Thursday, 14 September 2017

Dinosaurs United and the Cowardly Custard Pirate Crew

Dinosaurs United and the Cowardly Custard 
Pirate Crew

Text by Sam Hay
Illustrations by Daron Parton
Published by Egmont Publishing

For children that love football, dinosaurs and pirates, this picture book nearly has it all... Oh wait, there's even a dinosaur head mask!! When the football kit goes missing, can the dino team find their kit, defeat those cowardly pirates and win the match?

Meet Dinosaurs United, a five-a-side football team in the Fantasy Football League. They're up against the Cowardly Custard Pirate Crew but someone has stolen their football kit. Those dastardly pirates have hidden them but have left clues and a treasure map. The dinosaurs have to use their football skills to defeat the traps and pirate attacks, but not to worry they manage to do it just in the nick of time when the referee's whistle blows. The pirates make a quick retreat back to their ship making Dinosaurs United the cup winners.  

Big, bold and colourful, with fun illustrations, this is looking like it will be the start of an exciting new series. I believe its more aimed at boys, for ages 3+ however that didn't stop Aoife enjoying the dinosaurs and pirates, the football terms were a little lost on her at the moment.

For more information on the new series, check out the Egmont Publishing site here.

British Museum First Concepts + British Museum: Mummy

British Museum First Concepts Series 

British Museum: Mummy

Published by Nosy Crow

I was lucky to receive a selection of board books from Nosy Crow, a while back, who have been working with the British Museum in an exclusive partnership to create a range of children's books. As stated in their book description; the books draw on the British Museum's internationally recognised brand, its unparalleled collection of objects and its world class expertise.

British Museum First Concepts is a range of board books; 123, ABC, Opposites and Colours, all aimed at 0+ years. 

The 123 board book goes up to the number 20 and displays beautiful and interesting collections; from drawings and paintings of butterflies and geese, to mini fish and horse statues to a collection of odd looking hats among many more. With blocks of background colour, the objects are displayed clearly and allows the number and written number to stand out.  
The ABC book is displayed in a similar format and works just as well. Each letter is shown in upper and lower case with the word of the object displayed. 

There's a lovely high quality to this collection that makes them stand out from other ABC/123 books. Though aimed at age 0+, Aoife loves looking through this and talking about the objects shown. It's made me want to take her to the British Museum and try and find the items!

Each book in this series also offers a QR code at the back of the book for parents to scan on their smart phone to find out more about the objects displayed within the book.

Mummy is another board book, and part of The British Museum collection, with large lift-the-flaps and that offers an early introduction into ancient Egyptian life. The book follows a little girl who is looking for her mummy in different locations; market, River Nile, pond, tomb etc. With repetition of 'Where's my mummy?' per page, little ones are encouraged to join in and help look for the little girl's lost mummy.

I was surprised by the hieroglyphs under each flap but it's a nice touch and a good discussion point with toddlers about other languages and symbols. With pretty illustrations that are simple but work really nicely with the theme - a lovely addition to the collection.

For more information on the Early Concept series, please click here.

Doctor Who Paper Dolls

Doctor Who Paper Dolls

Illustrations by Ben Morris
Text by Simon Guerrier
Published by BBC Books
Penguin Random House

Calling all Doctor Who fans! For the young and old, go back through time and space, and check out a collection of Doctor Who paper dolls; includes the 12 doctors and a range of other characters, with over 50 different outfits to change them into. The book includes secrets behind the costumes, with insights from the actors and producers. A fun gift for any Doctor Who fan, maybe even a Christmas stocking gift (sorry, I said the C word!).

I'll be honest and admit that I'm not an avid Doctor Who fan however I did find myself watching the show when the actors, David Tennant and Matt Smith played the Doctor. I remember the scariest episodes were with the Weeping Angels! I spent most of those episode hiding behind a cushion!!

There are 26 dolls to cut out, each with 2 or 3 clothes change and with 1 or 2 head changes. Each character page is printed on thick and sturdy card so I don't believe there would be any problems for the doll to stand up. Each character's page includes the actor's name and the years they were in Doctor Who as well as little facts and comments about the different clothing items, all very interesting - It would make you not want to cut up the pages!
For more info, click here.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings

An A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings

Text by Aidan Onn
Illustrations by Rob Hodgson
Published by Laurence King

There seems to be an on-going monster theme by illustrator Rob Hodgson at the moment, after recently reviewing Monster Bingo, here's another monster delight: you can find out more about these fantastical, magical and a touch scary creatures in an A to Z of Monsters and Magical Beings.

Featuring a different magical being per letter of the alphabet, there's a good and varied selection of monsters; from the more popular ones such as an alien, banshee, ghost to even Nessie, to monsters from around the world; the Xing Tian in China, or the Ushi-Oni in Japan among others. There's a brief paragraph per monster which gives you some history and sometimes advice if you have the misfortune of meeting these beasties. 

Rob Hodgson has a distinctive style that works really well with the monster theme. Age range for the book would be 5/6+ depending on your child and if they're a fan of monsters, or a little beastie themselves. Aoife has just turned 3 and is definitely too young for this book however she managed to get her hands on this before I could warn her, and actually enjoyed flicking through the book with me and talking about the characters but she is very much into magical beings at the moment so I don't think I'll be able to keep her away from this book for too long.  

I like the style of the book with it's big, full paged illustrations, and a few fun things to spot in the backgrounds. It's a hit with us and one where children will enjoy the interesting facts and more with this guide to the strange, scary and wonderful world of monsters and ancient mythical beings! 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Scary Bingo - Game

Scary Bingo

Illustrations by Rob Hodgson
Magma for Laurence King

I'm excited to review something a little different today! Scary Bingo, an easy to play game with lots of crazy characters. For 3-7 players, this is a game for the family.

Aoife has been eyeing this game up all week and was desperate to play it and it didn't disappoint her! 

There are two games that you can play:

Game 1 - You select someone to be the caller who gets the big game board and assembles the monster box for the character cards to sit in. All other players select a bingo card each.
The caller will select a random spooky character and call its name out. If a player has that character, they will select a token and cover that character.
The aim is to mark all your monsters on your bingo card. Once complete, the player must shout 'Scary Bingo' to win.

Game 2 - Another way to play the game, which could be faster, players could focus on marking off five of the characters in just one line on your bingo card (horizontal, vertical or diagonal).

With there being 8 double sided bingo cards to choose from, and with 25 monsters on each side, I thought the game would take a while to play and that Aoife would lose interest, but it was far from it! Once we got started we enjoyed taking about the monsters that I was calling out and Aoife loved checking her bingo card getting more excited when her bingo card was filling up. I can't wait to play this with more players, maybe a monster theme party/playdate for October.. 

The monster characters are fun, and crazy looking, some even cute. I didn't find them to be too scary and Aoife liked to talk about them pointing out the funny looking ones. It was easy to set up and the rules were short and clear, and easy to understand for little ones. My only little worry would be how long the monster box will last with the assembling and disassembling after each game, so I would recommend a parent take charge of that. Overall a great spooky (& kooky) little game! 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Welcome to London

Welcome to London

Illustrated by Marcos Farina
Published by Button Books

Thinking of taking the children into London this summer holiday? Then check this book out before you do! Welcome to Marcos Farina's vision of London; he explores most well-known landmarks, offers interesting facts, and suggests activities and things to look out for when in the capital. A beautiful book that will make you want to visit London!

With beautiful end papers, there's so much beautiful imagery to explore per page, I think you will continue to find something new each time you open this book. This delightful book references a variety of transport, people, locations and well known buildings, there's even a few film references that show London. I like the spread that explored the different bridges that can be found and trees in Hyde Park. And if you plan to visit the History Museum, there's a reference to the new blue whale exhibition that replaced the Dippy the Diplodocus within the entrance.

I like how the illustrations include a variety of different coloured people, shapes and animals to represent the diversity of people that live and visit London; it allows the illustrator to keep his limited colour palette and works well. You can see that the illustrator has a Graphic Design background; good character design, bold and colourful, each spread is varied in its composition and layout. My daughter is a little too young for this book at the moment, which I'm selfishly glad about as I might keep this one all for myself!

You can find out more information here about the illustrator and book.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Walk This Wild World

Walk This Wild World

Illustrated by Sam Brewster
Written by Kate Baker
Published by Big Picture Press

Walk This Wild World is a stunningly illustrated, lift-the-flap board book. Each page spread explores a new habitat and country and offers a variety of animals, reptiles and insects, and even plant life. Flaps of different sizes are spread out and offer interesting facts.

Sam Brewster's graphic style is distinctive and works extremely well with this style of book. From Peccaries and Kangaroo rats in the Sonoran dessert, to the blue morpho, the largest butterfly in the Amazon. You'll discover a huge selection of creatures in a variety of countries such as the Serengeti, the Spanish wetlands, the windy coast of the Hebrides, a vast green Russian steppe, to the snowy Himalayan peaks among a few others. There is also a world map at the end to show the journey that you have taken.

Though Aoife may be too young to understand the facts, she is still enjoying this book, finding the flaps and trying to learn the animal names. It's one she likes to pick up daily.

It's a beautiful discovery book, that's high quality, that any young or old animal lover will enjoy exploring!