Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Winnie And Wilbur – Spectacular Spells by Valerie Thomas And Korky Paul

Review: Winnie And Wilbur – Spectacular Spells by Valerie Thomas And Korky Paul

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A trip back to the time of the dinosaurs (and home again with a dinosaur in tow). 

A birthday party made extra-special by magic.

A knightly tournament and a banquet worthy of a witch. 

Three titles full of magic and mayhem from the ever popular Winnie The Witch series. 

I remember reading the very first book in this series when I was small. I chose it at a book fair and took it home for our evening reading session. Now, I had read and been read any number of books, but there was something different about Winnie. She fizzled with a kind of energy which just promised trouble. And laughter. 

Wilbur is also a superstar among picture book cats. He reacts to what is happening with hilarious results and has a huge range of expressions. 

Our brains can only register a certain number of things at any one time. If you look at a field for a second, you might see grass, a bench and some football goals. Sit for a few minutes and you will see huge amounts more. The tiny plants in the grass and the insects crawling up the bench legs and the way the light is filtered through the clouds. The illustrations in Winnie The Witch Books are like that. You could look for minutes and fail to spot everything. They are gems for sharing with one reader or a small group because there is so much to keep the readers interested. 

The illustations are also brilliant for encouraging smaller pen marks. Plenty of examples of lines and patterns used to build textures. 

This collection brings together three titles filled with adventure. it was lovely to revisit Winnie and Wilbur. Long may they entertain readers big and small. 

 

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Feminist/Gender Equality · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Ladybird Tales Of Adventurous Girls

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Review: Ladybird Tales Of Adventurous Girls

Stories retold by – Julia Bruce 

Illustrators – Olga Baumert, Molley May, Kerry Hyndman, Hannah Tolson, Hannah Peck and Holly Hatam, 

 

Once upon a time there was a girl … 

Join six girls from around the world, in six separate stories, as they set off on an adventure and use their courage, strength, and intelligence to return safely home. 

This collection of bedtime stories features familiar tales, such as the Snow Queen, but the stories are told with a difference. Every story has a girl at the centre. Hansel and Gretel? Try Gretel and Hansel. It was Gretel who pushed the witch in the oven and saved her brother. Without spelling it out, the stories show readers that girls can be intelligent, brave and resourceful. 

It also features girls from around the world. It is so important for young readers to see that people from different cultures can encounter the same feelings and demonstrate the same skills. 

The book is a beautiful collection of fairy tales. It would make a lovely present for a younger child or a less-confident reader – the stories are short enough that nobody will lose patience and there is a full-colour illustration on every other page. 

A different illustrator was chosen to work on each story. This adds to the experience because without reading a single word each story has a unique feel. Every story has a decorative title spread and beautiful full-page illustrations. 

Not only is this a wonderful collection of fairy tales, it puts girls at the centre and shows how much they can do. This would be a wonderful book to keep on a bedside table or to share with a class in KS1/Lower KS2. 

 

Thanks to Ladybird Books for my copy of Ladybird Tales Of Adventurous Girls. Opinions my own.

 

Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books · poetry

Review: I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree – A Nature Poem For Every Day Of The Year

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I am the seed

that grew the tree

that gave the wood

to make the page

to fill the book

with poetry

(From Windsong by Judith Nicholls.) 

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This beautiful collection contains 366 nature poems – one for every day of the year. Every double-page spread is illustrated with pictures of nature.  This is beautifully designed and was clearly thought out with love for the subject.

img_7049The introductory letter explains how Kate Wilson of Nosy Crow publishers was gifted a volume of poetry as a child. Although she read and reread the book for years to come, the lack of illustrations meant that her initial reaction was not one of enthusiasm.  I Am The Seed … is designed to be attractive to the very youngest readers. Its illustrations are bright, bold and take up every single space. Gone are the terrifying pages of black and white. This is a book to pour over. To enjoy. To share.

The length of the poems, too, has clearly been considered. The inclusion of many short poems – some five or six lines long – and poems with short lines makes this collection perfect for newly confident readers.

I often wish I could recapture the magic of reading poems as a child. I didn’t know my modern poets from my Romantics. My haiku from my free verse. I read without discrimination and judged only on the sound. On the experience of reading and being read to. I Am The Seed… is designed to promote such an experience. There is nothing to tell the reader the date or origin of the poem. This allows the reader to pick their favourites free from ideas about what they ‘should’ enjoy.

To have 366 poems on one theme is special. Flick through the book and something special happens – you’re reading about animals and skies. The sea and the woodland and the stars. A picture of the world builds in the reader’s head. A picture which promotes love and respect for the natural world. The pictures add to this experience and it is possible to browse the book for illustration alone.

Whether you read one poem a day or pour through the anthology, this is bound to be a lovely experience. A beautiful anthology which will be treasured by those lucky enough to read it.

 

Thanks to Nosy Crow for my copy of I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree. Opinions my own.

Stationery

Stationery – Notebook Round-up

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Stationery is a big love. I converted to stationery love eighteen months ago, after a writing course. The author running the course has a routine. It involves taking items out of his pencil-case one at a time and sharing them with the group. The ink pen. The chunky pencil. I became mesmerised. All these years I had used a refill pad and a Biro. The next day I went out and stocked up on notebooks. This was a big change for the girl who believed there was no point ruining paper with her left-handed scrawl. 

Nice stationery makes the first seconds of a task pleasurable. It is an investment in yourself. It says you believe your thoughts have worth. A year and a half on and I have a notebook draw. Yep. A draw filled with unused notebooks. Decadent, but I promise you it has motivates me to create. his Christmas I received four notebooks, and I would love to share them with you. 

birdLinton Tweed

img_4811Linton Tweed is best known for its connections with Coco Channel. It is the fabric she used for her skirts. The business is in my region, and there is an outlet shop which sells everything from cushions to clothes, notebooks to off-cuts of material. 

Everything about this notebook feels luxurious, from the tweed cover to the ribbon bookmark. I might have stroked the cover a couple of times. It is irresistible. If I wasn’t so chronically left-handed I would learn calligraphy and pair this with an ink-pen. 

 

Peter Pan Moleskine (picture from Moleskine – mine is wrapped!) peter-pan-cleverness-5_grande

This was on my Christmas wishlist. I saw it in the Moleskine shop, but chose a sensible set of three A4 books for the same price. You can imagine how much I love the person who bought this for me. 

The cover is perfect for writers and content creators. Everything we make comes from our own minds, and we should start every session certain that we have the ability to think and produce. The notebook comes with the signature Moleskine elastic band, and has ruled pages. 

 

img_4812Moomin Notepad

As regular readers know, I love everything Moomin. img_4815The Moomin shop in Convent Garden is one of my favourite London haunts. Moomins are my little bit of hygge. Just looking at them makes me feel safe and warm. 

 The pad comes with its own little pencil. I love the contrasting pink of the pencil to the notebook’s blue cover. The bottom of the pages shows a row of Moomin characters off on an adventure, and the inside covers are decorated with Moomin characters. This is the perfect notepad for lists and day-to-day notes. I might use it for to-do lists. How could I say no to a boring job with a Moomin to comfort me?

*sent by Riot Comms. Opinions my own. 

 

 

Paperchase Dogs Notebookimg_4819

Some people buy sweets. I go to Paperchase. Kid in a candy store doesn’t cover it. Paperchase falls perfectly between affordable and luxury. It is the White Stuff of stationery. 

I’m #teamcat, but I love dogs too. The art captures the personalities of the different dogs in Hairy Mclairy fashion, and I love the contrast between the line drawings and the splashes of bold colour. I can see myself carrying this in my bag in case I need to jot something down, or taking it to events to keep notes. 

 

Louise Nettleton

Do you hoard stationery? Tell me about your favourite notebooks below!