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
There are lots of books on the market which allow you to mix and match animals to comic effect but this one is our outright favourite.
Each double page features a familiar pet such as a cat, a dog, a guinea pig or a bunny. On the right hand side we see a picture of the animal and on the left is the name of the animal and a cute poem which describes what it looks like and what it’s like as a pet.
The pages are split in the middle, allowing you to flip over the top or bottom sections to different pages – thus creating new names, poems and creatures. There are 121 combinations in total so there’s lots to keep your little one entertained.
The Snail And The Whale is one of our favourite collaborations between Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. There’s a real sense of adventure but the rhyme is also very calming so it’s perfect for bedtime.
The story is about a little snail who longs to travel – but her family thinks she’s a little crazy and don’t understand at all! She’s determined to see the world so she hitches a lift on the tail of a humpback whale. On their magnificent journey the snail sees icebergs and volcanoes, beautiful beaches and strange animals. She is amazed at how big the world is and this makes her feel small and insignificant.
Hi Cat! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I’m Cat Bateman, a mum of two very energetic & football-mad boys, 11 & 8. I met my husband 26 years ago (I know! I am that old!) and I have a business called Little Folk Nursery Rhymes. I hold weekly sessions singing nursery-rhymes to lovely little customers accompanied by my guitar. I completely love singing and sharing music and am passionate about spreading the word about Type 1 Diabetes as my eldest boy was diagnosed when he was 5 years old.
What were your sons’ favourite books when they were small?
I will answer all the questions from my memories of what they loved when they were your demographic of 0-5 years – I have totally enjoyed digging these books out and taking another look at them – haven’t been able to get rid of any of them in the constant battle to reclaim the house from the children’s stuff as they hold such gorgeous memories.
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.
Today’s book needs no introduction as it’s a modern classic. I’m sure most of you already have this in your child’s library but a collection of children’s book reviews doesn’t seem complete without it!
An enterprising young mouse is taking a little walk through the wood when he encounters a number of creatures who are keen to make him their dinner. Thinking on his feet he explains to each of them that he can’t stop because he is off to meet a Gruffalo. What’s a Gruffalo? the fox, the owl and the snake each ask in turn.
As he describes this imaginary, terrifying creature the details become more and absurd. He has terrible teeth, a poisonous wart on his nose, orange eyes and purple prickles all over his back! Scared of the mouses terrifying friend, the animals decide to let him go on his merry way.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
Hi, I’m Julie and I’m mum to two gorgeous girls aged 6 and 4. We live in South Yorkshire in a village on the edge of the Pennines, from where I run my marketing and copywriting business.
Which book do you most like reading to them and why?
A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a fantastic book to read to young children. It’s about a little old lady who grumbled that her house was too small, she then met a wise old man who tells her to take in an assortment of animals, culminating in total chaos, as you might imagine. At the end of the book he tells her to “Take them all out” and then she realises that her house was fine as it was.
I believe the story is based on an old folk tale or fable and it certainly carries a good message – be grateful for what you have, it is enough. However, it presents this message in a funny and subtle way, which my girls find very entertaining. They love to join in with key lines that are repeated throughout, often putting on a silly voice for the old lady “My house is a squash and a squeeze”.
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