Friday, 25 November 2011

We *heart* penguins

Have you been watching the BBC series Frozen Planet? We've all been loving it and the biggest hit in this household has been the penguins. Particularly the penguin who pinched the pebbles from the other penguin's nest. He brought the house down. So I thought I'd share few penguin books you might like.

I bought Hide-and-Seek Penguins by Fiona Watt and Lesley Danson for my 2-year-old a few weeks ago and it's really cute. It's a lift-the-flap and counting book with really sweet illustrations and textures too. Joe loves it.

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet is a classic and it's glorious. It's about a family who find a penguin mysteriously delivered to their door every day for a year. At first the family is quite pleased and intrigued, but soon they find the penguins hard to look after - where do they even put them? They come up with some creative - and very entertaining - storage methods.

The illustrations are fab - the expressions (or lack of) on the face of the penguins are hilarious and the book even has a global warming message (but it's not too heavy-handed...).

Of course there's also Me... by Emma Dodd, which we've reviewed already and is just gorgeous.

And I know this isn't a book - although there is a book as well - but I was really surprised at how entertaining this new film is. It's sweet and very funny and the penguins are highly entertaining.

If you are interested in the book - also called, perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Popper's Penguins and written by Richard & Florence Atwater - I'd say it's definitely worth a read, but it's very old-fashioned and my 7-year-old lost interest pretty quickly.

What's your favourite penguin book?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

10 Minute Tales: Postman Pat - The Wind Machine

I can't remember where we first picked up one of these 10 Minute Tales - it may even have been the supermarket - but we've bought a few now and my boys both love them.

The really fun thing about them is that on the left page you have the story told in relative detail, which is great for reading aloud or for a more confident reader to read by themselves, and then on the facing page there's a short summary for a newer reader to read alone (or for me to read to my 2-year-old when I can't be bothered reading the full story).

Obviously once the less confident reader progresses, they'll be able to read the full story and I think the fact that they will be able to see their own progress - from the 'beginner' page to the 'advanced' - will probably do wonders for their confidence.

We've got the Postman Pat story pictured above and a couple of the Fireman Sam books, so the stories aren't anything very exciting - they stick pretty closely to the TV stories - but my boys enjoyed that too, since they're already familiar with the stories.

We'll definitely be buying more, but I hope the publishers branch out into original stories at some point too.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Claude in the City and Claude on Holiday by Alex T Smith

I picked up Claude in the City mainly because it looked cute, but also because it was part of Richard & Judy's Children's Book Club.

It's the story of Claude, a little beret-wearing dog, and his friend Sir Bobblysock (a sock). In the first book, Claude and Sir Bobblysock go into the city and foil a robbery in an art gallery. In the second part of the book, Claude takes Sir Bobblysock to hospital because he's not feeling well.

Both Harry and I were captivated by this book. We both laughed a lot and I particularly loved that no one questions the fact that Sir Bobblysock is indeed a sock. Then again, Claude is an upright dog wearing a beret, so I'm not sure I should have been surprised...

Because we'd enjoyed the first book so much, I ordered Claude on Holiday straight away and we both loved this one too. In this book Claude goes on holiday (funny that), saves a man from a shark and meets some pirates.

The illustrations are fabulous and very funny. Harry particularly liked that both books heavily feature underpants and bras. There's not much funnier for a 7-year-old than underwear.

When Harry saw the advert for Claude at the Circus at the back of the second book, he actually squeaked with enthusiasm. We're both really looking forward to it and I know we'll be rereading these two for a while.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman

Last week my 7-year-old, Harry, asked me if men could marry men. Actually, that's not true. He first told me that men couldn't kiss men and when I told him that was wrong, he asked if they could get married. Realising it was time he learned that all families aren't like our family, I bought a copy of The Great Big Book of Families (it was recommended by a friend).

It's a lovely book, but not quite as detailed as I was expecting it to be, so it worked as an introduction for the 2-year-old as well as for Harry. The book begins by explaining that 'Once upon a time most families in books looked like this..." with an illustration of a family with "one daddy, one mummy, one little boy, one little girl, one dog and one cat" and then goes on to explain that "in real life, families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes."

Included in the book are children who live with just their daddy or just their mummy, some who have two mummies or daddies, some who are adopted or fostered, some who live with grandparents. We then go on to look at extended families and how families can be big or small, different homes, hobbies, types of schooling and employment, different kinds of food, holidays, clothes and pets, different celebrations and feelings. All are accompanied by Roz Asquith's joyful illustrations, but each only has two pages so it is a very basic overview.

It's interesting and sweet and there's enough detail in the drawings to merit rereading with the 2-year-old, but probably not with Harry. I need to find more books featuring "alternative" families and perhaps aimed at the 6-9 age range. Anyone know of any?