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A STORY CAFE | Elmer by David McKee

We shared Elmer by David McKee at Story Cafe today.


We shared the story on the carpet - props included the book, and an original soft toy Elmer (it was given to my daughter when she was born).

BOOK REVIEW | May 17 | The Giant Jumperee

The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.


This is great.  And in my humble opinion an instant classic with all the right ingredients.  And of course, this we should expect, because it comes from the magical pen of Julia Donaldson, author of classics such as The Gruffalo and Stick Man.

Book Review | April 2017 | Fum

Fum by Karl Newson and Lucy Fleming.


This is a wonderfully nice take on the traditional tales genre.

Book Review | April 2017 | 123

123 A Ladybird Book.


This is the original Ladybird Numbers book, published in 1959, in a new edition for 2017.  The same beautiful illustrations by GW Robinson and the same "talk about" pages at the end, but in a large size hard back.

A Story Cafe | The Dot

We shared The Dot by Peter H Reynolds at Story Cafe today.


This was a fabulous choice.  It meant we could look at creativity.  Usually at Story Cafe we "make something from the story", but with The Dot, we could just get creative.  We shared the story on the carpet - props included the book, an old picture frame (I added a bulldog clip to the top so I could instantly frame my "art"), paper and a pen.  When we got to the bit where Vashti draws her first "dot", I drew my dot and then instantly framed it just like the teacher in the book.

Book Review | Under the love umbrella

This week I've been reading "Under the love umbrella" by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys.


This brand new picture book is from the author / illustrator duo who brought us the award winning "The underwater fancy dress parade".  It is a story of love and diversity.  It reminds us that wherever we go in the world, the same people will always be there under our love umbrella, thinking of us, looking after us and comforting us when we need it.

Book Review | Edie by Sophy Henn

This is the second of Sophy Henn's books I have reviewed (the first being Pom Pom is Super - see the review here). I love the heavy paper pages, the muted colours, the retro style illustrations and the wonderful simple narrative.  The expression on Edie's face on the book cover makes the reader wonder where she is going and, frankly, what is she up to.  And the reader would be right to wonder, for Edie is up to everything!


Helping Dad with the shopping...


Tidying the house...


Doing Grandpa's hair...


And making the house look a bit more... something...


The facial expressions in the illustrations I have picked to illustrate by post show Sophy Henn's talent, too good to be true in the shopping image, really trying hard and persevering to shat that door in the tidying up image, and really thinking hard about Grandpa's new hairdo in the hairdressing image.  And even in the decorating the house image where we can't see her face, we are imagining what Edie is thinking.  I loved this story, and I'm sure we will be looking back on these in the years to come as classic children's picture books.



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[Thanks to the publishers Puffin for sending me these books]

Book Review | Hug this Book

Hug this Book by Barney Saltzberg and illustrated by Fred Bengalia.  This is another of those books that grabs me immediately because it has that retro feel of books from my childhood and before.  Except that this one is a brand new publication unlike the last two books I reviewed which really were reprints of old classics.

Hug this Book combines those charming retro feel illustrations with rhyming text to grab little listener's attention.  The illustrations on each page encourage the imagination to think about all the different places we can share books together and the things, sometimes strange, we can do with them.  Definitely one to make 3-4 year olds laugh out loud, this celebration of all things bookish will be as delightful to read aloud as it will be to listen to.




Perfect bedtime reading for young and old to share together, and plenty to talk about and imagine.



Pinterest | uk.pinterest.com/allaboutstories/

[Thanks to the publishers Phaidon for sending me these books]

A Story Cafe | Jack and the Beanstalk

Today's story was Jack and the Beanstalk.  I was inspired to share this story because the Panto in Norwich this year has been Jack and the Beanstalk, and because I wanted to share a traditional tale.  This version by Nick Sharratt contains his trademark, eye-catching, cartoon-like drawings, along with rhyming text, and flaps to lift to add another dimension to the story.
We read the story using props.  The children joined in adding sticky-note leaves to the giant paper beanstalk as the beanstalk grew in the story.

Book Review | Sleepy Book and The Red Book

The common factor with these two new hardback picture books is the illustrator - Vladimir Bobri (1898-1986).  I was immediately attracted by the retro feel to the illustrations so looked up Vladimir Bobri on the old internet...   Turns out he was a Ukranian illustrator, author, composer, educator and guitar historian who illustrated several books during his life, including these two which were origimally published in 1958 (Sleepy Book) and 1961 (The Red Book).  Escaping Russia in 1917 as a refugee, he emigrated to the USA in 1921 via various travels in Greece, England, France and Italy, all using a handmade passport and during which time he began illustrating and playing the guitar.  His beautiful solid , vibrant colours in The Red Book accompany text which reflects the changing seasons as the little boy called Jonny explores the natural world around him - apples in the autumn, snow in the winter, feet in the sea in the summer and plants growing in the spring.

And in Sleepy Book, the same style of illustrations are created in shades of grey and muted pinks and greens to give a wonderful sleepy feel.  We meet a host of different animals and find out where, and how, they sleep - from the bears in their cave, to the horses standing up, to the spiders in their webs and the little girls and boys in their warm beds.



The Sleepy Book by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by Vladimir Bobri.





The Red Book by Suzanne Gottlieb and illustrated by Vladimir Bobri.




The feel of these two new picture books is lovely - hard covers, thick pages and ribbon down the spine.  They would make a beautiful gift for a child's first birthday or Christmas.




Pinterest | uk.pinterest.com/allaboutstories/

[Thanks to the publishers Bodleian Library for sending me these books]

New Picture Books | from Penguin Random House | Christmas 2016

I have strayed away slightly from my usual remit today, and am reviewing a couple of gift books for Christmas for families with children of all ages.  But I don't mind because these are really lovely.

A Labybird Book of Colouring.


New Christmas Picture Books

Winnie and Wilbur meet Santa by Valeria Thomas and Korky Paul - Winnie is back, causing chaos at Christmas, poor old Wilbur.  The usual wonderfully detailed illustrations give so much to talk about and point to, and there is a surprise pop-up page at the end.  A great addition to the Winnie series for Winnie fans old and new.

A Story Cafe | A Dot in the Snow

Today's story was A Dot in the Snow by Corinne Averiss and Fiona Woodcock.  This is a lovely tale about a polar bear called Miki whose Mum wants to teach him how to dive for food, but Miki is more interested in investigating the little red dot that he sees on the distance in the white snow.

It's a lovely story of friendship, but also of realising where home is.  The dot is a little girl. Miki spends a day playing with her, but at the end of the day they miss their Mums and head home.




We read the story using props.  The children joined in pointing out what they could see in the pictures and what they thought was going to happen next.  I really liked the idea of using the different -sized red pom poms to show how the dot got bigger as the polar bear got closer to it.


The Tale of Kitty in Boots by Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Kitty in Boots, written by Beatrix Potter and illustrated by Quentin Blake.

This really is Beatrix Potter, newly published 73 years after she died, and 102 years after she wrote it.  She never finished the complete book and all the illustration due to the start of the First World War, but, a handwritten manuscript and some rough sketches of Kitty in Boots and the villian Mr Tod the fox were discovered in an archive in The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Quentin Blake was asked to illustrate and this was a great choice - his illustrations look perfectly in keeping with the traditional layout and design of the book.


Miss Kitty is a "serious, well-behaved young black cat", but her alter ego is a country hunter wearing beautiful boots.  Here she is, illustrated by Quentin Blake in all her well-behaved, serious finery...


and here she is in Beatrix Potter's original sketch in her hunting suit. (V and A museum / Frederick Warne & Co).


This is a wonderful story for old fans of Beatrix Potter, and could spark new interest in ber stories which certainly have survived the test of time.  It would make a perfect Christmas gift.



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[Thanks to the publishers for sending me The Tale of Kitty in Boots]

Squares and other shapes

Squares and other shapes with Josef Albers from Phaidon books - part of their series "First concepts with Fine Artists".


Josef Albers (1888-1976) was best known for his paintings of the Square.  All the pages contain one of Albers artworks of squares but also circles, triangles and "funny shapes".

BLOG TOUR | There's not one by Jennifer Higgie

There's not One by Jennifer Higgie.

I love this book, and that's why I'm sharing lots of my favourite images from the book, and using few words to describe them...  Strong, vibrant colours, simple cut-out collage artwork, mathematical language and zillions of stars.  This book gets it's inspiration from Matisse, Eric Carle and Leo Lionni and is perfect for very young book-lovers to share with their book-loving grown-up.


STORIES FOR ... Birthdays

I've been digging through my picture book shelves again.  This time in a search for stories about birthdays.  Here's what I found:

A Kipper story...



An old classic...



Alfie again - I love Alfie stories...



Angelina Ballerina...



Lift the flaps to reveal the presents...



Winnie the Witch and Wilbur in mad cap birthday capers...



Another old classic and one from my childhood...



 And I love anything Eric Carle...





BOOK REVIEW | Handstand by Lisa Stickley

A brilliant new number story from Lisa Stickley.  I love number stories - we can combine a love of stories with a great excuse to talk about numbers and do some simple counting.


This is the sort of story that inspires me to count with the children as we run around the park, climb the steps to the top of the slide, or jump up and down.  I'm not trying a handstand though even if it could be counted...

STORIES ABOUT... Shape, space and measure

My collection of stories that have a Shape, Space and Measure theme.

Mummy Elephant just wants 5 minutes peace...



NEW PICTURE BOOKS | October 2016

An Animal ABC by Alice Pattullo

There are some picture books that I just love, and I can't really explain why.  This is one of them.  It's filled with the illustrative style that I love, designed beautifully on the pages and uses gorgeous colours.


It is an ABC of animals, which starts at A...

STORIES ABOUT... Number

I've been thinking about Maths this week, so searched out all my picture books (some of them are quite old...) about "Number".  I always try and use one or two props with a picture book, and for number books this is really simple - anything that can be counted - 10 milk bottle tops, ten pebbles, ten sticks at the park, ten shells at the beach...



NEW PICTURE BOOKS | The Wolf who cried Boy

The wolf who cried boy by James O'Neil and illustrated by Russell Ayto.

I absolutely love this one - an original storyline made out of a twist on a classic tale.

The villagers tell their children the wolves are dangerous, except the wolves are really lovely.  The wolves tell THEIR children the villagers are dangerous (they really are...)


Extremely clever illustrations, combining the use of colour and black & white, varying the size and position of the text to make the overall design eye-catching and interesting.


We discover what happens when the Boy who cries "Wolf" meets the Wolf who cries "Boy!".  Are you with me?


This really is a classic in the making - a brilliant new picture book which should be on everyone's shelves, on everyone's Christmas list, and in every classroom.  Loved it.



NEW PICTURE BOOKS | From Penguin Random House | September 16

Motor Miles by John Burningham - a beautiful tale of Miles the dog who lives with Alice Trudge and Norman.  Miles and Norman grow up together and have some wonderful adventures in Miles' special red car.



STORIES ABOUT... Going to School

I thought this was an appropriate time to dig out my collection of going to school picture books.  I hope this gives you some ideas for stories to share as the children start their new nursery. preschool, playgroup or reception class.

An old favourite...



Lola goes to school! 


BOOK REVIEW | Pierre the Maze Detective

Pierre the Maze Detective and the great colouring adventure by Hiro Kamigaki and IC4DESIGN.


This is like a crazy mash-up of Where's Wally and the fiddliest colouring book you could imagine, but it's brilliant...

BOOK REVIEW | Vincent's Starry Night - A Children's History of Art

Vincent's Starry Night and other stories - a children's history of art by Michael Bird and Kate Evans.


From cave paintings ...

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