Have you ever wondered why some animals have really distinctive markings? Steve Smallman and Nick Schon think it might have something to do with a rather mischievous monkey…
Once upon a time all of the animals on land were a dull shade of beige, but the birds in the sky were bright and colourful. Monkey is a little bit jealous of their splendour so when he finds a paintbox he decides to have some fun. He waits until his friends are sleeping and then paints elaborate designs on their bodies.
He starts small, with some stripy snakes and bright green frogs, but soon he’s painting black stripes on zebras and big brown squares on giraffes. When he spots a big sleepy bear he decides to have some fun and draw some spectacles on him, but the Bear wakes with a start and soon all of the other animals are wide awake too.
When we received this in the post we thought initially thought it was a chunky hardback, but upon opening it we found a lovely surprise. It actually contains nine mini board books, each dedicated to different types of animals.
Each tiny book contains 5 double page spreads, featuring a gorgeous illustration of an animal along with its name. This makes them perfect for babies and younger toddlers who are just starting to recognise different creatures.
But this set isn’t just for reading. The books are shaped like cubes so they’re great for stacking and sorting. If you turn them upside down they become puzzle pieces which when ordered correctly display a larger animal scene. You can also play a matching game when placing them back in the box because the cover images are repeated inside.
If your child likes books with a dark sense of humour then I’d highly recommend you have a look at this one!
It’s time for the Annual Woodland Creatures’ Ball and the little Mouse host has been busy getting his house ready for the occasion. He’s over the moon when a throng of guests appear but is somewhat surprised when a Fox turns up wearing a tuxedo and clutching a bunch a flowers. The tiny animals are all very concerned because the fox has something of a reputation, but when he explains that he’s a reformed character (and a vegetarian!) their worries ease. The fox joins the festivities and soon everyone is having a lovely time.
Gerald the Fox turns out to be the life and soul of the party. Who knew a fox could be so much fun? He proposes a toast over dinner, he sings, he makes balloon animals, he starts a game of musical chairs and even performs some magic tricks. The Mouse is really impressed with his guest (and will definitely be inviting him again next year) but as the evening draws on he starts to get a little concerned that some of his revellers seem to have left the party early. At least that’s what he presumes…
Technically this book is a little old for Ivy – the publisher recommendation is 6 to 8 years – but she’s had so much fun with it this week that it really doesn’t matter!
Our World by Isabel Otter and Hannah Tolson is a fantastic book of facts with an interesting interactive twist. It takes five different habitats – desert, rainforest, polar, savannah and sea – and teaches you about the flora, fauna, animal life and indigenous people.
Despite the slightly older age bracket, Ivy has shown lots of interest in what the book has to say. Her favourite section is about the arctic and antarctic and she has learned that penguins and polar bears actually live on opposite sides of the world (something i’m ashamed to say I didn’t realise until I was in my twenties!)
Have you heard of The Little Black & White Book Project? Run by mum Ruth Bradford, it’s an award-winning small business which creates beautifully designed black and white board books for babies.
A newborn baby’s sight is a little blurry and their field of vision is only 6-8 inches. They cannot distinguish between shapes or colours but research has shown that the stark contrast in black and white images helps stimulate their vision. If you’ve ever worn a black and white Breton top around a baby you’ll know that they just can’t stop staring. Try it and see!
Ruth’s books are designed to help with early visual stimulation. Each one focuses on the animals from a different region and our favourite is this one – Spectacular Animals of Africa.
When Mouse, Rabbit and Shelly the Tortoise spot the sun going down they realise they need to get home quickly before it gets dark. Mouse suggests taking a shortcut through the creepy crooked creek but Rabbit isn’t sure. What if the tales of hungry crocodiles are true? Mouse is adamant that he has never seen a crocodile there so they all set off together.
It soon transpires that Shelly doesn’t even know what a crocodile is, so Mouse decides to educate him along the way. To reassure his friends, he repeats many times that he has definitely never ever seen a crocodile in the creepy crooked creek – but Rabbit and Shelly start to spot evidence to the contrary.
Here, the brilliant illustrations come in to their own as they start to diverge from the story which Mouse is telling. Just like Rabbit and Shelly, we can see that there are in fact crocodiles EVERYWHERE! The bridge they walk over is a crocodile’s back, the scratchy thorns are pointy claws and the vines they swing on are crocodiles tails – but Mouse just doesn’t seem to see it!
If you want to teach your children about the environmental and wildlife issues we face today then this is definitely one to add to your list.
When a little boy called Beau spots a frog wearing a blue plastic bottle top as a hat he has no idea that both of their lives are about to change. They strike up a conversation and Beau learns that the frog’s home has been destroyed by pollution. The pond water is littered with plastic bags and bottles, and all of the plants have died.
Beau decides to take his new friend home and together they plant a lovely frangipani in the garden. The frog is so happy with his new home that he invites all of his friends around and soon Beau is surrounded by frogs of all shapes and sizes.
Picking the right pet can be hard. There are so many different animals out there so how are you supposed to choose? The little boy in this story thinks he has the perfect solution. When his mum and dad finally agree to let him have one he places an advert in the local paper asking for possible pets to get in touch.
He receives some promising replies from a pampered pussy cat, a forgetful goldfish and an extremely nibbly goat, but none of them seem quite right. But then the next day he is inundated with post. Gorillas, wolves, horses, emus, bulls and even ants have all written to him in the hope of finding a new home. Now he has so many options that he doesn’t know where to begin!
Things go from bad to worse when animals start turning up at his house. A mob of meerkats set up a security post and won’t let the family leave the house for their own safety and then some beavers arrive and start building a water feature in the garden!
Usually I like to have a book in the house for at least 2 weeks before I sit down and review it. This ensures that we’ve read it multiple times and that I have had ample opportunity to observe how Ivy feels about a story. However I am breaking with tradition with this one as she is totally in love. We only received this book yesterday afternoon but we’re already well in to double figures on the number of times it’s been read!
Bear and Hamster are the best of friends. They are very happy living together in their little house, but every time they turn on the TV they are subjected to very loud adverts from an extremely persuasive salesbird called Sneaky Beak. They laugh at the ads together but in bed at night Bear finds himself wondering if perhaps he is missing out. As he feels a bed spring ping beneath him, he thinks that maybe he might need Sneaky Beak’s help.
Patch the dog loves to eat, but her tastes are a little unconventional. Socks, soap, letters, rugs, wellies, baskets – she chows down on anything she can get her paws on and her poor family doesn’t know what to do. How can they stop Patch from eating all their belongings?
After one particular eating spree they decide to pop her in the garden for a run around but instead Patch just nibbles on the plants, a bucket and even the washing line!
Exasperated, they ask a local farmer for some help and discover that perhaps what Patch needs is a friend. But will this help or hinder the situation?