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Books My Toddler Loves

London, Baby! The Capital in Picturebooks

Travel Posted on 09 Aug, 2016 01:56PM

A
few weeks ago we took our daughters to London for the first time. In
advance, we’d read lots of wonderful picturebooks featuring the
capital.

“Big
Ben!!” exclaimed our three year old with glee and a beaming
smile when we saw the bell tower standing tall above the trees from
our viewpoint in Trafalgar Square. The Square’s huge lions, Nelson’s
Column, Horse Guards Parade, black taxis – all ten times more
exciting for her in person because she’d seen them depicted first on
paper.

Below
are four of our favourite picturebooks set in London.


The
Queen’s Hat
by
Steve Antony, published by Hodder Children’s Books

This
royal romp through London is a feast for the eyes, celebrating
London’s most recognisable monuments with dazzling detail and a
patriotic palate of red, white and blue. We follow the path of the
Queen’s hat as it whooshes on the wind across the capital, chased by
all the queen’s men. From Buckingham Palace, to swinging round the
London Eye and floating up to the top of Big Ben, the guards (and
their daring and acrobatic monarch) try in vain to get back control
of the windswept headpiece.

Each
page features an impressively accurate illustrated landmark, and an
array of often amusing ‘Where’s Wally?’ style micro-stories. Our
favourite pages include the cacophonous scene of London Zoo, with
guards and animals stampeding after the queen who surges ahead on
giraffe-back, and the scene of the guards and their Queen scaling the
dizzy heights of Big Ben, with one guard clinging onto the hour hand
of the clock-face.

Finally,
reaching Kensington Palace, the Queen, her guards and her hat float
down Mary Poppins-style to a regal pram, the hat landing gently on
its infant passenger’s head. As the Queen, her restored hat and her
grandson take a well earned stroll on the final page, a butler
follows with the offer of a very British cup of tea.

L
is for London
by
Paul Thurlby, published by Hodder Children’s Books

Paul
Thurlby’s highly distinctive ‘retro-modern’ style is showcased
brilliantly in this alphabetised picturebook love-letter to London.
From Abbey
Road to London Zoo,
the best of London (and Londoners) is portrayed through bold block
colours and a matt finish that’s reminiscent of the portfolio of a
1960s advertising agency.

It’s
a celebration of London’s iconic diversity, stereotypes and history,
too: From bridges old (Tower) and new (Millennium), red phone boxes
and Foyles Books, the pink chested man reading the paper in the park,
the punk rocker queuing (a classic British pastime) alongside
Shakespeare and a Wimbledon tennis pro. This is a book of art, which
would be equally at home on a Shoreditch coffee table as in a child’s
bedroom.


Maisy
goes to London
by
Lucy Cousins, published by Walker Books

Reading
a book from Lucy Cousins’ Maisy series is a wonderful way to prepare
for firsts – whether its a first trip to the cinema, the swimming
pool, or the capital. Each scene is filled with Cousins’ trademark
primary colours and menagerie of animals.

London
is depicted in probably just the way that a child would see it – not
focusing on the history, scale or architecture, but on the more
immediate impact of the ‘flashing lights’ of Piccadilly Circus, the
joyful play and carnival atmosphere of the riverbank, and the
seemingly endless descent of the escalator to the underground train.
Reading this was a great way to prepare our young children for a
visit to the capital and its noisy “Honk! Honk! Honk!”.


A
Possum’s Tail
by
Gabby Dawnay (words) and Alex Barrow (Illustrations), published by
Tate Books

This
is a delightfully whimsical, rhyming tale of a boy’s walk to and from
London Zoo in London circa 1940 – with illustrative echos of the
Madeline series. The double page spreads are packed with detail,
allowing the reader to follow the boy’s footsteps through classic
London scenes, whether the pomp and formality of Buckingham Palace or
the diversity of life at a street market.

A
highlight is a bird’s eye (or in this case, a balloon’s eye) view of
London, which is quite beautiful.



Mungo Monkey Goes On a Train

Travel Posted on 03 Aug, 2016 08:47AM

Mungo Monkey Goes On a Train by Lydia Monks, published by Egmont

Earlier this year we took our two daughters on holiday to the beautiful North Norfolk Coast. A memorable highlight was an enjoyable half hour al fresco ride on the Wells to Walsingham miniature steam train (pictured above – it was May, and happily blankets were provided!).

Our elder daughter, who had recently turned three, was very excited by the whole experience including buying the tickets, hearing the train’s very loud “toot toot” and wearing her train driver’s cap bought for her by granny.

It’s little wonder that the bright, sparkly and joyful tale of Mungo Monkey Takes the Train became a favourite read soon after. With a superb combination of an easy read narrative, highly engaging illustrations and clever page flaps, this is a delight to read for all involved.

Recently, after our daughters’ first ‘proper’ train journey from our home town to London, the tale of Mungo’s locomotive adventure was requested a record seven nights in a row.

The pages are full of bright colours and charming details, with a bounty of page flaps that cleverly add to the fun. Our favourite scenes include the dark tunnel where four flaps reveal the creepy crawlies hiding in the dark; the triple fold flap that flips up three times to incrementally take the train “up”, “up”, “up” the hill; and storefront of the shop at the top of the hill that lifts up to reveal its wonderful wares, including ice creams, souvenirs and outdoor toys.

As the story is of Mungo and his sister Mimi on a day-trip with their granny and grandad, it serves as a lovely depiction of a grandparents and grandchildren relationship, joining other great options such as Grandad’s Island and Snow, reviewed already.

All in all, this is a first class ride!