Library Love 21/6/19

Library Love is a new regular post with short reviews of the picture books we choose from the library each week.

There may be a bit of stop-starting and moving about of Library Love over the coming couple of weeks as we settle into a nursery and work routine and figure out where library trips best fit into it all – please bear with us!

What we took back

  • The World-Famous Cheese Shop Break In by Sean Taylor and Hannah Shaw A family of rats are on a mission to break into the fancy pants cheese shop, but they don’t make the best burglars. After several failed attempts, they hit upon a new plan. Honestly, this wasn’t really for me. The Dad rat is called Daddypops which really grated on us and while the story started well, I couldn’t get on with ending. I did like the lively illustrations (there’s definitely something a bit Pesky Rat about these rodents) and I’d read it again if Peapod chose it, but otherwise I’d give it a miss.

  • Kiss the Crocodile by Sean Taylor and Ben Mantle. This was the second Sean Taylor book we borrowed, albeit accidentally (we hadn’t realised Cheese Shop was by him too). This is one I’d been meaning to read so was pleased when we found it. Three friends play lots of different games until one day little crocodile wants to join in with his favourite game of kiss the crocodile. There was lots to like – I thought the illustrations were lovely, fun and full of character and I thought the way the suspense was built and built as the friends dared to kiss the crocodile was fantastic. Overall though, I can’t lie, I think I’d have liked a darker, more surprising or subversive ending. It was all a bit too nice. One I’d happily read again if asked but won’t be rushing out to buy.

  • Oddly by Joyce Dunbar and Patrick Benson Three creatures wondering who, what and where they are are surprised by the arrival of an upset little boy who provokes more questions about life and love and feelings and family. I had high hopes for this one, the creatures were, as the title suggests, odd and I liked them, but honestly it felt like it was trying a bit too hard. It drew heavily on Where the Wild Things Are, but lacked the subtlety, the unanswered questions, the darkness and the magic. I’ll stick to Where the Wild Things Are.

  • Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis and Jarvis I liked this one a lot more (you’ll be relieved to hear!) A family of penguins set out for a picnic, only to end up at the other end of the world! Mr White, a very wise polar bear (“Don’t think of it as a mistake. Think of it as a big adventure.”) agrees to help them home, but they stop for adventures on various countries on the way. With lots of repetition, humour, a sense of place which should not be taken too seriously, and a very satisfying ending children will love this is a very enjoyable story that I might buy and would definitely read again.

  • Little Owl’s Orange Scarf Peapod’s Dad wasn’t taken with this, but what foes he know?! I loved it, definitely my pick of the week and one I’ll buy. Little Owl’s mum has given him a scarf. He’s not keen and does his best to misplace it. Understated text with simple but expressive illustrations, this is a warm and humorous story that will no doubt ring true to many a parent, with a gentle and well-pitched message of give and take.

What we took out

What do you think of our choices? Have you read any of them?

Have you been to the library recently?

Library Love 31/5/19

Library Love is a new regular (ok, as regular as my posts ever are) post with short reviews of the picture books we choose from the library each week.

Our Twinkleboost story at the library this week was The Little Mermaid. Peapod was a big fan of the mermaid toy, dressing ups, bubbles and under sea ‘cave’ (parachute-y thing with dangly bits!)

Then we swapped our books (after he’d practiced his pulling himself up on the book boxes of course!)

What we took back

Some of these have already been reviewed in this week’s Peapod’s Picks, as they were some of our holiday reads. The other two were:

  • Meltdown! by Jill Murphy

Sure to bring a smile, grimace, tear or all three to any parent of a young child – Jill Murphy gets it spot on again as we see little rabbit’s tantrum build and blow as mummy’s nerves fray amidst the stares of other shoppers.

  • A Quiet Night In by Jill Murphy Double Jill Murphy this week! I couldn’t resist this – a Large family book I’d not read! I’ll definitely be adding it to our collection, it has all the things that make these books so special – that characteristic understanding of family dynamics, a highly observant humour and familiar everyday scenarios. I do so love the Large family!

What we took out

What do you think of our choices? Have you read any of them?

Have you been to the library recently?

Library Love 17/5/19

Library Love is a new regular (ok, as regular as my posts ever are) post with short reviews of the picture books we choose from the library each week.

Our Twinkleboost story at the library this week was Aladdin. I think you can definitely say it was the abridged, adapted, rewrite! But Peapod had a nice time.

Then we swapped our books.

What we took back

  • The Tickle Ghost by Brett McKee and David McKee David McKee (Not Now Bernard, Mr Benn, Elmer) has illustrated this and the illustrations are unquestionably his. Sadly, the story is not. Dad is playing at bedtime. Mum gets in a nark about it all. Comes up to have a go and do it herself. Ends up being won over. I didn’t get on with this. I mean, I probably *am* that mum, and it was probably written based on their own sons bedtimes, but it just felt so stereotypical and…clunky. One to pass on.
  • Pig and Small by Alex Latimer So, there’s a long and convoluted story as to why we picked this up and why we liked the end so much. It has to do with a stuffed sock pig (Piggy) and his ceramic elephant friend (Heffalump) who live on my desk. Basically we chose this for the Pig and were tickled pig pink by the end! The story itself is quite sweet and written and illustrated with lots of humour – considering the main characters are a pig and a bug, you really invest in them! Pig and bug want to be friends but struggle to find things they can enjoy together because of their Suze difference (‘pig’ and small, geddit?!) – could it be the end of their blossoming friendship?! (spoiler alert – it’s not!) We’ll buy this one.

  • Sing a Song of Bottoms by Jeanne Willis and Adam Stower We really enjoyed this – good rhyme, great pace and lots of fun. Perfect for fans of Pants, 100 Dogs and other ‘list-of-types’ sort of books! The only bit I wasn’t so keen on was the end. Borrow regularly. I’d buy it if he likes it when he’s older.

What we took out

What do you think of our choices? Have you read any of them?

Have you been to the library recently?

Library Love 10/5/19

After posting about our first trip to the library with Peapod, I’d wanted to try and make a library post a regular thing.

This week, we went to a new storytime session (new to us not the library) run by Twinkleboost. It’s designed to be very multi-sensory and really promote speech and language development (it’s run by S&L therapy assistants and they also work with schools and nurseries).

We really enjoyed it, especially because they use Makaton signing which, while it does differ from BSL, isn’t so different from the signs we learn and use at Tiny Talk (a baby signing group also designed to help communication).

Whether either actually help, there’s stories and songs and puppets and toys and ribbons and scarves and we’re out of the house, so they help as far as I’m concerned!

Well, I’m enjoying myself anyway!

Since we’re planning to keep going to this on a Thursday, my plan is to also make Thursday our main library day, with a Library Loves post on Friday with the books we took out and the books we took back.

(Doing well with that plan already as it’s nearly Saturday and I haven’t posted it yet!)

What we took back

  • Socks by Elizabeth Lindsay and Nick Sharratt Perfect for fans of Pants or Octopus Socktopus, and taking a very similar approach in taking the familiar and everyday and turning them pun-tastically sockish! The only thing I didn’t like (and god, it really did wind me up more than it should have) was the repeated refrain of “Socky Wocky Doo Dah!” We’d borrow this again, and if I can get past SWDD, we’ll buy it.
  • Doug the Bug that Went Boing by Sue Hendra An enjoyable enough book taking on friendships, fairness and falling out with the aid of a bug ball game and a dangerous mission to retrieve said ball.
  • Poo in the Zoo by Steve Smallman Let’s face it, a picture book about poo will always be popular. This one falls somewhere in the middle for me, I didn’t love the storyline, but the actual poo-related parts were quite informative, funny and well written. No gratuitous poo here.
  • Puffin Peter by Peter Horáček We really enjoyed this one. A twist on the traditional ‘Where’s my mummy?’ story, Peter has lost his friend Paul and sets out to find him with the help of a whale. Of course they find all sorts of other black and white birds, but no Paul. I liked the way the similarities between the birds built up over the story, great for animal lovers as an introduction to features of different birds, and the illustrations are gorgeous. We’ll be buying this one.

What we took out


We don’t read any in the library (we look at their board books instead) so they’re all a surprise – to be reviewed next Friday!

Have you been to the library recently?

Have you read any of these?

The Lost Magician

I was offered a copy of The Lost Magician for review (thanks to Hachette Kids) and how could I resist with a cover like that?! Courtesy of Ben Mantle, it has a wonderfully magical feel and is a perfect match for the story inside.

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An ode to the world of Narnia:

1945. They have survived the Blitz, but when Simon, Patricia, Evelyn and Larry step through a mysterious library door, it is the beginning of their most dangerous adventure yet.

I didn’t know about the connections to Narnia when I got this, but as I started reading I was taken back to the first time I read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and the countless times I stepped into my grandma’s wardrobe (complete with *fake* fur coat) hoping it would lead me through to a snow-covered Narnia (and imagining it had when it invariably didn’t!).

As in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the story centres around four siblings who unwittingly find themselves key to saving the land they’ve stumbled upon.

As with the original four, here too are four very distinct personalities and everyone will have a different favourite. Personally, I loved Larry and Grey Bear. Evelyn will go down well as a female science fanatic, and Simon’s dyslexia (undiagnosed because of the time period) proves an interesting perspective and its nice to see it represented in a book about books.

Cleverly reimagined, this uses the Narnia stories as its base and leaps off into an entirely new world, albeit one with a war raging – mirroring the one the children have left behind and posing some interesting thoughts, ideas and talking points on that theme.

First we meet the Reads (pronounced ‘red’) and Unreads. The Reads are storybook characters, and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a little buzz of excitement as some very well-known and well-loved characters were described, introduced and alluded to.

However, trying to destroy the Reads are the Unreads, led by the White Queen inspired Jana (and yes, she is every bit as icy cold and merciless!) The Unreads represent facts, truth, information and data. Brilliantly imagined and described, they turn what could easily have become a nostalgia-fest right into something original and altogether less cosy, with futuristic robots, vehicles and buildings. They provide a great balance to the comforting idea of the Reads.

And ultimately, that is a key theme of the book – balance and compromise; of needing and benefiting from differences – as is the idea that stories are not just entertainment and diversion, but that despite seeming to be the complete opposite of fact, they too teach us things, help us to learn and develop and bring about change and progress.

Books, adventure, battles and magic – it’s an exciting and modern take on ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ and the perfect homage to libraries, librarians and all things bookish!