Tag Archives: toys

My New Room / Time for a Nap

My New Room
Lisa Stickley
Pavilion Books
Edith, the young girl narrator shares with readers the process of moving into a new room and making it her own. We share too, the comments of other inhabitants of the room starting with Edith’s toy soldier guard, Gary.

As head of moving and room safety, I have been keeping everyone in check to ensure a smooth and safe move, “ he announces.
Next to speak is dog, Albert, who deems the place “usually OK smelly wise”on account of Edith’s almost daily baths. Other toys include the softly spoken, Osbert T. Octopus, Timothy Sloth and Reginald Rabbit, occupants of the spare bed (unless Grandma comes for a sleep-over) and a host of others. Those perching atop the wardrobe have a wonderful view of the garden – perfect for “plane spotting” says Susan hippo, whereas Breton Mouse has found the perfect trampolining spot …

while poor Sebastian Snake has the chilliest spot of all and is thinking of applying “for a promotion.” It looks as though they might all settle happily in their new abode; it looks too as though they’ve been pretty busy creating something special for Edith.

I absolutely loved Lisa Stickley’s Handstand debut; this is even better I think. The text, presented as in a child’s writing book, is deliciously witty and the patterned illustrations adorable. I’d certainly recommend putting this in pride of place on Edith’s bookshelf along side Gary Guardsman, as well as adding it to a family, nursery or early years classroom collection.

Time for a Nap
Phillis Gershator and David Walker
Through a gentle rhyming text and delightful, soft-focus pencil and acrylic scenes of a little rabbit and parent, human toddlers can share in their week. Starting with Monday, shopping day,

Gershator and Walker take us through their weekday activities, shopping, playing, a visit to the library for storytime (hooray!), clothes washing and gardening and on Saturday and Sunday, relaxing together.
A crucial part of every one of those days is nap time – not always readily embarked on by little rabbit.

Short and sweet, and ideal for participatory reading with littles: try reading it with a nursery group and then leaving the book with appropriate props or small world toys for children to interact with.

I’ve signed the charter  

The Snugglewump / Pearla and her Unpredictably Perfect Day

The Snugglewump
Lou Treleaven and Kate Chappell
Maverick Arts Publishing
Molly has a host of toys and sitting side-by side awaiting her arrival one day, each claims to have pride of place in her affections. There’s Ted, an antique doll, Alien, Robot and Action Andy …

all strutting their stuff so to speak. It’s no wonder that Snugglewump lies forgotten on the floor feeling less than confident about his lot. But then, having seen and heard the others showing off, it ups and snugglewumps away through the catflap and off down the road.
Thanks to a free ride on a postman’s shoe, it ends up spending the night, damp and virtually shapeless contemplating the possibilities offered by having limbs and a countenance, or batteries, and generally rueing its lot.
Is it Snugglewump’s fate to be cast so it thinks, into the dump or could there perhaps be an alternative ending for this brightly coloured, albeit amorphous thing which, thanks to a couple of pigeons is, as the sun rises, hanging across the branch of a tree in the park?

Told through Lou Treleaven’s jaunty rhyming text with its fun descriptive phrases, and Kate Chappell’s beautifully expressive, quirky illustrations (she even manages to imbue that Snugglewump with a personality) this is great fun to share with young listeners either at home or in an early years setting.

Pearla and her Unpredictably Perfect Day
Rochel Lieberman and Lloyd Jones
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Ten year old Pearla likes nothing better on Sundays than to help her father in his bakery. She’s something of an expert herself, cooking up perfect cupcakes and cookies that people come from far and wide to buy.
One Sunday however, having so she thinks whisked up the usual perfect mix for her cookies and cupcakes, and put them into the oven to bake, she realises that she’s left out a vital ingredient. Disaster for one used to a perfect baking outcome.

But then as she paces up and down, Pearla starts out on what is to be a huge learning curve: “I’m a person, People are not perfect. I did my best. I know I will be helped with the rest,” she tells herself.
Out come the far from perfect confections some time later and rather than throwing the whole lot in the bin, Pearla decides to sell them at half-price.
What happens thereafter is a big surprise for the girl and after the odd sales setback, every single item is sold. Thank goodness Pearla managed to stay calm and turn her mistake into something positive. Even more important she learned the crucial life-lesson: that mistakes are a vital part of the learning process; something all teachers worth their salt would agree with, and that all youngsters need to take on board early on in their education. That way lies success.
Full of important and empowering lessons. Written by a speech and language specialist, this is a book to share with all young learners, especially those who, for whatever reason, are averse to risk-taking. Lloyd Jones’ illustrations add gentle humour to Pearla’s plight.

I’ve signed the charter  

Mix-Ups & Disguises

The Hippopandamouse
Jools Bentley
Macmillan Children’s Books
Things are all of a tizz at Fluffey’s Fine Toys as the workers prepare for a royal visit: the princess is coming and everything has to be perfect. Any toys that don’t pass muster are consigned to the dreaded unstitcher…


In all the panic, one hippopotamus is put on the wrong table and ends up looking thus:


The resulting mistake goes un-noticed by the fussy Miss Fluffey who is eager to usher in Princess Flo and show her all the wonderful toys. The young lady show polite interest but is unimpressed until she spies the mistake. Miss Fluffey orders its instant withdrawal and off it’s sent to the dreaded unstitcher. Much to the displeasure of one small royal miss who is determined to spend her pocket money on just one very special item. But can that machine be stopped in time to save that very special item from destruction …
Mistake he might be, but the Hippopandamouse is a winner with youngsters be they or be they not princesses.


Jools Bentley’s creation demonstrates beautifully that we don’t need to be perfect to be lovable; that and the fact that everybody needs a break from time to time, no matter how important the job being worked on.


How to Hide a Lion at School
Helen Stephens
Alison Green Books
What do you do when your best pal and companion isn’t allowed to go with you to the place you spend a great deal of time in – school? At first, Iris does nothing – there’s no need: her lion follows her there every single day, sneaks in and does his best to merge in but unsurprisingly Iris’s teacher, Miss Holland (like most teachers) has eyes in the back of her head and sends him packing. That works when the children are staying put in school but there comes a day when the class is off on a school trip. Moreover, their mode of transport just happens to be the very bus upon which Iris’s lion languishes to watch the goings on in the playground. So, with class aboard off speeds said bus, lion atop – to the museum.
What a splendid hiding place this turns out to be with all those fascinating exhibits.


Nobody, not even Iris notices him until, they reach the ancient Egyptian room. Here, Iris has to do some quick thinking, and a whole lot of loo roll snitching, in order to attempt a disguise.


It’s pretty effective until one of the museum visitors has a touch of the tickly noses … and that’s when the plan starts to unravel …
What happens thereafter really puts the lion’s thinking skills to the test but suffice it to say that a certain large-maned creature ends up as hero of the hour …


and earns himself a new job to boot.
As with previous adventures of the duo, this one is lots of fun. If you’ve not met Iris and her friendly lion previously you can start here, after which I suspect you’ll want to go back and get hold of the two books How to Hide a Lion and How to Hide a Lion from Grandma.

Happy Birthday Old Bear 30th Birthday blog tour

Red Reading Hub is delighted to be part of the blog tour celebrating Old Bear’s 30th birthday


Happy Birthday Old Bear
Jane Hissey
I find it hard to believe that we’re celebrating Old Bear’s 30th birthday. He’s been one of my all time favourite characters since my early days as an infant teacher; and I have – I think – still got all his books, treasures every one.
I particularly treasure my original copy of Old Bear, still with its press release and review slip …


I cannot possibly imagine how many classes, individuals and groups of young children I’ve shared this and the other stories with. So, I’m way beyond thrilled to be part of the celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of that first publication and Jane’s new Old Bear story which opens with all the toys, helped by a new friend, Elsie elephant busily preparing for Old Bear’s party.
Poor Little Bear, he just can’t keep up with Elsie who, rather than tie a bow around her umbrella gift seems to be tying bows to anything and everything …


No party would be complete without balloons and the toys have those in abundance, even an anteater, so Little Bear thinks; but we know better …


Meanwhile in the kitchen, Bramwell Brown has been hard at work baking and now the fruit of his labours is ready for decorating – or rather it was, but Elsie precipitates a slight mishap which results in a fair bit of cake being squashed. Undaunted, Elsie soon has the whole near-disaster turned into a creative ‘half-a-cake’ opportunity when in marches Sailor whose concern is for the celebratory music …


and of course, Little Bear is eager to be part of the band.
Out in the garden is some bubble mixture: Elsie and Little Bear start to get a bit carried away with blowing ‘big, wibbly-wobbly bubbles’ and it’s as well that the ever-resourceful Elsie fetches the perfect cake protector just in time for the VIP’s appearance.


We all know what happens when gusts of wind take hold of open brollies and all of a sudden Elsie is whisked skywards clinging on for dear life. Thank goodness then for another one of the friends, Hoot. She hears all the noise and is straightway off to the rescue, returning soon after with Elsie and the umbrella safe and sound.
Then finally, it really IS time to celebrate: ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY OLD BEAR’: here’s a cake we made just for you. …


and may we all be here with you for many more birthdays.
I wanted an Elsie to come to our Old Bear celebration and here she is:


Elsie whom I made in India from scrap materials bringing her own special umbrella gift for Old Bear

This latest Jane Hissey book is STU-PEN-DOUS: sheer delight from cover to cover. Every spread is a sensory treat: it’s so tactile; you can almost feel the fur and felt of the toys and that storybook cake really sends your olfactory organs and taste buds into over-drive. Old Bear and his creator truly are as magical as ever.
Inspired by Elsie, some of your fans have made celebratory Happy Birthday umbrellas specially for the occasion too:


I have two copies of Happy Birthday Old Bear to give away thanks to Scribblers. To be in with a chance to win, simply retweet my celebratory tweet #OldBear30 by 22nd September. (UK only) And just in case you’ve missed the previous celebrations or want to know what’s still to come …

blog-tour-banner 30th-logo


Toys Lost, Toys Found


Gracie was intrigued by the way the mammoth came unravelled but retained his perfect shape.

Little Lou and the Woolly Mammoth
Paula Bowles
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk
What is that bright wriggly thing protruding from among the muddle of toys wonders bored, lonely Little Lou. Being of an inquisitive nature she decides to tug at it. The thread wriggles away; Little Lou follows until she finds herself in the middle of a massive, tangly mess.


Lou tugs and feels a shake and a shudder. From the tangle emerges a huge woolly mammoth right before her eyes. Little Lou runs away, zigzagging here and there, hotly pursued by the massive mammoth


but then … OOPS his tail is caught up with a castle and that begins his undoing – literally. A shadow of his former self, the cuddlesome creature pitter- patters, turns and dashes off in alarm, this time with Little Lou in pursuit, both zigzagging to the point of exhaustion. Time for an elephantine embrace, Little Lou – a new friendship begins thereafter.


Paula Bowles’ soft colours, set against cream background pages serve this gentle tale of looking beyond the perceived information beautifully. The mixed media illustrations, with their gently humorous details have great child appeal; that mammoth is truly irresistible. A thoroughly engaging story, playful language, lovable bit-part characters and a variety of print sizes complete the package.
Buy from Amazon


Rebecca Patterson
Jonathan Cape pbk
The adorable-looking yellow bear narrator is not, he tells us, a new bear; he’s been around for ages and ages. Born in a northern factory, given as a birthday present, unloved and mistreated; indeed, bundled into a bag crammed with shoes and socks and sent to a charity shop. That becomes his home for long years, lonely and waiting for a new home.


Then one day in comes a little girl with her mum and joy of joys, she buys that bear for just 50p. Off they go home, the bear with a new name, Buttercup. However, Buttercup discovers he’s bear number seven in his new home. Moreover, all the ursine residents have special jobs to do; each and every day they are hard at work. There’s Tufts, he’s the lift operator, Mr Brownbear who has to dress like a baby and have a daily buggy ride, Betty and Doffy don earrings and dance, Frank does stunts and Babyblue assists the little girl with bike riding and they all participate in daily beauty shows.


Buttercup begins to worry about his role but then comes the realization that his fellow bears are all exhausted by their toil and fall fast asleep thereafter. Not so Buttercup; that’s when he comes into his own as story listener, comforter after scary dreams, sick attendant


and story teller to the day bears, for what is Buttercup? Nightbear, of course!
Tinged with humour, this is a gorgeous tale of ursine love with endearing characters both teddy and human. Rebecca Patterson infuses every single spread with tenderness. Add to this, her choice of colour palette and attention to detail: the sum total is irresistible.
Buy from Amazon


Salina Yoon
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk
Bear finds a lost toy bunny under a tree one day and despite loving it immediately, resolves to find its owner. He makes a huge stack of posters and off he goes to post them on each and every tree.


In addition he and bunny consult the ‘lost’ notices and search everywhere to no avail. Poor bunny and poor bunny’s family thinks the empathetic Bear as he goes to bed.
Next day the two have great fun together

but all good things must come to an end … or so it seems.


Well, yes and no, for special toys are meant to be passed on to special others.
There is so much sensitivity in this perfectly constructed story; that young bear shows such inter- and intra- personal intelligence in his behaviour. This is beautifully conveyed through the author’s spare, undidactic prose and brightly coloured pictures. The latter, to which Salina Yoon has added some soft texturing, also speak volumes about the emotions of the characters.
A total delight; perfectly pitched and a book that offers so much to think about and discuss with young listeners.
Buy from Amazon

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