Monday, 2 April 2018

Little Cat Moe, Where Do You Go?

                       "If cats could talk, they wouldn't" (Nan Porter)

Author: Finbarrr O' Sullivan
Illustrator: Eoghan Dunne
Published 2017
Complimentary copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Finbarr O Sullivan, Eoghan Dunne
Anyone who owns a cat will wonder what those little moggies get up to by day. Unlike our canine friends, cats have the freedom to wander about as they please. We humans really are clueless... and 'Little Cat Moe' is a curious nod towards that secret feline world. 

An imaginative young boy wonders about his pet's secret adventures.  A rhyming story, the narrator has many questions...
                            What games do you play
                            In the bright warm sun? 
                            Your smiling face
                            Says you have lots of fun.
Finnbarr O Sullivan, Eoghan Dunne
With  no more than four lines of text facing illustrations, the story has a simple structure and gentle pace.  As an Early Years Specialist, I love this layout for younger children- it allows the mind to focus and easily grasp the story.

The rhyming text welcomes little listeners to join in with the read-aloud and develops memory skills. This story style helps children develop phonological awareness- laying the foundation for early literacy skills. Rhyming stories expose young ears to appropriate pitch, voice inflection, cadence, volume, and rhythm.
In Little Cat Moe, we see the warm, close relationship between a young boy and his pet. The story touches on our unconditional love for pets- no matter where they go by day,  or what they do in  their animal world, its always good to have a cuddle when they come home.

Soft tones within the illustrations perfectly reflect the warm and cosy relationship between child and pet. Illustrated pages are completely filled with colour, radiate texture and have a dreamlike quality. My three year old used the words 'smooth', 'criss-crossy'  'fluffy' and 'starry'  during some of his commentary about the book.

Colouring page at back adds an interactive element and images can be uploaded to Little Cat Moe's website available here

A simple, endearing story , Little Cat Moe is a window into the world of  a playful little cat and the imagination of his young owner.



Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Anthony Browne Collection

Missus B's Picture Book Reviews 

Affiliate Links included, please see disclosure here.

Complimentary pack provided by Walker Books UK in exchange for an honest review. 
Ten book collection from the former Children's Laureate Anthony Browne. Full size, large  paper-backs, packaged in a clear, zipped envelope. 
A fabulous collection for a classroom library or family bookshelf. Ideal as a gift, the stories touch on a range of subjects including bullying, sibling relationships, family chores and anxiety. While these may well be every day topics, delivered through simple text, the images are both surreal and magical. With quirky  and humorous detail, Anthony Browne's art work will tickle the minds of young and old. Peculiar, funny and sometimes plain weird, the collection includes:

Look What I've Got!- the story of Jeremy, an incessant show off, and his peer Sam. Delivering messages about the importance of sharing, being a good person and how we interact with others. Beautifully illustrated with clever detail and quirky  visual surprises.

Through The Magic Mirror:  Toby's mundane afternoon becomes quite extraordinary when he discovers  a magic mirror at home. With dream-like and humorous detail, 'Through the Magic Mirror' shows us how a little boredom can ignite the imagination. 

Willy The Wimp: Fed up being called a wimp, Willy decides to follow a strict fitness regime, gradually becoming physically bigger and more confident.His new image scares off the bullying gang, but underneath it all, Willy's gentle nature is what makes him who he is. Not to my personal liking- an outdated story line with too much emphasis on being physically big and strong.  The illustrations do make me smirk though!

Willy The Champ: This time, our  Willy is not the sporty type but becomes an accidental hero. Beautiful, funny and wacky illustrations, a great book for opening up discussion about individual interests, bullying, cliques & appropriate social behaviour.

Willy And The Cloud:Illustrates how emotions such as  fear , anxiety or sadness  can follow us around like a dark cloud. Suitable for a broad age-range, offering a simple story line, with the potential for complex discussions around emotional well-being. Beautifully illustrated, capturing the enormity of the feelings we can carry at times.

Piggybook: I  enjoy so much about this book- it's difficult to keep it short! Mr. Piggott and his sons  have the life...meals handed to them, their laundry done, a tidy home, all thanks to Mrs. Piggott  (who manages to juggle all this with a full time job)  The tables turn though, when one day, Mrs Piggot abandons the household leaving a note:  'You are pigs.'  Oh dear... harsh! Suddenly when the family have to fend for themselves, they realise how much mum does. Thankfully she returns and with lessons learned, the boys pull together, sharing out the chores. At last, Mrs. Piggot has some me-time and tinkers outside with the car engine. A comical story about gender roles, domestic life and the importance of team work. Fun pig details throughout each page.

Silly Billy: Billy struggles with sleep- he lays in his bed, imagining all sorts of peculiar things. Mum and Dad tell him not to worry, that they will keep him safe, but it takes grandma to offer a practical idea which, at last, leads to worry-free sleep.  An excellent resource for parents or professionals, opening up dialogue about childhood anxiety and introducing readers to the 'Worry Doll'  (explanation about this Guatemalan tradition on rear sleeve.)

The Tunnel: A tale of sibling rivalry, with elements  of family life many children will recognise. Turns into a  fascinating , frightening  and magical adventure . Beautifully illustrated with intricate details and subtle images of fairy tale characters hiding within.

Willy The Dreamer : Paying homage to great art  works, 'Willy The Dreamer' is packed full of elaborate, quirky  & humorous detail. Readers will enjoy exploring the fascinating and beautiful artwork within. Willy's dreams know no bounds and we see him as a film star, sumo wrestler, a painter and explorer. Willy's  dreams can be frightening too, with scenes of a fierce monster and being lost at sea.Simple text, amazing pictures.

Changes: Joseph is noticing some peculiar things happening around him.The  kitchen kettle morphs into a kitten. A nose and mouth appear in the bathroom sink. A crocodile, snake and gorilla appear in the living room. That morning, his father had gone to collect his mother, mentioning that things were going to change...is this what Dad meant?  Quirky and sometimes creepy, the illustrations are both fascinating and frightening at times. It all makes sense when on the final page, we see that  the big change is that Mum & Dad are bringing home a new baby. While the story closes with a typical family scene and no peculiar extras....the ending is somewhat abrupt. Fascinating and odd- the humour, for me, is bordering on creepy. 

Overall, a fabulous collection of books.

Happy Reading,
Missus B  x


Anthony Browne Changes

                                                              

Monday, 7 August 2017

Will You Be My Friend?

Author: Molly Potter,  Illustrator: Sarah Jennings
Featherstone Education/Bloomsbury Publishing 2017
Complimentary copy provided by Bloomsbury Education in exchange for an honest review. 

Excerpt from back: Will You Be My Friend? is full of practical advice on helping children understand how to make friends, what it means to be a true friend and how to cope with broken friendships. Enjoy sharing this book with your child and help them navigate their way through the sometimes confusing world of friendships. 
Friendship is a key ingredient for creating a sense of belonging and feelings of security. However, forming and maintaining friendships is not always easy: children need to engage in pro-social behaviours such as initiating play, co-operating, understanding different view-points, sharing, turn -taking and solving problems. 

'Will You Be My Friend' is a great resource for teachers and parents,offering little readers a chance to reflect on social skills and think about what it takes to be a good friend. As adults we can't make friends for children, but we can help them to understand the key ingredients of friendly behaviour. 'Will You Be My Friend' suggests practical things to do & ways to behave e.g. asking questions to show someone you're interested or making eye contact while apologising. 

A dip-in guide book, it covers 12 main areas: 
What is a friend?
How do I make friends?
What can friends do together?
What to do when a friend upsets you?
What makes us a good friend?
What might make us a not-so-good friend?
How could you show a friends that you care?
What do your friends think of you?
What would your perfect friend be like?
Nice things you could say to a friend
How to help a friend who is upset
Saying sorry to a friend
Each double page spread gives eight examples and pictures of friendly behaviour. For example, if you'd like to show a friend that you care, you could notice new things about them, show concern for how they feel or make a card for their birthday.  With simple language and practical examples, children can easily relate to the content. 

The only example I don't feel comfortable with is the suggestion that, 'A friend is someone who we trust to keep our secrets.' While trust and keeping confidences are indeed a key part of relationships and important social skills, this book appeals to a young age range.As a parent and educator, I tell my three and four year olds that it's important not to have secrets. For slightly older children, in my opinion, this example warrants important discussion about good and bad secrets, or the difference between a surprise and a secret. 

Cute and colourful vignettes each depict a social scene-  allowing the child to identify what's happening and reflect on the emotions of characters.
Ideal for sharing at the start of the school/pre-school year when new friendships are forming, this book is a great resource for the PSHE/SPHE library shelf and can be revisited at any time, to offer gentle reminders about pro-social behaviours & explore ideas for maintaining friendships.For example,if a friend has upset you, you can tell them how you're feeling (using 'I statements'), listen to each other or clearly explain what would help you feel better. 
Importantly, it also describes behaviours which could be not-so friendly, helping children to reflect on things that may 'risk upsetting or annoying another person'  e.g. boasting, interrupting others or teasing. For some children, such explicit examples may be helpful.
The book also includes a guide for parents with information about empathy skills, using 'I messages', and advice about how we as adults can be important role models for children by valuing and working at our own friendships.

I look forward to sharing this book both as a parent and an early childhood professional. 'Will You Be My Friend" is a gem of a book  and a valuable tool to support social learning.


Available at the affiliate links below. 

You may also find the following links helpful:
Parenting Science: 'How to Help Kids Make Friends.
Child Mind Institute: 'Kids Who Need A Little Help To Make Friends- what parents can do'
Extension.Org: 'Young Children Need Friends' 

See also 'How Are You Feeling Today?' from the same author & illustrator
     
Happy Reading, 
Missus B

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Poor Louie

Author  & Illustrator:  Tony Fucile
Walker Books 2017
Complimentary copy provided by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review
                                               
Back of Book:
Louie has the life every Chihuahua dreams of.....walks with Mum and Dad, ice cream on Sundays and snuggles every night. But when Mum's belly grows bigger, things begin to change...

An ever-so-cute chihuahua opens this story with a glum introduction. Sitting in a darkened kitchen he tells the reader that his name is Louie, although mostly he's called 'Poor Louie.' With his sad puppy eyes and a slight droop in those pointy ears, he begins his tale of woe.

Life was great  when it was just him, Mum & Dad- daily walks no matter what the weather, dinner at the table, ice cream treats and snuggles in bed. As a puppy,little Louie was one pampered pooch. 
But then things start to change...Hanging out for tea parties with Mum and friends USED to mean lots of attention for Louie......until those pesky babies started turning up. Pulling his ears, squeezing his tummy...little Louie just couldn't wait to get home. But things get a little odd there too- Mum's been holding her nose at the sight of dog food, there's some strange new household items arriving and there's not much room in bed with Mum's ever growing stomach.
                         
Poor Louie realises that there's going to be two little intruders in his home and decides it's time to escape....Thankfully he doesn't get too far- a neighbour finds him, takes him home and leaves him in the darkened kitchen where he where he awaits his fate.....
With comical and colourful pictures, Poor Louie is a fun read for pet lovers or expectant families. With his cute and expressive face, Louie's character is utterly lovable- he tugs defiantly on his dog lead for walks, laps up ice cream with great gusto and pans out on the family bed with his little tongue hanging out. As the baby characters enter into the story, he becomes even more expressive- looking shocked and stressed mostly!
A big hit with my 3 year old son, 'Poor Louie' arrived in our home at the perfect time. We've rummaged out a number of books in recent weeks, in preparation for the new arrival due this summer and 'Poor Louie' has become a family favourite. It's opened up discussions about growing baby bumps, crawling babies, tired Mommy's, cribs, strollers & all the preparation that goes on in advance of a new baby . We have two small dogs in our home and the book is also a nice reminder of what's appropriate and not appropriate when playing with family pets.
Happy reading,
Missus B x


     

Things To Do With Dad

Author & Illustrator : Sam Zuppardi
Walker Books 2017

Complimentary copy provided by Walker books in exchange for an honest review.
Affiliate links included in this post
 A mostly wordless picture book, 'Things to Do with Dad' is a day in the life of a father and son.  Starting their morning making breakfast together, the little boy broadly grins as Dad flips pancakes,setting the scene for a day of fun together.

But as Dad clears away the plates, both appear glum when the dreaded 'Things To Do' list is spotted on the kitchen fridge. With a list of chores including washing dishes, hoovering and hanging out laundry, it looks like Dad won't have much time for fun today! 
Zuppardi
As he sets about his tasks,the little boy tries to join in....blowing bubbles while Dad washes the dishes, building a tower of blocks as Dad assembles a book shelf.....But soon he realizes that he's going to need a little more creativity to help turn this day around! 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Triangle



Text Mac Barnett, Illustrations Jon Klassen
Walker Books 2017
Complimentary copy provided by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review.
affiliate links included in this post
read my policy here
Back: This book is about Triangle. One day Triangle leaves his house to play a sneaky trick on his friend. Or at least that is Triangle's plan.
Peeking furtively out of his triangular front door,Triangle has a cunning plan. We don't know what it is yet, but he is willing to walk a long way to play a 'sneaky trick' on Square. A shape on a mission, he steals past shapes of various sizes until he arrives in a neighbourhood full of squares.
Hiding outside Square's house, he hisses like a sneaky snake. Poor Square has a fear of snakes. Wide-eyed and panicked,he shouts at the ten million creatures he imagines to be waiting on his door step.
On hearing Square's fearful voice, Triangle cannot keep up his ruse and bursts out with laughter. Realising he's been tricked, angry Square chases Triangle all the way home again. When he's just about to catch this pointy trickster, suddenly Square gets stuck in the triangular shaped door. Oh dear!
Triangle is feeling rather smug about the situation until he realises that his home is now filled with darkness. And guess what? Triangle is afraid of the dark. Lesson learned?

Triangle as a book will stand out on any book shelf.  No glossy colours or busy details here, the stylish front cover simply has a large, charcoal triangle with two wide eyes peering out. It's only when you open the cover and see the inner sleeve that the title of the book is confirmed- yes, of course, it's about a triangle.
With earthy, muted tones set against a cream background, the simplicity of Triangle is intriguing for readers. To match it's quiet illustrations, the story is uncomplicated and steadily paced. While the characters are simply drawn, their wide eyes are expressive. My (almost) 3 year old was able to identify the feelings portrayed- "He looks scared....He looks grumpy" he commented. Perplexed, he also asked "What's sneaky Mommy?" 😏 
Introducing the concepts of shape and size, the pictures offer discussion about small, medium and large. My son particularly enjoyed seeing how the square shape wouldn't fit through the triangular door. 
With lessons about friendship, behaviour and feelings, minimalist pictures and some shifty comedy, 'Triangle' makes for a great read. 

Click here to see a nice 'Triangle' activity sheet from Walker Books
Happy Reading,
Missus B.
                                       

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do!

Written & illustrated by Daisy Hirst
First published by Walker Books 2016, this edition 2017
Free copy provided by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review.
Affiliate links included in this post
Back: Natalie MOSTLY likes having Alphonse around, but when she catches him EATING her FAVOURITE book, well......THAT is NOT OK!

The story of two monster siblings- Natalie is the big sister and Alphonse the baby brother. 'Mostly' Natalie doesn't mind having a little brother- he's good company when it comes to playing on the bunk beds, having story time and making things. Sometimes though, Alphonse draws on Natalie's things and that bugs her....AND she really hates it when he eats her stuff.
One day, things just aren't going right for Natalie- it's peas for lunch, the TV is awful and her Mum compliments her on her doggy drawing, but it's actually a horse. It's the final straw when Natalie discovers Alphonse under her bed, munching on her favourite book. Oh dear. 
She decides to hide behind a chair, drawing an angry tornado, two giant beasts, a swarm of peas and a very small Alphonse. When Alphonse comes to her later &  suggests fixing her book with...um...jam...Natalie gives him the silent treatment, covers her ears & goes for her bath (in a bit of a huff.)

But, while she is winding down with her rubber ducky, outside she hears a bit of a commotion- roaring, screeching and a terrible clatter.Oh no! Natalie feels a sense of panic and wonders if her angry drawing has come to life...is little Alphonse being swept away in a tornado, chased by screeching beasts and drowning in a storm of frozen peas?! 

Turns out, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for all the disturbance and Alphonse, in his efforts to fix Natalie's book, has had a few little mishaps. 

A heartwarming story capturing some of the ups and downs of sibling life. Alphonse and Natalie are two adorably cute monster characters, one a flash of red with fluffy ears, the other a pint-sized blue with pointed ears and sharp teeth (perfect for chewing.)  The illustrations and font have a child-like quality , with just enough text per page to keep the attention of a young child. 

A simple, charming story about childhood relationships, conflict, forgiveness and resolution.

Happy Reading,
Missus B 
                                                          

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Don't Call Me Choochie Pooh!

Text : Sean Taylor, Illustrations : Kate Hindley
First published by Walker Books Ltd 2016, reviewed edition published 2017.

Complimentary copy of book provided by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review.
Affiliate links included in this post.
 Policy available here
Back of Book: 
I might be little, but I'm not one of those silly, frizzly dogs you get.
I want to be  an ordinary, PROPER, puddle-jumping, stick-chasing dog!
And I DON'T want to be called CHOOCHIE POOH!


A hilarious story written from the perspective of a pampered pooch, 'Don't Call Me Choochie Pooh!" will appeal to children, adults & dog-lovers. This little terrier has had ENOUGH mollycoddling from her owner and just wants to be treated like all the other dogs.              
Doing 'proper dog things' like playing IT'S MY STICK! "Where the main rule is you have to growl as if you're really angry, even though you're not."
Lying on her posh puppy bed (with ALL the frills) she tells us she is NOT frizzly, fluffy or daft. The heart-shaped treats her owner gives her are embarrassing and being stuffed into a flowery hand-bag is just mortifying!!

She cringes at being called an "incy wincy cupcake" outside the supermarket and when her owner puckers up for a kiss, well, that just takes the (dog) biscuit!  
My owner called out, off we go OOPSIE BOOPSIE CHOOCHIE POOH!
I wanted to jump into a pit full of crocodiles.
Wonderfully illustrated, the pages are alive with colour and hilarious dog faces. Hindley's attention to detail will satisfy the beady eyed. Illustrated from a little dog's point of view, quirky details include the owners fluffy footwear, dog patterned clothing and dog-bone jewellery. The inner cover includes a collection of puppy portraits with this poor little pooch looking none too pleased in a variety of doggy outfits. 

A satisfying and funny read-aloud, Don't Call Me Choochie Pooh! will bring plenty of smirks and giggles....While 'Choochie' wishes her owner wouldn't baby her so much, by the end of the story, she discovers that there are plenty of other owners guilty of the same pandering....

                       See Sean Taylor read his book here:
                              
                                               

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Perfect Guest

Author & Illustrator: Paula Metcalf
Walker Books 2017
Free copy of book provided by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review.
This post includes affiliate links
See my disclosure here

Back of book:
Walter has a guest!
His teeny-weeny squirrel friend, Pansy.
The thing is....Walter is really VERY neat and tidy.
And Pansy is really VERY accident-prone....


Walter the dog is one house proud hound. He loves his polka-dotty table cloth, his pretty garden, and his sparkly new tea-pot. 

When his squirrel friend Pansy phones to say she's coming to visit, Walter is excited, but soon discovers she’s a bit of a liability!

Oops! There goes the much loved tea-pot!
Pansy is a busy little guest: she bakes lemon-cake, but eats most of it herself, tucking into Walter's chocolates as well. She helps with the sewing & accidentally stitches Walter's trouser legs together. While the cake crumbs get vacuumed up, the tableware goes flying. The precious teapot gets a good scrubbing, but ends up in smithereens.  When Pansy offers to dust the ornaments, Walter decides that her energy would be better spent with watering the garden vegetables. What harm could she do out there?
Pansy has kindly made Walter a lovely new pair of trousers, in a perfect pattern that Walter loves.
But hang on! What's this trouser shaped hole in the bedroom curtains?! Oh dear!

Walter has underestimated his little squirrel friend though! Pandemonium follows Pansy wherever she goes & it’s not long before disaster strikes in the garden too.

While Walter is busy polishing & dusting indoors (in his frilly apron), Pansy has a bit of a dilemma outside. If only Walter looked out his window, he’d see the mayhem in the background!

It all ends well though, with one final blunder, bringing a delightful surprise. And so, Walter realizes that despite her clumsiness, his little Pansy is the most perfect guest after all.

A charming story about friendship, we see that Walter & Pansy have two different personalities. Walter likes to be organized, tidy, is a tad prissy and VERY house proud. He's also patient and forgiving. Pansy is enthusiastic, helpful, energetic, and resourceful. She's also a tad greedy and boy is she clumsy! Put these two together and we have a recipe for chaos, with plenty of giggles along the way.

With soft, warm illustrations, there are some quaint little details- like Walter's circular dial telephone, Pansy's sewing thimble/pin cushion and Walter's feather duster. Well, these are things that my little man certainly wouldn't recognize and nice little details to discuss! 

With it's comical characters, charming illustrations, and heart-warming story, 'The Perfect Guest' makes for a pleasant and funny read
.
                                                       

Sunday, 8 January 2017

#Baby Love : My Toddler Life

Written & illustrated by Corine Dehghanpisheh
Published by My Art to Inspire 2016
Free copy provided by the author & Book Publicity Services in exchange for an honest review.
  ©Missus B's Picture Book Reviews
This post includes affiliate links
See my disclosure here
Back of book: A curious toddler loves to play...especially with his mommy's smartphone! When Mommy finds him using her phone without permission, it's the perfect teaching moment. Mommy reminds her little one that what matters most in life is time together filled with love and attention. Her simple reminder : Put down our phones. 

"Today Mommy and
 I have lots to do,
Like counting, colouring
And painting too...
Reading books,
Playing with toys
Learning new words,
And making noise!"