READ TO YOUR BABY EVERY DAY – Chloe Giordano, Rachel Williams

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RELEASED: 14/03/2019
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Children’s Poetry, Nursery Rhymes, Picture Book

Science tells us that babies develop best when they are spoken to, sung to and read to. Introduce your baby to a world of words and pictures with these 30 classic nursery rhymes from the Mother Goose collection and beyond paired with images of Chloe Giordano’s delightful hand-embroidered illustrations on cloth.

Even when they’re tiny, the sound of their parents’ voices helps babies make sense of the world and feel comfortable with new people and places. This treasury gives you the opportunity to rediscover just how useful (and calming) these best-loved nursery rhymes are in one, handsome volume.

I adore a good nursery rhyme, and have many fond memories of watching my favourite VHS of nursery rhymes over and over again (I finally found it on YouTube!) and so when I was offered a copy of a new book of nursery rhymes from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for review I jumped at the chance!

Read To Your Baby Everyday is a beautiful addition to anyone’s collection; it’s really unique in the fact that the illustrations are all taken from hand-embroidered cloth! It’s so clever and I really enjoyed taking the time to appreciate every detail in the book. I think that the one thing that held me back on giving it 5 stars is that it’s not always the most engaging book for a child as it’s not as bright as I would’ve liked. Other than that, I can’t fault it and it really would make a perfect gift for a little one.

I would highly recommend Read To Your Baby Everyday as a way to showcase some of the best nursery rhymes that we’ve all grown up knowing and loving, in a new and fresh take on a gift book.


Thank you to Nicky at Quarto for sending me a copy of this book

 

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MALAMANDER – Thomas Taylor

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RELEASED: 02/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Children’s, Middle Grade, Mystery, Fantasy

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl.

No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up.

And it just got stranger…

This book was a total cover buy; sure it sounded pretty good, but I saw it and I needed it on my bookshelf. That said…

Oh.

My.

Goodness.

I have found a new favourite middle grade book! Malamander is the first book in a long time that I have literally devoured; I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting! I think that I just loved the whole setting of Eerie-on-Sea, the characters, the attention to detail and yet so easy to get lost in style of writing.

Fun fact – Thomas Taylor is the artist behind the original Harry Potter illustrations.

With Malamander, he shows that not only is he a dab hand at art, but also at crafting an incredible world full of mystery and intrigue. Herbert Lemon makes for a brilliant narrator; it’s fun and gripping, and the atmosphere created throughout the book really makes you feel as though you’re there in the story!

I’m quite happy with this review just being a gushy length of text saying how much I loved the book! There are so many twists and turns, and this book really is an experience that I’d hate to even spoil one part of; it’s truly special! My advice is to get yourself a copy as soon as possible, admire the cover, check out the map of Eerie-on-Sea and then settle down for one of the best reads of this year.

On a side note, I’ve now decided that I’d like to work in the Eerie Book Dispensary; I mean, I have a qualification as a dispenser…and I love books…the job’s pretty much mine.

FIREFLY HOME – Jane Clarke, Britta Teckentrup

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RELEASED: 11/01/2018
PUBLISHER: Nosy Crow
GENRE: Picture Book, Children’s

There’s no place like home, but poor Florence Firefly is lost, and there are so many bright lights shining in the night sky she doesn’t know which way to go. She’ll need some help to find her way back home. In this brilliant interactive picture book, children can help Florence on her journey by encouraging her to fly faster, suggesting which direction to take and making a wish.

There are some picture books that you read that you just know will be perfect for storytime and reading aloud, and Firefly Home is definitely one of them! I was immediately drawn to this book by Britta’s beautiful illustrations, and by how adorable Florence Firefly looks. Coupled with the fun story that’s highly interactive and enjoyable to read, this makes for a really engaging reading experience.

My gut feeling is that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped. I found it a little bit too childlike at times (which is very rare for me to say!) and didn’t enjoy the interactivity when reading it on my own. However, I can imagine that this is a wonderful story to share with your children.

All that said, I did overall like the book and think that it makes a lovely addition to my picture book collection!

THE KING WHO BANNED THE DARK – Emily Haworth-Booth

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RELEASED: 04/10/2018
PUBLISHER: Pavilion
GENRE: Picture Book, Children’s

An illuminating tale of power, rebellion, darkness and light

There was once a little boy who was afraid of the dark. There’s nothing unusual about that. Most children are afraid of the dark at one time of another. But this little boy was a Prince, and he decided that when he became King, he would do something about the dark.

He would ban it.

When the King bans the dark completely, installing an artificial sun, and enforcing “anti-dark” laws, it seems like a good idea. The citizens don’t need to worry about any of the scary things that might live in the dark.

But what happens when nobody can sleep, and the citizens revolt? Will the King face his fears and turn the lights off?

The King Who Banned the Dark is a beautiful and thought-provoking story about how we need the dark in order to enjoy the light.

I love beautiful picture books that use a limited colour palette, like The King Who Banned The Dark. Immediately, I was drawn to read it, and I’m very glad that I did because I’ve found a new favourite! The illustrations, whilst simplistic, are lovely and make for a very enjoyable read.

The King Who Banned The Dark is a story that can have different interpretations; on a simpler note it can be about how we need the dark as well as the light, making it a wonderful book about the fear of the dark and appreciating the beauty of the light. On a deeper level, as I’ve read in a few places, this book can be interpreted as being a bit more political – people have got power and can revolt against decisions taken by the leaders which may not be for the benefit of the people, and how decisions can be manipulated.

I personally like to think of it as being the lighter option, making it a perfect bedtime story to be enjoyed time and time again!

THE STAR-SPUN WEB – Sinéad O’Hart

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RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Stripes
GENRE: Middle Grade, Magical Realism

With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins. But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Norton F. Cleat knows more about Tess – and the strange device left with her when she was abandoned as a baby – than he’s letting on. And when Tess discovers that the Starspinner is the gateway between her world and a parallel world in which war rages, she realizes she may be the key to a terrible plan. A plan she must stop at all costs…

Sinéad O’Hart stormed into the Middle Grade scene last year with her fantastic debut The Eye of the North, so there were high expectations riding on her second book, The Star-Spun Web. Aside from the fact that Sara Mulvanny and Sophie Bransby have done a stellar job on the cover again (it’s BEAUTIFUL!), this book was just as engaging and enjoyable to read as book one!

50210701_324361354859487_5763330421077364150_nThe Star-Spun Web is a mysterious story full of magic, science and wonder…and, despite my intense dislike of spiders, I actually began to warm to Violet, Tess’ pet spider! It’s a book that I was always excited to get back to reading; I genuinely cared about the characters and was rooting for Tess! As a character, she is one of my favourites I’ve come across in middle grade books; she’s just the right amount of feisty, vulnerable and intelligent. It’s refreshing to have a female character who is so independent and inquisitive. That said, she also relies on other people at the right times, showing how we can think we can do something alone but actually we need other people sometimes to help, whether that’s from our family or friends.

I’m not sure whether this book is going to be a stand-alone; there is a lot of potential for a sequel in this world! I’d love to revisit Tess and all her friends, and discover what happens to the villains of the story too!


Thank you to Leilah at Stripes for sending me a copy of this book!

 

 

OH NO, GEORGE! – Chris Haughton

oh no, george!5/5

RELEASED: 01/03/2012
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Picture Book

It’s hard work being good all the time. And it’s especially hard for a dog like George! Harris is off to do some shopping. “Will you be good, George?” he asks. George hopes he can. He really wants to … but chocolate cake is just so very delicious and he does love to chase cat… What will George do now? Chris Haughton’s distinctive artwork perfectly accompanies the innocent charm of affable George, a dog trying to be good – with hilarious results!

Oh No, George, like all of Chris Haughton’s books, is full of humour and bold illustrations, with an adorable dog as the our main character. It’s impossible not to love George with his good intentions. But sometimes eating that cake or chasing that cat can prove just too much, and no matter how hard George tries he just can’t help himself!

This book is such a brilliant story to help children learn the difference between right and wrong and about making good choices. Although George doesn’t always get it right, we see how he learns about how doing the wrong thing makes Harris sad or cross so he tries very hard to make amends for his behaviour when he meets all those temptations again! The book ends on a decision for George which leaves it open to either scenario and it’s quite fun to wonder which choice George makes.

I have had the pleasure of meeting George, and I must say that he was behaving very well in the Waterstones tent considering how many wonderful books and snacks hanging about. He did very well to resist the temptation!


Thank you to Jo at Walker for sending me a copy of this book.

YOUR MIND IS LIKE THE SKY – Bronwen Ballard, Laura Carlin

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RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Picture Book, Mental Health

Your mind is like the sky. Sometimes it’s clear and blue – but sometimes a raincloud thought comes along and makes everything seem dark. So what can we do about rainclouds? This beautiful picture book, written by child psychologist Bronwen Ballard and illustrated by award-winning artist Laura Carlin, shows children that worries and negative thoughts are normal and helps them develop healthy thinking habits. Tips on mindfulness and extra resources for parents are included at the back of the book.

As someone who struggles with controlling my thoughts, I was very intrigued when I heard about this book. Mindfulness is something that I haven’t found useful in the past, much as I’d love it to be! So, I was really hoping that a picture book aimed at children may help me a little bit more…

Luckily, I was not disappointed.

Your Mind Is Like The Sky is a beautiful book with a powerful message; whilst you can’t control your thoughts, you can accept them and learn to deal with the different types. I love how thoughts are personified into clouds; this makes them seem less scary, and shows that, despite how dark they can be sometimes, they are only thoughts and they will pass. Unlike many books that focus on mindfulness, there isn’t too much text which made this book stand out even more. It reads just like a normal story and is just the right length to make it useful but not overwhelming.

At the back, something that’ll make this book more useful for parents and teachers is the breakdown of how mindfulness works and what you can do to help children. That said, I think that this book is useful for people of all ages who struggle with raincloud thoughts making this an essential addition to your collection of books about mental health.


Thank you to Ellen at Quarto for sending me a copy of this book.

THE BOOKSHOP GIRL – Sylvia Bishop, Ashley King

the bookshop girl5/5

RELEASED: 06/04/2017
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
GENRE: Young Reader, Middle Grade, Mystery

This story is about a little girl named Property Jones, so-called because she was left in the lost property cupboard of a bookshop when she was five years old. Property loves living in the bookshop, but she has a whopper of a secret … she can’t actually read! So Property doesn’t see the newspaper article announcing the chance to win the Montgomery Book Emporium, the biggest and most magnificent bookshop in the world! When her family win the competition, Property finds herself moving to the Emporium, a magical place filled with floor upon floor of books and a very bad-tempered cat. But all is not at it seems at the Emporium and soon Property Jones finds herself in a whole heap of trouble.

I would happily be abandoned in a cupboard if it meant that I could live in a bookshop, just like Property Jones.

From the fantastic duo Sylvia Bishop and Ashley King (Erica’s Elephant…one of the best books of 2016) comes a brilliant new story full of mystery, fun and, most importantly, books! We meet Property and her family as they leave their little bookshop after winning Montgomery’s Book Emporium, an incredible bookshop full of wonder, but all is not as it seems and soon they encounter a dastardly villain with a cunning plan! It’s up to Property and Gunther the Cat to save the day…but will they be in time?!

Again, Sylvia has created a heroine who you immediately love with a story that captures the imagination from the word go. Her writing style really is engaging and helps the plot to move along at the perfect pace. Coupled with Ashley’s illustrations which capture the characters, story and magic of the Montgomery Book Emporium perfectly (check out page 73…BEST. ANGRY. FISH. EVER.), this really is a story for all ages to love!

 

SHH! WE HAVE A PLAN – Chris Haughton

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RELEASED: 06/03/2014
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Picture Book

The winner of the 2014 Association of Illustrators’ Award for Children’s Books, Shh! is the covetable new picture book from Chris Haughton, one of the most exciting new voices in children’s literature. From Chris Haughton, the multi award-winning author-illustrator of A Bit Lost and Oh No, George!, comes a picture book about a beautiful bird, four friends and plans gone wrong… The friends are out for a walk. Suddenly, they spot it – a beautiful bird perched high in a tree! They simply must have it and – shh!- they have a plan. So they tip-toe very slowly, nets poised – “Ready one … ready two … ready three … GO!” But, at the turn of the page, we find a ridiculous bunch of very tangled characters and a blissfully oblivious bird, flying away. One hilarious foiled plan after another and it’s clear that this goofy gang cannot catch that elusive birdie! But the littlest of this group, a quiet spectator up until now, knows that a bit of kindness can go a long way… Will his friends follow his gentle lead or will they get themselves into even more trouble?

Such a simple concept, and yet it is absolutely perfect! This book makes me so happy and is so much fun to read aloud; it’s very repetitive, full of expression and is beautifully illustrated (like all of Chris Haughton’s books let’s be honest!).

Shh! We Have A Plan is one of my number one picks for storytime and is one of those stories that you can really make your own with actions and the different volumes, and is also a great choice for beginner readers due to the repetition. Whilst recently re-reading this, my little sister (although capable of reading much trickier books) had so much fun reading it confidently out loud and did all the actions and different SHH!s. It was brilliant!

I can’t recommend this book highly enough if you are looking for a quiet bedtime or fun read that will keep little ones engaged!


Thank you to Jo at Walker for sending me a copy of this book!

A CHILD OF BOOKS – Oliver Jeffers, Sam Winston

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RELEASED: 1/9/2016
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Picture Book

The book: nothing is more important or more precious. In his first collaboration with the award-winning Walker Books, illustration hyperstar Oliver Jeffers – the genius behind the instant-classics Lost and Found and How to Catch a Star – has joined forces with ground-breaking typographer Sam Winston to present the extraordinary A Child of Books.
Soaring passages from masterworks such as Little Women, The Wind in the Willows, Great Expectations and Treasure Island form a very literal and brilliantly-released landscape of adventure. Two children – one a girl who lives for reading, the other a boy yet to understand – embark on a stunning voyage of discovery, gloriously captured by Oliver Jeffers’ unique imagination.
A Child of Books will be one of those very rare volumes that will bridge both those new to the pleasures of a book and for those already deeply in love with its promise.

Ironically, words can not do justice to this book. It is simply stunning, utilises the wonderful storytelling and illustration of Oliver Jeffers and an exciting new talent in Sam Winston who uses typography to incredible effect in this book.

A Child of Books makes the perfect gift for children to treasure and enjoy, and for adults; every time you read it you take something new away from it and everyone can interpret it in such a different way. The use of typography is such an innovative idea for a picture book and I loved how the texts chosen had clearly been selected carefully as they related to what was going on in the story at that point; if you want to spend some time fully appreciating each page you can find extracts from many of your favourite books growing up accompanied by Oliver’s lovely illustrations.

The campaign that surrounded this release has really stuck with me and is something that I closely relate to the book; we are all children of books, and it’s interesting to think how there is usually a specific book or author that sparked that love of reading and literature within us all, thus creating “a child of books”. For example, Enid Blyton made me A Child of Books! I’ve loved seeing the different titles that have inspired so many authors, booksellers and readers.

A Child of Books is an essential upon every child’s bookshelves; it’s a wonderful story for bedtime, to read with family or to read independently. There is so much to discover on every page if you want to spend time on it, so it’s a book that brings joy time and time again.


Thank you to Jo at Walker for sending me a beautiful copy of this book!