Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Peek And Seek by Charlotte Milner and Violet Peto


Review: Peek And Seek by Charlotte Milner and Violet Peto

A flock of birds. A troop of monkeys. Peek under each flap to discover different animals, learn fun facts about their species and uncover a great big hide and seek game. With five different flaps and ten things to find in each spread, this book will keep young explorers happy for hours. 

I adore this book because it is a fact-file which is accessible to very young readers. Before we read paragraphs and sentences, before we even recognise letters, we have positive experiences with books. Hide-and-seek games are a wonderful way to share time with children. They are also brilliant for keeping kids entertained and they encourage children to be observant. Trusting that information is on the page, even if we can’t initially see it, is an important step to analytical-thinking. 

peekandseek2The short facts on each spread will encourage reading skills and help children to take an interest in wildlife. With more people than ever out of touch with nature, it is important that we use books and media to pass on our knowledge and vocabulary of the natural landscape. 

Peek And Seek is bold and colourful, with appealing illustrations. Each spread takes us straight into the landscape of the different species, from the snowy mountains where the wolves hunt to the burrows and tunnels beneath tree-roots where rabbits hide their food. There is lots to be learned from the illustrations alone: which other species can be found in a habit, what sort of home the animals keep and whereabouts in the world they might be found. The illustrations promote huge amounts of conversation which will teach children about the natural world. 

An attractive and engaging book which demands to be shared and enjoyed together. 


Many thanks to Antonia Wilkinson and Dorling Kindersley Limited for my copy of Peek And Seek. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Picture Book Review: Once Upon A Raindrop – The Story Of Water by James Carter and Nomoco


Review: Once Upon A Raindrop – The Story Of Water by James Carter and Nomoco

Our world is so wet. We need water to survive. Venture on a journey through the world of water. Where does water come from and how does it move around our planet? Those questions and more are answered in this beautiful and informative book. 

This book is both informative and poetic. It immerses the reader into the world of water through questions and language, then gently imparts information about the origins of water and the water cycle. Information books for younger readers have come a long way in recent years. There is suddenly an understanding that information needs to come in small bites and that it needs to be presented in interesting and attractive ways to hold the reader’s attention.

img_7100Once Upon A Raindrop is a masterpiece of design. Kazuko Nomoco has produced designs for numerous brands and clients including The Guardian, The Folio Society, Audi and Moschino. I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find she had a background in communications – her designs remind me of the very best infographics. They grab your attention straight away and impart just enough information in one go. 

This is an information book for modern times. 

I love the minimalist colour-palette – different shades of blue and grey are occasionally broken with splashes of colour. The style is impressionistic, with very few lines. 

This would be suitable for children as young as four but would make a lovely gift for any child interested in geography or learning about the water cycle. It would also be a great book to use in art. It would inspire children to think outside the box about how they paint and draw water. 


Thanks to Caterpillar Books for my copy of Once Upon A Raindrop. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: The Moon by Hannah Pang and Thomas Hegbrook


Review: The Moon by Hannah Pang and Thomas Hegbrook. 

For many years, man has looked up to the moon …

From artists to astronomers, poets to mathematicians to dreamers, the moon has been a source of inspiration and wonder to humankind. Myths have been told about the moon and songs written.

What is the moon and why does it continue to be a source of inspiration?

The Moon is special because it examines a topic from a multidisciplinary-perspective. Instead of being a science book or a history book or a collection of literature it looks at everything together.

img_7025I am a huge believer in this approach. It has always seemed strange to me how quickly children are taught to believe that one subject is more important than another, and concurrently that one subject is separate from another. All knowledge is interlinked and all communication starts with the human mind. The Moon shows how one subject has been approached, studied and communicated from different angles across the course of history.

It is also a beautiful and fascinating gift-book.

This doesn’t have to be read from start to finish, which can be a very attractive thing, especially for young readers. The Moon is the sort of book which will be dipped into. Poured over. I can imagine readers opening to any page and seeing where they land.

The illustrations and design are five-star.

The colour-pallette is drawn from the night sky – and I realise now how many colours we see in the evening. From the dark blues to inky blacks to ochre and pale yellow. This would make a lovely starting-point for anyone drawing pictures of the night sky. After asking children to use the colours they see at night, you could ask them to look at the pictures and ask what sort of colours are used.

I also love the number of people illustrated. The pictures remind us that this book is not just about the moon, it is about our relationship with an understanding of the moon. It is an anthology of human experience.

This would make a beautiful gift and will be high on my recommendations for Christmas 2018.


Thanks to Little Tiger Press for my copy of The Moon. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Peace And Me by Ali Winter and Mickaël El Fathi


Review: Peace And Me by Ali Winter and Mickaël El Fathi

What does peace mean to you?

Peace And Me profiles the lives of twelve Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Jean Henry Dunant, Mother Teresa and Malala Yousafzai. The book asks what peace means and challenges readers to think about ways they can make the world a better place for everyone to live in. Beautifully illustrated, this is an essential read for children in the current international climate.

2018 is the year of inspirational life anthologies. There have never been more books about real-life figures whose stories might inspire readers to form their own worldview. So in this crowded market, what makes Peace And Me a bookshelf essential?

There are several answers.

Firstly is the lens. The book is specifically about international peacemakers. When children hear about the Nobel Peace Prize, it can be difficult for them to grasp what it is about. We have minor conflicts and make peace on a regular basis during childhood. Aside from ending wars – which is a recurring theme in children’s fiction – it can be hard for children to imagine what might be worthy of a major peace prize.

Alongside each life story is a single line which summarises how that recipient made the world a better place. Peace is respecting all communities. Peace is making sure every child gets to go to school. The recipients all saw a wrong – or a gap – in the world and fought to mend it. This shows the reader that is could be them on the stage. This prize isn’t about extraordinary people who are nothing like anybody else. It is about people like us who saw a wrong and made an extraordinary effort to right it.

The other reason this book should sit on any bookshelf is the illustration. The book is a rich tapestry of colour and pattern. How could any child not be drawn in by those illustrations? It would make a lovely book for a classroom shelf. It is the sort of book which could be read in five-minute chunks between lessons.

Peace and Me is a beautiful book which uses real-life stories to answer an important question. What is peace? How can we make the world a better place? A beautiful book which deserves a place in any classroom or library.


Thanks to Lantana Publishing for my copy of Peace And Me. Opinions my own.


Review: Books Do Furnish A Painting by Jamie Camplin and Maria Ranauro


Review: Books Do Furnish A Painting by Jamie Camplin and Maria Ranauro

Books have survived as a form of communication for over 2000 years. They have been revered as the word of God and regarded as constant companions. Excepting hate literature, books are a symbol of what makes us civilized. The footprint is everywhere in the world of fine art.

Books do furnish a Painting is a comprehensive look at books as the subject matter of paintings. It looks at work from the last 500 years, exploring what books tell us about ourselves and how they end up in paintings.

This title would be a treat for both bookworms and lovers of art. With over 165 full-colour illustrations, it would make a lovely coffee table book as equally as it could be enjoyed as a study of art.

Short sections pose different questions and explore what books have meant in different civilizations and eras. I was particularly interested in the chapter about the 1700s, when people began to challenge church authority and writing became established as a profession. The social commentary gained from depictions of books in art is fascinating. For example, in paintings from this era, women are shown to have a less scholarly relationship with books than men.

My Favourite Paintings


Left: (detail) Interior With The Artist’s Daughter by Vanessa Bell – Books go beyond a physical object. I always feel better when I am surrounded by shelves of books. The subject here seems to share my same bookish nesting instinct.

Right: The Blue Pool by Augustus John – Although the subject is in a beautiful landscape, her mind is clearly elsewhere. The way she touches the book suggests her attention is on her reading material. One of the greatest ironies of reading is how it takes our attention away from our surroundings and companions so we can gain a stronger and broader connection to the world. It is as if we remove ourselves from the world to gain a deeper understanding of it.

A beautiful book

Although I am a lay-person to fine art, the historical and literary commentary made this relevant to my interests. Anybody who is interested in literary culture or what it means to be a book-lover should read this to gain a wider perspective.

A beautiful book which acknowledges how art and literature both define us and make commentary on us as civilized beings.


Thanks to Thames And Hudson for my copy of Books Do Furnish A Painting. Opinions my own.


Activity Book · Non-Fiction

Review: Toca Life Holiday Super Sticker Book


What would you like to do on Holiday? Go sightseeing? Laze around on the beach? With the Toca Life Holiday sticker book, children can explore and build different locations. 

Toca Life, I am reliably informed, is an app which has been described as a virtual dolls house. I can imagine this will be wildly popular. Do you remember loading the Sims, using the money cheat until your Sims had unlimited finances and building the house of all houses? I was that kid. Toca Life satisfies children’s curiosity about different surroundings and gives them free reign to develop their perfect settings. 

img_6922Different settings are represented as double-page spreads and the main focus of the book is on filling those settings with stickers. What a selection of stickers! People and pets, food and pot-plants and signs and every object imaginable. This would be perfect for slightly older children, who might have outgrown the simple activities and chunky stickers of other books. It would certainly keep kids occupied on a long journey – when they are long past interest in anything else, just making their own worlds would provide a perfect distraction. 

There are a couple of puzzles here too – a memory game, a spot the difference and a ‘hunt the rainbow poo’ game which runs throughout the book. These add an extra dimension to the book and gives it extra keep-them-occupied power.

The stickers are super cute and could be used to decorate things outside of the book. This makes the book a great present – if the kids aren’t interested in the activities, they’ve still got a fab range of stickers. 

The Holidays may be over, but there are hours of fun here. 


Thanks to Ladybird Books for my sticker book. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Picture book review: Sleep by Kate Prendergast


Animals sleep too … but do they sleep like you? Do they sleep in nests? Do they lie down or stand up? Do they close their eyes? This beautiful picture-book explores different animals and the way they sleep. 

img_6750I fell in love with the illustrations. What a lovely way to teach children about other animals. It is so important for children to learn about the natural world and these detailed pictures will encourage them to develop a vocabulary around animals they may not have encountered. 

The book can be read like a story – a single fact about each animal is shared in continuous prose. This is a lovely way to introduce young children to non-fiction because they can read it in just the same way as their other picture-books. The story ends with a question – do animals dream? This book will certainly encourage children to ask more questions. There is a fact-file at the back which is a lovely resource for readers to begin their investigations. 

Both the colour-pallette and the brush-strokes are soft. This would be a soothing book to read ahead of bedtime. 

Children are very curious about the world about them and this picture book encourages them to ask questions about the natural world. It would be a lovely introduction to discussion about the similarities and differences between humans and other animals. 

This would make a lovely gift for young children. 


Thanks to Old Barn Books for my copy of Sleep. Opinions my own.