Chirp! / Five Little Chicks

Mary Murphy
Walker Books

As a new day begins, each bird adds its voice to the dawn chorus. The Thrush warbles, Blackbird whistles ‘Tooraloo’ and then in turn we hear a sequence of onomatopoeic contributions from the Wren, the Lark, the Finch,

the Robin, the Swallow, followed by Wagtails, a Starling, Magpies, the farmyard Goose, Duck and Hen, the Pigeon and the Cockerel.

Suddenly into the crescendo of early morning sound, from a tiny blue unnamed bird that’s been watching and waiting patiently, comes a “Hush! It’s my turn to sing.” It then adds a zippy-zippy-zippeeeeee that serves as a reminder that. ‘ … We all have something to say. / We all get to shout / for a brand new / day!’

As it is with our feathered friends, so it should be for humans: everyone deserves a chance to get his or her voice heard.
With its wealth of sounds that cry out to be echoed by little humans, this is a fun story with an important message at its heart. And what an abundance of sound/symbol associations to be enjoyed.

Five Little Chicks
Lily Murray and Holly Surplice
Templar Publishing

In Lily Murray’s version of the nursery song Five Little Ducks, she’s replaced the ducks with chicks and a Mama Hen and makes the entire text more interactive by asking after every foray over the hills, ‘Now how many chicks / can you see?’, as well as offering some seemingly irresistible bait to her offspring. It certainly has the desired effect and there’s a lovely final surprise for Mama Chick provided by her little ones.

Holly Surplice has included lots of other baby animals and their parents in her springtime illustrations of the chickens and their adventure that takes them through a flower-filled meadow, a bluebell wood, a field of gambolling lambs, a farmyard and beside the stream.

Every one of the scenes is absolutely bursting with bold images and bright colour; and ramping up the interactive nature of the book are the numerous flaps to explore on every spread.

Little humans will definitely enjoy sharing this with their own mother figures, particularly around Mother’s Day and Easter, though this is a book that youngsters will want to go back to time and again. With it’s predictable text it’s also a good one for those in the early stages of reading to try for themselves.

Look, Puppy!

Look Puppy!
Mary Murphy and Victoria Ball
Walker Books

A little girl has long awaited the arrival of her new puppy and now, hurrah! At last the nameless creature has arrived and she is eager to introduce the newcomer, first to the immediate surroundings and then the world at large. The latter entails a walk around the neighbourhood to see the various houses and their inhabitants both human and canine,

most of whom are very welcoming and offer to help choose Puppy a name. But then disaster! The creature disappears.

Where is Puppy?

A frantic search begins, followed by a pause for some reflection,

a joyful reunion and a return home.

Will the little girl ever settle on a name for her puppy though. Yes of course, but what will it be?

With endearing, finely detailed illustrations by Victoria Ball, Mary Murphy’s is a warm, gentle tale that will especially appeal to youngsters with a dog in the family. The little human protagonist herein shows such understanding and love in her dealings with her puppy offering a great example to young readers.

Only a Tree Knows How To Be a Tree/ We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Let’s Discover Changing Seasons

Only a Tree Knows How to Be a Tree
Mary Murphy
Otter-Barry Books

There are SO many things about a tree to appreciate and take delight in. First and foremost is its inherent and unique beauty, but it also provides shelter for all manner of insects, birds,

and other small animals, for as the author says ‘Only a Tree knows / how to be a tree.’

In similar enthusiastic fashion, Mary talks of and celebrates other things in the natural world – birds, dogs, water with its plethora of fish,

Earth whereon all the things mentioned have their homes, but also for its turning that brings both night and day, and the seasons; and there’s the universe with its multitude of planets … “But Earth is our home / and only Earth knows how to be Earth.’

There are people too of all kinds to celebrate every one special and different: these are represented by a host of joyful children

playing, talking, pretending, one even meditates. Indeed children feature in all but one spread. I love Mary’s inclusive, brightly hued, detailed pictures of them all. These alone offer plenty to look at, enjoy and talk about.

Nothing is too insignificant to celebrate here from the tiniest creature to the entire universe. Share, pause, reflect and feel awe.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Let’s Discover Changing Seasons
illustrations by Max Williams/ Bear Hunt Films Ltd. Susanna Chapman
Walker Entertainment

No matter the weather or the season, youngsters will find something of interest in this interactive seasonal guide. There are a number of weather related investigations some of which can be done at home, others will involve going out doors. You might make your own rain gauge; or perhaps find a good spot for some cloud spotting.

On a clear wintry night, what about some moon spotting or looking at the stars? Or on a fine spring day, why not take the opportunity to get outside and look for signs of new life – there might be baby animals around.

Then once back indoors you can adorn a field with spring flowers using some of the stickers provided at the back of the book.

There are also seasonal recipes, crafts and I particularly like the idea of ‘Go green lucky dip’ where you can use the discs provided but also add you own counters.

With plenty of fun, learning opportunities, certainly this is a sticker activity book and much more.

What I Like Most / Goodbye House, Hello House

What I Like Most
Mary Murphy and Zhu Cheng-Liang
Walker Books

A small girl narrator takes us through the day sharing the favourite things in her life.

Assuredly she has much to like – the window through which she watches the comings and goings, apricot jam to spread on her toast, her trainers with the flashing lights,

the tree-lined river, her red pencil, chips, the storybook she knows by heart, her teddy bear.

All these are favourite things but the girl knows that while the view through the window changes, the jam is finished, her feet outgrow her shoes, the river changes,

her red pencil is all used up, her plate empties, the book is no longer interesting, there is someone there whom no matter what, she’ll always, always love and that someone is what she likes ‘the very, very most in the world.’

What a lovely way to express one’s love for a mother while also showing that maternal love is constant. Mary Murphy’s lyrical text combined with Zhu Cheng-Liang’s richly coloured illustrations with their unusual and varied viewpoints offer a wonderful demonstration that it’s not the flashy, expensive things in life that make us happy but the everyday ones we could so easily take for granted.

Goodbye House, Hello House
Margaret Wild and Ann James
Allen & Unwin

Endings and beginnings can be challenging for anyone, but here in this story the little girl narrator appears to be embracing change bravely.

She spends a while on ‘last times’, bidding farewell to things she has loved to do – fishing in the river, running through the trees;

swinging on the gate.

Inside she embraces domestic last times before saying goodbye to the rooms in the country house. Then Emma (only now her name is revealed), changes the writing on the wall to the past tense …

and it’s time to leave.

At the new city house, there are exciting first times

and hellos to be said, new writing to put on the wall and anticipation of things to come.

Yes the landscapes may be very different but with a positive attitude familiarity can be found. . Emma’s body language says much about her emotions, but no matter the location Emma is still Emma.

Margaret Wild’s minimal text combined with Ann James’ muted story-telling illustrations leave plenty of room for the reader’s imaginations.

This heart-warming book offers a great starting point for opening up discussion about change whether or not children have had an experience similar to Emma’s.

Picken / Animal Counting


Mary Murphy
Walker Books
What a clever title for this ‘mix and match’ farm animal book. Here youngsters surely can ‘pick ‘n mix’ the opposite sides of this split page board book to create a host of crazy animals. Thus for instance, a Calf can become a Camb, a Cacken, a Catten, a Caglet, a Case …


(I’ll leave you to work out what animal the rear end belongs to) and a Cappy.
A kitten on the other hand, might be a Kilf or a Kimb …


or four other strange creatures.
Essentially this is a game in a book and with Mary Murphy’s bold, bright illustrations, a delightful one at that. In addition, it’s a wonderfully playful way to develop some sound/symbol associations.


Animal Counting
Petr Horáček
Walker Books
This lift-the flap animal book is just the thing to encourage the very young to participate in the development of their counting skills. Brightly coloured images of a giraffe, zebras, cheetahs …


snakes, crocodiles, chameleons, toucans, pandas, lemurs and finally fish are presented alongside the appropriate numeral and when the half-page flap on the right-hand side of each double spread is lifted, it reveals both a number symbol fashioned from the featured animal and the corresponding number word.


To add further interest, each animal is described in an adjectival phrase such as-‘Seven Screeching toucans‘ or ‘Nine leaping lemurs‘.

Good Night Like This and This and …

Good Night Like This
Mary Murphy
Walker Books
Adorable adult animal characters – a horse, a rabbit, a firefly, a bear, a duck, a cat and a mouse bid their respective, equally adorable infants good night in this lovely book. It’s one that uses soporific language ‘ Yawny and dozy, twitchy and cosy. Good night rabbits, sleep tight… ‘ to lull listeners into a sleepy mood too as they share in the rituals of the respective animals’ bedtime biddings …


and by turning the split pages can play their own part in the good nights …


before they too, enter the land of nod.
Gorgeous! Such a beautiful, dreamy colour palette, so much love and tenderness at every turn of the page – aaaahhh! Sweet dreams little ones. Sleep tight.


Sleep, Little Pup
Jo Parry
Insomnia hits us all from time to time and in this story told in a gentle rhyming text, it’s a cuddly-looking Pup that has tried all the usual ways of inducing sleep – sheep counting, star counting and even more puppish pursuits such as tail chasing, bone chewing, mice teasing and even howling at the moon: all to no avail. Out come the nocturnal bugs and beetles, the fireflies and moths and all sing a lullaby for Pup but he remains wide awake …


so much so that when fox comes along, guess who joins the moonlit patrol. Over at the pond is where Pup finds himself next and there he stops for a bit of fish tickling, lilypad floating and frog-style leaping …


Will he ever get some shut-eye?
Finally back to his basket comes a sad-looking Pup but then along comes his Mummy with a goodnight kiss and cuddle, and a new soft blanket. It’s that soft, warm snuggly blanket that at last, does the trick: sweet dreams little Pup; you’ve plenty to dream about.
With a cute main character and an equally lovable supporting cast, Little Pup is likely to win many friends among early years listeners: the text could well help induce sleepiness but not, I suspect, before the story’s over. Jo Parry’s scenes have a soft charm, similar to that blanket. One to add to the bedtime story shelf.


Everyone Says Goodnight
Hiroyuki Arai
Chronicle Books
It’s Little Bear’s bedtime but first he needs some help packing away all his toys. Toddlers can assist by turning the split pages to get the toys in the toy box.
It’s also time for Little Bunny and Little Kitty to go to bed but they too have toys to put away and again ‘littles’ can assist, as they can those three little piglets –


they have a kitchen play set to put in the box …


Now finally, we need to get those children tucked up too and then it’s …


Gentle interactive fun for tinies at bedtime and just the thing to encourage them to tidy up first like the characters in this cute little book.


My Dreams
Xavier Deneux
A small child shares his dreams – flying high a-back a huge bird or soaring on a magic carpet, entertaining a princess in her tower, playing on an enormous slide …


or participating in a game of hide and seek in a poppy field, or enjoying a ride on a dinosaur’s back or even that of a whale.


All these fanciful scenarios take our dreamer far from home; but then it’s time to return to a place of quiet calm and perhaps finally, some snuggly stillness …
With its ‘glow in the dark’ silvery tactile component of every dream scene, this small chunky book is a delight at every turn of the page; and the limited colour palette is used to great effect, heightening the whole nocturnal drama.


Toddler Time

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A Recipe for Bedtime
Peter Bently and Sarah Massini
Hodder Children’s Books
Baby, baby soft and sweet,
Almost good enough to eat!
It’s night-night time so come with me,
And hear my bedtime recipe.

We are invited to share a bedtime ritual along with teddy (who has the perfect recipe book), and other assorted toys who help put the human infant to bed. After a snack, there’s a cuddle, clothes off, into the bath with lots of warm water and bubbles, then a rub-a-dub with a huge towel – perfect for a quick game of Peek-a-Boo,

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a tummy softening squirt– thank you elephant, into those jimjams and a drink of milk. Now put said infant into a warm place with a sprinkling of kisses and a cosy cover, not forgetting a sleep-inducing ‘Hush-a-bye’ song; now climb in everyone. Night-night.
With its tender, gently soporific rhyming text and pictures so beautifully in tune, I can imagine this becoming a bedtime favourite with many a toddler.

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Are You My Mummy?
Mary Murphy
Walker Books
In this enchanting board book we join a little pup as it travels around the farm asking the various animal inhabitants, “Are you my mummy?” After encounters with a sheep, a cow, a horse, a cat, a pig

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and a duck, our persistent pup finally finds a large dog and joy of joys, her response is “Yes … and you’re my lovely puppy!
Cute animals, a simple patterned text and flaps to open revealing each mother’s little one are the key ingredients of this new addition to the Baby Walker series. It’s just the thing to share with the very youngest child… again and again I suspect; and slightly older, beginner reader siblings might well enjoy reading it to a baby brother or sister.

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Where Do You Live Snail?
Petr Horacek
Walker Books
Snail sets out visiting mouse, the busy bees, a fluffy bird, a shiny fish and hoppy frog asking them in turn, “Where do you live?” Each time he receives the answer, “I (or we) live in … ” The frog then asks snail about his home and discovers that snail has a mobile home on its back.

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The predictable question and answer format together with Petr Horacek’s gorgeous mixed media illustrations make for a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the Baby Walker series. This one has a wheel that when turned, makes the stars shine on snail.
Another beautifully illustrated title in the same series is:
A Surprise for Tiny Mouse
Petr Horacek
Walker Books
As we accompany Tiny Mouse through the seasons we share her enjoyment of nibbling the corn in the sunshine, moving in the crackly leaves on a windy day, feeling the crunchy night-time frost

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and the snow tickling her nose. What she doesn’t like though is splashy rain so off she scampers to hide until out comes the sun once more, and if the wheel is turned …
Cutaway pages and peep-holes further add to the enjoyment of this one.
In my experience beginning readers also get great pleasure from these books if left in early years book baskets for individuals to try reading for themselves.

Find and buy from your local bookshop:

What a Noise!


Leslie Patricelli
Walker Books
Far from being embarrassed by the eruptions escaping from its rear end, Leslie Patricelli’s adorable toddler talks about ‘toots’. There are ‘on my trike’ toots, music class toots,


I need my potty toots, tummy ache toots and in the bath toots – some long, others short. We also hear about the toots from parents and pets. And what is our reaction to all this tooting? We laugh; and that is just what we are likely to do as we share the thoughts of the infant narrator in this hilarious board book.

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Here’s little E. reading her current favourite book.

Buy from Amazon


Baby Beats
Karen Blair
Walker Books
Herein we have an open invitation to join the toddler quintet in their musical interlude as they clap, stamp, boom, bash, clash, tap, shake, strum and sing.


Then it’s the turn of the stripey cat to make a contribution before a grand finale after which they all snuggle down for some shut-eye.
Get out your percussion instruments or those saucepans, lids, spoons, sticks, pieces of wood, plastic bottles of rice, beans etc. for your children after you’ve shared this short book; with its charming water colour illustrations and rhyming text, it makes a lovely starting point for a session of music making and movement.
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Say Hello Like This!
Mary Murphy
Walker Books
A host of animals celebrate their individual voices as they practice saying hello in their own noisy ways. There’s the loud licky ‘Bow-wow-wow-wow’ from the dogs, the tiny tappy ‘tip tap tip tap’ of the beetles and the silly, happy HEE HAW! HEE HAW! from the donkeys. All these and more contribute to a glorious animal hullabaloo with just one missing voice…
The lift-the flap element of the book adds to the delight of the vocals as we see the various pairs coming together when the half page is turned to reveal for instance, the antennae tapping beetles, jumpy frogs on lilypads



or the leaping, cavorting canines.
Mary Murphy’s characteristically bold, bright images thickly outlined in black are full of joie de vie.
With its well-chosen words and use of rhyme this is a pleasure to read aloud and with an open invitation to create a lot of noise, it is sure to become a firm favourite at story sessions with the very young.
Buy from Amazon

Another funny ‘noisy’ story already reviewed on Red Reading Hub in the post Goldilocks, Bears, Riots and More and now out in paperback is:


What Noise Does a Rabbit Make
Carrie Weston and Richard Byrne
Andersen Press pbk
Buy from Amazon

Find and buy from your local bookseller:

Bookmark 5th March in your diary