Board Book · Round-Up

Board Book Round-up (October 2019).

Board Book Round-up (October 2019).

 

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A Marvelous Museum and A Forest’s Seasons by Ingela P Arrhenius.

Learn the seasons of the forest, and take a walk through different museum exhibits with these fantastic Bookscape Books.

Why should all the pages of a book be the same size and shape? It is something we all take for granted, yet the world is full of such interesting shapes. When we look across the different distances of a landscape, we see things of all shapes and sizes. This idea works especially well in the board book format. The pages are sturdy enough to hold it, while all the different colours and images peeking out at the start are irresistible to little readers.

The books themselves are simple introductions to two places – museums and forests. The forest book focuses on seasons, as if one forest is changing over time, while the museum book looks at a wide variety of exhibits. These would be lovely to give to a small child who is going to a new place for the first time, to talk them through what they might see and hear.

 

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Animal Homes by Clover Robin

We often pass by animal homes without even knowing it. From underground warrens to beehives, lodges, and the nests in the trees, other animals are all around us, and their homes are more incredible than we could possibly imagine.

Clover Robin is a designer whose children’s books always win my heart. She specialises in nature and botanical designs, and her work always seems to come from careful observation. She captures more than the shape, getting right to the very spirit of her subjects.

Animal Homes is a lift-the-flap book that takes its audience seriously. It is too easy to underestimate tiny readers and to offer them watered-down explanations, but doing so forgets that tiny people are always learning and looking and drinking the world in. Anybody who has ever spoken to a small child knows that they are always observing or questioning something. Animal Homes takes them right inside nests and hives, lodges and warrens, and allows them to explore the worlds of their fellow creatures.

Little bites of information surround the pictures. This is a book that will grow with the reader, taking them right into early information books already prepared to learn. Top marks for design, level of knowledge and sheer wonder factor.

 

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5 Wild Shapes by Camilla Falsini.

Circles and triangles. Hexagons and squares. Our world is full of shapes and lines. Learning their names and appearances is the first step in understanding their properties.

This book is instantly attractive, with primary-coloured backgrounds populated with funny creatures. At a second glance, these animals are made up of different shapes, with plenty of strong examples to point out (the fox, for example, has a triangular nose).

At the centre of each spread is a shape, cut away from the rest of the board so that it can be traced around by little fingers. There is also a disk to chase around each shape so that readers can guide a little insect around the outlines of the shapes. Tactile learning is a brilliant way into early geometry – the more familiar readers are with tracing the shapes, the more confident they will feel when they come to drawing and identifying them.

This book is beautifully designed, balancing fun with early learning. The large format makes the game more fun, and there are plenty of things for a young reader to look at and enjoy.

 

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A to Z Menagerie by Suzy Ultman

Enter the wonderful world of the alphabet with this delightful book of letters and words. Look at the pictures. Touch the cut-out letters, and pull the tabs to see them come to life. Trace their shape with your fingers. Learning to read has never been more exciting.

Essentially this book is two things – it runs through the alphabet, and it introduces first words alphabetically, with illustrations. Its design makes it one of the most delightful A-Z books I have encountered, with doodle-style drawings in pastel colours. It is so beautiful that people will pretend to pick it for their children just so they can enjoy it themselves.

The pull-the-tab feature changes the cut-out letters from white to decorated. The tabs also feature an extra word, related to the design.

The spellings and words are American – as the title suggests if you make it rhyme – so what Brits would call ‘aubergine’ is down as ‘eggplant’, for example. Personally, I think this is fantastic because children today live in a global world where they will encounter different formats of English online on a daily basis. Introducing them to these words early prepares them for this reality.

A fantastic introduction to letters and words.

 

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Can You Find? series by Nancy Bevington. 

The world is full of adventures for little people. The forest, the farm, the beach, and the ocean all represent new and exciting possibilities.

The Can You Find? series introduces vocabulary specific to different places. Throughout the book, there are labeled illustrations, which show is there to be discovered. At the end of each book is a wonderful reminder of everything which has been introduced. A smaller version of every illustration is included on this double-page spread. This gives the reader (especially older board book readers) an opportunity to test their memory and see if they can name all the pictures. 

It is always great to have books that introduce new words and a new understanding of our world. A fantastic and fun series. 

 

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Goodnight, Rainbow Cats by Bàrbara Castro Urio. 

Who is asleep in the big white house? 

One one side of every spread is a house. The cut-through windows show colours – the colours of the cats already indoors and asleep. On the other side of the spread, the next cat comes creeping up to the door. 

There are cats of all different colours. Essentially, this book teaches readers words for colours. At the same time, it is great fun, with a narrator who talks directly to the cats, and a clever cut-through design. 

A simple concept done to perfection. This is a beautiful book and would be top of my list for anyone looking to introduce colours to small people. 

 

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Everybody’s Welcome by Patricia Hegarty. Illustrated by Greg Abbott.  

Everybody’s welcome, no matter who they are. A group of animals meets in the forest. Every one of them has been forced to leave their old home, whether by predators or for environmental reasons. They all band together, united by one principle: everybody is welcome. The little animals search for a space to build a safe home. 

Given the state of the world, and the attitudes which children might pick up about people who are searching for a safe place to live, it is important to teach them other values early on. It is also a lovely message for children to learn before they go to nursery. Learning to share and collaborate is always a good thing. 

A gentle and beautiful story. 

 

Little Explorers – Goodnight Forest and Goodnight Ocean by Becky Davis. Illustrated by Carmen Saldaña.

Whisper goodnight to the forest and the ocean, and learn what they look like during the nighttime. 

Beautiful peep-through pages build up a landscape that is almost 3D. It reminded me of a paper puppet theatre, but an exceptionally beautiful one, with details from later pages visible as you read. Fun facts surround the illustrations, explaining how different creatures behave when the sun goes down. 

A rhyming couplet heads each page so that the book can be read as a bedtime rhyme. 

The combination of design, lullaby, and fact-file is a winner. I love it when books do more than one thing at once, especially with board books because it allows the book to grow with the reader. If you are looking for something attractive and clever, give this series a try. 

 

Thanks to Abrams and Chronicle Books, Catch A Star Books, Little Tiger Press, Nosy Crow and Quarto Kids for my gifted copies of the titles featured in this round-up. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: When Sue Found Sue by Toni Buzzeo and Diana Sudyka

Review: When Sue Found Sue by Toni Buzzeo and Diana Sudyka

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Sue Hendrickson was born to find things. From the moment she was a little girl, she was on the lookout for curious objects to take home and study. The shy, intelligent child grew into an explorer, and in 1990 Sue Hendrickson found a whole T-Rex skeleton in the cliffs of South Dakota. Her team decided that the fossil should be named after Sue. 

A real-life story about a woman who lived her passions.

The first thing I loved about When Sue Found Sue was it didn’t push the inspirational narrative. Recently there have been such a number of books about inspirational lives that the phrase has lost all meaning. When Sue Found Sue begins with a shy, studious kid who found a way to follow her interests as an adult. I prefer these authentic life stories because the whole reason to tell them is to show that great things start with passion and drive. 

The illustrations hint at Sue’s love for the outdoors. Even when she is inside, there are trees and birds visible through the windows, and when she is outdoors she appears to be part of the great sweeping landscapes and underwater worlds. A double spread picture of the fossil brings to live the enormity of what Sue Hendrickson found. 

A note at the back puts the story into context and discusses the ethical questions raised by the fossil’s ‘discovery’. My favourite quote says simply that, at one point, only Sue Hendrickson didn’t believe she owned Sue [the fossil]. Regardless of how other people behaved, Sue  Hendrickson respected the world’s treasures. 

A wonderful introduction to Sue’s story and the kind of book which makes readers want to get up and follow their own passion. 

 

Thanks to Abrams Books for my gifted copy of When Sue Found Sue. Opinions my own. 

Q and A/Author Interview

Dream Christmas Cracker – Author Michelle Harrison

 

91btlu-xnvlI love a trilogy, I love fairytales and folk legends. Michelle Harrison’s trilogy about a girl who can see fairies is one of my all-time favourites. Author of six novels, you can find one of her short stories in Winter Magic. Published in paperback for the first time, it brings some of the finest British children’s authors working today. I love how widely one starting point has been interpreted. Michelle Harrison’s story is linked to her stand-alone novel The Other Alice. 

I am excited to welcome Michelle to my blog, to tell you about her dream Christmas Cracker. 

 

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If you could create a cracker:

 

Would there be a joke inside? What would it be, or what would you have in place?

I’m not a fan of cracker jokes, they’re usually too corny for me. Instead, I’d have something like a mini book quiz, or a silly talking point like ‘Would you rather have reindeer antlers for a month, or a Rudolph red nose for a week?’ My family and I make up a lot of  ‘Would You Rathers’ and it keeps us entertained for hours! Or, if I were at a writers’ Christmas dinner, perhaps a favourite book recommendation, top writing tip or inspirational quote.

 

What sort of hat would you wear?

My first choice would be something simple like cat ears – black ones of course, but that’s not particularly Christmassy, is it? Antlers are always a favourite; reindeer are so beautiful but then there’s also a link to Gwyn ap Nudd, a figure in faerie folklore who is often depicted with horns or antlers. And, let’s face it, no one is going to fight you for that last piece of Christmas pudding if you’re sporting a decent set of

antlers . . .

 

What would you hope to see inside?

miniature_dnf_dictionary_055_ubtI love tiny, whimsical things – especially if they’re handmade. When I took bookbinding classes in Oxford a few years ago, one of the other students made the most beautiful miniature books. I would love to find one of these in a cracker, or perhaps a tiny snow globe or a beautiful Christmas decoration – something to treasure and bring out again each year. Humans have become so wasteful, so things like throwaway pieces of plastic and tat really bother me and crackers are notorious for this. I try to buy the ‘make your own’ cracker kits and put lottery tickets and little handcrafted chocolates inside, there are so many ways to be inventive.

 

Which fictional character would you pull it with?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’d love to pull a cracker with Turpin, a fairy from one of my own books (One Wish) to see her reaction when it went bang!, and also because she’s one of my favourite characters that I’ve created. Having said that, Turpin thieves everything she can get her hands on, and Christmas is really about giving, so I would probably say Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl. It’s such a tragic story and one that’s always haunted me. I would love to give her a wonderful Christmas dinner in a warm house, and inside her cracker would be a key, so she could come and live with me.

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Naughty Or Nice Tag

 

Coal for ‘naughty’, Candy-cane for ‘nice’. Simples? I was tagged by Liam at Bookworm Hole. He’s sent me a list of bookish things, and I have to tell you whether I’ve been naughty or nice. 

 

Received an advanced review copy and not reviewed it – 

bituminous_coalNAUGHTY. The first time I did this, the book touched on a subject I was unhappy to read about. There are good reasons people don’t finish books. I review most books I’m sent. It is difficult to know what to do when we just plain don’t get on with a book. Most bloggers start out as reviewers – people who want to talk about the books they have read with other bookish people. What is not apparent from the outside is the degree to which some people look for us to be promoters. Book reviews can and do affect a book’s sales, and authors are very real people who see negative reviews. When I don’t get on with a book, I feel the conflict between those two identities. Not reviewing is one solution which can suit all parties. 

 

Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley –

candy-cane-classic_thumbnailNICE … I think. My suggested feedback averages around 80%. The trouble is when we get click-happy and are accepted for five at once. I have some to work through at the moment, but also have a large physical TBR pile. It might be worth a bit of time on Netgalley, before the damage is irreversible. 

 

 

candy-cane-classic_thumbnailRated a book on Goodreads, promised a full-review on your blog, then failed to keep your promise – 

NICE … Never promise. Never, ever promise. Failing to keep my Goodreads updated would be a fat lump of coal, but nobody asked me that. I find Goodreads time-consuming for what comes back from it. I believe it used to be about online book groups, but now it seems to be more about sales. Twitter has a nicer balance. 

 

candy-cane-classic_thumbnailFolded down the page of a book, spilled liquid on a book or otherwise blemished, blighted or marred a book –

The adjectives say it all. I should become a librarian. NICE.

 

 

Failed to finish a book –

Well, if they award lumps of coal for that, they deserve to have coal rammed down their throats. **QUESTION VOID**

 

bituminous_coalBought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it –

Intention? I probably intended to read it … but we’ll call that NAUGHTY. Strange the Dreamer and A Place Called Perfect come to mind. Their covers are striking. They were all over my Twitter feed and I *needed* them. Did I make any serious effort towards reading them. Nadda. Other books came along. 

 

bituminous_coalRead when you were meant to be doing something else – 

NAUGHTY. My hair is a constant mess and my handbag is always disorganised. It’s a choice between getting ready or the next chapter. There is no contest.

 

candy-cane-classic_thumbnailBorrowed a book and not returned it –

NICE. I have done this in the past, but it came about because the person in question failed to realise I hadn’t clicked with the book. Keep hold of it, keep hold of it … you know what happens. You can’t say no, you can’t read it. It sifts down the book pile and festers at the bottom.

 

bituminous_coalBroke a book buying ban –

NAUGHTY. I succeeded second time around, and went beyond my four week stipulation. The fact I stocked up ahead possibly helped. 

 

 

Started a review, left it for ages then forgotten what the book was about – 

The elf-jury would be split on this one. There have been times when I could have done a better job if I’d written it within 24 hours, but I’ve never failed to review as a result.

 

candy-cane-classic_thumbnailWrote in a book you were reading – NICE. 2017 is the year I discovered stationery, or more specifically the year I got addicted to Paperchase. There is no need to write in books when you have a draw full of notebooks. I did annotate books as a student. It might be cute to read my Undergrad. copy of Wuthering Heights to see what I wrote in the margins. 

 

Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads –

We spoke about this earlier … and I thought I’d got away with it. NAUGHTY. 

 

The Final Count – 

One question drawn, and one discounted. These aside the final count is:

candy-cane-classic_thumbnail candy-cane-classic_thumbnailcandy-cane-classic_thumbnailcandy-cane-classic_thumbnailcandy-cane-classic_thumbnailbituminous_coalbituminous_coalbituminous_coalbituminous_coal

 

A close call, but the survey says I’m nice enough. Does that mean I get a Book Token in my stocking? It’s a bit late in the season to tag anyone, but if you answer please let me know and I’ll leave a comment.