The Ben and Bella books by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds

Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! I have stumbled upon a series of books that shout from the rooftops ‘look here, children… Books are fun!’ Filled with adventure and colour and imagination, the Ben and Bella books are perfect for inspiring positive play.

I’m new to Ben and Bella but I think I may be a little in love. They are bright and fun and perfect for children who love to play, play, play. I do have to admit to being somewhat swayed by the inclusion of a rhino on the front cover, but what’s a girl to do??

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Meet Ben and Bella and their huge imaginations. They are ready to take you for the ride of your life. Hold on tight it’s going to be an action packed adventure.

In Big Yellow Digger (rhino alert!) Ben and Bella jump on their digger and zoom off with their friends to dig a big hole. Along comes baby Roo who is late home and missing Mummy, so their hole gets a whole lot bigger and they travel through the earth… all the way to Australia! A quick BBQ and some traditional Australian games on the beach and it’s back through the tunnel they go, back home just in time for a cuddle with Mum and Dad.

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I love the way the illustrations show the objects that Ben and Bella use in their play and inspire their readers to use their own imaginations. What child wouldn’t want to grab their own cuddly toys and a cardboard box and, hey presto, have their own adventure? I know I did!

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Big Blue Train sees the daring duo travel through polar regions, jungles and deserts, collecting all their friends on their way to a seaside birthday party.

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I love the equality of these books. both the children drive the train, they both wear bright coloured, gender non-specific clothes and they both have a huge amount of fun. And children are learning about animals and where they come from without even realising it. Brilliant stuff.

Even a bathtub can take you on an adventure as we see in Big Red Bath. As Bella and Ben splash bubbles at each other their friends join them in the tub. One by one the friends fill the tub until they are bobbing about in the flooded bathroom. But hold on, hippo and kangaroo want to join in too. The bath is dangerously full and whoops, off it goes, slipping right out of the bathroom and flying into the air.

Special thumbs up to Dad being in charge of bath time and Mum coming home in time to hear all about the adventures.

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to find brilliant books that are so full of fun and adventure, that are non gendered, educational and promoting imagination and play. I could just kiss them!

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Children will love the fast-paced texts full of rhyme and repetition. The illustrations are bright and full of life and movement, really emphasising the adventures of the story. Really, what’s not to love?

Source: Purchased for Rainbow library

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