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!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Rainbow & Opposites

Rainbow & Opposites

Designed by Jane Cabrera
Published by Templar Publishing



Jane Cabrera's I Can See a Rainbow, is a beautiful and colourful die-cut board book that reflects the shape of a rainbow. Each page spread focuses on a colour of the rainbow and has sweet illustrations that are labelled for little ones to point out and name.




Jane Cabrera has a distinctive style creating cute characters that works well for this pretty board book. Each page features a range of creatures within each colour theme.  I love the rainbow shaped pages and they're also good for little fingers to turn the pages. A lovely book of colours.


Opposites is just as cute as Jane Cabrera's Rainbow but with a slight difference. This sweet board book has lift the flaps for children to see the opposite. I believe by allowing children to interact with the pages helps them take it in and have an early understanding of opposites or can be a good starting point.






Each page has different shaped flaps and some pages offer more than one. With a variety of illustrated backgrounds and animals included, there's some good talking points for adults and children to discuss. But its definitely another lovely board book for little ones to explore.



Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Update and exciting news!

The latest update...


I would like to apologise for the very long silence since my last post. Life has been busy; conquering potty training, keeping a newly turned 3 old occupied until she starts nursery all the while battling through the early months of pregnancy! I have been feeling exhausted, tired and nauseous 100% of the time and it has been hard to find a spare moment to review the beautiful and lovely books that I have received. Many apologies to the Publishers, I aim to use this blog and Instagram to battle through the reviews.

Stay tuned, there are some crackers coming up.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Interview with Steven Lenton

Steven hails from Cheshire where he spent many a school holiday working in the family Pom-pom Factory, packing poms and designing new products. Since this somewhat fluffy start to his career he has gained a BA and MA in Animation and has become a successful animator and art director within the realms of children’s television. Steven also designs greetings cards and prints. 



BWB: Did it take you long to decide on a character design for Fred?

SL: I designed a few different versions of Fred to begin with - it's important to sketch a number of possible character shapes and sizes when creating a new character, whether it be a panda called Fred or a Princess called Daisy!  Here are some of my original sketches... 



Being a panda he had to be big, friendly and fluffy: a BFF if you will!  We wanted him to have a cheeky, wry smile and of course those eyes... interestingly, as we knew the cover was going to have moving eyes, I had to ensure that they were a certain width apart so that the eye mechanism would work perfectly.  We all decided that Fred's face needed to fill most of the cover so that partially dictated the width and height of his face and the proportions therein. Then I based his body around the face on the cover and, Stanley’s your uncle – we had found our Fred!

I am very much a team player when it comes to the design of my books and it’s important that everyone is happy with a design, look and feel of a character and fortunately the Scholastic crew were all in agreement on my design fairly quickly…and don’t forget little Stanley of course! Ssshhh, don’t tell Fred but Stanley is my secret favourite character in the book.  He is a lovely simple, graphic character designed around a series of angles and triangles to create a lovely juxtaposition with Fred’s circle-centric roundedness.  I feel quite sorry for Stanley at first, but when you see the final endpapers of the book featuring my little homage to the classic Dirty Dancing dance sequence, you are reassured that Fred and Stanley are the best of friends, despite their ups downs and round and rounds (at the funfair!) 


BWB: Are Pandas your favourite type of bear?

SL: I think so now yes!  Although, and this is another secret, used to LOVE the Care Bears when I was little!  I’m also a Koala bear fan and of course, who can resist Paddington! When I was a toddler I had a favourite teddy bear called Patch.  He was so named because I threw up on him in hospital and my mum sewed a patch of material over the offending stain (after rinsing him through of course!) so he is an all-time favourite bear of mine too.


BWB: There are a lot of panda themed picture books out in the wild at the moment. What makes Fred stand out?

SL: I'm a big fan of Steve Antony's Mr Panda series and Sophie Henn's Pom-Pom books, so it was important not to tread on my peers paws!

The humour in Let's Find Fred is quite different to that in other Panda-based books.  Fred's moving eyes on the cover and the unusual mixture of 'zoomed-out' spreads with lots to find, intermingled with larger 'paws for thought ' moments where Fred takes up entire pages with his cuddly big tummy and candy floss-filled arms give the book lots of variation and a novelty/activity book feel brought together with a fun narrative.

We decided that, with there being a number of well-known Panda characters in existence, we wanted Fred to look a bit older and more life-sized, rather than small and cute.  This makes him look funnier when he is, for example reading a newspaper on the bus or running through an art gallery! One of my favourite things about the book is that Fred is really accepted throughout each scenario - he may get the odd raised eyebrow (don't we all) but generally everyone is really glad to see Fred and enjoy interacting with him – especially in the huge panda party in the final fold-out spread.


BWB: Let's Find Fred is part picture book, part interactive. Was it first thought up in this way? Or was it something completely different that evolved?

SL: Scholastic approached me with a loose concept for the book at the wonderful Bologna Book Fair a couple of years ago. The very first idea was to have an incredibly simple cut-out novelty book using silhouettes but once I had designed Fred, the team all agreed that we needed to see much more of this cheeky chap! Fred was always going to have some sort of novelty element and everyone decided that the combination of an interactive, fun cover and a giant fold-out finale spread would give Fred that bit of extra bit of magic.  It was quite an organic and wonderfully creative process coming up with the various cityscapes and environments and the narrative and visuals developed alongside each other which was a new way of working for all of us. The reaction to the cover has been a joy at all the events I have done with Fred so far – audiences have literally been hypnotized by Fred’s cheeky grin and mischievous eyes!


BWB: Will we see Fred pop up again?

SL: I'm hoping so yes!  Myself, the designer of the book Strawberrie Donnelly and editor Sophie Cashell have had numerous chats about other adventures Fred could embark on; underwater or sky-based spreads would be wonderful, or maybe Stanley could take centre stage and Fred could do the chasing next time! And of course you can see me, Fred (AND Stanley) around the UK at various literary festivals, books shops and school events throughout the year!

Huge thanks to Steven and Olivia for a wonderful interview. Let's Find Fred is available to buy at all good bookshops right now!

Let's Find Fred

Let's Find Fred

By Steve Lenton
Published by Scholastic


Let's Find Fred is the latest new book by Steve Lenton; with a novelty cover (moving eyes), a fun pull out finale, children will enjoy trying to spot this adventure seeking, black and white panda, named Fred.




It's night time at the Garden City Zoo but Fred is not ready for bed, he wants to have an adventure. With Stanley the zookeeper, hot on his heels, Fred makes his escape. Fred enjoys a visit to the City Market, a concert, trying ice cream but he's still not ready for bed time. With Stanley catching up, Fred makes a dash into the Pand-A-Maze, where there is a lot of panda distractions for the zookeeper. The funfair is the next stop for this cheeky panda and trying clouds of candy floss. Finally Stanley chases Fred into the biggest panda party, the Panda-Monium Ball! There are pandas everywhere but we finally catch up to Fred. What an adventure for this fun loving panda.




Aimed at ages 3+, children will enjoy trying to spot this naughty Panda but watch out, there's lots of distracting black and white, panda shapes which will make spotting Fred that little bit harder. The pages are filled with brightly coloured illustrations and cute pandas everywhere. With lots of different scenes, there's so much going on that you will end up spotting different things each time you read it.

Let's Find Fred is out and about in all good book shops, for more info, please click here.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Baby Touch and Feel I Love You

Baby Touch and Feel
I Love You

Published by DK Press
I Love You is the latest addition to the Baby Touch and Feel series by DK Press. A cute little board book, ideal for little fingers. There are a variety of touchy-feely areas to explore; soft felt teddy paws, shimmery hearts, furry puppies and rabbits among other textured surfaces. This little book explores love and friendship, perfect for Valentine's Day. 




This book has a nice feel to it, with a padded cover and a small format, it is a great size for little people to explore. It has bright and clear photography, and features a heart shaped mirror at the end for your little sweetheart! Not just for Valentine's, this would make a lovely gift to help little ones explore love, feelings and textures.

For more information, click here.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Skills for Starting school: Sharing is Caring + Please and Thank You

Skills for Starting school:
Sharing is Caring +
Please and Thank You

Published by DK Press




DK Press have a new fun and educational series: Get Ready for School, which offers a range of picture, board and activity books for your pre-school aged child. You can also find a free downloadable activity pack which introduces skills from numbers to colours here. They feature three friendly and educational characters: Bip, Bop and Boo, which you can find in Please and Thank You and Sharing is Caring, two board books within the series.





Please and Thank You features Bip, Bop and Boo at the park where they are having a picnic. Bip offers his friends a cookie each but they forget to say the all important magic words. A nice little book that offers discussion questions which will encourage children to take an active role in the story.  It can also open up a discussion with your child about manners and how the characters may be feeling. 






Sharing is Caring features Boo building a castle out of bricks when Bip asks to play with him, Boo says no but when his castle falls down he is ready to ask Boo and Bop for help, which results in them all agreeing that it's much more fun to share and play together. 
These are great little books for teaching social and personal skills and will be a great help in getting children ready for starting school.
 I read these with Aoife, who will be starting nursery school in June, so these were a great way to start talking about feelings and manners. Aoife did ask for a biscuit while reading Please and Thank You but remembered to say please so how could I say no.. Available late February.