Book Review: Also an Octopus by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Benji Davies

Sometimes its difficult to think about how to write a story, this book is for those moments. It really is a fantastic metafictive picture book which works on lots of different levels making it perfect for our household of children  whose ages range from 5 to nearly 10 years old.

I really enjoy reading picture books which are essentially about story-telling and creation to the children as I find that they always stimulate a lot of conversation. This book was no exception with lots of discussion about alternative characters and scenarios.

I cant write this review without mentioning Benji Davies fabulous illustrations. Having previously reviewed Storm Whale and Grandad’s Island, Also an Octopus has a very different feel to it. The illustrations have a vintage feel to them and fit the story perfectly, providing children with lots to see and engage with.

This is a great addition to your bookshelf, its a brilliantly sculpted way to assist the children with structuring their own stories but also a great story in itself. Very entertaining!

You can find out more about it here.

Book Review: Guess How Much I Love You By Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram- Sweetheart Edition and Colouring Book

If you’re looking for a special gift for Valentines Day for either your child or another book loving member of your family then these are just the treat!

Guess How Much I Love you is a UK classic, the story of Little and Big Nutbrown Hares efforts to express to each other how much they love each other. It is a delightful read and a simple story which can be read time and time again creating many special memories.

The Guess How Much I Love You Colouring Book is one of the loveliest colouring books i’ve seen in a long time and to be honest I’ve kept it myself rather than give it to the children as I cant bring myself to let them loose with it!

If you’re giving to a child then match them up with a small plush bunny. If you’re giving it to an adult, how about pairing this with a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of champagne to make a genuinely lovely, thoughtful gift.

You can find more information here.

Book Review and Competition: Dalmatian in a Digger by Rebecca Elliot

To celebrate publication of a new picture book, Dalmatian in a Digger by Rebecca Elliott, coming out with Curious Fox this month, we have a copy of the book hot-off-the-press to giveaway to one lucky reader.

This brilliant picture book combines childhood favourites – building sites, animals and making loud noises – what’s not to love? Children and parents will delight finding out which animals are driving the machines as they turn the pages of the book, and there’s a nice surprise on the last page as it’s revealed what all the animals are building.

A perfect read for any digger-obssessed tots.

For your chance to win a copy please comment below telling me what other animals you’d like to see driving a digger and fill out the rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find the Terms and Conditions here

Book Review: I Dont Know What To Call My Cat by Simon Philip and Ella Bailey

If you are a family of cat lovers like us then this picture book is a real treat. From the moment we saw the book we knew we would love it. Naming your cat is quite a common dilemma it appears- we had terribel trouble but settled on the name Jonny. This book provides plenty of inspiration for that dilemma.

This book is clearly written by a cat lover as they’ve managed to hit upon the exact level of sass which every cat seems to possess and use that to keep the story moving. The book takes a strange turn when the cat goes missing and she gets a new pet from the zoo, for my five year old this appeared to be hilarious. Then like all cats, the cat came home with a new collar and a name. Clearly the cat has several ‘owners’ probably like my cat whose name can be heard being called by various neighbours at various times!

This is a great book for any budding or actual cat owner, its an easy going story for bedtime and to be honest the main thing my children liked about it was the illustrations. Visually it looks great and is a piece of art but for my children the fact that there are loads of different pictures of different cats with different names is the thing they love the most. I cant tell you how many hours we have now spent looking at each cat, discussing its name and its features and deciding which cat we’d like the most. And therein lies how to make children happy- write a great book, well illustrated but provide a lot of choice in one thing (in this case a variety of cats).

The ideal picture book for a cat fan! You can find your own copy here

Book Review: Owl Bat Bat Owl by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick and Author Guest Post

I was absolutely delighted to receive Owl Bat Bat Owl as it’s a picture book without words and we use these quite heavily in our household. They provide inspiration for stories, allow children to think out loud and I find that it really helps build comprehension from a young age. Whats more, they’re accessible for even the youngest little readers meaning that these sort of books have a value and use from age 1 all the way through to 8 or nine years old.

Owl Bat Bat Owl is  all about difference, or in fact how we are all very similar. It will be an essential book for any nursery or reception class and is a great one to have at home to help talk through those little issues that can crop up when the children are little and cant quite understand that others are different to them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to ask author Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for a guest blog for my readers:

The loveliest thing about watching children read my new book, Owl Bat Bat Owl, is hearing how they begin with a few quiet giggles and soon progress to snorts, hoots and guffaws. Laughter is an excellent soundtrack for a wordless book!

 

 

 

The inspiration for the book was a Christmas card my husband made depicting a row of rather smug owls sitting along a narrow branch.

 

 

 

 

 

One day I looked at it and thought, ‘wouldn’t those owls get a shock if some other animal moved in on their branch?’  The idea rolled from there and I quickly realised I was writing about refugees, fear and the journey to friendship and acceptance.

There’s a history of emigration in Ireland – two million people fled starvation during the Great Famine (1845-1850), and afterwards emigration became a cultural norm.  During the nineteen sixties, seventies and eighties the first question for everyone emerging from school and college was, ‘do I stay or do I go?’ As a result of our tendency to wander, huge numbers of people around the globe claim Irish heritage.

Here on the Auld Sod we have always prided ourselves on the welcome we extend to strangers, but when migration reversed in the nineties and more people were coming into Ireland then out, we quickly located the dark outer edges of our ability to extend a decent Céad Mile Fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes). Immigration was, literally, foreign to us. We struggled to adjust and accommodate. Time, proximity and a brief flirtation with boom times helped us get over ourselves, and Ireland is all the better for its new citizens and the diversity they bring.

But now, like the rest of Europe, the UK, Australia and the USA, we are coiling in on ourselves again and working to keep people out at the very time so many are desperately fleeing war, poverty and bleak futures. Given our history, shouldn’t we have more empathy? Isn’t it baffling that countries like Australia and the USA are so protectionist when their populations are mostly descended from immigrants? Isn’t it ironic that countries like France and the UK who once travelled the globe building empires have decided everyone else should stay home and make do? It seems the default human condition is to fear change and protect what you have – wall-building is a European trait.

 

Owl Bat Bat Owl is a gentle book and funny with it, but at its heart it’s about developing empathy. The little owls are motivated by fear and prejudice. Accepting the bat family onto their branch requires compromise and generosity, and at first the owls cannot rise to the occasion.

 

 

Do small children understand what the book is about?

Yes. They don’t use words like prejudice and intolerance to describe it but they understand its essence. They smile and nod knowingly when the babies try to make friends despite parental disapproval.

 

 

They understand that the owls and bats are trying to keep away from each other.‘I think they are practising segregation,’ was the response of one boy viewing the image below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And kids understand that the shared peril of falling off the branch changes everything…

 

 

 

 

… and ultimately brings the families together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes. Through all the snorts and laughter, the kids DO get it!

 

You can find out more about Marie-Louise and her books on her wonderful website: www.marielouisefitzpatrick.com