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Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 4)

These are richly illustrated books and they are not just for young readers. Although we have given the ages 2 to 5 as a rough guide, many will appeal to older children. Some are thought-provoking titles from which all ages can gain pleasure. You're never too old for a picture book! Plenty here for all ages to share and enjoy.

The most recent reviews are at the top of this page - so these are generally the most recently published books.

Indigo the Magic Rainbow Pony (Princess Evie's Ponies) by Sarah Kilbride

Princess Evie's ponies aren't like any other ponies - they are magic ponies. This is the sixth in the series, which has proved enormously popular with little girls, who love the sparkly covers and the model pony which comes with every book. This time, Princess Evie and the kitten Sparkles are whisked away on the back of Indigo the Rainbow Pony to the rainbow's end. There they and some friends help to put colour back into a dull garden. Delicately coloured illustrations match the theme of the story beautifully. Collectable!
I love rhyming stories for young children, as they respond so well to the rhythms and they are lovely to d-read aloud. This story, with all the noises the animals make - the giraffe's hooves clicking, the tiger's tail swishing, the elephant's feet ploddings is perfect as a rhyming story. A little boy has a very exciting walk one morning, with a great big surprise at the end - find out who he meets in this colourful and imaginative split page book. Children will love the repitition which will encourage them to join in as you read the story aloud. I think there is a great idea in here for a game too............

Welcome to Alien School by Caryl Hart

Albie really doesn't want to go to school - it's much more fun at home playing space rescues with his toys. Little does he realise, when he straps himself into the car that he's headed for Alien School. He tries hard to fit in but Alien School has a few surprises in store - especially when the paints turn out to be magic and his T-rex comes to life! Full of fun and packed with bold colourful pictures, this action-packed story will really appeal to children and is a great way to extend their imaginations as they put themselves into Alfie's place.

Monstersaurus! By Claire Freedman

Monty loves inventing, but things don't work out quite as he intends. - his walking toaster ran away and his robot went berserk! But  Monty thinks all his problems are over when he found a book with instructions for 'Inventions Very Rare'. Will he dare to try them? Of course the intrepid inventor will! He brings some very weird monsters to life in this zany and entertaining book, with great big colourful pictures to keep children entertained. Very imaginative. The website about the authors www.AliensLoveUnderpants.com is well worth a visit!

Numbers by PatrickGeorge

I love this innovative and unusual series from Patrick George. Each double page spread is separated by an acetate sheet - turning the sheet completely transforms the picture, often in a very amusing fashion. They give endless scope for discussion. Numbers is bold and bright - the eye-catching illustrations will attract young children's attention. Ten fat flies flying around are gradually reduced to one - I love the clever twist whereby you can work out just where each fly went! A lovely book.

Opposites by PatrickGeorge

Opposites is just the right topic for this book from PatrickGeorge. 11 pairs of opposites each with a clear, acetate sheet between them which you flip to see the opposite. An apparently simple concept which works remarkably well. I think my favourite has to be the the bus queue for first and last, closely followed by the parrot in (or out) of his cage.The bold uncluttered illustrations are ideal for young children, who will find hours of entertainment in this book

Gary and Ray by Sarah Adams

All the animals in the jungle have friends but poor Gary the gorilla is very sad and lonely That all changes when one day a tiny sunbird taes pity on him and this unlikely duo end up as best friends. But one day Ray doesn't show up and Gary feels more lonely than ever - until Ray comes back and leads Gary to his very best friend ever. Stunning pictures really evoke the jungle atmosphere and set this book aside from the majority of picture books. A lovely touching story of friendship and hope.

The Shape Song Swingalong by SteveSongs

Barefoot Books do so well at involving children with the story and this brilliantly colourful book is no exception. See what can be created with a line - a circle or square or triangle. The bright pictures show how simple shapes can be transformed into anything you want. Children will love singing along to the catchy tune on the  audio and video CD, and trying to create the shapes with their own bodies. This would make a lovely class activity for young children who will dance along, making shapes as they go. The pictures are full of life and vitality and the book inspires singing, dancing and drawing.

Creepy Crawly Calypso by Tony Langham

There is so much in this book, I wondered how to categorise it.There's counting, colourful pictures, creepy-crawly facts, facts about Caribbean and calypso bands and a catchy song to enjoy too. A range of brightly coloured creatures play some unexpected instruments - the fireflies play trumpets and the butterflies play accordians. I can just imagine a class of infant children acting out this book along with the catchy rhyme. Includes an audio and video CD for use on CD player or computer.

Spot Goes to the Farm by Eric Hill

The classic lift-the-flap book.Spot is so adorable that he has been a huge favourite with generations of small children, who now love to share his adventures with their own children. The storyline is simple, the drawings large and uncluttered, and of course every child loves a lift-the-flap surprise. Join Spot on the farm and see if your child can guess who might be hiding behind the flaps - a lovely way to stimulate discussion. Every child should have some Spot books in their library.

Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants by Giles Andreae and Korky Paul

Oh no!  King Colin has lost his golden pants! THis is a really giggly book for young children, who will revel in the storyline and be amused by the poor King's cold bare bottom! I can just imagine the glee when this is read aloud! He summons young Sir Scallywag, the bravest knight in the land. Can the youngster take on the mighty giant? With his trusted steed Doofus at his side, Sir Scallywag proves that even the least likely hero can be the bravest knight of all. The flowing rhyming text is perfect to read aloud and the colourful and detailed pictures are packed full of detail.Great fun from a talented duo.

Cuddle Bear by Claire Freedman

I couldn't resist going 'Aaaaaah' when I saw the cute creatures on the cover of this book - and I wasn't disappointed when I looked inside. This really is an ideal story to read aloud while you cuddle up with your little one at bedtime. Cuddle Bear is there for everyone who needs a hug and some love. I enjoyed the gentle humour in the illustrations too - Cuddle Bear complete with cycling helmet is a lovely image! A good book to have to hand for those little 'upset' moments.

Super-Duper Dudley by Sue Mongredian

Dudley Dog is just a bit of a show-off really - he can ride his bike without his paws on the handlebars and dive into the pool. But Bonzo has a talent that threatens to outshine Dudley... so Dudley decides to put on a show - but bites off more than he can chew. It's Bonzo to the rescue and the two friends show that there is room for us all to have talents and benefit from working together. A bright and colourful book with a meaningful message that brings lots of fun on the way. 

Hugless Douglas by David Melling

Like Douglas, there are times when we have all felt in need of a hug. Join Douglas, the lovable, huggable bear as he sets off on his search for the perfect bear hug! He finds lots, but none are quite right... until he finds the very best hug of all. You really feel for this lovable character as none of the hugs turn out to be quite what he expects. This is the perfect bedtime read, ideal for sending children off to sleep feeling loved.
 

Port Side Pirates by Oscar Seaworthy

The CD accompanying this book really brings it to life - the story cries out to be sung! It has audio and video animations of the story, which flows along in rollicking fashion.  This  tale of a child jumping on board a pirate ship to sail off on an adventure has tremendous appeal, and the vivid illustrations are the perfect complement to the text. The inter-activity is a great idea and the music and words are included. There is also lots of information about pirates and a diagram of a pirate ship. It's a lovely way to really get children totally involved and engrossed in books and there is so much in this one book.

Walking Through the Jungle by Debbie Harter

Barefoot Books say 'Step Inside a Story' and their picture books really do draw children right into the stories and they are wonderful to encourage reading. The reader is taken on a tour around the habitats of the world, from jungle to ocean, from mountains to rivers and the Arctic. They meet a multitude of animals, depicted in brilliant colour and catchy text and still get home for supper. When the book has been read, all the fun can be had again with the sing-along CD. Plenty to spot and lots of opportunities for discussion of the various habitats.

 How Do You Feel by Anthony Browne

A wonderful way to help children understand the wide range of emotions they feel, written with all Anthony Browne's trademark insight into how young children think and feel. His unmistakeable monkey character expresses emotions from bored to curious, confident to shy, and gives children the opportunity to open up about their own feelings, prompted by the question, ‘How do you feel?’ at the end. Minimal text gives the pictures the opportunity to speak for themselves. Simple but very effective.

If You're Happy and You Know It by Anna McQuinn

I am really impressed with the amount of information and learning opportunities Barefoot Books pack into their picture books. They encourage interactivity and give lots to talk about. In this book, children can spot children from 36 different cultures as they sing their way through the book and enjoy the colourful illustrations. See how many different countries they can identify too. There is also a CD to enjoy and a memory game to play. If that's not enough, learn to say 'hello' in all the children's languages.

 Homer the Library Cat by Reeve Lindbergh

Homer has a home in a quiet house but a loud noise startles him into jumping out of the window. He looks out for somewhere quiet but the post office is too sneezy, the fire station is too busy ... finally, he finds somewhere quiet and his owner is already there - it's the library!  The simple rhyming text conveys the action clearly and the water-colour illustrations have a pleasantly old-fashioned feel. The best is the last page, which finds Homer quietly sleeping amidst the books. A charming, gentle story.

The Sounds Around Town by Maria Carluccio

Follow a baby throughout the day in this busy action-filled book.  Listening to all the sounds of life in the city as you feel as though you are really there yourself. The bright ,colourful and stylish pages are filled with sound words to try out, and the rhyming text uses repetition for easy learning. It's a great way to encourage little one's to be aware of the sounds around them, to encourage observation, and to talk about all the potential sources of sound in the story.

 

Guess How Much I Love You Pop Up Edition by Sam McBratney

This well-loved tale lends itself perfectly to the pop up book concept, as Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare show exactly how much they love each other with pop ups which demonstrate it oh-so-clearly. Cleverly crafted, they are more than just pop ups - there are sliders to pull, wheels to turn, flaps to flip and whole three-dimensional scenes, all in exactly the original illustrations. Studry enough to withstand the enthusiasm with which children will greet it, this is an outstanding version of a heartwarming story about love. 

 Happiness is a Watermelon on Your Head by Daniel Hahn

An intriguing title! Three miserable neighbours decide to find out what makes Miss Jolly so happy. They decide it must be her hats, so they try a range of hilarious objects as hats, but none make them happy. What can the secret be? What is 'pink, sticky and worn on the head?' They find out in the end in this zany, fun-filled story in catchy rhyming text, with intriguing illustrations by Stella Dreis.

Zoe and Beans The Magic Hoop! by Chloe and Mick Inkpen 

Vivid and action-filled, Zoe almost seems to jump off the pages of this latest book about the appealing duo. I find them irresistible! Chloe finds a hoop and manages to get Beans to jump through it - to her surprise, it is a magic hoop. But, oh dear, there is a bit of a problem and poor Beans has to go on a diet! The clever use of different fonts and the way the text swirls around the pictures draws the reader in to the story - read it aloud by all means, but do please share the pictures as well. Imaginative and great fun.

Not On A School Night by Rebecca Patterson

'Not on a school night' - how often have children heard that? A fun-packed story with two naughty little boys and two long-suffering parents. The boys create mayhem - just look how much is going on in the pictures. But finally, we get to Friday night  which is good - and Saturday mroning, which is even better. Every family will identify with this amusing story.

Too  Princessy by Jean Reidy

A book that perfectly captures the time when, however many toys there are, nothing is quite right. 'Too jolly, too jumpy, too diggy, too dumpy...' It seems that all the toys in the toybox come out and get rejected in this funny rhyming tale with few words but clever fonts and illustrations. Bu a little imagination and the perfect toy is finally found when the toybox is empty. Just right for cooped-up kids everywhere, who will enjoy the reflection of their feelings and learn to laugh at themselves.

 Again! by Emily Gravett

Another irresistible story by Emily Gravett – the perfect book for young book-lovers everywhere  Cedric has brushed his teeth and had his bath, so it's time for his favourite story to be read again… and again… and again! But Mum finds it all too tiring. The hilarious consequences of a fire-breathing dragon can be seen in what happens to the book..... Clever and unusual, children will find it hilarious. I love the way Emily manages to tell a story in such an apparently simple way.

Little Nelly's Big Book by Pippa Goodhart

Mice are grey, has big ears and a thin tail - so Nelly must be a mouse, right? Well, that's what Nelly the elephant thinks after she reads a book - but she's even more confused when she meets some mice. Can we believe everything we read? A really funny story that makes us think twice about the things we read, and why books should always have pictures. Andy Rowland's amusing illustrations are an integral part of the story - read it aloud but make sure you share the pictures!

Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the really dreadful spell by Kristina Stephenson

What child can resist a book with a starring character called 'Stinky Socks'? And they won't be disappointed - this is a story to read over and over again. A wicked witch casts a spell and turns everyone to stone, but this story isn't predictable! What power will be mighty enough to break the spell? Why, none other than Sir Charlie Stinkysocks, of course. Can he get there in time and conquer all his foes? The vivid use of language is wonderful and makes this a fabulous story to read aloud. The colourful illustrations and the great big open-out flaps will enchant children. There is an extra challenge - how many references to fairy tales can you and your child spot in the book? Now available with an audio soundtrack narrated by Michael Maloney and including songs from the Salisbury Area Young Musician's Choir.

 There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly illus by Pam Adams

A cunningly constructed 'book with a hole' which works both backwards and forwards. The wiggly holes are great fun and children will enjoy tracing around them and following the text. A fun and engaging version that breathes new life into the old favourite of the lady who swallows lots of animals one by one as a remedy until she goes just too far, with the inevitable result!
"Child’s Play is an independent publisher, specialising in whole child development, focused play, life skills and values. Their programme consists of books, games, toys, and associated materials, aimed at 0-8 year olds, each specially created to cater for a range of different learning styles and provide a variety of approaches to developing children’s understanding. 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Child’s Play and their first book ever published, this classic, well-loved song." 

The Totally Terrifying Three by Haiwyn Oram

Once there was a dragon who was convinced he was TOTALLY TERRIFYING. One look at himself in the mirror and he nearly jumped out of his skin. He thought his neighbours were terrified of him too... So one day, the dragon decided to leave home. But on his journey he met a witch and giant who were also convinced they were TOTALLY TERRIFYING! The terrifying three went along together until they met a toddler who showed them that they were not so scary after all! Fun-filled illustrations by David Melling complement the story marvellously.

The Nutcracker illustrated by Alison Jay

Alison Jay brings her wonderful talent to bear on this stunning edition of The Nutcracker, with her trademark crackle-glazed illustrations. As ever, her attention to detail is wonderful and there is just so much to look at and enjoy. Take time out to really study the pictures and see how they develop through the story. A perfect gift book, ideal for young ballet enthusiasts - especially if they are off to see The Nutcracker for the first time, but equally enjoyable when viewed simply as a picture book.  Join Clara on her fantastic nighttime journey to a world of dancing fairies, beautiful palaces, and wonderful things to eat.

FArTHER by Grahame Baker-Smith 

A father who dreams of flying goes off to war and doesn’t return, so his son decides to make his dream come true. This is a moving and emotional story which shows how love and ambition can combine to make seemingly impossible goals attainable. The author uses photographic collage and illustrations in sombe colours to convey his message and the text and illustrations are effectively interwoven to draw the reader into the story. Atmospheric and emotionally charged, the story is told as much through the pictures as through the text. The book is the winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for 2011 - a tremendous accolade.

 The Diabolical Mr Tiddles by Tom McLaughlin

Mr Tiddles is a cat with character and he is very generous to his new owner, bring him all sorts of lovely presents - but Harry starts to get rather suspicious when his bedroom fills up with all sorts of goodies, so he decides to follow Mr Tiddles one night. He gets a big surprise and they both land up in a very tricky situation. Has Mr Tiddles learnt his lesson? A funny story with bright cheerful illustrations that will appeal to children.

Get Well Friends by Kes Gray

Oh dear - there are a lot of poorly animals! But never mind,  Nurse Nibbles will soon make them feel better! This book introduces a cast of lovely animal characters, many of whom also feature in their very own stories. I suppose we shouldn't laugh, but the poor animals do have some very funny ailments - Hamish the hamster got his whiskers caught in his wheel and Dipak the dalmation came out in spots instead of stripes! A super read-aloud book which will have children in fits of giggles. And the illustrations are just as funny.

 

 Elmer and Super El by David McKee

The best-selling brightest-coloured elephant ever is back with another adventure and someone else who needs his help. Super El arrives on the scene with his super-costume all torn andElmer knows just the person to mend it - but they have to reach Aunt Zelda without the other elephants seeing them. Elmer makes sure all the other animals are kept very busy so they can slip past unnoticed. Vibrant illustrations tell the story in a wonderful way, and there is lots to talk about and share.

Monkey's Friends by Ruth Brown

Monkey is off for a walk. Who will he meet on the way? Young children will enjoy the sense of anticipation as they turn the half-page spreads to reveal  the friends. Softly coloured pictures, packed full of detail will give lots for children to spot and talk about. The fabulous illustrations repay close attention to detail (and you need to look closely to ensure you miss nothing) and the observational skills shown are amazing. A lovely picture book.

 The Big Snuggle Up by Brian Patten and Nicola Bayley

All the animals are looking for somewhere warm and safe to snuggle up on a cold winter's night. By bedt.ime, there are all sorts of animals safely ensconced by the fire - and there;s even a scarecrow. The animals are absolutely delightful and the repetitive text is the perfect way for little ones to learn the names of the animals. The pictures are meticulously observed and provide a great introduction to nature. A perfect bedtime story. 

Sixes and Sevens by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake

Another wonderful story from this inspired pairing. 'On the way to Limber Lea' the boy stops off at every village on the way to collect a weird and wonderful collection of creatures. Luckily, his mother supplied him with a very inventive box of goodies to help him with his assorted passengers. Wonderful flowing text, combined with lively and colourful pictures make this another sure-fire success,

 

Pedro the Penguin Bumps His Head! (Get Well Friends) by Kes Gray and Mary McQuillan

It is a beautiful Polar morning when Pedro the Penguin goes for his early morning swim and decides to do his best dive ever. All of his friends gather beside the diving board to see how wonderful Pedro's dive is going to be.....but it would have been an idea to break the ice first! Before long, Pedro is being carried on a stretcher to see Nurse Nibbles. A lovely story, packed with adorable characters and full of vivid colour to catch little ones' attention.

Zoe the Zebra Hurts Her Ankle (Get Well Friends) by Kes Gray and Mary McQuillan

Zoe the Zebra is a very nervous zebra. While the other zebras peacefully chew grass, Zoe anxiously nibbles her lip. "Watch out for lions," she says, "watch out for cheetahs and hyenas!" Zoe is so busy looking out for animals that might eat her, she doesn't see a trip to Nurse Nibbles coming.


More in this lovely series that will encourage children to care, to share and to talk -  Get Well Friends and Momo Takes a Tumble (Get Well Friends)

 We're Going to a Party by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

Any book by this pair is bound to be wonderful! 'We're going to a party, disguised in fancy dress. But which of us is What or Who? It's up to you to guess!' Wonderful catchy rhymes draw the reader through the story, part of which is told on the pop up surprises, the biggest of which is at the end with a great joke. Wonderful disguises of a plethora of animals are uncovered under every flap. Fun and colourful, young readers will delight in the surprises under every flap.
 

Limelight Larry by Leigh Hodgkinson

Limelight Larry likes nothing better than - you've guessed - being the centre of attention. So what could be better than finding blank book that gives him the opportunity to be its star. But unfortunately, it seems that all his friends have the same idea and Larry gets very upset. Then he realises that, actually, there's not much point being all on his own. A wonderfully witty book, packed with a cast of fascinating characters and with absolutely stunning illustrations that almost leap off the page. THere's an important message about sharing, conveyed to perfection.

Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake by James Mayhew

James Mayhew brought us the fabulous Katie series in which children were drawn into the world of famous paintings. He brings the same skill to the series Ella Bella, which introduces young readers to well-known ballets. As the charming Ella Bella becomes part of the ballet, can she help the swan princess to be reunited with her prince? Will she help to break the wicked sorcerer's spell? Will true love conquer all? Interesting facts at the end add to the interest of this delightful book. I am certain little girls will adore this series which also includes Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella and Ella Bella Ballerina and the Sleeping Beauty

Hide and Seek by Il Sung Na 

A counting book that is so much more than just a counting book! The pictures are full of gentle colours and the backgrounds are beautifully depicted. Lots of animals in the story - elephants, flamingos, gorillas, starlings, giraffes and more  Elephant counts from 1 to 10 while the animals hide - and children have the fun of spotting a chameleon on every page. I love books that include things to find on each page - a great way to engage children with the story.

 The Adventurers by Rachel Elliot

It's cold outside and snow is falling. Inside the fire is warm. The child, the velvet cat, the blue elephant and the rocking horse are warm and sleepy. 'Let's go adventuring!' says the child......This book is a wonderful way to extend children's imaginations, as they travel on an exciting journey around the world. Each one has a part to play in this cleverly interwoven tale, beautifully complemented by the vibrant illustrations by Valeria Docampo.

 Manners In School by Arianna Cardel and Rosa Curto

Good manners are so important, but it is easy to overlook the little things sometimes. This series of books shows, in real-life situations, what could be the consequences of thoughtless or careless behaviour, however unintentional. This title is perfect to share with your child when starting school, or for teachers to use at the start of the school year. A fun and colourful story which serves a really useful purpose. Excellent! Try the rest in the series - Manners: At the ParkManners: On Holidays and Manners: At Parties.

 Lost and Found (Let's Talk) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos

The best way to reassure children about new or frightening experiences is to talk about them and this book gives the ideal opportunity to do just that. Big sister tells her younger sibling just how scary she felt when she was lost. It is told in such a way that children will be reassured and it highlights two key points - make sure children know their parents' mobile phone numbers and arrange a meeting place. The page at the end 'Note to Parents' is extremely useful. I highly recommend this book to pre-empt this scary situation and to reassure children. Other useful titles in this series include Let's Talk: Do you have a Secret?Let's Talk: My Friend has Down's Syndrome

 Rosie Glow Farm by David Salariya

Meet another resident of Rosie Glow Farm - this time, it's Hector the Sheep who takes centre stage. Hector is worried when he hears a buzzing - could this be the end of his beautiful fleece? Meet all the farmyard friends as Hector tries to hide, and then needs consolation. Lots of flaps to lift, a hilarious text and some delightful characters make this a really entertaining read. I look forward to more in  the series which is bound to be a hit with children.

 Lulu Reads to Zeki by Anna McQuinn

Lulu has a new baby brother and she reads him stories when he gets upset. But Lulu still finds plenty of time for her own reading as luckily Zeki sleeps a lot. Lulu is a wonderful advocate for the joy of reading - she absolutely adores books and hopefully will inspire lots of other young children to do the same. We see a loving family and a delightful toddler through the colourful illustrations. Every library and school should have a copy to encourage young readers to love books.

 Fatty Cat by Simon Bruce Montgomery

Fatty Cat is a very greedy cat! He will eat almost anything - but so will the pair of cheeky mice who share his house. He comes up with an idea to get rid of them, but will it work? The cunning miceaccept the idea and work hard to make it work. Eye-catching bright illustrations against white backgrounds will capture children's attention while they enjoy hearing the catcht text read aloud.

Sir Charlie Stinkysocks and the Tale of the Terrible Secret by Kristina Stephenson 

Something terrible is happening on the castle on the hill - and only our intrepid hero Sir Charlie Stinky Socks is brave enough to enter that terrible place. A tale of bravery, wherein our enchanting hero is helped by his band of faithful friends to discover the secret. The pages are beautifully designed, full of detail but never cluttered. There are four big big flaps to fold out - they are quite a surprise! A really delightful hero and an entertaining text mean this, the fourth in the series, will delight Sir Charlie's many fans.

Big Yellow Digger by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds

In their third adventure, Ben and Bella are off to Australia - and naturally, Moose, Zebra, Mole and all the other animals want to come too! Along the way they stop for a barbie, dance with a didgeridoo and meet Roo's mummy, before it's time to head home for tea! Illustrated in bold striking bright colours, the pictures complement the text cleverly. The story is related in the same rhythmic and catchy style as the others and again this is a great story for reading aloud.

Ben and Holly's Noisy Surprise from Ladybird Books

King Thistle is feeling rather old this year, so he would prefer his birthday to pass unnoticed - but his friends have some other ideas! It's a laugh-aloud story and children will really enjoy sharing in the fun as they search out the right button to play the accompanying musical sound buttons. A lovely colourful story and the interactive element is a great way to get children involved -they will be so keen you might find it hard to stop them damaging the pages in their excitement!

What a Noisy Pinky Ponk by Andrew Davenport 

Young children will revel in the opportunity to listen to the familiar noises from one of their favourite programmes  -18 sound clips are here and all of a decent length! As you read along with the story, your child can press the sound button as indicated and so get really involved in the story. The Pinky Ponk goes on a very noisy and rather eventful journey, but eventually lands safely. Brightly coloured pictures bring the story alive. Children will want to read this over and over again!

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle

A wonderfully vibrant book from an incredibly gifted illustrator. A tribute to the imagination, inspired by the work of Franz Marc, who loved to paint animals in unusual colours. The book is a wonderful encouragement to children (and adults!) to let their imaginations run riot and enjoy using colour. Eric Carle's animals are always brilliantly colourful but never more so than in this lovely book. An outwardly simple book, both in the words and in the pictures, it nonetheless conveys a powerful message and opens up all sorts of opportunities for discussion and creativity. 

 Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson

Otto lives inside the pages of a book and is happiest when his book is being read. he has a secret - when his book is not being read, he has wonderful fun exploring the house. But one day, all changes and sadly he sets out to look for a new home. Atmospheric drawings follow him as he trails around looking for a place to live. Happily, he finds a wonderful place, full of books and full of new friends. A heart-warming story that reminds us to keep libraries close to our hearts.

Pea Boy and Other Stories From Iran by Elizabeth Laird

There are seven stories in this unusual collection -.some have familiar elements and others are completely fresh. The stories celebrate the way in which people, animals, the shah, and his viziers interacted in Persia. As well as being a fascinating collection of stories, the book is also an insight into the land, people and culture of an often misunderstood country. The wonderful illustrations by Shirin Adl use the patterns of Persian textiles and rugs to great effect to decorate the pages and really reflect the stories. Stories and pictures combine to create a feast for the senses.

Little Lion by Lesley Beake

'Bought you a dog,' Dad said. But the children weren't fooled - they knew it was a lion but they went along with Dad - even when the lion's roaring kept them awake at night. The boys worry about what people will think when they find out they have a lion as a pet, and what will happen when he escapes. The school bully, Jonno, is suspicious. He is the one to 'find' the lion when he escapes -  and he finds out what it is like to be the weaker one. An unusual story which has you wondering just how things will turn out.

 The Golden Prince by Felix Arthur

A knight who spends his day rescuing damsels in distress, saving his castle and battling an fierce dragon and mighty wizard.......... or a little boy with a huge imagination? You will have to make up your own mind about this, but whichever it is, it is an enchanting story that should encourage all young children to give free rein to their imaginations. A brilliant linking of fantasy and the real world, brought alive by the illustrations of Jenny Capon.

 

 Hats Off by Neil Griffiths

Neil Griffiths is an exceptional storyteller, so I was delighted to be asked to review his two brand-new picture books, published by Red Robin Books.
 Quirky rhyming text introduces the reader to a plethora of hats in a wonderfully imaginative way as each hat is introduced in descriptive langiage and one flows into the next. Neil's imagination seems limitless and this book is a wonderful way to encourage children to explore the variey of things around them. The illustrations are cleverly interwoven with the story and are full of things to enjoy. There's a fascinating pop-up surprise on the last page too!

Don't Invite Dinosaurs to Dinner by Neil Griffiths 

Don't invite dinosaurs to dinner........ or anywhere else for that matter, as they will cause chaos wherever they go. Entertaining rhyming text takes us with the dinosaurs to some very unlikely places - imagine dinosausr dancing... or out in a sailing boat... or even bungee jumping! But you'll be glad to know that dinosaurs can be fun after all and they can be valuable playmates - who would have thought it? Hilarious illustrations, many with fold-out double spreads, reflect the theme of the story and help extend children's imaginations even further. What strange situations can they think up for a dinosaur? The gentle ending makes this perfect for bedtime.

 Going to the Hospital - First Experiences by Sue McMillan

Books which help children get used to the myriad of new experiences they face are very valuable. The First Experiences books from Parragon Books are an excellent example. Each contains a simple story, colourfully illustrated in a way that gives plenty of opportunity for discussion and familiarisation. Add to this more than 50 colourful stickers and over 20 activities in each book, and you have a great resource - and great value too!
Ben is going to hospital for the first time. Share with him as he packs, meets the nurses, makes a new friend and has his operation. Lots of activities help children understand what is going to happen. The pictures explain what to expect and the story is reassuring.

Getting My First Haircut - First Experiences by Sue McMillan

Share this story with your little one before that all-important first visit to the hairdresser. It can be a surprisingly worrying experience for children but they will be reassured by knowing what to expect - what will happen and what they will see. There are practical suggestions at the front (as with all the books in the series) which will help parents. The activities are well designed and are totally relevant to the topic and give lots of opportunities for discussion. 

 Going to the Dentist - First Experiences by Sue McMillan

Jacob is off to the dentist for the very first time.Join him as he cleans his teeth very thoroughly and then goes off to the dentist - where he meets a friend. Detailed pictures and explanatory but simple text show children just what to expect. If it's time for your child's first visit to the dentist, then this is the book for you to share with your child! The stickers are colourful and detailed and the good quality shiny pages means they can be moved and reused

 Moving Day - First Experiences by Sue McMillan

Moving house is a big day in anyone's life and busy parents will welcome a book which will help their child adjust to the change - as well as giving the child something fun to do while Mum and Dad are busy! Sophia is sad to be moving and leaving her friend Michael, but it's exciting seeing her new house and choosing her bedroom. She is helped to settle in when she makes a new friend. This is a reassuring story to share and the varied activities help children to understand and discuss what is happening.

 Fudgy Goes to the Seaside by Sarah MarleyFudgy Bear

Following the success of the previous books, there are two more super books about the adventurous and lovable Fudgy Bear. Illustrated throughout by Sarah's own photographs - and every one including Fudgy - these are a bright and colourful way to introduce young children to the world around them. As you share Fudgy's fun day, your child will have lots of things to spot and plenty of counting practice. Make sure you have a copy of the book before a day at the seaside - share it before you go so you know what to look out for and re-visit gthe book after to share memories.

 Fudgy Meets the Baby Animals by Sarah Marley

Join Fudgy Bear as he meets lots of baby animals - from lambs and piglets to wallabies and lions. Lovely photos illustrate each animal and its young as we follow Fudgy through the story. Plenty to talk about and remind yourselves of each animal and the sound it makes at the end of the book. To get the most enjoyment out of these stories, your child would love his or her very own Fudgy Bear - you can buy one and get lots of special offers on the books at www.fudgybear.com. Imagine the fun children will have as they spot 'their' bear in the books. Enjoy some fun activities with Fudgy Bear.

You Can't Scare a Princess by Gillian Rogerson and Sarah McIntyre

When the pirates take King Cupcake hostage, only one person can rescue him and that's his daughter Princess Spaghetti. Princess Spaghetti may look like your archetypal fairy-tale princess but she is a feisty character who will take on any challenge. The pirates are not quite as brave and bold as they seem when confronted by our heroine. Sarah's bright and colourful illustrations perfectly complement the story and they are packed with intriguing detail. A fun read. There are some enjoyable activities on Sarah's website at http://www.jabberworks.co.uk/princess-pirate.php

Ten Little Apples by Natalia Vasquez 

A fun way to help children learn to count. Starting with 10 apples hanging from a tree, one by one they fall as the wind blows them down. Children can turn the dial to make the apples fall as you read the catchy text - or sing along using the music given on the back cover. Enjoy the illustrations as the apples fall and your child counts the apples as the cheerful squirrels play amongst them. A novel way to learn to count. Ten Little Apples on Child's Play website.

The Day the Googlynipper Escaped by James McKnight

A great new series from TopThat Publishers - McDoogle's Monster Farm. Farmer McDoogle has a very unusual farm - he keeps monsters! Get to know them on the Farm Field Guide at the start of the books How did Diggle manage to lose a Googlynipper - one of the biggest monsters on the farm? Diggle sets off in search of him, along with his trusty dog Noober. Follow the fun as the Googlynipper is the one to take them all back to the farm, in pursuit of his very favourite thing. A hilarious story with fabulously funny illustrations by Mark Chambers.
 Lots more fun and games at http://www.mcdooglesmonsters.com/

Only Noogleboogles Glow in the Dark by James McKnight 

Just look at the titles of these books - bound to appeal to children! And the stories live up to their promise - they are hilarious ands brilliant for reading aloud. Give Nooglebooglers difflebug leaves and they glow in the dark - very useful when there's a power cut! Farmer McDoogle has an unusual way of generating electricity, but on the day of a big party, the machine breaks down. But Diffle has the solution and it's Nooglebooglers to the rescue! Captivating illustrations bring the story alive with great detail and plenty of fun.

When Betsy Came to Babysit by Elizabeth Dale

When the new babysitter makes the mistake of telling Ria and Josh that she knows nothing about babysitting, the naughty pair see the opportunity to have some fun! Enjoy the fun activities they share in the lively illustrations. But Betsy very quickly turns the tables and Josh and Ria find out that perhaps being good is the best fun of all. A fun read, attractively illustrated by Zoe Waring. It's also a reassuring book to share with children being left with a babysitter for the first time.

A New Day at School by Peter Andre/Sarah Fabiny 

Books which introduce children to new experiences are always welcome and popular. 'Peter Andre is a singer-songwriter, TV Presenter & personality and businessman. Out of all these roles, he feels his most rewarding job is being a dad.' This is reflected in the way he handles the story, which is designed to show children that school is a happy and rewarding experience. There are so many new things going on that all children in their first years at school will benefit from sharing this book with their parents, or perhaps at playgroup or nursery school. Peter and Debbie are excited about going back to school, but Mike is anxious about starting pre-school. But all is well as he enjoys the new experiences.

 The Happy Birthday Party by Peter Andre/Sarah Fabiny

Another reassuring story for parents to share with children as they embark on a new experience - this time, a birthday party. Dad, Peter and Mike are organising a surprise party for Debbie. Share in the preparations and find out if they manage to keep it a secret! The lovely thing about the story is the way the family make everything themselves - from the cards and decorations to the birthday cake. We can all learn from this! Full of colourful pictures, this really is a happy book to share.

 Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall

The eye is immediately drawn to this book because of its unusual format - a long long book. Young children are introduced to colours as gradually the busy street scenes fill up - first the red bus, then the red car, then the yellow car......... and finally another red bus. As this happens, the reader is taken through a series of busy street scenes with plenty happening and lots of opportunity for discussion - just look at all the different things the people do through the book. Patterns, textures and shapes are used to good purpose - look at the changing clouds for instance. A fun book but one which offers plenty of learning opportunities.

Princess Evie's Ponies: Shimmer the Magic Ice Pony by Sarah Kilbride and Sophie Tilley 

A perfect series for little girls - ponies, magic and princesses mean that dreams are all brought together in these enchanting stories. Lots of pink, a glittery cover and best of all a press-out pony that will have girls clamouring for the whole series so they can collect them. I think they would make a lovely mobile! Princess Evie's ponies are magic and she has all sorts of wonderful adventures. In an ice world, Evie is invited to the Ice Queen's party - but she needs a present to take. Will she find one?

The Tangle Fairy by Seema Barker 

Has your child ever wondered (or maybe you have!) just how it is that hair that was lovely and smooth the night before has turned into a mass of frizzy knots by the morning? The Tangle Fairy has the answer! You and your child will have great fun as you share with Jaya as she investigates the Tangle Fairy's stories, through the rhyming text and humorous tale. The illustrations by Kirsten Richards are enchanting and vibrant.

The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle

Rollicking fun with the family of pirates who have settled for a while on dry land in Dull-on-Sea , which is - you've guessed it - a quiet seaside town where nothing happens. At least, it was until the Jolley-Roger family took up residence. Tilda decides to make friends with this unusual family who set the town into an uproar - meets the NIMBYs of Dull-on-Sea! It's a hilarious rhyming tale with a lovely twist in the end - and a wonderful invitation for Tilda. There's good in everyone! The illustrations are packed with detail and full of fun - a story to entertain adults as they read it to their children. There's a pirate poster on the back of the jacket too.

 The Scariest Thing of All by Debi Gliori

Poor Pip, the littlest in the rabbit family, is scared of almost everything. The list was ENORMOUS and Pip's imagination knows no bounds in imaganing all sorts of scaredy things. One day he runs away from a really scaredy thing and finds the scariest thing EVER. But when he realises what it is, he isn't scared any longer. A reassuring story to share with children, who will love the delightful Pip and learn that things are not as scary as they first seem. The animals and the woods are beautiully depitced in the delightful illustrations.

Bumble-Ardy by Maurice Sendak

Poor Bumble-Ardy has reached the grand old age of nine, having never had a birthday party -  so he decides to throw one for himself. As in his well-known 'Where the Wild Things Are', Sendak pushes against the boundaries in this eagerly awaited book. Bumble-Ardy is an orphan - his parents ate themselves to deatrh - and he is cared for by his aunt. The story clearly portrays their love for one another. He invites his friends to a party and it all gets out of hand very quickly - but all ends in forgiveness.

 Dr Seuss - The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories

The seven stories in this book are a real find, First published in magazines in the 1950s, these have never previously appeared in book form. They contain the vibrant illustrations and fun rhyming stories so typical of this much-loved writer. In 'The Bippolo Seed,'  a scheming cat leads an innocent duck to make a bad decision; 'The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga,' tells how a single eyelash saves the rabbit from the bear... and the rest of the stories are just as unusual and just as much fun. An exceptional discovery!.
 

 Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is a terrible worrier and goes to extreme lengths to avoid facing his fears - such as planning a birthday party for just one person in this latest story. But what will he do when people start to arrive? Can he cancel or will he be brave enoughto face it? These are brilliant stories to share with children who have fears as they learn that things are often not as bad as they imagined. The illustrations are really funny and very unusual - packed with fascinating details. These books are a great opportunity for parents to talk to their children about fears, real and imaginary, and how to overcome them.

 Dodo Doo Doo by Kaye Umansky

A title bound to appeal to children's sense of humour! Fred is looking for a Dodo, and when he meets the lady he is just setting out. She, of course, doesn't believe him, finds herself proved wrong as they discover first the Dodo’s doo-doo and then the Dodo herself. It's a really funny story but sadly, the story has a really sad ending and children may find this upsetting. It is related in humorous verse and Korky Paul's illustrations are colourful and packed with detail. 

Little Penguin Learns to Swim by Eilidh Rose 

Another enchanting picture book from Top That Publishing - all their picture books are just perfect for reading aloud and for new and emerging readers. The font is clear and accessible - just right to give children confidence when reading. Adults won't tire of them too quickly as they are such fun. Little Penguin is going swimming for the very first time - join the enchanting little creature as he ventures into the water. He's not the only one learning a new skill and he gains confidence from his friends. A lovely story and a super way to encourage children to tackle something new.

Time for Dinner by June Moxley

It's dinner time for the animals and the insects in this unique take on the food chain. Just who is going to get eaten? Is it the fly... or the spider... or the bird...or the cat? Thecomical text is great fun, with the cleverly worded 'invitations' and adults will love reading it aloud.The book is full of enchanting characters - you don't want any of them to get eaten! The illustrations are lovely, with their soft colours and expressive creatures. A fun read.

 The Silent Owl by Clemency Pearce

The unusual style of the illustrations attracted me to this book right from the start - they really make the book stand out. The story of the owl who never spoke is told in catchy and humorous rhythmic verse which makes it perfect to read aloud. The forest animals worry about owl but he has his own way of making plenty of noise! A delightful story.

Fancy Dress Farmyard by Nick Sharratt 

Fun in the farmyard as all the animals are in fancy dress ready for a party. Can you guess who is behind the disguise? Lift the flaps and I guarantee some surprises - including a surprise spread at the end! Children will love to spot the animals as you read along with the humorous rhyming text. Bright colours, sturdy thin card pages and plenty to spot and talk about - all great fun/

 If the Wind Changes by Steve Smallman and Daniel Howarth

Another story for sharing from QED Publishing, in their Storytime series. How often we hear parents say 'If the wind changes............' and here is a charming story about that very thing. Alfie always looks grumpy but one day, his face freezes into a smile. Oh dear - will he ever look grumpy again? Find out whether he wants to through the story and in the action-packed pictures which really bring the story alive. They are so full of action they almost seem to move! Helpful tips ensure that parents and teachers get the most out of sharing this story, whether with one child or a whole class.

 Little Lamb Lost by David Bedford and Karen Sapp

Poor little lamb - he loves the dafety of being with mum, but one day he skipped and he hopped just a bit too far - and found himself in deep water without mum. Where is she? All his farmyard friends rally round and the little lam is reunited with mum. An endearing character, with lots of lovely friendfs, this book will really appeal to young children. An added bonus is the inclusionof notes to parents and teachers, ensuring that you can get the most out of this charming story as you share it over and over again with your child, finding something new to do each time.

 

My First...School Trip by Eve Marleau

New experiences can always be worrying for young children, so books which show them what they can expect are always most welcome. This, and My First School Day, are part of a series from QED Publishing covering some of the common experiences children face. Children share with Emily as she goes on her first school trip - to the park where she sees lots of exciting new things. Children will be reassured by the fun Emily has and will welcome the opportunities for discussion presented by the book.

My First ... School Day by Eve Marleau 

The first day at school can be worrying - for parents as well as children! Share the excitement of Kai's first day with your child and you will both be reassured. Children will learn what to expect through the colourful illustrations and easy to read text. The glossary of key words at the back gives additional opportunities for discussion.

Grub's Pups by Abi Burlingham

This is the third story in the Ruby and Grub series and it sees Grub becoming a father - but not taking his responsibilities very seriously! Poor Tilly is very tired and doesn't want to play - but then five enchanting puppies put in an appearance. Children will love to spot the puppies who can be found throughout the book, getting up to all sorts of fun. This is a warm, fun and gently humorous story - a lovely one for children whose dog is expecting puppies.

quiet book

My Quiet Book from Early Learner

This cloth book is an exceptional way for young children to develop all sorts of manipulative skills. Those essential dressing skills are covered - with a zip, a mitten and a lace to tie. Buttons would have been a useful inclusion! There is matching, seasons, days of the week, counting, feelings, time and more.I especially liked the 5 little faces for feelings.  Each theme has an associated activity - and no problem with losing the bits as everything is attached with child-safe cotton. Children will find this fascinating. The book is made to be child-proof but just check occasionally that everything is secure. It is a beautiful and well thought-out product which is perfect for use when you want something quiet to keep children amused. At £37.99, this is quite an investment but it would make a super gift (and a family keepsake) and the skills learnt will be invaluable. Buy this and lots of other innovative products from the Early Learner website.

 quiet book

 My Quiet Book from Minty Hen

The ideal companion for whenever you want your little one to have something quiet yet stimulating to do. The carry handle and zip make them ideal for travelling around, although parents may worry about losing the small parts, which would be sad. Practise shapes, telling the time, doing up buttons and buckles, matching colours, tying laces and doing up zips, plus textures to feel. These books are excellent for learning hand-eye co-ordination and manipulative skills - especially those vital dressing skills - in a really fun and appealing way. A lovingly created book which is one to be treasured. The book costs £20 from www.mintyhen.co.uk. Take a look at their website for lots more innovative products.

 Lullaby book

 Lullaby and Goodnight from Minty Hen

This is the perfect relaxing bedtime compantion for children of 9 months and upwards. Unzip the book and share Teddy's bedtime routine as he drinks his milk, brushes his teeth, undresses, has a bath, puts on his pyjamas, has a bedtime story, says his prayers and is tucked into bed with a goodnight kiss. Your child can take Teddy through each activity in this interactive book, and listen to the lullaby as they press Teddy's tummy. Beautifully crafted, this book would make an ideal gift which will be loved by children and treasured in a family. The book costs £20 from www.mintyhen.co.uk.

Lettice the Ice Princess by Mandy Stanley

'Dreams come true with Lettice Rabbit.' A lovely 'girly' story with a traditional feel.  Lettice is thrilled when she is asked to take place in a winter festival - but will it all go wrong when the Princess' tiara is lost? Letticecomes to the rescue and gets to dance before the princess, before returning to the security and love of her own family. Lettice is a very engaging character and it is easy for children to identify with her as she makes decisions such as what to wear for the festival. Little girls will love the glittery cover too!

Rapunzel (Best Loved Classics) retold by Sarah Gibb

Beautiful Rapunzel is imprisoned in a tall, tall tower and sees nobody excepy forest creatures and the witch who has imprisoned her - until one day, a handsome prince rides along........... Slightly unusually for a retelling, this picture book is larger than A4 format. This gives plenty of scope for the wonderful illustrations which are such a feature of this book. A proper fairy tale for all romantic young girls, complemented perfectly by the delicacy of the pictures. A beautifully produced book - one to treasure.

Richard Scarry's Great Big Mystery Book 

A lovely new edition of this classic picture book, with a retro cover that perfectly captures the busyness of Richard Scarry's books. The Great Big Mystery book brings together two stories starring Sam Cat and Dudley Pig - The Supermarket Mystery and The Great Pie Robbery. All the original artwork is here, making it a book to treasure for enthusiasts old and new. As ever, each page is absolutely packed with detail, giving lots of opportunities for child and adult to share and talk whilst enjoying the adventure story.

 Ready, Steady, Ghost! by Elizabeth Baguley and Marion Lindsay

It's hard to be a successful ghost when you are scared of creepy forests and spooky castles. Bertie looks for a nice little house to haunt instead, but wait those aren't little windows, they are eyes belonging to a big, gobble-me wolf - and he's just the first of a serious of scary encounters. But this story has a lovely warm ending, shown in the clever use of colour. I like the fact that the illustrations start off predominantly in shades of blue, with splashes of bright orange and then are shades of orange - this is really effective and sets the book apart. A perfect bedtime read with a delightful hero who shows we can overcome our fears and fit in.

Winnie Under the Sea by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul 

Another lovely adventure from the witch who never fails to please. Winnie and her cat Wilbur are on holiday and Winnie wants to explore the oceans, so she transforms Wilbur into a cat-fish so he can explore with her and she decides it will be fun to be an octopus. But things never quite work out for Winnie and there's trouble ahead when she loses her wand. The illustrations sing out with detail - there is just so much to look out for! And Winnie's attire is a must-see! Another winning story.

The Monstrous Book of Monsters by Libby Hamilton

This is a book which will appeal to children with a taste for the somewhat revolting and gruesome. The cover sets the scene with its spooky eye and big chunk chewed out of it! Full of all you need to know about avoiding monsters, this book is packed with snippets of information, flaps to lift, gruesome things to look out for and more. Lots of clever paper engineering means there are surprises on every page. A book children will keep returning to because they will find something new every time. Don't miss the lift the flap smelly vision - a book to appeal to all the senses!

Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy

Grannies come in all shapes and sizes but this little girl has a very unusual granny - but should she try to change her? You'd think that a granny whose pets are cats and frogs and bats; who makes things disappear and who travels on a broomstick would be great fun, but this one is embarrassing!  The little girl decides to make her more normal but in the end decides her old granny was much more fun. The catchy rhymes make the story flow and convey the message that different is good - there's room for us all and we should love people for what they are. To me, the illustrations have a charmingly old-fashioned feel, which echo the sentiment of the book excellently.

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