Six for Sunday: Bookish Loves

#SixforSunday is hosted by Steph at A Little But A Lot. Each week she gives a book-themed prompt for a list of six and this week that prompt is

Bookish Loves

I’m sure this should be books I love, things I love to see in books etc and it should almost definitely be older books, but 🤷‍♀️

Today I’ve chosen 6 of my favourite picture books on the theme of love.

First off three funny ones – these are always my top choices for a Valentines Day display/table at work (in the case of the first two, I’m not sure what that says about me…)

Both I Love You Stick Insect and Tadpole’s Promise have brilliant twists/’punchlines’ at the end. I love them both and they crack me up.

This one’s a little more tender but still very funny and relatable!

Next up a true story. I’m. Not one for squishiness, but this really is an ‘aaaw’ kind of book!

Mr and Mrs Large are probably one of my favourite fictional couples and the Large family stories represent the love of a family with enough humour to feel much more believable than some of the soppier offerings!

And finally an antithesis to all those romantic happily ever afters. Long live Princess Smartypants!

I promise some more MG/YA in my #SixforSunday choices soon!

What would your bookish loves be? What do you think of my choices? Have you taken part in #SixforSunday? Leave a link to your post in the comments!

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Peapod’s Picks: Lemur Love!

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (usually for his bedtime story) each week plus a review of at least one of them.

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

This week:

Frann Preston-Gannon’s ‘How To Lose a Lemur’.

I’d bought this pre-Peapod. I love lemurs and picture books, so spotting the two together was a massive win!

Even more so when it’s written and illustrated by such a talent (if you haven’t read any of her others, do so – I’ve mentioned before how funny I find Dave’s Cave and Dave’s Rock and The Journey Home is wonderful).

I love how different all her books are, though running throughout them all there’s a strong theme of friendship, plenty of humour and of course brilliant illustrations.

In the case of How To Lose A Lemur, a lot of the humour is to be found in the illustrations – one of my favourite spreads is the boy escaping in a boat unaware of the lemurs snorkeling below.

As the lemurs follow the boy further and further, we travel on trains, bikes, boats and balloons through mountains, deserts, snow and sea – this book has it all!

It’s a brilliant read, with plenty of understated humour and a lovely (but not in anyway saccharine) message of friendship and giving others a chance.

Plus, Peapod loved the lemurs almost as much as me!

Other lemur books we love:

  • Flying Lemurs by Zehra Hicks
  • Lemur Dreamer by Courtney Dicmass

What else did we read this week?

  • Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers (such a gorgeous book!)
  • How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
  • Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (who knew there was a Barnett & Klassen I’d not yet read?!)
  • Angry Cookie by Laura Dockrill (review on Monday!)
  • Ten Little Robots by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty (all 3 of us LOVE this series!)

Have you read any of these?

Do you know of any other lemur-themed picture books we’re missing?!

Which picture books or bedtime stories did you read this week?

Swimming Against The Storm

Swimming Against The Storm by Jess Butterworth.

Illustrated by Rob Biddulph.

I’ve written before about how much I love Jess Butterworth’s books (and the absolutely stunning artwork Rob Biddulph produces to accompany them), and her newest is no exception!

Twelve-year-old Eliza and her sister Avery have lived their entire lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Louisiana But now, with sea levels rising, their home is at risk of being swept away.

Determined to save the land, they go searching in the swamp for the dangerous, wolf-like loup-garou, sure that if they find one, the government will have to protect its habitat – and their community.

But with a tropical storm approaching, soon it’s not just their home at risk, but their lives as well…

My favourite thing about both Jess’ previous books was the description and world-building. With each book, she transports you right to the heart of a place and its people, and Swimming Against the Storm is no different. I felt I was really getting to know the lives, culture and traditions of Avery and her community.

Likewise, as the children venture into the swamp hunting for the loup-garou, I was surrounded by marshes, mosquitoes, humidity, greens, browns and plants – not to mention all the alligators!

The landscape here (as in her other books) is a rich tapestry built up of the characters experiences and knowledge of their home.

The characters themselves are likeable and well-written and the dynamics between them are relatable and familiar – from siblings and close friendships and the tests growing up puts on these to wider family and community relationships.

The children’s journey through the swamp land as the book unfolds is rough, raw and ragged – a real adventure which sounds every bit as mentally and physically demanding as it would be – this is no scout expedition through the local woods.

With themes of friendship and growing up, the environment and social responsibility, I love how the book balances the emotions of the characters (Avery in particular) and real environmental issues with action, humour and adventure. And the way the issues in the book are explored is incredibly well-written to both inform and engage younger readers.

A midnight hunt through a swamp for a mythical creature in the midst of a storm – this is one exciting, nerve-wracking and perilous escapade, not to mention a true test of friendship!

With a flavour of Stand By Me and a dash of Disney’s The Rescuers* (there’s two films I never thought I’d be saying in the same sentence!), this is yet another brilliant book from one of my favourite MG authors.

*you may or may not get this – it could just be me 😂

Swimming Against the Storm is released in April. I received this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Peapod’s Picks 11/1/19

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (usually for his bedtime story) each week plus a more in depth review of at least one of them – this week a classic- Jill Murphy’s On The Way Home.

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

What did we read this week?

  • Oi, Duck-Billed Platypus by Kes Gray and Jim Field
  • You’re Called What?! by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson (inspired by the un-rhymable creatures in Oi Platypus!)
  • Snow Bears by Martin Waddell (After watching Gordon Buchansn with the grizzly bears in Russia!)
  • Ten Little Dinosaurs by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty (Daddy loves this series!)
  • The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (I love anything this pair do!)

and

On the Way Home by Jill Murphy

This was one of my favourite stories when I was little, thanks in no small part to the fact that it was one of my mum’s favourites too! (We are huge Jill Murphy fans – The Worst Witch, The Large Family, Peace at Last…)

So it was lovely to read it to Peapod and look ahead to all the times we’ll read it as he gets older – it’s one of those great books that crosses a wide age range.

Peapod loved the illustrations, and I really like the comic strip style layout and design, as well as the repetition which older children will enjoy (my favourite bit to read is the “Well…!” on each page – it’s the small things!)

It’s a scenario that will resonate with parents and older children – Claire’s hurt her knee and is on her way home for a plaster. But did she get her bad knee falling from a witch’s broom or being dropped by a giant? Has she hurt it bring knocked down by an alligator or a gorilla? Her amusing and imaginative tales are great for some really expressive and dramatic reading, and offer the perfect opportunity for older children to come up with their own ideas too!

First published in 1982 and first read to me just a few years after, this remains a favourite over 30 years later and I’m looking forward to plenty of re-reads with Peapod!

Are you a Jill Murphy fan like us?

Which stories have you read at bedtime this week?

Mini Monday: 7/1/19

Kicking off 2019 with three snowy books (maybe it will bring the actual snow!)*

*The last of these reviews is a tweaked and slightly expanded version of one from WWW Wednesday last week – you can always skip it if you saw it first time round!

First up…

There’s a Yeti in the Playground by Pamela Butchart

Illustrated by Thomas Flintham

It’s snowing and Izzy and friends are hoping they’ll all be sent home early. But then they hear weird noises in the playground, and find a big footprint in the snow… And that’s when they know! There’s a YETI in the playground and it’s HUNGRY!

The young readers in work LOVE these books and it’s easy to see why with plots, plans and action aplenty – not to mention huge dollops of humour that adults will love too.

As a former infant teacher, so much of this made me properly laugh out loud – both supremely silly and totally believable at the same time! Anyone who’s ever been in a school will find plenty of familiar faces, recognisable rules and everyday events here, but bigger, bolder and funnier!

Snow, survival skills and being stuck in school – not to mention a seriously stinky scent! This is observational humour at its best – larger than life and laugh out loud!

Thanks to Nosy Crow for my copy.

The Missing Barbegazi by H. S. Norup

Cover design by Anna Morrison

Tessa knows that the Barbegazi exist because her beloved grandfather told her about them. So she sets out to prove to her family and friends that her grandfather wasn’t just a confused old man. But Tessa realises that uncovering the truth carries great responsibilities.

This was set on the ski slopes of Austria and is a great example of an author really knowing and loving their setting. It’s clearly well-loved territory, fondly described with little touches of the familiar that help to paint the picture for those of us who have never touched a ski!

Likewise, I enjoyed the fact that it was written from both Tessa and Gawion’s perspectives and the addition of the pages from the guide to Alpine elves was a really interesting and unusual way to add background information and detail.

With themes of friendship, loss and trust as well as protecting the environment and knowing when to keep a secret, this is a story of unlikely allegiances, cunning plots to foil the bad guy, wintry landscapes and daring late night escapades this is a great adventure, perfect for fans of Lauren St John’s Kat Wolfe Investigates or Jess Butterworth’s When The Mountains Roared.

Thanks to Pushkin for my copy.

Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

Cover illustration by Rachel Vale

Clementine discovers a mysterious house full of snowglobes, each containing a trapped magician. One of these is Dylan, a boy who teases her in the real world but who is now desperate for her help.

So Clem embarks on a mission to release Dylan and the other magicians, unknowingly unleashing a struggle for power that will put not only her family, but the future of magic itself in danger.

I finished reading this on Christmas Day. I think this is the first Christmas Day I’ve managed to read since I was little! It was lovely (even if I did have to read stood up!) and the magical feel of this book was perfectly suited to it!

I really enjoyed the characters of Ganymede, Io and Clem especially and the way strong emotions are portrayed and played out through the magic of the book worked really well.

But what I really loved were the magical elements of the book and the world building – so imaginative and exciting.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m still marvelling at the Snowglobes and the setting – at the worlds within a world within a world. The whole concept was such a unique idea and brilliantly described – so tangible and memorable. It made me want to go in and explore!

Thanks to Macmillan for my copy.

Have you read any of these – what did you think?

What are your favourite wintry or snowy books?

Peapod’s Picks 4/1/19

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (usually for his bedtime story) each week plus a more in depth review of at least one of them – this week Claude All At Sea by Alex T. Smith.

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

What did we read this week?

The start of the week saw the end of December, and the last of our Christmas books (you can see all the books we read here).

On Tuesday, we read Claude. Then, on Wednesday, Daddy chose ‘Laura’s Star’ by Klaus Baumgart and yesterday we read The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith(after ‘From Baby to Bronte’ read The Worm and the Bird earlier in the week and reminded me of her books!)

Claude All At Sea by Alex T. Smith

This was one of Peapod’s Christmas presents. And it was a total surprise (after all, who buys the bookseller books?!) which made it even better! I (I mean *he*) was thrilled! Even more so when I found out it was signed!

So, what better way to kick off the new year and a return to non-Christmas books than with this one?!

Firstly, Claude as a character is totally brilliant – expressive, funny and just quite happily doing his thing. With a beret full of useful stuff and trusty sidekick Sir Bobblysock, Claude can cope with anything that comes his way!

Which is just as well, because being swept out to sea in your bath then eaten by a sea monster called Kevin (oh, the warning signs 😂) is quite something!

The illustration is full of life too – no mean feat when only using a restricted palette in this way. But there’s texture, movement and a big, bold character to it all which rather captured ‘Peapod’s attention!

It’s an imaginative, pacy and above all FUN read that somehow manages to be creative, funny and matter of fact. We very much enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading the other Claude books with ‘Peapod’ when he’s bigger!

Have you or your little ones read any of these?

Which stories have you read at bedtime this week?

Snow in the Garden – A First Book of Christmas

 

I was thrilled to receive a review copy of this in exchange for a review – Shirley Hughes is such a special author that has played a large part in so many childhoods; from Dogger (my sister’s favourite) to the Alfie stories (my own) via Lucy and Tom and her poetry – she has a style, both in her illustration and text, that is reassuringly warm and charming, so she is a surefire hit for a bookish Christmas treat!

In this book, her stories, poems and artwork are accompanied by plenty of traditional, but timeless Christmassy things to do: paper lanterns, shortbread and paper robins, for example and it’s a perfect match.

I was transported back to my own childhood by the activities: I could see the flour dusted kitchen counter, smell Christmas biscuits baking and feel the excitement of a rainy afternoon spent indoors with scissors, glue and glitter!

Likewise, the poems are incredibly evocative – seeing your breath on a cold, winter morning, bare branches and wrapping up warm for walks in the park; being cosy and warm when it’s dark and cold outside, and – of course – the magical build up to and wait for Christmas.

The stories also bring back plenty of memories – school nativities, snowy days and family life. And that is what Shirley Hughes is so good at, in both the text and the expressive and detailed illustrations – describing everyday, family life with warmth, honesty and humour.

This is a beautiful book, and will make a wonderful addition to a Christmas collection. The combination of activities and stories/poems/illustrations make it ideal for dipping into throughout the season and, while there’s a wonderful sense of nostalgia and old fashioned charm, there’s also plenty for new, young readers to love and relate to – playing in the snow, going for wintry walks and acting in the school nativity – and the activities are timeless: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without paper decorations, homemade cards and gingerbread!

A cosy, nostalgic hug of a book and an absolute delight – it’s one we’ll be getting out year after year.