Book Review: A Day with Dogs by Dorothee de Monfreid

adaywithdogs_cover_medThis is the ideal book for any little children who love dogs. Its a cute book featuring nine dogs who go about their daily lives. Essentially this is a book of descriptive illustrations which provide the stimulus for lots of interesting conversations with children. However, there are also lots of little vignettes and funny conversations which add to the book.

There were several illustrations which my kids particularly enjoyed; The Alphabet which features dogs and different names for all the letters, Sports which is frankly hilarious and The Kitchen in which the dogs cook their dinner stand out.

We like books which encourage storytelling and thinking and these activities form the basis of good reading and comprehension skills. If you like Richard Scarry’s books then you’ll love this as its a similar more modern version.

You can find out more here.

Book Review: Roo The Roaring Dinosaur Best Playday Ever! By David Bedford and Mandy Stanley

roo-the-roaring-dinosaur-best-playday-ever-9781471145032_hrRoo The Roaring Dinosaur is a delightful little character and we loved the first book which introduced him. This new book takes Roo on an adventure with his new friend Erik the Polar Bear.

This is an ideal easy, bright, colourful read for under 6 year olds. Its a great story to introduce the concept of how you can be different to somebody but still friends and navigating ups and downs of friendship generally.

These sorts of books are really nice to share with children, this book in particular is perfectly pitched for nursery/ reception age kids and it was great to read with little (4 year old) Ned. With lovely illustrations which provide lots of opportunities for discussion and an interesting story this book has provided some lovely mother/ son moments in our household.

You can find out more about the book here.

Book Review: Martin Brown’s Lesser Spotted Animals

lesser-spotted-animalsThis is a fabulous book from the illustrator of Horrible Histories. Its basically a book about animals, except these are all unusual animals. Instead of your usual hippo’s and giraffes you can learn all about sand cats, the yellow-footed rock-wallaby and the banded linsang.

I must admit, i’ve always loved a book about animals- as does my daughter. We both pounced on this when it arrived and its been sitting on our coffee table attracting much attention for the past couple of weeks. Not only is it a brilliant conversation starter, it is one of those books which you delve into and then get lost in. We absolutely love it and you wont be able to beat us in an unusual animal pub quiz, trivial pursuit or scrabble now. I can guarantee there wont be anyone else you know familiar with the Cuban solenodon.

Sometimes its hard to get children really interested in a non-fiction book, you need something modern and usual and this fits the bill. The illustrations are brilliant, its perfectly pitched and really well written. If you want to make sure your children value and respect the world around them this is a great start. The book is based on a list of threatened species and its a great way of introducing concepts of environmental awareness.

Fabulous, you must get hold of this! Find it here.


Childrens Book Blog Tour: Pattan’s Pumpkin by Chitra Soundar

Chitra Soundar has a shelf full of books filled with stories from many cultures, particularly India. She loves bringing stories from India to children here in the West just like she read stories from the West, when she was growing up in India. Here she tells us how she has always been drawn to folktales and legends and how they seep into her own stories.

As a child and as a teenager I was thin as a blade of grass and my head was full of stories. Whether I ate dinner or lunch, I never missed listening and reading to stories. My paternal grandmother and her sister told me stories from the epics, folklore and even from early movies they had watched in the 1940s.

When I grew up in the 1970s and 80s, there were no specific children’s books. I devoured everything with words on them including newspapers, old copies of Readers’ Digest and borrowed copies of English Readers.

So my Mum took me once a month to a lending library 10 km away from home. The bus journey itself was an adventure. The library was dimly lit but packed tight with books. I borrowed bound copies of comics filled folktales, legends and stories from Hindu epics. These comics published by Anant Pai of Amar Chitra Katha, gave me access to stories that were thousands of years old and introduced me to heroic characters, India’s history and epics. If they had not retold them, they would have been hidden in the scriptures, the epics in ancient languages and in history books.

For me, retelling was the only way to keep a story alive. This is also one of the reasons, I trained as a storyteller even though I’ve been telling oral stories since I was five. It is important to tell stories untold previously – to remember them, to preserve them and broaden the imagination of the next generation.

Pattan’s Pumpkin is one such story. Told only in the tribal villages in the remotest valleys of the Western Ghats, this story is about living in harmony with nature, protecting the land you live on and the creatures you live with.


While I believe, today’s child requires diverse contemporary stories in which they can see themselves, especially if they are from minority groups; I never turn down an opportunity to retell ancient tales. We have to pass down the magical treasure box of our past, filled with stories and those stories themselves filled with wisdom.

Here are some amazing folktales and ancient stories that come from India that inspired me and turned me into a storyteller.

The Panchatantra – these are ancient tales of wisdom designed to teach statesmanship. Historians believe that these stories were inspiration to Aesop Fables. I’ve retold Panchatantra stories for Scholastic India, which are stories with illustrations that you can colour in and solve puzzles too.


Here is Jamila Gavin’s retelling with Bee Wiley, Schools for Princes, published by Frances Lincoln.

Tales of Tenali Rama – Tenali Rama was a jester in King Raya’s court in the 16th century and all of his tales are filled with wisdom and wit.

            Raja Birbal stories – Birbal was a minister and a close confidant of Emperor Akbar, a contemporary of Raya. While the history books talk about his courage and statesmanship, the folklore are filled with stories about how Birbal survived his jealous peers and how he managed to get justice for many.

My Prince Veera series, published by Walker Books, was inspired by Tenali Rama and Raja Birbal. Those who know the stories will definitely recognize the themes.


And of course if you want to be inspired by the same Amar Chitra Katha comics that inspired me, you can get them online directly from them.

Find out more about stories I’ve retold and my story collections at


Twitter: @csoundar


Pattan’s Pumpkin by Chitra Soundar is available now

About Chitra Soundar

Chitra Soundar lives in a flat full of giraffes, pigs and a dog. No wonder her flat smells. Her neighbours think she’s bonkers because all her animals are imaginary and the smell is from her spices from India. Amidst all the imaginary chores of cleaning giraffe-poo and filling the bathtub with mud for the pigs, Chitra manages to write some stories too.

Her latest titles include Pattan’s Pumpkin (illustrated by Frané Lessac, published by Otter-Barry Books) and A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice (illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy, published by Walker Books)

Book Review: Warrior Bronze by Michelle Paver

warrior bronzeI cannot speak more highly of Michelle Paver’s books for the KS2 9+ age group and above. I’ve personally read the entire Wolf Brother series (The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness) and have really loved them. This year I was fortunate enough to actually meet Michelle Paver at the Chiltern Open Air Museum where the staff have created a brilliant schools literacy workshop based upon the book. She was an engaging speaker and clearly researches her themes very carefully to make sure that they are historically accurate.

Warrior Bronze is the fifth novel and conclusion of her Bronze Age series. In the story Hylas and Pirra return to Akea for their final confrontation with the Crows, their arch enemies.

This is an engaging read, as are all of her books. Its an exciting and dramatic read and the setting really feels like the Bronze Age. These books have all the elements of great adventure story and in many ways remind me of the Rosemary Sutcliff, Roger Lancelyn Green and Enid Blyton books I read when I was a child. They seem to combine the best elements of these classic books with themes of friendship and adventure, history and mystery.

If I was to recommend a series of books to this age group Michelle Paver’s books would be my first suggestion. They are absolutely brilliant and I know that many of my Young Archaeologists Club members love them.

If you’d like to find out more have a look here.