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!

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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 – 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 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?

Peapod’s Picks: Voices

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: ‘doing the voices’

Before I go any further, I should point out that despite by all accounts being a fairly accomplished reader of stories, capable of keeping even the wriggliest entertained, I am RUBBISH at voices. I’m no good at accents and I forget who sounds like what halfway through.

As I mentioned last week Peapod has a story as part of his bedtime routine. Actually he has two most nights – one read by me and one read by Daddy.

As I also mentioned, at (nearly) 8 weeks old he’s still far too little to know what we’re reading, let alone whether or not we’re ‘doing the voices’. I on the other hand am seemingly less forgiving…

It all began with The Dark by Lemony Snickett and Jon Klassen (As quirky as you’d expect from this pair – humorous, reassuring and creepy all at once!)

“I want to show you something,” Daddy read.

“What kind of voice is that?!” Mummy chortled.

“It’s a voice as creaky as the roof of the house and as smooth and cold as the windows!”

We were crying laughing trying to read this and find a voice that sounded quite like that!

Then, we read ‘Dave’s Cave’ and ‘Dave’s Rock’ by Frann Preston-Gannon. (Simply told stories, brilliantly brought to life by the illustrations and carefully selected text – Dave is instantly loveable and the stories are warm and funny – I would love to see more adventures from Dave!)

” Is Dave a Cockney Caveman?!” enquired Mummy between giggles.

” I’ve gone for League of Gentlemen…”

Cue yet more hilarity as we attempted to perfect Dave’s caveman voice!

And tonight we’re reading ‘A New Home for a Pirate’ by Ronda Armitage and Holly Swain (think The Smartest Giant in Town meets Room on the Broom – brilliantly under-rated) It features both pirates and farmers…need I say more?!

Do you ‘do the voices’ when reading aloud – do you have have any books you particularly enjoy doing? Or any you hope won’t be requested?!