We’re the Parakeet Books team: Sheju and Judy. Fed up with the same old books on offer to our own children we started to make our own. We’ve been making inclusive and diverse books for the last two years. Our vibrant, warm and entertaining stories are told through underrepresented groups – central characters who are BAME, people of colour, female or LGBT+.
Having read in cafes and schools we always find that children either don’t notice difference or they love it. The two mums in our book, Eve’s New Brother, never get questioned by our audiences, they just accept that family for what it is. But the relationship between Eve and her brother has them enthralled. In Buddy’s Pancakes they kids afterwards all want to talk about pancakes, in the Mysterious Dinosaurs of Crystal Palace they all want to talk about guess what… dinosaurs. The idea that kids books with main characters who are Black or have a disability or have same-sex parents are niche is totally bogus. It’s an adult assumption and cannot be dressed up as anything other than prejudice. The mainstream publishing world is too slow to change and now is the time for them to pick their feet up and catch up with what readers want.
This sparkly board book from Pat-a-Cake is perfect for helping toddlers develop fine motor skills, especially those who love dinosaurs!
Panda and Penguin are off on an adventure. They need to get to Dinosaur Town in time for a party but they have a long way to go. They huff and puff their way up a steep hill and over a spiky track – but when they get to the top they discover a great big grinning dinosaur face. It turns out they haven’t been climbing a hill at all, instead they have scaled the back of a giant dinosaur! Fortunately he’s very friendly – perhaps he will offer them a lift to the party on his back?
Hands up if you hate the word ‘bossy’? Yup, me too.
All too often it’s used to negatively describe strong-minded girls, whereas boys are simply seen as assertive – so when I picked up this book I wasn’t sure what to expect. It turns out that I didn’t need to worry. There’s no gender bias here, just lots of interactive fun.
From the very first page, this book is in charge and you have to do everything it says. If the book wants you to sit up straight then you have to sit up straight. If the book tells you to sniff it then you have to sniff it (and tell it what it smells like). And if it asks you to be quiet then you had better listen – but the book has very good hearing and can even hear your toenails growing so keeping it happy is quite tough!
Little Sophia Sparks is a brilliant inventor who creates wonderful things out of items she finds in her home – like rockets and robots and even a house with legs! She wears a bright blue bow in her beautiful curly hair and she’s pretty sure that this is the source of her creativity. With the bow in place she comes up with idea after idea.
When her teacher announces to the class that they are going to work together to transform an old bus into something exciting, Sophia is over the moon – until she realises that she has lost her precious blue bow. As the other children get to work Sophia’s tummy starts to churn and her mind goes blank. No bow = no inspiration!
Dog lives a happy but predictable life in a busy city. He runs a laundrette and takes great pride in washing and drying his customers’ clothes. He enjoys his days but secretly he dreams about visiting the ocean. He’d love to see the waves lapping on the shore but thinks this is impossible because the sea is so far away. Instead, he lives vicariously through characters in books and whittles small boats which he keeps around his home.
One day he discovers a new brand of washing powder called ‘Ocean Magic’. Hes very excited to try it – but the box contains a little more than he bargained for. When he gets the clothes out of the machine they smell like sea and sand but huddled inside them is a very dizzy and confused little crab!
I studied French at university so I am really keen for Ivy to learn some basic words and phrases whilst she is small. This brand new book from Jim Field – his first as both author and illustrator – is absolutely perfect for that!
Monsieur Roscoe is a friendly little dog with a pet goldfish called Fry. The pair are about to set off on the holiday of a lifetime to visit some friends, but first they have to pack. As they throw all of the things they need in to a suitcase we see that each one is labelled on the page in both French and English. This continues throughout the book, giving your child the opportunity to learn lots of new French words.
Once packed they say goodbye to their friends and set off on their adventure. They get stuck in traffic on the way to the train station, which gives us the opportunity to learn the words for different kinds of vehicles and the names of the many shops they pass.
Hopefully by now you will have read my announcement from earlier this week – I am going to start reviewing Early Chapter Books alongside Board Books and Picture Books as we have recently started reading them at bedtime!
I am starting with Isadora Moon as this was the first chapter book we tried and Ivy is OBSESSED. We read the first book – Isadora Moon Goes To School – over 3 days and she loved it so much that I ordered the rest of the series.
Isadora Moon is a very special little girl. Her mum is a fairy and her dad is a vampire, which makes her a vampire fairy! She lives with her family and her very special friend Pink Rabbit.
In this first story, Isadora is ready to start school but she doesn’t know which one she should attend. There are schools for vampires and schools for fairies, but there aren’t any for vampire fairies!
The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that I have recently made a change to my logo. It used to say ‘Bite-Sized Book Reviews for Babies and Toddlers’ but now it says ‘Bite-Sized Book Reviews for Kids’.
Well, I opened this account back in September 2017 and started my blog in February 2018. Back then Ivy was just 2 so board books and picture books were our sole focus. Now she’s 4.5 and our reading landscape has shifted a little. We still read just as many board books and picture books, but a few months ago we started devouring chapter books at bedtime.
This gorgeous book from Iranian author Anahita Teymorian is a timely reminder of the difference which kindness and compassion can make to the world.
The story is narrated by an old man as he looks back over his life and shares the lessons he has learned. First he speaks of his childhood and observes that although his mother’s womb was small, there was enough space for him to grow. The house in which he grew up was also small, but there was enough room for his family and his toys and the love they shared.
As he moves through his life he sees that the sky is large enough to hold the moon and the stars, the library has room for all of his favourite books and the sea is vast enough to hold the largest whales. Nature has provided enough space for the world to thrive.
Tiny is a little girl who lives on the shores of a mysterious lake. She watches the water as it laps on the shore and feels a deep desire to explore it but she knows that first she must prepare. She starts to take swiming lessons and she immerses herselves in books and tv shows which will help her achieve her goal.
Finally the day comes when she feels she is ready to jump in. She packs up the things she will need and heads to her chosen spot. She tests the water with her toe and checks that it is deep enough for her to jump in to and then she carefully climbs a tree whose long branches lean out over the lake.
She has thought about this moment for so long – but suddenly Tiny is filled with doubt. What if she can’t do it? What if something scary lives beneath the surface? What if? What if?