Peapod’s Picks – Mouse and Bear

We are still reading A Pipkin of Pepper, and The Tiger Who Came to Tea has made a reappearance in our bedroom reads, but two new books in the post have also edged their way into Peapod’s oh-so-slow-to-change bedtime book basket!

One of these is Ross Collins’ There’s a Mouse in My House, which we were delighted to see picks up where There’s a Bear on My Chair leaves off and we’ve been reading them back to back each evening.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the first book, we’ll start there. ‘There’s a Bear on My Chair’ sees an increasingly frustrated mouse desperately trying to get Bear off his chair.

Peapod especially loves seeing Mouse up the ladder giving Bear his nastiest glare (mostly because he loves a ladder..!) and when Mouse calls him a “stinky bear” which he finds hilarious.

In the end, our exasperated rodent gives up and leaves. Bear, clearly feeling smug to have won the battle of wills, also decides he can now get up and head home, only to find that perhaps he’s not won after all..

We rejoin this pair as an outraged Bear tries to boot out his unwanted lodger. I loved how some of the scenarios reflect some of those in the first book to an extent but are different enough to not feel like a repeat (important when you’re reading one after the other night after night!)

The ending is just what you’d want and is definitely Peapod’s favourite part of the book (along with the leaky bath and “cheerio” which he delights in joining in with!)

It’s a wonderfully warm and joyful way to leave this troubled twosome, referring back to the very start of book one in such a pleasing way.

These books are a brilliant example of what a really enjoyable picture book should be. It’s such a seemingly simple concept, but it works so well – bouncing, rhyming text, great characters (and a great relationship between them) and expressive illustrations all combine to create a lively, funny read with enough humour for the adults reading it to appreciate too, and buckets of visual humour too of course.

It’s a classic case of the picture being worth a thousand words telling, as the way Bear and Mouse are feeling towards each other is so clear throughout and we clearly see their exasperation building as we read towards the showdown(s)!

Ross is a big favourite in our house and this newest outing is no exception. Lots of fun.

Peapod’s Picks – Too Much Stuff

We are still reading A Pipkin of Pepper, and The Tiger Who Came to Tea has made a reappearance in our bedroom reads, but two new books in the post have also edged their way into Peapod’s oh-so-slow-to-change bedtime book basket!

The first of these is ‘Too Much Stuff’ by Emily Gravett, who I’m such a big fan of.

We’ve written before about Tidy which we love and Too Much Stuff returns to the woods with some familiar faces (I love Badger’s cameo in this!) but this time our main characters are Meg and Ash, a pair of magpies building a nest and preparing for their eggs to hatch.

In a move that will have parents everywhere smiling (they don’t call it nesting for nothing!), our pair start to fret about what their hatchling will need, each finding more and more ‘stuff’ their chicks just can’t do without, until their nest is lost under it all and one final addition might just be a step too far…

Just as Badger’s battle to balance his love of order and cleanliness with his natural wild surroundings saw us reminded – subtly and gently – about our impact and reliance the world around us, Too Much Stuff just as gently reminds us of quite literally that – the amount if stuff we buy, use and importantly throw away.

It’s a call to consider before we consume, and to reuse, recycle or pass on what we’re done with.

Of course, it’s also just a very funny story with a wonderful cast of characters! Reminiscent (but essentially very different from) Oliver Jeffers’ Stuck, it’s a hilariously daft scenario filled with warmth and such a pleasing resolution.

The addition of the vintage style magazine adverts in the end papers is glorious – funny and astute and perfectly delivering the message of the book.

They’ll raise a smile with adult readers and would be absolutely brilliant to focus on and use alongside the book in schools too, especially as a way of bringing picture books to slightly older readers.

It has everything you want in a story – drama, excitement, humour, warmth, friendship, a message that’s carefully woven into it and the gorgeous illustrations you’d expect from Emily Gravett.

Peapod’s Picks 15/7/20

A weekly(ish!) round up of some of the books Peapod has been enjoying recently.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

This is never one to sit and collect dust and has been back at the forefront of his choices at bedtime for the last couple of weeks.

He likes to tell us the story now too – “Noooo. Noooo. Yes! Noooo. Rock. Sad. You!” – which is the best! You can read my original review here.

Mini Rabbit Must Help by John Bond

Our other regular bedtime read, this has been chosen almost every night since we got it too. He loves telling us what’s happening in the pictures here too, you can read our review here.

This has been another popular bedtime or pre-bath pick too. We’re big Hairy Maclary fans and I’d love them to do more of the stories in board book format as while Peapod is able to carefully handle a paperback, he finds these much easier and prefers them.

He loves seeing Hairy Maclary hiding from Zachary Quack in this one – “hide!” and giggles away as we do “pittery pattery, skittery skattery, zip” up and down his arms!

It’s a really sweet story of friendship, playing with and helping each other, all set in Linley Dodd’s wonderfully energetic and linguistically pleasing rhyming text. Lots of fun and great to read.

We’ve also been having something of an Emily Gravett time of things recently, which I am not complaining about in the least, as she’s a real favourite of mine.

In Monkey and Me, we see a child visiting the zoo with her toy monkey, pretending to be all the animals (which of course its also lovely for little readers to do too).

It’s got lovely, simple repetitive text that’s absolutely perfect for little ones to join in with and finish the phrase with the animal, which Peapod loves to do.

I love the layout and how it so carefully matches the animals as well as the images themselves. I also love the very last spread which perfectly sums up the evd of a lovely day out (with an extra bit of fun little ones will love!)

In Where’s Bear? Bear and Hare are playing hide and seek, but Bear is too big to find a good hiding spot…or is he?!

This might just be the perfect book for us at the moment! Peapod LOVES hiding things then we all have to pretend to look for them everywhere shouting out hammed up “noooo”s when we can’t find it.

He’s also loving counting all the time and can get to 6 (to ten if you don’t mind missing 7 and 8!) so the counting element of the book is perfect too.
This is a fab book with plenty of warmth and humour. We love it. I’ve bought him the other Bear and Hare books too, but he hasn’t got them yet!

Ketchup on your Cornflakes by Nick Sharratt

A delightfully daft classic to finish. Peapod has this one in his basket of books by his kitchen and chooses it regularly, loving making odd or awful combinations with the flap style pages and reacting with a loud “ugh!” or “noooo!” Lots of fun!

Have you read any of these?

Which picture books have you read this week?

Peapod’s Reading Round Up 3/6/20

A weekly(ish!) round up of Peapod’s current favourite reads!

We have definitely hit the “again!” phase when it comes to reading. Despite having an entire house full of books and new ones arriving all the time (ahem!) Peapod is set on his favourites and there’s no deviation allowed!

We’ve had the train set out downstairs for the last couple of weeks so we’ve had some train themed books out with it. I’m going to post separately about them, but these have been staunch favourites!

Don’t Put Your Pants on Your Head Fred by Caryl Hart and Leigh Hodgkinson

I reviewed this a few weeks ago in one of ourRound Ups, and it was left for quite some time, but he’s gone back to it this week with a vengeance!

When we first read it he wasn’t interested in reading the whole thing, just laughing with his own pants on his head and saying “nooooo!” at Fred with his pants on his head, but now we read it repeatedly all the way through and he just loves it and thinks its so funny! I’m a big fan too and it’s definitely one I don’t mind reading over and over.

Unlike these two which he also loves! Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with either, I just don’t want to read them quite so often!

Peapod has a minor major bird poo obsession – if he spots any on our drive or patio or car we are nagged until its cleaned (he loves cleaning!) and then told about it for days!

So when he spotted this one in the back of another, I had to order it for him…

Pigeon Poo by Elizabeth Baguley and Mark Chambers

A town is under siege from a pigeon who won’t stop pooing on everything. They decide something must be done (I know the feeling!) and capture the pigeon but a little girl says he should be free and comes up with an ingenious, and very funny, solution.

This is a daft, rhyming story with lovely, busy and funny illustrations that little ones (especially those who love that toilet humour!) will delight in.

The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch

I know I’m pretty much alone in not loving this but I really don’t. It’s clever and I don’t mind the odd read but I’m hoping we move on from repeating it soon!

Mole emerges from underground only to have a poo land on his head. He then sets off to find out who did it and seek his revenge.

With repetition Peapod really enjoys (he loves joining in with “Noooo,” as the animals reply to Mole), a whole host of accurately depicted and described poos and a very satisfying ending, there’s lots to enjoy. Once or twice, every now and again!

The Very Busy Day by Diana Hendry and Jane Chapman

I managed to sneak this into our bedtime reads after Peapod had spent the day helping in the garden and it’s so lovely so I’m so glad it’s made his ‘repeated reads’ collection. We’ve read it at least once a day every day since, frequently more.

Big Mouse is busy in the garden on a hot, sunny day. He’s trying to get Little Mouse to help but Little Mouse is busy dreaming, picking flowers and collecting feathers. Big Mouse gets rather frustrated with this lack of help (it’ll bring a wry smile to parents reading) until there’s a surprise ending that brings him round in the most lovely way.

This is such a gorgeous book. I love the illustrations – rich and warm and full of things to look at and talk about, and with some wonderful details and imaginative uses for our everyday items in the Mice’s miniature world.

A perfect book to snuggle up and share, it’s a real heart-warmer with enough gentle, observational humour to save it from being saccharine. A favourite of mine.

Paddington at the Zoo by Michael Bond, illustrated by David McKee

We’ve still got wild animals in the playroom at the moment, but we’ve switched out our Dear Zoo shelves for some other stories abd props. This is far and away Peapod’s favourite!

Paddington is on an outing to the zoo, and has – of course! – taken a bag of marmalade sandwiches with him, which all the animals promptly eat!

Peapod loves making the sandwiches with our playfood and having the animals pretend to eat them! We read/tell/play this at least once a day.

Which picture books have you been reading?

Have you read any of these?

Peapod’s Picks/#KLTR – Happy Early Birthday Spot!

Peapod’s Picks is a regular(ish) post featuring books Peapod has been enjoying – from favourite board books, noisy books and busy books to bedtime stories and books with props from his story baskets.

This week it’s also time for another #KLTR post, hosted by Book Bairn, Acorn Books and Laura’s Lovely Blog.

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

In preparing this post, I found out that Spot turns 40 this year! I was tempted to postpone this til May when the ‘official’ date for celebrations is, but thought I’d post it now – Happy early Birthday Spot!

An absolute classic, this is a perfect example of a well-executed lift-the-flap story, evidenced by its enduring popularity with both children and parents.

It’s simple enough to read fairly quickly and hold those short attention spans; repetitive enough to become familiar and allow little ones to really get to know the story and what will come next and it also features loads of animals! And I am yet to meet a child who isn’t an animal lover (at least in play and pictures!)

Spot’s mum goes looking for him as it’s dinner time and he’s nowhere to be found (this is the only part of the book I’m not a fan of, as it starts off with “Naughty Spot” but I usually just skip that bit!).

As she goes hunting around the house, instead of Spot, she finds lots of other animals – a lion under the stairs, a crocodile under the bed, a hippo in a piano and a snake inside a clock… until at last, the tortoise (cleverly hidden under a rug) suggests she looks in the basket – will she find Spot there? (spoiler – yes, yes she will.)

This is one of the story baskets Peapod has had in his room for a while now, and it’s one of the most played with, most simple, most versatile and one he’s got so much out of too!

As well as making the sounds for the animals when he opens the flaps (or, now that we’ve read it do often beforehand because he knows who it will be under each!), he finds them or points them out from the basket and we then have fun moving them, making noises etc, for example monkey jumps about everywhere chattering, while he pulls crocodile round to chase his toes!

We have read some of the other Spot books too and have liked some more than others, but this original story that started them all is one we read over and over and over again – he loves it!

Peapod’s Picks

Peapod’s Picks is back for 2020, though with some minor changes.

It’ll still be a place to review the picture books we read at bedtime, and those we are sent to review, but will also include more of our ‘playtime reading’. Peapod loves his books and chooses to look at them often during the day, so I plan to bring this into these posts more.

He goes through spells where a particular book or type of book (flaps, sounds, animals…) becomes a favourite so we’ll look at those

I’m also planning to use these posts to talk about his ‘seasonal shelf’ and ‘story baskets’, both of which see a lot of action! This will still be mostly book based, but will also include some play activities we do.

I know not all of you have kids or are interested in younger picture/board books and play so I don’t expect everyone to want to read the ones that focus more on that, but hopefully they’ll be of interest to some!

Our Winter Seasonal Shelf

Yesterday saw Christmas removed from our house 😂 A bit early but with work and things this was the easiest day to get it packed away without it becoming a long and laborious task!

As well as taking down the tree etc, it meant changing Peapod’s seasonal shelf.

After a play in the snow in the kids play bit at our local ski and snowboard centre yesterday morning, Peapod woke from his nap to find snow had very much come home with us! (Really hoping for the real thing at some point too!)

On the shelves, we have a basket of white, sparkly and large woollen pom poms with two white wooden ‘string’ balls for contrast; a basket of blue and white feathers – a large boa and some bigger tickly ones; a snowflake sensory bottle; blue handbells and some stories and props of course!

  • Dream Snow by Eric Carle We had this out over Christmas and it proved such a hit its staying! Peapod loves tipping all the animals and ‘snow’ out then matching the animals to the ones under the flaps and putting more ‘snow’ on them!

  • The Snowman Puppet Book He was so taken with this! I’ll try to get a picture to add, but he thought it was so funny clapping with snowman and giving him a hug and kisses!

  • Kipper’s Snowy Day by Mick Inkpen and Kipper toy He’s really enjoyed having a selection of Kipper books upstairs with the Kipper he can ‘tuck in’ to the book box basket, so I’ve brought him down for a bit!

  • One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth and woodland creatures Peapod loves his woodland animals, so I’ve brought them down to use with one of my favourite snowy stories! We also have a Percy puppet on the way!

  • Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers and soft toy penguin We’ve not read this together yet, but he loves this penguin and always gives it big hugs!

He also has a basket of winter books, which he started exploring straight away with his dad then excitedly took me to see when he saw me!

In the basket so far are the following…

We also had some wintery sensory play yesterday with glittery oats to scoop and pour (he LOVES scooping, filling and emptying!)

And his big cardboard box has had a wintery transformation too (though he currently doesn’t like going in it, so not sure if this will make it any more appealing!)

I’ll probably do another post or two as we read the books, start to use it all and add to the shelf, but this is what we’re starting with!

What wintery books or activities would you add?

Peapod’s Book Advent Days 19 – 22

You can find out more about our Christmas Book Advent here.

Playing catch up again! Friday was another night where Peapod crashed out before we’d even looked at a book, but on Saturday we read

My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards, illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Yes, Shirley Hughes again! Although she didn’t write this one!

I loved My Naughty Little Sister when I was little so it was lovely to revisit this story in picture book form with Peapod.

I still got that thrill of disbelief and laughter that My Naughty Little Sister biting poor Father Christmas elicits and she still brings back fond memories of my own little sister, who also disliked Father Christmas for a short spell (though she never bit him!!) and also took such a shine to a doll that had to be hers that she stole it from playgroup!

For his part, Peapod was fascinated by the illustrations of the Christmas tree and especially of My Naughty Little Sister – painting to her face and body parts for us to name them and finding his!

Yesterday, we went for something much more modern and silly, but it’s another we really enjoyed last year…

Mince Spies by Mark Sperring and Sophie Corrigan

All the tasty Christmas treats in the supermarket are under attack, but who could be behind it? The mince spies are here to find out!

With a fuzzy, warm Christmas message at its core, this has enough humour – both in the story and visually – to still be lots of fun and not at all a ‘message’ book.

Peapod really only cares about the reindeer at the end, but just like with Oh Christmas Tree, I think its one he’ll enjoy more as he gains understanding in years to come.

And I’ve missed a day but I can’t figure out what I’m forgetting so it’ll have to stay missed for now!

Peapod’s Book Advent Days 16 and 17

You can find out more about our Christmas Book Advent here.

Two very different books in a row here!

Lucy and Tom at Christmas by Shirley Hughes

Another we read last year, and very much along the same lines as Alfie’s Christmas that we read a few days ago, this is another astute and nostalgic portrayal of a family preparing for and celebrating Christmas.

Peapod spent ages poring over the illustrations in this one, which is no surprise with the amount of detail and life Shirley packs into them. He especially liked the pictures of the Christmas tree and of Tom mixing pudding and looking out the window!

Oh, Christmas Tree! by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

This one is new this year from the creators of Supertato, and is full of the rhyming humour you’d expect from them.

Peapod wasn’t as enamoured with this one but I think it’s one he’ll love when he’s a bit bigger and can understand a little more of the story.

We thought it was a funny idea, cleverly done and had a good chuckle at the ending!

Peapod’s Book Advent Days 13, 14 and 15.

You can find out more about our Christmas Book Advent here.

I’ve got a bit behind with posting, so it’s three days at once today!

On Friday, we read

Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr

I love this one. Poor Mog is entirely befuddled by the whole Christmas thing (and quite frankly who hasn’t felt like that at one point or another?!)

There’s humour and the chimney scene is of course superb, and like with the Alfie books, I like the everyday-ness of Mog.

Peapod enjoyed it too – he had a good look at the cover before listening while he has his milk and dozed off!

On Saturday, we read

Kipper’s Christmas Eve by Mick Inkpen

Peapod loves his Kipper books at the moment – mostly because he has one that’s a box you can open and tuck a toy Kipper up to sleep in, so our poor Kipper gets put down to sleep and woken up a gazillion times a day (a bit like someone else around here!)

Anyway, I digress! Peapod is really into Kipper and was excited to see him in a new book (OK, we got it last year but he doesn’t remember that!) He really enjoyed pointing at things in the pictures for us to name.

I really like the Kipper books too so I’m pleased to see him enjoying them!

And last night we ended up reading two Christmas books! First was

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas Eve by Eric Carle

A lovely lift-the-flap book with dog, cat and mouse hiding in the house and a special visitor at the end! With simple rhyming text, lots of clues for who might be coming and a caterpillar on every page, this will be one I think we’ll go back to a lot over Christmas.

and, since that was short we followed it with another short one –

Humphrey’s Christmas by Sally Hunter

There are elements of these books I’m not bad on – it’s a very gender stereotyped, ‘traditional’ family set up (if they weren’t elephants I’d get on them being white) and, while it’s only a small mention of Baby Jesus and the rest, I’m not mad on books that bring in the religious side of things (yes, I know technically it’s a religious holiday, but that was stolen from the pagans and appropriated and it’s as secular as it is religious these days so I don’t see a problem with celebrating it in a non-religious way as we do).

That said, this is a heartfelt and tender look at a family Christmastime, simply told with really sweet, warm illustrations that Peapod liked looking at and pointing to, so I can get past my minor irritations!

Just ten days to go now! Going to have to make some final book advent choices!

Peapod’s Book Advent Day 12

You can find out more about our Christmas Book Advent here.

Last night we read…

Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes

This is another we read last year and another we’re likely to bring out every year – as much because of Peapod’s Dad’s ongoing teasing that they’re boring when really he quite likes them now as anything else!

True to form, there was a theatrical eye roll and a secretly pleased “oh, it’s Shirley!” when we opened this last night. He then went on to read it, every so often slipping in his own version of events – Dad’s response to the missing batteries on Christmas Day was a bit different shall we say?! And ended with “Nothing happened again!”
Of course, it did – Christmas Day happened. Stories of Christmas adventures, disasters, magic and mayhem are brilliant and we love lots of them, but this is a book that is about the magic and treasure that is a ‘normal’, uneventful family Christmas.

Cosy, nostalgic and gently told, we (all!) love the Alfie stories and this is no exception!