What can I say, when you don’t post book reviews for a week or two… the review pile on the coffee table gets crazily high and suddenly we have quite a few lovely book posts coming your way. I have to confess I saved this post up for a Friday, because is there anything better than a collection of good weekend reads? I had to bring you a review post of these fabulous books, every single one of these is a firm favourite over here, and they have literally just landed.
Se7en+1 of the Latest and Greatest Kid Reads
Travel’s with My Sketchbook by Chris Riddell: I know, don’t ever out your best book first… but I have to say this has to be our book of the year. This is not technically a book for children, it is a book for people, especially folk who love books. While I have read each and every word, my kids have all dipped into it and followed the inspirational Chris Riddell on his journey as Children’s Laureate.
A while back we spent a wonderful morning with the magical Chris Riddell, and yes he is just as magical as you imagine him to be. We poured over his pile of sketchbooks, we learnt about his favourite pencils and listened to his stories… It was a lovely morning, a peaceful moment in time, when things stood still while the busy-ness of being the Laureate carried on around him.
And this book is just like that morning, only it is a snapshot of a glorious time that was his time as the Children’s Laureate from June 2015 through to December 2016. Sketchbook page after magical sketchbook page, documenting his journey through through the laureate ship: school talks, library discussions, visits to book stores, plans for impending books, and some of his political cartoons… this is a book that you can dip into or like we did: read right through it and then turn back to again and again and again. It is packed with delightful moments, little visits into Chris Riddell’s world… stories of his childhood and his children’s childhood… insight into his life and times, snippets from his books, and impending books, the things he loves and the things he hates… all of it. What can I say, his work is so good, because he works so hard… unceasing!!! The book is a chunky hardback, with a fabric spine and has the feel of a delightfully fat notebook. Lots of attention to detail about the presentation of the book, as you would expect from Chris Riddell. All that is magical and then some. This has to be our book of the year…
Ottoline and the Purple Fox by Chris Riddell:
When you believe that you are Ottoline, and then you spend a morning with him and at the end of the interview he says, “I am inspired to write another Ottoline book.” And that is how Ottoline and the Purple Fox was born… Ottoline has been a firm family favourite for a number of years and we are reading the series again… as one does. Ottoline is a smart young gal, who together with her best friend Mr Munroe, set out to solve a number of problems… and in this book they have a dinner party to organise. I love these books, they are picture rich and perfect for emerging readers who get overwhelmed by vast swaths of words. That being said they are real stories with a really classical feel to them, stories to get lost in and kind of join in. Nothing frilly and no space wasted on nonsense, a good story beautifully illustrated and the presentation is of course out of this world… and like all Chris Riddell books there is a little surprise waiting in the back of it…
The Snark by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by Chris Riddell: And now for something completely different, another Chris Riddell!!! And I have a feeling that he had a lot of fun creating this book. The Snark is nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll, author of The Jabberwocky, it is a little longer and lot more nonsense… a group of folk on a boat, set out hunting for a Snark… they don’t find it, and have endless shipping trouble… and you read on and on, up and down waves and in and out of the water… pure fun, lots of new and remarkable words and they do not find the Snark… and then they do!!! Pure fun and lots of it, intriguing and detailed illustrations all the the way through with fabulous colour as well as black and white. It is a hardback with fabric binding and icy blue frosting sprayed on the edges… this is a very giftable book and will make a fantastic keepsake for lovers of words of all ages.
Where’s Wally? The Totally Essential Travel Collection by Martin Handford: This is the ultimate Where’s Wally Book. You know we are big fans, Wally and I share a birthday in fact. And there are tons of Where’s Wally books out… but this one has all se7en classics included inside it, as well as hidden inside the cover… postcards to colour in. There are also flaps to lift up for extra searching… this is a really great collection.
It is about the size of a chunky notebook with a shimmering gold stripes on the cover, perfect to toss in your backpack and go… and then hours and hours of fun. It is bound like a hardback book and lies pretty flat when it is opened up… so no split covers or exploding pages… no matter how often it is paged through. The book has a great rugged quality about it, it has been thoroughly loved and dare I say overused over here and is showing no signs of it’s burden at all. For Where’s Wally fans… Another perfect gift.
Rabbit & Bear
Rabbit and Bear: The Pest in the Nest by Julian Gough and Jim Field: When we met Rabbit and Bear for the first time, we knew we had discovered a classic. Just slightly more words than an easy reader, and perfect first chapter books. They are great for reading aloud or being read too… and the stories are seriously funny. Folk with a somewhat dry sense of humour will love Bear and Rabbit… Rabbit is quite a fiery personality and doesn’t do anything by halves… and every nuance is capture by the genius illustrator, who is Jim Field. Bear is the lugubrious bystander the bringer of peace and understanding, the calming factor that every fiery personality needs from time to time.
In this story, as the woodland friends start to surface from their wintry hibernation a woodpecker arrives in the hood. And the bang, bang, banging causes quite a disturbance in the neighbourhood. Let me just say, rabbit almost loses the plot… he is very upset about the happy noise of the industrious intruder, and his friend tortoise just sadly sleeps through it all, well rabbit is not happy about that either. There is a life lesson in there. It is funny, it is light reading and just great. We love Bear and Rabbit and will be looking after for more of them.
The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell: I was so excited to get this book to review, I couldn’t help myself I had to just dive right in, I wasn’t waiting around for the kids after reading the entire How to Train Your Dragon Series out loud, I felt I earned a little me time with this one. Now this book comes with a lot of hype, and it is well deserved, it is written by the wonderful Cressida Cowell after all. My kids will LOVE this book, I certainly did. I have to say there are some scary parts, but judging how they loved the scary parts being read to them in the How to Train your Dragon series… I am guessing they will love when I read this to them as well. My older kids will read this in a flash, but I will definitely be reading this to my younger three, because firstly it took me a while to get into, there is a whole new world to define and secondly because the scary parts are scary.
So the story is about Xar a wizard lad and son of a King, who appears to have not received any magical powers, he does however have a naughty defiant streak and a good heart. The kind of kid where everything around him explodes and his face has a look of innocence and his mum says, “He is a good kid really.” And then there is Wish, a girl child from the Warrior tribe, a fearless and feisty gal, a heroine of note… and yet a bitter disappointment to her Warrior queen mother and therein lies her tragic streak. The two tribes are sworn enemies and interaction means war. However, they do have their common enemy, witches are long extinct. Or are they? It turns out that long extinct witches may not be that extinct after all.
An evening of independent mischief has both Xar and Wish flung together, with all their combined fury… both of them are considered to be “self seeking losers” by their tribes and it turns out that they are both heroes in their own rights and while they have their own best interests at heart, they do rather save the day… or do they? Clearly a series, and hopefully a long one, is going to follow after The Wizards of Once.
Alex T. Smith
Claude: All at Sea by Alex T. Smith: Claude is a fabulous series about a fabulous dog… one of our favourite series in fact. Claude is a little dog, who lives with Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes and his best friend Sir Bobblysock. As soon as Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes leave for work in the morning Claude and his best friend get up to all sorts of adventurous antics. Whatever they need to complete their adventure, a paintbrush or a bath duck, for instance, well those can be found inside Claude’s beret… his expandable, bottomless beret.
In this adventure Claude finds himself at sea, and when he and a number of is friends find themselves in the tummy of a magnificent sea monster called Nigel. And then Claude comes to the rescue. He totally saves the day using the contents of his beret. And when Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes get home from work at the end of the day and find Claude sleeping in the bath tub they do rather wonder what went on while they were out… And Claude just smiles a little smile. Delightful, sweet stories… little adventures and loads of fun, and packed with adorable, witty illustrations.
Oi Cat by Kes Gray and Jim Field: Oh when you spot Oi and Kes Gray and Jim Field on the cover of a book… it is going to be fabulous, grab it, sit down and take a read. You just can’t go wrong with the Oi books, so very much character is expressed between the pages of this books, there is everything to love here: fabulously funny illustrations, and witty words all the way through. Gotta love them. In this particular book, Frog informs Cat that he has to step away from the gnat… and Cat hates gnats… he should be a pony and sit on macaroni… fun, rhythm and rhyme, exactly want you want to read aloud and a twist in the tail… that is revealed by a large lift the flap. Pure fun, a bedtime romp… and a picture book that nobody will mind reading again and again and again…
Huge thank you to PanMacmillan South Africa for supplying this fabulous collection of books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all the reviews are as usual my own.
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