Every parent hopes that their child will grow up to be kind, and for that reason I think this book should be on bookshelves everywhere. It teaches children the value of kindness and the difference it can make to the world.
The tiniest little things can turn someone’s whole day around and they cost you absolutely nothing – a smile, a hug, a hand to hold. The book asks children to think about what they can do to help those around them. This could be something as simple as carrying a bag, being a little bit patient or sharing your toys.
It also encourages kids to think about how others might be feeling. If there is a new person in their class then they might be nervous or scared, so how can they make it easier for them?
Ivy’s dad and I will be getting married later this year so it seems appropriate to kick off 2019 with a book about a wedding – although hopefully ours will go a little more smoothly than the one in this story!
Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay are two scarecrows who are very much in love. When Harry proposes, Betty is overjoyed and the pair start planning the best wedding the farm has ever seen. They make a list of all the things they will need – “a dress of white feathers, a necklace of shells, lots of pink flowers, two rings and some bells” – and then set off together to gather the beloved items together.
Soon they have everything except the pink flowers so Harry heads off on his own to find some whilst Betty has a little nap. However things don’t quite go to plan and Harry ends up being away for such a long time that the Farmer brings in a new scarecrow to replace him! Reginald Rake is the total opposite of Harry O’Hay. He’s selfish and showy and he isn’t nice to Betty at all. He boasts about all the things he can do but Betty isn’t impressed – she just wants her lovely Harry back.
But then things take a perilous turn. Reginald Rake tries to show Betty how good he is at blowing smoke rings, but he drops his cigar and sets the field alight. Will Harry make it back in time to save his bride?
This is one of our favourites from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. There’s a lovely mix of romance and adventure and Ivy gets very excited as the story twists and turns at the end.
I guess you could choose to criticise the fact that we have a girl scarecrow being rescued by a boy scarecrow – but I think that does the story a disservice. I prefer to focus on the way the story shows the difference between someone who respects women and someone who doesn’t.
Buy it now: https://amzn.to/2GQEo7Z
A few weeks ago a lovely lady called Helen dropped me a message to recommend us a book which her son had picked out at the library – The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight. It wasn’t one that i’d heard of so I want to give a big shout out to her to say thank you as we LOVE it! (It should be noted here that this is definitely a different Helen to the one who wrote the book!)
The story is about a little mouse called Leo who likes nothing more than to curl up with a good book. However Leo is a knight so, despite his protestations, his parents insist that he has to go out in to the world and fight dragons.
Leo packs a bag with some sandwiches (and lots of books of course!) and heads off on his horse to fight a dragon who has been terrorising a town a few hours ride away. En route he faces a fearsome griffin and an angry troll, but defeats them quickly and easily using not his sword but his collection of books. It turns out that nasty creatures can be quite vain and love to hear stories about themselves!
We have been reading Tabby McTat to Ivy since she was about 6 months old and it’s still one of her all time favourites. When she was tiny she was just drawn to the illustrations of the cats (one of them looks a little like ours) but now she’s older she loves the story and knows the little song off by heart!
Tabby McTat is a scruffy little street cat who belongs to a busker. He loves his life wandering the streets of London with his owner, and he enjoys singing along when the busker performs. An unlucky chain of events result in the two friends being accidentally separated and McTat ends up living with a girl cat called Sock.
Sock and McTat become the best of friends and soon they end up with a small litter kittens. McTat loves his cosy new life but he never forgets the wonderful busker. One day he decides that he simply has to find out what happened to him so he kisses his little family goodbye and sets off in search of his old pal.
The combination of dragons and girl power make this one of our favourite collaborations between Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
Zog is a big orange dragon who loves going to Dragon School. He’s really enthusiastic about his classes but he just can’t quite get things right. He bumps in to trees whilst learning to fly, gives himself a sore throat trying to roar and accidentally sets his wing on fire whilst attempting to breathe fire. Fortunately each time he hurts himself a little girl appears with a bag of bandages and plasters and she fixed him right up.
When he gets to Year 4 the dragons have to learn how to capture a princess. Again Zog struggles until he discovers that his wonderful friend is in fact a princess herself. She allows herself to be captured in order to help him out and Zog gets a golden star from the teacher. She becomes a valuable member of the school, tending to the dragon’s ailments with the help of her trusty medical bag.
This funny book by Gareth Edwards and Guy Parker-Rees always makes Ivy laugh. It follows a little boy as he goes through elements of his day – but he has chosen some rather crazy animal friends to help him with each task!
He eats his dinner with a dinosaur who gobbles everything up before he gets a chance to eat a single bite. He uses a tiger as a towel when he gets out of the bath – and unsurprisingly the tiger is a little cross! He even tries to use a giant bison as a blanket which proves a little uncomfortable.
Follow him as he discovers why dinosaurs, sharks, beavers, tigers, bison and owls don’t always make the best companions.
The rhyme scheme is really bouncy which makes it a lot of fun to read and it’s also a good book for discussion. A barn owl might not be the best thing to cuddle up to at night because of his sharp claws and nocturnal habits – so what might make a better bed fellow?
Buy it now: https://amzn.to/2G8vahE
Almost everyone has heard of the Big Five – the largest and most dangerous animals in Africa – but what about the Ugly Five? Julia Donaldson shines the spotlight on this lesser known group in this heartwarming story.
The lappet-faced vulture, the spotted hyena, the wildebeest, the marabou stork and the warthog are not going to win any prizes for their beauty. With their gnarled faces, distinctive odours and questionable table manners, they repel the other animals they meet.
However as they wander the savannah they meet a group who think they are the kindest and most beautiful animals in the world – their babies! Their little ones gather together and highlight all the reasons they think their mummies and daddies are wonderful and it really is quite lovely I may have shed a little tear the first time I read it…
This is a fantastic story which reminds parents and children alike that even at your worst, you are somebody’s whole world and to them you will always be beautiful.
Buy it now: https://amzn.to/2qkagqd
Tiddler is a very cheeky fish who likes to tell little white lies to impress his friends. Whenever he’s late for school he tells extravagant tales of mermaids, treasure chests and sea turtles to explain away his tardiness.
One day he’s so engrossed in coming up with a new story that he doesn’t spot a fishing net and soon finds himself in unfamiliar territory. Is it possible that his tall tales might be able to save him and help him find his way back home?
This is one of our favourites from Julia Donaldson.The rhyming is super catchy and we speed up a lot as we get towards the end of the story, leaving us breathless and giggling by the last page
Buy it now: http://amzn.to/2ClVGpV
Poor Stick Man. All he wants to do is go for a little jog but everyone interferes and he ends up on an epic adventure trying to get back to his family.
First a dog uses him as a stick, then a little girl uses him as a pooh stick, then a swan weaves him in to her nest, then a dad uses him as a flag mast for a sand castle…
As Christmas approaches he worries that he won’t reach his family, but a chance encounter with Santa might just get him home on time.
Buy it now: http://amzn.to/2B1kuQa
The Highway Rat is a baddie – he roams the highway stealing food from his fellow animals. Chocolates, biscuits, clover and even leaves – they all end up in his tummy. He shows no remorse and is extremely ungrateful. Meanwhile, his fellow animals are growing increasingly hungry and sad.
Then one day he tries to steal from a quick-thinking duck and everything starts to unravel. Has the Highway Rat finally found his match?
This is Julia Donaldson at her best (and we love the cheeky inclusion of a Gruffalo cookie in the illustrations!)
Buy it now: http://amzn.to/2km5Src