We are massive fans of the Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam picture books so we were very excited to discover that there are chapter books too!
Shifty and Sam are two loveable dogs who used to live a life of crime. These days they are reformed characters who have swapped robbing banks for baking cakes and catching bad guys. In ‘The Spooky School’ they use their skills to solve a series of wacky mysteries.
Each of the books is divided in to three stories and each story has four short chapters which makes them perfect for bedtime reading. We’ll usually read two chapters per night but if Ivy is particularly tired we’ll drop this down to just one.
The stories in this volume are:
Every now and again we receive a book which manages to completely take my breath away. It doesn’t happen very often (we read A LOT of stories!) but when it does I know that we have discovered something special. ‘Cheeky Worries’ is one of those books.
Finn is a little boy like any other. He loves having adventures, playing on the slide and going to parties – and most of all he loves to pretend to be the driver when he sits onthe bus. But then one day something strange happens…
As he sits in his favourite spot he suddenly has a scary thought – what if his mum got off the bus and left him behind? Later that night he starts to worry that there might be a monster under his bed, and the next day at the park he worries about what would happen if he slipped and fell off the slide. Finn is so consumed by these thoughts that he stops having fun.
Scribble and Swoop are the best of friends and they love spending time together, having fun and pursuing their hobbies. Scribble enjoys writing and performing plays, whilst Swoop likes to build things with scraps of wood.
When the pair decide to set up home together they are very excited. They unpack their belongings and then sit in in the shade on their beautiful new veranda. As they sit quietly in the cool breeze, they each have a thought. Scribble thinks that the veranda would be the perfect setting for his plays, whilst Swoop is dreaming of turning it in to a workshop.
The next morning there’s a terrible squabble as the two friends argue over how they should use the space. Shouting ensues and they each stomp off in a huff.
It’s Monkey’s birthday and she’s planning a lavish party which she desperately wants to be perfect. She has asked her friends to look after the music, the cake and the decorations so she zips and zooms around the forest in a panic checking on their progress.
Unfortunately nothing is quite right, which sends Monkey in to a tizz. The birds are trying (and failing) to learn the drum beats she wanted, Bear has accidentally baked mud in to the cake and Tapir has got herself tangled up in the decorations. Monkey is in such a flap that she doesn’t stop to help. She just continues to swing around the forest, getting more stressed by the second.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I’m Sharan, I’m 41. I live in South Wales with my husband (Tommy) and our two daughters, Iona (5) and Ada (2). I grew up in Bedfordshire, but moved to South Wales for University and have pretty much been here ever since.
During the day I work in Public Protection, when I’m not trying to home school. When the house is quiet I am the Founder and Chief Baker at The Happiest Brownie, a postal brownie company. Tommy helps me out a lot, I couldn’t do this without him. He makes sure that he keeps the kids distracted for long enough periods of time, so I don’t have to bake with a small child hanging off my legs, or shouting “Brownies” at me and standing there with their mouth open until food is given. He is also chief printer.
Chester the raccoon doesn’t want to go to school. He wants to stay safe at home with his mummy and his toys and books. Mrs. Raccoon draws him close to her and explains gently that sometimes we have to do things which seem a little big and scary. Although school might seem strange at first she is confident that he will grow to love it. He will make new friends, play with new toys, read new books and learn exciting new things.
Chester is unconvinced so she lets him in on a little secret – The Kissing Hand. She takes his hand, spreads out his fingers and plants a big kiss on his palm. He feels the warmth run right up his arm and straight to his heart. His mum tells him that every time he feels scared or lonely he just has to press that special spot on his hand and he will immediately be able to feel her love all around him.
If your child is wary of leaving you behind on their first day of school or nursery then this funny story might help calm their nerves.
There is one big rule when it comes to school – Do Not Take Your Bear. Why? Because bears just aren’t designed for the classroom! They cause panic in the playground, they’re far too big for the chairs and they gobble up all the food at lunchtime.
And you really wouldn’t want that level of mayhem on your first day of school because then you’d miss out on all the fun. A bear would distract you from making new friends, painting colourful pictures, doing your sums and listening to your teacher tell you a beautiful story.
We absolutely loved the previous collaboration between Judy Carey Nevin and Susie Hammer – All Kids are Good Kids – so we were really excited when this book arrived earlier this week, and it did not disappoint!
This stunning little board book looks at all the little ways we can show kindness to those around us. From saying please or sending a card, through to helping with chores or extending a hand to someone who is feeling lonely, no gesture is too small to make a difference.
The warm and friendly illustrations show a diverse group of children helping each other with a smile. In addition to different skin colours and hair styles we spotted a child in a wheelchair, a child with a walking stick, and two children in glasses (including glasses where one eye is covered completely). It’s also lovely to see that some of the children have an abundance of freckles, which is not something we’ve seen in a lot of picture books!
I love picture books where the words and illustrations work in opposition and ‘I Will Be Fierce!’ is the best example I have seen.
The pictures show a young girl moving through an ordinary day at school but the words are those of a fierce knight going in to battle, determined to make the world a better place. The result is a powerful narrative which teaches children that they can be the hero of their own story.
At the start of the day we see the protagonist don her armour (a stripy jumper), fill her treasure chest (a rucksack of books) and head out in to the world. On her way to school she fearlessly faces monsters (dogs), giants (older children) and a dragon (the school bus). The day continues in this wonderful manner as we encounter more mythical beasts (like the Guardian of Wisdom – the school librarian) and battle against doubt and injustice.
Dev is a little boy who loves football but absolutely hates anything messy, like paint, sand or muddy puddles. When his mum reminds him about an upcoming art class he goes to bed feeling anxious, until his magical friend Ollie the owl taps on his window.
Ollie sweeps Dev on to his back and carries him to Agra where thousands of people are celebrating Holi, an ancient Hindu festival. Dev watches in wonder as all around him children dance, sing and play covered in powder paint and coloured water.
Suddenly he is hit by a water balloon and his pyjamas become an explosion of paint splatters. Can he overcome his dislike of mess and embrace the colourful traditions of Holi?