We were lucky enough to request and receive copies of these free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and views are all my own.
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!
My Pet Star by Corrinne Averiss and Rosalind Beardshaw
This is a lovely story and one that I think will be extra enjoyable as the nights draw in and autumn arrives – there’s just something really cosy and comforting about it.
A little girl finds a star that’s fallen from the sky. She takes it home, patches it up and takes care of it. As the days pass, the star gets better and brighter until the time comes when it’s time to say goodbye as the star returns to the sky.
With pared back text, this is a perfect example of illustration and text working in harmony to tell a story, create atmosphere and express feelings. To do this using rhyme (and using rhyme which flows, reads well and doesn’t feel clunky or forced) is an achievement indeed.
Bonus points for a non-white main character who doesn’t live in a detached house with garden!
I loved the way the book conveyed imaginative play and bigged up reading – if I still taught I’d have the spread below framed:
“I showed him pictures in my book. He couldn’t read, but he could look.”
So many early years children would start the year telling me “I can’t read though” as if being able to decode the words was the only way to enjoy a book. A lot of work went into encouraging looking at pictures, making up stories etc.
And of course, there’s a gentle introduction to the idea of letting go, transience and saying goodbyes.
This is a warm, tender-hearted book perfect for snuggling up with at bedtime.
I can’t wait to have Corrinne into work in October for one of our Read and Make sessions!
There’s a Rang-Tan in my Bedroom by James Sellick and Frann Preston-Gannon
Produced in collaboration with Greenpeace, this starts much like your typical picture book might – funny, animated, bright and seemingly light-hearted. An orangutan (or Rang-Tan) has arrived in a little girl’s room and is causing chaos.
But, when the little girl stops to find out why the Rang-Tan is there, the book’s more serious message is revealed, along with a clever change in illustration style to mirror it.
We see how humans are destroying the Rang-Tan’s home for palm oil in dark and muted tones, desolate and bleak.
We’re then offered a ray of hope along with a nudge of encouragement not to be passive but to do whatever we can to help. We see the little girl writing letters to big companies, rallying friends and neighbours through posters and word of mouth and going on protests.
It finishes with more detailed information about orangutans and their habitat as well as palm oil, its uses and the problems with it, as well as suggestions for action similar to that taken by the girl in the story.
This would be ideal for use in schools, as well as for reading at home, as a way of both developing understanding and interest in environmental issues and getting children engaged and involved in doing something about them.
Be More Bernard by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley
Bernard pretends to be just like the other bunnies, who all eat, dress, act and even dream alike. But deep down, he knows he’s different.
Until one night, he decides to let his inner self go! Of course, the other rabbits are shocked at first but they soon start sharing their dreams of being different too and slowly the burrow realise they can be themselves as well.
We always love Kate Hindley’s illustrations but the burrow scenes in this are truly fab and not without a touch of Richard Scarry which is wonderful!
Its an enjoyable read with a positive and affirming message about being yourself and following your dreams, and Bernard is brilliant in both words and pictures.
Here’s the thing though – we love You Must Bring A Hat by this duo so were very excited for this and, honestly, although we enjoyed it and it did have some of the dry humour that we love in YMBAH, it just couldn’t compete with it…even with Bernard’s absolutely kick-ass, roller-disco-dancing outfit and moves.
Fun, positive and guaranteed to make you smile, but it didn’t have the originality, daftness or ‘just because-ness’ of ‘You Must Bring A Hat’ so while we like and recommend this, for one you’ll want to read and read again get YMBAH.
This is a Dog by Ross Collins
This is a great example of a book that benefits hugely from not being afraid to strip the text back to bare bones and let the pictures do most of the work.
Written in the style of a young children’s animal primer, each page introduces us to a different animal…except that dog (in typical dog style) isn’t content with just his page. He needs your attention on everyone else’s page too!
From crossing them out to chasing them off the page, disguises and even wee – dog goes to great lengths to remain centre stage!
The other animals eventually get fed up of dog’s antics, but he has one last trick up his sleeve to ensure he stays top dog (couldn’t resist that, sorry!!)
It’s such a great book – dog is utterly doggish! It’s simple but clever and its minimal style allows the humour to really shine.
Peapod loved looking at this too. It’s a book that we enjoyed as a softback story to read together, but one that would make an even more fantastic board book – perfect for toddlers to ‘read’ with its repetition, recognisable animals, block-coloured backgrounds and visual humour. I’m told there are whisperings so fingers crossed!