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Books My Toddler Loves

Hooray for Hoppy!

Seasons and nature Posted on 26 Mar, 2018 07:16PM

Hooray for Hoppy! by Tim Hopgood, published by Macmillan

This lovely board book from Tim Hopgood (one of our favourite author/illustrators), with its bold splashes of yellows, oranges and greens, celebrates the arrival of spring and its power to reawaken all of our senses.

We first see Hoppy the rabbit in the depths of winter, when he emerges from his underground home wondering “perhaps today’s the day!” only to discover that “the world was covered in snow”. I think we can all sympathise with Hoppy’s next move: “Too cold” he said, and he hopped back to bed”. Reading this to our two year old this month has felt particularly appropriate with the “is it?” or “isn’t it?” unpredictable weather we’ve been having.

The next time Hoppy pops his head out of his burrow, he is once again disappointed, this time he’s met with frost and a ground which is “too icy”. A few days later Hoppy wakes to find the air smelling fresh and feels optimistic that today might really be the day that spring arrives. He sets off to find out.

Hoppy is delighted to find that his senses are overwhelmed with spring sights, sounds, smells and tastes. The birds are singing in a tree covered in blossom, the flowers smell like spring, the lambs gambol in the field and the green grass is ready to be nibbled. Hoppy is delighted to confirm that spring has sprung and wants to share the news with his friends. After waking them with some enthusiastic thumps on the ground, he is soon surrounded by hopping little bunnies.

This a wonderfully illustrated and delightfully colourful celebration of all that is best about spring and is also a perfect choice for Easter.

Leaf-fall favourites

Seasons and nature Posted on 07 Oct, 2017 03:13PM

has very much arrived – the chill in the air and a carpet of crunchy
leaves, our walk to school coloured by gorgeous orange,
brown and yellow hues.

are some lovely books on the theme of the changing of the seasons
that our youngest daughter has been enjoying.
in the Woods
Debi Gliori, published by Bloomsbury Childrens

is the tale of Alfie’s autumnal adventures in the woods one morning
with his father.

is joined by a host of woodland creatures, who come peeking out of
the trees, for his imaginative play in the russet leaves covering the
forest floor. Each double page spread depicts Alfie imitating an
animal, with a “snuffle, rustle” or a “buzzzeee
bizzzeee” and the use of some forest props.
Gliori’s distinctive illustrations bring Autumn to life, and we can
almost hear the crunch of all those fallen leaves. Our daughter loves
joining in with the sound effects for each of Alfie’s

end of the tale sees Alfie carried home by his Daddy, thoroughly worn
out by his outdoor play and hoarding his forest treasures.

find this book ideal for the transition from board books to longer
picture books for our youngest daughter as it holds her attention
with an ideal word-to-picture ratio.

and Down – A walk in the countryside
by Rosalind
Beardshaw, published by Nosy Crow and the National Trust

is a lovely autumn/winter tale, in board book format and is a
collaboration between the National Trust and Nosy Crow.

book follows a pair of friends as they adventure their way through a
chilly, snowy day. Each pair of pages bears just two words in
opposite, starting with “inside” and “outside”,
as one puts on her cosy boots and the other is already outside in the
fun begins “up” the hill and whizzing “down”
again on a sledge. The pair enjoy all the countryside has to offer on
a winter’s day, from the tall to the short, the quiet and the loud,
all the way to the end of the day when they happily return home to
the inviting light shining from the house, leaving the darkening
skies behind.

double page spread is beautifully illustrated and depicts all kinds
of fun and discoveries that a walk in the countryside has to

Hand in My Hand
by Mark
Sperring (words) and Britta Teckentrup (illustrations), published by
Orchard Books (Hachette)

beautifully illustrated story follows another walk through the
countryside – this time a mouse and their little one.

walk starts in the depths of winter, progresses through spring,
summer, then autumn before returning to winter again. It’s a lovely
story to introduce little ones to the joy that can be found in
observing the passing of the seasons. The gentle verse rightly
observes “the world’s full of wonders, there’s so much to see”.
book demonstrates the wonders to be found in each season, whether
it’s splashing in the puddles of autumn or the “long hazy days”
of summer. The message of having fun in the outdoors whatever the
weather or season will resonate with parents of young children –
allowing the children to burn off seemingly endless energy and the
fresh air giving the next best thing to a caffeine shot for the

other books we’ve reviewed previously, which also feature the
changing of the seasons:

Said the Owl
Tim Hopgood
Snow by
Sam Usher
Ruth Orbach

Wild Goose

Seasons and nature Posted on 14 May, 2017 08:49PM

Wild Goose
by Laura Wall, published by Award Publications

Imagination, fresh air, friends and sunshine – four of the best ingredients for happy childhood memories. All of them feature throughout Laura Wall’s uplifting and feel-good ‘Goose’ series, which follows a white-feathered friend and a group of small human pals as they experience childhood together – whether going to school, celebrating a birthday, going shopping or spending time on a farm.

The latest title, ‘Wild Goose’, is a celebration of the great outdoors, the wonders that can be discovered and of the fun that can be had. With no batteries or touch screens in sight, Goose and her friends set off on an adventure through the forest – hunting for wild treasure, stepping across tree stumps and squelching through mud. Knobbly sticks found by an old tree leads to pirates on the high seas, wizardry and den-building.

We watch the group discover nature on the ground and up high in the trees, while learning how to respect and cherish the natural world. Our daughter’s favourite scene is the book’s last – when the children use the treasure they have gathered to make a wonderful picture of their friend, Goose.

Laura Wall’s distinctive and bright palette fills every page, and her illustrations glow with an engaging and happy energy. There are several lovely details in the book, such as the almost ever-present squirrel, and the hiking boot that can be found on the edge of most pages, subtly reassuring young readers that there is a grown up looking out for the children (our four year old daughter was pleased to spot this).

As in the other Goose books, there is welcome diversity in the children featured. In another much-loved book from the series, ‘Goose at the Beach’, there is a wonderful depiction of how childhood friendships so easily transcend across nationality or spoken language, particularly when there is an enormous sandcastle to build!

One Day on Our Blue Planet: In the Savannah

Seasons and nature Posted on 18 May, 2016 10:08AM

One Day on Our Blue Planet: In The Savannah by Ella Bailey, published by Flying Eye Books

In recent weeks, songs from the Lion King have established themselves as a soiundtrack to our lives. We are regularly serenaded by Elton and co, especially in the car where the perpetually uplifting Hakuna Matata seems to play on a loop. In our playroom, Simba-based make-believe can last for hours.

Fortunately, there is an abundance of wonderful picturebooks to quench our three year old daughter’s thirst for tales of lions (we’ve previously reviewed some of our favourite lion-themed picturebooks including Lionheart by Richard Collingridge and Lion Practice by Emma Carlisle).

Recently, our daughter has taken a keen interest in fact-based offerings on the natural world, even dipping into our BBC Blue Planet box set. Ella Bailey’s magnificent book ‘One Day on Our Blue Planet in the Savannah’ is a distinctive, detailed and striking depiction of a lion cub’s day and night in the Savannah.

It offers a perfect balance of fact and fiction as we follow the cub from sunrise to beyond sunset, meeting a myriad of other animals along the way, as he plays, explores and avoids danger. The book also carefully explores aspects of the cub’s survival and issues that relate to ‘the circle of life’, such as hunting other animals to eat.

Bailey’s illustrations have a blend of warmth and realism, and the book’s inside and back covers are filled with the animals of day and night along with their names – a great learning feature, which provides the opportunity for playing ‘spot’ during each reading.

There is a particular page focused on the wider pride, identifying the cub’s extended family including his aunties and cousins. We’ve not come across many other picturebooks that feature cousins, so this has been nice as a way of talking about our daughter’s equivalent relations.

As with all Flying Eye Books we’ve read, the production quality is exceptional and its pages are lovely to touch and turn. This is sure to be a book we will all enjoy to for many years to come.

Beautiful Bird Art in Picturebooks

Seasons and nature Posted on 20 Apr, 2016 09:22PM

Beautiful bird art in picturebooks

In our local park is a cacophonous aviary of rescued birds of all sizes and colours. Among these is a gleaming albino peacock named ,after a competition by local school children, “Lord Sparkles”.

We have been visiting the birds since our now three year old daughter was just a few weeks old, and have seen them through the seasons in different lights and weather.

Birds are among the most popular characters of choice in picturebooks, and there is a bounty of bird art to be found upon their pages. Recently, we’ve enjoyed three new titles that all feature birds as their central theme. Although their artistic styles are very different, each illustrator clearly demonstrates passion and love for their subjects.

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle, published by Chronicle Books

The third ‘Flora’ book from Molly Idle, all of which have featured birds, this is a tale of friendship and rivalry, told through the spirit of dance in lavish emerald and turquoise.

Two peacocks, green with envy, vie for attention from a girl with an ornamental fan, each displaying their plumage in an effort to outbid the other.

A clever use of lifting flaps literally provides the twists and turns to a wordless yet fully engaging story (including a magnificent fold-out double page). Compromise wins the day and provides a satisfying, happy ending.

Abracadabra, It’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien (words) and Susan Gal (illustrator), published by Abrams Appleseed

Spring bursts from the page in this strikingly colourful tale of the changing seasons. The last ice of winter melts in the morning sun, and new shoots appear from the previously frosted ground. Birds start to make their nests before the hatching of new arrivals. Blossoms and fruits emerge.

Each spread is filled with a rainbow of colours, which double in size as eleven gatefolds reveal the next stage of each scene. A pleasing rhyme, interspersed with magical commands (‘Sun shines on a patch of snow. Hocus pocus! Where did it go?’) accompanies the pages like a gentle breeze.

Some Birds by Matt Spink, published by David Fickling Books

In this debut picturebook, Matt Spink depicts a dazzling array of birds through a truly unique style that combines the intricacies of mosaic with the shimmering intensity of stained glass windows.

A lively rhyme accompanies a diversity of birds – some big, some small, some that squawk, some that hop, some that swim – as each bird’s individual and shared qualities are celebrated.

Other favourite picturebooks featuring beautiful bird art (all previously reviewed on this blog) include: ‘The Dawn Chorus’ by Suzanne Barton; ‘Puffin Peter’ by Petr Horacek; ‘Owl Babies’ by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson; and ‘WOW! Said the Owl’ by Tim Hopgood.

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