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?

If I had a…

We were lucky enough to request and receive a copy of If I Had A Sleepy Sloth from the publishers, which arrived with an unexpected bonus copy of If I Had a Dinosaur too! All views and opinions are my own.

We love both Samuel Drew Hasn’t a Clue and A Possum’s Tail by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow, so I was very excited when these arrived in the post.

Although If I Had a Dinosaur has been out for a while, I’ve somehow missed it, so it was a lovely surprise when Thames Hudson sent both books.

Both feature the same little girl dreaming of a new pet – first a very big one and second a very chilled out one! She takes us through lots of funny, charming and appealing scenarios showing what it would be like, why it would be brilliant, and what they’d do together.

I also thought it was really lovely to see the careful consideration the girl gives to how she’d need to look after her pets too – feeding them, walking them and grooming them, with often very funny consequences that are depicted brilliantly with carefully chosen phrases and lots of visual humour.

They have such a wonderful voice and sense of fun, it’s easy to picture a chlld imagining all these wonderful times with an unusual pet, and I loved the inclusion of the classic ‘pet at school’ scenario too!

We’re big fans of Alex Barrow’s illustrations from the duo’s previous books, and these retain that style but feel brighter and bolder. This matches the stories and their sense of fun so well and definitely went down a treat with Peapod who has pored over them repeatedly.

Keep your eye on this irate lifeguard, he comes up later on…

In If I Had a Sleepy Sloth there’s lots of facts about the creatures dropped into the story too which I thought was brilliant and done really lightly and with a sense of fun.

Going hand in hand with that sense of fun is a warning – if you’re not a fan of toilet humour, these may not be for you (though really if you are reading picture books, I’m pretty sure there’s already a healthy dose of toilet humour in your life!) Dinosaur does an ENORMOUS poo and sloth wees on that angry lifeguard’s head! Both of which are sure to tickle the funny bones of small children everywhere!

Indeed, Peapod’s favourite page is the one in which our unfortunate lifesaver gets a soaking. He’s too little to get the wee joke, but thinks the picture is brilliant and I made the mistake of doing a funny fist-shake-and-cross-noise while reading it the first time and he now delights in pointing at the picture and then looking at his dad and I expectantly!

I also really like the sense of home and family in the books. Many of the pictures feature scenes of family life and, as well as bringing lots of humour to the story, they feel comforting and happy and secure.

Even the endpapers are gorgeous and Peapod loves them – his favourite thing is to pretend to count all the sloths!

While he loves both of them, Peapod’s favourite is definitely Sloth and, while I love them both too, I think I have to agree (I also love that there’s a copy of If I Had a Dinosaur and a Samuel Drew toy in the bedroom picture in If I Had a Sleepy Sloth!).

Regardless of preferences though, they are both excellent – funny, warm and great to read with hugely appealing and engaging illustrations. We’ll be reading them often for some time yet and I have no complaints about that!

Peapod’s Picks/KLTR – Pancakes

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. Well, I’m sure I won’t be the only one posting about this today but as it’s pancake day, there’s only one book we could choose… I love Pancake Day. I know it has its religious aspects, but for me (like Christmas, Easter etc.) it’s a purely secular thing. We’ve always enjoyed the fun of flipping pancakes – will they turn, flop, twist or fall?! – and while I’m all about the lemon and sugar now, I have very fond memories of loading my pancakes with every sweet thing to hand when I was little. Likewise, when I was teaching we always had a wonderful pancake themed day in eyfs with real pancakes, pancake races, sensory play, role play etc. And this book was always a part of it! Mr Wolf is hungry for pancakes, but doesn’t know how to make them. Still, he sets out to try, hoping his neighbours might help. But, in this Little Red Hen-style tale, we see them all refuse – from Wee Willy Winky to the Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood to the Gingerbread Man, no one will help read the recipe, write his list, count his money or carry the ingredients. And they’re really rather mean about it too! Poor Mr Wolf isn’t deterred though. He works hard, figures it all out and with no small effort conjures up a pile of pancakes that smell deliciously inviting… Of course, now his neighbours want to help eat the pancakes, but what will Mr Wolf do? This is a fantastic twist on Little Red Hen tales, with a deliciously dark and satisfying ending that always makes me grin. The take on the Big Bad Wolf trope is lots of fun too and keeps you guessing as to the outcome and/or the possible reasons for his neighbours’ coolness towards him. As such, there’s also loads of scope for ‘what would you do?’ style discussions, though it’s just as good to simply listen to and enjoy the story! Similarly, it’s fun to see lots of familiar characters here, especially as they’re not as we’d normally expect to see them, and there’s lots of little details in the illustrations to make ya smile too – the scene at the shops is a favourite of mine. Since we had our Pancake Day on Sunday while we were all off to enjoy it, we read this first then and Peapod loved it too. In fact, it was the first book to break the run of his current repeat read, and only book allowed, at bedtime! He was straight to it the morning after and we read it last night too! He pointed out the pancakes and the page where Mr Wolf was flipping them, making the link to our pancake making earlier on in the day. Just as it was when I was teaching, I’m looking forward to this being one we can fet out as part of our pancake day year on year (and read at other times too of course)

Have you read this?

Do you have any pancake day traditions or favourite pancake toppings?

Peapod’s Picks – love is in the air…

So, we’re a bit late, but…Valentines Day. We don’t do Valentines Day (in fact we were both highly aggrieved to find we’d accidentally booked Valentines Day off as a day to go out for lunch together! It was very nearly cancelled on that basis.)

However, Peapod’s winter seasonal shelf was getting a bit tired and thus seemed a good way to freshen it up, especially since there’s loads of good love-themed picture books (even for an old cynic like me!)

We’ve kept some winter books on the top shelf (since we’re still in the midst of sleet, storms and potential snow).

Then I’ve added some colour and number board books. Peapod always enjoys looking at these sorts of books and has recently started saying some random number names (not recognising the numbers of course, just in play!) and imitating our counting so the counting ones seemed a good choice.

I added the colour ones as my plan for his shelf is to do a few fairly quick changes over the next couple of months, leading to his spring/Easter shelves, so we’ve got love and red for a bit then we’ll go yellow and pancake day, then… I don’t know yet but the colour thing seemed to work!

So, for his red + love theme we have a red feather boa and loose tickly feathers and a basket of red and white pom-poms plus tubes and boxes for posting and sorting (I sort. He tips “Tip! Tip!”).

There’s a box of family photos (these had been requested by nursery but fortuitously they sent them home as they’d finished with them just as I was doing this shelf. Perfect.)

He loves looking at his family photos and naming/getting us to name everyone in them.

Underneath us a squidgy, red love heart sensory bag…

And there’s some different sized heart-shaped biscuit cutters. We’ve been using these for dough/sensory play (a bit – he’s not keen on getting his hands dirty!) but he also likes stacking them, wearing them and ordering them.

Hechas some pink paper, red pens/crayons and heart stickers.

And…BOOKS (of course!)

Also, not pictured – I Love You Already by Jory John which I seem to have misplaced…

Some of these I’ve reviewed before (and here) others I’ll try and write more about as we read them, beginning with…

The Hug by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar

This is a fab book that stands out from the crowd not just for its ‘aaah’ factor, warm humour and gorgeous, expressive illustrations but also for the fact that it reads from both ends.

First (or second. You choose.) we see hedgehog who is feeling sad and needs a hug, but everyone he asks is suddenly very busy doing other things.

From the other end of the book we see tortoise in the same situation. We started this book by looking at it and I told Peapod “Tortoise is sad. He wants a hug.” He immediately started hugging the book. I wish I’d got a picture. Mum-heart overload!

Both of them meet wise old owl who explains it’s hedgehog’s prickles and Tortoise’s hard shell that put people off, but reassures them there’s someone for everyone.

And then, of course, in the centre pages…there is! They meet and hug and it’s a gooey, warm happy ending which of course I normally resist, but even I’m not completely made of stone!

We love this book! Funny, warm, with a message that’s not too message-y and a fuzzy, happy ending that’s not too sickly sweet. Fab.

Our ‘The Hug’ story box! I only made this today so it’s yet to be used but he usually loves these so I’m hopeful this will be a hit…update to follow!

Have you read any of these? Do you have any favourite ‘love’ themed picture books or play activities?

Library Love – Grab and Go!

Library Love is a weekly/fortnightly-ish (depending on when we read what!) post featuring books we borrow from the library. Sometimes Peapod and I go (in which case it’s always books I don’t know) and sometimes he goes with his dad.

What we took back

Read the Book, Lemmings by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora This was ok and quite funny. We liked the characters (especially Ditto) and GERONIMO-O-O! Overall, it felt like a bit of a nearly but not quite – like it was missing an unknown something that would have really nailed it.

Peapod’s Dad says “Mmm…repetitive. Not my favourite.”

Would borrow again when Peapod is bigger and see how he enjoys it, but probably wouldn’t buy.

Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks I thought we’d all quite enjoyed this one, until I asked Peapod’s Dad for his verdict! I liked it anyway! Peapod liked pointing to the cats (“tat!”) and I was a big fan of the illustrations. A criminal caper in search of a fishy feast results in a kidnapped penguin and a daring escape.

Peapod’s Dad says “Can’t remember it. *quick recap* Err, not brilliant. The fact that I can’t remember it doesn’t bode well.”

Would borrow again, was contemplating buying it until I got Peapod’s dad’s verdict (probably still will!)

Treats for a T-Rex by Charlotte and Adam Guillain and Lee Wildish An enjoyable enough bedtime read. Brightly illustrated with rhyming text, this bounces along and is plenty of fun.

Peapod’s Dad says “Not bad. Not high brow. Easy reading.” For once, I think his dad has hit the nail on the head with his review!

Would borrow again happily, but probably wouldn’t buy.

Emma Jane’s Aeroplane by Anne Haworth and Daniel Rieley I liked the idea of this – a little girl travels to different cities and collects an animal native to or related to that country in some way in each place – and I liked the illustrations and design. But I didn’t get on with the repeated refrain in each place, which just seemed like it had some fairly random stuff shoehorned in because it needed to rhyme.

Peapod’s Dad says “Not bad if you read it in the style of Guy Garvey (in cBeebies Bedtime Story style – Peapod’s Dad tries to read every rhyming book like Guy Garvey) Otherwise not great.”

Would borrow again if Peapod chose it, but wouldn’t bother otherwise.

Hide Me, Kipper! by Mick Inkpen Were big fans of Kipper and this was no exception. I especially liked that the book was the setting with Little Squeaky Mouse and Kipper hiding in “the foldy bit”. Peapod especially liked that it had a mouse, a cat and a dog in it!!

Peapod’s Dad says “Yeah, that was quite good that. Easy to follow.”

We’ll definitely be buying more of the Kipper books.

Top picks of the week:

Peapod – Probably Hide Me, Kipper for the mouse, cat and dog combo!

Me – Either Hide Me, Kipper or Penguin in Peril.

Peapod’s Dad – Hide Me, Kipper

What we took out

By all accounts, Peapod and his dad had an eventful trip to the library this week, involving much befriending of librarians and bookshelf ‘reorganising’ on Peapod’s part, and much running after him on his, Dad’s. So, his dad chose a couple and also took out the couple Peapod had got his hands on!

Have you read any of these? Have you been to the library recently?

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?

Reading along, singing a song…

This is a series of picture books published by Oxford University Press, in which Tim Hopgood has illustrated lyrics to some classic songs.

While I am reviewing them, this is also quite a personal post so there’ll be detours for that. This blog is, after all, for me to have a record of our reading as much as anything. But, I totally understand if you just want the review, so in that case –

These are beautiful, evocative books which capture classic songs and their sentiments perfectly.

What a Wonderful World by Tim Hopgood, based on the song by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, with CD sung by Louis Armstrong.

This was the first of these we bought. It’s a gloriously bright and hopeful reminder to love and take care of the world around us – Tim’s illustrations always showcase nature vibrantly and lovingly and sit perfectly here.

What a Wonderful World is one of my mum’s absolute favourite songs, so we bought this as a Mother’s Day present for her from Peapod back in March.

She was, of course, very pleased, but the really lovely bit came later on. Mum had been to pick up my Grandma, Dot, who has dementia and can no longer really recognise us and is often quite agitated (fortunately not aggressively, but clearly quite unsettled, confused and anxious in herself.)

She sat down to look at the book with my mum and Peapod and loved it, saying/chanting the words from the song which came back to her a little, with mum’s help, and loving the pictures as much as Peapod.

Singing in the Rain by Tim Hopgood, based on the song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, with CD sung by Doris Day.

We couldn’t believe our luck that this song was also available in this series – it was my Grandad’s favourite! So we bought this one next and Dot has enjoyed it just as much – looking at the joyful illustrations and sort-of reading/singing/remembering along with the words.

I don’t have any pictures of the interior as it’s at my mum’s, but it’s as wonderful as all the others! Capturing the freedom of splashing in puddles and playing in the rain, it’s a lush, green rainbow-filled slice of carefree joy and imagination.

Moon River by Tim Hopgood, based on the song by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini, with CD sung by Andy Williams.

We were lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from OUP in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own. (I can only apologise to OUP that it’s taken so blooming long!)

Of all the songs featured in this series, this is the one I know least well (in fact I know it almost exclusively because of the galaxy advert it was in!), so it doesn’t have the connections and emotional ties that the others do, but this is still a lovely book.

This has a much darker palette than the other books, but it works really well as the paler, more colourful river winds through it. The use of watercolour and the way it blends and runs is really effective too, as is the way the brightly coloured rainbow appears in a wonderfully wiggly, wavy way.


Walking in a Winter Wonderland by Tim Hopgood, based on the song by Felix Bernard and Richard B Smith, with CD sung by Peggy Lee.

As with the others in the series, the illustrations here really have the feel of the song and showcase its wintery magic.

It manages to be both a cold, frosty snap of a book and leave you feeling toasty warm inside! There’s a lovely feel of togetherness, leisure and – a recurring theme nit just in these books, but in Timsbooks overall – a real appreciation of the natural world.

We gave this to Dot for Christmas and though she had no idea who we were, who it was from or quite probably what it was for or that it was hers, she had a lovely time looking at it and hearing my sister singing (almost as tunelessly as me) along with her was proper Christmas magic!