Peapod’s Picks – A dragon, a mole and a monster, a lullaby, a book and a music show.

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 bought all our books this week.

This week we’ve read

  • Farmer Joe and the Music Show by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees

Soon to feature in a musically themed Peapod’s Picks!

  • Pea Pod Lullaby by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King

We bought this at Christmas and I know I’ve mentioned it before, but a proper post featuring it will happen soon. Definitely.

  • Alfie and Dad by Shirley Hughes

It was Peapod’s Dad’s birthday this week so,in honour of his love of Shirley Hughes, Peapod bought him this!

  • Love Monster and the Scary Something by Rachel Bright

I’ll be honest, I’m one of the seemingly rare picture book readers/parents who’s not a huge Rachel Bright fan – too much of a message. But we really liked the original Love Monster book so tried this one too.

I really liked the start and the build up, and the ‘scary something’ but the end was all a bit too ‘typical Bright’ for my tastes!

  • It’s a Book by Lane Smith.

We all loved this one.

Jackass is fascinated by Monkey’s book – what is it? How does it tweet, scroll or charge? Monkey, in turn, is increasingly frustrated.

Sparse, well-selected text and expressive illustrations make up some of my absolute favourite picture books and this gives that box an enormous tick.

This is one of those brilliant ‘conversation’ books – deadpan, dry, very funny (with an ending adult book lovers in particular will appreciate) and great for a ‘joint read’ at bedtime.

  • Have You Seen my Blankie? by Lucy Rowland and Paula Metcalf.

I wasn’t sold on this from the title and cover, I thought it was going to be a bit cutesy (stay with me!) But Lily highly recommended it so we gave it a go and it’s BRILLIANT!

Reminiscent of Jane Hissey’s Little Bear’s Trousers, everyone has seen and used Princess Alice’s blankie but they’ve given it to… This makes for plenty of imaginative scenarios and interesting characters, leading up to the loveable and misunderstood dragon who just wanted something to help him sleep.

Determined to help, but unwilling to give away Blankie, Princess Alice takes us back through various possibilities until a solution that keeps everyone happy is found.

Written and illustrated with warmth, a touch of humour and imagination this is (as Lily quite rightly said before me) a brilliant, well-paced and expressively illustrated story of sharing, compromise and friendship.

  • Rocket Mole by Matt Carr.

I might not have picked this up if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d read and loved Spyder at storytime last year. It went down a storm with kids and parents alike and Rocket Mole is in the same vein.

It’s longer and wordier, but no less funny or engaging. Like Spyder, it’s full of puns (“it’s out of this world”, “boring” moles) which will keep adults amused as well as visual humour and a lively, fun story kids will love. It’s bright, bold, comic strip style has universal appeal.

Inspirational without being preachy or twee, this is a story which encourages you to dream big and think creatively whilst recognising the importance of friends, familiarity and sharing successes.

It has both mole and moon fact files at the end – brilliant for non-fiction fans or, conversely, perfect for those a little unfamiliar or unsure about non-fiction to dip their toes cautiously in!

Have you read any of these?

What bedtime stories did you read this week?

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Peapod’s Picks/Kids Love to Read

Some of you will know that on a Friday (or more frequently recently, a Saturday – just like to keep you on your toes) I usually post ‘Peapod’s Picks’ – a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read for his bedtime story each week plus a review of at least one of them.

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

However on Monday I came across the Kids Love to Read (KLTR) link up on both Book Bairn and Acorn Books blogs so I’m doubling up this week to join in with that too!

With that in mind, I thought I’d kick off our KLTR posts (we hope to join in every month!) with a Q&A of sorts as an intro to us and our reading, rather than our usual round up and review – back to usual next week!

Introduce yourself and your chid(ren)

I’m Rachael. I’ve been a children’s bookseller for just over 2 years and before that I spent 8 years teaching early years and key stage 1. ‘Peapod’ is a six month old boy – he’s really easy going and desperate to be on the move! Peapod’s Dad also reads lots with us.

Did you enjoy reading as a child?

Yes! I could read before I started school and have always been a big reader.

Why? Or why not? (and if not, what changed?)

I think there were so many factors – talk, pretend play, books and stories at home…weekly trips to the library with the loveliest librarians…a school which nurtured my bookish side and encouraged my love of both reading and especially writing stories…

I’m short, being surrounded by reading, readers, books and imagination made me a reader.

What were your favourite books as a child?

This list could go on forever, but I’ll just choose a couple of picture books since that’s what Peapod Picks is about:

On the Way Home by Jill Murphy

Haunted House by Jan Pienkowski

The Timbuctoo books by Roger Hargreaves

Hedgehog and Mouse books by Gilly Meredith

And I’m counting this since my mum and I ADORE it and, although I had the chapter book version, is now available as a picture book too –

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark by Jill Tomlinson

What are your favourite picture/children’s books to read aloud now?

I’m not sure we have any favourites yet – Peapod is still too young to want anything on repeat! But I love anything by Barnett and Klassen, especially Triangle.

Daddy and I both find anything that needs voices doing hilarious – cavemen and pirates are apparently our favourites despite being awful at them!

You can’t beat a decent bit of rhyme and rhythm in a read aloud – I love Pants/More Pants by Giles Andreae and Nick Sharratt or 100 Dogs by Michael Whaite for this.

Or anything that makes us laugh – the Oi! books by Kes Gray and Jim Field, Simon Philip’s books You Must Bring a Hat and I Really Want The Cake or John Bond’s Mini Rabbit Not Lost spring to mind.

When do you read – for yourself or with your kids?

I read whenever I can find the time! Usually I manage to squeeze a few pages in around jobs during naptime, and audiobooks during pram naps or housework naps have been a recent revelation! I manage to read a few pages most evenings too.

Peapod has a bedtime story every night and it’s my favourite time of day. The three of us snuggle up on the dark and his Dad or I alternate nightly who chooses and reads the story.

We often read a board book in the morning too before we get up for the day. The That’s Not My… books are his favourites!

On a Friday we go to storytime at our local Waterstones (it’s been a nice change attending one rather than running one!) which we always enjoy and this term we’re starting a sensory story class too – I’ll post about that soon!

He has cloth books in his toy basket and change bag and we often look at a book during the day if we’re at home too.

And finally, if you could only read one bedtime story every night for the next year, what would it be?

Ooi, such a tough one. Either Triangle by Barnett and Klassen because I don’t think I’d ever get tired of reading that or Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton because it’s such a perfectly sleepy story.

I’d love to read your answers to these questions too – blog it and link back to me or let me know in the comments!

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

Peapod’s Picks: You’re Not a Proper Pirate, Sidney Green

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:

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

You’re Not a Proper Pirate, Sidney Green by Ruth Quayle, illustrated by Deborah Allwright.

Sidney Green loves going on rip-roaring adventures with his dog, Jemima. Together, they race cars, sail all the way to Africa and build an enormous castle, complete with a moat full of crocodiles. But Captain Shipshape and his pirate band are NOT happy. They think it’s time for Sidney Green to become a Proper Pirate – right now, not “in a minute”. What will Sidney Green do?

Daddy spotted this one when we were out the other day, and luckily for him I’d been sent a copy to review!

I have to admit I’m a bit funny about pirate books, so it’s not one I’d have picked out but I did enjoy it more than I expected to.

An ode to imagination and imaginative play, this is guaranteed to bring a smile to any parent (or teacher or relative or..) who’s heard that phrase “in a minute”. Sidney is so wrapped up in his exciting adventures that everything else (including Captain Shipshape’s demands that he get pirate-ing) must wait!

The illustrations work perfectly with the text and are full of the joy and excitement a make believe adventure can bring.

There’s a great pace to it too, which as well as highlighting the impatience of Captain Shipshape, also serves really well to evoke those whirlwind “and then this happened…and you did…and I said…and then a…” stories children create.

Likewise, the way everyone sent to get Sidney ends up joining in with his adventure instead both adds humour and wonderfully captures those games that snowball, with more and more children joining and adding their ideas and voices to them!

I thought this was a cleverly written, visually appealing story that is an absolute champion of imagination and the importance of play, as well as a reminder to us grown ups to make time for play, make believe and adventure too!

I had only one small dislike, and its a personal, nit-picky and easily remedied one: the phrase ‘a rip-roaring time’. But I just substituted various other phrases and then we were all happy! It definitely wouldn’t put me off reading it again…which is a good job as it was a definite hit with both Peapod and Daddy, and we were absolutely cracking up, crying laughing trying to do pirate voices (farmer pirates anyone?!) – lots of fun!

Other pirate books we like:

What else did we read this week?

  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy (a classic!)
  • Night Monkey, Day Monkey by Julia Donaldson and Lucy Richards
  • Mr Bump by Roger Hargreaves (Who doesn’t love the Mr Men?!)
  • Lemur Dreamer by Courtney Dicmass (I’m all about the illustrations in this one, the story itself is a bit odd, but you know…lemurs!)
  • Little Red by Bethan Woolvin (I love this series of books – read more here!)

Have you read any of these?

Do you have a pirate picture book you love?

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

Peapod’s Picks – I Don’t Want to Be a Pea!

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:

9780192780188

I Don’t Want to Be a Pea by Ann Bonwill, illustrated by Simon Rickerty

So, as you know (or have just found out) our nickname for Peapod has always been Peapod. It began when I was pregnant and he was the size of a peapod and despite becoming quite considerably bigger, the name just stuck! So anything pea or peapod related we have to have (I bought him a wonderful ‘Peapod’ book for Christmas, Peapod Lullaby, that I’ve just realised I haven’t put up on here, so will post about that soon!)

We found this at a tiny stall on a local jumble trail and I picked it up solely because of the pea thing. I’d never heard of it before, but for 50p it was worth a chance!

And it definitely as worth it – I love this book!

I never post spoilers but just this once – the ending is revealed below! Skip ahead of you really don’t want to know!

Hugo and Bella are off to a fancy dress party as ‘The Princess and the Pea’ – Hugo is the princess naturally, but Bella doesn’t want to be a pea! Cue various suggestions which inevitably leaves one of them feeling put out (my favourite being Bella’s suggestion of a mermaid and a rock because Hugo is ‘grey and blobby’ so makes ‘a very fine rock’). After an argument, a strop, a sulk and finally a think about things, they both decide to let the other be the princess and end up going as…two peas in a pod!

There’s so much to enjoy in this, not least the lively, funny and expressive illustrations (Hugo in the shower washing off his pumpkin paint is just the saddest thing – I want to hug him!).

It’s a wonderfully written, witty and believable story of friendship and fall outs. Perfect for reading aloud, doing the voices and getting into character this is a great story to share. It’s very funny and relatable with a pleasing resolution.

I was also thrilled to see that it’s Hugo who unashamedly wants to be the princess – no making an issue of it, no gender themes to the book, it just *is* and I love that.

We thoroughly enjoyed this and I’ve now ordered the other Hugo sbd Bella books too!

What else did we read this week?

  • Jampires by Sarah McIntyre and David O’Connell (superbly silly!)
  • A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers (a real favourite of mine)
  • The Lost Property Office by Emily Rand (Reviewed here)
  • Hairy Maclary’s Bone by Linley Dodd (a classic rhyming tale)
  • A Pipkin of Pepper by Helen Cooper (another classic with beautiful illustrations)

Have you read any of these?

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

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

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?

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?

Peapod’s Picks: Black and White

I’m going to try and post a a Peapod’s Picks every Friday, or at least alternate Fridays. They’ll be picture, board or cloth books – some old, some new – that we’ve enjoyed or are looking forward to.

This week: Black and White

High contrast books are brilliant for babies’ developing eyes, so this week we’ve chosen our favourite black and white baby books.

Black and White by Emma Dodd

Classic board pages with black, white and yellow patterns in different shapes. I love that there’s a little rhyme to accompany each page, making it more than just a word book and the patterns are linked to all sorts of interesting things – snails, bees, trains and planes – there’s even a rocket to spin round on the final page! So there’s plenty to look at and talk about. Peapod loves the patterns in this one – clear, big and bold.

My Animals by Xavier Deneux

Full of all sorts of animals, this will have lasting appeal thanks to its stylish illustrations and peephole feature. Each page shows just a tiny peek of the page behind so when he’s older there’s lots of fun to be had guessing what’s behind it.

I like the variety of animals in here – domestic, farm, wild all in together – so there’s plenty of patterns to spot, noises to make and actions to do!

Little Baby Books: Outdoors by Melissa Four

Another one with lovely illustrations, our favourite part of which is the shiny coloured foil on each one – they really capture Peapod’s attention. There’s a bath time edition too, which I think we’ll be getting!

Faces by Jo Lodge

9781509807055

With crinkly cloth pages and a mirror, this is a lovely one to leave Peapod with as he starts to get a bit bigger, and the velcro strap means we can attach it to his activity mat, car seat or pram too. He loves the mirror (mirrors are currently blowing his mind!) and simple line-drawn faces on each page appeal to babies’ interest in facial features too.

The only thing we don’t like is the labelling of the faces – mummy, daddy, baby – which doesn’t really reflect the range of families there are.

Mamas and Papas Black and White Interactive Travel Flashcards

Ignore the fact that this is called a set of flashcards. It’s more like a book that’s not bound. Like ‘Faces’, it’s cloth and attaches to his pram or car seat so great as he starts to look at them on his own as well as with us.

The pages all have something ‘extra’ to help him interact with them too – crinkly pages with a squeaker and rattle inside and a mirror on the back page (we do love a mirror!)

The pages showcase the world – sun, sky, moon and stars, trees – with stylish text and illustrations that I really like.

Have you read any of these with your little one(s)? Do you have any others you’d recommend?