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Books My Toddler Loves

Our 2017 Books of the Year

Books of the year Posted on 29 Dec, 2017 04:51PM

It’s been another wonderfully book-filled year, and below are five of our fabulous favourites, including board books for early listeners and chapterbooks for new readers.

Wishing you all a brilliant 2018!

Little Red by Bethan Woollvin, published by Two Hoots

The cover of this book sets a tone of subversion from the off. This isn’t going to be a straightforward retelling. Black lines against a stark white backdrop, depicting a girl’s fringe and side-eyes stare, are surrounded by a blood-red hood. The inside cover shows the girl, hands on hips, amidst a bleak forest – she is a Scandi-noir Little Red who is not in a mood to be messed with.

Asked to take some cake to her poorly grandma, she sets off, not looking too impressed by the prospect. The wolf, whose teeth literally fill the page, approaches her, and growls. We are told this “might have scared some little girls. But not this little girl”. The wolf makes a plan, but so does Little Red.

We won’t reveal the truly brilliant and shocking ending in this post. Let’s just say that if I’d been drinking tea at the time of reading this book it might have been splurted across the room.

Ottaline by Chris Riddell, published by MacMillan Children’s Book

A highlight of our year has been discovering the surrealist world of Ottaline by former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. Ottaline is a resident of the Pepperpot Building, situated in the heart of a fantastical metropolis. She is the daughter of parents in abstentia – roving collectors, professors and international travellers – who keep in touch with postcards and letters which are sent and received intermittently.

Ottaline is left in the care of a medley of service providers, who keep an eye out for her while she and her companion, Mr Munroe, a small hairy Norwegian troll, pursue a series of adventures.

In Ottaline at Sea (the third of the series but the first we read), Mr Munroe sets off alone for Norway to find the bog that was once his home. We follow him, accompanying Ottaline as she seeks to be reunited and bring him back, adorned with wonderful outfits and an array of oversized hats and sunglasses. In this and others in the Ottaline series, readers are immersed in the witty prose and astonishing, intricate detail of the illustrations, bringing to life Ottaline’s world in a feast for our eyes and an enrichment for our imaginations.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, published by Walker Books

A few months ago, when our nearly two year old became quite obsessed with ‘Bear Hunt’ we decided to order it in board book form to preserve our original copy.This more robust version is a perfect size for little hands, and still big enough for Helen Oxenbury’s beautiful whimsical illustrations to be appreciated. Her swishy swashy grass seems to actually sway in the gentle breeze. You can almost feel and hear the squelching mud.

And the words! They are enticing, addictive, immersive and fun. Who can resist joining in with the “Hoooo Woooo’s” of the swirling whirling snowstorm? Or doing the actions of stumble trip. Both our daughters mastered “uh oh” and “oh no!” at a very young age thanks to Michael Rosen and Bear Hunt.

Blocks: Let’s Share by Irene Dickson, published by Nosy Crow

Our youngest daughter, who is soon to be two, is very loyal to her favourite books, often requesting them over and over again in one sitting. One such current favourite is this simple, lovely board book, which is fitting to feature on International Day of Peace. It’s theme is sharing and, ultimately, learning that there is more pleasure to be had in collaboration than division.

The book starts with a peaceful scene of Ruby, building with her red blocks, whilst wearing her shiny red shoes and red stripy top. Ruby is content until…along comes Benji with his enticing blue cart full of blue blocks. For a while, Ruby and Benji play side by side, each with their own coloured blocks.

After a while the allure of Ruby’s red blocks becomes too much for Benji and he helps himself to one, much to Ruby’s dismay: “Ruby wants her red block back” and they grapple it between them, until – turning to our daughter’s favourite double page spread – “CRASH”, and they and the blocks all come tumbling down. Ruby, who has lost a shoe in the melee, and Benji sit amongst the mixed up blocks looking forlorn and rosy cheeked. Happily, it doesn’t take the toddlers long to find a new and better way to play – “together” – with both the red and the blue blocks.

Peace is restored and they harmoniously build a magnificent tower of red and blue blocks. But wait: Here’s Guy, with a cart full of green blocks! Guy is smiling though, and the sense at the end of the book is that these toddlers will soon find a way to incorporate a third party into their play. Beautiful, bright, block colour illustrations are a perfect match for the crisp, clear language. It’s an ideal choice visually and verbally for an early listener and early reader, and is sure to remain a firm favourite in our home.

Rabbit’s Nap by Julia Donaldson (words) and Axel Scheffler (illustrations), published by Macmillan Children’s Books

This title in the Acorn Wood series is one of our younger daughters most read board books. “Babbit”, she calls (which is also her name for her much adored bunny comforter) and “again” she demands, as the final page is read.

The magical combination of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is internationally acclaimed, and this book is no exception. Here their words and pictures alchemy tells the story of a tired Rabbit who simply wants somewhere to sleep. No matter where she goes, a neighbour is making noise – from a builder bear to a wood-chopping fox.

Filled with delightful details (such as carrot curtains) and told with a gentle rhyme, the story is enhanced by clever flaps that reveal each of the noise-makers in turn.

Books My Toddler Loves 2nd Birthday competition

Books of the year Posted on 15 May, 2017 06:45PM

It’s been almost two years since we started in June 2015. It began as a way to remember the books our daughter enjoys and the fun times we have reading them with her. A few months later our second daughter arrived – she’s now developing her own love of books too.

We’ve been thrilled by the positive feedback we’ve had from fellow picturebook readers, authors, illustrators and publishers. It’s amazing to us that more than 50,000 people have read reviews on our site – and hopefully they’ve discovered new favourites to enjoy with the little ones in their lives.

To celebrate our site’s second birthday we’re giving Twitter folk the chance to win their choice of book from our 2015 or 2016 Picturebooks of the Year (pictured above). For a chance to win, just follow us @books4mytoddler and retweet this tweet.

A winner will be picked at random after midday UK time on Friday 26th May 2017 (please note we can only post to a winner with a UK address).

Thanks for all your support!

Books My Toddler Loves Books of the Year 2016!

Books of the year Posted on 06 Dec, 2016 08:36AM

this post, we’ve selected five picturebooks from the 62 we’ve
reviewed this year. They have been chosen for their beautiful art,
captivating words and the sheer delight that pours from their pages.
All five have been a joy to read, again and again and

Lionheart by
Richard Collingridge, published by David Fickling Books

to find our inner roar is the central theme of this stunning,
cinematic triumph. When a small boy senses the presence of a monster
in his bedroom, he runs, clutching his cuddly lion. As he flees
through the town, illuminated by the moon, he reaches its outskirts.
Then, in a scene reminiscent of the opening to ‘Where the Wild Things
Are’, he wanders into grasses that grow thicker and taller. There,
suddenly, he is surrounded – by a menagerie of creatures. They can
sense the monster too, and they are afraid.

They all take
flight, but the boy runs straight into “something, or someone”
– a huge Lionheart, towering above the boy – majestic, strong,
fearless and protective. Riding high, nestled in Lionheart’s mane,
they set off on thrilling adventures, leaping rocks, diving under
water, and joining the animals to explore ancient ruins. But their
fun cannot last – still they feel the imminent danger of the monster.
Finally the boy, his Lionheart and the animals see the monster
looming over them.

To reveal the book’s ending here would
spoil the impact of its extraordinary denouement, and we hope others
will discover for themselves its final pages, among which is one of
the most dramatic double page illustrations we’ve ever seen. Despite
(or perhaps because of) its generous pinch of mild peril, our
daughter requested a reading of ‘Lionheart’ many days in a row –
often a few times each day. Equaling our love for Richard
Collingridges’s ‘When it Snows’ was a tough task, but ‘Lionheart’
quickly found a place among our favourite reads.

Great Big Cuddle
Michael Rosen (words) and Chris Riddell (illustration), published by
Walker Books

we ask our three year old daughter if she’d like to read ‘A Great Big
Cuddle’, she replies “yay, poems!” We like to think that
this reaction is what the creators of this magnificent book were
hoping for. The combined literary alchemy of two Children’s Laureates
(words by Michael Rosen and illustrations by Chris Riddell), is fully
realised in this original compendium of “Poems for the Very
Young”. This is a book of drum beating rhythm, stomping feet,
clapping hands, and laughing out loud.

At 73 pages it could be
dipped into, but we have found great value in enjoying the flow and
music of the book as a whole. Our daughter has been captivated every
time, and always wants to read it in full.

This is the
picturebook equivalent of a winter’s day tucked up in bed with hot
tea and toast, taking part in a display of verbal gymnastics, going
on a wild tour of menageries and monsters and, indeed, having a great
big cuddle, all combined.

Lion Inside
Rachel Bright (words) and Jim Field (illustrations), published by
Orchard Books

It’s a very helpful life skill to be able to
find your inner roar and act like a brave lion, whether it’s your
first time in the big class at nursery school – or indeed if it’s
your first time dropping off your three year old daughter for her
first day in the big class.

‘The Lion Inside’ is a
pitch-perfect tale of a teeny, meek mouse that goes in search of its
inner roar. Jim Field’s beautiful illustrations are perfectly matched
to Rebecca Bright’s fun, lyrical narrative. There are enjoyable
moments of genuine suspense as mouse climbs to the top of the rock
where lion lays sleeping, and asks with a squeak for help, expecting
to become the lion’s lunch. They come nose to nose, and a tremendous
double page spread reveals the scale of lion’s enormous face and mane
towering over mouse.

But lion’s quiff and expressive eyebrows
suddenly become limp and instead of a roar he lets out a huge
“EEEEEEK!”; for lion, we learn, is afraid of mice.
Realising they both have something to offer each other, they overcome
their fears and find the a bond of friendship.

Not Enter the Monster Zoo
Amy Sparkes (words) and Sara Ogilvie (illustration), published by Red
Fox Picture Books

When a young boy receives to a surprise a
notice informing him that he has won a prize to run a zoo for the
day, he sets off on his bike without trepidation. As he arrives at
the strangest zoo he’s ever seen, he finds that the bedraggled
zookeeper is off on his holiday. He gives the boy only his best
wishes, the key to the front door and his zookeeper’s hat.

boy soon discovers many wonderfully-named bizarre beasts in Amy
Sparkes and Sara Ogilvie brilliant ‘Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo’.
Through a combination of assertiveness, persuasion, bravery and guile
(all good attributes for young readers to engage with) the boy soon
has them under control. When the zookeeper returns, none of the
monsters want the boy to leave.

Sara Ogilvie’s colourful,
energetic, cartoon-like style is perfectly matched here to Amy
Sparkes’ musical rhyme and her description of the wild-yet-sweet
cacophonous creations. A bird’s eye view of the zoo and a fabulous
vertical double-page spread are two of our favourite

Oddsockosaurus by
Zanib Mian (words) and Bill Bolton (illustration), published by Sweet
Apple Books

Our three year old daughter has recently
undertaken a new childhood rite of passage – acquiring a love of
dinosaurs. Prehistoric picturebooks have played a key part in her
growing fascination. In the excellent ‘Oddsockosaurus’ the many
wonderful facets of a toddler’s personality are explored through a
humorous take on the Greco-Roman dinosaur names that fascinate our

book is narrated by a small boy who acknowledges that he’s “very
complicated”. Sometimes he’s a Mudiraptor, jumping in mucky
puddles his mum told him not to go near. Other times he’s a
Readabookadocus, enjoying stories and a love of reading every day; or
a Lovelyonychus, which includes being kind to his sister. One of our
favourites is Nofocusadocus, when “I just have to
look for my favourite toy while putting my shoes on”.

trait is perfectly matched to a cute scene of the boy dressed up as a
different dinosaur undertaking an apposite activity.

few final remarks for 2016…

launched in
June 2015 as a way of remembering some of the precious reading
moments we’ve shared with our daughter and to help others discover a
selection of books that we thought the children in their lives would

In the last 18 months, our elder daughter turned
three and our second daughter was born (and has now turned one).
We’ve posted more than 100 reviews, received more than 35,000
visitors to our website, and met a community of readers through our
Twitter account @books4mytoddler.

you so much for your interest and wonderful feedback. See you next

It’s our 1st Blog Birthday!

Books of the year Posted on 04 Jun, 2016 10:07PM


It’s our 1st Blog Birthday!

To celebrate, we’d like to offer a small thank you for the 21,000 visitors we’ve had to our website to date.

We’ve picked four of our favourite picturebooks of 2016 so far, and we will send a new copy of one of these to one lucky winner, who can pick which one they’d like to receive.

To enter for your chance to win: Just retweet this tweet and & follow us @books4mytoddler by 22 June to win one of these four favourites (UK only).

These books are reviewed here

A Great Big Cuddle by Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell

by Richard Collingridge

Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo
by Amy Sparkes and Sara Ogilvie

by Zanib Mian and Bill Bolton

On 22 June, one lucky picturebook lover will be picked at random and will be sent their choice from these four fabulous books.

Good luck!

Our Picturebooks of the Year

Books of the year Posted on 31 Dec, 2015 02:49PM

For this post we’ve selected five picturebooks from the 50 we’ve reviewed in 2015, chosen for their brilliant combination of art, words, character and sheer joy that emanates in abundance from their pages.

by Rebecca Cobb, published by Macmillan Children’s Books

Lunchtime was one of our daughter’s first picture books, and it remains a firm favourite. As with all of Rebecca Cobb’s wonderful books, beautiful, distinctive illustrations are combined with a fun, well-told story. Here, a determined and imaginative girl is reluctant to interrupt her busy schedule and eat her lunch, only to find that three ravenous creatures (who fortunately think children taste revolting) are more than happy to eat it up for her. Lunchtime is a delicious winner, and it will always have a special place on our shelf. Our full review is here

Norris The Bear Who Shared by Catherine Rayner, published by Orchard Books.

It’s a rare week when Catherine Rayner’s wonderful creations don’t feature during bedtime reading (we’ve also reviewed Smelly Louie and Solomon Crocodile). Her illustrations are stunning and the messages that underline her stories are those of adventure, fun and the value of persistence. This was the book that inspired our daughter to invent a song, “I see a Ploringe”. Our full review is here

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies, published by Simon & Schuster UK

We’re big fans of Benji Davies’ work (we’ve also featured On Sudden Hill and Grandad’s Island), and The Storm Whale remains our favourite of his work, its rain-soaked pages capturing a heartwarming tale of loneliness and friendship, set in a salty landscape of raw, wind-swept rocks and the cold beauty of the sea. Davies’ immersive scenes feel like they’ve been frozen in time, his words are minimalist yet rich, and his characters as bright and memorable as Noi’s and his father’s yellow mackintoshes. Our full review is here

Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek, published by Walker Books

Petr Horacek’s books are among our daughter’s most requested. His distinctive, colourful and full of life animals and birds are vivid wonders to behold. Here, his illustration is combined with a charming story of Peter, a small puffin, separated by a storm from his best friend, Paul – a noisy, funny and colourful puffin. This is a highly satisfying adventure, filled with vistas created by sweeping brushstrokes, and a sweet, happy ending. It’s a perfect depiction of the value of friendship and loyalty. Our full review is here

I Love You Night and Day Words by Smriti Prasadam-Halls, illustrated by Alison Brown, published by Bloomsbury Children’s

This was one of the first books our toddler loved and our first ever review. It’s a perfect example of a picture book where the words and illustrations are ideally matched. The comforting sentiments are sweet and true, the illustrations are full of life and movement, and the gentle rhyming helped our toddler read along to the story. Our full review is here

A few final remarks for 2015…

We launched in June this year as a way of remembering some of the precious reading moments we’ve shared with our daughter and to help others discover a selection that we thought they would enjoy.

Since then, we’ve posted more than 50 reviews, received more than 11,000 visitors to our website, and met a community of readers through our Twitter account @books4mytoddler.

Thank you so much for your interest and wonderful feedback. See you next year!

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