Peapod’s Picks – Review Reads

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read each week plus a review of at least one of them.

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

This week, we’ve been lucky to receive two picture books to review.

We also recently received not one but two of our favourite That’s Not My… books as well. Let’s start with them!

I’ve posted before about how much we love this series and these two 20th anniversary celebration editions are no exception, and have made a fine addition to our current animal themed shelf downstairs.

Peapod has most of his books in his room, but some on the bottom shelf of our bookcase downstairs, I just switch out which ones every so often.

Peapod is especially taken with That’s Not My Lion, as it has it has a shaggy mane, but his favourite ‘feel’ is always the scratchy, velcro-y, rough one so we were very pleased that there was both a flamingo and a lion with rough feet!

That’s Not My Flamingo feels perfectly summery and fun (so much so that I’m using it for one of my storytime sessions over the summer and I’m very excited), while Lion has classic kid appeal – who doesn’t love a chance to roar along with a lion book?!

With shiny, sprayed edges and the usual touchy feely fun, as well as the obligatory mouse-spotting on each page and bright, illustrations, these are welcome additions to our collection! We now have nearly half the set. I think I have a problem…

Next up, picture books.

Chatterbox Bear by Pippa Curnick.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, but all three of us really enjoyed it.

Gary is a chatterbox. He chats about everything to anyone everywhere, but not everyone appreciates Gary’s chat so he sets off to find someone who does…

Peapod (and I) liked the bright illustrations, whose pallette zings with neon pinks and yellows, dark purples and tropical blues. The lively style is really fun and characters’ expressions are depicted brilliantly.

Speaking of expression, I loved the eyebrows. I don’t want to give too much away here, but prawn eyebrows are a touch of genius. I also loved the ending – one of those ‘here we go again…’ endings that really makes you smile.

This book is a subtle and touching take on friendship and finding ways to overcome barriers to welcoming newcomers, but mostly it is a hugely fun read with lots to love and laugh about.

Suzy Orbit, Astronaut by Ruth Quayle and Jez Tuya

Suzy Orbit is an ingenious, enthusiastic and problem-solving (female, BAME) space engineer working on a space station with her boss, Captain Gizmo, who would much rather buy his way out of sticky situations with shiny new gadgets and clothes.

As an aside, I have no idea how they haven’t killed one another alone on that space station, or more to the point how Suzy hasn’t lost her infinite patience with her dismissive, arrogant and incompetent boss. If this review were to take a drastically different turn about now, I’d say it was a fine example of modern politics, a warning on capitalism and its effect on the environment and a portrait of how racism and gender issues are still rife in the workplace. But, we’re not going down that route today, so instead I’ll say…

Peapod loved Suzy Orbit, who he kept reaching out for, and the pages put on space where the contrast between the dark sky and the bold colours of the shiny spacesuits, swooshing spaceships, fiery jets and nearby planets helped create striking and lively spreads.

An enjoyable story with everything space-loving children could ask for – speeding space pods, meteoroid storms, aliens…and pizza. This is also a great example of a smart, capable (insanely patient) BAME girl absolutely killing it in a STEM job.

Have you read any of these?

Which picture or board books have you been reading this week?

Peapod’s Picks – Spring has Sprung

It’s time for another Peapod’s Picks/KLTR mash up!

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.

This week, ahead of Easter, with the sun finally showing its face and daffodils, bluebells and tulips brightening our walks out, I thought we’d look at some of the spring-themed board books we’ve been reading.

Clockwise from left:

Ten Little Ladybirds by Melanie Gerth and Laura Huliska-Beith

A lovely rhyming, counting-down book with big bold numbers; bright, bumpy ladybirds to count or simply feel; and illustrations which fill the pages with colour.

Where’s Mr Duck by Ingela P Arrhenius

I’ve written before about this brilliant, bold, felt-flapped series – we love them. Simple, stylish and – most importantly – able to withstand a good deal of chewing and pulling!

Five Little Ducks by Yu-hsuan Huang

We love this song, which is a good job as its sung at pretty much every baby group we go to (though with so many variations on the ending!) and this book is lovely too. There’s a whole series of these from Nosy Crow and I think they’re great – simple but sturdy push and pull slides that are within the pages so can take a good bit of man-handling (Peapod’s not quite up to doing them himself yet, but he gives it a good go!). The illustrations are sunny and detailed with lots going on in the background to talk about and name. And there’s even a qr code link to a video of the song too!

Hooray for Hoppy by Tim Hopgood

I’m such a fan of Tim Hopgood’s illustration style – the textures, layers and print methods are really effective and the use of colour is stunning, something shown off brilliantly with all the flowers and rabbits here.

We enjoyed looking at it but this is one of those books that will last and last – covering the senses, spring time, seasons and nature there’s loads for older readers too! Perfect for reading before/after a springtime walk outdoors!

Are You There Little Bunny by Sam Taplin, Emily Dove and Nicola Butler

This is another lovely series for little readers, with peep through holes and tactile trails to follow with little fingers, as well as busy, bright illustrations it’s engaging and interactive but still durable (spot the recurring theme!)

On each page, there’s repetition of a phrase as we look for little bunny and think we’ve spotted him through the peephole, only to find it’s someone else when we turn over. Enjoyable now while Peapod’s little, but perfect for giggles and joining in with older little ones too.

Humphrey’s Garden by Sally Hunter

I have a real soft spot for the Humphrey’s Corner books. I can’t lie, the gender stereotyping is horrendous – lottie plays tea parties and dolls, daddy goes out to work while mums at home etc BUT I reassure myself that we have plenty of books that give balance to this and let it be – the soft, gentle and calming illustrations and familiar characters and everyday activities are still charming and we really like them.

The Secret Garden by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

I’m a huge fan of this Baby Lit series of books. Each takes a classic and turns into a sharp and stylish primer book. Thoroughly unique and absolutely gorgeous. The Secret Garden is a flowers primer, with a quote from the book next to an image of the flowers it mentions. I love the printing technique used in this one.

Outdoors by Mel Four

You can read my review of this one here. We’re big fans of the beautiful images and the way the shiny, colourful parts contrast with the black and white.

That’s Not My… Bee/Bunny/Chick/Lamb by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

While we love all the other books mentioned, That’s Not My… are definitely Peapod’s favourites. He LOVES this series! We have about 20 now and it’s a god job there’s so many as we read them all the time! You can read a more detailed review of them here.

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!)