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Animal Rescue – with app giveaway

21 Mar

PatrickGeorge create clever, bright and fun interactive books. I have raved about their books before and now I have something new to shout about. They have produced their first app – Animal Rescue – and I have a promo code to give away so the lucky winner can download the app for free.

Animal Rescue is based on the book of the same name, released in 2015. The book uses PatrickGeorge’s trademark transparent pages to allow you to interact with the book and become an animal rescue hero. Each page shows an animal that needs rescuing and the transparent sheet allows the reader to turn back time and rescue them. Some are a simple placement, like the bear:

While some use clever design to alter the images:

There are no words in the book, or the new app version, allowing the reader to choose the words that are age appropriate. Animal Rescue is a fantastic introduction to animal welfare and a great springboard for discussion.

The Animal Rescue app uses the same transparent sheet concept but animates the whole process. The pictures come to life and the background sounds make the animals’ environments even more realistic. By swiping your finger across the screen you can turn the transparent sheet and rescue the animal, collecting a cheer and an app sticker as you do so. 

The app even has extra animals to rescue, including one that is particularly close to my heart!

PatrickGeorge have a real talent for strong design and equally strong messages. This app is bold, bright, stylish and smooth to use. It’s a great app for classrooms to use as a discussion starter.

To win a promo code to download the app for free, head over to twitter and retweet the competition tweet.

The app is available now through the App Store. You can get your copy of the book here.

Thanks to PatrickGeorge for providing the promo code for this giveaway.

National Non-Fiction November – PatrickGeorge

29 Nov

PatrickGeorge publish very funky and clever non-fiction books.


They have a wonderful way of playing with words and images that delights and enthrals children – and adults. Their books have become firm favourites at The Rainbow Libraries. The children are completely mesmerised by them.

We all know that children learn best when they play and these books beg to be played with. Bright and bold with that brilliant mix of interaction and humour, and just a touch of magic, PatrickGeorge books use transparent pages to transform images. Before their very eyes, trees transform (Colours)…


Birds are freed (Opposites)…


And sharks appear from nowhere (Oh No!)…



My Big Book Of The Five Senses uses a similar magical approach but without the aid of transparent pages. The illustrations work for themselves and encourage children to think about what they see, play around with words and images and what things mean.



It’s delicious to watch children making a bee-line for these books and interacting with them with wide-eyed exploration, poky-tongued concentration, and pointy-fingered laughter. These are books that encourage children to make things happen and to discuss what they see and learn. And that is what books, particularly non-fiction books, should be all about. Bravo, PatrickGeorge!

Source- kindly donated to The Rainbow Library by PatrickGeorge.

Happy Birthday Rainbow Library!!

14 Feb

Woooo! One year old! The Rainbow Library was created a year ago today for International Book Giving Day 2013. And now there are 4 of them!!!

Thank you for all the support and encouragement – and books – along the way. It means a huge amount to me. And most importantly, to the children who use the Rainbow Libraries.

For IBGD this year, Rainbow Library 1 has had a bit of a makeover and lots of new books.

I’m also releasing a secret weapon over there. More about that in a mo’.

The second Rainbow Library is still receiving parcels from you lovely lot, so didn’t need any extra books from me. Thank you everyone! But I’m not leaving Rainbow Library 2 out. For their IBGD celebrations I have finally finished some story sacks which will be going straight to Gem’s library for her children to enjoy when they get back from half term.

Rainbow Library 3 – the community library – has had a stack of new books delivered and I’ll be taking a big folder of colouring and activity sheets down there for half term.

The biggest project has been creating library number 4


In action for just over a week now, it is being used every day and by more and more families. I think it’s going to be a real success.

Thank you to @cjfriess, @chaletfan, @Claravulliamy, @patrickgeorge, @hodderchildrens, and Helen and Thomas Docherty for their generous donations for International Book Giving Day today. They are hugely appreciated and will make lots of children very happy!

What’s next?
I’ve been plotting. I’ve been looking at the existing libraries and figuring out how to improve them.

What I’ve learnt
(This is the bit where I bang on about books. Again.)
Books make a difference.
A massive difference. Children’s lives can genuinely be changed by having access to books. The research is indisputable. Children who have access to books have a better chance in life. It’s that simple.
Children NEED books.

But putting books in a box in a space where children can access them isn’t enough. No matter how beautiful the books are, the kids who really NEED those books need help getting to them. For all sorts of reasons. Their parents or carers. Their confidence. Their interest. Their knowledge. Their ability. Their concentration. Whether they had breakfast or not. Whether they’ve ever held a book before or not.

A library needs a librarian.
Someone who can take the kids by the hand, crouch down at their level and show them the books. Someone who can talk to the parents, take away any fear or resentment. Someone who can encourage. Support. Smile. Laugh.

The Rainbow Library that is flourishing is the library that has Gem at the helm. I want to learn from what she does so well and so naturally and share it out to the other libraries. So for IBGD this year I have been recruiting. And that’s where Lauren comes in. She is one of the superstars at the nursery where the first Rainbow Library is based. I’ve been talking to her about the library and I’m hoping that she can be the bridge between the books and the children/parents. I’ll be working with her to make sure that all the children are accessing the books and that I’m providing the books that the children want and need. Because what is the point of books in a box? Books in the hands and hearts of children is much more important!

So Rainbow Library 1 has Lauren, Rainbow Library 2 has Gem and Rainbow Libraries 3 and 4 are stuck with me. At least until the summer when I will be handing over Rainbow Library 4 to one of the staff at the school. I think it’s important that the libraries become self sufficient. I will always help with new books and resources but I can’t be there at every library every week to make sure the children are getting the most from it. I have learnt that it is only part of my role to get a library up and running. The much more important part is to help the staff there to support children’s access to it.

With that in mind, I want to build a network of Rainbow Librarians who can share ideas and resources with each other. Initially that might just look like me taking Gem and Lauren out to the pub and chatting about books for an evening. But I’m hoping that it will build to an email group and Dropbox account where resources can be stored and shared, where book requests can be managed, questions asked and problems shared.

What you can do
Join in! Celebrate International Book Giving Day. Give a book. Simple as.

It’s half term next week. Go and get a book for a child you know to help keep them entertained during a week that will probably be made entirely of rain and wind.

Maybe you have a stash of books that your children have grown out of, or could spare a few pounds spent on books at a charity shop. I bet there is a school or nursery near you that would chew your arm off for those books. Ask them. Perhaps you could help them start their own Rainbow Library!

Of course, you could always send a book to The Rainbow Libraries. Just give me a shout and I’ll let you know how.

Give a book. It’ll make you smile.

Magic books at the Rainbow Library

16 Oct

Books are magic! Anyone who loves books knows how therapeutic they can be, how they can grab you, open up hidden worlds, teach you about yourself and the person you could become. But today I learned that books can actually Be Magic.

This morning I took a box of new books to one of the Rainbow Library nurseries. I stayed for a play and to read some books to the children. There are a lot of new kids at the nursery and they are all very, very small. Just little dots running around with their teddies and their blankets. I wasn’t sure how they would react to someone they didn’t know coming in to read with them. But I did have a secret in my bag that I thought might help!

When I go in to read at the nursery I like to plonk myself down on the comfy cushions, spread some books out on the floor and let the children come to me if they want to. It means I sometimes just get three or four children and sometimes I get jumped on by twelve of them. But it does give them the chance to explore the books at their own pace and to choose what they want to look at. Today I put out a few of the books from the That’s Not My… series and a couple of Maisy books, hoping they would be simple enough yet interactive enough to attract the attention of the little ones. And sure enough, a few bottoms edged over to me and soon we were all giggling and pretending to be robots.

Then, I released my Secret Supply!


Magic books! Books where the children had to join in, make the magic work, turn the pages, interact with the characters, the storyteller, the books themselves. And oh how they loved it! And oh how we laughed and oooohed and aaaaaahed.

Press Here is a very different book. It is a book that I think every teacher should be given when they complete their training. It should be kept in their cupboard and brought out on rainy days, at wet play, or when the children (or the teacher) need some magic. Because that is exactly what it holds between those deceptively simple covers. Magic!

The idea of the book is to involve the children in its progression. Each page asks them to interact with it. Press here, shake the book, tip it to the left. As the page turns the children can see the effect of their actions. The dots have multiplied, or tipped to the side of the book or changed colour. Such a simple idea, yet pure genius. And really, really good fun! It was like giving them a gift. Their faces lit up, they squealed with delight, they sat with their eyes wide and their mouths wider, they threw themselves backwards giggling.


Their reactions to the magic were contagious. Children turned to watch, came over to join in. It really was magic. It drew in children that hadn’t given the books a second glance before. It isn’t a normal book or a usual reading experience. Yes, we usually end up dancing and giggling and doing crazy actions when we read together at the nursery, but we don’t usually shake the books, or tip them upside down, or all sit in a circle and blow on them. Children were watching. Our reading had become a show. And I hope that they saw that books are fun. That books are interactive and they make you giggle and sit wide-eyed and bounce on your bottom with excitement.

It was interesting to see how the children reacted to the books after Press Here. They were instantly more involved, wanting to interact with the books and touch things on the page and see what happened. It was like they had learned that books work best when you interact with them, that they are more fun when you get involved. (Magic!)

Keep Out! Bears About! was an absolute hit. It is a brilliant concept which involves the children directly in the story – are they sure they want to carry on? Are they brave enough to go through that dark wood, even if there might be bears? Straightaway the children understood the concept and joined in. “This book looks ever so scary. Are you sure you want us to read it?’ begins the book. “Yes!!!!” Cried the children, and we were off. They were huddled around the book and lifting flaps and calling out and having a conversation with the book. These children are two and three year olds, fully engaged in a conversation with a book. Eat that Mr Gove! (Until the bears came and we all had to hide Very Quickly!)


Oh No is also a very interactive book but again it works in a different way. This book has no words past the title Oh No! Each page shows a double page scene which the children can alter by turning a transparent page and moving a section of the design. So a girl buying helium balloons can be moved to float off into the sky, and a gorilla can be released from its cage at the zoo. Can. The control and choice is in the hands of the children. They get to make their own story happen on each page, and then they can undo and repeat their actions. Liberating! Exciting! Fun!

Once they got the hang of how it worked the children sat together with this book and explored it on their own while I read to a small dot with a blanket. They took ownership and control of their own stories, and they loved it! I love this book for being different and for it’s genius design, but mostly for giving the children that experience of making their own stories.



Nahta Noj’s The Lion and the Mouse gave the children a similar experience of control and involvement. This book is so beautiful and bright, the colours and contrasts are stunning enough to draw in any child. But when you combine the artwork with peep holes and a butterfly with lion eyes, you have a winner! The book tells the traditional tale of the lion and the mouse helping each other, but with a Templar-twist. The peep holes and cut pages allow the children to move the story forward as they turn the page, transforming a lion’s mane into berries and giving them the power to rescue the mouse from the lion’s claws and release the lion from the hunter’s net. It’s a lovely concept, giving the children real involvement in the book but without losing any of the story. A beautiful combination.


I hope that the children I read with today learned that books are fun. I hope they saw that books are full of magic and you never know what a book might hold. I hope they learned that you can be actively involved in a story and the story can stay with you. And that sometimes you have to sit on a book so the bears can’t get out..
Big lessons for such little people. But books can do that, because they are magic!

As I left, one little boy piped up “will you bring that magic button book again next time?”

Source: Press Here – kindly donated to The Rainbow Library by Helen Dineen.
Keep Out! Bears About! – kindly sent for review by Hodder Children’s books.
Oh No! – from the Rhino shelves, recommended by Loll at Storyseekersuk.
The Lion and the Mouse – Kindly sent for review by Templar Publishing.