Read to Your Baby Every Day / Hickory Dickory Dock

Read to Your Baby Every Day
edited by Rachel Williams, illustrated by Chloe Giordano
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Editor Rachel Williams has chosen thirty classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes, favourite nursery songs along with the occasional action rhyme for this collection for adult carers to share with babies.

Chloe Giordana has crafted beautiful, intricately detailed sewn accompaniments to the words using a mix of stitching and fabrics that are hand-dyed.

It’s never and I mean never, too soon to introduce babies to rhymes and songs; there’s absolutely no better way not only to bond with a little one, but it’s proven that exposure to the world around through spoken words, rhymes and songs gives young children a head start in education, and not only with respect to language learning and communication skills.

This lovely collection will introduce tinies to the likes of Hey, Diddle Diddle, Hickory Dickory Dock, Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, Humpty Dumpty

and Little Miss Muffet along with Row, Row Row Your Boat, Hush Little Baby and I’m a Little Teapot,

and even both in English and French Are you sleeping?

A lovely gift to give a new parent.

Hickory Dickory Dock
illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow

A favourite rhyme with all the nursery classes I ever taught is this one that’s now given the ‘Sing along with me!’ format characterised by sturdy sliders and peep-holes. However in addition to singing the song, little ones will love watching the escapades of the mice as the clock strikes one, then two, then three

and finally four, and discovering that by four o’clock there’s not just one but four mice tucked up in cosy beds ready for some shut-eye, having escaped the clutches of the moggy character that has been eyeing them during the past three hours.

Yu-hsuan Huang’s illustrations are a delight with plenty to interest child and adult as they share the book or perhaps listen to the recording from the scanned QR code.

This Way To Treasure Island

This Way to Treasure Island
Lizzy Stewart
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Award winning author-illustrator Lizzy Stewart introduces us to two completely contrasting characters, young Matilda and her dad; he tends to be slow, messy and noisy whereas she is fast, tidy and quiet. No matter how different they are though, they almost always have fun together.

One day at the beach Matilda, in possession of a map, announces that she’s off to find treasure. Her dad, she tells him, can accompany her so long as he agrees to follow the map.

Off they go in an old wooden boat with Dad rowing and Matilda giving directions.

Sometimes, Dad becomes distracted and as a result the two drift far out to sea. Dad’s all for taking short cuts but Matilda isn’t sure. She’s even less sure when the nice big rock they’re circling does this …

Fortunately however, the turbulence takes the boat right close to the shore of their treasure island destination. Thereon more map reading is required and almost immediately the two agree to part company; “We’ll see who finds the treasure first!’ says Dad.

Inevitably without his daughter as guide, Dad is soon totally lost.

Matilda meanwhile, although she finds things a tad on the boring side, continues following the map. Eventually she finds the place where according to the map, she should find the treasure but despite looking under, over and inside things, she can’t find it. Time to return to the boat she thinks.

Dad however is still looking and wondering until …

In case you’re wondering, yes they do discover treasure although perhaps it’s not what they were expecting. And then it’s time to go home, maybe without taking any short-cuts however.

Yet again, Lizzy has created a winner with this. Her characters are convincingly portrayed and their treasure island with its rainbow hued flora and fauna, totally gorgeous.

Rich in classroom potential, this smashing book will be requested over and over.

The Dictionary of Difficult Words

The Dictionary of Difficult Words
Jane Solomon and Louise Lockhart
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

American based lexicographer, Jane Solomon, and UK illustrator Louise Lockhart have collaborated on this compilation of over 400 words, the former providing the easily comprehendible definitions and the latter, the accompanying stylish graphics.

Before the alphabetic section itself are an explanation of what a dictionary is and how to use this particular one, and a spread on parts of speech that also mentions pronunciation.

Then comes the A to Z with two spreads allocated to each letter. Some of the words included are tricky to get your tongue around so the pronunciation guide for each one could prove invaluable, especially should readers come upon a word that’s new to them. I have to say having learnt Latin many years ago did help somewhat, as it did with working out the meaning of the occasional words I hadn’t come across before – yes there were one or two – as well as several, including borborygmus – a rumbling emanating from the stomach- I was glad to be reminded of.

The same is true of kakistrocracy, for obvious reasons.

Did you know that a person (such as this reviewer) who loves solving crosswords (or a compiler of same) is called a cruciverbalist? Now there’s a lovely word to get your tongue around. As is omphaloscopy (otherwise known as navel gazing) and ultracrepidarian (somebody who has big opinions relating to things about which they know nothing). I’m sure we can all think of a few such people.

You might be forgiven for thinking that vomitorium was something to do with throwing up; not so; it’s a passageway people used in ancient Roman times to enter or leave an amphitheatre.

Not all the words are long or tricky to say though: there’s yex, which refers to the act of hiccupping or crying.

I’ll conclude with a word that I absolutely love – lollapalooza – which might be used to describe this book. If you don’t know its meaning then I suggest rather than ‘googling’ it, you get a copy for yourself, your family, or your class. As well as being a celebration of words and the English language, it has the potential for increasing the vocabulary of youngsters who will love to impress others with their word power.

The Butterfly House

The Butterfly House
Katy Flint and Alice Pattullo
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Judging by the number of containers housing butterflies in the various stages of their development my partner has scattered about the place, I rather think my own home at present ought to have the same name as this book, although unlike Katy Flint’s ‘welcome’, it doesn’t have never-ending ceilings, nor does it contain the various habitats she names that provide homes for many of the world’s major butterfly and moth families. I was surprised to learn that these winged creatures make up 7% of all Earth’s forms of life.

We then visit the Hatchery, which explains the life cycle of a butterfly with reference to the Monarch as well as containing a number of unusual-looking caterpillars.

The next two spreads explain the differences between butterflies and moths,

what various adult butterflies like to eat and that caterpillars are fussy eaters usually preferring one particular host plant.

In the subsequent pages over 100 species of moths and butterflies from all over the world grouped in their various scientific families, are displayed in Alice Pattullo’s alluring, finely detailed brush and Indian ink illustrations. Some like the Small tortoiseshell

and the Orange-tip will be familiar to UK readers (and to me as their caterpillars are presently munching away on their food plants in our downstairs bathroom).

To see others such as the Crimson rose swallowtail, the Owl butterfly or the spectacular Luna moth,

you’ll have to visit a butterfly house like that at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire or the one in Stratford-upon-Avon.

No matter where you live or visit, this book is sure to whet your appetite to get to know more about these beautiful creatures.

Once Upon A Unicorn Horn

Once Upon A Unicorn Horn
Beatrice Blue
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

This simply gorgeous book – a neo pourquoi tale -is Beatrice Blue’s debut picture book and what a smasher it is.
Meet June, a small girl with a wonderful imagination and a taste for all things magical. She knows ‘the woods were full of treasures waiting to be discovered’ and one day she finds the greatest possible treasure – magic horses learning to fly.
One little horse however isn’t whizzing through the air with the others, fluttering his sparkly tail and he’s very sad about the fact. June is anxious to help him but no matter what they try, nothing gets him airborne, so she decides to try a touch of magic. This too fails leaving both girl and horse even more sad.

Back home, June’s parents are sympathetic telling her not to worry, together they can fix things.

Next morning they all think hard and together come up with a possibility: something sweet, happy and to share. Ice-cream fits the bill thinks June; and having whispered sweetening formula over the cartons, she sets out eagerly and very fast, in search of her friend.

Oops! Disaster … or is it? Look at the trajectory of that cone …

Suddenly something magical really does happen …

Billed as the first of a new picture series about how magical creatures got their special features, this story will immediately be devoured by the countless young unicorn lovers out there.

Beatrice’s story is fantastically funny, and deliciously sweet, but thanks in part to the humour, not in a sickly way. Her illustrations are enchanting, quirky and, in the appropriate places, full of joy; and June is a delightful character.

A winning addition to the First Editions titles; I (along with masses of youngsters) look forward to more, both in the series and from Beatrice.

The Lost Book of Adventure

The Lost Book of Adventure
edited by Teddy Keen
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Those with a thirst for wild adventures in particular will be immediately attracted to this stupendous tome. Others of us will perhaps take a little more time to be enticed in, but will likely become equally immersed in this amazing collection of notes, sketches and factual snippets that have been drawn, so we’re told by the editor, from the notebooks of the Unknown Adventurer.

Whether or not the claim by Teddy Keen to have discovered these items in a metal container while exploring a remote part of the Amazon, is a beguiling means of interesting readers in the book, or a fact, is immaterial.

What he has produced is a veritable treasure trove detailing all you need to know to flourish living in the wild, be it how to construct a wikiup shelter like those of the Nenet people of Arctic Siberia;

how to make a bottle raft to navigate ancient waterways; or, what the best techniques are for ‘pooing in the great outdoors;

or crucially important, first aid.

Prepare to be conveyed to various parts of the globe as you read lyrical accounts of such adventures as a narrow escape from the jaws of a crocodile in Sri Lanka, surviving a roaring dust storm, or an eye-ball to eye-ball encounter with one of the planet’s most dangerous snakes, a venomous bushmaster. Each of these is gloriously illustrated in a coloured pencil drawing.

Keen certainly succeeded in arousing the spirit of adventure in this reviewer; I’m sure that will be the case for many readers of this totally immersive volume.

Scratch and Learn: Human Body / The Great Big Book of Life

Scratch and Learn: Human Body
Katy Flint and Ana Seixas
Wide Eyed Editions

I’ve loved some of the EtchArt books from Quarto but this is the first science title I’ve seen, essentially an introduction to how the human body works.

It comprises two main elements: ‘Scratch to Discover’ where the reader uses the stylus to find ten things on each of the seven spreads: the skeleton, muscles,

organs, eating and digestion, the senses, the brain

and, lungs and heart.

Then there are activities – one per spread – to demonstrate how different parts of the body function. For example the muscle-related one says, ‘With your palm facing up, touch your thumb and little finger together. This shows one of your flexor tendons working in your wrist.’

There’s also an invitation to play a search-and-find memory game.

Each topic has an introductory paragraph and some also include additional bite-size snippets of information.

Spencer investigating the skeleton

Graphic designer/illustrator Ana Seixas brings a gentle humour to the pages of this fun, interactive book to use at home that is relevant to the KS1 science curriculum.

The Great Big Book of Life
Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

The 6th in The Great Big Book of … series looks at life from conception and birth to death and memories.

The early years are allocated several spreads – infant physical development,

sleep, feeding, staying healthy, learning to use the loo and how language develops.

Subsequent topics are school (including home schooling), the teenage years, work, partners,

the middle years, old age, death and finally a spread advocating living life to the full no matter who we are, which includes thinking of other people as well as ourselves.

As in previous team Hoffman and Asquith titles, diversity is a key element. Mary’s light-hearted narrative style combined with Ros’s wonderfully witty illustrations make for an informal and explicit read.

A book to add to your home or school collection.