Book reviews - babies & toddlers Pat-a-Cake

Pat-a-Cake is the new baby, preschool and early years imprint from Hachette Children’s Group.

Book reviews - Babies and toddlers (Little Learners)
Book reviews - Babies and toddlers (Tiger Kids)
Book reviews - Babies and toddlers Pat-a-Cake

Hey Diddle Diddle (Peek and Play Rhymes)

Nursery rhymes are an essential part of childhood, and this series brings a fresh colourful approach, almost party-like in its presentation. The bright lively pictures in this board book will really appeal to young children, and there is plenty of detail to spot and to enjoy discussing together. The spotting game at the end is a great excuse (if you need one!) to go through the pages again until each thing is found. The classic rhyme is easy for parents and carers to recognise and recite, with each line having its own double page. Young children will adore searching the page for flaps to open while singing along as they recognise all the friendly characters in this timeless rhyme. The flaps have a little indent to allow toddlers to open them easily, even first time around, and being made of sturdy card means they will stand up to plenty of enthusiastic use. "Nursery Rhymes are important stepping stones to language development. The rhymes usually tell a story, too, with a beginning, a middle and an end. This teaches children that events happen in sequence, and they begin to follow along. Nursery rhymes are also full of repetition making them easy to remember, and often become some of a child's first sentences."

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Peek and Play Rhymes)

Follow two toddler through arriving home and enjoying their bedtime routine, watched over by the twinkling star in the sky.Bold and colourful, there are plenty of familiar objects on the pages for children to spot and talk about. Each flap conceals another picture plus short text unrelated to the nursery rhyme, but adding another level of interest. With the spotting game at the end, take the opportunity with older children to ask them to tell you about each picture and where it fits in with the rhyme. Peek and Play Rhymes make a lovely series, ideal to introduce children to this essential element of growing up.

Cinderella (My Very First Story Time)

Introduce toddlers to some of our best-loved traditional tales with this sharing series. Poor Cinderella did everything for her lazy family and despite not being invited to the ball at the palace, still worked hard to help her stepsisters look their best. Of course, we all know what happens next... At the start of the book, all the key elements, such as the people and invitation, pumpkin and more, are illustrated and labelled. This is great for spotting throughout the book. Lively and expressive illustrations really enhance the story, and give children plenty to enjoy. As with each book in the series, there is an activity at the end, and in this book, children can choose what they will wear to the ball.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (My Very First Story Time)

This is one of children's favourite tales, and they love the repetition which allows them to join in. They will also start to learn about making comparisons - hard and soft, high and low, with illustrations to show the concepts. I love the illustrations - the faces are so expressive and friendly and there is just enough detail to engage young children without being overly cluttered - plenty of talking points, though. The activities at the end of the book help with learning of comparisons and include a maze.

Jack and the Beanstalk (My Very First Story Time)

When Jack sells the family cow for a handful of magic beans, things take a fantastical turn. This is an exciting story for young children to enjoy as the suspense builds when Jack finds himself trapped in the giant's house. The vividly coloured illustrations capture the story perfectly, and older children will be able to follow the pictures and retell the story in their own words. We are introduced to the characters at the start of the book, and these pictures make an excellent opportunity for a spotting game. At the end of the book, children have to plot their way to help Jack have a fabulous feast.

Little Red Riding Hood (My Very First Story Time)

Fairy tales are an essential part of childhood - as well as being enjoyable, they start to teach children a range of concepts, including telling right from wrong. Little Red Riding Hood is a tale of suspense and trickery with lots of thrilling twists and repetitive phrases, which children always enjoy. Once the story is read, there's a spot the difference and a naming activity. "It's never too early to introduce children to the magic and wonder of fairy tales. Classic characters are brought to life at each turn of the page with spellbinding artwork and lyrical writing. A visual glossary at the beginning introduces new vocabulary and promotes understanding. A lively activity at the end invites discussion and will make even the very youngest children want to return to these story books again and again." A perfect series to introduce fairy tales with plenty of added interest.

First Numbers: Wipe-clean book with pen (I'm Starting School)

Familiarity with numbers and letters will really give your child a head start when it comes to those first days at school. They also need to know that learning is fun, and this series does that exceptionally well. Designed to complement the National Curriculum, this is a gradual introduction to numbers from 1 to 20, with a page each for 1 to 10 and then a two page spread covering 11 - 20. Each page has numbers to trace over, plus a colourful and engaging activity. The book has shiny pages and a wipe-clean pen with its own eraser, allowing the activities to be repeated as often as required. The pen is held in a neat case which remains with the book - a real asset. A lovely way to introduce number recognition in a way children will enjoy.

Times Tables Flash Cards:Essential flash cards for times tables from 1 to 12 (I'm Starting School)

These colour-coded flash cards are designed to complement the National Curriculum, covering times tables from 1 to 12. these flash cards are perfect for learning and practising times tables together. Neatly designed, as you hold the cards up, the answer is concealed beneath your thumb - although this feature does mean the cards cannot be used independently by children. The double sided cards are a good size and the strong shiny card will withstand plenty of handling. Easy to carry around, they are perfect for quick tables revision at home or out and about.

First Phonics Flash Cards: Essential flash cards for all English phonics sounds (I'm Starting School)

Give your child a head start for reading with these enjoyable and colourful First Phonics Flash Cards. They are designed to complement the National Curriculum, and cover all 44 phonemes (sound units) that children will learn in Reception, with one card for each sound. One side of the card shows the sound, and on the reverse is a corresponding picture. Under the picture are sound buttons which show the number of phonemes in the word eg sun has three phonemes. The pack also includes a useful phonics glossary.

Here Come the Dinosaurs: A touch-and-feel board book (Clap Hands)

This interactive series encourages little ones to clap along as they turn the pages to discover the friendly dinosaurs. The simple text encourages them to point, count, match and talk about the dinosaurs playing on every page, and the repetition is perfect for young children as they will soon learn to join in. Every page features a different texture to encourage tactile skills and a big, fold-out surprise at the end that little ones will love.

First Writing: Wipe-clean book with pen (I'm Starting School)

Wipe-clean books are an excellent concept for this age, as so often children start off with quite random markings; whilst that is a key part of learning, we also want them to progress in their use of the book, so being able to start afresh is really good. This book starts with patterns then works through the alphabet, with plenty of opportunity to practise each letter, plus a whole word starting with the letter. Attractive illustrations make the book appealing. The pens that come with this series are excellent - a cut above the norm. Firstly, the packaging means they can clip back into the book after use - a great idea, as I get really frustrated looking for wipe-clean pens! The top snaps open cleanly and fits into the other end of the pen and - best of all - the pens come with an integrated sponge eraser.

First Phonics: Wipe-clean book with pen (I'm Starting School)

Each book in the series has a useful introduction for parents - these are not generic but customised to each book, meaning they are totally relevant. This title will give children a head start as they get to grips with learning to read and write at school, and it is written to complement the National Curriculum. The sounds covered are s, a t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e and u. As well as sounding out the sounds with the help of words and pictures, children can also practise their letter formation. The wipe-clean pages are shiny and colourful and the pen comes off easily. It's a fun book to use.

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First Day: Wipe-clean book with pen (I'm Starting School)

That all-important first day at school is exciting but it can also be daunting. Help your child prepare, and find out what to expect, with this colourful and informative book. It's a well thought-out book that includes carefully selected activities about concepts such as colours, shapes and days of the week; familiarity with these will help children start school with confidence. The book looks at the routines that will take place at school, with plenty of prompts for discussion as well as a range of practical activities for children to do. There is also useful information and support for parents. This is a well designed series that will really help pre-schoolers prepare for school.

123: A little counting board book with a fold-out surprise (Toddler's World) from Pat-a-Cake

This colourful board book introduces toddlers to essential d number skills. The illustrations are great fun; playful and witty, they will appeal to parents and children alike. Each page includes sounds for toddlers to join in with while reading the book, and this adds to the fun element. There's a special fold-out surprise at the end which adds a fun overview of all the learning in the book. Pat-a-Cake, a new series from Hachette, takes you and your child on a magical journey. From sharing the very first baby book to watching your little one read all by themselves.

On the Move: A pull-tab board book to help your baby focus (First Baby Days) from Pat-a-Cake

Sharing books right from birth is really important for a baby's development, and this book with its bold use of black, white and red is a perfect first book. The high-contrast images are really stimulating for little ones. Babies are able to react and respond to simple patterns and contrasting colours just a few weeks after being born. As their eyes develop, they begin to track objects and scan for things to look at. Generously sized tabs pull out in different directions; babies will need to be shown how to use these initially, but as their motor skills develop, they will delight in pulling the tabs out themselves. Babies will react with delight as they track and scan the pictures and patterns that are revealed as you pull the tabs, while the simple text prompts parent interaction.

Here Come the Monkeys: A touch-and-feel board book (Clap Hands)

These are sturdy board books that will withstand plenty of enthusiastic handling - and that is what they are bound to get with the target age group. The corners are gently rounded and the board pages are thick enough to be really durable. Each page features a different friendly monkey - and the monkeys all have names which is a good idea to attract little ones to the book. Throughout the series, the textures are varied and fit appropriately with the pictures - in this book, we have a fuzzy tummy furry ear, a rough foot and a fluffy tail - all in different bright colours. The books are just the right size for little hands - but make the most of the opportunity to share these books with your child so they learn to love books and the shared experience of reading.

Here Come the Kittens: A touch-and-feel board book (Clap Hands)

Four cute kittens - Ginger, Daisy, Boris and Rosie - adorn the pages of this board book, complete with tactile textures to encourage little fingers to explore. Each page asks "What's s/he doing today?" and adults can use this to encourage toddlers to discuss what they can see on the pages. A little red bird introduces the textures and there are plenty more things to spot as well. All the books feature a big fold-out surprise at the end and this, along with the textures to explore and questions to answer, mean the books have plenty to keep young ones engaged.

Here Come the Puppies: A touch-and-feel board book (Clap Hands)

Young ones are encouraged to join in on every page, clapping hands and exploring the textures - rough paws, soft ears, a sparkly collar and a furry tail. There's a surprise fold-out at the end with all the puppies from the book and a whole lot more besides. This gives scope for all sorts of interaction - how many, matching, spotting - and who is favourite? The fold-out is card and it closes up easily when the book is shut, making it durable for little fingers. The whole series is delightful and offers so many opportunities to engage young children.

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