Book Review: Kiki and Bobo’s Sunny Day by Yasmeen Ismail

Kiki and Bobo are having a day at the seaside, its all very exciting but they have very different personalities which reminded me of my own children. This is a lovely picture book from one of the UK’s best children’s book illustrators. Aimed at very little children this has lots of flaps to keep their interest and a very simple charming dialogue between the characters.

I like books which have slightly eccentric characters and in Bobo there is a picture book version of one of my own highly eccentric children. Suffice to say we all found this charming, its a really endearing book.

Being set a the seaside makes it the perfect book to gift any little pre-schoolers who are about to go off on summertime seaside holidays. There are plenty of opportunities in the book to allow you to discuss any anxieties that they might have which makes it a useful addition to the bookshelf this time of year.

As ever with Walker Books Kiki and Boko’s Sunny Day is beautifully presented and feels like a quality book. If you’d like to find out more have a look here.


Book Review: Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers

imaginary fredSometimes a book comes along which strikes a chord with you as an adult reading it and you spend some time thinking about the content. This is one of those books which doesn’t surprise me as Oliver Jeffers in particular tends to illustrate some really thought provoking stories.

One of the over-riding issues of childhood is the coming to terms and grappling with issues related to friendship and it’s something often covered in children’s picture books. My children have all had friendship issues of one sort or another and they all have their own special ‘best friends’ at the moment, but in the past it hasn’t always been like this. They have all had imaginary friends and its something which I hope they can use to fall back on if they ever do find themselves short of a friend.

Having an imaginary friend can help children deal with issues of loneliness, not belonging and also help them to feel empowered to do what they want to do, to buck the trends and to test themselves. I remember really clearly when my daughter had her imaginary friend and I think this really helped her deal with play ground politics and also her feelings of being left out at home when her brothers were playing together.

I thought I’d ask the children what they thought about imaginary friends and the book. Bear in mind they are only 7 and 4 but have a look at what they thought:

In the book the imaginary friends are in colour, but  they are not solid. The perfect way of depicting them. As the story goes along they begin to fade, which I think is a metaphor for how friends come and go; they fade in and out of life. This concept is a difficult one for children to grasp in real life so its great to find a book which can be used as a starting point to tackle this and the associated emotions.

I’d say that this is quite a long book for very little children. It’s best suited for slightly older children perhaps 6 +. This is a book to spend time over, to enjoy and take inspiration from (perhaps a whole school holidays worth of activities) or to read at bedtime over a week in small sections. It’s a lovely book, nicely presented, illustrated and would make a really nice gift for Christmas.

If you’d like to find out more then have a look at the website here.

Book Review: Shadow Warriors by Chris Bradfield

shadow warriorsBarrington Stoke are a great publisher to look at if you have a reluctant reader. I’m rapidly becoming a fan of their books because they offer something different. The stories are usually original and tackle some interesting issues and the books themselves are well produced with consideration for children who find reading difficult or unappealing for various reasons (including dyslexia).

Shadow Warriors is a brilliantly exciting story which just the right amount of violence to keep your little ninja engaged and enthralled. The book is well written, researched and beautifully illustrated. My 9 year old liked the quizzes at the end of the book and saw them as a bit of an incentive to keep going with the story. For him, this is the ideal book, the content and the size are perfectly pitched. This meant could finish it in a reasonable time and feel a sense of achievement alongside enjoying the story.

The one criticism which my son levelled was that he didnt like that the story was told in flashback, as he felt he already knew the outcome. However, this is the first book he has read with this sort of structure and so I think its as much a matter of what he is used to than anything else!

As a parent I thought this was an excellent book, its a reasonable price, well produced which makes its nice to read and is appealing. If you’d like to find out more have a little look here.

Book Review: I Have and Orange Juicy Drink by Andrew Sanders

i have an orange juicy drinkIf you like your picture books to be good looking from the point of view of design as well as being great little stories then this book is for you.

This is the story of a small boy and his orange drink. It has a strong message about sibling love and simply asking nicely. We loved this book as its so amusing in the hyperbole of what the character does when someone tries to take his drink from him. If i’m honest it reminds me of my eldest who makes outlandish threats about what will happen if we do various things.

I like a book which encourages literacy skills and imagination and this book is perfect for that. We have hours of fun talking about what might happen in various circumstances. What might your child do if someone tried to take their drink? Crush them with an ocean liner, send an elephant to sit on them? It’s all about expanding imagination and from that helping with sentence construction. Children don’t get many opportunities to develop creative writing in primary school these days as there is such a focus on grammar.

If you’d like to find out more and order the book have a look at FatFox Books website here.

Let me tell you about BookTrust

letterboxI’m absolutely thrilled to have been chosen as a blogging ambassador for BookTrust. BookTrust is my number one charity choice. BookTrust is a fabulous charity which inspires a love of reading in children and this is such an important thing because it can make a massive difference to children’s life chances.

I knew that BookTrust have a fabulous scheme whereby they give free books to all children at various points in their life. This means that every child in the UK has at least one book of their own, for some this really is a big thing. However, BookTrust do loads of other things which I think they should shout about more loudly than they do.

The Letterbox Club is an award-winning programme managed by BookTrust, in partnership with the University of Leicester, which aims to provide enjoyable educational support for looked-after children aged 5-13. Each month, for six months, children receive a parcel containing books, maths activities and stationery with a supporting letter – often from a top author – delivered to their home. In 2015 Letterbox Club parcels were sent to 10,451 children.

The Letterbox club is the sort of thing which makes my hormones feel all wobbly, it is such an amazing initiative and one of those things that really makes such a big difference to some of the UK’s most disadvantaged children. I think its fabulous that BookTrust have the support of all these amazing authors who put themselves out to personally write to the children. If you’d like to find out more about the scheme then have a look here.

The other programme that I thought I’d mention here is Story Hunters. This is a  new paid for (the school pays a small amount towards the cost of the scheme) reading initiative for Year 4 children, designed especially to help struggling or reluctant readers. Each pupil gets their own personalised pack of selected books and activities, once a month for six months, from October 2016 to March 2017.

As the mum of a reluctant reader currently in Year 4 i’m slightly disappointed that this is rolling out too late for him. It sounds like a fabulous initiative to get children reading. If you have a reluctant reader I’d urge you to encourage your school to sign your child up to the scheme as its often things like this which encourage them to read. We have been lucky in our household as I am so fortunate in that I get sent lots of books to review for the children and it means that we often have a wide variety of things for him to test out. At the moment he is reading (with the odd bedtime reading session from us), the Middle School books and I don’t think he would have read these if they hadn’t been gifted to him by a publisher.

If you’d like to find out more about the Story Hunters scheme (and perhaps tell your school to sign up) you’ll find more information here.

Booktrust Bloggers
BookTrust Bloggers

These are just a couple of the amazing things that BookTrust do and I’ll tell you about some of the other things over the next few months. There is a great team of bloggers on board, some of which will be new to you as they are not part of the parent blogging world. Have a look at the review of the BookTrust Brunch we all attended here on the Words and Pictures Blog.