Monday 21 December 2015

Crocopotamus:Mix and Match the Wild Animals!

This post includes affiliate links. See my disclosure here.

Words & Pictures: Mary Murphy
Walker Books/ Baby Walker 2015
Reviewed copy: my own.

Back of book:
A mix and match book to share with your baby
Create different animals for imaginative play
High contrast illustrations for visual stimulation
The start of a lifelong love of books

See below for more about this book....

Wednesday 9 December 2015

How Are You Feeling Today?

Written by Molly Potter
Illustrated by Sarah Jennings
Featherstone Education
An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing 2014

Reviewed copy: Hardback, my own.

Back of Book:
Children have strong feelings, and they can't always handle them very well. Every parent knows what it's like to cope with an angry, hurt or wildly over-excited child. Perfect for sharing,How are you feeling today?is packed with fun, imaginative ways to help children understand and cope with emotions. This delightful book gives you the tools you and your child need to deal with those feelings-without it all ending in tears!

Ideal for starting conversations between you and your child about emotions.
Helps your child to recognise and deal with a range of emotions.
Accessible to children as young as six.
Includes a guide for parents and carers explaining about emotional literacy.
Acknowledges positive emotions as well as negative ones.

See below for more about this book....

Saturday 28 November 2015

Love Always Everywhere

This post includes affiliate links. See my disclosure here

Illustrations by Sarah Massini

Text by Nosy Crow
Published by Nosy Crow 2015

Back of Book:
From a kiss or a cuddle to sharing a giggle, there are lots of ways to show someone you care.
But whoever you love, and however you show it, don't forget that love is always everywhere. 

Reviewed copy: from my local library

I was delighted to come upon this book at the library and instantly recognised Sarah Massini's adorable little toddlers. A bunch of similar characters are in the pages of the lovelyBooks Always Everywhere by the same illustrator.

More from Missus B....

Sunday 22 November 2015

When Something Terrible Happens : Children Can Learn To Cope With Grief

This post includes affiliate links. See my disclosure here

Written by Marge Heegard to be illustrated by children
Woodlands Press 1991

Back of Book:
Terrible things happen to children. Traumatic events in the lives of their families, their friends or in the world leave children feeling confused, insecure and frightened. Some things happen in nature like floods and earthquakes. People, also cause violence and trauma.This book is designed to help children understand and cope with overwhelming feelings from loss and change. Creating art provides a method for expressing feelings children are unable to understand or express verbally. Drawing a fearful event puts the drawer in charge and presents an opportunity to overcome feelings of helplessness and fear.

More from Missus B....

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Betty goes bananas

Written & illustrated by Steve Antony
Oxford University Press 2014

Back of book: 
Who would have thought a banana could cause such a BIG drama?

Reviewed edition: library copy
Plenty of bananas on the end pages for little ones who like to count
Toddlers- they are such wonderful little human beings....but when they flip the lid....well, that can be just plain scary.
Clenched fists, stiff limbs, kicking feet, gritted teeth....
Anyone who has observed these spectacular explosions of anger, will appreciate this book.

Triggers for these unpredictable outbursts can be bizarre, random or mundane. In Betty's case, the offending item is a banana.

The story has a simple beginning.....  
Betty was hungry.
She saw a banana.
She wanted to eat it.
So, we see the lovely Betty smiling as she makes her way towards the little yellow banana.
Seems like an everyday event in the life of a gorilla.

But, Betty's banana won't open. Oh dear.

At first, she's up for the challenge. She tries opening the banana with her hands, then her teeth...
and even her feet...
Unfortunately none of this works and calamity ensues, with the lovely Betty suddenly crying, kicking and screaming. To emphasise her anger, the background colour changes from mellow yellow to angry red. With playful large text we see that this little gorilla can make lots of noise.
Betty can turn on and off  the drama like the flip of a switch.
When she's calm, the friendly Mr. Toucan helps her by  peeling the banana but this causes another outburst. SHE wanted to peel the banana HERSELF (life is a cluster of contradictions when you're  a two year old gorilla.) Then, as soon as she has calmed herself down again, she is faced with the horror of her banana suddenly breaking in two....

The roller coaster of toddler life is comically captured in bold, bright and expressive illustrations. While there are few words in this book, there is lots of drama. An amusing read for toddlers and parents, Betty gives us a perfect example of what not to do when things aren't going your way. This book is a Missus B favourite.

Happy Reading,
Missus B

Download a colourful activity booklet full of Betty fun here : Random House Betty Bananas Activity Booklet

For some entertaining real-life conniptions See 36 hilarious tantrum photos posted by Sunny Skyz & originally from

You may also be interested in the collection of books I have compiled on my 'Feelings/Emotions' Page

Book available at these affiliate links:

Sunday 8 November 2015

How Many Legs?

Written by Kes Gray

Illustrated by Jim Field
Hodder Children's Books 2015
Reviewed edition: Library copy

Back of Book:
How many legs would there be if a dog walked in with a chimpanzee? Or a squid rode in on a buffalo?
A zany, laugh-out-loud counting book from the masterful award-winning minds behind Oi Frog!

Missus B says:
I love Oi Frog! and was delighted to find this book from the same duo- Kes Gray & Jim Field.
How Many Legs? is a rhyming, counting, treat of a book.

Bursting with colour, animal characters and comical detail, this book certainly does make for a laugh-out-loud read. Since borrowing it from my library, I've read it several times to my little listeners and it always goes down a treat. I've maxed my 'renewal' allowance and am now 'incurring late fees' -oh dear. 

In How Many Legs? a little boy character with an impending party asks...

How many legs would there be
If in this room there was only me?

How many legs would there be
If a polar bear came to tea?

How many legs would it make
If a duck arrived with a lemon cake?

The questions continue, accompanied by comically illustrated animal characters who arrive for the party. The illustrations are wonderfully funny, mischievous and quirky.
Duck arrives with her 1950s glasses, hair rollers and, importantly, a lovely lemon cake.
The animals just keep on coming.....
Hippo arrives dressed in a tutu and wearing fairy wings (is that pink nail polish on her toes?!)
A seagull swoops in to steal some cake and a sausage or two.
There are animals with legs a-plenty - like the octopus and the centipede  (yes, there  are 100 squiggly legs there for your counting) and creatures with no legs at all-like the slug, snail and maggot -dressed in party hats of course.

The party is certainly wild and wacky, with plenty of mayhem happening on each the entrance of buffalo below...
Beaming Buffalo has arrived- hang on to your pizza!
There is SO much to love and appreciate within Jim Field's art work. His sense of humour bounces from the pages, with each of his animals having  quirky characteristics....
The basset hound sniffs out the donuts and plonks his sniffy-wet nose on the party table in typical doggy fashion (while dressed in Y-Fronts and a Super Hero cape.) 
The chimpanzee is well wound-up at the party, marching through the pages with his cymbals (glad this book doesn't have sound- it looks like one noisy party.)
Even the centipede looks positively smug  with his vintage handlebar moustache and monocle- well, he is a superior creature given that he has ONE HUNDRED LEGS. 
bespectacled flea arrives clinging on to a chunky bumble bee.
All insect legs with neatly tied shoes there for your counting.

'How Many Legs' is funny, quirky, charming and chaotic. What's more, it develops rhyming and counting skills.....a perfect read for circle-time or story time at home. 

A bit about the benefits of rhyming....
I love rhyming books,they help develop phonemic awareness in a playful and engaging way. Phonemic awareness is when children have skills in hearing, identifying and manipulating the sounds they hear in language. Through the book's rhythm and your expression as you read, children learn to notice more about the sounds within words and how language can be manipulated. Predicting, guessing, memorizing and coming up with their own playful sounds, makes for a rich and engaging story-time experience. In short, books like this are an effortless and fun way of laying the foundations for future reading.

Numeracy & Counting Skills
How Many Legs?certainly introduces the concept of counting, but not in the traditional, predictable, format. The rhythm of the text swoops you through the story, but if you do decide to stop and count- you could get confused.
If you lose count don't feel bad,
A sum this big could send you mad.
No need to tie your brain in knots,
Let's just say the answer's...
The last page in the book gives you the answer though. The sum leg total comes to 174 (yes, you will probably find yourself going back through the book to clarify same- so, set aside plenty of time!)

'How Many Legs?' is a Missus B favourite and a great circle time read.

Happy reading,

Missus B. 

Book available at these affiliate links:

Sunday 11 October 2015

Good Choices

This post includes affiliate links. See my disclosure here
'Teaching young people aged 8 to 11 to make positive decisions about their own lives'

Written by Tina Rae (a Senior Educational Psychologist based in Hillington)
Illustrations by Mark Ruffle
A Lucky Duck Book, Paul Chapman Publishing 2006

Excerpt from Back of Book
The programme provides a menu of short stories related to the real life experiences of the young people. Topics are selected from a comprehensive list to be age appropriate and the series includes:
Stealing                Lying            Social behaviours
Risks                    Justice          Loss, Grief and Bereavement
Prejudice              First love       Disability
Leaving home      Family relationships

The teacher notes indicate 'stopping points' where reflection and discussion is encouraged. Either a choice of endings is offered or the young people can develop their own ideas about what might happen next. 
More from Missus B
'Good Choices' is from a series of  three books.The other titles are 'First Choices' (aimed at 5 to 7 years) and 'Life Choices' (aimed at adolescents.) The book includes a detailed introduction which explains about the CBT approach, the importance of emotional literacy and mental health as well as practical advice about using the book and running sessions with children.

I love this tool and have used it in both individual or group work. While it's not necessarily a picture book, each story includes an opening picture capturing a scene within the story. The accompanying CD-ROM contains PDF files with either colour illustrations or black & whites which the child can colour as they choose. 
Session 9: 'The Split' in 'Good Choices'
PDF print out from the Good Choices CD-ROM
Session 7: 'Graffiti Gang'
There are 12 reading 'sessions' within the book. Each one includes a story, with flagged sections where the adult can pause the story and ask questions to develop discussion. At the story's end, the 'Activities' section encourages further reflection and suggests tasks children can undertake to enhance their understanding. The 'Flags' and 'Activities' are written as a guidance for adults. For example after 'Losing Gran' the author suggests the following:

Ask the students to investigate how different cultures and religions mark and celebrate death. What do they believe? What are their views on the so called after life? What are the customs and rituals surrounding the funeral? What is expected of the bereaved family?
CD-ROM print out from Session 8:'Losing Gran'
Having read these stories with children of various ages, I pick and choose which stories and discussion points I'd like to raise, depending on the understanding or interests of the children. Also, while the 'Flags' are at  specific points within each story, its sometimes preferable to read each story through and then go back to the flagged areas for reflection. 

The stories describe typical situations or real life experiences which children can easily relate to. At the beginning of each story the 'Focus' section gives a brief synopsis of the story e.g. in  Session 1:'Caught in the Act':  

This story is about a group of children who develop a system of successfully stealing from their local corner shop. There is a considerable amount of peer pressure from some members of the group to conform to this pattern of behaviour. It is only when one member of the group is 'caught in the act' that they are made fully aware of the consequences of their behaviour...

In 'Caught in the Act'  we read about Jason, Alec and Cara, three friends who decide to steal from Mr. Hedges' local shop....'they were all good at keeping watch and took it in turns to go up to the counter in order to distract Mr. Hedges. Sometimes that meant buying a small item from him and talking about his dog for five minutes but they all managed it.'

The short stories are well written, with social dilemmas described from a child's perspective with some comments or thoughts of adult characters also. We hear about the feelings, thoughts and behaviours of the children when they face tricky situations. Each story has two endings which the readers can consider and discuss until they choose the one that has the best outcome. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' ending and both can have advantages or disadvantages for the characters. Also, as the author suggests on the cover, children often like to come up with their own endings. In my my groups, the children enjoy discussing their own ideas before we read the two endings outlined in the book.

It's important to allow time for thinking and reflection when reading through each session. Through such group discussion and reflection, children can develop their social awareness and problem solving skills. An excellent tool within the PSHE/SPHE curriculum, 'Good Choices' helps develop emotional literacy, self awareness, and helps prepare the child for making decisions in the real world.
Good Choices Book
Session 4: 'Labelled' Jason (fed up character far right) is finding secondary school a challenge. He wishes people would
stop comparing him to his older sisters who were straight A students. He feels that his Mum & the school teachers think he's 'dumb.
'Good Choices' is well worth investing in if you're a professional working with children in groups, or if you're a parent looking for a tool to support social & emotional learning.

Prepare for lively debates when you share this book!

Happy Reading, 
Missus B

Book available at these affiliate links:


Friday 2 October 2015

The Things I Love About Friends

Illustrations & Text : Trace Moroney
The Five Mile Press 2013 
Reviewed copy- from my local library

Back of book:
There are so many things to love about friends Sharing ideas, interests, feelings and fun time- and learning how to be a good friend. 'The Things I Love' series celebrates the everyday situations that form the basis of our children's experiences. Spending time with your children, giving them love and care, helps them to celebrate who they are, building resilience and self-esteem. In Notes for Parents and Caregivers at the back of the book, some helpful insights are shared.

Missus B says:
Narrated by a cute bunny rabbit character, this book gives a lovely account of the activities, interactions and emotions involved in healthy, positive friendships. 

The narrator explains how  play, talking about feelings, sharing activities, having sleep overs and  sharing interests are just some of the things she loves about friendships. She highlights how friendship  does not mean you
 'have to be exactly the same or like exactly the same things....Sometimes it's the things that make us different from each other that I like most about my friends.'
The illustrations are cute with lots of lovely detail- patterned clothing, smiling insects and
back-ground action.Spot the fox smiling at the bird here and the bunny character petting a lady-bug.Cute!

Judging by their clothing, the characters seem to be a mix of boys and girls and on each page they are engaged in a range of activities including skate-boarding, reading books, climbing trees, roller skating and dressing-up.  
'My friends comfort me when I feel disappointed or sad......
And I do the same for them.....
that's what makes us friends!'

Ideal within the PSHE/SPHE curriculum,the story generates discussion about social behaviour while developing emotional literacy.

The 'Notes for Parents and Caregivers' page explains more about the importance of childhood friendships, building social skills and the positive impact of secure attachments.

Click on this link for more Friendship Stories

To extend discussion about 'Friendship' I've used some of the following ideas:

  • 'Friendship Quilt' using coloured card by each child from the group
  • Making 'Friendship Bracelets'
  • 'Friendship Wreaths' made with cut-out hand prints
  • 'Circle of Friends' photograph collage using pictures of everyone in the group
  • 'All About Me' discussion with each child sharing personal facts e.g. likes/dislikes
  • Memory Game-children try to guess who a child is when 'All About Me' info is shared
  • 'Friendship letters/cards' with children writing friendly words to a new person each day

Happy Reading,
Missus B
Book available at these affiliate links:

Thursday 10 September 2015

The Family Book

This post includes affiliate links

Written & illustrated by Todd Parr

Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group 2010 (originally published in 2003)

Reviewed copy: my own

Back of book:
THE FAMILY BOOK celebrates all kinds of families and shows how each is special in its own way. Welcome to the world of Todd Parr. His books are designed to:
  • Develop Early Literacy
  • Enhance Emotional Development
  • Celebrate Differences
  • Promote Character Growth
  • Encourage Creativity and Self-Expression
  • Make You Laugh!
More from Missus B
The Family Bookis an old favourite I have shared with many children down through the years.

The pages are filled with chunky, child-like drawings in rich, vivid colour.
Through an array of rainbow characters ,we see that the world is filled with many different family types.
Some families look alike
Some families look like their pets
ain't that the truth!
image from Cesar
The book uses opposites to describe families: 

Some families are big...Some families are small.... 
Some families live near each other...Some families live far from each other 

It shows that, while we can live differently, there may be aspects of family life that we all have in common....

.........All families like to celebrate special days together!

..........All families can help each other be strong!
A range of family types are depicted in the story including :single parent families, large families, small families, blended families, adoptive families and families with same-sex parents.
Diverse family groups are represented
with colourful animal and cartoon characters

The text is large and uses simple lettering for beginner readers. The use of opposites and simple sentences makes it easy for children to memorize and join in with the story. As a read-aloud book, I like that the large font  is visible for little listeners. The text is mainly black, but on some pages rainbow colours are used on a bright background -sometimes I find this hurts my eyes as the letters seem to jiggle on the page. None of my little listeners have complained about this jumpy effect though- so maybe I need an eye test!

Learning & Discussion (PSHE/SPHE)
The Family Book helps children to learn about family units and understand that  not all families are the same. The  book  encourages children to reflect on their own idea of what constitutes a family as well as being introduced to new family types. At Circle Time we have considered some questions  like:
  • What people are in your family?
  • Where does your extended family live?
  • Have you ever lost a family member you have loved?
  • Are there pets in your home?
  • What things does your family celebrate? 
  • How is love expressed in your home? (maybe not all families are the huggy type!)
  • What is your favourite family meal?
  • Are there messy or quiet people in your family? Describe some other family characteristics
  • Do you look like anyone in your family? 
Extension exercises could include:
  • Family drawings
  • Making family hand prints
  • Family photo collages
  • Making family trees
Happy Reading,
Missus B

Book available at these affiliate links:
The author has a great collection of books available here on Todd Parr's AMAZON.COM Page or  Todd Parr's AMAZON.CO.UK Page

Thursday 3 September 2015

Books Always Everywhere

My Little Moomin helped me out with this review

Text by Jane Blatt

Illustrations by Sarah Massini
Nosy Crow 2013

Reviewed copy: my own.
Photographs in this post are of the hardback edition,book is also available as board-book/paper back.
Back of Book:
For the very young, books can be anything-a chair, a tower, to a hat-but the best thing they can can a book...and it's never too soon to share a good book with your little ones.
Missus B says:
Books Always Everywhere,celebrates books - the real ones that you can hold, carry, flick through (or cuddle and sniff if you're like myself).

Books can be wide, books can be tall, they can be big, they can be small. They can be read in the park or at the book store, they can be read when its rainy or when it's sunny. Stack them to make a chair, pop one on your head as a hat, give a book as a gift, or share a story together. 
Each double page spread has simple, descriptive, rhyming text e.g. Book big   Book small   Book wide   Book tall
The book features toddlers, babies and some cute animal characters. While it appeals to the young child, the quirky illustrations and text within the images will interest older children and adults too.

The illustrations include LOTS of books,with their titles and text visible for reading e.g. a little girl relaxes on the beach with her 'Happy Days' book, it's back cover reading:

In sunshine or in rain, every day is a story day.

A monkey swings from a tree with a board book that reads:

What kind of key opens a banana? A monkey!
(if you didn't get that...just go back and read it again...slowly)

A little girl reads a book about animals which says:

Chimpanzee: A gregarious and intelligent anthropod ape, inhabiting forests in central West Africa.

(For added kicks, sometimes you have to turn the book upside down to read the text) 

There's a whole range of books within the images: Board Books, Peek-A-Boo books, Buggy Books, Joke Books, Nature Books, Fairy Tales and some classics like Wuthering Heights...there's even a Visitor's Book.

The story opens discussion about size, shape and opposites as well as various book types. The illustrations are deliciously cute and offer much to smile about .....A diverse group of toddler characters are clad in lovely, patterned clothing....A playful mouse can be found in each of the pages.... A flock of sheep gather for a bedtime story (with number sweaters-to make counting them easy of course.) .....And, a group of playful monkeys appear on the 'Book funny' page.
While librarians may cringe at the thoughts of using a book as a hat or a seat, from what I can see, no books were damaged in the illustrating of this book. I'm sure that Nosy Crow , Sarah Massini and Jane Blatt  can verify the same!  ;p   
So, here's My Little Moomin enjoying Books Always Everywhere....

My 14mth old didnt assemble
this himself...we cheated
Book Build

Spike Milligan and Judge Dredd make a lovely...
Book Chair
Book hat

                                               Book park

Book give.....                                           Book share....

Kisses for the book :) 

Happy Reading,
Missus B

Book available at these affiliate links:
                                          Check out this lovely video from Nosy Crow:

You may also like the follow up book Love Always Everywhere