Lions and Tigers and…Hippos?! Oh My!

We were lucky enough to request and receive copies of two of these from Usborne (Hippo we bought ourselves!) in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are our own.

This week, we have three gorgeous Usborne board books to share with you. All are bright, engaging and lots of fun and have definitely been given a thumbs up from Peapod! First up…

Play Hide & Seek with Tiger by Sam Taplin, illustrated by Gareth Lucas

This is a lovely addition to the lift-the-flap range, with large almost whole page style flaps that are sturdy and easy for little fingers to lift.

There are little cut outs in the flaps, which add an extra level of detail, interest and challenge. Peapod is enjoying putting his fingers through and using to lift the flaps too. We also really liked the way the final page folded out via multiple flaps,each revealing another animal.

The illustrations are bright and cheerful, with just the right balance between being bold and simple enough for little readers, but detailed enough to talk about and point things out.

The text is all done through speech bubbles, which felt different and begs for the use of voices.

We’re really enjoying this. Peapod loves us naming the animals and making the noises for them, especially roaring like tiger (although, as a very minor point, I think all of us felt tiger should roar on the final page instead of saying boo!), as well as the fun “where can they be?!” hamming-it-up way we can read it to build up to the grand reveals!

And speaking of being overly dramatic and creating a build up when sharing a book, these next two are just as good.

Don’t Tickle the Hippo/Don’t Tickle the Lion by Sam Taplin, illustrated by Ana Martin Larranga

I snapped up Don’t Tickle the Hippo as a Christmas present for Peapod when it came into work as I was certain he’d love it.

He was (still is) going through a spell of loving noisy books and animals are always a win with him, and I was really excited to see the touchy freely elements there too as he loved this aspect of the That’s Not My… books but since growing out of them a bit, we’ve not really found anything touchy freely that’s captured him in the same way.

I promise the hippo top is a coincidence!

Well, he LOVED this. And still does, nearly two months on. So when I was offered a review copy of Don’t Tickle the Lion from Usborne I jumped at it knowing he’d love it even more as this time there was also a lion (ROOOOAAAR!)

Both books follow the same structure. Each features four different wild animals with the repeated phrase “Don’t tickle the…! You might make it…” Each animal has a touchy-feely textured part and when you feel that it makes the animal noise.

(I should also note here that we have one other book that works in this way, Noisy Farm, which we loved the look of but never use because it’s really hard to press on exactly the right spot and hard enough for the sound – these books are infinitely better! Peapod uses them absolutely independently with no trouble at all.)

There is loads to love about these books. First, they feel really high quality – from the textures to the cut outs and shaped pages to the font and text design and layout to the stunning, vibrant and detailed illustrations which have an almost batik feel in parts and have plenty of extra flora and fauna to point out, name, count and talk about.

Secondly, they are just joyous. Not to mention hilarious. By the final double spread, all the animals are in ticklish uproar and there’s a riot of animal noises and music. We continue to giggle our way through these, and theur appeal shows no sign of abating with Peapod!

Peapod’s Picks – Holiday Reads 2

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read each week.

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

Last week I posted the first of our Holiday Reads posts looking at the picture books we read on holiday. This week, it’s a round up of the board books we took.

That’s Not My Plane by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells


Of course we had to take this one for the plane! This series remains a firm favourite, and with its shiny windows, sparkly propeller and lumpy, metallic engines this one was lots of flashy fun!

Busy Holiday by Sebastien Braun

With scenes showing a family packing and getting in the car, at the beach, on a campsite and at a funfair, there’s something for all types of holiday here and plenty to spot on each page. There’s so much going on in the illustrations, older children will have fun spotting the yellow bird on each page as well as being able to notice some of the smaller, background activities too – things that have been dropped or forgotten or animals peeking out from unexpected places, for example.

There is of course the ‘push, pull, slide’ moving parts too, perfect for toddlers – more interesting and trickier than simple lift the flap or touch and feel, but durable and sturdy enough to withstand young reader’s handling! It’s a bit hard for Peapod still, but he’s starting to give it a go and likes it when we make them move.

This will be coming on many more holidays in the future!

Baby’s Very First Slide and See – Under the Sea by Stella Baggott and Josephine Thompson


We love the bright colours, bold illustrstions and bumpy textures in this one. Peapod loves hearing us make the noises on each page – “wheeeee!”, “click, click”, “wobble, wobble”, “swoosh!” etc. – and is just getting the hang of moving the sliding parts.

With minimal text, including “hello…” and simple questions, this series is perfect for Peapod now. A big thumbs up from us!

My First Touch and Find – Sea by Allison Black


This was another big hit. The illustrations are bright and appealing, with lots of colourful underwater goings on.

There’s a touch and feel element to each page, reminiscent of the That’s Not My… style, but with more going on in the book overall – there’s simple, repetitive text “Flip the flap. What’s that?” that older toddlers will be able to join in with and older children could read themselves, as well as a question on each page about something from the page before encouraging lots of observation and talk.

The lift the flap element is brilliant as the ‘flaps’ are actually shaped pages with cut outs to peel through too. Sturdier than normal flaps and creating extra interest with the holes these went down really well with Peapod. Brilliant.

This is another series we’ll be buying more of.

Squeaky Baby Bath Book – At the Beach


Its waterproof pages mean this is perfect for taking with you on a trip to the seaside. With things you’re likely to see (dolphin aside), it’s good for vocabulary and naming things and the squeaky seagull on the last page is lots of fun. This was pretty much the only thing Peapod enjoyed about the beach!

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!

Peapod’s Picks – Book Advent Days 1-5

I decided to do a book advent for Peapod, so this week’s picks are all the books we’ve read so far.

This year, the books aren’t wrapped or hidden or anything – they’re just all out together.

There’s a few I’ve not yet read – Grandpa’s Christmas and The Night Before The Night Before Christmas are a couple – but on the whole I’ve read them so Dad is choosing one a night for Peapod’s bedtime story, which is nice as he’s not read most of them, and we’re just reading the board books whenever we fancy!

This week, we’ve read:

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

Where’s Mr Penguin? – The felt flaps in these are ingenious and withstand Peapod’s eager grabbing. Plus he loves the mirror at the end!

Kipper’s Snowy Day – Mick Inkpen

OK, not strictly Christmassy but everyone knows snowy books and Christmas books go hand in hand!

A classic character in a story so full of snowy fun you can’t help but smile – makes you want to go and play in the snow.

snow

Snow is My Favourite and My Best – Lauren Child

Another book featuring favourite characters, this time Charlie and Lola, and more snowy day fun.

This book perfectly captures the building excitement of waiting for the snow, seeing it start and finally getting out to play in it…as well as the disappointment when it melts which is dealt with in a really fun and clever way!

maisy

Maisy’s Christmas Eve – Lucy Cousins

Yet another well-known character! With bold illustrations, simple, bold text and a story combining preparing for Christmas, friendship and a mishap in the snow it’s a great book for younger readers!

Santasaurus – Niamh Sharkey

I first read this book at least 10 years ago with my first reception class in my very first teaching job. I’d forgotten all about it until I saw it in @FatherReading‘s book advent pic. It brought back such lovely memories that I had to order it. It’s the illustrations I love best – beautifully detailed and coloured!

santa

Aliens Love Panta Claus – Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

Another of everyone’s favourites – those Aliens who Love Underpants are back causing more mayhem (and, yes, saving the day!) in this pants-tastic Christmas tale. Guaranteed to make you giggle, I can’t wait to read this one with Peapod when he’s older.

Mini Mondays

As I may have mentioned (you know, just once or twice..) I’m finding it hard to find enough time to read, let alone review anything since Peapod made his entrance into the world.

Last week, I saw this post from BookBairn and it gave me the idea of ‘Mini Mondays’ – can’t promise I’ll manage it every week, but I’m going to try!

mini mondays

So every (most/some) Monday(s) I’ll do a ‘Mini Mondays’ review post where I’ll try and give a briefer than usual (cheer here) review of a few books. If you fancy doing your own Mini Monday reviews, leave a link in the comments (feel free, but don’t feel obliged, to use my rather amateurish little logo thing!) 🙂

This week…

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First Facts and Flaps: Giant Dinosaurs, illustrated by Naray Yoon

Campbell’s range of board books are always a hit – bright and bold, informative, with just the right amount of text and plenty of interactive features this is no different.

Each Dino is introduced with a full page illustration and rhyme, with lots of short, simply-worded, interesting and unusual facts clearly laid out on the facing page, accompanied by bold subheadings to draw you in.

There’s plenty to keep young fingers busy too with flaps to lift, a wheel to turn and change the pictures with and a brilliant fold out spread at the back.

Fun and engaging, with attractive illustrations with just the right level of detail – this is a fabulous book for young dinosaur fans. There’s an Amazing Animals in the series too, which I’ll definitely be picking up and hopefully there’ll be others to follow!

Thanks to Macmillan Kids for my copy.

All About Families by Felicity Brooks

With cheerful, detailed and appealing illustrations from Mar Ferrero and a clear, uncluttered layout, this is a lovely look at families in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Both in illustration and text, care has been taken to make this a truly diverse and inclusive book. Not only does it feature a wide range of family set ups but people from all walks of life – there’ll be someone in here that every reader relates to.

Good use of labels, speech bubbles and captions crams in plenty of clear, concise information in an engaging way that stops it from feeling overloaded.

Perfect for ks1 ‘about me’/’family’ topics or PSHE work, as well as a great resource to encourage talk (the pictures alone give a wealth of things to chat about) when read independently at school or shared at home.

Thanks to Usborne for my copy.

Oi Duck-Billed Platypus by Kes Gray and Jim Field

If you don’t already know how much I love this series, see this post on Oi Cat! I was so excited for this 4th installment and was a fan before it even arrived (it’s pink and it has a platypus in!) Even better – I won my copy (thanks Hachette Kids!)

Here we meet a selection of animals with very hard to rhyme names causing quite the headache for Frog, Dog and Cat as they dish out the rules on where everyone should sit! With the usual combination of Jim Field’s characterful illustrations and Kes Gray’s hilarious text, it’s as clever, fast and funny as the first 3 and an exuberant addition to one of my favourite picture book series.

Grandma Bird by Benji Davies

Benji Davies is another author/illustrator I love (I thought I’d reviewed his last picture book ‘The Grotlyn’ but haven’t – such an oversight, it’s wonderful!) His newest book, Grandma Bird, is a return to Noi (of The Storm Whale)’s world and is just as gentle, cosy and warm as both Storm Whale books.

Noi is off to stay with Grandma (who is fantastic – she’s guaranteed to make you smile!) on her tiny, isolated island. With imagination, freedom, wild adventure, dark caves and island life, this is a hug of a book full of accepting things we’re unsure of and of friendship, love and family.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my copy!