So my son turned three and how did that happen?

Hello everybody!! Things have been hectic here at chez Sillett. After 9 bouts of mastitis (yes, you read that correctly — NINE!) and strict doctor’s orders not to be away from my nearly-9-month-old for more than three hours at a time, I have finally come up for air. Oh, and I wrote a couple of middle grade manuscripts in between just for kicks and giggles.

So I’m excited to tuck in and get reviewin’! Without further ado, I present to you an unpacking of *drum roll please*…

…Very little Red Riding Hood

very little red riding hood As my loyal followers know (all six of them, here’s lookin’ at you, Ma 😉 ), I am obsessed with metafiction and fractured fairy tales.  I spied this book a couple weeks ago and couldn’t wait to tuck in. Here’s what I found.

So, I’ll be blunt. I didn’t love it. It was kinda cute, definitely chirpy, and a safe read for the littlees who are old enough to know the original story but too young to be exposed to anything too scary. But, sadly, it just didn’t do it for me.

Red is a very little girl headed to grandmother’s house. She speaks in a sort of little kidese: ‘I Red’ and ‘I go’ etc. However, stylistically this sort of dialogue just wasn’t my jam. Grandma is a modern nanna type with an adorable short haircut and pants, as opposed to the helpless frail woman in a1900s style dress, bed cap and glasses (LOVE!). Ultimately though, the problem for me lay with the wolf. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the characterisation of the wolf. Is he (or she?) nice? Charming? Sweet? Anxious? Bland? That’s probably what I found the most jarring. I really couldn’t tell and, when it comes to the wolf, they really need to have some sort of intriguing and defining characteristic.

If I had to sum it up, I’d say this was a safe and sweet spin on an otherwise gory tale. Is it worth your time? Well, Nick Sharratt provides the quote at the back so that’s testament to it. But for me, I wanted more from Very little Red Riding Hood than I got. And yep, I feel like kind of a jerk saying it :(, but hey, you wanted honest reviews (here’s lookin’ at you, Ma!) so here it is.

Written and illustrated by: Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap (yes, really).

The book is published by David Fickling Books, RRP: $24.99. You can find a copy at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17612710-very-little-red-riding-hood

 

 

That book everyone was obsessed with for a hot second.

Rabbit who wants to fall asleepOK, so here’s the deal, folks. If you pass a lady with a messy brown mummy-bun who resembles a zombie, there’s a strong possibility it’s me. I attribute this solely to my two sons who seem to enjoy nothing more than torturing me through sleep deprivation. The only thing keeping me going right now is love, books and coffee. Probably mostly coffee.

Seriously, my boys are on staggered night shifts. One will keep me up one night, the next it’s the other tiny weapon of mass destruction. Because who doesn’t love talking about Hot Wheels Monster Jam at 3:30am in the morning? I know my toddler does because he does it pretty much EVERY OTHER NIGHT.

When Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin’s The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep first gained traction in social media, I decided the book was in a morally grey zone and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. Intrigued? Read on…

The birth of a baby and several hundred sleepless nights later and I decided I definitely wanted to go there. This book is, for lack of a better description, an attempt to hypnotise your child into a comforting and peaceful sleep. The story is bizarre and Ehrlin acknowledges that this is the case, but the point of the book is to get your sweet little dribblers to sleep, not to get their synapses firing.

The book sounds narrativey, to the extent that a child can sort of get lost in the words (if only to try and decipher what the heck they are hearing). Look, it’s weird and the idea feels wrong and the experience is strange. BUT! Desperate times call for desperate measures and I am absolutely desperate. My husband and I have tried this book a total of four times, and so far our toddler has fallen asleep twice when hearing it. It is important to note that at just under 3 years of age, my son is a little short of the mark in terms of the target demographic.

I can’t say I highly recommend this book based on the results, and I certainly don’t recommend it based on the jarring story. I do, however, encourage parents to try anything and everything legally possible to get their living, breathing, beautiful little night terrors to sleep and thus, if this is something that appeals to you, I say do it. For the sake of sanity, I judge ye not. You can purchase a copy at: http://www.amazon.com/Rabbit-Wants-Asleep-Getting-Children/dp/149617951X

Author: Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

Illustrator: Irina Maunhunen

Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade

Publisher: Ladybird Books

 

 

The Colour Thief – A touching story about discovery and sharing.

The colour thiefZot’s world has no colour at all. It made everyone sad. From his planet, he gazed longingly at all the colours on a distant planet. When Zot decides to take the colours for himself, the distant planet turns completely grey. Will he return the colours to where they belong? Will he manage to find a way to spread some colour back home?

Alborozo’s lyrical text is pleasant. The writing is clear enough that readers from very young children to those nearing the end of their picture book journey can appreciate it. The message is subtle yet powerfully written; that a little bit of kindness [or substitute other positive quality here] can go a long way.

The book is delightfully whimsical with a few highlights of quirk thrown in the mix.

The Colour Thief is written and illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo, and is published by Bloomsbury. You can ‘snatch’ a copy for yourself at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/au/the-colour-thief-9781408847534/ (See what I did there? Hardy har har…)

Silly, quirky and more than a little brilliant.

Umm… so I’m back! I’d like to apologise for my brief hiatus, but guess what ya’ll! I made a baby!!

Jay and Aaron

To celebrate, I’m posting a wonderful new book I’ve had the pleasure of reading during my ‘break’ (I use the term lightly. Sleep? What is sleep??’).

 

CrocodollyThe Crocodolly, written and illustrated by Martin McKenna, is delicious. The story follows a zany yet charming girl, Adelaide, who disguises her pet crocodile as a dolly in order to keep him. Mischief and mayhem are bound to occur as her ‘dolly’ starts to grow bigger and bigger.

I like this one on several different levels. For starters, I get excited when writers are allowed to push the envelope when it comes to vocabulary. Think the Olivia books by Ian Falconer. McKenna is of those writers.

He’s managed to use the description, ‘disconcertingly vast’ in a seamless way; that is, a way that children can work out the meaning from the context. He dedicates an entire page to an irate town that offers up synonyms for the word ‘annoyed’. I just love this!

Beyond the vocabularic gems (yep, I invented a word…) embedded in this book, the story is silly enough and original enough to keep young readers captivated. My son had me read this to him several times through and right now is staring in fascination at the pages.

To grab a copy for yourself, check out: https://shop.scholastic.com.au/Product/8355754/The-Crocodolly.

The Crocodolly is published by Omnibus Books, ISBN 9781742990712.

A book to help your little one through childhood fears.

When I'm Feeling ScaredMy 2-year-old has developed some childhood fears. It has gotten to the point where I decided I could use some backup to help me navigate this phase. That’s where Trace Moroney’s When I’m Feeling Scared comes in. I have mixed feelings about this book. Not because of the way it is written, which is effective and useful, but because in our home, it actually introduced a few new fears whilst addressing a few that are already established. I did screen it first, but decided upon a calculated risk.

This book does its job. My son seems to be receiving the message that fears are OK and there are ways to work through them. Books are incredibly powerful learning tools and I am forever grateful to have them at my fingertips. I am certainly leaning on When I’m Feeling Scared to help me negotiate the fear-riddled waters of toddlerdom. That being said, there are a couple of illustrations in this book about which my son has been quite curious and about which he has subsequently expressed new fears.

It’s important to remember that my son is not in the target demographic for this book and I’m sure that’s a significant contributor to this outcome. Regardless, do make sure your child won’t acquire more fears from reading this book or similar before taking it home, even if they are in the demographic sweet spot.

Following the conclusion of the story there are notes written by a psychologist to support the parent through this stage, though these notes aren’t extremely thorough or detailed.

You can grab this book from pretty much any Australian book store, or find a copy online at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/701332.When_I_m_Feeling_Scared.

When I’m Feeling Scared is written and illustrated by Trace Moroney. It is one in a series of When I’m Feeling books. Published by The Five Mile Press.

No mistake about this awesome book!

beautiful-oops-Beautiful Oops is written, constructed and crafted by the venerable Barney Saltzberg. This one is for everybody. Perhaps at 29 years I’m not in its core demographic, but the message is as important to me as ever it was; that mistakes can be wonderful and happy occurrences if we approach them from a positive angle.

This book is really a joy to flick through. From start to finish, each page demonstrates how different types of beautiful oopses can produce unexpected yet satisfying results. For example, a coffee stain can turn into a frog if you give it half a chance! A torn piece of paper can turn into the mouth of a crocodile (or is it an alligator? I never really got the hang of those two…).

The pages are bright, vivid and interactive. My son loves this book. He’s just over 2, and also not the core demographic for this book and yet it has already had an impact on him. When he makes a mistake and becomes a little fixated in that toddlery way (‘it’s broken! it’s broken!’), I can say ‘it’s a beautiful oops!’ and he understands the reference.

I really do recommend this book for anyone and everyone. It’s a beautifully crafted reminder that mistakes are not the end of the world and can, in fact, be the beginning of a new one.

Beautiful Oops is written by Barney Saltzberg and published by Workman Publishing, New York. It’s written for (everybody), but officially it’s for those between 3-5 years of age.

You can snatch up a copy for yourself at: http://www.booktopia.com.au/beautiful-oops–barney-saltzberg/prod9780761157281.html