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Maisy's Amazing Big Book of Words
Maisy's Amazing Big Book of Words has been the firm favourite of both my children and we all agree that it's the best Maisy book around. There's no story here, instead, as the title suggests, it's a picture book aimed at teaching new words to children. Each spread has a theme, such as Maisy getting dressed, her favourite animals or Maisy in the kitchen and contains one or two flaps to lift (the flaps are paper so I have had to fix some back onto the pages as excited readers have torn some accidentally off). At 64 pages this is a hefty book, there seems to be always something new to discover here and it certainly is worth every penny!
What Can You See? Raindrops and Puddles
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My 2-year-old daughter has been in love with Baby Einsteins books and especially those with Violet the Mouse for over half her life. She has about 10 Baby Einsteins books and this is the first she has basically no interest in - and I'm not surprised. Most of the illustrations are just of Violet standing in the rain, holding her camera (the story is all about Violet wanting to find a big puddle to take a photo of...). One spread is simply a big blue puddle with the back of Violet's head in one corner looking at it, nothing else! I never thought I'd say this about a Baby Einsteins book but this is downright boring! There is a mylar-"puddle" on the last page so Violet sees your face in the puddle but instead of finding it interesting, the only page to hold any interest for my little one is one with a lovely smiley worm - but that really is the only thing here, unfortunately...
Good Night, Dora!
When I bought this book, I wanted a Dora-story that would describe a little girl's bedtime routine and thought this would be one - I was mistaken as this book is all about Boots having a sleepover at Dora's and the story involves the two of them walking to Dora's house in the evening and finding various animals on the way, already going to sleep.
The pages of the book are thick paper, as are the flaps the sleeping animals are hidden behind - very good for my 2-year-old as a transition from board books to paper-paged ones. The flaps are quite big and well-glued so easy to handle for a little one (it says on the back of the book that it's not suitable for children under 36 months???).
Even though the story is not what I expected, it is full of lovely images, it's well made and my daughter enjoys it a lot.
Disney "My Friends Tigger and Pooh"
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At £3.99, this set of 6 books is not a bad buy. Each little boardbook has 4 spreads, they come in a case so you can keep them nice and tidy (our case was squashed within minutes of my 2-year-old getting her hands on it). The themes of the books are Actions, Animals, Colours, Counting, Shapes and Size.
I do feel they could have spent a bit more time on the content, for example, the only thing in the whole Counting-book that has any connection to Winnie the Pooh are some honeypots. Instead, you can count trees and ladybirds - why not something a bit more Supersleuths-related? My daughter is a big fan of the TV show but for some reason she doesn't grab these books from the shelf very often, and when she does, instead of reading them, she does the "jigsaw" (the backs of the books can be arranged to form a picture of the Supersleuths).
Peppa Pig Triple Pack: Piggy In The Middle / My Birthday Party / Bubbles Box Set (3 Discs)
This set of three Peppa Pig DVDs is absolutely fantastic! There are 32 episodes as well as two bonuses, one about counting and the other about colours. My 4,5-year-old finds these episodes a great laugh and I'm happy that some of them actually "make a point" in a very positive way, for example about recycling, eating veg or how silly it is to be scared of spiders :).I noticed that some episodes don't feature the voice of the "original" Peppa, but my son hasn't noticed this at all, the "new" Peppa sounds so similar.
Where the Wild Things Are
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When I bought "Where the Wild Things Are" for my 4-year-old son, I wasn't sure it would go down well: there is very little text (very stream-of-consciousness stylistically) so the story relies heavily on the illustrations and as they aren't the bold, bright colours that most kids' books nowadays are, I thought my son might not be taken in by the book. I couldn't have been more mistaken!
The hero of the story, Max, is sent to bed with no dinner as he has been up to mischief in his wolf-suit. However, Max's room magically transforms in to a forest and so he travels to the land of the monsters. The monsters are truly terrible- (but also quite funny-) looking, with their silly hair and mismatched bodyparts. When Max arrives they roar, grind their teeth and reveal their long sharp claws, but Max tells them to be quiet and so he becomes their king - the monsters are scared of the little boy! All together they dance a monster dance, but as he can smell the wonderful aroma of dinner from somewhere on the other side of the world, Max realises that he wants to be where he feels most loved. So he decides to travel back home, and even though the monsters threaten to gobble him up, he leaves. And as Max returns home, he has dinner waiting for him in his room.
There are quite a few things here that always make my son think (mummy sending Max to bed with no dinner, the scary first encounter with the monsters, for example) but as the story has an extremely warm and satisfying end, I don't think it's a bad thing at all. Where the Wild Things Are is one of my favorite books to read to my son, and he seems to find something new in the story every time we read it.
Adventure with Oscar Otter
Maurice Pledger's "An Adventure with..." series is by far the best series of lift-the-flap books around. Not only are the stories delightful and engaging, the illustrations are out of this world and the flaps really are something else! Every flap hides an animal underneath, and as the flaps are raised, a part of the animal actually moves! So, here, for example, a water vole pokes her head up from behind some rocks and a turtle appears from under the water of a lily pond. And, as usual, there's a great surprise on the final page, when out of the page "jump out" a whole school of the goldfish Oscar Otter has been looking for in the story.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
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This book-and-toy giftset is one of the best ones around: not only is the book in itself a fantastic book for little ones, the soft caterpillar (18cm / 7" long) is very good quality and actually looks like the real thing in the book!
This boardbook version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is great for little fingers and even though our copy has been lovingly gnawed, it's still in one piece. The story follows the journey of a tiny caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly. After his birth the caterpillar soon realises he's very hungry and thus a quest for food begins. Each day from Monday to Friday he eats a different fruit, each day one more than the day before. The pages where the fruit are illustrated are just wide enough to fit the relevant number of fruit, so, for example, on Monday the caterpillar eats through one apple, so that page is only a few centimetres wide - it's not until Friday's five oranges that the page has become "normal size" again. Then on Saturday the caterpillar has a fantastic feast of various snacks, he develops a stomachache but gets better when, on Sunday, he eats a leaf. Then it's time for him to build his cocoon and, in the end, turn into a butterfly.
The high-point for my two little children is when the caterpillar goes looking for food, they think it's great fun! When the caterpillar gets tummyache, however, they feel so sad for him (the caterpillar's face here is heartbreaking!). It all ends well, though, and we are always left feeling very happy for the little chap.
With it's vibrantly-coloured pages and a great story, I can whole-heartedly recommend this book to all little children, especially when it comes with such a cuddly soft toy as it does here!
The Snail and the Whale
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The Snail and the Whale is a perfect bed-time story to all children aged three and above. Not only is the book beautifully illustrated, the story is wonderfully written, and these two together create magic at story-time.
The story follows a tiny little snail who wants to travel around the world. His dreams come true when a whale answers his call, and so the two set off on a journey that sees them visiting golden beaches and huge icebergs - they also face some scary sharks and a lightning storm. And while the book opens with the whale helping out the tiny snail, it closes with the roles reversed, showing that little ones can also do great deeds.
This book was given to my three-and-a-half-year-old about a year ago and it has become such a regular at bed-time that he can recite most of the story word-for-word. It is just the right lentgh for him, with lots of room for comments and discussion - there is such great detail in the illustrations that he always seems to find new and exciting things to talk about!
Hooray For Fish!
Hooray for Fish! is guaranteed Cousins-quality, and this version of the book which comes with an accompanying DVD is an absolute winner!
The story itself is very short (most of the pages containing only a few words), and it follows Little Fish looking for his Mum and meeting fish of various shape, size and colour along the way. It's the illustrations that make this book what it is, you can only marvel at Cousins' amazing imagination at having come up with all the fantastic fish, from happy fish and grumpy fish to curly whirly and twisty twirly. I was delighted to hear my 3-year-old remembering each fish's name after the first read, and coming up with names for the un-named fish. His baby sister loves looking at the illustrations, too, and both really enjoy watching the story on the TV.