Book Review: Hortense and the Shadow (Natalia O’Hara, Lauren O’Hara)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Puffin

Pages: 32

Release Date: October 5th 2017

Summary:

Hortense is a kind and brave girl, but she is sad–even angry–that her shadow follows her everywhere she goes. She hates her shadow, and thinks her shadow must hate her too. But one cold, dark night, when bandits surprise her in the woods, Hortense discovers that her shadow is the very thing she needs most.

Continue reading “Book Review: Hortense and the Shadow (Natalia O’Hara, Lauren O’Hara)”

Interview and Book Review: The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat (Coral Rumble and Charlotte Cooke)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books

Pages: 32

Release Date: April 4th 2017

Summary:

Two children and their imaginations set sail from their living room on a voyage around the world! Read along as they spy an extraordinary array of characters doing even more extraordinary things…? With bright, fresh illustrations and a playful style, this rhyming book, based on the classic Edward Lear poem The Owl and the Pussycat, is a wonderfully quirky adventure.

Review:

This is a fun and inventive take on the popular nonsense poem The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear. I love that it’s written and illustrated by a mother and daughter team – it’s so cool to do things like that in a family!

I read this with Little Moore as soon as it came through the door, and he’s had it before bed several times too. The gentle rhyming and pastel colour scheme mean it works great as a bedtime book.

In this book, the owl and pussycat are two dressed up children who are having an imaginative playtime with a cardboard box. They meet lots of colourful and quirky characters on their journey and Little Moore loved pointing at all the different creatures. It’s a fun one to read aloud and I’m sure it’ll become a favourite with Little Moore as he grows older.

The illustrations are really beautiful and perfectly capture the words of the story and bring it to life. I loved the colour scheme – it’s different to a lot of the more cartoony coloured books on his shelves and that makes this one stand out.

This is a really great addition to Little Moore’s shelves and I hope you’ll check it out!

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Interview

I’m super excited to have author of The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat on the blog today for an interview. Welcome Coral!

  1. What made you want to write a book based on The Owl & The Pussycat?

Charlotte – my daughter and the illustrator of Owl and Pussycat – suggested it as she loves the poem.

  1. Are you a big fan of the poem?

I love the poem, too, and have done since childhood. It creates wonderful and wacky images, and has an enchanting musicality.

  1. Are there any other nonsense poems you’re particularly fond of?

The Jumblies is my all time favourite.

  1. Would you rather go to sea with an owl or a pussycat?

Great question. I suppose it would depend on whether I wanted the benefit of wisdom or the protection of an expert scrapper!

  1. What would you take to sea with you? Honey? Money? Or something else?

Perhaps it would be good to have a flare gun.

  1. What’s your favourite picture book?

I have many favourites, it’s impossible to choose, but Where the Wild Things Are is glorious!

  1. What’s the hardest thing about writing a picture book?

Getting the unity of vision to work, between writer and illustrator, is the hardest part. It was very easy to work with Charlotte!

And a few quick fire questions to end with:

 

  1. What are you reading now?

The Other Half Lives, by Sophie Hannah

  1. Favourite book as a child?

The Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton

  1. Favourite writing drink/snack?

Chocolate or nuts (or both)

  1. 5 desert island books?

The Bible, of course.

The complete works of Shakespeare, goes without saying.

Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy – it was my first encounter with romance

The Understudy, David Nichols – makes me laugh out loud

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres – makes me laugh, cry and luxuriate in the wonderful landscape.

  1. Favourite place to read?

In the bath, or on a beach.

  1. Any hidden talents?

I love football, and can still score the odd goal.

  1. What fictional world would you love to live in?

I’d love to be a companion to one of Jane Austen’s heroines. I’m sure it would give me great amusement.

Thanks to Coral for joining me here today! You can find out more about Coral and Charlotte and follow the blog tour below.


About the Author

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I have worked as a poet and performer for many years and I’m proud to have my work featured in Favourite Poets (Hodder). I have three published poetry collections of my own and have contributed to more than 150 anthologies. I am also one of the writers of the popular Cbeebies programmes ‘Poetry Pie’ and ‘The Rhyme Rocket’. I have given workshops in some fairly unusual venues as well…the grandest of which being Buckingham Palace!

Website: http://www.coralrumble.co.uk/

About the Illustrator

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I was thrilled and proud when my picture book The Adventures of the Owl & the Pussycat was highly commended for the Macmillan Children’s Prize in 2010. Since then I have gone on to illustrate many other picture books and I enjoy making the occasional card too. When I’m not in my studio I’m usually outside running or playing referee to my two kids.

Website: http://charlottecookeillustration.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charlottecooke

Follow the Tour

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Monday 1st May

An Awfully Big Adventure

 

Tuesday 2nd May

Emma’s Bookery

 

Wednesday 3rd May

Luna’s Little Library

 

Thursday 4th May

Maia and a Little Moore

Sew Many Books

 

Friday 5th May

Live Otherwise

Library Girl and Book Boy

 

Saturday 6th May

Get Kids into Books

OBC Mini Book Reviewers

 

Sunday 7th May

A Little But A Lot

Varietat

 

Monday 8th May

Mum Friendly

Book Monsters

 

Tuesday 9th May

Tales of Yesterday

Wonderfully Bookish

 

Wednesday 10th May

Sam’s Book Corner

V Family Fun

 

Thursday 11th May

Acorn Books

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

 

Friday 12th May

Big Book Little Book

Fiction Fascination

 

Saturday 13th May

Linda’s Book Bag

Me, Him, The Dog and a Baby

 

Sunday 14th May

Rhino Reads

Readaraptor

 

Book Review: The Giant Jumperee (Julia Donaldson, Helen Oxenbury)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Puffin

Release Date: April 6th 2017

Summary:

Rabbit was hopping home one day when he heard a loud voice coming from inside his burrow.
“I’M THE GIANT JUMPEREE
AND I’M SCARY AS CAN BE!”

When Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant come to help they are each scared away in turn by the mysterious voice.

He can squash you like a flee
He will sting you like a bee
And he’s taller than a tree!

But who is the Giant Jumperee?

Review:

I haven’t done any Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads in a while, mostly because our local library closed down (boooo) and we haven’t had that steady stream if new books. There’s still tons of his that I haven’t reviewed yet though, so I must start up again properly. This one is a review book which I couldn’t resist because it’s Julia Donaldson!

When Rabbit hears a mysterious voice coming from his burrow he enlists all his friends to try and get it out, but they’re all scared away in turn.

I’m a big fan of Julia Donaldson’s books – I wish I’d read them when I was a child, but I’ve had the next best thing, which is reading them to my younger sisters and now my son. She has a way with words and characters that just makes you smile, and this book was no exception.

The illustrations by Helen Oxenbury really bring the story to life. It’s more realistic than cartoony, like you might be used to with Julia Donaldson’s other books, but it’s really beautiful and she captures the expressions of the animals perfectly. (Googling her as I write this and realised she wrote The Dancing Classwhich was one of my favourite books as a child.)

This is a really fun, charming book and one I’m happy to add to Little Moore’s shelves. I hope lots of children will be enjoying this as a bedtime story soon.

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Book Review: Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane (Caroline Baxter)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Big Sunshine Books

Pages: 32

Release Date: March 8th 2017

Summary:

Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!

Review:

One of my secret favourite things about having a baby is reading picture books again – I loved them as a child, loved as a teen reading them to my baby sisters, and now I love them as an adult reading them to my own baby. It’s great to revisit all the classics I loved when I was younger and to come across new favourites too.

Pilot Jane has lots of exciting adventures with her pink plane Rose. But on the day of an important flight, Rose is sick and Jane has to team up with Mighty Mitch, a plane who doesn’t think girls make good pilots. But she proves him wrong and they work together to fly safely.

The illustrations in the book are gorgeous. I love Jane – she’s got a beautiful, cheeky little face that just makes me smile and want to like her. Rose is a very pretty plane, though I have to say I wasn’t too keen on her being pink: I was worried it played into the whole ‘girls like pink’ stereotype. I guess you could see it like that, or you can see it as, hey, girls can be awesome pilots and also like pink. Still, the colours are bright and fun enough to hold Little Moore’s attention for a while and I’m sure he’ll appreciate the story when he’s older.

There’s a lovely message of girl power here that I’m happy to read to my son and would love to read to a daughter if I ever have one. It doesn’t fall into the trap of putting boys down to raise girls up either: after working together with Mitch and coming to understand each other they even change their song from ‘Girl power forever‘ to ‘Girl – and boy – power forever‘ which I really appreciated.

This is a fun, colourful story with a great rhyming scheme and an even greater message. It’s definitely one that’ll be going on Little Moore’s shelves for when he’s older.

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About the Author

CB Author pic

Caroline Baxter lives in Oxford with her husband and two young children. From an early age she always had her nose in a book – and now does so for a living! Caroline grew up in South Wales and, after graduating with a BA in English Literature from Cardiff University, held a variety of management roles at UK universities including, most recently, at the University of Oxford. The Bear Cub Bakers, her first book, was written while on maternity leave with her daughter. Her second book,Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, was published recently on International Women’s Day (8 March 2017). Caroline loves travelling, yoga, baking (and eating) cake, dogs, days out and snuggling up with a good story.

Follow the Tour

Pilot Banner1Monday 13th March

Chouett

Tuesday 14th March

The Writing Garnet

Wednesday 15th March

An Awfully Big Adventure

Thursday 16th March

Linda’s Book Blog

Friday 17th March

Tales of Yesterday

Saturday 18th March

Big Book Little Book

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts

Sunday 19th March

Get Kids Into Books

Nayu’s Reading Corner

Monday 20th March

Emma’s Bookery

Tuesday 21st March

Readaraptor

Wednesday 22nd March

Fiction Fascination

Thursday 23rd March

Wonderfully Bookish

Friday 24th March

A Little But A Lot

Saturday 25th March

Sam’s Book Corner

Chrissi Reads

Sunday 26th March

Minerva Reads

Maia and a Little Moore

Going Back to Work

I can’t believe I’m typing this but it’s almost time for me to go back to work.

When I started maternity leave mid-February, it felt like I had forever. I always planned to take 9 months rather than the full year, but it’s come round so fast and now I have mixed feelings about it.

I can’t say that maternity leave has been a breeze. I knew it wasn’t going to be a holiday, as some of my friends seemed to think, but I was looking forward to it all the same. I have loved spending every day with my little boy, but in the beginning especially it was hard. Once Nathan was back at work I had 4 days a week where I was supposed to take care of this tiny thing by myself. It’s a bit of a shock to the system.

I’ve enjoyed most of the time I’ve spent off, but some days were a struggle. We’re living in a new area where I don’t know many people, I wasn’t going to any baby groups and I felt horribly lonely. Plus I was breastfeeding a newborn every two hours, day and night, and I was exhausted. There were times when I looked forward to going back to work: not having to worry about feeding and nappies, speaking to people, doing a job I’m good at, being me and not just ‘mum’.

But those were rare times. For the most part these have been the best nine months and I wouldn’t change anything. It’s even more fun now Little Moore is older and able to play properly with things. We’ve enjoyed reading together, playing building games and peek-a-boo, and we’ve started messy play recently too.

Although I have mixed feelings about going back, I know it’s the right decision. I want to be able to provide the kind of life for him growing up that I did. All my parents worked hard (mum, dad and step-dad) and because of this we lived in a nice house and did fun things together at weekends. I want to provide for my son in that way, and although it might mean sacrificing some time with him, I know it’ll make the time I do spend with him even more special.

I’m also lucky in that my work is very flexible. I’m going back 4 days a week, so I’ll have 3 to spend with Little Moore. I can choose my working hours and am able to work from home too, so there’s flexibility in case he needs me unexpectedly. We’re also not having to fork out a fortune on nursery fees: Nathan will have him twice a week, we’ll have one family day, and my mum is taking care of him and his cousin once a week, so he only spends one day at nursery. I think he needs that one day to socialise with other babies and spend time in a different environment with different people.

While part of me would love to be a stay at home mum, I think deep down it’s not for me. It’ll be a challenge in the next few weeks getting into a new routine and getting used to working again, but I know we can do it, and with Christmas around the corner there’s something to look forward to too!

Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads #4

Welcome back to Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads! Here is the remainder of our most recent library haul.

Sleepy Cheetah (Mwenye Hadithi)

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This was a fun tale of how the cheetah got his spots and features some mischievous monkeys.

Goodnight Already! (Jory John)

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I really enjoyed this. It’s great as a bedtime story as Bear tries to go to bed and his pesky neighbour Duck keeps bothering him. We liked doing a very grumpy voice for the bear.

Daddy I Can’t Sleep (Alan Durant)

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Because of the title I made Mr Moore read this one first. When I read it we did it in two nights as it’s quite long and Little Moore got a bit fidgety. It’s a good ‘don’t be afraid of the dark’ kind of story.

Harry and the Monster (Sue Mongredien)

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This is another good one for teaching kids not to be afraid of things – in this case the scary monster in Harry’s dreams. His parents help him to overcome this fear with some suggestions that give very funny results.

The Nutcracker (Susan Chandler)

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This one was more for me than Little Moore as I love the ballet! It’s a great retelling with wonderful illustrations, though again it was too long for us to do in one sitting.

Moomin and the Favourite Thing (Tove Jansson)

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I actually found the Moomins pretty creepy as a kid but enjoyed this one. I loved how Thingumy and Bob spoke though it was pretty challenging to read aloud!

Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads #3

It’s been a little while since we’ve had a bedtime read post – I told you they might be sporadic! But here is what we’ve been reading lately.

The Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler)

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This was in our #parcelsofjoy from the lovely Bex at The Ninja Book Swap. I read this to my sisters when they were younger and it’s great to read again to my son. The rhyming and story are just perfect and it’s definitely a favourite of mine.

Fetch (Jane Cabrera)

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This was a fun read about a cute little dog and has some good counting lines as Fetch helps a different person on each day of the week.

The Great Balloon Hullaballoo (Peter Bentley & Met Matsouka)

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This was a real wacky read as a squirrel and his friends travel to different planets to get shopping for his mum (including cheese from the moon, of course). The illustrations are gorgeous too.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath (Mo Wilems)

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This was easily my favourite of our recent library books. It’s conversational and easy to read, and the pigeon is very funny. We’re trying to get Little Moore to enjoy bathtime more so I read this one a lot! I’d like to check out the other Pigeon books too after reading this one.

Underpants for Ants (Russell Punter)

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This was another favourite. It’s a great phonic book and really fun for me to read, as well as to listen to. There’s great rhyming and lots of words with similar sounds and the story has good humour too.

Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads #2

We’re carrying on with our library books this week: we had a few repeat reads and some new ones as seen below.

Blown Away (Rob Biddulph)

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I had a thing about penguins as a kid so I think I would have loved this book. It was a fun adventure story with beautiful pictures.

Grrrrr! (Rob Biddulph)

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Another great story from the author of Blown Away. A fun rhyming tale about a bear who loses his Grrrrr – not just his voice but the actually grrrr that goes inside his speech bubble. Fun for adults as well as kids.

Lemur Dreamer (Courtney Dicmas)

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My son smiled the whole way through this so there was something about it that he loved. I thought the story was okay, but a bit difficult to follow from the words alone sometimes: it really relied on the pictures accompanying it.

Two Little Bears (Hanna Muschg)

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Repetition and rhyme make this a brilliant bedtime story, and the illustrations are gorgeous.

Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell)

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Classic children’s book – I loved it when I was younger. This time round I probably enjoyed it more than the baby, but I’m sure he’ll love lifting the flaps when he’s older.

Baby’s Day (Little Tiger Press)

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Free Book Start book. Nice and short rhyming book. Baby loves looking at the contrast colours and baby faces.

Elmer’s Friends (David McKee)

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Free Book Start book. Really bright colours and a lovely message about diversity.

Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads #1

I’ve started reading a story to the Little Moore as part of our bedtime routine now. I don’t think it’s ever too young to start reading to your children: even if he doesn’t understand much now, he can look at the pictures and be soothed by my voice right before bedtime.

I’ve decided to do a post every now and then about the books we’ve been reading together, with mini reviews. I’m not sure how often this will be: it’ll depend on how often we read new books and how many we repeat. As I’ve just got him his library card though, I anticipate lots of new books!

So here are this week’s reads:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)

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My very favourite book as a child and now the first bedtime story I read to my son. This has great colourful pictures and encourages learning numbers and counting.

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark (Jill Tomlinson)

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This is one I read as a child and have now read to my son. Really lovely story and great for any children who are afraid of the dark themselves. Ours also came with a plush Plop toy which is adorable.

What the Jackdaw Saw (Julia Donaldson)

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This was a really lovely story, and I especially liked that it was written with deaf children and had sign language in it. This plays a big part in the story and there’s also a page teaching some sign language at the end.

The Gigantic Turnip (Aleksey Tolstoy)

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A great telling of the classic tale, which beautiful illustrations to match. The story is told simply, with repetition and numbers. I remember there being more emphasis on how it’s the mouse that helps get it out in he end – team work and every little helps and all that – but it’s still pretty much the same story.