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The Painting-In Book

28 Feb


The Painting-In Book by Anna Rumsby (Laurence King Publishing) is a thing of beauty. Part activity book, part painting workshop, each page teaches an easy to follow painting technique and provides a picture to complete. Whether it’s mixing and blending colours, finger painting, splatter painting, or experimenting with texture and movement, each picture will inspire children to experiment and be creative.

My 4 year old Chief Book Tester had a wonderful time mixing colours, experimenting with different painting tools and techniques and creating her own masterpieces.


The book has been thoughtfully designed and produced to make it easy to use. I particularly like the oversized (A3) pages, allowing little hands lots of space to experiment. The pages are made from thick paper which is lovely to paint on and can withstand a lot of water and paintbrush action. They are easy to pull out and only printed on one side so masterpieces can be easily dried and displayed.

Stylish, fun and easy to follow, The Painting-In Book is a wonderful way to introduce children to new painting techniques and to encourage them to explore their creativity.

Ideal for 3-7 year olds, you can get your copy here.

Source – kindly sent for review by Laurence King Publishing.

 

Beautiful Board Books from Nosy Crow

27 Feb

Bright, beautiful, innovative and durable. Nosy Crow have aced it again with their latest board books. Forget about ripped and creased flaps, these editions are designed to be enjoyed by little bookworms over and over again. 

Where’s Mr Lion and its sister book Where’s Mrs Ladybird by Ingela Arrhenius are gorgeous new board books with bright felt flaps. Using felt rather than card makes the flaps easier for little fingers to handle and much more durable.

With a new animal to discover on each page and bold bright illustrations, this is the perfect series for very young children who are beginning to learn about the world. The last page has a mirror behind the felt flap, bringing the book to life for babies. 

You can get your copy here.

The latest addition to the ‘Can You…?’ series, Cheep! Cheep! by Sebastien Braun, has recessed flaps to make it easier for little fingers and ensure sturdiness. 

With lots of animals to discover and noises to make and a surprise double flap on the last spread, this is sure to delight the youngest of book explorers. 

You can get your copy of Cheep! Cheep! here.


For slightly older readers, Littleland: All Year Round by Marion Billet combines the durability of a board book with a spotting book format to meet the increasing curiosity and expanding vocabularies of toddlers. 

Loosely following the months of the year, the book follows the little ones through the seasons as they visit familiar locations such as the farm, nursery and the park. 


With lots to spot, find and match and talking prompts on each spread, the Littleland books encourage young children to engage with the book and supports their learning and development. Also look out for Littleland: Around the World. 


You can get your Littleland copy here.


Flip Flap Dogs by Nikki Dyson is a joy to share with pre-schoolers. Split pages invite you to create your own crazy canine combos. Younger children will love flipping through the book and giggling at their creations, while the funny rhymes will appeal to slightly older children. 


Ring binding and sturdy card pages give the book enough strength to withstand a nursery book corner and the accompanying app gives the book an additional level of fun.
You can get your copy here

Source – kindly sent for review by Nosy Crow

Let’s Find Fred by Steven Lenton – giveaway

23 Feb


I’ve been a fan of Steven Lenton’s work since I first came across his illustrations for the Shifty McGifty books. I love that there’s always so much going on in his illustrations, and the way he uses soft lines to create a pastel texture look that makes his art look so strokeable. It’s a beautiful combination.

I certainly want to stroke the eponymous Fred – but I’ll have to find him first! Fred the panda has decided that having an adventure is much more exciting than bedtime and he’s disappeared over the wall of Garden City Zoo. Stanley the zookeeper is in full chase mode, but Fred is a master of disguise.

As we follow Fred on his adventure, each spread has lots to look at and tons of humour. As well as spotting Fred among all the panda red herrings, and Stanley in hot pursuit, there’s a white butterfly on each page, some wonderful panda-fied references to popular culture, plus a few cameo appearances to discover. The 4 year old I shared this book with had great fun spotting all the ‘nearly-panda’s and laughing at my inability to tell a panda from a ghost.


Let’s Find Fred also boasts a brilliant interactive cover – which we had riotous fun with – and a wonderful pull out party page. Apart from all the giggles we had while sharing this book together, the thing that made me smile the most was Steven’s beautifully diverse characters. Bravo for that, Steven!

You can win your own copy of Let’s Find Fred by following Fred over to Twitter here.

Thanks to Steven and Scholastic for inviting me to take part in this blog tour – and for a fun afternoon of giggles with this book. It’s so perfect for cheeky pre-schoolers that my review copy has been pilfered by my young helper and proudly taken in to her nursery to be shared with all her friends.

Steven Lenton is a highly-acclaimed artist whose bestselling titles include the Shifty McGifty series by Tracey Corderoy and The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Steven has also worked as an animation director in children’s television. Originally from Congleton in Cheshire, Steven now splits his time between Bath and London where he works from his studios with his little dog, Holly.
http://www.2dscrumptious.com @2dscrumptious

Source – kindly sent for review by Scholastic, who invited me to take part in this blog tour.

 

Little People, Big Dreams

25 Jan

Now more than ever we need to empower our girls and young women. We need to show them examples of women who have made a difference, who have stormed their way through glass ceilings. Because these women are so often erased from history, we need to work twice as hard to highlight their achievements. And that is why books like the Little People, Big Dreams series (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) are so important. 


These books feature trailblazing women as children, showing that no matter who you are or where you start in life, you can fulfil your dreams and achieve great things. 


They are brilliantly accessible and inspiring and the perfect way to start armouring the future generation of Nasty Women. I love the way they celebrate difference and show children that your uniqueness is your strength.


Each book includes a fact section and a list of further reading. I particularly like the inclusion of photographs of the women as children, to really show readers where these women came from and how they grew up to be such fantastic, inspirational women. 


These beautiful books really do deserve a place in every school library and classroom. They would work brilliantly with Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury)

You can get your copies here. And keep your eyes open for two new titles coming soon. 

Source – kindly sent for review by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. 

The Book of Beasts – Colour and Discover

6 Dec

The Book of Beasts is part colouring book, part non-fiction book and completely stunning.


Split into four sections- Earth, Wind, Water and Fire – the book covers a diverse range of mythical monsters. ‘From gryphons and dragons to wicked werewolves and snake-haired Gorgons, there are over 90 creatures to discover.’

Angela Rizza’s illustrations are detailed enough to keep the most proficient of artists busy whilst also allowing larger areas for slightly younger children to colour. What makes this book really stand out is the brilliant balance of colouring and fact-finding. Children can colour the creatures then turn the page to read the legends behind them. It has really caught the imagination of my seven year old.


The Book of Beasts is beautifully designed. I love the large size, the paper quality, and the gold on the cover. It is certainly special enough to make a beautiful gift – and would make a great companion to a certain JK Rowling book that is sought after this Christmas. (Yes, there’s a hippogriff).

Not just for kids – I can’t wait to get the gel pens out and get stuck in to this page:


Source – kindly sent for review by the publisher, Buster Books.

Books for a Future

12 Nov


We are all reeling from the American election results and the impact a Trump-led leadership is already having on tolerance, equality and justice. And all that on top of our own Brexit backlash! This shift to a right wing leadership is going to have a huge impact on the most vulnerable in our communities and will leave a lasting legacy for our children to fix. 

So what can we do? We can stand together and stand up to bigotry and hate. Now is the time for solidarity, kindness and inclusion. It’s more important than ever to teach the children in our lives to stand up for what they believe in and to look out for others. My social media has been full of positivity and plans for action. It’s one of the things I love most about social media – when the shit hits, there’s always an uprising of hope. 

So here’s what I’m going to do, and I’d love for you to join me…

*Goes full Whitney* I believe the children are our future. And I believe that books can change the world. So I’m going to bring the two together by gifting an empowering, inclusive book to my local school every month, as well as highlighting the best of the bunch on here. 

Books teach children about the world they live in, and in turn about tolerance, appreciating diversity and supporting others. I want to arm children with these qualities. They are going to need them!

This is something everyone can do to make a difference. We all have children in our lives, whether in our families, in our social groups or in our communities. Sharing empowering books with them could make all the difference. And it doesn’t have to cost money. You could donate your time and talk to these kids about books and the world, or share the book recommendations with parents and teachers you know to help get these books to the kids. 


The first book I’m going to give is Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury). It seems very apt! I love this book more than I can say. It’s a hugely empowering, fun and fact-filled picture book about women who changed the world across very different fields, including Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, and Anne Frank. I want to push this book into the hands of every girl and tell them it will be okay. That they can do it. That we believe in them and that we’ve got their backs. 


Want to join me? Perhaps you could gift a book to your local school, library or community group? Or to a child in your life? Perhaps you could give your time to read with a child at a local school. Have a look at Beanstalk and see if they work with schools in your area. Because reading unlocks the future. 

Sadly this awesome book is out of stock pretty much everywhere at the moment – that’s how good it is! – but more stock is coming and there are tons of fantastically inclusive and inspirational books out there. Perhaps you could gift one of these:

If you are concerned about right wing views on refugees and migration you could gift The Journey. If you fear for the freedom of the press and the impact of a biased media you could give Girl with a White Dog. If you want to empower young women you could give What’s a Girl Gotta Do? If you want to support inclusion try any of The Great Big Book… series. For LGBT awareness you could gift Made By Raffi. Or have a look at Letterbox Library for inspiration. 

I’ll be using #booksforafuture to share the book giving and highlight other awesome world-changing and empowering books that our children deserve in their lives. Come and join me. What books would you add to the list? 

Albie is back! And it’s AWESOME!

7 Oct

9781471144783

The Albie books by Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves hold a special place in my heart. My daughter has grown up with them as firm favourites and even now, as she embraces full length chapter books and reading to herself, she regularly returns to Albie’s adventures. Her face lit up when this one dropped through the letterbox. A sure sign of a winning format!

I love the Albie books because of their celebration of childhood and imagination, and for their brilliantly casual inclusion. I’ve raved before about how Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves do this and how much I love them for doing so. Because it is an important thing. They make these books so much fun for kids but at the same time they think responsibly about how they present Albie’s world to them. That makes them superheroes in my eyes.

This latest adventure sees Albie turning into a superhero in order to tidy his room in time for ice cream. How to Save a Superhero has all the qualities you expect from a superhero adventure – the villain, mild peril, the trap, the rescue and the okay-i’ll-be-good resolution. It is fast-paced, action-filled and super fun. But guess what? There are different shades of skin colour here! And the villain is female. And there’s a girl superhero. And at one point the girl rescues the boy! 


All brilliant things that make me super happy. But, once again, the children enjoying this book won’t actively notice any of those things. Because THIS BOOK IS SO AWESOME and they will be far too busy dressing up as superheroes and desperately scrawling ‘I want a Flying Game Grabber and a Snooze Ray’ onto their wish lists. As it should be.

Bravo, Caryl! Bravo, Ed! High fives all round.

You can grab your copy here.

Source – kindly sent for review by Simon and Schuster.

The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight – and giveaway

5 Aug

I loved The Snatchabook and am a huge fan of Helen and Thomas Docherty’s work. So when I heard about The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight I knew I was in for a treat. And wow, this book is a treat!


‘Leo the mouse isn’t like the other knights. While they like fighting, he’d rather read a book. Leo’s parents are keen to turn him into a proper knight, so they pack him off on a mission to tame a dragon. But Leo knows that books are mightier than swords, and he tames not just the dragon, but a troll and a griffin, too – by reading them stories. With its witty rhyming text and glorious, detailed illustrations, THE KNIGHT WHO WOULDN’T FIGHT is a joyful, magical picture book about the power of stories.’

Thomas Docherty‘s art work is luminous. I love the way he uses light and colour in his illustrations and the way he highlights sections of his pictures. Just beautiful. And Helen Docherty‘s rhyming prose is always spot on and full of warmth and humour.

What I really love about this duo is the way their books are a celebration of childhood and reading for pleasure. The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight and The Snatchabook are particularly good at showing the joy of shared reading. What is not to love about a knight who spreads the love of stories and uses his books to make new friends.

To celebrate the release of The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight, I have three of Helen and Tom Docherty’s books to giveaway. One winner will have The Snatchabook, Abracazebra and The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight dropping through their letterbox. (UK and IRL only). To be in with a chance of winning, just add a comment on this blog post and I will add your name into the hat. For extra entries, feel free to share a link to this competition on social media – just make sure you add another comment on this blog post to let me know you’ve shared.

I will pick one lucky winner on Monday 8th August at 9am. Good luck!

Source- kindly sent for review by Scholastic. Thanks to Scholastic and Faye Rogers for organising this blog tour and providing copies for the giveaway.

For a brilliant analysis of The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight pop over to LibraryMouse.

Check out the upcoming stops on the blog tour:


The Secrets of Billie Bright

3 Aug

Firstly, let’s all take a moment to stare at this cover. It is clearly delicious and worthy of a few moments of celebration.


I love Susie Day’s Pea books and have been looking forward to this one ever since she first mentioned it on Twitter. Although The Secrets of Billie Bright isn’t a book about Pea, it is part of the Secrets series and is set in the same world – and includes many familiar characters and all the familiar joy. 

What I love most about Susie Day’s books is the casual inclusion. She is an expert at creating fictional worlds that truly and positively represent the diverse world kids live in today. And once again, she has aced it! 

‘Confident, sparky 11-year-old Billie loves being part of a busy, noisy, messy family: chirpy cafe-owner Dad and her three big brothers – grown-up Gabriel who’s getting married, disaster-prone Raffy, and sweet sporty Michael. She doesn’t mind being the only girl; just being the littlest. But she’s catching up, starting secondary school, leaving the little girl behind. When Miss Eagle tells her class to write a Hero Project about someone who inspires you, Billie knows exactly who to choose: her lovely mum, who died when she was little. She can’t wait to pull out her Memory Box, and hear all the old family stories. But no one seems to want to help. When Raffy angrily tells her to choose someone else, she knows something’s up. Mum left behind a secret. And when Billie unlocks it, nothing will ever be the same…’

It is so refreshing to read a book that represents the families and family events that I see and experience in real life and I am ever-thankful that Susie’s books exist for my daughter to read when she’s older. What makes me even happier is that the Pea books and the Secrets series reflect this diversity as casually and as positively as they do; that the inclusion is always secondary to the story and they never slip into becoming issue books. They are all about the things that are important to middle grade kids- the growing up and figuring out Big School and balancing friendships and deciding whether kissing is a good thing or not. Susie Day really gets what children of this age group are going through and her books are like growing up manuals. She is awesome at creating characters that you fall in love with; that are creative and intriguing and flawed and wonderful. She writes with such skill and pace and whips you along on a positive and affirming ride. 

My daughter has never been teased or treated any differently for having two mums. She is growing up in such a beautifully diverse school and inclusion is the norm for these kids. And slowly the books they are reading are catching up with their reality. Hurrah for Susie Day and for Billie Bright.  

But don’t take my word for it – read it for yourself. You can get your copy here. 

The Smell of Other People’s Houses

31 Jul


Sometimes a title just calls at you. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (Faber and Faber) is an evocative title that immediately had me reminiscing and stitching together memories of childhood. And that is how this beautiful YA debut felt to read; like stitching together stories and dreams. It tells four intertwining coming-of-age stories, weaving together family history and strong sense of location. 

‘Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else. Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother. Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father. Alyce is staying at home to please her parents. Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers. Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don’t save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves? Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock’s extraordinary, stunning debut is both moving, and deeply authentic. These intertwining stories of love, tragedy, wild luck, and salvation on the edge of America’s Last Frontier introduce a writer of rare and wonderful talent.’

The sense of location soars through this book and centres everything. The descriptions of Alaska’s sounds, scents and sights are vivid and lyrical and the teen voices come to life from the page. The writing sings. Huge themes like teen pregnancy, poverty and domestic abuse are dealt with lightly but thoughtfully. The Smell of Other People’s Houses is heartbreaking yet hopeful. I loved it. 

Evocative, immersive, impressive! A beautiful debut. You can get your copy here