Thursday 14 April 2011


Re-telling classic fairy tales might be a bit cheeky if nothing new is brought to the story, but Marks and Spencer have been doing a range of classic stories in line with the National Literacy Strategy. 

The first book we've seen in this series is classic tale Cinderella. Pretty much every adult will know the story off by heart but the M & S books are designed for children just beginning to start out with word recognition, reading and literacy. Each page tells a portion of the story, with repeated lines emboldened under the illustrations to help children begin to recognise passages, and eventually read them for themselves (obviously most bright kids are just going to learn the stories parrot-fashion anyway but repetition is the best way to learn anything in this respect, and these books are structurally very well thought out). 

For the rest of the books in this series, visit this link.

Charlotte's best bit: The ugly sisters

Daddy's favourite bit: The book's early-reader-friendly structure

Rating: 4 out of 5
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Doctor Ted

This week's contender for "book read most times during a single day" has to be Doctor Ted, the cute tale of a little bear who bangs his knee one morning getting out of bed, and decides that the world needs a tiny toddler-sized medic to tackle everyone's ills. 

Doctor Ted continues his good work at school, and runs into a spot of bother in doing so. 

What I loved about this more than anything else is the slightly tongue-in-cheek way this mini doctor fellow actually behaves a lot like the real thing (ie doesn't listen to what you're telling him, prescribes odd cures for something that's entirely unrelated to what you came in for). Kids will love the cute drawings and characters, adults will undoubtedly love the slightly anarchic humour. 

Charlotte's best bit: Doctor Ted's remarkable cure for his head teacher's bad breath!

Daddy's favourite bit: The lovely wry digs at the adult characters in the story. 

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Tuesday 12 April 2011

Meg goes to Bed

What's this what's this?!? A new Meg and Mog book appeared in the local library's stacks and though it was originally published in October last year, it's taken a while to filter through. Nevertheless it's fantastic to see Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski still producing these fantastic little books for a new generation of toddlers, books I remember loving to bits as a kid. 

In "Meg goes to Bed" poor Meg has a disastrous attempt at producing a nice wholesome supper for Mog, Owl and herself. With wobbly stripey spaghetti worms crawling off all over the place, poor Meg goes to bed with a rumbling tummy and it's up to Owl and Mog to save the day. 

Though the same slightly disjointed and jumbled page layouts remain, the book has timeless appeal and I almost feel bad for falling out of love a bit with these when they really are great for youngsters (of all ages :)

While you're tapping your foot impatiently waiting for the next Winnie Witch book, treat yourself to a new Meg and Mog book for a spell (pun intended) instead. 

Charlotte's best bit: Animated spaghetti!

Daddy's favourite bit: Still find Meg oddly reminiscent of Ruth from "Victorian Farm" 

Rating: 3 out of 5

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How do Dinosaurs learn Colours and Numbers?

As I recently discovered on a trip with Charlotte and CanIWalkMummy to the Natural History Museum in London, just about everyone loves Dinosaurs. So it's easy to see the appeal of the thoroughly excellent "How Do Dinosaurs..." series of books by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. Placing Dinosaurs (complete with their kid-friendly proper names) in everyday situations is a stroke of genius, and certainly works beautifully in this numbers and colours book. 

Teague's highly detailed dino characters (and their supporting human counterparts) take toddlers through numbers one to ten, and rhyming couplets teach them about colours too. A fantastic double header that works beautifully and hopefully allows each child to pick a favourite dino species into the bargain (for me, the Triceratops was always the champ when I was a kid - what's yours?)

Charlotte's best bit: Dino hiding things under the bed

Daddy's favourite bit: Lucky Number 7

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Friday 1 April 2011

Draw me a star

Eric ("The Hungry Caterpillar") Carle's books are books we've enjoyed over the course of me writing this book blog, and we've steadily hunted down most of the ones you see advertised in the back of Carle's most famous work. 

"Draw me a star" had evaded us up till now but finally the library got a copy in, and it's quite a strange and surreal book. 

With every turn of the page, Carle's trademark painted cutout artwork tells the story of an artist being asked to draw various objects. In turn the objects get grander and grander as the artists slowly becomes old and tired and haggard. 

It's succinctly different to Carle's other books but the repetition and the artwork helps it appeal to youngsters all the same. 

Charlotte's favourite bit: "Draw me the moon"

Daddy's favourite bit: "EEK! Unexpected nudity!"

Rating: 3 out of 5

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When we lived in Uncle's Hat

What a curious hotch potch of tales. "When we lived in Uncle's hat" depicts various fantastical dwellings a small family live a nomadic existence in. Starting in an ordinary everyday house, the family move between a bus, a box and of course the titular titfer in the title. 

The book's very wordy but nonetheless quite an interesting fantasy world for your youngsters to get engrossed in and the footnotes at the end of each little tale, detailing what happens to each family member, are often quite grown up and feel a little out of place in a children's book. 

A very weird but very intriguing read. 

Charlotte's best bit: "When we lived in Auntie's Viola"

Daddy's favourite bit: "When we lived on a bus" (which is a perfect description of what it must feel like every morning on a public transport commute!)

Rating: 3 out of 5

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