Sunday 23 September 2018

Who Is Sleeping? (Lift the Flap)

Text & Illustrations: Petr Horáček
Published by Walker Books  (Baby Walker) 2018 
Complimentary copy provided by Walker in exchange for an honest review.

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I love a good, chunky baby-book and was delighted to receive Petr Horáček's Who Is Sleeping? (Lift the Flap) 
There's something truly special about lift-the-flap's. The interactive element, that quiet pause before a flap is lifted, the surprise in store, the repetition and the pure satisfaction of opening and closing those lovely cardboard inserts.... All of these elements make for a lovely multi-sensory experience.
While this book is published in the 'Baby Walker' range, it can be enjoyed and shared into the preschool stages and beyond. With a simple story line, readers  are asked to guess which animal is sleeping the tree, under leaves, in the rushes etc.

The pace is ideal, with one scene and animal character on each double-page spread, children have just the right amount of visual information to process. It makes for a lovely lesson about the animal world and their natural habitats.  
With minimal text in clear, dark font, the language is rhythmic and predictable- every page offering the same amount of words. For group settings, this predictable read-aloud, allows children to easily join in and become part of the story telling experience. 

Beautiful, true to life illustrations, easy to manipulate pages and a toddler-proof cardboard finish, makes this book a lovely all-rounder and perfect for one-to-one at bedtime, or circle time in preschool. 

Visit Horáček's  lovely blog by clicking here.

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 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