Peapod’s Picks: Lemur Love!

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (usually for his bedtime story) each week plus a review of at least one of them.

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

This week:

Frann Preston-Gannon’s ‘How To Lose a Lemur’.

I’d bought this pre-Peapod. I love lemurs and picture books, so spotting the two together was a massive win!

Even more so when it’s written and illustrated by such a talent (if you haven’t read any of her others, do so – I’ve mentioned before how funny I find Dave’s Cave and Dave’s Rock and The Journey Home is wonderful).

I love how different all her books are, though running throughout them all there’s a strong theme of friendship, plenty of humour and of course brilliant illustrations.

In the case of How To Lose A Lemur, a lot of the humour is to be found in the illustrations – one of my favourite spreads is the boy escaping in a boat unaware of the lemurs snorkeling below.

As the lemurs follow the boy further and further, we travel on trains, bikes, boats and balloons through mountains, deserts, snow and sea – this book has it all!

It’s a brilliant read, with plenty of understated humour and a lovely (but not in anyway saccharine) message of friendship and giving others a chance.

Plus, Peapod loved the lemurs almost as much as me!

Other lemur books we love:

  • Flying Lemurs by Zehra Hicks
  • Lemur Dreamer by Courtney Dicmass

What else did we read this week?

  • Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers (such a gorgeous book!)
  • How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
  • Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (who knew there was a Barnett & Klassen I’d not yet read?!)
  • Angry Cookie by Laura Dockrill (review on Monday!)
  • Ten Little Robots by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty (all 3 of us LOVE this series!)

Have you read any of these?

Do you know of any other lemur-themed picture books we’re missing?!

Which picture books or bedtime stories did you read this week?

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Peapod’s Picks 11/1/19

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (usually for his bedtime story) each week plus a more in depth review of at least one of them – this week a classic- Jill Murphy’s On The Way Home.

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

What did we read this week?

  • Oi, Duck-Billed Platypus by Kes Gray and Jim Field
  • You’re Called What?! by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson (inspired by the un-rhymable creatures in Oi Platypus!)
  • Snow Bears by Martin Waddell (After watching Gordon Buchansn with the grizzly bears in Russia!)
  • Ten Little Dinosaurs by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty (Daddy loves this series!)
  • The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (I love anything this pair do!)

and

On the Way Home by Jill Murphy

This was one of my favourite stories when I was little, thanks in no small part to the fact that it was one of my mum’s favourites too! (We are huge Jill Murphy fans – The Worst Witch, The Large Family, Peace at Last…)

So it was lovely to read it to Peapod and look ahead to all the times we’ll read it as he gets older – it’s one of those great books that crosses a wide age range.

Peapod loved the illustrations, and I really like the comic strip style layout and design, as well as the repetition which older children will enjoy (my favourite bit to read is the “Well…!” on each page – it’s the small things!)

It’s a scenario that will resonate with parents and older children – Claire’s hurt her knee and is on her way home for a plaster. But did she get her bad knee falling from a witch’s broom or being dropped by a giant? Has she hurt it bring knocked down by an alligator or a gorilla? Her amusing and imaginative tales are great for some really expressive and dramatic reading, and offer the perfect opportunity for older children to come up with their own ideas too!

First published in 1982 and first read to me just a few years after, this remains a favourite over 30 years later and I’m looking forward to plenty of re-reads with Peapod!

Are you a Jill Murphy fan like us?

Which stories have you read at bedtime this week?

Peapod’s Picks 4/1/19

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (usually for his bedtime story) each week plus a more in depth review of at least one of them – this week Claude All At Sea by Alex T. Smith.

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

What did we read this week?

The start of the week saw the end of December, and the last of our Christmas books (you can see all the books we read here).

On Tuesday, we read Claude. Then, on Wednesday, Daddy chose ‘Laura’s Star’ by Klaus Baumgart and yesterday we read The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith(after ‘From Baby to Bronte’ read The Worm and the Bird earlier in the week and reminded me of her books!)

Claude All At Sea by Alex T. Smith

This was one of Peapod’s Christmas presents. And it was a total surprise (after all, who buys the bookseller books?!) which made it even better! I (I mean *he*) was thrilled! Even more so when I found out it was signed!

So, what better way to kick off the new year and a return to non-Christmas books than with this one?!

Firstly, Claude as a character is totally brilliant – expressive, funny and just quite happily doing his thing. With a beret full of useful stuff and trusty sidekick Sir Bobblysock, Claude can cope with anything that comes his way!

Which is just as well, because being swept out to sea in your bath then eaten by a sea monster called Kevin (oh, the warning signs 😂) is quite something!

The illustration is full of life too – no mean feat when only using a restricted palette in this way. But there’s texture, movement and a big, bold character to it all which rather captured ‘Peapod’s attention!

It’s an imaginative, pacy and above all FUN read that somehow manages to be creative, funny and matter of fact. We very much enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading the other Claude books with ‘Peapod’ when he’s bigger!

Have you or your little ones read any of these?

Which stories have you read at bedtime this week?

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: Alfie

I’m conscious I’ve not posted a Peapod’s Picks for a few weeks now either! Best laid plans… Speaking of which, the next few weeks of Peapod’s Picks will be the books from our book advent (as long as I can get my act together and post!) For this week though, it’s an old favourite…

This week: Alfie

I loved the Alfie series when I was little and, after receiving Snow in the Garden by Shirley Hughes (review to follow during our book Advent in December!) last week, I chose An Evening at Alfie’s as our bedtime story.

I’d been reminded of the wonderful way she depicts the little hiccups and triumphs, the daily events that make up family life and the little details of our everyday surroundings and happenings.

So we read An Evening at Alfie’s, where Alfie hears a drip drip drip and discovers a leak from a pipe while Maureen’s babysitting. When we finished, Peapod’s Dad said “Hmm. Well, that was an unusual one wasn’t it?” When I asked what he meant, he replied “Well, nothing happened.” which totally threw me.

To me, these stories are nostalgia and warmth; gentle tales full of the familiar. There’s no dragons or monsters or robots here. Nothing here of the ridiculous, crazy or wild. Here are children playing, shopping, having baths, going to parties, getting new shoes, losing toys – the events that are seemingly, well, uneventful but that are a child’s world.

But to his Dad, who’d clearly never read them as a child, they were books about the mundane, lacking excitement or adventure. He didn’t dislike it as such, just found it a little dull. I’m hoping to convert him…!

Have you read the Alfie books (or indeed any of Shirley Hughes’ others)? What do you think of them?

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?

Peapod’s Picks: Bedtime

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: our favourite bedtime books.

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Peapod is nearly 7 weeks old now and sleep is not high on his to-do list. He’ll cave in to a nap in his sling or doze off lying on us but getting him to sleep in his crib is another matter!

So, while it doesn’t always go to plan and there’s no hard and fast timings about it, we have our bedtime routine of bath-feed-book-bed to help.

At the moment, he’s too small to mind what we read, more interested in just hearing our voices, but I’m loving the chance to read some picture books so he has a picture book for bedtime.

So this week, I’ve picked out some of the ones we’ve read so far:

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Sometimes I Like To Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge

I read this as part of my interview to get on my Early Years degree a good 15 years ago and in honesty I’d almost forgotten it, but my love for it has been rekindled!

It’s a great all-rounder: Wombat and friends spend the day running, jumping and playing – perfect for an interactive daytime read. But by the end of the day, Wombat is tired and ready to snuggle up to sleep – perfect for bedtime. I love the illustrations too. This will be on heavy rotation for years I think!

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Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton

It’s officially impossible to read this without yawning. In a really, really good way!

Illustrated in typical ‘Haughton’ style with lovely nighttime colours, it’s a cleverly composed book – simple, repetitive and full of sleepy sounds and noises perfect for joining in with (intentionally or otherwise!)

Beautiful night sky/solar system pictures on the inside covers too!

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Can’t You Sleep Little Bear? by Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth

A classic! A heartwarming tale of Little Bear who just can’t sleep with dark all around him and Big Bear’s reassurance.

Parents everywhere will smile a knowing smile as Big Bear has his evening read by the fire repeatedly interrupted by his sleepless charge and little ones everywhere will be comforted by Little Bear and his gradual acceptance of the dark.

Bonus points for being quite a long one too – perfect for those stubbornly not-going-to-sleep nights, appropriately!

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Humphrey’s Bedtime by Sally Hunter

I love Sally Hunter’s Humphrey’s Corner books. Gentle and warm and full of the familiar, with lovely, soft and detailed illustrations.

Humphrey’s Bedtime takes us through Humphrey’s bedtime routine (perfect for little ones just starting to get used to one of their own!) and big sister Lottie’s refusal to join in as she’s a ‘big girl’ who’s too busy putting her own babies (teddies) to bed.

Again, one that will prove only too familiar for parents and a comforting cuddle of a book for children who’ll see others doing just the same as them at bedtime.

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Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

I absolutely adore the Bear… series by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s illustrations are rich, detailed and full of atmosphere.

Bear Snores On is brilliantly onomatopoeic, with a lovely balance of fun and sleepiness! It’s an especially lovely one to snuggle up and read quietly on cold, rainy autumn nights and it’s another I’ll be reading ALL the time!

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The Night Box by Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay

As with ‘Between Tick and Tock’this has the feel of an illustrated poem rather than the traditional story style found in most picture books.

A lovely look at all the little changes that occur when the Night box is unlocked and night comes out to take over from day (then vice versa at the end).

Full of details both from home and the natural world, it’s a great way to look at the difference between night and day, and the transition between the two.

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I have quite a few other bedtime themed books in my collection that we’ll be reading over the next few weeks, so we’ll probably do another bedtime themed Peapod’s Picks in the future. But are there any I’m missing?

What are your favourite bedtime stories?

Do you have any your little ones love, or favourites from when you were little?