Poppy and Sam’s Animal Hide and Seek

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

This is possibly still a little old for Peapod (7mths) to fully appreciate. We’ll still read it together sometimes but I know we’ll get a lot more from it and read it WAY more often as he gets a little older.

Perfect for toddlers (I’d say 12mths+ as a very rough guide), especially fans of the That’s Not My… or Where’s Mr/Mrs… series. The Poppy and Sam books provide a bit more in both text and interactive elements, but are still simple, repetitive and engaging for very young readers.

Peapod enjoyed the touchy-feel elements, though many are smaller than he’s used to. There’s multiple textured images on each page though so great for older babies. Likewise, he loved the flaps but still needed some help to not tear or eat them!

Each page in Poppy and Sam’s farmyard introduces a different farmyard animal in increasing numbers, perfect for developing counting and vocabulary. With one of the animals hiding on each page, there’s plenty of fun ‘finding’ them and the background images are full of detail too, again brilliant for language, observation, making connections and finding out about the world.

And of course, there’s the duck. Oh, the Usborne yellow duck! How I LOVED finding this duck growing up.

Older toddlers and young children (and their parents – you know you do a silent cheer when you find him first. Admit it.) will love hunting for the yellow duck on each page.

A brilliant series – flaps, textures and duck hunting with lovely illustrations and loads of opportunities for talk, learning about the world, counting and early reading. Thumbs very much up!

That’s Not My…Peapod!

After quite a week (busy first half, sick second) I thought we’d do a non-bedtime Peapod Picks this week (and yes, I have moved it to Saturdays!).

Usborne’s fantastic That’s Not My… series from Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells celebrates its 20th birthday this year and it’s safe to say they’ve stood the test of time, kept up with current trends (That’s Not My Unicorn anyone?!) and are likely to still be going strong in another 20 years.

We have a mere 18 of the 55 (!!) That’s Not My… books (including a couple if Christmas ones packed away in our christmas book box) We were given several second hand by a friend before Peapod was born, and I was already a fan so we’ve been gradually adding to our collection too.

3 month old Peapod reading That’s Not My Bee.

We’ve been reading these since he was tiny and they are a firm favourite. He has always loved feeling the different textures and the big, bright, bold illustrations.

Now he’s a bit older, he’s starting to smile when he hears our, by now familiar, “That’s not my…” begin and we can play games looking for his ears/nose/feet etc as we read.

I’m a big fan of the use of the deceptively simple ‘No, it’s “part” is too “adjective”!’ response alongside the feely pages too – what better way to aid understanding and language development as he grows? He already giggles as we ask silly questions like “are your cheeks fluffy?!” and give them a squeeze or a tickle ‘to check’!

There’s also the background illustrations to talk about – whilst simple, there’s still always one or two things to spot, count or name (bugs, shells or plants for example).

And of course there’s the mouse! The mouse appears on every page (does he own all these creatures?) and will be fun to spot when Peapod’s bigger.

Likewise, as he gets older, it’ll be nice when he starts to join in with the repetition and we can talk more about the colours, textures, animals.

He was particularly taken with the sheer sparkle of this 20th anniversary edition of That’s Not My Mermaid – sprayed shiny edges, sparkly tails and jewels plus a mirror (spoiler – there’s an actual mirror at the end!) and it is winning! You can’t beat a mirror in a baby book!

So, you can see (though I can’t imagine you didn’t already know!) just how much there is to get out of these seemingly similar, repetitive books. I can’t lie – I’m aiming to collect them all before he out grows them, but with so much mileage in them, I think I stand a pretty good chance!

We were lucky enough to request and receive a celebratory edition of That’s Not My Mermaid for free, in exchange for an honest review.

All views are our own (we really do LOVE this series!)

Peapod’s Picks – Book Advent Days 6 – 13

So, after starting our Book Advent, I kept remembering, hearing about or seeing even more books I’d either forgotten or not heard of and adding to the pile! I have no doubt there’s still more I’ll think of too! So I’m addition to what we started with last week:

We now also have:

I think I need a bigger sideboard! A couple of the new ones were prizes and I was really excited to win board book copies of both Kipper’s Snowy Day and Ten Little Elves – although we had both as picture books, these will last us much longer and be much better for Peapod to look at himself!

This week, we’ve read:

That’s Not My Reindeer – Peapod loves the touchy feely bits in these books!

A lot of Shirley Hughes!

‘Alfie’s Christmas’ and ‘Lucy and Tom at Christmas’

Daddy picked both of these,and after his initial coolness towards Shirley Hughes’ books, I’m beginning to think he’s being won over! Though he’d never admit it!

Both are charming and relatable depictions of traditional Christmas celebrations, full of warmth, an observant humour and details which capture the moment perfectly.

Snow in the Garden – you can read a full review of this here. We just read the poems from it this week – wonderfully wintry!

‘Supertato: Evil Pea Rules’ – Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

I’m a big Supertato fan and, judging by the way he leaned himself over to look, so is ‘Peapod’!

Evil Pea is one of the best (worst?!) villains around and I love how dastardly he is. Bright, bold and laugh out loud funny and with some puns my dad would love! This series manages to be both brilliantly silly and brilliantly clever at the same time, and this is an excellent seasonal escapade from the veggie crew!

‘Father Christmas Needs a Wee’ – Nicholas Allan

I had hazy memories of how much a previous class had laughed at this years and years ago, but remembered very little of the story.

As it turns out, I had issues with some of the rhyme, but I thought it was great as a counting book and will definitely have very young readers in stitches as Father Christmas becomes more and more desperate for a wee!

One Snowy Night – Nick Butterworth

Ok, like a couple of last week’s, this isn’t strictly a Christmas book, but it’s one I love to read at this time of year. It never fails to make me smile. Percy the Park Keeper is a favourite anyway, but this book in particular is an absolute must-read for winter – cosy, atmospheric and humorous, it’ll have you wishing to be snuggled up in bed while the snow falls outside!

Humphrey’s Christmas – Sally Hunter

I wrote about how much I like the Humphrey books here and Christmas with Humphrey and family is as full of warmth as you could hope for. Perfect for younger readers, this simply told story depicts a wonderful family Christmas, not least through its lovely illustrations.

Emily Brown and Father Christmas – Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

This was a brand new one to me – it had been recommended or reviewed or mentioned on twitter (I’m so sorry, I forget who by!) and caught my eye. Then, as luck would have it, we won a copy from Hachette!

It was great and I loved the writing style. A thoroughly modern story, with hugely appealing, lively illustrations reminiscent of Lauren Child’s collage-y, textured appearance, and a very traditional twist. It takes all the magic of Christmas and delivers it by the sleigh load! It’s jumped straight into my favourites and I look forward to reading more about Emily Brown.

Do you have any favourite Christmas books? Have you read any of the ones we’ve read 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

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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?

WWW Wednesday: 12/9/18

Hosted by ‘Taking on a World of Words’,  every Wednesday we ask and answer the 3 W’s:

WWW WednesdaysI’ve missed the last few weeks – newborns are time consuming! – and I’m definitely not getting through books at my usual rate (goodbye evening read before bed!) but I’m just about surfacing again! Posts and reviews are likely to continue to be sporadic, but we’ll do what we can!

What are you currently reading?

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I started Piers Torday’s ‘The Lost Magician’ at the start of the week and I am loving it so far! Set in post-war Salisbury, it’s a fresh twist on the Narnia tale – no wardrobe here tough, but a library leading 4 siblings into a magical world of Reads and Unreads. It finds a perfect balance between a feeling of nostalgia and time gone by but with a fresh and modern feel to the writing. My favourite things about it so far have to be Larry and Grey Bear: “Grey Bear nodded, with the help of Larry’s hand.”

What have you just finished reading?

I finished The Trouble With Perfect by Helena Duggan earlier in the week, it’s the sequel to the wonderful A Place Called Perfect.

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I have to say I enjoyed book one more – just that little bit darker, creepier and with what felt like a slightly higher action:dialogue ratio. Trouble was still thoroughly enjoyable – with a mechanical mutant zombie, evil twins, chemical clouds and kidnappings it will be a sure-fire hit with younger readers. Full review to follow.

What has Peapod read this week?

Ok, I need to amend my WWW Wednesday to WWWW Wednesday since I’ve snuck an extra W in there now! Peapod and I are just starting to manage a story most days, and usually a board or cloth book too if he’s awake and in a good mood for long enough! This week, we’ve been reading:

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My Animals by Xavier Deneux (board book) – high contrast black and white images for little eyes with fab little peepholes on each page teasing a glimpse of the next animal make it one that will last as he gets bigger too. This is probably my favourite of his black and white books.

Baby Lit Les Miserables (board books) – A new addition to our Baby Lit collection, with images from the story and words and phrases in English and French. We bought this as a present for Daddy as he loves Les Mis and my Francophile friend will also be getting a copy in the post for her little boy!

Sneak a Peek Colours (board book) – with bright, bold patterned pages I love this colours board book. Peapod ‘s mind was pretty much blown by the mirror at the end too – win, win.

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Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers (picture book) – a classic – I suspect we’ll be making our way through a lot of Oliver Jeffers in the coming years, but the short, simple text of the ‘little boy’ stories (Up and Down, Lost and Found, How to Catch a Star) make them perfect for now (plus these are some of my favourite Oliver Jeffers books) I love the humour of Up and Down and the friendship between the boy and penguin is so touching too.

Mopoke by Philip Bunting (picture book) Another book that just really tickles me: short and simple with clever word play that adults will love as much as if not more than) the kids! I thought I’d reviewed it on here, but it seems I haven’t – how I’ve let that happen I don’t know! A full review will follow…

How To Lose A Lemur by Frann Preston-Gannon – Frann Preston-Gannon is such a hidden gem of an author-illustrator, not nearly shouted about enough! I love lemurs s this ticked a lot of boxes for me. Gannon takes us on a heart-warming journey of a reluctant friendship complete with hot air balloons, bikes, trains, mountains, oceans and…LEMURS! Love it (and so does Peapod!)

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What are you planning on reading next?

I never know until I finish my current read and see what I fancy, but I’ve got SO much to choose from at the moment! These are probably the top contenders, but it could all change!

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Which would you choose?

Have you read any of the books I’ve read this week? What are you reading at the moment?

Wiggly Wiggly: Playtime Rhymes

I feel like I haven’t reviewed any books for littlies for AGES! Been so busy catching up with the stack of MG/YA/Adult books I’d let build up that I just never got round to it. But now that I can stick my head above the surface of the others, it’s time to get caught up on the board/picture book side of things too! (And really, these are my favourite books to read and review!)

So, today it’s the turn of ‘Wiggly, Wiggly’, kindly sent to me for review by Walker.

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Really, all I need to say about this book is that it’s written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell (both former Children’s Laureates and both blooming brilliant). So, there – that should be all you need. But that’s not really much of a review is it, so I’ll start by reviewing another book (bear with me!)

The rhymes inside ‘Wiggly Wiggly’ are taken from the larger collection ‘A Great Big Cuddle’.9781406373462

The main difference being Wiggly Wiggly is a book for the youngest readers. It’s a board book which means sturdy (edible) pages and a good strong cover (best tested by throwing on the floor and bashing up and down a lot) and it features the very best rhymes for joining in with from A Great Big Cuddle. But, for toddlers upwards I’d recommend getting A Great Big Cuddle instead: it’s paperback and paper pages, so it’s not as durable for tiny hands and exuberant, excitable readers, but perfect to share together as they get a bit bigger and with LOTS more rhymes to enjoy!

Regardless of whether you go for Wiggly Wiggly or A Great Big Cuddle, all of the rhymes are firmly rooted in children’s own experiences and interests: things that they can relate to (food, greetings, cuddles and puddles) and/or that will spark their imagination (animals, toys and nonsense). And, in both, Chris Riddell’s illustrations bring them all to life superbly: full of expression, colour and movement – they leap off the page, they make you pause and look, they encourage talk, movement and laughter.

The rhymes are bursting at the seams with onomatopoeia, alliteration and rhyme – perfect for experimenting with making silly noises, using nonsense words, adding sound effects or changing your expression/volume/tempo etc.

Likewise, they are made for joining in with: finger rhymes, action rhymes, moving around or role-playing rhymes – they are impossible to read without getting moving in one way or another! For the very, very youngest it’s easy to see how you can move them or move with them or use your touch and movement to make them interactive, so there’s really no excuse not to get wiggling!

But the thing I liked absolutely best of all about this as a book of action rhymes is that there’s no instructions: no diagrams or drawings showing how to move your feet/hands/body so it’s yours to take wherever you and your little one want to take it! They are (as the sub-title ‘Playtime Rhymes’ suggests) perfect for playing with and making your own.

I can’t wait to start reading this with my little one (currently still on the inside so quite hard to wiggle with effectively!) and will be ‘upgrading’ to ‘A Great Big Cuddle’ as he gets older.