Library Love 31/5/19

Library Love is a new regular (ok, as regular as my posts ever are) post with short reviews of the picture books we choose from the library each week.

Our Twinkleboost story at the library this week was The Little Mermaid. Peapod was a big fan of the mermaid toy, dressing ups, bubbles and under sea ‘cave’ (parachute-y thing with dangly bits!)

Then we swapped our books (after he’d practiced his pulling himself up on the book boxes of course!)

What we took back

Some of these have already been reviewed in this week’s Peapod’s Picks, as they were some of our holiday reads. The other two were:

  • Meltdown! by Jill Murphy

Sure to bring a smile, grimace, tear or all three to any parent of a young child – Jill Murphy gets it spot on again as we see little rabbit’s tantrum build and blow as mummy’s nerves fray amidst the stares of other shoppers.

  • A Quiet Night In by Jill Murphy Double Jill Murphy this week! I couldn’t resist this – a Large family book I’d not read! I’ll definitely be adding it to our collection, it has all the things that make these books so special – that characteristic understanding of family dynamics, a highly observant humour and familiar everyday scenarios. I do so love the Large family!

What we took out

What do you think of our choices? Have you read any of them?

Have you been to the library recently?

WWW Wednesday 28/5/19

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

What are you currently reading?

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (cover art pictured by Laura Ellen Anderson)

I am gulping down the Tiffany Aching books.
This one seems to take on slightly older, grittier subjects and tone, but that makes sense when you consider Tiffany has been getting older and wiser and more experienced throughout the books and is now 16 and a pretty accomplished witch. I’m very much enjoying it regardless.

The Nowhere Emporium by Ross McKenzie (eBook)

I’ve been meaning to read this for years, and actually have a paper copy of it on my shelf but the sequel is out and I still haven’t read it so I’ve got the eBook from the library to try and finally catch up! I’ve only read the first couple of pages but I get the feeling from. The writing style and opening that I’m going to enjoy it…

What have you just finished reading?

Wild Folk Rising by Sylvia Linsteadt, cover art by Sandra Dieckmann

I loved the first Stargold Chronicles book last year (my review of that one is here) so had such high hopes for this and it more than lived up to them. I loved this so much and as a pair of books to read one after the other, even better. I’ll post a full review soon, but honestly this book just had everything, it was wonderful.

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy, cover art by George Ermos (eBook)

I know everyone loves this and raves about it, it’s going on the Unrateable shelf here though. I’m sorry! It was an enjoyable enough read and I can see why it’s so popular but it just didn’t really do it for me.

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (cover art pictured by Laura Ellen Anderson)

While I did enjoy this, I think it was my least favourite of the Tiffany Aching books so far. Although maybe that has something to do with reading all about winter in the middle of summer, I’m not sure.

What will you read next?

Audio

The Shepherd’s Crown – the last of the Tiffany Aching books.

E-book

Murder Most Unladylike. I seem to have been saying I’m reading this next for ages – I had it reserved from the library but then saw they had it on audio so cancelled my eBook reservation in favour of that. But then Tiffany Aching took over on audio, so I’m back waiting for the eBook of this! It should be available by the time I finish the Nowhere Emporium.

Physical copy

I am just about to start No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton.

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

Peapod’s Picks/Library Love – Holiday Reads 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!

Peapod went on his first holiday last week. It got mixed reviews – the pool/paddling pool were fine if attempted at exactly the right time, the beach was a flat out no, the mealtimes and people watching firm favourites and staying somewhere that wasn’t home was quite frankly an outrage.

Luckily, his holiday reads were better received. I’ve split this into two posts (we took a fair few books!) Today’s is all about the picture books we took for bedtime and we’ll follow it with a board book post next week.

Julia Donaldson ended up with quite a monopoly on our holiday reads – we took What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday and Sharing a Shell (both illustrated by Lydia Monks) as well as one of my favourite JD books The Snail and the Whale (illustrated, of course, by Axel Scheffler).

Peapod had a right giggle at Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len!

What The Ladybird Heard on Holiday was Peapod’s Dad’s book of the holiday, though I confess that while I don’t mind it, it’s not a favourite of mine. Peapod seemed to like the bad guys too, giving them a good chuckle here and there. They’re out to steal the Queen’s crown, with the help of a kidnapped monkey, but the ladybird hears their plan and puts a plan of her own in place to try sbd thwart them…

I much prefer Sharing a Shell – 3 friends, one shell. All bring their unique talents to the mix to live harmoniously…until the shell gets too small! It’s a lovely tale of friendships and fall outs, as well as a nice way to start finding out more about sea creatures.

In related news – we saw two tiny hermit crabs while trying to tempt Peapod (unsuccessfully) into the sea for a paddle!

I love The Snail and the Whale, it was always a favourite while teaching. A snail hitches a ride around the world on the tale of a whale. I always enjoy seeing and reading about their journey and Snail is an inspiring character – small but brave and determined, she uses her strengths and follows her dreams.

We found out recently that The Gruffalo appears in all the other Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler collaborations too so I (I mean Peapod, obviously…) had fun finding him in this!

We also took some library books. We looked last week for any with a holiday theme, but didn’t come up with much.

We did find one though – Harry and the Dinosaurs on Holiday by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds. This was my favourite library book that we took away with us. Harry and the dinosaurs are off to Australia. This is a brilliant book for young children going on holiday, especially their first – it looks at all the things Harry and the Dinosaurs are excited about seeing and doing, as well as their nerves; we see them at the airport and missing Nan who stayed at home; there’s snaps of all the things they do and then we see them home again, Nan there to meet them at the airport. We’ll be buying this one and reading before/on future holidays!

Having to broaden our search to sea, sun, sand rather than strictly holiday, we took two pirate themed ones – Peapod’s Dad loves having a chance to do a pirate voice!

Pi-rat by Maxine Lee was a short but enjoyable read about an imaginative and playful bathtime. Ideal for encoursging more reluctant bathers, it’s one I’d happily read again but I wouldn’t go out of my way to.

Captain Beastlie’s Pirate Party by Lucy Coats and Chris Mould gets much the same reaction personally, but I know kids would really enjoy it. Captain Beastlie is stinky, yukky and downright dirty, but his crew are the complete opposite. We follow him and his filthy ways in the lead up to his birthday and the surprise the crew have in store. I can see it being a popular one with slightly older kids as the descriptions of Captain Beastlie’s disgusting ways are sure to thrill and disgust in equal measure.

Three By the Sea by Mini Grey is a tale along the lines of Helen Cooper’s Pumpkin Soup. Three friends live together in a hut by the sea, splitting the chores between them happily until a stranger blows in and stirs up bad feelings. The illustrations are lovely and I liked mouse, dog and cat, but the way they all fell out felt a bit contrived and the stranger just seemed, well, strange. It’s nice enough, but no one does this better than Helen Cooper, buy Pumpkin Soup instead!

The other book I wanted to get but was too disorganised to buy in time was Winnie and Wilbur at the Seaside – next time!

Do you have any favourite holiday themed picture books?

Peapod’s Picks/KLTR – Bloomsbury Boards

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.

It’s a brief(ish) Peapod’s Picks this week as we’re away and I’m not organised enough to have pre-written anything!

But these board books we were kindly sent have been waiting patiently fir review fir a while and make a perfect quick-picks post!

We received these free from the publishers as part of a lovely bundle of books to share with Peapod as he gets bigger (they’ve all either been reviewed or will be in upcoming weeks!) All views are my own.

Funny Face by Nicola Smee

The toddler in the book goes through a range of emotions as he meets a bear who takes his ball in the park one day.

On one side of each double page spread is a picture of the whole scene – boy, ball and bear at various stages of their encounter – with a simple sentence explaining what is happening. On the other is a close up of the toddler’s face with just ‘happy face’ or ‘sad face’ etc.

We liked the large, simple features on the face illustrations – they clearly show how our faces change with different feelings and really drew Peapod’s attention. The story pages are great for adding some context, which is often missing from books on feelings aimed at the very young, and they give a good starting point for conversations about feelings with older children too.

Toddlers will also enjoy copying the different expressions, either straight from the page or by mimicking you. The mirror on the last page is a lovely idea – they can see themselves trying different expressions, seeing how their faces change and comparing to the faces in the pictures. The page next to the mirror has all the faces shown which is a great idea. There’s even space to stick a photo of your own which is a lovely extra touch.

My only sticking points are the inclusion of a ‘naughty face’, which didn’t sit well with me, and the age recommendation on the back for 10mths+ – undoubtedly older babies and toddlers will understand more and get more from it, but even tiny babies like looking at faces and mirrors so this could be shared much younger.

But overall this is a lovely introduction to our feelings and how we express them for little ones.

Olobob Top – Let’s Visit Big Fish’s Pond by Leigh Hodgkinson and Steve Smith

I try to stick to positive reviews only on here and so I didn’t know whether to include this one in this board book round up or not. I decided to put it in as there were things we liked, but honestly, we didn’t love it.

We did love the illustrations though. They are bright and beautiful, collage-like, poppy and fun. I loved the style and the colour obviously appealed to Peapod as he enjoyed looking at it.

We aren’t familiar with the TV programme, but found this a bit odd to read. I’m all in favour of odd books on the whole, but this didn’t work for me. I also found the way it approached comparing size to be a bit unhelpful/inaccurate at times – one of the characters declaring they’re bigger because they’re older, for example.

This is a book that’s sure to be popular with fans of the series dbd has plenty of visual appeal. It’s one we’ll continue to enjoy looking through, but we’ll talk and name and point and make up our own stories when we do.

Let’s Explore With Ted by Sophy Henn

This was undoubtedly our favourite of the three. Ted is off on an adventure around the world,each page sees him exploring somewhere new, from tall mountains to tropical jungles to slippery icebergs.

I love that on the left of each spread is Ted’s home, then on the right the place he’s decided to explore, where there’s always a little nod to his starting point – a trailing plant and sleeping plant in the kitchen before Ted heads off to find a leopard in the jungle for example. It’s a lovely celebration of make believe and imaginative play.

We also loved the ‘whole page’ flaps – sturdy and big enough for Peapod to handle and turn himself, they fold up or down to extend the page cleverly.

The text is bold and well-pitched, there’s enough of a story to make the book flow, but with repetition and description that invites older babies and Toddlers to join in – with noises actions or with the repeated “let’s explore”.

Likewise, the illustrations are really appealing and engaging. There’s enough to make an interesting scene but not too much going on. The home pages are familiar and the explorations exciting – both offering great talking points.

We really enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to sharing it with Peapod when he’s a bit older and can chat about and interact with it even more. We’ll definitely be trying some of the other Ted books by Sophy Henn.

Have you read any of these with your little ones?

Library Love 17/5/19

Library Love is a new regular (ok, as regular as my posts ever are) post with short reviews of the picture books we choose from the library each week.

Our Twinkleboost story at the library this week was Aladdin. I think you can definitely say it was the abridged, adapted, rewrite! But Peapod had a nice time.

Then we swapped our books.

What we took back

  • The Tickle Ghost by Brett McKee and David McKee David McKee (Not Now Bernard, Mr Benn, Elmer) has illustrated this and the illustrations are unquestionably his. Sadly, the story is not. Dad is playing at bedtime. Mum gets in a nark about it all. Comes up to have a go and do it herself. Ends up being won over. I didn’t get on with this. I mean, I probably *am* that mum, and it was probably written based on their own sons bedtimes, but it just felt so stereotypical and…clunky. One to pass on.
  • Pig and Small by Alex Latimer So, there’s a long and convoluted story as to why we picked this up and why we liked the end so much. It has to do with a stuffed sock pig (Piggy) and his ceramic elephant friend (Heffalump) who live on my desk. Basically we chose this for the Pig and were tickled pig pink by the end! The story itself is quite sweet and written and illustrated with lots of humour – considering the main characters are a pig and a bug, you really invest in them! Pig and bug want to be friends but struggle to find things they can enjoy together because of their Suze difference (‘pig’ and small, geddit?!) – could it be the end of their blossoming friendship?! (spoiler alert – it’s not!) We’ll buy this one.

  • Sing a Song of Bottoms by Jeanne Willis and Adam Stower We really enjoyed this – good rhyme, great pace and lots of fun. Perfect for fans of Pants, 100 Dogs and other ‘list-of-types’ sort of books! The only bit I wasn’t so keen on was the end. Borrow regularly. I’d buy it if he likes it when he’s older.

What we took out

What do you think of our choices? Have you read any of them?

Have you been to the library recently?

Unrateables 2 – A Witch and a Mouse

You might remember a while ago,I posted reviews of books I hesitantly dubbed ‘Unrateables’. Books which I can see others loving, books I know exactly who I’d recommend them to in work, books where I can see loads of positives and talent and things that work well…but ones which I didn’t really love on a personal level.

I probably need to find a better name for them, as it sounds a bit negative, a bit of a back handed compliment, a bit ‘they’re OK for you but not me’. And it couldn’t be further from the truth – these are books which I’m impressed by, enjoy and appreciate but just don’t give me that soaring feeling inside that a book which really grabs you and speaks just to you does. But that’s quite a mouthful for a snappy name, so any better ideas for what else to dub them – answers on a postcard please!

Until then, in an entirely complimentary way, I have two (or strictly speaking four) more ‘Unrateables’ to review today.

The Apprentice Witch series by James Nicol:

The Apprentice Witch

A Witch Alone

A Witch Come True

I’d heard nothing but glowing praise for this series from bloggers and the twitter-sphere alike. It’s easy to see why – it’s a compelling and enjoyable read that would be a great introduction to MG.

The series takes us along on Arianwyn’s journey from apprentice to fully qualified witch. And as she progresses and settles into her role as Lull’s town witch, we see the spread of Hex – a dark magic – and come to realise that it’s spread may not be entirely unaided.

Arianwyn is the best sort of main character – courageous, loyal and committed with enough self-doubt and honest mistakes to do to make you really believe in her.

For the most part too, her ‘supporting cast’ are equally likeable. Salle is probably my favourite character in the books and is the best sort of friend. Her parents and the inn they run have a Weasley-like feel and both Arianwyn’s supervisor, Miss Delafour, and the Mayor feel like just the right characters for their respective jobs.

Gimma is a great ‘rival’ for want of a better word. I liked the way her character developed over the series without giving in too much to cliche or happy endings.

The villain of the piece has the requisite wickedness and is suitably cold and powerful. While it’s easy to see who it will turn out to be as an adult reader, there’s a great feeling of ‘mistrust and suspicion created as well as a build up of tension and danger.

I really liked the unique way the magic was controlled through glyphs, and having a glossary of them was a nice touch. Likewise with the various magical creatures and demons. This is a world, and a system, which has been created with a thorough, but also thoroughly inventive, hand.

There were certain things which really captured my imagination – the Spellorium in particular felt so inviting and I could picture it so vividly. And the Yule celebrations felt so atmospheric – wintry, festive and traditional.

This is a great series for slightly younger MG readers, or for those just starting to move from. Early chapter books to longer books or series. It has magic, danger and humour, friendship, loyalty and charm.

The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher, illustrated by Sam Usher

I’ll be honest, this is a great book. It’s Unrateable status is a real case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. I went into this not having properly read the blurb and expecting something very different.

I’m not sure what I was expecting – more people maybe? more of the umbrella shop? a different sort of journey? I don’t know. I’d seen a lot of comparisons to books like Goodnight Mister Tom, Carrie’s War and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and, in my opinion, save for being set during the war, it’s nothing like these books.

It was a lot more animal-y than I’d expected. If you have read the blurb or heard of this book by now you’ll know how ridiculous this is.

I’m not a very animal-y person, in real life or in my bookish life. But I know lots of people are and I can see the appeal of animals in stories. Especially so when they highlight the importance of animals in a certain way, our reliance on them or their skills and abilities, because animals are amazing. I just like them to amaze at a distance.

The Umbrella Mouse is set in WW2 and follow a young mouse, Pip, as she tries to return her family’s umbrella-home to its original home in Italy amidst the fighting. She is soon caught up with a secret, underground animal resistance group and one of their dangerous missions.

Other authors, notably Michael Morpurgo and Megan Rix but others too, have told many stories of the horses, dogs, pigeons etc that played a really vital role in wars. But what’s clever about The Umbrella Mouse is the way it highlights this but through a story that takes it one step further and makes it at the same time imaginary and real. No easy thing to do. Here, the animals aren’t working for us, they’re working alongside us with their own secret agents, codes, messages, missions and enemies.

As a resistance group, Noah’s Ark are a wonderfully motley crew. From hedgehogs (Madame Fourcade is great) to pigeons to eagles and stags, everyone plays a part. I liked the mix of characters and voices in the group, and the themes of loyalty, suspicion, trust and teamwork it explored.

We first meet Pip at home in her umbrella, inside the window of James Smith and Sons’ umbrella shop. I loved this first chapter, it reminded me of the Borrowers (likewise the headquarters of Churchill’s Secret Army) and I could easily have spent the whole book here. But then I suppose the action would have been limited.

And this book has plenty of action. There is tension built and suspense created. There are scenes of confusion, shock and fear, of danger, urgency and courage. There is conflict, double-crossing and grit, and beneath it, behind it and running through it, so much emotion. The way Anna Fargher captures all this is fantastic and will stay with you. Personally, I’m still on the Thames with Pip in her umbrella.

The way the animals’ missions cross paths with the humans is clever and a nice way of reiterating the bigger picture whilst we’re focused on the details of the animal resistance.

Sam Usher’s illustrations work really well with the text too, there’s an inky, scratchy, Quentin Blake-esque looseness to them and they encapsulate the different personalities and characters.

This is a story of the futility, loss and damage of war, and one of finding new strength and the importance of friendship and loyalty.

With spies, secrets and an incredibly dramatic and daring finale, this is a brilliant war adventure…for animal lovers.

Peapod’s Picks – A Suitcase, A Small Thing, Some Same Things, A Song

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 I’m sharing a few of the books we’ve read this week – two (The Suitcase and The Same But Different) I’ve bought and two (I Don’t Want To be Small and Hop Little Bunnies) we were lucky enough to be gifted by the publisher (honest opinions all our own though!)

The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

I loved Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’ first book ‘I Love You, Stick Insect’ so I’ve been very excited about this one. We bought it without opening it or reading the blurb so sure was I that I’d love this one too.

And I was right.

It’s completely different to Stick Insect, save for the fabulously free and expressive illustrations – the characters’ worries, doubts, thoughts and feelings are so clear.

The story itself though, has a more serious message – it introduces us to a tired and weary refugee at the end of his journey. It is beautifully told and not at all heavy or preachy.

This new creature has arrived with a big, old suitcase. When the animals ask what’s in it, they don’t believe the answer they’re given and sneakily break into the case to see. They then have to deal with what they find.

Throwing up questions of trust, conscience and respect, this is ultimately a story about kindness and the way we treat others. But it is also a story about the power of imagination, memory, friendship and home.

Beautifully illustrated (the ‘resolution’ scene has really stayed with me) and with echoes of Shaun Tan’s ‘The Arrival’ and Sandra Dieckmann’s ‘Leaf’, this is an evocative yet unsentimental book that every child (and adult) should read.

I Don’t Want to be Small by Laura Ellen Anderson

Along similar lines to Laura’s first picture book ‘I Don’t Want Curly Hair’, this one takes on an unhappiness with height (or lack of) and how being short is just not fair!

After explaining why it’s rubbish being small, our young protagonist throws a tantrum in which Teddy ends up in a tree. Now needing to be considerably taller to rescue Ted, they try various ways to grow taller, each only leading to some rather smelly, wet and muddy situations. However, they soon discover that it’s really not so bad after all, rescue teddy and find a new friend too!

I like that this doesn’t over simplify the feelings of not being happy with an aspect of yourself (in this case, height) – it’s not reduced to a simple ‘I wish I was bigger’ or made top funny. While it’s told with humour and warmth, the upset, unfairness and frustration of it is explored thoughtfully. Anyone who has felt like this is likely to relate and anyone who hasn’t is given plenty to think about when developing their understanding of others, our differences and feelings.

I also liked that the main character has no name, and while I’ve seen in a couple of blurbs they’re described as a ‘he’, I read it having not seen these and it struck me that they really could be either a boy or a girl. I like that we don’t need to know and/or can make up our own minds.

The Same But Different Too by Karl Newson, illustrated by Kate Hindley

I was instantly sold on Kate Hindley’s illustrations in You Must Bring a Hat (Simon Philip) and as soon as I saw them on the cover of this new book I wanted to see more!

They are lively, busy and detailed and just have a really fun style that’s full of character. There is so much going on in each image that you could pore over them daily and not get bored (always a bonus in a picture book!)

They are perfect for this book too, which shows a whole host of both children and animals in various situations demonstrating how they’re sort of the same but sort of different too!

I’ll be honest, it was the illustrations that made me pick this up. If I’d only known the title and nothing more, I might have given it a wide berth – I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to stories with morals or messages!

Fortunately I did pick it up, because it is a brilliant example of how to do this sort of book really, really well.

Written in short, fun rhyme, it makes great use of opposites and every day actions to highlight both similarities and differences in a matter of fact way that I really liked – “I am big, you are small. I am short, you are tall.”

It doesn’t feel the need to labour the point, keeping it punchy and letting the simple comparisons and images get the message across concisely, clearly but also subtly.

Sparse text with spot on rhyme and those wonderful illustrations together give a real sense of fun and humour to the story and I love the way it comes together at the end.

I really loved this and will be keeping my eyes peeled for Karl Newson’s next offering.

Hop Little Bunnies by Martha Mumford and Laura Hughes

We sing this song at nearly every one of our baby groups, so I have it hopping round my head at the best of times! This book has only added to that, but at least there’s extra verses to stop me going completely doolally!

It takes the Hop Little Bunnies song and adds to it with chick’s, ducklings, lambs and kittens, so there’s plenty of animal noises and actions to do too, as well as flaps to lift as you wake each of the animals so there’s lots of fun for little ones.

I really like the addition of a final verse where they “Shhhh!” quieten down and get ready to go back to sleep again too.

The illustrations are perfectly suited to the book and are simply alive with colour and movement. The flowers on each spread are bright and I love that, despite the loose style, they are clearly based on real varieties.

It’s a gorgeous book and one that will be going in our Spring book collection each year for definite – it is sunshine and spring in a book.

Library Love 10/5/19

After posting about our first trip to the library with Peapod, I’d wanted to try and make a library post a regular thing.

This week, we went to a new storytime session (new to us not the library) run by Twinkleboost. It’s designed to be very multi-sensory and really promote speech and language development (it’s run by S&L therapy assistants and they also work with schools and nurseries).

We really enjoyed it, especially because they use Makaton signing which, while it does differ from BSL, isn’t so different from the signs we learn and use at Tiny Talk (a baby signing group also designed to help communication).

Whether either actually help, there’s stories and songs and puppets and toys and ribbons and scarves and we’re out of the house, so they help as far as I’m concerned!

Well, I’m enjoying myself anyway!

Since we’re planning to keep going to this on a Thursday, my plan is to also make Thursday our main library day, with a Library Loves post on Friday with the books we took out and the books we took back.

(Doing well with that plan already as it’s nearly Saturday and I haven’t posted it yet!)

What we took back

  • Socks by Elizabeth Lindsay and Nick Sharratt Perfect for fans of Pants or Octopus Socktopus, and taking a very similar approach in taking the familiar and everyday and turning them pun-tastically sockish! The only thing I didn’t like (and god, it really did wind me up more than it should have) was the repeated refrain of “Socky Wocky Doo Dah!” We’d borrow this again, and if I can get past SWDD, we’ll buy it.
  • Doug the Bug that Went Boing by Sue Hendra An enjoyable enough book taking on friendships, fairness and falling out with the aid of a bug ball game and a dangerous mission to retrieve said ball.
  • Poo in the Zoo by Steve Smallman Let’s face it, a picture book about poo will always be popular. This one falls somewhere in the middle for me, I didn’t love the storyline, but the actual poo-related parts were quite informative, funny and well written. No gratuitous poo here.
  • Puffin Peter by Peter Horáček We really enjoyed this one. A twist on the traditional ‘Where’s my mummy?’ story, Peter has lost his friend Paul and sets out to find him with the help of a whale. Of course they find all sorts of other black and white birds, but no Paul. I liked the way the similarities between the birds built up over the story, great for animal lovers as an introduction to features of different birds, and the illustrations are gorgeous. We’ll be buying this one.

What we took out


We don’t read any in the library (we look at their board books instead) so they’re all a surprise – to be reviewed next Friday!

Have you been to the library recently?

Have you read any of these?

WWW Wednesday 8/5/19

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

What are you currently reading?

Wild Folk Rising by Sylvia Linsteadt, cover art by Sandra Dieckmann

I have been SO looking forward to this after loving book one last year (my review of that one is here) I started it last night and stepped straight back into Farallone. At the moment, though I know danger lurks, there’s a real feeling of comfort and excitement to be back. If you missed book one, make sure you read it now – it was a real favourite of mine from last year.

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (cover art pictured by Laura Ellen Anderson)

I’ve just moved straight onto this from The Wee Free Men (see below) today and am enjoying it immensely already.

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy, cover art by George Ermos (eBook)

OK, I haven’t actually got further than opening this up on my library app but I’m excited to finally be getting round to reading it!

What have you just finished reading?

Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll (eBook)

This was an enjoyable read, I really liked the supernatural theme and as always from Emma Carroll the historical nature of the book felt spot on, really believable and as if you’re in it. I was less keen on the romantic slant of the book though, and didn’t like the narrator’s obsession with Kit. Overall, I enjoyed this but not as much as the other books I’ve read by Emma Carroll.

The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble (paperback)

I loved Bren MacDibble’s How to Bee (you can read my review of it here) and I really enjoyed this too. One of the things that really stood out for me was how engrossing the book was with just two main characters journeying across an almost deserted land, which is vividly described. There’s strong themes of family and the environment and it’s a really cleverly balanced, absorbing book.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (cover art pictured by Laura Ellen Anderson)

I was struggling to find audiobooks I wanted to read from my library app so caved, bought some more audible credit and started on the Tiffany Aching books.

It’s years (at least decade but that makes me feel very old!) since I read Discworld but I used to absolutely love them and have been planning to go back to them and re-read them for ages. I always see the Tiffany Aching books in work too and think “I really must read them” so that’s where I’ve started.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Pratchett’s trademark dry, clever and observant humour runs through it. The Nac Mac Feegles are brilliant, Tiffany is a hugely likeable and relatable main character and my heart positively leapt when Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg made an appearance! I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

What are you planning on reading next?

Audio

I love that I can download audiobooks from my library but I’m going to have to get much more organised at reserving them in plenty of time as so many of those I tried are on loan! I have Murder Most Unladylike and the Finn Family Moomintroll reserved so they’ll be up soon, til then I’m working through the Tiffany Aching books.

E-book

I’ve only just started Brightstorm, so it’ll be a while before I’m ready for a new one. I might try another Emma Carroll (The Girl Who Walked on Air is a string contender) but who knows – by then I might have found something that I must put straight to the top of the pile!

Physical copy

Nosy Crow very kindly sent me a proof of Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton so that’s jumped to the top of my TBR, especially after being so highly recommended by Amy over at Golden Books Girl!

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

Peapod’s Picks: The Pigeon

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, we’re looking at ‘the pigeon books’ by Mo Willems.

Some of you will probably be familiar with this one – it’s a classic and popular in schools too (especially when looking at persuasion with older classes – imagine that, a picture book being read to older children 😏)

For those of you who don’t know it, it begins with a bus driver addressing the reader:

Then, along comes the pigeon, and he is desperate to drive the bus!

Using every persuasive phrase and technique known to toddlers man, he cajoles, pleads, tantrums and bargains. He begs, sulks, sneaks and bribes. And as its all addressed to you, the reader, kids can have great fun being the ones to say “No!”!

Peapod’s not quite at that stage yet, but he loves listening to us read this one. Luckily, it’s as much fun to read as it is to listen to (it’d be a great one for older children to try out changing their tone, expression, pitch etc while reading too) and it’s only quite short, so bears repeated reads well!

He even rooted past the toys in the basket to get to the book at the back and bring it out to read!

That’s my boy!

When I went off work on mat leave, my amazing colleagues (who know me and my love of this book so well – special tip of the hat to Michelle and Brian) got me this pigeon as part of my pressie. It actually shouts “Let me drive the bus!”

He let him drive the bus!!

Anyway, we recently found out there were others in the series (and I call myself a kids bookseller! For shame!) We’ve had The Pigeon Needs a Bath for ages but only just found out about/ got hold of the others.

They all follow a similar pattern – the pigeon either wants or doesn’t want something and employs his best persuasive techniques to get his way.

Hot dog and cookie move away from the mould without entirely breaking it, offering insight into Pigeon’s thoughts on sharing and fairness as well as introducing us to Duckling, who is a great character and a perfect counter to Pigeon.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie?! is hilarious. It’s a perfect picture of injustice as seen through the eyes of a tiddly one, and the twist at the end is brilliant.

Peapod’s Dad likes The Pigeon Needs a Bath and if you’ve ever needed to bath a reluctant child, you’ll likely appreciate it too. Likewise, any of you who’ve ever been around a small child at bedtime can’t fail to smile as familiar argument after charming phrase is played out in Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late.

We love these books. They are SO funny and have such a fantastic understanding of children at their heart! (I recently learned that Mo Willems worked on Sesame Street and it suddenly all made sense).

If you haven’t read these yet, start with Bus – you won’t regret it!

We saw this sign randomly hanging in a pub a couple of years ago. It still both baffles and amuses me!