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Books My Toddler Loves

Our Festive Favourites for 2017

Christmas classics Posted on 19 Dec, 2017 07:58PM

It’s a most wonderful time of year (if you ignore the to-do lists still growing with less than a week to go before the big day). Here are some festive favourites that we’ve been enjoying in recent weeks – the first two being a perfect accompaniment to the recent snowfall.

Bear and Hare – Snow! by Emily Gravett, published by Two Hoots

We are already big fans of Emily Gravett’s wonderful animal picture books, which she writes and illustrates beautifully. This is one of a series of stories about the adventures of best friends, Bear and Hare.

Bear and Hare wake one morning to find – SNOW! Hare is clearly elated, Bear a little unsure. First things first, Bear and Hare catch snowflakes on their tongues (an action that our youngest daughter never fails to copy when we’re reading this to her).

Hare gleefully embraces the snow, making snow prints and snow hares. Bear is less keen, sinking deep into the snow when trying to make a snow angel and getting covered in snow from a tree, becoming his own snow bear.
The snowballs that Hare pelts at him are the last straw. Cold and miserable, Bear hopes that it’s time to go home? Hare is undeterred, however, and pushes his reluctant friend to the top of a hill, where they go sledging. The look of joy on Bear’s face as they come whizzing down the hill, shows that he finally understands the magic of a snow day.

First Snow by Bomi Park, published by Chronicle Books

This is a beautifully enchanting debut picture book (shortlisted for the Klaus Fluge Prize 2017) from South Korean artist, Bomi Park.

It captures the magic and wonderment of a toddlers first glimpse of snow. The excitement builds as the first flakes start to fall, “shhh, listen.. do you hear something?”. A little face presses up against the window, drawn to the “pit, pit, pit” of the snowflakes on window pane.

In the darkness of night, the little girl bundles up warm, her red scarf one of the few flashes of colour in the monochrome illustrations, and heads out into the snow. “Pat, pat, pat. Roll, roll, roll”, the little girl begins to make a snowball, making her way through “beneath the moon” and “through the woods” as the snowball grows.

There follows some ethereal scenes with woodland creatures, polar bears and ending with a gathering of other children all building snowmen in their “first snow” experience.

Is it Christmas yet? by Jane Chapman, published by Little Tiger

This fun romp of a picture book perfectly captures the build up to Christmas, both in terms of children’s mounting excitement levels and the correlating stress levels for parents!

Baby Ted simply cannot wait until Christmas, but Big Bear has things to cross of his list before the big day. There’s the presents to wrap, cake to bake and tree to purchase then decorate. It’s ok though, Baby Ted is happy to help.
Anyone who has attempted present wrapping with toddlers “helping” will be sympathetic to Big Bear’s plight! Things come to a head when the enormous tree that Baby Ted insisted upon almost comes a cropper when they try to squeeze it in to the house.

As always though, the parents pull through and it all comes together in time for Christmas. The last scene perfectly encapsulates the joy of Christmas morning, with big, joyful smiles from Baby Ted and Big Bear, who’s hard work has all paid off.

Penguin’s Christmas Wish by Salina Yoon, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

This is one of a series of Penguin books from Salina Yoon. We’ve really enjoyed this Christmas instalment, with its bold primary coloured illustrations and look forward to checking out some of the others.

It’s Christmas Eve and Penguin is trying to make the perfect Christmas for his family. They return to the forest, where an old friend, “Pinecone”, has grown into a magnificent Christmas tree. The Penguins set about decorating the tree and place their presents at its foot.

Alas, a storm overnight means that their Christmas morning does not go to plan. The decorations and presents have all blown away.
What follows is a lovely story of making the best of things, counting your blessings and a lovely reminder from Grandpa Penguin that “Christmas is not about decorations and presents… It is about being with the ones you love”. We couldn’t agree more.

Christmas 2015 roundup

Christmas classics Posted on 23 Dec, 2015 01:23PM

This is the first year that our daughter, nearly three, has been fully aware of Christmas, and we’ve watched her excitement at all its wonders – particularly Santa, mangers, reindeers and baubles. This winter, we’ve enjoyed delving into the immense sleigh-full of picturebooks that focus on Christmas. A few of them, our favourites this year, are reviewed below.

When it Snows, by Richard Collingridge

This was our daughter’s first, and still favourite, Christmas book (although it was also a regular request of hers in the summer!). Cinematic illustrations portray the journey of a boy and his teddy’s to the North Pole. The scenes of snowy landscapes, gloomy forests, tiny fairies and crowds of elves are beautiful and atmospheric and contain just the right pinch of mild peril to enchant, but not frighten, the youngest readers. Full review here.

The Little Christmas Tree, by Rachel Elliot (Author), Vicki Gausden (Illustrator), Corina Fletcher (pop-up engineer)

A brilliantly combined picture/pop up/activity book, where the reader helps complete the story. A little Christmas tree stands forgotten and alone, unadorned amid the others that have been fully decorated. When the woodland creatures realise, they set about to make it the best tree of winter, with a special visit from Santa to reward them for their efforts. The final reveal is a magnificent pop up Christmas tree, beautifully crafted, with a page of pop out decorations to hang upon the branches. Great fun and very well told.

Socks for Santa, Written by Charlotte Guillain and Adam Guillain,
Illustrated by Lee Wildish

Little George has a plan – this year, to say thank you in person, he will head to the North Pole and take some gifts to Santa. After packing a sack of presents and some spare socks, he sets out on his journey. With help from polar bears, elves and a sniffly Rudolph, George arrives at his destination, but his generosity along the way leaves his bag of gifts empty, and he has nothing left for Santa.

Santa doesn’t mind – in fact he says George has demonstrated the very meaning of Christmas, and as a reward he invites George to join Santa in his sleigh for Christmas Eve. There’s just one problem, Santa’s socks are full of holes. But wait! What else does George have in his bag? A lovely tale with vibrant illustrations this is a fun-filled festive treat.

A Christmas Story, by Brian Wildsmith

This is the most beautiful book we have read this Christmas, with elaborate illustrations embellished in festive golds and reds. It retells the nativity story through the eyes of a baby donkey, following the footprints of its mother, who has left with Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem. This is sure to become a family classic,and one that will help to connect us to the origins of Christmas.

When It Snows

Christmas classics Posted on 28 Jun, 2015 08:42PM

When It Snows, by Richard Collingridge, published by David Fickling Books

Although summer is around the corner and it’s 6 months until Christmas, the magic and beauty of When it Snows can be enjoyed all year round. We discovered When it Snows a few weeks before our daughter’s first Christmas. We’ve read it frequently since, and I’m sure it will be enjoyed for many more years to come.

With his debut When it Snows, Richard Collingridge has created a perfect picture book. His words and illustration convey pure adventure, joy and wonder. This wintry tale, a small boy’s journey through a mysterious and enchanting snow-covered landscape, benefits from many reads.

Over time, through our daughter’s eyes and her new understanding, we discover revelations we’d not seen before: A fresh paw print in the snow, the face of an elf previously unobserved in the flickering candlelight, a creature of the night prowling the shadows of the woods. Collingridge treads carefully to avoid it becoming too dark, narratively and visually, and in doing his creation is akin to the very best of the Brothers Grimm.

And after a satisfying ending to the boy’s adventure, we find that he has been reading the same book as us all along, safe and warm by the fireplace, equally as able to close the book tight as he is to read it again and again (for as the final line says: “We can go there every day, because our favourite books takes us there”).

With thanks to Richard Collingridge for allowing use of his beautiful cover alongside this review.