Peapod’s Picks – Happy Mother’s Day

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (often, but not always, for his bedtime stories) each week plus a review of at least one of them.

*His social media alter ego, not his real name!

This week it’s some of our favourite ‘mum’ books (and I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a cheat post as most are links to previous reviews – everyone’s allowed a best bits/recap type post once in a while, especially on Mother’s Day, right?!)

A Bit Lost by Chris Haughton

Little Owl falls out of his best, but luckily Squirrel is on hand to help find the way back to mum. A classic ‘have you seen my mummy?’ story.

You can read my original review here. And if you haven’t seen Tchéky Karyo (BBC’s Baptiste) read this on CBeebies Bedtime Stories, give it a watch – the voices are first class! I’m still hoping he’ll read Chris Haughton’s other books too!

On the Way Home by Jill Murphy

Claire has a bad knee. On her way home, she meets lots of friends and tells them all exactly what happened…or does she?!

This is not strictly a very mum-ish story at all. Her mum only features on the last couple of pages and doesn’t even have a face. But even in this bit part, she’s such a mum – comforting, understanding and reassuring, all the things a mum should be, fetching Claire the very biggest plaster in the box!

You can read my original review here.

The Large Family Books by Jill Murphy

Yes, it’s another Jill Murphy, but I couldn’t possibly mention picture book mums without a huge shout out to Mrs Large!

I’ve mentioned before how much I love the Large Family’s warmth, observational humour and realism and nowhere is this more evident than in Mrs Large, often harassed (Five Minutes Peace captures this perfectly!), the struggle is real but her love for those little elephants is abundantly clear – she’s my mum hero (especially when she caves in to the cake in A Piece of Cake!)

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson

Sarah, Percy and Bill wake up to find their mum gone. Sarah is reassuring – convincing herself as much as her brothers that mum will be back, Percy is doubtfully reassured, and Bill…well, Bill just wants his mummy!

I’ve mentioned this in other posts, I know but it’s a favourite and it’s probably the book that resonates most with me, as I definitely have a Bill! This is a go-to bedtime story when we’re having a particularly clingy time (resulting in us reading it most weeks!)

Happy Mother’s Day to you if you’re celebrating!

Do you have any favourite picture book mums?!

Peapod’s Picks/KLTR – Classic Collection #1

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (often, but not always, for his bedtime stories) each week plus a review of at least one of them.

*His social media alter ego, not his real name!

This week it’s also time for another #KLTR post, hosted by Book Bairn, Acorn Books and Laura’s Lovely Blog.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Peapod has really taken to his Hungry Caterpillar toy this week, he’s been commando-ing over to get it from the shelf and playing with it loads, so of course we’ve been reading it loads too!

Our only copy was this one:

It’s absolute treasure – it was mine and my sister’s when we were little. It also still has mum’s name inside from when she used it in school teaching, which is then semi-crossed out and replaced by mine from when I did the same.

So, we will keep it and read it too, but I wanted a more durable one for him to enjoy (read: eat) too, so we bought the board book version too.

It’s been a big hit already. To say he’s turning the pages would be a huge exaggeration but it’s lovely seeing him flip through the fruits and open and close it…in between chews of course!

When we bought it, I couldn’t resist getting the finger puppet book too. And I’m really glad we did – it’s a board book too so ticks all the handling/chewing/chucking boxes and he loves the caterpillar puppet (you guessed it, mostly he loves chewing it!). I really like that it’s a simple 1-5 counting primer using the fruit from the story but with added description – juicy oranges, tart plums etc – which makes it more interesting to read and will add to its longevity.

He’s had the cloth book for a while but has been looking at that more this week too. I love how soft and light it is – nice to hold and feel, chewable, hard to damage and even more hard to damage himself with! He also really likes grabbing the caterpillar’s head on the front!

Buying this in board book format made me think about which others we should have like this too. Obviously there’ll be those books that become favourites as he grows that we might choose to get, but I’m going to get some ‘classics’ too.

Which classic (or newer!) picture books would you add to his board book collection?

WWW Wednesday 20/3/19

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

What are you currently reading?

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi.

I was so excited to receive a copy of this to review as I’m such a fan of her writing and it’s turning out to be as weird and wonderful as I’d expect from her! It took me a while to find my stride with it but I’m loving it now.

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

I’ve done it. I’ve caved. I’m reading an e-book. I’m so disappointed in myself but it means I can read in bed again without waking Peapod! Now I just need to be able to keep my eyes open…

I’ve been meaning to read this series for AGES! Everyone has raved about it and I’m only a couple of chapters in, but I can see why!

What have you just finished reading?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling, read by Stephen Fry.

I’m still really enjoying the Harry Potter audiobooks!

It’s funny re-reading them after so long though – I’m still hooked, I still think they have an incredible magic to them (no pun intended) and I still love them…but I am also noticing little things that perhaps I’m less keen on (the whole yule ball and coupling up in this book for example) or simply that I wouldn’t have noticed first time around – there could easily be a Harry Potter drinking game where you take a shot each time someone or something glided somewhere or Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled!

What are you planning on reading next?

I’ll definitely be continuing to binge Harry Potter on audio and have The Order of the Phoenix ready to go. If memory serves this is one of my favourite in the series.

I am SO EXCITED too to have a copy of Abi Elphinstone’s Rumblestar on its way so that will be jumping to the top of the pile!

What are you reading at the moment?

Peapod’s Picks – A Brilliant New Book Haul!

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (often, but not always, for his bedtime stories) each week plus a review of at least one of them.

*His social media alter ego, not his real name!

We have had a bumper haul of brilliant new books recently, so thought we’d share these with you today. (It’s a long one because we loved them all so much – sorry!)

Dinosaur Department Store by Richard Merritt and Lily Murray

Eliza Jane wants a REAL dinosaur for her birthday, so a trip to the Dinosaur Department Store is in order…

This is the only book we bought where the author and illustrator were new to me, but they’re definitely ones we’ll be keeping our eyes on in the future!

I think it’s fair to say Eliza Jane is a handful! She’s a great main character – fiery, fun and full of confidence, this is a girl who knows what she wants and most importantly, how to get it – we loved how the story ended (and the lead up to it in the illustrations throughout!)

This book has huge appeal on so many other levels too.

Its a must-read for Dino fans with wonderful descriptions and illustrations of all kinds of different prehistoric pets, not just your standard fare, as well as a handy pronunciation guide at the back (I don’t know about you but I am awful at knowing how to say dinosaurs’ names!)

The illustrations are beautifully bright and colourful, with a touch of magic in simultaneously making the dinosaurs fairly realistic and utterly absurd (bowler hats and bow ties, hot dogs and stargazing, not to mention the glam rock theropods!)Absolutely fantastic.

The story itself zips along with enjoyable rhythm and rhyme and LOADS of exciting and interesting vocabulary and opportunities for expression and ‘sound effects’ when reading aloud.

In short – brilliant.

Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Most of you will already know how much I love these books. I was so excited for this one that we read it on the bus home from the shop (and again when we got home, and again at bedtime, and…)

Circle was definitely worth the wait!

I never fail to be amazed at the depth and expression in Klassen’s illustrations considering the limited pallette and facial features. Indeed there are several double pages that are dark save for eyes yet they say so much – there’s not many books that could get away with that!

Likewise, the text is carefully considered and had us cracking up.

Just as dry and funny as the first two books – Circle has retained her cool, Triangle is as sneaky as ever and Square is still, well, square.

And surely with that ending there’s a glimmer of hope that we’ll see these guys again?!

The Steves by Morag Hood

Meet Steve. And, erm, Steve. This book ain’t big enough for the both of them!

Aside from giving me a Sparks earworm every time I read the back cover, I love this!

Morag Hood is fast becoming one of my favourite, favourite picture book authors – if you don’t know her other books either, I highly recommend rectifying that!

The Steves is hilarious. And it has puffins in and I love puffins.

With bold, print-like illustrations against bright but plain backgrounds, the illustrations really pop off the page and with nothing else going on you can really home in on the expressions and body language of The Steves which capture their feelings perfectly.

The text is simple and short and all the more effective for it – it has all the energy and exuberance of a child’s sulky strop!

And it’s fantastic for reading aloud – even better if there’s two of you to do it (Daddy and I read this one jointly for bedtime, each taking on the role of a Steve and it was great fun! We laughed a lot!)

Loved it! (And I’ll be sending a copy to my friend Uno, another Rachael, to whom I am Dos…!)

In the Swamp by the Light of the Moon by Frann Preston-Gannon

Frog is singing in the swamp one night, but singing alone isn’t much fun so he heads off to find others to join his swampy-song!

Perfect for anyone who ever played the triangle at school, this is the tale of Frog’s search for all the sounds of the swamp to make his song complete. He has a crocodile and mice, fish and birds but something’s still missing – it couldn’t be the tiny firefly who thinks their song isn’t good enough though, could it?

It’s quite different to Frann Preston-Gannon’s other books (I think) but no less charming. The illustrations are immersive and it feels like a lazy, summer evening.

A lovely, lyrical, rhythmic book with plenty of repetition that children (ok, not Peapod just yet!) will love to join in with and which lends itself brilliantly to inspiring other musical activities!

Have you read any of these?

What picture books/bedtime stories have you enjoyed this week?

The ‘Unrateables’

I know there is great debate within the blogosphere on the posting of negative reviews. Personally, I choose not to. I’d prefer to spend my time writing about books I enjoyed and sharing the book love.

However, that sometimes leaves me with a bit of a ‘grey area’, with books I like to think of as ‘Unrateables’. (This is not, I promise, a back-handed compliment!)

You see, another thing I see quite often (on twitter and the like) are children’s books being given rubbish reviews (on a****n, goodreads etc) because “it’s childish” or “it’s ok for kids”…well, um, yeah…its a *children’s* book.

Which leads me to my quandary (we got there in the end), which is that usually when I read the kids books I choose to read (MG for the most part) I love them as me, an adult.

However, sometimes I read books that I didn’t particularly fall in love with, but that I know are absolutely spot on for their intended audience (kids) and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend at work etc to young readers.

Books that are well pitched and written for that age. Books that often tackle thorny subjects or feelings incredibly well and at just the right level. Books that balance serious stories with humour or fantasy or a pinch of the unlikely. But books that don’t grab me on a personal level.

Today’s books are two like this. The Boy at The Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf and The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis.

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.

He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets.

But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn’t very strange at all. He’s a refugee who’s run away from a War. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help.

This book is a great way of opening up discussion about war, refugees and – more generally – differences, prejudices, fairness, right and wrong.

I thought the way we were introduced to Ahmet, and the way we see his integration into the classroom and relationships with others unfold was brilliantly written and paced.

Ahmet’s situation is described perfectly – there are some very difficult themes written about, but all are addressed sensitively and age-appropriately, and the author uses small, everyday things to really make it understandable and bring the message home (I thought the pomegranate storyline was lovely).

Likewise, the bullies at school not only introduce another, likely more familiar issue, but also cleverly highlights both how refugees are treated and mirrors the larger issues in the book.

A book which makes helping others – against the odds, in the face of obstacles and when we have no real reason to – seem obvious.

With strong themes of friendship and loyalty, and including a fast-paced, very funny adventure, this takes on some heartbreaking issues but with humour and a heart-warming touch.

Present day: Semira and her mother were brought to England by a man who has complete control. Always moving on, always afraid of being caught, she longs for freedom.

1891: Hen’s trapped in a life of behaving like a lady. But her Aunt Kitty is opening her eyes to a whole new world. A world of animal rights, and votes for women, and riding bicycles!

When Semira discovers Hen’s diary, she finds the inspiration to be brave and to fight for her place in the world.

Semira and her mum have had to flee their country, and the way not just this but the surrounding issues – the reasons they fled, the way they had to do it, the control and power someone else now has over them, the constant moving – are explored sensitively and age-appropriately.

This Victorian narrative – that we see through Hen’s diary, found by Semira – likewise highlights issues of that time too, not least some very sexist and prejudiced attitudes, but also the very beginnings of change and a glimmer of hope.

The use of birds and cycling to draw parallels between the two times, and between the characters really drew them together as well as creating powerful metaphors for the feelings of being trapped and free was very cleverly done. And of course, there was the link between Semira and Hen. Both feeling trapped and powerless, both find the courage to do something about it – Hen drawing on the spirit of her Aunt Kitty and friends, Semira on turn drawing on Hen.

Another thing I thought was very clever about the telling of Semira’s story was the way it drew on things both good and bad – ice cream, cycling, birds and homework; being an outsider, domestic abuse and bullying – that helped draw the characters together in spite of outward differences, and which in turn will help readers from all backgrounds relate to, empathise with and understand them.

Empowering and inspiring, this is a book filled with brave, determined and strong female characters. It is a book of solidarity, trust and friendship. It is a book about helping others, but also allowing others to help you. It is a book about standing up for your beliefs and for each other. It is a book full of hope, power and action in the face of adversity. It is a book about finally flying free.

 

Peapod’s Picks – World Book Day

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (often, but not always, for his bedtime stories) each week plus a review of at least one of them.

*His social media alter ego, not his real name!

Unless you live under a rock (ok, or you don’t have kids or read kids’ books) you’ll know that this Thursday was World Book Day, so it’s a WBD themed Peapod’s Picks this week.

Peapod had a very early start on Thursday so Daddy got up with him while I had “5 more minutes” (half an hour!) So he’s already kicked off his WBD reading with a couple of books before I even got up.

Can you guess who I am in my previous bookish outfits?!

Between teaching then bookselling, this is the first year in over 10 years that I’ve not been dressed up and running something for World Book Day! The whole dressing up thing could be a post all of its own but debates aside, I love an excuse to dress up so I was very disappointed to be missing the WBD costume action this year!

And the worst part is…I didn’t need to! We found out last minute that the lovely Heidi at Waterstones Trafford was doing a story session that we could have dressed up for but I couldn’t very well dress myself up and not Peapod, so we settled for a book dress for me and a Gruffalo top and trousers for him!

We had a lovely time listening to Mini Rabbit Not Lost (which we love) and Heidi has brought lots of extra props to make it a multi-sensory story which was a great idea and really added to the fun. We sang some nursery rhymes then headed home, leaving older little readers making playdough cakes for Mini Rabbit!

We’d already bought our books the day before. I was really happy with the selection this year – some top quality authors (not a celebrity in sight!) and a better age range too, with teen books back in the £1/free selection too.

Our World Book Day books.

We were most looking forward to Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty’s Ten Little Bookworms (Dad especially is a big fan of this series!) so that was our World Book Day bedtime story.

It’s every bit as good as the others in the series. Better in fact, because it’s about books and all the wonderful adventures they can take you on!

From jungles and space to aliens, robots and fairytale favourites, it’s filled with the usual dramatic and fast-paced countdown from 10, as page by page we lose a bookworm. Accompanied as ever by those bold and lively illustrations from Simon Rickerty and wonderfully energetic descriptions of sounds that beg to be read out loud, enthusiastically and noisily – perfect for little bookworms!

Cadpig and Cruella by Peter Bently and Steven Lenton has now also had a good chew read too and we really loved the illustrations in this one too.

I attempted to start Everdark by Abi Elphinstone (my own WBD choice that I’d been very much looking forward to) at naptime on Thursday but Peapod was having none of it and woke up 2 pages in! I’ve nearly finished it now though and IT’S BRILLIANT!

So that was Peapod’s first World Book Day! Next year he’ll be a bit bigger and hopefully we can do a little more, but he enjoyed the books and sharing stories and that, after all, is the point!

Did you celebrate World Book Day too?

More than a Tad terrific!

I requested and received an advance copy of this free from the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

Meet Tad.

She’s the smallest tadpole in a big pond, and lives there with all her tadbrothers and tadsisters.

A big story about a tiny tadpole – about growing up, branching out, and taking a leap into life.

We’re big Benji Davies fans already in our house – we love his books about Noi and The Grotlyn was one of my top picture books of last year. So I was very excited about Tad.

And I was right to be. We loved it. It’s a charming story about a tiny tadpole growing up and facing change, uncertainty and her fears, as well as being separated from her family for the first time.

Tad is bright and happy even as she lags behind her brothers and sisters in growing her legs and losing her tail. Being smallest and slowest does not trouble her, she is hopeful. While she is more troubled by tales of Big Blub, she is sensible and courageous.

Big Blub himself is a great character – the stuff of legend as he is intended to be. Old as time, patient and quietly threatening, still I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for him!

Benji Davies’ illustrations are always lovely and always in keeping with the story they accompany – the dark of the Grotlyn particularly adds to its atmosphere for example. Likewise, the illustrations in Tad fit the story perfectly. They have a different look to much of his other work (though there’s something of the lush flora and fauna of Grandads Island in the final spread).

There’s a lot of wonderful print in this book – I love the bubbles and frogspawn especially – and the pages are layered with rich textures. The use of colour is brilliant too and I think the way we move from dark and murky to light and bright is very effective too and mirrors the feelings portrayed in the story well.

The design and layout is engaging, with changes in font and non-uniform ‘wiggly’ text worked in with the images very effectively, especially with some wonderful onomatopoeiac phrases – swishes and gulps and blubs and whooshes!

This is a brilliant new book from one of our favourite authors. It’s the gorgeous, rich images that set it apart for me, but it’s also a story that both adults and children will enjoy. Full of warmth, and showing hope, positivity and bravery in the face of uncertainty, it is perhaps a timely read too…!

WWW Wednesday 6/3/19

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

What are you currently reading?

Monsters by Sharon Dogar.

I’m still reading this. It’s dragging a bit and though there’s things I’ve enjoyed about it, I feel it’s gone on too slowly, too samey for too long. Plus, it’s marketed as YA and I don’t feel this is a YA book at all. Maybe it’s just me. I’m too close to the evd and enjoying it enough not to DNF but I’ll be glad to finish it (surely this week?!)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling, read by Stephen Fry.

I’m still really enjoying the Harry Potter audiobooks! They’re very expensive to buy so I’ve been using a mixture of free credits on audible, money off play books and, mainly, the library (hooray for libraries!)

What have you just finished reading?

Mary Poppins by PL Travers, read by Olivia Colman (audiobook)

One of my goals this year was to read more classics, especially children’s classics. So when I found I had a week or so to wait for the next Harry Potter audiobook to be available, and knowing this was read by the wonderful Olivia Colman, I decided to read this while I waited.

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Having watched the film repeatedly growing up but never read the book, it took maybe the first chapter or 2 to get into it and Olivia’s Michael took a bit of getting used to. But once I had, I really enjoyed it, though Mary Poppins did far too much sniffing for my liking and I’ve never heard the word ‘presently’ used so often!

It had an Alice in Wonderland sort of absurdity and wit to it. My favourite chapter was Mrs Corry with her gingerbread.

The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis

I enjoyed this but perhaps not as much as I expected to. Its an excellent book and this was definitely a case of ‘its not you, its me’! I’ll be reviewing it properly next week.

What are you planning on reading next?

I’ll definitely be continuing to binge Harry Potter on audio.

I am SO EXCITED too to have a copy of Helen Oyeyemi’s Gingerbread. She’s one of my favourite authors and I can’t wait to read this. I had been reading a few books at a time but I know I’ll want to devour this so as soon as I get Monsters finished I’m starting this and giving it my full reading time!

Which other children’s classics should I read?

What are you reading at the moment?

Multi Monday – sisters, magic and dreams of adventure.

I requested and received advance proof copies of both of these for free, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

The books I’m reviewing today are, on the surface, completely different – one a fantasy tale filled with magic; the other a historical tale of rural Scotland.

However, both books are driven by the main characters’ longings to see more of the world than just their tiny corner of it. They hunger for adventure, the thrill of the unknown and the chance to experience new places.

And in both, there is great (but incredibly different) consideration given to how this affects their family and friendships, particularly their relationships with their sisters.

Both books are full of realistic family relationships, but both shine a particular light on those between the sisters – prickly, exasperating and with a clear pecking order, but at the same time fiercely loyal, defensive, protective and loving.

In A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison, we see Betty and her sisters try to use three magical everyday objects – an old carpet bag, a set of nesting dolls and a mirror – to break a family curse that keeps them trapped on their small island home.

The way the history – of the curse, the place, their family – magic and local folklore is woven into the story, often as ‘tales within a tale’ I thought was very clever and it was these parts of the book I liked best.

The introduction of Colton, a young boy in the local prison, adds yet another dimension to the story too as do the stories of Sorsha and her mother – prodding us to consider right and wrong, ‘otherness’, difference, blame and trust.

There are nods to many classic fairy tale and magic tropes but the way they are used feels original and Michelle Harrison skillfully balances these fantasy aspects with good old-fashioned, non-magic adventure which adds twists and tension.

This was a gripping adventure with lots of my favourite things – history, magic and folklore – and I’m looking forward to seeing where book 2 takes us next.

I’m also very much looking forward to Little Bird Lands – the follow up to the fantastic Little Bird Flies by Karen McCombie. I read this after it was recommended by Amy at Golden Books Girl and I’m so glad I did.

Here we meet Bridie (Little Bird) and her family on a remote Scottish island in the late 19th Century. Their kind and fair Laird has died and change is on its way…

In the very best of ways, this was reminiscent of many other authors and books (including His Bloody Project so by no means am I suggesting ‘the same as’ when I say reminiscent of!) It’s like the author has taken a bit of Gill Lewis, a touch of Frances Hardinge, a little of Emma Carroll, just a smidgen of Geraldine McCaughrean and a drop of Julia Green, then stirred a sprinkling of each through her own quite unique tale.

And unique it is – it feels very different to other offerings for this age group, whilst having everything it needs to be popular with it – friendships, family, villains and escape.

Rich in historic and geographical detail, it really is like being there – racing and tumbling to the top of Glas Crags I could picture te view, feel the crisp, fresh air…seeing the boats arrive and greeting the visitors I felt that mix of excitement, nerves, pride and curiosity…hurrying through the city streets I’m surrounded by the hustle, bustle and hum of it all – the noise, the smells, the people.

As well as the contrasting settings, the different lives lived by rich and poor are well depicted too and their reactions to one another highlight these differences well. Without any spoilers slipping out, I found certain members of the upper class in the book to be thoroughly odious – wonderfully written!

Meanwhile, Bridie herself is a brilliant main character – full of energy, dreams, determination and curiosity. Born with one hand and foot mis-formed, she is quick to dismiss pity and show her independence.

There is so much to enjoy about this book – the setting really was my favourite thing about it, but the characters are so well written too and the complex feelings of change, growing up and losing something to gain another are explored brilliantly.

An historic, rural adventure, with brave and immensely likeable characters and despicable antagonists, a dramatic escape and the thrill of the new – I can’t wait for the sequel.

That’s Not My…Peapod!

After quite a week (busy first half, sick second) I thought we’d do a non-bedtime Peapod Picks this week (and yes, I have moved it to Saturdays!).

Usborne’s fantastic That’s Not My… series from Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells celebrates its 20th birthday this year and it’s safe to say they’ve stood the test of time, kept up with current trends (That’s Not My Unicorn anyone?!) and are likely to still be going strong in another 20 years.

We have a mere 18 of the 55 (!!) That’s Not My… books (including a couple if Christmas ones packed away in our christmas book box) We were given several second hand by a friend before Peapod was born, and I was already a fan so we’ve been gradually adding to our collection too.

3 month old Peapod reading That’s Not My Bee.

We’ve been reading these since he was tiny and they are a firm favourite. He has always loved feeling the different textures and the big, bright, bold illustrations.

Now he’s a bit older, he’s starting to smile when he hears our, by now familiar, “That’s not my…” begin and we can play games looking for his ears/nose/feet etc as we read.

I’m a big fan of the use of the deceptively simple ‘No, it’s “part” is too “adjective”!’ response alongside the feely pages too – what better way to aid understanding and language development as he grows? He already giggles as we ask silly questions like “are your cheeks fluffy?!” and give them a squeeze or a tickle ‘to check’!

There’s also the background illustrations to talk about – whilst simple, there’s still always one or two things to spot, count or name (bugs, shells or plants for example).

And of course there’s the mouse! The mouse appears on every page (does he own all these creatures?) and will be fun to spot when Peapod’s bigger.

Likewise, as he gets older, it’ll be nice when he starts to join in with the repetition and we can talk more about the colours, textures, animals.

He was particularly taken with the sheer sparkle of this 20th anniversary edition of That’s Not My Mermaid – sprayed shiny edges, sparkly tails and jewels plus a mirror (spoiler – there’s an actual mirror at the end!) and it is winning! You can’t beat a mirror in a baby book!

So, you can see (though I can’t imagine you didn’t already know!) just how much there is to get out of these seemingly similar, repetitive books. I can’t lie – I’m aiming to collect them all before he out grows them, but with so much mileage in them, I think I stand a pretty good chance!

We were lucky enough to request and receive a celebratory edition of That’s Not My Mermaid for free, in exchange for an honest review.

All views are our own (we really do LOVE this series!)