Saturday, 25 February 2012

Cuddle Bear by Claire Freedman & Gavin Scott

The simplest ideas are usually the best ones and that's certainly the case with Cuddle Bear. Everyone needs a hug now and then, and Cuddle Bear is happy to help out...whether you're the fiercest lion or the tiniest mouse.

We love rhyming books in this house and after having a go myself at writing children's stories in rhyme (and failing miserably to get passed the first sentence) I'm always in awe at authors who pull this off. What makes Cuddle Bear a winner is the easiness and simplicity with which it's achieved.

There's only a couple of lines per page and it's got that sing-song feel that's a joy to read aloud and kids love joining in with. This one is ideal for very young children and would make a perfect bedtime story although my seven year old, Lucy, loved it too. I almost wished she had a younger sibling to read it to. The illustrations aren't particularly original but are appealing and Lucy was in heaven cooing over the cute animals. I see Cuddle Bear as one of those books that will be pulled out again and again. A real comfort book.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Super-Duper Dudley! by Sue Mongredien & Caroline Pedler

Dudley is a huge show off. He especially likes to flaunt his talent at performing daring tricks in front of his little friend Bonzo and is certain he's the only megastar in the village. Then he hears Bonzo playing the piano and receiving a lot of attention from their friends and gets a bit jealous. Determined to prove he is STILL the only megastar in the village he puts together a plan, after all if Bonzo can play the piano, he can do it better right?

This book reminded me so much of my son when he was younger and wanted to be the best at everything, usually taking a small dent to his pride in the process. It made me smile.

Dudley is a show off, but a pretty adorable one at that. I read it with my seven year old, Lucy, who was probably a little bit old for it but enjoyed none the less, with plenty of incensed face pulling at Dudley's boastful antics. The message is of course that we're all good at different things and all deserve a chance to shine and this is put across gently and simply. I loved the illustrations and the way the text changed to fit in, going from small to large, curling across the page and even changing fonts.

Super-Duper Dudley is cute story which young children will easily identify with and gorgeous illustrations to pour over.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Bunny Loves to Read by Peter Bently

If there's one thing I can't resist, it's picture books about books or reading (see Library Lion, We Are in A Book, It's A Book, Dog Loves Books, The Incredible Book-Eating Boy, etc.), so when I spotted Bunny Loves to Read in the supermarket, I had to have it.

Buster Bunny loves books (I love how he's hugging a book on the cover), but his friends don't understand - they think books are boring and playing outside is much more fun. But when their plans to play outside are ruined by the rain, Buster gives them each a book to read and they are completely won over.

One of the things I love about this book is that, after the rain has stopped and the friends go outside to play, their play is informed by the books they've been reading. And, of course, the animals want to borrow books again in future.

The illustrations, by Deborah Melmon, are adorable too. In fact my only criticism is I would've liked a slightly stronger ending - I turned the page expecting a little more - but it's a lovely addition to my books about books collection.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Press Here by Herve Tullet

I'd heard lots of good things about Press Here and I'd also loved Tullet's book The Game of Light, so I was thrilled when lovely Tina from Abrams & Chronicle Books sent me a copy (along with LOTS of other books, many of which I'm sure I'll be reviewing over the coming weeks).

Press Here is brilliantly simple and utterly wonderful. (Are you impressed that I managed to resist "and simply brilliant"? It was hard, honestly.) The first page features a yellow dot and a request to 'press here and turn the page'. When you do, you find two dots and 'Great! Now press the yellow dot again' which leads to three dots. Rub the dots and they change colour, tap them and more dots arrive, shake the book and the dots slide around... Actually, why not watch the book trailer, then you'll see:

My children reacted in pretty much the same way as the children in the trailer. Even Harry, who, at 7, I thought might be a bit old, was charmed. But then I'm 40 and I was charmed. The book is magical in that even though I know clapping isn't making the dots bigger, they're not really sliding across the page... it sort of feels real. I found myself thinking it would make a great iPad app, but the book works in the same way as an app would, but without the technology - another reminder, if one was needed, of the wonder of books.

I find it really inspiring that such a simple idea can so brilliantly capture the imaginations of children who have used computers since before they could walk. It really is something special. Herve Tullet will be going on our 'must buy' list.

Thanks so much to Tina for the book.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Slightly Invisible by Lauren Child

Lauren Child is my favourite picture book author (you may have noticed) and I've wanted to read Charlie and Lola's most recent adventure for a while, so when I spotted it in the library I snapped it up.

Slightly Invisible sees Lola spoiling Charlie and Marv's games and insisting they play with her and her imaginary friend, Soren Lorensen. The boys aren't convinced until Soren helps them catch the "most strange and terrifyingly tricky creature in the universe".

Lola is her usual annoying self and I imagine how annoying you find Lola impacts directly on your enjoyment of the Charlie & Lola books, but I think she's hilarious and an extremely convincing portrayal of a 4-year-old (I have known many Lolas over the years...). I think you need to 'perform' Lola to really get the most out of the Charlie & Lola books. Fortunately, I don't seem to struggle to capture her bossy, self-absorbed, slightly facetious personality... huh. This is one of my favourite bits:

And Lola says, "You can only see me because you know what I look like. You can't see Soren Lorensen at all." 

"That's because there is NO such person as Soren Lorensen," I say. 

"Well, if there is no such person, then who ate all the biscuits?" says Lola. 

Marv says, "WHAT? Your friend Soren Lorensen ate all the biscuits?" 

Lola says, "Oh yes, I am afraid Soren Lorensen is quite greedy." 

Soren Lorensen is actually one of my favourite characters and he features heavily in this book. Actually 'heavily' probably isn't the right word, since part of my love for Soren stems from how brilliantly Child draws him: transparent and glossy, so you can only see him when the light catches the book in the right way.

Slightly Invisible joins I Am Too Absolutely Small for School, I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato and I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go To Bed on our favourite books shelf... No, not the library book - my boys loved it so much that they've insisted on a copy to keep. Praise doesn't come much higher than that!