Peapod’s Picks – This is the Bear

After Christmas, I ordered ‘This is the Bear’ by Sarah Hayes and Helen Craig for Peapod because of his love of the binmen in Dogger’s Christmas.

At first, he LOVED it and we read it repeatedly. So I ordered the collection with all four books in.

Then he point blank refused to read it all of a sudden: “Don’t like that one!” It transpired this was because he disliked the bin men driving off and not stopping fir the little boy!

No amount of cajoling and persuasion – “they just can’t hear him..!” – could convince him otherwise.

Luckily, when the collection arrived he immediately wanted to read the others, which has switched him back on to the original too!

We’ve been reading them all ever since.

They’re a lovely collection, instantly relatable for toddlers with their central characters of a boy, his dog and his teddy (Fred) who has wonderfully teddy-bear-ish adventures (he falls in a bin, he gets left behind, he has a picnic…)

Written in simple, rhythmic Rhyme, with a gentle humour, these are a joy to read and perfect for both reading aloud, and for emerging readers with their clear, large print.

Peapod’s current favourite is ‘This is the Bear and the Bad Girl‘. It’s like a perfect example of what children’s fiction needs – loveable main characters and a ‘wicked villain’ in the girl who steals Fred, a brilliant mix of slapstick trips, falls and puddings-on-head and – of course – a happy ending!

Peapod is outraged by the fact that, not only does she steal Fred, but “girl not say sorry!” at the end. And this is partly what I love too – there’s a happy reunion for Fred and his boy, so all is well, but there’s no saccharine apology and making friends, no seeing the error of her ways etc. and I am all about a good baddie!

Fred and the boy waiting for their puddings in the cafe, shortly before a chase round the house as we act this out for the millionth time!

This is the Bear and the Scary Night sees Fred left in the park one afternoon, snatched by an owl, dropped in a pond and rescued by a kind local musician – adventure for little readers at its finest!

This is the Bear and the Picnic Lunch sees the boy planning a picnic, but the weather and his wonderfully mischievous dog (another fab character who is ever so naughty, but has a heart of gold hidden under his tough exterior!) have other plans. Our little picnic lover is a big fan!

I love that Peapod loves these books. My sister and I loved them growing up and it’s so lovely to be reading them again and seeing how much joy they bring Peapod too!

Have you read these books?

Which picture books have you been reading this week?

The Midnight Guardians

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this from the publishers. All views and opinions are my own.

I received this at work as it’s our Children’s Book of the Month for November, and I can’t help but feel a bit gutted that it’s not going to get the push it really deserves with us being shut.

Yes, there’s our online message, and word of mouth, and of course the wonderful world of book twitter, but this is one that is both timely and brilliant and one which I’d have been pressing into palms left, right and centre.

I will just have to do the best I can here and shout about it all the more when we reopen!

Put simply, this is one of the best World War 2 books I’ve read in a long time.

Always a hot topic in children’s literature, there’s a plethora of war themed books already, all with a different slant and many of which are favourites of mine.

So to choose a theme so well-mined already and come up with something so unique, so well pitched, so historically accurate and still so relevant today, not to mention so entertaining, magical and hopeful too, is really something and a huge credit to Ross Montgomery’s engaging writing style, meticulous research and understanding of his audience.

Col has been evacuated to live with his Aunt Claire after his dad dies during the war. His sister, Rose, has stayed behind in London to help the war effort but they have agreed to spend Christmas together. When Christmas comes but Rose doesn’t, Col sets off to find her.

Stopping at the cottage they always spent Christmas at, he finds his childhood imaginary friends come very much to life, having returned to protect him from The Midwinter King who has taken control of the Spirit World and has devastating plans for this one too.

I went into this a little hesitantly, expecting a mix of Narnia (which I loved as a child), Land of Roar (which – sorry! – I wasn’t a huge fan of) and some sort of war story. I didn’t really know how it would, or indeed could, work. But, oh it does!

The balance struck between fantasy, history and personal drama is perfect. Likewise, the blend of humour and more serious and emotive messages is just right.

The characters themselves are brilliant, and all with their own unique personalities, strengths and flaws.

The relationship between Mr Noakes (Badger in a waistcoat) and King of Rogues (faithful knight in shining armour) is such a great one, with brilliant bickering and superb sniping between these two friends.

Likewise, the relationship between King of Rogues and newcomer to the group, Ruth, is wonderful. The way their mistrust of each other, and her confident exterior proving a match for his self-importance is great fun to read, and it’s equally lovely to see them gradually accept each other as the story develops.

Ruth was definitely my favourite character in the book and I loved the way her inclusion helped bring another aspect of the war (the persecution of Jewish people and the Kindertransport) to the book. Her story really adds extra depth and breadth to the book, and the role her celebration of Chanukah plays in delivering the message of hope the book carries is very effective too.

I thought the way the historical elements of the book were brought in were excellent too, and the use of real newspaper articles was brilliant. This has clearly been extremely closely and keenly researched, with many little details and lesser known facts really bringing this into its own, as well as adding to the humorous aspects of the book (Mock Banana I’m looking at you!)

It also does a great job at making the war relevant today in its messages about power, dark times, hope and togetherness.

The fantastical elements were brilliant too. We meet talking trees (who will have you in stitches), squabbling giants and easily distracted fairy folk, not to mention the formidable Midwinter King and Green Man themselves. There is a huge array of fantasy folk and magic places, but the story never loses its very human heart.

(And for Labyrinth fans, there’s an absolute gem of a showdown you’ll love!)

This is a book with truly broad appeal. It’s wartime setting will price popular with children at home, aswell as in school libraries, class reads and as a stimulus for wartime topic work.

With themes of family, friendship, loss and hope it is both sensitive and moving, whilst its magical and humorous elements bring levity and a touch of fantasy.

It is a book which draws on much of what has gone before and makes it absolutely and completely it’s own. One of a kind.

Peapod’s Picks – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!

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.

I’ve written about Peapod’s Spot story basket before. This is another basket that he’s really loved and it’s another classic…

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Bear Hunt turned 30 last year and after all that time and now a channel 4 animation too, I can’t imagine there’s many people who are unfamiliar with it. It’s truly a children’s bookshelf staple, both in homes and schools.

However, one should never assume, so just in case –

A family set out to find a bear, encountering all manner of terrain and weather along the way. They joyfully swish, splash and squelch through it until they find a cage and…a bear!! A hasty retreat ensues!

This is an absolute joy of a book – rhythmic, onamatopaeic and repetitive, it’s a gift for getting children joining in.

The ending is clever in this respect too as it places its demands on your memory and speed and you can’t help but finish it feeling as full of laughter, exhilarated and ready to collapse as if you’d really been out in the elements bear-hunting!

The hunt itself has both a freedom and a nostalgia about it – family walks and days out in nature. And then there’s Helen Oxenbury’s delightful illustrations which capture this so perfectly. They are so expressive and the use of both colour and black and white imagery is really effective.

It’s a book which demands action, performance and movement! It was one of the first story sessions I did when I went back to work after Mat Leave last summer and I made it an interactive one with movement and fabric, sensory bottles and bags, actions and lots of joining in.

So with these in mind, it seemed like a good choice for one of Peapod’s story baskets. I didn’t do it straight away as he still seemed a bit little for it, and I’m glad I waited as in the last couple of months he’s got loads from this (not least the phrase “uh-oh”!) and loves telling the story with it.

For the long and wavy, swishy-swashy grass, we have paper pom poms…

The deep, cold river is some splishy, splashy metallic ribbons. There’s also a blue sensory bottle.

I have to be honest, there’s no mud! When I did it at storytime, we used bags of mud to squelch but I can’t leave those in his basket long-term, so it’s actions only fir this bit unless anyone has a better idea?!

For the big, dark forest, we’ve got some pinecones to feel and roll and tap together etc.

We use both a sensory bottle and sparkly white fabric for our swirling, whirling snowstorm.

And the narrow, gloomy cave is of course a large piece of black fabric, perfect for hiding under, peeking out of…

…and finding a Bear inside of course!

Peapod loves this – from looking independently at the book to listening to us read it to acting it out with us and playing with all the tactile elements, especially ‘splashing’ through the river and finding bear in the cave. It’s a firm favourite and one I can’t wait to read and play o ce he’s old enough to really join in with the words too!

It’s a classic for a reason – such great fun!

Beast Feast

I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.

Beast Feast by Emma Yarlett

I read Emma Yarlett’s Dragon Post last year and loved it – a really lovely story with lots of letters to open and read, it was an absolute joy! And this is just as good!

Beast is cooking Dinner for his, beastie friends. Dinner, however, is not happy about it and comes up with various ways to make meeting the guest’s culinary demands (being plump, salted and chilled among others) easier to endure.

Consequently, Dinner and Beast have a lovely time eating chocolate cake, swimming in the salty sea and playing in the snow. But as they spend more time together, Beast begins to wonder whether he really wants to eat Dinner after all. But what can he do – the guests are all invited! Dinner must be served…

This is SUCH a fantastic book. I mean, come on, it has a character called Dinner!

As with Dragon Post, this is a really cute and funny story about friendship with stunning illustrations and LETTERS to open (I love a letter!) which are all ‘written’ on different types of paper and in different styles to match their senders.

“Alrite Dingbat?” – this cracked me up!

The inside covers alone are enough to make it worth buying – covered in laugh out loud, scrapbook style in foul/flavoursome recipes, they’re a delight to pore over.

It’s just brilliant.

There’s so much scope to use this in schools as a springboard for letter writing, creative/English work creating beasts and character building, cooking and/or science designing disgusting (or delicious!) dishes… the list goes on… But it’s also just a thoroughly enjoyable read for sharing (and playing, cooking, talking, writing…) at home!

Love, LOVE, LOVE it!

Peapod’s Picks – The Hat Books!

We were lucky enough to request and receive board book copies of these free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. However, we already own bought copies of the paperback versions, so we knew in advance we loved them! 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!

Those of you who’ve been here once or twice before will know what huge fans of Jon Klassen we are and how much we love both these books and his collaborations with Mac Barnett.

We have had these for a while but despite mentioning them often, I’ve never properly reviewed them. So receiving board book versions of the first two seems like a good opportunity!

I Want My Hat Back

The original and (some I would say) the best!

Wonderfully witty with a delightfully dark ending, this book is a perfect example of a funny yet sophisticated picture book that has appeal across all ages (although try telling that to parents that just want a long picture book for their mini reading prodigies 🙄)

Bear is looking for his hat. Despite the matter of fact style of speech, it’s clear he’s very upset about it going missing. He very politely asks around, stopping to help a poor tortoise in need – oh the complexities of this character! – along the way.

There are so many clever techniques employed here, ftom the different coloured text to denote the different character’s speech to the way Klassen packs SO much expression into his character’s faces (those of you familiar with the shape trilogy will already know it’s all in the eyes!)

Then there’s the use of dramatic irony, so when Bear realises where he has seen his hat it’s a brilliantly celebratory moment. This is made even better as it is followed swiftly by his reaction and the way the book’s use of repetition delivers the punchline is the perfect ending!

And of course having a bash-able, chewable, non-tearable version is even better now that Peapod is do enthusiastic in his book love!

A very much littler Peapod enjoying it in a very much calmer way than he does now!

This is Not My Hat

Written in a similarly minimal and deadpan style to I Want My Hat Back, we are once again treated to the bigger picture as our narrator – the small hat thief – talks us through his cunning escape with the hat that “is not mine. I just stole it.”

This is a great book for those turn-the-page-punchlines – where we can often see what’s going to happen, but it’s still funny when it does.

As I’m the first book, so much of this book’s humour is in the eyes – so expressive and conveying such a lot! And despite the characters saying or doing very little, you will find yourself really believing in them.

I groaned fondly at our fishy narrator. There is something really innocent about them (think a young child’s attempts at denying wrong doing or playing hide and seek), despite their light fin(ger)s and this self-belief really made me smile.

As for our poor victim, it’s ALL in the illustrations as he doesn’t say a word, but we know his thoughts and feelings too.

And, as in I Want…, the book points a finger towards questions of right and wrong without making a judgement or telling you what to do/think.

With a slightly more ambiguous ending, you can even convince yourself that no fish were eaten at the end of this story. You’d be wrong of course, but it’s possible to read it that way!

Funny, clever and just as brilliant as book one!

We Found a Hat

While this third installment retains the stripped back style and dry humour of the first two, it is more touching and less murdersome than the previous books!

Here, two tortoises have found a hat. It looks good on them both, so what should they do?

I’ve said it already but it’s all in the eyes! The excitement at the find, the torment, the indecision, the love for hat and friend, the sorrow…although there are (a few) words, this story is as easily told through the pictures (and eyes) alone.

And, as with This is Not My Hat, there are complex ideas subtly running through this, to be unpicked (or not) as much or as little as you want to. Fairness, sharing (or not), friendship, sacrifice and the feelings of others.

While this wasn’t as dark as the other two books, it was just as clever, just as dry and just as beautifully illustrated and I really loved it just as much in the end. It was such a warm and hopeful end to the trilogy.

I’m hoping this will also be out in board book soon. And I’m also very much looking forward to this hardback ‘hat box’ set:

Peapod’s Picks

We were lucky enough to request and receive copies of these free from Walker 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!

Let’s Go Swimming! by Caryl Hart and Lauren Tobia

This is part of a series of ‘First Experiences’ books from Walker. It’s lovely to see a new series like this – Topsy and Tim have had the monopoly for too long!

This has a fresh, modern feel and the illustrations are lovely – they feel bright, warm and realistic.

‘Let’s Go Swimming’ talks us through a trip to the pool. While Bee is confident and enthusiastic, Billy is less sure and needs more reassurance – it’s nice to see both personalities represented, as much for children excited or curious about doing something as it is for those who may be nervous about something new.

I really liked all the little details it covered too, from the steamy windows and puddly floor to having to get out for a wee to the tiredness afterwards.

Our only minor quibble with this came from Peapod’s Dad, but I have to agree – where are the dads? As he said:

“There’s not even any other men swimming in the baby bit…when I go, it’s nearly all men.”

And he was right, there’s not a dad in sight. Which is a shame because there are plenty of dads taking care of their children and taking them out to do lots of fun things – maybe we’ll see more if this in future additions to the series, I’d like to hope so.

That aside, this is a lovely book clearly, warmly and reassuringly talking little ones through a trip to the pool.

Don’t Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton

We’re big fans of Chris Haughton here (you can read my reviews of Goodnight Everyone here and A Bit Lost here or here), Shhh, We Have a Plan is definitely my favourite but we love them all! So I was very excited to see a new book from him coming out.

Little Crab and Very Big Crab (I love that it’s Very Big Crab and not just Big Crab!) are heading out of their rock pool and into the sea.

At first Little Crab is excited but as the sea gets nearer and the waves grt bigger, it seems like maybe it’s not such a good idea. Very Big Crab is full of reassurance and encouragement though and slowly, slowly they make their way closer and closer to the sea.

A lovely story about being brave, facing a challenge and things often turning out better than expected that is saved from being didactic or saccharine by Chris Haughton’s unique style.

The words are carefully considered and tightly chosen – all necessary to the feel of the story, and adding excitement or calm or wonder or nerves in just the right places and ways. The font, text size and use of capitals complement this perfectly too.

The illustrations have his trademark use of layering, vibrant colours and darker tones, blocky shapes and plain blocked backgrounds. They are as appealing as ever.

We loved it – another Haughton hit in our house!

The Pigeon HAS to go to School by Mo Willems

We love the pigeon books, so even though Peapod is nowhere near going to school we jumped at the chance to get a copy of this one!

Our poor, beleaguered pigeon is back and even more outraged than ever as he’s being sent to school.

What begins in the classic cajoling, beseeching, wanting-my-own-way way soon makes room for pigeon’s nerves to show through. Without missing a beat or losing any of its humour, pigeon begins to list a whole host of worries about going to school.

This is a great book just to read and that’s that as it has all the humour and dramatics we’ve come to know and love in our pigeon, plus an absolutely fantastic ending fans will LOVE! You’ll get no further spoilers here though!

But it is, of course, also a great book for children about to start school. The pigeon’s worries veer from the common to the seemingly ridiculous (“what if I learn too much and my head pops off?”), which allows children space to voice their own concerns, laugh and ‘know better’ than the pigeon – effectively reassuring themselves – and/or see through pigeon’s dawning realisation why school might be good instead of scary.

I love the end papers too, where we see pigeon happily settled in his school – a reassuring way to end without losing the humour of the final pages.

When the time comes for Peapod to start school, this is the book we’ll read (OK, one of them!)

It’s an oldie, but I couldn’t resist popping this pic of Peapod and his Pigeon driving the bus again!

A First Book of Animals

I requested and received a copy of this free from the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček

Polar bears playing on the ice, tigers hunting in the jungle, fireflies twinkling in the evening sky and nightingales singing in the heart of the woods – there are animals everywhere. From blue whales to bumblebee bats and everything in between, A First Book of Animals takes you all over the planet to visit all kinds of different creatures.

This is a beautiful book of poetry, with many of the poems also containing many animal facts, making it a perfect book for animal lovers old and young.

Split into categories such as ‘Big and Small’, ‘Colours and Shapes’ or ‘Animal Homes’, the poems are thematically grouped within the book and contain a range of facts and styles.

There are short, easy to join in with and repetitive poems, like ‘Why Are Zevras Stripy?’ There are verses with wonderful word choice and/or rhyme detailing facts and characteristics of a particular animal, such as Chameleon Song.

There are comparative poems, such as ‘Song of the Biggest and the Smallest Bird’ and there are poems which work with the illustrations to teach us something, like the wonderful ‘Dragonfly Babies’ whose words create a vivid impression of the growth, emergence and behaviours of the tiny dragonflies and whose illustration serves to help visualise this and show young readers how this would look.

Likewise, there are poems who give nothing more than an impression of the animal, less fact and more feeling, accompanied by illustrations who capture the look and character of the animal perfectly, giving more than enough information without the text – Whale Shark, for example.

Which leads me to pause for a moment to simply admire the illustrations. They are in turn textured, light, colourful, dark, rich, playful, layered, bright… each is wonderful, realistic and detailed and in perfect keeping with both the animal it portrays and the text it accompanies.

In short, both the words and pictures are stunning. The poems are hugely accessible – with fantastic feeling and varied vocabulary, but not overly long or wordy, they’re perfect for children of all ages. Likewise the range of styles is brilliant for showcasing to young readers poetry’s versatility.

This is a gorgeous book that we are loving dipping in and out of at random each day. I can’t recommend this enough for both home and school.

Peapod’s Picks – A Brilliant New Book Haul!

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!

We have had a bumper haul of brilliant new books recently, so thought we’d share these with you today. (It’s a long one because we loved them all so much – sorry!)

Dinosaur Department Store by Richard Merritt and Lily Murray

Eliza Jane wants a REAL dinosaur for her birthday, so a trip to the Dinosaur Department Store is in order…

This is the only book we bought where the author and illustrator were new to me, but they’re definitely ones we’ll be keeping our eyes on in the future!

I think it’s fair to say Eliza Jane is a handful! She’s a great main character – fiery, fun and full of confidence, this is a girl who knows what she wants and most importantly, how to get it – we loved how the story ended (and the lead up to it in the illustrations throughout!)

This book has huge appeal on so many other levels too.

Its a must-read for Dino fans with wonderful descriptions and illustrations of all kinds of different prehistoric pets, not just your standard fare, as well as a handy pronunciation guide at the back (I don’t know about you but I am awful at knowing how to say dinosaurs’ names!)

The illustrations are beautifully bright and colourful, with a touch of magic in simultaneously making the dinosaurs fairly realistic and utterly absurd (bowler hats and bow ties, hot dogs and stargazing, not to mention the glam rock theropods!)Absolutely fantastic.

The story itself zips along with enjoyable rhythm and rhyme and LOADS of exciting and interesting vocabulary and opportunities for expression and ‘sound effects’ when reading aloud.

In short – brilliant.

Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Most of you will already know how much I love these books. I was so excited for this one that we read it on the bus home from the shop (and again when we got home, and again at bedtime, and…)

Circle was definitely worth the wait!

I never fail to be amazed at the depth and expression in Klassen’s illustrations considering the limited pallette and facial features. Indeed there are several double pages that are dark save for eyes yet they say so much – there’s not many books that could get away with that!

Likewise, the text is carefully considered and had us cracking up.

Just as dry and funny as the first two books – Circle has retained her cool, Triangle is as sneaky as ever and Square is still, well, square.

And surely with that ending there’s a glimmer of hope that we’ll see these guys again?!

The Steves by Morag Hood

Meet Steve. And, erm, Steve. This book ain’t big enough for the both of them!

Aside from giving me a Sparks earworm every time I read the back cover, I love this!

Morag Hood is fast becoming one of my favourite, favourite picture book authors – if you don’t know her other books either, I highly recommend rectifying that!

The Steves is hilarious. And it has puffins in and I love puffins.

With bold, print-like illustrations against bright but plain backgrounds, the illustrations really pop off the page and with nothing else going on you can really home in on the expressions and body language of The Steves which capture their feelings perfectly.

The text is simple and short and all the more effective for it – it has all the energy and exuberance of a child’s sulky strop!

And it’s fantastic for reading aloud – even better if there’s two of you to do it (Daddy and I read this one jointly for bedtime, each taking on the role of a Steve and it was great fun! We laughed a lot!)

Loved it! (And I’ll be sending a copy to my friend Uno, another Rachael, to whom I am Dos…!)

In the Swamp by the Light of the Moon by Frann Preston-Gannon

Frog is singing in the swamp one night, but singing alone isn’t much fun so he heads off to find others to join his swampy-song!

Perfect for anyone who ever played the triangle at school, this is the tale of Frog’s search for all the sounds of the swamp to make his song complete. He has a crocodile and mice, fish and birds but something’s still missing – it couldn’t be the tiny firefly who thinks their song isn’t good enough though, could it?

It’s quite different to Frann Preston-Gannon’s other books (I think) but no less charming. The illustrations are immersive and it feels like a lazy, summer evening.

A lovely, lyrical, rhythmic book with plenty of repetition that children (ok, not Peapod just yet!) will love to join in with and which lends itself brilliantly to inspiring other musical activities!

Have you read any of these?

What picture books/bedtime stories have you enjoyed this week?

Flights of Fancy

I requested and received an advance copy of this free from the publishers, in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own.

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In this lively anthology, the UK’s best-loved writers and illustrators share their top tips and ideas to inspire budding artists and writers.

Published to celebrate 20 years of having a Children’s Laureate to champion any and all aspects of children’s reading, writing, illustrating, book-loving this is an absolutely wonderful collection of insights, ideas and inspiration.

There’s a chapter from each of the ten Laureates with a short discussion about where they get their ideas, the way they work, things they did as Laureate, what’s important to them etc. followed by their own tips, suggestions and prompts for getting creative in one way or another and a piece of text or art from each.

Because it’s written by such stars in their field, it’s pitched perfectly: accessible and understandable but not simplified or dumbed down. And because they’re from such varied backgrounds with such different interests, strengths and audiences, it contains everything from short stories to sketchbooks, doodles to descriptions and poems to plays. There’s word play and shape games, design ideas and creative writing starters.

My favourite chapter was Lauren Child’s because I’ve been a huge fan of hers for years and I love her style.

It’s also beautifully presented (I’m not sure if there’s a paperback version on the cards, but the hardback is such a lovely quality book and would make a great gift too) and £1 from each book goes to Booktrust (a brilliant charity helping get all children access to books – their bookstart packs alone are worth it! But I digress…).

There is so much creativity jam-packed into this it’s impossible to read and not feel like cracking out the pencil case whatever your age!

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?