Sequel September

I’ve decided (though whether I stick to it and how far I get with it and different matters entirely!) to attempt a ‘Sequel September’ next month.

As many of you will know, my reading has slowed right down over the last year and I have a ridiculous TBR pile looking at me.

And so in trying to get through all the new releases I ‘should’ know for work (or feel I should) sequels often get sidelined with the thinking that at least if I’ve read the first book I’ll know enough about the theme, style etc to get by with book 2.

Nothing like a bit of alliteration is there, so Sequel September is born and will be my attempt to get through my sequel stack!

The books I’m going to try to read are:

I’ll also be trying to read The Train to Impossible Places and Storm Witch even though they aren’t sequels, but their sequels are out/will be out soon and I still haven’t read them! So they are going in the mix!

There’s no way I’ll get through them all, I’ll be lucky yo get through a couple, but it might make a dent in them at least! Wish me luck!

Have you read any of these?

Are there any sequels you’re planning to read or looking forward to?

WWW Wednesday 28/8/19

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

What are you currently reading?

Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens (ebook)

While I prefer the full length mysteries, this is really fun and I’m loving reading through Daisy’s eyes for a change – it’s making for a very amusing read.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave.

After getting out of my YA slump with Rose, Interrupted what better way to continue than with absolute fave Kiran Millwood-Hargrave?!

I have to confess, while I did enjoy The Way Past Winter last year, it didn’t capture me in quite the same way that her previous books did otherwise I don’t think there’s any way this would have sat on my shelf for so long, I normally devour her books at first opportunity. But I am loving this so far, it’s rekindled the fangirl inside!

I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak

This is one that I’d promised Amy I’d try at some point after her post made me think I might like it more than I thought (those if you who know me know contemporary and animaks are really not my thing!). I hadn’t planned on reading it quite so soon, but for work reasons (massive knowing tap on the nose) I am doing!

I hope Amy doesn’t mind but *whispers* I’m still not sure it’s for me, BUT I do think it’s really original, sweet and written with great humour and ‘doggishness’ (that’s not even a word but it’s the second time I’ve used it in a review this week!)

What have you just finished reading?

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens (ebook)

I’m so glad I didn’t skip this (albeit temporarily) as I think it might be my favourite yet!

I also think I’ve finally warmed to Daisy. I’ve always thought she was a brilliant character but I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for Hazel! But she’s really grown on me now and I think in this book I was able to really appreciate her properly.

What will you read next?

Audio

I’m still plodding slowly through Circe…only 2 hours to go though!

E-book

I’ll be working my way through the Murder Most Unladylike series!

Physical copy

I don’t know! Maybe The Switching Hour or Meat Market. Though I am still considering a Sequel September to get through some of the sidelined sequels and next-in-series I have waiting…

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

Rose, Interrupted

I requested and received a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

9781444940657

Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence.

Cover art by – to be added: my proof copy didn’t have the finished artwork or name the artist and I have tried and failed to find them online. I’ll add as soon as I know who they are!

I have enjoyed both of Patrice Lawrence’s previous books, Indigo Donut particularly, but this was by far my favourite that she’s written so far.

It follows Rose and her younger brother, Rudder, as they attempt to adjust to life in the ‘Worldly World’ having left the strict religious sect they’d been brought up in. Rose, like their mum, is relieved to be ‘free’ and doing all she can to fit in and shake off her religious past, having written herself a ten point decommissioning programme.

Rudder, on the other hand, is finding it hard. He’s struggling to adjust and swings between finding in comfort in his Harry Potter books, throws and robes and feeling guilty for having them as he yearns to be accepted back into God’s Pilgrims.

I also loved the use of music, which is a common theme in Patrice’s books (especially the choice of Simon and Garfunkel). It added a wry humour and helped build Rudder’s character further.

Unlike Rose, who has thrown herself, ultimately rather naively, into modern teenage life – using chat rooms to guide her actions when it comes to relationships and choosing flamboyant ‘fairy kei’ outfits and make up to stand out on her own terms rather than because of her past – Rudder is finding the outside world, the idea of making friends and teenage behaviour terrifyingly confusing.

The dual narrative in this works brilliantly as the characters and their worries are so different, but have the same root causes for their situation and struggles. Their different ways of coping (or not) and their differing views on what happened before they left the Pilgrims are really well articulated this way, and their frustration, anger and worry for each other is made clearer because of it too.

It was also a great way to depict their relationship in a realistic way – they clearly love and care for each other, but they bicker, fight, roll their eyes, take deep breaths and generally annoy each other the way only siblings can. I thought this was so well-written.

There are real layers to this, both in terms of the story which we get more and more of the history for as it unfolds, and in terms of the topical and thought-provoking issues it deals with – social media, sexting, so-called ‘revenge’ porn and consent, but also poverty and power, religion, control and being able to break free.

There is much to relate to in both Rose and Rudder’s situations and feelings – no, I’ve never had to leave a strict religious community that shun modern life, but I have been a teenager and so many of their doubts and uncertainties and their attempts to fit in, to do what ‘everyone’ does and to be accepted will be universally recognised.

It feels deep and complex and the emotions and shades of grey involved in so much of what’s covered are clear, but it’s such a page turner too!

Those of you who are here often will know I’ve been struggling to boot myself back into reading some YA for a while now, and contemporary (in YA or MG) is NOT MY THING…but this really grabbed me and I couldn’t put it down. Really well-written, it feels like Patrice Lawrence is going from strength to strength and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Peapod’s Picks 26/8/19

We were lucky enough to request and receive copies of these free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and views are all my own.

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!

My Pet Star by Corrinne Averiss and Rosalind Beardshaw

This is a lovely story and one that I think will be extra enjoyable as the nights draw in and autumn arrives – there’s just something really cosy and comforting about it.

A little girl finds a star that’s fallen from the sky. She takes it home, patches it up and takes care of it. As the days pass, the star gets better and brighter until the time comes when it’s time to say goodbye as the star returns to the sky.

With pared back text, this is a perfect example of illustration and text working in harmony to tell a story, create atmosphere and express feelings. To do this using rhyme (and using rhyme which flows, reads well and doesn’t feel clunky or forced) is an achievement indeed.

Bonus points for a non-white main character who doesn’t live in a detached house with garden!

I loved the way the book conveyed imaginative play and bigged up reading – if I still taught I’d have the spread below framed:

“I showed him pictures in my book. He couldn’t read, but he could look.”

So many early years children would start the year telling me “I can’t read though” as if being able to decode the words was the only way to enjoy a book. A lot of work went into encouraging looking at pictures, making up stories etc.

And of course, there’s a gentle introduction to the idea of letting go, transience and saying goodbyes.

This is a warm, tender-hearted book perfect for snuggling up with at bedtime.

I can’t wait to have Corrinne into work in October for one of our Read and Make sessions!

There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom by James Sellick and Frann Preston-Gannon

Produced in collaboration with Greenpeace, this starts much like your typical picture book might – funny, animated, bright and seemingly light-hearted. An orangutan (or Rang-Tan) has arrived in a little girl’s room and is causing chaos.

But, when the little girl stops to find out why the Rang-Tan is there, the book’s more serious message is revealed, along with a clever change in illustration style to mirror it.

We see how humans are destroying the Rang-Tan’s home for palm oil in dark and muted tones, desolate and bleak.

We’re then offered a ray of hope along with a nudge of encouragement not to be passive but to do whatever we can to help. We see the little girl writing letters to big companies, rallying friends and neighbours through posters and word of mouth and going on protests.

It finishes with more detailed information about orangutans and their habitat as well as palm oil, its uses and the problems with it, as well as suggestions for action similar to that taken by the girl in the story.

This would be ideal for use in schools, as well as for reading at home, as a way of both developing understanding and interest in environmental issues and getting children engaged and involved in doing something about them.

Be More Bernard by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley

Bernard pretends to be just like the other bunnies, who all eat, dress, act and even dream alike. But deep down, he knows he’s different.

Until one night, he decides to let his inner self go! Of course, the other rabbits are shocked at first but they soon start sharing their dreams of being different too and slowly the burrow realise they can be themselves as well.

We always love Kate Hindley’s illustrations but the burrow scenes in this are truly fab and not without a touch of Richard Scarry which is wonderful!

Its an enjoyable read with a positive and affirming message about being yourself and following your dreams, and Bernard is brilliant in both words and pictures.

Here’s the thing though – we love You Must Bring A Hat by this duo so were very excited for this and, honestly, although we enjoyed it and it did have some of the dry humour that we love in YMBAH, it just couldn’t compete with it…even with Bernard’s absolutely kick-ass, roller-disco-dancing outfit and moves.

Fun, positive and guaranteed to make you smile, but it didn’t have the originality, daftness or ‘just because-ness’ of ‘You Must Bring A Hat’ so while we like and recommend this, for one you’ll want to read and read again get YMBAH.

This is a Dog by Ross Collins

This is a great example of a book that benefits hugely from not being afraid to strip the text back to bare bones and let the pictures do most of the work.

Written in the style of a young children’s animal primer, each page introduces us to a different animal…except that dog (in typical dog style) isn’t content with just his page. He needs your attention on everyone else’s page too!

From crossing them out to chasing them off the page, disguises and even wee – dog goes to great lengths to remain centre stage!

The other animals eventually get fed up of dog’s antics, but he has one last trick up his sleeve to ensure he stays top dog (couldn’t resist that, sorry!!)

It’s such a great book – dog is utterly doggish! It’s simple but clever and its minimal style allows the humour to really shine.

Peapod loved looking at this too. It’s a book that we enjoyed as a softback story to read together, but one that would make an even more fantastic board book – perfect for toddlers to ‘read’ with its repetition, recognisable animals, block-coloured backgrounds and visual humour. I’m told there are whisperings so fingers crossed!

Book Snob Tag

I always say I’m going to do Book Tags then never do, but this was such a short and quick one I thought it’d be a good bank holiday weekend sort of post! Thanks to Amy and Lily whose blogs I saw it on!

Adaptation Snob: Do you always read the book before you see the movie?

Usually, yes. But a lot of books that become films aren’t my cup of tea (romance, contemporary etc.) so often neither. Often it’s the book that makes me want to see the film, so it’s less of a ‘I must read the book first’ and more of a ‘ooh, I enjoyed that, I’d like to watch it.’

Although, I do think once you’ve seen the film it’s that version of the characters/setting etc that becomes stuck in your mind (well in mine, anyway!) so I do like to read the book first to have my own version of them first.

There’s a lot of ‘the book is always better than the film’ and usually I’d agree, but the film is often a different beast altogether and there are a fair few that I think are just as good. A Clockwork Orange and Trainspotting stand out.

Format Snob: You can only choose 1 format in which to read books for the rest of your life. Which one do you choose: physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

Definitely physical. I started reading ebooks and audio as a way to keep my reading up around Peapod, but I’d always choose a physical copy if practicalities were no obstacle!

Ship Snob: Would you date or marry a non-reader?

Yes. As long as they weren’t anti-reading and just didn’t enjoy it themselves. My partner isn’t the biggest reader – we joke about how many books I’ll have read by the time he gets through the one he’s been reading FOREVER! – but he just rolls his eyes lovingly and orders another bookcase when it comes to my bookishness and he loves reading with Peapod.

Genre Snob: You have to ditch one genre – never to be read again for the rest of your life. Which one do you ditch?

Romance. I never read it anyway unless it sneaks into a book that’s mainly another genre, so I probably wouldn’t even know it had gone!

Uber Genre Snob: You can only choose to read from one genre for the rest of your life. Which genre do you choose?

So, to jump on Amy and Lily’s bandwagon – I’m going to say I’ll just take the children’s section please. I know this isn’t a genre, but my blog, my rules. I’m having it.

Ha! Ok, if I had to pick an actual genre, I’d probably go fantasy…but I’m over-riding the question and just picking kids, because I’m not giving up picture books.

Community Snob: Which genre do you think receives the most snobbery from the bookish community?

Also like Amy and Lily, less a genre, more a section – kids. Kids book snobbery winds me right up (except when it comes to being snobbish about celeb authors, because you know – double standards)

I hate how many people look at me oddly when I try to explain I read the kids books for work (no, I don’t *have* to, I’m in kids because I *want* to) and love picture books.

I hate how many older kids are steered forcibly away from younger books and told they’re ‘beyond’ them – what does that make me then?!

I hate how many children’s authors have tales of how they’ve been dismissed by other authors or book industry people for not writing ‘proper’ books and taking the easy route (yeah, right).

I hate how little coverage kids books get in the media when everyone bangs on about wanting kids to read.

Snobbery Recipient: Have you ever been snubbed for something that you have been reading or for reading in general?

Nope. Lots of my friends aren’t really readers, but they’d never snub me for reading.

That’s a short answer, but there’s not much more to say on that!

If you’ve not done this and fancy it, consider yourself tagged.

WWW Wednesday 21/8/19

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

What are you currently reading?

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens (ebook)

I toyed with the idea of skipping this one and coming back to it at Christmas, but after consulting the MMU oracle Amy, I decided to read it now and stic to the correct order.

I’m really enjoying it so far – the setting and the mystery have gripped me – I’m exoecting a fair few red herrings and twists in this one! And I’m excited to see the rivalry between the Detective Society and the Junior Pinkertons get going again.

What have you just finished reading?

Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence. Cover art by

Definitely Patrice Lawrence’s best yet (in my opinion!) I’ll write a full review on the next week, but I really enjoyed this. It managed to deal with topical, difficult issues believably and sensitively without being sensationalist, melodramatic or superficial and I felt really invested in the characters.

Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens

I did enjoy this in the end, but it probably is my least favourite of the series so far – I’m already much more invested in Mistletoe.

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

I loved this so much. Its gone straight into my favourites of thr year so far. It is a cosy, comforting read perfect for the upcoming autumn/winter months. An ode to nature, family and the magic of imagination. Full review to follow.

What will you read next?

Audio

I’m still plodding slowly through Circe…

E-book

I’ll be working my way through the Murder Most Unladylike series!

Physical copy

I don’t know! Rose, Interrupted has got me back on the YA track, but I also have lots of MG to read (not to mention a stack of grown up books I think I’ll never get round to!) I can’t decide whether to alternate (an MG-a YA) or read MG during the day and YA in the eves like I have been…hmm…

Have you read any of these?

What are you reading at the moment?

Picklewitch and Jack and the Cuckoo Cousin

I received a free copy of this from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. Opinions and views are all my own.

Picklewitch and Jack and the Cuckoo Cousin by Claire Barker and Teemu Juhani

I reviewed the first Picklewitch and Jack book last year and I LOVED it, so when I was offered a copy of the new book to review I leapt at the chance.

I wasn’t disappointed. This more than lives up to the expectations built by book one!

Much of what I wrote about the first book stands true about this one as well.

The language and writing style are as vibrant, pacy and original as ever and remain perfectly pitched – accessible but in no way dumbed down.

“As secret as a nut in its shell.”

And there are some wonderful invented words and phrases adding spark and humour – think Roald Dahl’s BFG and you’re on the right lines for Picklewitch’s vernacular.

“I can’t be dealing with mooncalves and frazzlers.”

Picklewitch

The illustrations are stylish and expressive, with the characters’ very different personalities shining through and Picklewitch’s love of the wild and nature made visual.

There is again a glossary of Picklewitch’s words, a selection of spells and recipes, nature guides a la Picklewitch at the end of the story and they’re an absolute delight – I grinned and grinned reading them!

The characters remain true to themselves – Picklewitch is still a cake-loving, slightly bonkers, brimming with confidence, rule-breaking/making, tree-dwelling witch and Jack is still a school-loving, rule-following, bit-of-a-worrier Boxie who lives in the house attached to Picklewitch’s garden.

But they’re given chance to grow and develop in this episode as well, which – especially in Jack’s case – is lovely to see. Yes, he’s still a worrier but he’s taking more chances, starting to make friends, enjoying life more… Picklewitch, whilst being a terribly bad influence, has of course been a fantastically good one!

And for her part, she shows in this book just how smart and loyal this apparent kidder really is, whilst – of course – retaining her pride, her irrefutable manner, her incredible knack for absolutely always being right and of course her enormous sense of fun.

Picklewitch and Jack’s friendship is put to the test in this book, when Picklewitch receives a letter

“Do witches get letters?” asked Jack, squinting into the sun.

“All the time,” she said.

“Have you ever had one before?”

“No.”

from a mysterious, and hitherto unknown, cousin saying he’s coming to stay.

Jack is naturally anxious – what if Picklewitch has so much fun with her cousin she forgets about being friends with him? But when Archie Cuckoo arrives, Jack thinks he’s perfect – well behaved, interested in learning, smart (he even has a briefcase) – and they end up getting on splendidly.

But is Archie Cuckoo too good to be true? (Spoiler alert – Yes. Yes he is.)

He is in fact a brilliant baddie. I love how we see him charming/magicking his way into Jack’s life and the repercussions of this for Jack and Picklewitch.

There’s a serious story of friendship, loyalty and trust which underpins the humour, magic and dancing ants.

I think that’s what I love so much about these books – they zip and ping with energy, spells, flying feathers and creepy crawlies, and you will giggle from start to finish (I chortled my way happily through my lunch hour) but there’s also a huge amount of warmth, understanding and gentle reassurance for some tricky situations in there.

This second book in the Picklewitch and Jack series is just as full of heart as the first and has confirmed their place as firm favourites of mine. I can’t wait for the next one (roll on Autumn 2020!!)

Peapod’s Picks/KLTR – Gift Edition

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 books-as-gifts special on Peapod’s Picks this week, as my little bundle of sleepless joy turned a huge, big 1 yesterday!

He didn’t actually get many books. Whaaaaaat?! I hear you cry in disbelief and dismay. He didn’t get many as gifts for his birthday, but as either bookpost from publishers or bought books, he has had at least 7 new books already this week so it’s not like the poor child’s got nothing to read!

So, for his actual birthday we just got him some special books to (hopefully) keep. He already has Peapod Lullaby, which was a first Christmas gift but which I’ve still never got round to posting about (though I know I’ve mentioned it several times) so we’ll backtrack to that before his birthday books!

Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King

This is an absolutely beautiful book. We bought this without reading it, knowing much about it or seeing inside just because Pea Pod, taking a risk that the story and interior illustrations would live up to how lovely it looked from the cover.

They definitely did. It’s the story if a journey, taken literally, the journey of a refugee family, but it’s also a metaphorical journey – through life, through difficulty, through change.

It gently and subtly encompasses not just the issue of war and displacement, but also points a finger to climate change and despite serious themes sends out such positivity and hope.

Likewise, the illustrations in particular highlight the power of nature, but mostly the wonder and joy it has the ability to conjure.

The smudgy, splodgy, loose, drippy, runny watercolour illustrations are utterly gorgeous and are perfectly in tune with the text and it’s messages.

Lyrical, poetic and emotive, this is a book of looking after each other, of togetherness and openness and support. I love reading this at bedtime – calm, hopeful and full of love, compassion and ‘being there’-ness – what could be better?

You’re Safe With Me/You’re Snug With Me/You’re Strong With Me by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry

We bought You’re Safe With Me after seeing it on either another blog or twitter (I wish I could remember who to credit for this recommendation but I really can’t – if it was you, thank you!) and it is just stunning.

So we bought the other two to go with it for Peapod’s birthday.

All have messages of parental love, reassurance and presence. All are an ode to nature – to its majesty, its balance, its cycles, its wonder. And all are beautifully written and illustrated with the most amazing and intricately patterned full spread illustrations (each with its own style and gorgeous pallette matching its setting). They are truly books to treasure.

They’d really make a wonderful gift for a young child or new family – a great alternative to religious or character based christening gifts, baby shower or new baby presents, or of course a special birthday gift to cherish and keep (like we did this year).

You’re Safe With Me sees Mama Elephant reassuring the baby animals in the forest when a thunderstorm hits.

It’s full of onomatopoeia and folktake-like explanations for the weather and it’s noise which are full of the wonders of nature and ever so soothing.

By the end, the baby animals are calmed and settled and sleeping happily – and Peapod was too!

We haven’t actually read You’re Snug With Me or You’re Strong With Me with Peapod yet (I’ll update the post with his reaction when we have it!!) but I’ll share my thoughts on his behslf (since that’s pretty much what I do anyway!)

You’re Strong With Me follows Mama Giraffe and Baby Giraffe through the African grassland as baby slowly learns about the creatures and land they live in and how to survive it.

As with the others, this shows how interdependent our world is, as well as showing how seemingly unpleasant, difficult or unknown things can actually become positive.

There’s also a message of supporting each other through these experiences when we’re not strong enough on our own – that’s its ok to lean on each other til you can stand alone.

You’re Snug With Me sees Mama Bear give birth to two cubs and, as they hibernate under the ice and snow, she tells them about the world beyond.

Like ‘Safe’, it has a lovely folktale feel, with the “earth dancing on her toes”, and it reads as though Mama Bear speaks directly to us too.

Here especially we are shown the importance of respecting, preserving and protecting our earth. There is a strong theme of give and take with nature and of not taking it for granted or acting superior no matter how mighty you may be.

It has some beautiful spreads – the icy lands, the ocean’s wonders, pregnant Mama Bear in her den, the earth and sun dancing – just outstanding.

As a mum, this is a book with a bittersweet ending. We know Mama Bear is leading up to letting her cubs go and her almost wistful last ‘you’re snug with me’ is guaranteed to get me blubbing at some point – it certainly had a lump in my throat!

I’ve certainly got a lot to live up to at Christmas and in the years to come, but I absolutely afore all four of these books – aside from being completely gorgeous, they really are something special and I can’t recommend them enough, especially if you have’ keep forever’ gifts to buy.

Nothing at all to do with the books – just a birthday pic from Sunday!

Have you read any of these?

Do you have any special books you love to buy, or have been bought, as gifts?

Library Love

Library Love is a regular post with short reviews of the picture books we choose from the library each week or so.

What we took back

  • Again! by Emily Gravett We’re big fans of Emily Gravett already and this ticked all our boxes – a sleep-fighting little one and an exhausted parent (interestingly nowhere in the book does it say who this dragon is, I in fact pictured it as dad, but in the synopsis I read its mummy – isn’t it frustrating that this could gave been a really open carer-figure that lots of children could relate to but it’s immediately and unnecessarily narrowed down to ‘mum’ – sorry, rant over!) Anyway, said parent has to read little dragon’s story “Again, again, again…”which made us smile as that’s us at the moment, nearly everything has to be read at least twice! Plus it has holes in the pages (little dragon gets a bit cross with his poor tired out parent…) and Peapod loves books with holes at the moment – I only wish it was available in board book format. . One I’d buy immediately in board book, but will still probably buy at some point in soft back.

  • Milo’s Pet Egg by Rebecca Elliott. I have conflicting views on this. I absolutely adored the illustrations, they were gorgeous. But the story fell a bit flat. It was like a more wordy, less funny ‘The Odd Egg’. I didn’t mind it at first, the egg and Milo ‘showed’ each other different things they could do and this was quite fun (mainly thanks to the illustration) But the ending was too long-winded and just didn’t read well for me. Plus it really annoyed me that Milo had called the egg Snappy but proceeded to be shocked when a baby Croc hatched from it. I’m still tempted to buy this just because I love the illustrations and lemur books are always must haves. But I think I’d have to change the story!

  • The Great Balloon Hullaballoo by Peter Bently and Mei Matsuoka I didn’t love this, though I can’t say why. It all just felt OK. There was nothing I really disliked but nothing I really, really liked either. I just didn’t really connect with it. I’d read this again if asked, but I wouldn’t choose it.

  • How to be a Dog by Jo Willismson. This was one if Peapod’s Dad’s Picks, I tend to steer clear of ‘pets’ stories. But I’m really glad he chose it as both Peapod and I enjoyed it (we read it at least twice in a row) Very funny and I really liked the illustration style. Might buy, would definitely read again.

What we took out

I write the beginning of this post AGES ago and have been waiting til we swapped our books, but we still haven’t taken anything out yet. Between books both sent to us for review and bought we’ve already got a pile waiting (Peapod is developing the toppling TBR pile habit early!) So I’ve decided I’ll just post it and post again with our new selection when we have one!

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

Have you been to the library recently?

Peapod’s Picks

We were lucky enough to request and receive copies of these free from Walker in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and views are all my own.

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!

Let’s Go Swimming! by Caryl Hart and Lauren Tobia

This is part of a series of ‘First Experiences’ books from Walker. It’s lovely to see a new series like this – Topsy and Tim have had the monopoly for too long!

This has a fresh, modern feel and the illustrations are lovely – they feel bright, warm and realistic.

‘Let’s Go Swimming’ talks us through a trip to the pool. While Bee is confident and enthusiastic, Billy is less sure and needs more reassurance – it’s nice to see both personalities represented, as much for children excited or curious about doing something as it is for those who may be nervous about something new.

I really liked all the little details it covered too, from the steamy windows and puddly floor to having to get out for a wee to the tiredness afterwards.

Our only minor quibble with this came from Peapod’s Dad, but I have to agree – where are the dads? As he said:

“There’s not even any other men swimming in the baby bit…when I go, it’s nearly all men.”

And he was right, there’s not a dad in sight. Which is a shame because there are plenty of dads taking care of their children and taking them out to do lots of fun things – maybe we’ll see more if this in future additions to the series, I’d like to hope so.

That aside, this is a lovely book clearly, warmly and reassuringly talking little ones through a trip to the pool.

Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton

We’re big fans of Chris Haughton here (you can read my reviews of Goodnight Everyone here and A Bit Lost here or here), Shhh, We Have a Plan is definitely my favourite but we love them all! So I was very excited to see a new book from him coming out.

Little Crab and Very Big Crab (I love that it’s Very Big Crab and not just Big Crab!) are heading out of their rock pool and into the sea.

At first Little Crab is excited but as the sea gets nearer and the waves grt bigger, it seems like maybe it’s not such a good idea. Very Big Crab is full of reassurance and encouragement though and slowly, slowly they make their way closer and closer to the sea.

A lovely story about being brave, facing a challenge and things often turning out better than expected that is saved from being didactic or saccharine by Chris Haughton’s unique style.

The words are carefully considered and tightly chosen – all necessary to the feel of the story, and adding excitement or calm or wonder or nerves in just the right places and ways. The font, text size and use of capitals complement this perfectly too.

The illustrations have his trademark use of layering, vibrant colours and darker tones, blocky shapes and plain blocked backgrounds. They are as appealing as ever.

We loved it – another Haughton hit in our house!

The Pigeon HAS to go to School by Mo Willems

We love the pigeon books, so even though Peapod is nowhere near going to school we jumped at the chance to get a copy of this one!

Our poor, beleaguered pigeon is back and even more outraged than ever as he’s being sent to school.

What begins in the classic cajoling, beseeching, wanting-my-own-way way soon makes room for pigeon’s nerves to show through. Without missing a beat or losing any of its humour, pigeon begins to list a whole host of worries about going to school.

This is a great book just to read and that’s that as it has all the humour and dramatics we’ve come to know and love in our pigeon, plus an absolutely fantastic ending fans will LOVE! You’ll get no further spoilers here though!

But it is, of course, also a great book for children about to start school. The pigeon’s worries veer from the common to the seemingly ridiculous (“what if I learn too much and my head pops off?”), which allows children space to voice their own concerns, laugh and ‘know better’ than the pigeon – effectively reassuring themselves – and/or see through pigeon’s dawning realisation why school might be good instead of scary.

I love the end papers too, where we see pigeon happily settled in his school – a reassuring way to end without losing the humour of the final pages.

When the time comes for Peapod to start school, this is the book we’ll read (OK, one of them!)

It’s an oldie, but I couldn’t resist popping this pic of Peapod and his Pigeon driving the bus again!