Saturday, 30 May 2015

Peppa Pig - Let's Go Shopping Peppa

Let's Go Shopping Peppa

Published by Ladybird Books

Based on the hugely popular TV series, Let's go Shopping Peppa, is the perfect picture book for any Peppa Pig fan. 

The Pig family are in need of a trip to the local supermarket for food for their lunch. They all jump in the car after breakfast and arrive at the supermarket. They get a trolley which George is placed in and allow Peppa to help with the shopping. Peppa suggests they get one of everything, but Daddy Pig hands her a list with exactly what they need to get. With the list in hand, Peppa finds each item and places it in the trolley. And not leaving George out, he gets to pick the fruit of his choice - a watermelon!  

The illustrations and text are what you'd expect from anything related to Peppa Pig, so anyone familiar with the show will love this. The story is educational as well as entertaining, helping children understand the shopping experience and how having a list can help you plan ahead and make things easier. I also had a giggle when Daddy Pig admitted to adding the chocolate cake to the trolley even though it wasn't on the list - something we're all guilty of now and again.

Peppa Pig - Let's go Shopping Peppa is available to buy now from all good bookshops and online.

Friday, 29 May 2015

The Little Gardener

The Little Gardener

By Emily Hughes  
Published by Flying Eye Books

Being a huge fan of Emily's debut picture book, Wild (I reviewed the paperback edition earlier this month), I was ecstatic to find out she was doing a second book with Flying Eye. That second book is called The Little Gardener, and what a feast for the eyes it is! 

The story revolves around a garden, not the prettiest of gardens, but a garden nonetheless. Within this garden lives a little gardener, he lives for his garden, it brings him joy, it is his home. The only thing is, this little gardener wasn't particularly good at gardening, but he worked hard everyday, but it didn't make much difference as he was just too small to keep on top of it all. But there is hope in the form of one flower, a flower that has blossomed and stands proud amongst all the weeds and clutter. But despite all the little gardener's efforts, the garden was dying. He would lose his home, his food source and most importantly his meaning. So one night he makes a wish... (you'll have to read it to find out what happens!).

Compared to Wild, Emily's illustrations here feel a lot softer and rather delicate, but there's still the sense of wilderness with the choice of wild plants that appear in the garden. The Little Gardener has a vintage quality about it, from the earthy colour palette to the way Emily has laid out each spread by having the text appear underneath the illustrations - reminding me of Maurice Sendak's work.  

This is a wonderful second title from Emily, and I was expecting nothing less. The story is heartwarming and I adore the little gardener and his worm companion. Perfect reading for young and old alike.

The Little Gardener is available to buy from 1st June from all good bookshops and online from the Flying Eye Books website. 

Jane Foster's 123

Jane Foster's 123

By Jane Foster  
Published by Templar Publishing

This board book is part of a new range by leading textile designer, Jane Foster. There are two books in the range, 123 and ABC. I had the pleasure of getting my hands on 123. 

The board book has Jane's textile background stamped all over it. The first thing I noticed was the colour palette. The colours are mostly pastels, with the illustrations adorning Jane's trademark black bold outlines. Jane's patterns feature throughout, adding texture to plain solid colours. I also adore the varnish added to all the illustrations and text, encouraging the child to touch and feel the big bold numbers and the illustrations.

Like all 'numbers' books this one features an image beside each number. Jane has used animals, plants and familiar objects - all of which young children should respond to. 

At the end of the book there is a summary of all 10 numbers with the illustrations displayed beside them. My favourite part is the spread afterwards, a rocket blasting off after the all important countdown - a great idea to finish off. Overall a lovely way to introduce numbers in a bold and stylish way. 

Jane Foster's 123 is available to buy in all good bookshops and online on the Templar website.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Baby Touch: Busy Baby

Baby Touch: Busy Baby

Published by Ladybird Books

Busy Baby is part of the Baby Touch series by Ladybird. This is the first board book I have had that is accompanied with an audio CD.

My 12 month old has been crawling for the last month, so I can relate to the title of this beautifully presented interactive board book. We follow the busy baby in the bright red car as he journeys across busy streets, through the jungle, past a farm and finally up a hill to return back home. The text is simple and rhymes throughout, with sound effects for the cars and animals that appear. The accompanying audio CD has ten tracks consisting of instrumental baby music, perfect to play on car journeys or at home.

Like the rest of the Baby Touch series, there are lots of textures for baby to touch, like the squishy red car, a furry lion and a woolly sheep. You'll also spot a clever die-cut window which reveals baby on one side and when you turn the page it reveals a butterfly.  

With bright bold colours and simple shapes, this will keep any busy baby entertained, and the audio CD is a lovely addition to baby's CD collection. Other titles in the Baby Touch series are; Tickle Me!, Tummy Time and Night, Night. Busy Baby is available to buy in all good bookshops and online.

When Dad Showed Me the Universe

When Dad Showed Me the Universe

Written by Ulf Stark and illustrated by Eva Ericsson  
Published by Gecko Press

With Father’s Day only a few weeks away (Sunday 21st June), this modern Swedish classic will delight any sons, fathers and grandfathers. This fun but moving story features a Dad wanting to show his son something special; the Universe.

After a long day working at the dentist, this Dad believes it’s time to show his Son the universe. They wrap up warm before heading outside. The Son decides to ask lots of questions about the universe as he’s not too sure what it is, after pointing at the supermarket, “No” replies his Dad but they go in for provisions. They walk for a long time, past the shops and through the park, past the hardware store and past the fish shop, which are all closing up for the night. 

When they reach the outside of town, where there are no streetlights, they stop on a small hill. The son asks if this is it, looking around at the hill and grass, spotting a snail from the universe creeping over a stone… he’s a little confused, until his Dad notices that he isn’t looking up at the sky and tells him to look up. The sky is filled with thousands of stars and the Dad begins to point them out but the Son thinks they look like specks of dust that you would find in the living room in the sunshine. The Dad continues talking about how amazing the universe is and picks his son up so he can be closer, explaining how some stars don’t even exist but we can still see their light. But its all interrupted, when they get a whiff of something stinky, the Son knows whats happened, his Dad has stepped in dog poo! His Son states “It’s Big Dog!” after being told about the star constellation Big Dog. It’s time to go home. The Dad thinks his son may be a little too young yet but the Son states he will remember and that the universe was beautiful and funny!

The story is told from the Son’s point of view, which brings humour to the story, especially when he is getting very confused about understanding what the universe is; first believing it is the shops, then grass and the plants around him. I liked the little facts that popped up when the Son is asking the Father questions; like the temperature of the Universe or about the different stars. Though, if we were to read more into this, the Son is quite right in that isn’t everything around us all part of the universe?

The soft classic illustrations, by Swedish illustrator Eva Ericsson, work brilliantly with the strong narrative by Ulf Stark making it a very sweet book to enjoy with your little one. This book is recommended for five years of age and over and I believe it would make a great book to start up a discussion about stars and the universe.

When Dad Showed Me the Universe will be enjoyed by little ones and adults alike but its always good to remember that even though its nice to look up and appreciate the stars above, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on down here, as sometimes the most important things are right under our noses!

The King and the Sea

The King and the Sea

By Heinz Janisch & illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch  
Published by Gecko Press

Gecko Press have some of the most inventive titles when it comes to the art of picture books. From the same illustrator as Duck, Death and the Tulip comes his collaboration with author Heinz Janisch for an new take on the craft. At 48 pages long and consisting of 21 extremely short stories, The King and the Sea isn't your typical picture book.

The King appears in all 21 stories, all of which involve the King questioning the things around him. He asks a cat why he lies in the sun, he asks his shadow why it follows him, and he demands the rain to stop raining. On his travels the King finds that he can't simply rule everything he encounters, and that the world simply operates under its own rules whether he likes it or not.   

Janisch's text is full of humour and wisdom, and the childish nature of the King is simply adorable. Each story is simply told, with each one dealing with big questions which are answered in a simple unpatronising way. The ending is no different, with it hinting at the King's mortality. Erlbruch's illustrations don't disappoint, with his collage using textures such as sheet music and vintage wallpapers for elements such as the King's clothes. As you turn each page you can't help but admire each spread and it's classic charm. 

Without a doubt this is a picture book for an older child, with the suggested age being 8+. I think for the nature of the book and to keep a child's attention I would suggest the same.  It is a book to treasure and I can see it being equally as popular with adults, especially those who keep a space on their book shelf for well made picture books such as this.

The King and the Sea is available to buy from all good bookshops and online from Gecko Press.

A White Butterfly

A White Butterfly

By Laurie Cohen & illustrated by Barbara Ortelli  
Published by Minedition

This very simple and beautiful board book comes from independent publisher, Minedition. In A White Butterly we are introduced to all different coloured butterflies; blue butterflies that are blue like the sea, pink that are like sweets and yellow butterflies that are like the sun. 

Not all the butterflies in the book are quite as colourful as these. There are butterflies as grey as stone, black as the night and all white butterflies that are as white as snowflakes. You would think that a white butterfly is pretty plain, but when it gets wet something amazing happens, it reflects all the colours of the rainbow. 

The book itself is a rounded corner board book with glossy pages - perfect for wiping clean after small sticky fingers! The majority of the illustrations are presented on white, making the colourful butterflies jump off the pages. The art looks like its a mixture of paint and collage, and reminded me of the work of the wonderful Eric Carle. I particularly liked the interactive die-cut butterfly at the end of the book which lets through the rainbow on the next page. It's also there to encourage children to place their own patterns or textures to create their very own unique butterflies! 

Overall A White Butterly is a lovely simple book for younger children to learn about different coloured butterflies and how it relates to the world around them. A White Butterly is available to buy now in good bookshops and online.

Silly Dizzy Dinosaur!

Silly Dizzy Dinosaur!

By Jack Tickle  
Published by Little Tiger Press

My 12 month old absolutely adored Dizzy as soon as I first opened it. Silly Dizzy Dinosaur! is the latest creature picture book from author/illustrator, Jack Tickle. Dizzy is a huge red dinosaur, covered in spots. He's not exactly the smartest dinosaur and its safe to say he can be a bit of a clumsy chap. 

In this book we find Dizzy being the centre of the story, with us the reader being encouraged to interact with Dizzy. We're told to tickle him, shake him and even shout 'Boo!' at him, all of course with disastrous results for poor Dizzy. The text is simple and really flows well - great for keeping the attention span of a young child. The colours are vibrant and Dizzy pops on every page, so younger readers can spot him easily - especially for seeing the end results of their interaction with him. 

There are quite a few 'interactive' picture books available on the market and they all use similar mechanics such as shaking and turning the book from its usual position. Silly Dizzy Dinosaur! is a simple story and by using the book as a means to make him clumsy works well and in turn entertained my 12 month old. Jack's (aka Jane Chapman) illustrations were a big hit too - who can resist a dopey big red dinosaur? 

Silly Dizzy Dinosaur! is available at all good bookshops and online at Little Tiger Press.