A bit of quick novelty fun.

All Around TownWhen I came across this book I was pretty keen. For starters, the book is somewhat of a novelty; it is shaped like a miniature city – I think that’s kind of awesome. Inside the city, there are cars and roads and six buildings – each building has a dedicated little first-word type book, eg. hospital, school etc. and each book is filled with words related to that building, such as ‘student’, ‘patient’ etc.

Visually speaking, the layout of this book definitely breaks up the monotony of some of the other first-word books that I’ve come across. Unfortunately, I ended up more interested in this book than my son which is not a great thing because, not to boast here, I already knew all the words. I’m not sure I can actually explain why my son isn’t totally into it because it appears to have everything you’d want and/or need in order to attract a very young reader. I’m going to persist with this one because the words inside are actually quite useful, and not often found in a lot of the other ‘baby’s first word’ books.

I am recommending this book, but I’d caution that you test it on your little one before you buy it. I’m thinking of bringing it to playgroup this week and seeing if the other little hands find it more appealing. That being said, I think it’s worth a try. I’d recommend it for children ages 1-3 (though 3 is pushing it).

All Around Town, illustrated by Veronica Klimova, can be found at: http://www.paperchainbookstore.com.au/search.cfm?UR=BI234258&search_stage=details&records_to_display=50&this_book_number=28

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My son loves this book.

Dino ShapesDino Shapes, written and illustrated by Suse MacDonald, is really fun. It’s also educational, but in a tricky haha you’re learning and you didn’t even know it sort of way.

The concept is complicated but presented in a seamlessly simple way. Essentially, through a mix of colours and shapes, MacDonald builds a dinosaur page by page. Each page is dedicated to a new part of the dinosaur’s face, and that part is made out of a different shape. My son (17 months) has asked for the ‘dino’ book three days in a row now. Tonight, he startled me by correctly identifying the oval and diamond. He has a firm grasp on other shapes but these are, arguably, more complicated for a little person to grasp. He also identified the ‘crescent’, but he hasn’t quite articulated it properly yet. I’m certain Dino Shapes is a large part of this early learning.

Amazon suggests this book is appropriate for 3-7 years but I think that doesn’t give children on the earliest side of life enough credit. Dino Shapes is exciting and cleverly immersive, especially considering the tiny people for which the book is written. If you don’t have little ‘uns, this one is actually a pretty great gift too. You can purchase the book at: http://www.amazon.com/Dino-Shapes-Suse-MacDonald/dp/1481400932

Baby, I’m baaaaaaack.

I’ve been on hiatus for about a month or so now, my apologies to all! I had a nearly-month-long trip to visit the US. My husband, son and I visited family in NY and CO and it was lots of fun, albeit not very refreshing travelling with a one-year-old. However, the big news is…drum roll please… I met up with my loverley agent, Alison McDonald from The Rights Factory! Yep, I’m signed and I am super excited about it!! It’s so fun having someone to work with on my manuscripts. If you want to contact her regarding my work, she is available via their website, http://www.therightsfactory.com/.

Mustache babyNow, back to the topic at hand: MUSTACHE BABY (Written by Bridget Heos and Illustrated by Joy Ang). When I came across this book I practically ripped it off the shelf in my enthusiasm. What an absurd and endearing concept. I tend to gravitate to (and write) quirky and absurd stories so this is right up my ally. The story is about a newborn baby who, fresh out of the womb, is already sporting a mustache. But the questions remains: is this a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache?

First thing’s first: you won’t find a concept like this anywhere else. If this story tickles your fancy, then you might as well grab this book ‘cuz baby, there’s no other Mustache Children lurking around the shelves of bookstores. Actually, Mustache Children sounds particularly creepy. There’s not much didactic about this story either, which I appreciate. It’s just some odd fun.

The story explores the stereotypes and clichés surrounding different types of mustaches. It’s a story for the sake of the story, which is often the best kind of story. Did I mention this was a story?! That being said, I am more partial to a stronger narrative arc. This is just a personal preference of course, and this one is definitely worth a look if you are a lover of the quirky and strange.

Ang’s illustrations happily embrace the absurdity of it all, whilst clearly conveying the stereotypes and cliches to children who might not really understand mustache cliches yet (there’s a term I never thought I’d use; ‘mustache cliches’). I’d say this would be suited to children in Kindergarten and Year One.

Check it out at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15814439-mustache-baby

A big shouting day? Why, I’m guessing you’ve encountered a few.

Big shouty dayThis book is silly and fun and terribly, terribly accurate. Written and illustrated by Rebecca Patterson, the story is about a little girl who just having one of those days. Nothings seems or feels right and it is just plain frustrating! We’ve all had those days, but the beauty of childhood is that you can actually shout at anything and everything to really express yourself. Truth be told, I’m a little jealous of the little girl. A passive-aggressive smile just doesn’t cut it for me, but alas that is one of the pitfalls of adulthood; it’ll have to do.

Of course for this little girl, her shouting day is inevitably impacting on a terribly, terribly patient mummy who is, by the end, super frustrated herself. One of the things I love about this book, and I try and incorporate into my own writing (wink-wink/self-promotion/nudge-nudge) is that the satisfying end to this book is that she still retains her spunk; girls need a bit of that!

The story is well written, engaging and so accurate! Have a look at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13632292-my-big-shouting-day

I am in love with this book.

ImageTHE DARK by Lemony Snicket and Illustrated by Jon Klassen is In.Cre.Di.Ble. How did I not know this book existed? There are few picture books that give me goose bumps and this is certainly one of those. The book is about darkness and one little boy’s pervasive fear. Snicket’s writing is gentle and touching. He personifies the dark whilst maintaining its elusive and mysterious qualities. In the end, little boy learns to live in a world where there is darkness. It’s a great book for kids; there is a lesson in it, but not a didactic one. The illustrations are unique. I love the colour scheme and the way the darkness highlights the action. Klassen’s rendering of the story is clever and true to form. 

Go check it out. You can find it at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15790852-the-dark

 

I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet…

They sent me a… cat who sheds all over everything and a dog who likes to chew up my backyard! Alright, the book doesn’t actually say this, but I’m attempting to be witty here whilst splashing in a puddle of exhaustion. I can either continue to try to be cute about this or just get on with the business of reviewing picture books. I choose the latter! So…

ImageDear Zoo by Rod Campbell is an easy read and quick fun. In fact, I know it pretty much by heart. That’s how simple it is! Also, that’s pretty indicative that my son is a fan. I never thought an 11 month old would have so many opinions about what he reads, but if it’s not in his mouth or he’s not craning his neck so he doesn’t have to look at the pictures, then I know I’m onto a winner.

This book is quick, has a narrative, and is a lift-the-flap — it’s my trifecta! It is very minimal. The page with the lift-the-flap that matches the cover — the one with the cage in front of the lion — is my son’s favourite. He likes to run his tiny little pointer finger through the little paper bars.

This books is pretty darn popular, and I can understand why. Go see for yourself at: http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Zoo-Lift-Flap-Book/dp/141694737X

Night Night Spot!

ImageThis will be the second time a Spot book appears on this website. I would argue this is an inevitability, considering my son is enamoured with these books.

I am quite a fan of a goodnight book. I have struggled to get through some of them with my son because his attention span isn’t yet developed. He does, however, usually let me get through Goodnight Moon and I’m quite fond of that one. However, when I found Night Night Spot I was quite relieved. It conveys a very simple yet effective narrative in only 8 double page spreads. It holds my son’s focus, and allows for a routine. It is also a board book so he can chew to his heart’s content.

Sadly, it seems he is now in the habit of crying as soon as this book comes out because he knows it means it is sleep-time. This breaks my heart, but also tells me that the book does a solid job of rounding out his bedtime routine. Besides, it’s only a flash cry and then the thumb pops in and all is well.

I recommend this text as a starter goodnight book. It is quick, simple and effective — sure to hold your bub’s attention, and help get them settled for the evening.

Have a look here:  http://www.booktopia.com.au/i-love-spot-baby-books-night-night-spot-eric-hill/prod9780723271642.html