October, October

October, October by Katya Balen, illustrated by Angela Harding.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I was very kindly sent a copy of this by Bloomsbury.

However, I had already bought both a physical copy (knowing nothing about the book and based solely on Angela Harding’s beautiful cover) and an e-book version (having started it and not been able to put it down when I went up and down stairs to Peapod each eve)

So, yes, I was technically gifted a copy, but I think the fact that I’ve also bought two copies for myself should prove that both a) I loved this book and b) I’m being honest about just how much!

I really couldn’t put this down. The contrasting settings of woodland and town were vivid and real; I felt like I was being granted a glimpse of a secret, wild world both raw and beautiful in the woods, while I saw the claustrophobic bustle and noise of the city through fresh eyes as they overwhelmed October.

October has just turned eleven and has grown up living ‘wild’ in the woods with her dad. She loves their life and the nature that surrounds her.

I loved reading about their life – seeing how they embraced it with autumn dips in freezing waters and fires outside looking at the stars; how they cared for the wood, striking a balance between respecting its natural, wild ways and tending to it to keep it alive and growing; the little details and practicalities of life there. Katya Balen does a fantastic job of portraying a life both demanding and cosy, hard but rewarding.

However, October’s life as she knows it is brought crashing down when she is forced to move to her mum’s London terrace when her dad is hospitalised after an accident.

October hasn’t spoken to her mum since she left when October was four, despite her mum’s best efforts, and seeing October grapple with both city life and living with a parent she wants nothing to do with, that she feels abandoned by and resentment towards, is an incredibly difficult but believable read.

October is such a fantastic character and I really felt myself in her shoes as she’s runs the gamut of emotions. Incredibly moving, there were times my heart ached for her, but just as many moments of sheer joy; she was truly fantastic to read.

This is a book about growing, adapting and overcoming, about finding hidden treasures in unlikely places, about letting go and learning to fly.

It is an absolute gem of a book, with stunning illustrations from Angela Harding and I cannot recommend it enough.

#MGTakesOnThursday – Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble

#MGTakesOnThursday was created by Mary over at Book Craic and is a brilliant way to shout about some brilliant MG books!

To join in, all you need to do is:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.

Today I’ve gone slightly off-piste again with a poetry collection that’s perfect for primary rather than an MG novel. I couldn’t not choose this though as it should be in every school, if not in every classroom!

Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble – Magical Poems, chosen by Paul Cookson, illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon, published by Bloomsbury

Accompanied by fun illustrations with plenty of appeal, there is truly something for everyone in this magical poetry collection.

Old ones, new ones. Funny ones, thoughtful ones. Spooky ones, sparkly ones. Long ones, short ones. Rhyming, rhythmic and repetitive ones.

Magic words, spells and potions. Fairies, unicorns, dragons, ghosts and monsters. A smattering of nonsense, pop culture and legend, and a huge dollop of possibility, word play and imagination.

Perfect for reading for pleasure or to select specific poems to use as a writing stimulus in class – made up magic words; spells, recipes and potions; descriptive work on settings or creatures, even maths problems and puzzles thanks to Paul Cookson’s Mathematically, Telepathically Magical (which brought back fond memories of primary school for me and likely will for other older readers who remember this magic maths ‘trick’ doing the rounds!)

I started listing my favourites but it became ridiculously long! So I have chosen 3 (it seemed a fittingly magical number!)

The Witch by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge p50

Night Soup (a simple recipe) by James Carter p66-67

Crossing the Bounds by Jaz Stutley p68

This book in three words

Magic. Poetry. Imagination.

My favourite quote from pg 11

I have included the full poem featured on page 11, Whizzo McWizard’s Amazing Creations by Paul Cookson, which is a brilliant springboard into inventions and creations that is full of possibility and the excitement of trying, building, testing and making. If this doesn’t gave you and your kids thinking up your own amazing creations I’d be shocked!

20 Books of Summer #1 – The Wild Way Home

I was lucky enough to request and be approved to read an advance copy of this on netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.

The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley, artwork by Ben Mantle with lettering from Patrick Knowles and design by Sarah Baldwyn

I had heard wonderful things about this from, but didn’t actually have a clue who or what it was about. I only knew I wanted to read it!

As it turned out, it was not what I was expecting in the slightest (not that I could really tell you what I was expecting)! BUT that’s no bad thing at all – I absolutely devoured this and loved the way it blended contemporary family drama with history and fantasy.

There’s echoes of both Skellig and Stig of the Dump, as well as occasional whispers of other classic children’s stories; at the same time though, this feels utterly fresh and original.

Charlie has longed for a sibling for years, but now that the moment is here it’s not going quite as imagined.

I thought the way we saw Charlie’s feelings become overwhelming was so powerful and real, and I thought it was really important to see an older child struggling with that complicated mix of emotions a new sibling brings.

Charlie seeks refuge in his favourite place, Mandel Forest, but all is not what it seems and he has somehow stumbled into the Stone Age where he meets Harby, who needs his help.

This is both an exciting, wild adventure and a heart-warming tale of friendship and personal growth.

I loved the way Charlie and Harby’s relationship and communication developed, and how this helped Charlie come to terms with his emotions and events in his ‘real life’.

They go from a tense and mistrustful meeting to warily opening up and – in some roundabout and hilarious moments – starting to talk, learn more about each other and becoming friends who help each other, both practically and in working through their feelings and actions.

The forest itself is depicted brilliantly, as are the changes it has seen over time. As with many of the books I’ve loved in recent years, there is a clear sense of wonder and respect for nature which makes for a really immersive and gripping read (the cave scene especially!)

Sophie Kirtley manages to strike the perfect balance between the heart-stopping, perilous wild, humour and raw emotion. I had my heart in my mouth, tears in my eyes and laughter in my belly and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

I should also add that Mary over at Book Craic noticed something which I am kicking myself for not picking up on when reading this. I won’t say what as that’s hers to share but definitely keep your eyes peeled for her review as it’s something I’ll have in mind when recommending and just thought it was such a clever thing to do/spot.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own, and I have since bought a finished copy too.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley

I loved The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley’s first novel, and Bedlam Stacks, which was her second – a standalone that nevertheless ‘overlaps’ somewhat with Filigree Street in a rather pleasing way – so I was incredibly excited about a sequel to Watchmaker, but would it deliver?

In short, yes! If you enjoyed Watchmaker you must read this (and if you haven’t read Watchmaker stop now and go and read that first!)

We return to Thaniel, Mori and Six a few years after we left them, this time as they embark on a journey to Japan; Thaniel for work and health reasons and Mori to finish something he started decades earlier…

I loved seeing Mori’s home and the way the Japanese setting affected our characters. As with Natasha’s previous books, her love and knowledge of the country, its history and culture are clear and give us an immersive sense of time and place.

I must admit that after the somewhat softly spoken, almost genteel feel of Watchmaker I found the harsher, cruder tone a bit surprising and hard to get into at first, but I soon did and it soon felt much more appropriate for the story too. I also found the author’s note on the language and her choice of and use of it very interesting.

Likewise, I struggled to see Thaniel as a big man, a boxer as that’s not at all how I’d imagined him in Watchmaker, but I soon grew into this ‘new’ Thaniel and it worked very well.

Mori might just be one of my favourite ever fictional characters and here he is as enigmatic and magnetic as ever. I thought the way that despite thinking I trusted him absolutely and feeling such warmth towards him, we’re still led to doubt and second guess him, and by extension our own judgement. It’s so cleverly written.

There’s some new characters too who are brought to life just as well, evoking a host of different reactions and feelings between them. From the power-hungry Kuroda to the ruthless Tanaka to the complex, strong and determined Takiko Pepperharrow.

I will struggle to say much about anything without either giving away huge spoilers or just sounding confusing, but it is brilliantly sprawling and intricately woven, as one would expect if you’re already familiar with Mori.

Seemingly unconnected, insignificant or minor events come together to create a puzzle which only reveals itself once all its pieces are in place.

Bringing together folklore, superstition and an air of the supernatural in a rich, historical tale of power, love and destiny, this is an outstanding sequel and joins The Watchmaker of Filigree Street as one of my favourite books.

The Bedlam Stacks

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

I thought I’d reviewed this but it turns out I’d only posted it on waterstones and not on the blog (maybe it was before I had the blog?) but as I’m posting my review of The Lost Future of Pepperharrow today, I thought I’d throw this one in too!
When my proof copy (received in exchange for review) arrived, I was both excited and apprehensive about how Natasha Pulley would follow up The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, which I loved – could she do it again?
Superbly written, combining historical fiction with wonderfully imaginative surroundings (exploding trees and moving statues for starters) and believable characters the answer is an emphatic yes.

I loved this just as much – fans of Watchmaker will not be disappointed and will be pleased by some subtle (and not so subtle) nods to her first novel. For those who have not read Watchmaker – if you enjoy this, I urge you to also read that!
Bedlam Stacks is cleverly written with an underlying sense of mistrust and doubt: can others be believed? Can the character’s own minds be believed? Are the statues really moving, is it a trick, or are they really some sort of gods?

The scenes are brilliantly set – richly described, with a perfect balance between the hard terrain, extreme weather and altitude sickness that roots them in reality and the glowing pollen, glass rocks and cities in the treetops that steeps it in an air of mystery.

And the story similarly manages to walk the tightrope between historical fiction rooted in fact and magic, myth and folklore.
An utterly brilliant book, which has confirmed Natasha Pulley as one of my favourite authors.

Toffee

I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.

Toffee by Sarah Crossan

I read Moonrise by Sarah Crossan back in 2018 and was convinced I’d reviewed it but can find no trace of said review so can only assume I didn’t…which is a shame because I loved it! So I was really pleased to be given a copy of her most recent book, Toffee to review.

Runaway Allison ends up at Marla’s. Marla is a strsnger; an elderly lady with dementia who sees Allison and thinks she’s a friend from her past, Toffee. Lucy is a local girl of Allison’s age who ‘befriends’ her at the beach.

However, as the story progresses we quickly see that friendship isn’t always found in the most obvious of places.

Like Moonrise (and I believe her other books which I REEAALLY need to read!), Toffee is written in verse, which is more accessible than it sounds (seriously, if you are not a poetry person – or don’t think you are – don’t let this put you off!). It’s also incredibly effective.

Sarah Crossan has managed to get so much into what, on the surface, is relatively sparse text. It feels distilled to its purest, neatest form – no word is unnecessary, every line packs a punch.

The characters have depth and complexity. The plot is layered and gradually spins out to the past and back to the present. And oh, the emotion in this book – your heart will ache.

We are presented with Allison’s history in short, sometimes sharp, sometimes sweet (often both) slices, allowing us to understand her and her caginess, and fill with warmth as she slowly and carefully begins to open up.

Similarly, we are given glimpses into Marla’s past and it’s a joyous yet cautionary tale about the way we treat/think of old people as we see her dancing and making both lewd and shrewd comments. It’s also an incredibly realistic and sad depiction of the way dementia takes over – the way Marla’s confusion and frustration are shown is so utterly believable.

This is a heartbreaking, tender and bitterly sad story tinged with moments of joy and hope. Our main characters face myriad hurts, betrayals and losses in various ways and are both, in their own ways, locked inside themselves. It is wonderful to see them break through to each other in small ways.

The more minor characters – Allison’s Dad and Marla’s son, Lucy and Kelly-Anne – in the book nevertheless feel fully fleshed and each has their own issues, presented cleverly to the reader. Although I was in no doubt about how I felt about them, I was nevertheless intrigued by them.

Although this is a YA book, I can see it appealing to adults too. There are – in the characters, the themes and the individual poems – elements which will spesk to different readers on different levels and which will resonate in different ways with them.

Personally, for example, ‘I Did Not Kill My Mother Immediately’ broke me (and it did utterly, utterly break me) in a way it wouldn’t have before I had Peapod. And I found ‘Unkissed’ unbearably sad, but I think if I read it as a teen it probably wouldn’t have touched me so much.

That isn’t to say teens wouldn’t understand it or relate, just that I suspect the poems that grabbed me from it now would not be the ones that would have spoken to me when I was younger and vice-versa. It would make a wonderful book to discuss cross-generationally.

I loved this book. My heart still hurts to think about it now. A beautifully, tender tale, cleverly crafted and concentrated in its telling.

Why You Should Read Children’s Books…

Those of you that read regularly will know I’m not one for getting reviews up immediately. I mull, I procrastinate, I reflect, I attempt to find the words to do justice to how the book has made me feel and to say what I want to say about it. Then I review about a month later when everyone’s already read it and moved on…

But this morning, I read this little gem on my way into work and just had to share it with you immediately!

Why You Should Read Children’s Books Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell

It’s only short so there’s not too much I can say without feeling like I’m going to spoil it, but suffice to say I began by folding down the corners (yes, shoot me now) on the pages that said something that really spoke to me, only to find I was folding down the corner on nearly every page.

I always struggle when asked why I read children’s books – although for the most part I’m not asked, I’m just given strange looks or people assume it’s just for my job (it *is* for my job, but my job is my job because I read kids’ books not the other way around).

I can never find the words I want (I know, big shock, hey?!) to express what it is about children’s literature that I love. What that certain something is that the best of it contains. How transportative it can be. How well it acts as a guide to the less cheery sides of life whilst remaining (for the most part) steadfastly hopeful and determined to believe impossible things.

This essay from Katherine Rundell does what I cannot and makes the case for reading children’s literature in a warm, wry and knowledgeable way from historical, political and personal viewpoints. It has also reminded my love of fairytales and made me want to rush out and drink them all down.

Ultimately, it’s a book that, just like the best children’s books it is written about, filled me hope and utter joy and left a large smile on my face! Everyone should read it (especially those old enough and wise enough to think they know better!)

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?

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.

Mini Monday 21/1/19

This week’s Mini Monday* features four picture books – two we were kindly sent (thank you, Bounce) and two we bought and read this week.

*I’m only halfway through and it’s turning out to be less mini, more mega – sorry!

First up, our free review copies:

The Lost Horse by Mark Nicholas

At a gallery in the city, the sculpture of a horse has disappeared. Meanwhile, in a village outside the city lives Lyra all alone…until one day a horse appears at her window!

This is a book I wasn’t sure about – little girl dreams of horse isn’t a story I’d normally go for! But the illustrations drew me in, with a unique style and unusual palette, they are detailed and expressive and complement the story well.

I also thought the ‘mystery’ of the missing horse sculpture, the two different starting points and the way the story was resolved (no spoilers here!) gave this extra depth and made it much more than a girl-dreams-of-horse story.

This would be a great book to read and use in primary classes across the curriculum, but especially to link with art/gallery visits and stories.

The Lost Property Office by Emily Rand

A little girl leaves her Teddy on the train. Luckily she and Grandpa come up with a plan to get him back!

I really warmed to the characters in this – they felt like real people, as did all the people in the background. In a similar way to Shirley Hughes’ Alfie books (though very different in style) this conjured very familiar places and faces very naturally and convincingly.

It was also good to see a BAME family as main CHARACTERS without that being a focal point of the book, and to see an urban setting too.

My absolute favourite thing about this though was the illustrations, which I loved. With a collage style, they were full of colour, shape and texture. And on each of the spreads (especially the ‘lost property’ ones), there’s so many different things to spot, find, talk about and notice – it’ll never get boring! One of those books you’ll see something new in every time.

Top marks for this one, we really enjoyed it and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more written or illustrated by Emily Rand.

And onto the books we bought…

Octopants by Suzy Senior and illustrated by Claire Powell

There’s all-in-ones for urchins and slipper socks for eels, but will Octopus ever be able to find a pair of pants?

I hadn’t heard of this one, but it caught my eye on a trip into work last week, so we picked it up straight away – it had an octopus and pants, what’s not to like?!

Delightfully silly, bright and fun, this rhyming story was thoroughly enjoyable, with lots of laughs and a pleasing twist at the end.

I’ll be buying more copies as presents for friends’ little ones as I know it’ll go down a treat with them too.

We Eat Bananas by Katie Abey

9781408899212

All the animals are eating their favourite foods in their own hilarious way. We Eat Bananas invites children to choose their favourite foods and how they like to eat them across 12 spreads, packed with animals eating bananas, soup, sandwiches, sausages, ice cream, vegetables, spaghetti and more.

I wrote here about how much I loved Katie Abey’s first offering ‘We Wear Pants’ (yes, I have a thing about pants stories…) so when I spotted this on the table after storytime the other day I positively jumped for joy. We snapped it up!

Just as funny and fun as the first, and filled to bursting with animals doing all manner of unusual things as they cook up their favourite foods. And, as with the previous book, there is SO MUCH to spot, find, match, answer and talk about on each page, with speech bubbles, captions, questions and puns galore (plus a parp-ing penguin!) The cheeky monkey who refuses to do what everyone else is doing is back on each page too!

I also really like that there is both fast food and fruit, pancakes and peas – this is truly a balanced diet of a book, embracing the treats as much as the good for you stuff, making it perfect for fussy eaters to talk about food in a really fun and open way.

Both this and We Wear Pants are books to visit and revisit over and over again, there’ll always be more to find, spot, laugh at and talk about. I absolutely love this series and really hope there’ll be more where these came from.

Peapod hasn’t quite got past the cover yet – he wouldn’t let me open it to look at so fascinated was he!

Have you read any of these with your little ones?

Which picture books have you read recently?