George’s owner Harris goes out leaving George trying to resist the temptation of cake, soil and a cat to chase…

We love this! Chris Haughton’s unique illustrative style with bright, bold, blocky images is so expressive and the story is brilliant in the way it manages to be predictable and fresh! The way the repetition, build up and reveals gradually lead us to the ending are so clever and very funny and the ending itself is brilliantly open but funny regardless!

Have you any favourite dog books? Have you read any of these?

Peapod’s Reading Round Up – Bedtime

I feel like we’ve only just got started with this, but it seems to be getting longer and longer, especially as Peapod is currently reading a squillion a day (or the same book a squillion times…) so I’m going to split this week’s into a few posts then have a rethink…

What have we read at bedtime this week?

Bedtime books tend to be a mix of our picks and Peapod’s. Often one of each as, he picks a repeated read and we choose something new, not read for a while or that links to our day in some way.

A lot of his picks crossover into the books he’s read during the day so I’ll put those in that post, though we’ve been reading them at bedtime too.

Our picks this week…

We’ve read some rather wolfish books, accompanied of course by some rather excellent howling. We read –

Little Wise Wolf by Gijs van der Hammen and Hanneke Siemensma. You can read our review here.

The Wolf, The Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, which I can’t believe I’ve not reviewed – a hilarious tale, with the unexpected and unique edge you’d expect from this pair. A mouse is gobbled up by a wolf, only to find a duck already in residence and a woodcutter threatening their home…

Born Bad by CK Smouha and Stephen Smith. This wolf is fed up if being bad, but there’s no changing it is there? After all, a leopard can’t change its spots…but there’s plenty of creatures to show wolf (and us) how they can change, giving our protagonist the confidence to break the mould.

The bright, bold illustrative style and use of information about real, unusual creatures saves this from being just another message-book and makes it really interesting and enjoyable.

I also picked out Some Birds by Matt Spink as Peapod is mad on birds at the moment – we have to save some bread for them whenever we eat any, the seed is topped up in the feeder as often as he can convince us to do it, he loves watching them from the window and has been playing with his pretend ones all day today too!

This is another book I thought I’d reviewed but seemingly haven’t. The illustrations are just stunning; the rhyming text is short, expressive and perfect for little ones to join in with – either verbally or with svyiond (or both of course!) and the ending is hopeful and positive without laying it on thick. I’d really love to see more from this author!

It has also been a ladybird loving week! We found one in the garden last Monday or Tuesday and now have to go out looking for it every day! We have spotted it a few times and Peapod loves it, going back to check if it’s still there periodically and showing us both often.

So, we went ladybird themed for bedtime (and consequently have re-read a few times too!) with What the Ladybird Heard and What the Ladybird Heard Next by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks.

This series has really grown on me and I’m definitely a convert now, which is lucky as Peapod and his Dad really like these.

Peapod loves spotting and naming the animals and could (does) spend an age just on the covers and inside spread pointing at the animals in turn getting us to name them and/or making the noises himself.

Ten Little Ladybirds by Melanie Gerth and Laura Huliska-Beith. OK, not a bedtime one, but another he loves to look at during the day, feeling and counting the ladybirds on each page.

So I’ll be back over the next few days with more of this week’s Redding Round Up before I rejig it next week. Thanks for bearing with me!

What bedtime stories have you shared this week? Have you read any of these?

WWW Wednesday 1/4/20

WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday.

What are you currently reading?

The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle

I’m not far in but I’m really enjoying this and it’s just the sort of read I need at the moment, especially as I’m reading the ebook at night. I feel I’ve picked it up at just the right time.

Where the Wilderness Lives by Jess Butterworth

This is another absolute gem that I feel like I’ve picked up at just the right time, though I’m hoping for an autumn re-read as the first part is just so full of cosy, autumnal vibes! I am a huge fan of Jess’ books and this is no exception, loving it.

What have you just finished reading?

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

I really enjoyed this. Full review soon!

What will you read next?

Physical copy – I’m not sure yet. I need to make my April picks but since my adult picks have been sidelined this month and last I’m not sure it’s really making much difference picking in advance anyway! Maybe Ele Fountain’s Lost. Ebook – Hmm, not sure. I really fancy something detective-y but haven’t got much that fits the bill and gave do many books that need reading without adding to them, so… Audiobook – I’m seriously considering DNF-ing Moby Dick, at least temporarily, and going for something lighter or more familiar. Maybe The Borrowers or The Secret Garden. Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?

Jungledrop

I was lucky enough to be offered a copy of this for review and I am beyond tardy in posting it – I’m sorry! All views and opinions are my own.

Jungledrop by Abi Elphinston, illustrated by George Ermos

As most of you will already know, I am an absolutely massive fan of Abi’s books and had been VERY, VERY excited about this since finishing the absolutely tremendous Rumblestar last May.

Following that was never going to be easy, but rest assured Abi’s done it again!

This is the second full length book in the Unmapped Chronicles, each of which sees children from the Faraway (our world) journey to the Unmapped Kingdoms, where our weather is made, to defeat the evil Morg as she tries to gain control. But unlike many series, these can be read out of order quite easily.

While this book refers to the events of Rumblestar (we bump into one of the characters from that book in this and I was so excited when I realised who it was!) but you don’t need any prior knowledge and there’s no real spoilers from reading this one that would prevent you going back to enjoy Rumblestar (or Everdark).

jungledrop map

So, in we go. We’re heading back to the Unmapped Kingdoms, this time on a magical train to Jungledrop, with the brilliantly named twins Fox and Fibber Petty-Squabble.

I have to hand it to Abi, when it comes to names, she gets them spot on – with Utterly Thankless in Rumblestar and this pair here (not to mention Heckle, Total Shambles, Tedious Niggle and more!) I can’t wait to see who she comes up with in the next installment (yes, I’m already excited for the next one before this one is out!)

We meet Fox and Fibber in a wonderfully Dahl-esque scene in which we’re also introduced to their frankly awful parents. This horrid pair have no interest in their children, they see them only as useful tools to make money and develop their shady and deceitful businesses.

They have taught them the Petty-Squabble way of life, namely to stomp on anyone and everyone who gets in your way. To show kindness is weakness. It’s every man, woman and child for themself in this household and if you’re not making the family businesses money, you’re looking at a one way trip to Antarctica. Thatcher would have loved them.

Fox and Fibber are therefore brilliantly bad (at least at first!) They are probably the most ‘unlikeable’ characters ever to set out (begrudgingly and with alterior, selfish motives!) to save the world and readers will both delight and despair at their unbelievable rudeness, bad manners and selfish ways.

Written with a lot of humour, which children will love, it is also underpinned with a real understanding of human nature and the effects we all have on each other, especially that of influential adults on children in their care.

The way we’re asked to consider the reasons behind behaviours, and the way in which the seeds of change are gradually sown and grown in this pair really gives the characters a depth and credibility, as we see their internal struggles with what they know and what they’re coming to realise from those they meet. Indeed, to write such seemingly disagreeable protagonists and have us utterly invested in them, rooting for them and caring about them almost as soon as their adventure begins is no mean feat!

The supporting cast are also a wonderfully eclectic bunch. Doogie Herbalsneeze is fab and I would love a spin off featuring him. Total Shambles stole a little bit of my heart and the Lofty Husks were a sense of calm power – I loved how different they were to the Lofty Husks in Rumblestar, and the message they gave our twins (and us) about leadership and authority, that respect should be given but also earned, and that kindness, empathy and fairness are emphatically strengths not weaknesses.

And then there’s Heckle. Oh, Heckle! If you’ve read Everdark and liked Bartholomew, you are going to LOVE Heckle. And if you haven’t, well you’ll love her anyway! She is the brilliant companion to the twins’ adventure as she candidly and drily shares both her views and the thoughts of those around her.

jungledrop

As well as the characters, there’s the flora and fauna and inhabitants of Jungledrop. Abi’s books always overflow with imagination and her world-building is extraordinary. I don’t where the ideas come from or how she keeps them coming and keeps each world do unique, but Jungledrop is every bit as fantastical as you’d expect!

There’s glow in the dark plants, sloths having bubble baths, a treetop unicycle network, a tantrum tree that will not stand bad manners, hunchback trees full of faces… Then there’s the Constant Whinge with the Jungle Apothecary’s peculiar potions, cures and remedies; Doodler’s Haven with it’s only waterfall, hissing cauldrons and canvasses of all kinds of rain…

And, my favourite – a forest of weird and wonderful trees and plants that make me wonder if Abi ever watched Greenclaws as a child (I’m aware that reference will be lost on most but I couldn’t help but think of the useful and impossible plants he grew in his tree when reading about the Chapterbarks, Left-Behinders and Gobblequicks!)

Sadly, there’s also the destroyed areas of Jungledrop – those ravaged by drought or by Morg and the description of the Faraway with no rain for months either, which are equally well written but rather more sobering as they highlight, as Abi’s books almost always do, environmental issues, especially those linked to climate change, and our role in protecting the planet.

Which leads us of course to the return of Morg and the Midnights (still think someone needs to call their band that). This time there’s a rather Wizard-of-Oz-like band of monkeys (with a brilliantly imaginative and clever twist) scurrying through the jungle, malevolent and mischievous, doing her bidding, led by fearsome giant ape Screech.

Tense, dark and dangerous, its hard to see even nearing the end of the book how Fox and Fibber can come through and defeat Morg, especially as so much seems stacked against them. But

“Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more powerful than a child in possession of a plan.”

The writing itself is fantastic – each word and phrase well-placed and, as you’d expect, the use of language is rich, playful and an utter delight to read.

As ever with Abi’s books, I haven’t come close to doing this justice or to putting into words exactly why it is so great and what it is I love so much about it.

Suffice to say though, I do love it – cleverly written and with humour and imagination absolutely oozing from its pages, it’s a thoroughly gripping adventure with danger lurking at every turn. Threaded through this are strong themes of kindness, growth and treating both other people and our world with respect and consideration, making this a book brimming with both excitement and heart.

I now return to waiting impatiently for both my finished, pre-ordered copy and the next Unmapped Chronicle…

Peapod’s Reading Round Up 26/3/20

Peapod’s Reading Round Up is just that I hope – a chance to record what we’ve read at bedtime as well as any library books or board books and any he’s been particularly drawn to during the day.

What have we read at bedtime this week?

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you – it feels like a lifetime since our last round up! All great, though nothing new.

I know we’ve read Tad by Benji Davies, Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, The Hug by Eoin Mclaughlin and Polly Dunbar… and I know there’ll be others!

What else have we been reading?

Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back is still being enjoyed – “Hat! Hat” – as is Axel Scheffler’s Pip the Puppy (both in our last couple of round ups)

He’s still enjoying the Jane Foster books too, mostly ‘Let’s Eat’ and ‘Dress Up’ because he loves the moving parts.

They’re lovely books – I spotted them on someone else’s blog (I can’t remember whose, I’m sorry! If it was yours, let me know and I can credit you properly) and ordered them from work as I love her illustrations.

The sliding parts are fab, and they have a really stylish, modern and colourful feel. And with each page relating to everyday things they’ll be familiar with and a direct question about the items on the page they’re brilliant for vocabulary, language and understanding too.

My only minor grumble is with some slightly flimsy flaps (were down a butter knife already!). But, would I still buy them (or a new one in the series of they do one)? Absolutely, yes!

We have also been reading these two on repeat, about a billion times a day!

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury was never one I was fussed over. I liked it but could take it or leave it, but after reading it over and over (and over and over!) it’s really grown on me and I love it!

It’s the sweetest, warmest book that is just the best for sharing as it manages to capture something so personal and encourages lots of touch and play with your little one, whilst at the same time delivering a clear message of diversity and showing that what we have in common being more important than our differences.

I have to say when Peapod toddles over with this one, backing his way onto my lap demanding “knee!” and we sit and share it, just us, it really feels special…and also very funny, as we tickle and argue about whether the baby is having medicine (which he just flat out refuses to believe because it’s on a spoon not a syringe!)

I’ll be honest, I can’t say quite the same for Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, which I really do like but am rapidly tiring of after countless reads a day!

I brought this on myself. I bought this last week after countless readings of Ten Little… and an urge (no matter how special it is!) to branch out just a little.

Peapod has taken to it like you wouldn’t believe and we now have to read it at least seventy billion times a day.

I do like it and I can’t deny it’s been fantastic for language and understanding and making connections as we name and talk about things in the pictures.

His favourite thing is pointing to the bears in turn and as I name them “daddy bear, mummy bear, baby bear” he then points to each of us.

My favourite us getting him to do his witch’s laugh on the Wicked Witch page!

So there’s lots to love but, oh, I am so done with reading it for a bit!!

We’ve started on Owl Babies, which is going down a treat, he still has his Bear Hunt story basket so we read that quite often too and I’ve ordered Hairy Maclary as a board book as I know he enjoys thode stories.

But what else – throw me your recommendations for this sort of short, classic style, story-not-interactive, rhyming, rhythmic or repetitive board books?! Which have I forgotten about?

WWW Wednesday 25/3/20

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted as I’ve been out of sorts and out of blogging action, and honestly posting reviews at the moment feels a bit odd. BUT I would like to keep it up, as its good for me if nothing else, so along with yesterday’s cheat of a review, this seemed a good way to kick start myself again! WWW Wednesday is hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’ every Wednesday.

What are you currently reading?

The Secret Starling by Judith Eagle

I’m only a chapter in, but I enjoyed Judith’s first book The Secret Starling so I’m hoping to get stuck into this over the next week.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

I’m loving this! I think I need more novels written in verse to read and I’m always such a fan.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville, audiobook read by Anthony Heald

I was keen to listen to this alongside Becoming Dinah, which is Kit de Waal’s modern take on this classic and I wanted to better understand how she’d used the original. Safe to say I’ll have to wait a bit as this is looooong! And goes into the minutae of everything! But, it’s well written and very well read. I’m not sure I’d get through it as a physical book or with a lesser narrator but I intend to stick with it as is!

What have you just finished reading?

TrooFriend by Kirsty Applebaum

Like an episode of Channel 4’s Humans for a younger audience, I had high hopes for this after loving The Middler and while I still prefer The Middler, I did enjoy this too. I think I’d have liked a bit ‘more’ from the ending.

Becoming Dinah by Kit de Waal

This was a quick read (even for me!) and I loved the way it was written using alternate chapters for the present and the events that led to it. I’m not sure yet how it relates to its inspiration, Moby Dick, as I haven’t hit far enough into the original. But I enjoyed it as a story in its own right. There were a few elements that niggled or that I’d have liked to have seen expanded on, fleshed out or given more depth, but on the whole this was an enjoyable read. Likewise, it was a bit too much of a near, happy ending for my liking, but as a YA read I think it worked.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (audiobook read by Syan Blake and Paul Chequer)

I’m glad to have read this, but I was also glad to finish it! I found it felt a bit tired, a bit obvious and rather predictable. It’s safe to say I won’t be reading the rest of the series.

Starfell: Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale by Dominique Valente

Full review soon, but I loved this! Just as imaginative and magical and warm as the first.

What will you read next?

Physical copy – I’m not sure yet. I’ve a couple of adult books if aimed to get through this month, but short, snappy chapters seem to be helping get through my slump and I have both the new Jess Butterworth, Where the Wilderness Lives, and Ele Fountain’s Lost so it will probably be one of those. Ebook – I’ve not long started The Pear Affair so I don’t know yet. It’ll be a YA or MG though. Audiobook – I think Moby Dick will take me the rest of the year so who knows!! Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading?

Max and the Midknights

I thought I’d ease my way bavk in with a cheat of a review courtesy of our nephew, Seb…

I was sent a copy of this from the publishers.

Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Pierce

I’m swamped at the moment, but when this arrived I knew just the person to help me review it!

Although it’s aimed at a slightly younger age-bracket, I knew my nephew had devoured the Wimpy Kid books and is a big fan of humour in his reading so I was sure it being a bit on the younger side wouldn’t stop him enjoying it.

Set in the middle ages, Max dreams of becoming a Knight, rather than following in the tradition of becoming a bard. But there’s no chance. That is, until Uncle Budrick is kidnapped by King Gastley. Max sets out to rescue him and save the day, helped by the ‘Midknights’.

Packed with laughs, and with a balance of cartoon style illustration and text, this is a brilliant book to ‘Bridge that gap between early chapter books and longer ones or as a’ next read’ for Dogman fans looking for a bit more text.

Here’s Seb’s review, courtesy of his mum:

“To set the scene, my 10 year old son is a big Walliams, Baddiel and Tom Fletcher fan (sorry), but he also enjoys getting stuck into a Lisa Thompson, Ross Welford and Louis Sachar book (not sorry!) – so it’s fair to say his reading tastes vary!

Initially, he enjoyed the look of this book, more illustrations and cartoony than he is used too but this did not put him off.

Reportedly a slow start, this soon picked up and he found the book to be an enjoyable read.

He enjoyed the action scenes, and the developing friendships between the main characters. The middle of the book brings an unexpected twist – I won’t spoil it for you.

The humour reminded him of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series – he should know, he’s read the lot! – and he thought it was an easy, enjoyable read which he finished in a few (late) nights.

I would be happy if he continued to read this type of book if he alternated it with a more challenging read.

All in all a solid 8 out of 10 and ‘if he writes another book, can I read it?’ The answer to any reading question is always a yes!!”

So, we think this is a very funny book with a brilliant twist perfect for its intended age group and that’s still enjoyable for older readers after some light relief, or those who are only just finding their reading feet (lacking confidence, interest or stamina perhaps).

More from Seb soon!