Since Ivy started nursery in January we have had lots of conversations about friendship, and this gorgeous book from Caryl Hart and Ali Pye has helped pull all of those strands together.
The gentle rhyme explains what friends are and what you can do for each other to make your days a little brighter. From helping each other in the classroom through to scratching an itch they can’t reach, we see a diverse group of children revel in the company of their friends.
Sometimes friends are very similar to you and sometimes they’re different. Sometimes they live close by and sometimes they live far away. Whatever the nature of your friendships, we see that they enrich our lives in many different ways.
The Wonky Donkey has been a firm favourite in New Zealand since it was first published there back in 2009, but to the rest of the world it was relatively unknown until a hilarious video appeared in late August 2018, which quickly went viral.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 9 months then you will know the one I mean! It features a lovely Scottish lady reading the book to her grandson for the first time and giggling wildly as the story gets increasingly silly. You can watch the video again here if you need a bit of a pick me up!
The story is about a 3-legged donkey which the reader sees as they are walking down the road. Each time you turn the page you learn a new fact about the donkey, which slowly turns the rhyme in to a massive tongue twister.
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!
Brian is a piranha who loves nothing more than to tuck in to some fruit and veg – but his piranha friends think he’s bonkers because their favourite pastime is nibbling on tasty humans.
Brian’s attempts at converting them fall on deaf ears and soon they’re fed up with him waving bananas and plums in front of their faces. He agrees to stop but on one condition – they need to actually taste one of his fruit and veg platters. Will he be able to convince them to swap knees for peas or will they continue with their carnivorous ways?
Ivy finds this book hilarious, especially as it features the word ‘bum’. Always a winner with toddlers!
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.
Until we bought this book I had no idea what a Mopoke was, but a quick google search informed me it’s a type of owl which is native to Australia!
The little Mopoke in the story just wants to sit on his branch and relax – but the author has other ideas. Each page features a different play on the word Mopoke, with a funny visual to match. Our favourites are the Mo’poke who sports a natty moustache and the ‘Fropoke who has an amazing afro.
The illustrations are fantastic and make both myself and Ivy laugh. If you watch the poor little Mopoke’s eyes you can see him slowly getting more and more frustrated until he finally loses his cool.
It’s such a simple book but we seem to find a new and amusing detail every time we read it. Recommended!
Buy it now: https://amzn.to/2l5xaiQ
Luka lives by the seaside and is fascinated by the ocean but his family don’t share his interest at all. He really wants to learn to swim but he doesn’t have anyone to teach him so instead he watches the waves and wonders what it might be like.
One day he spots a girl having fun in the water and she moves so gracefully that he thinks it must be a mermaid. He watches her for a long time until she swims up to the pier and is pulled gently out of the water by her father. He is so mesmerised by her that he barely notices the fact she uses a wheelchair on land – all he can see is her smile.
She tells him that her name is Sylvia and she offers to teach him to swim. By the end of the next day Luka is able to float on the waves all by himself and his family are very proud of his achievement.
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