Really Feely Baby Animals & Really Feely Farm by Polly Appleton & Dawn Sirett

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Published by Dorling Kindersley, 2017.

These Really Feely books belong to a new series for pre-schoolers from Dorling Kindersley. Each book features five animals across five double-page spreads. Children are invited to pat, tickle, stroke and touch the different animals.

What I really like about these books is the variety and quality of the tactile elements. Dorling Kindersley have used materials that closely replicate the fur of each of the different animals. For example, the donkey foal has short tufty fur whereas the puppy’s fur is longer and fluffier. My absolute favourite page is the owl chick with its fuzzy, downy feathers – just gorgeous!

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As well as feeling the animals’ fur, children are encouraged to touch beaks, noses, snouts and ears. In addition to the fluffy patches, the feely parts also include bumpy patterns, felt, tactile glitter and high-shine smooth sections.

These fabulous touch-and-feel books are a great way to help  toddlers learn the names of different animals. The simple text introduces some basic information about the animals and will help young children to learn more about the world around them.

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Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable from birth.

Thank you to Dorling Kindersley for sending me these books to review.

100 First Words by Dawn Sirett & Charlotte Milner

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Additional design and illustrations by Rachael Parfitt Hunt.

Published by Dorling Kindersley, 2017.

As I’ve come to expect from Dorling Kindersley, this large format board book is beautiful to look at and produced to a very high standard. 100 First Words is aimed at babies and toddlers, and covers all the familiar things that little children are interested in from pets and toys to objects around the home and things that go. The words are divided into sections. Some focus on everyday routines: mealtime and food, bath time and bedtime. Other sections look at the world outside and include wild animals and life on the farm. There are also pages showing colours, clothes and the body.

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Each word that your child is introduced to has an image and a label. Some of the pictures are illustrations, some are photographs. Personally, I would have preferred it if all the images were photographs. I think these are easier for young children to recognise and relate to. The pages are colourful and eye-catching with bold backgrounds and a clear, easy to read font.

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Sam’s favourite page.

My 17-month-old son, Sam, really likes this book. He returns to it again and again, and it’s one that he chooses for us to read. He will bring it to me, sit on my lap and turn the pages. He points at the different pictures and grunts – this is his pre-talking way of asking me to name the object. He looks and listens and is taking everything in. We read the book most days in this way. The repetition is building his vocabulary and now when the process is reversed and I ask, for example, ‘Where’s the fire engine?’ he is able to point to the correct picture. He also makes links between the objects in the book and things that he can see in our house or through the window.

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This is a great book for early language development, and is lots of fun to read together.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable from birth.

Thank you to Dorling Kindersley for sending me this book to review.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat by Coral Rumble & Charlotte Cooke

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Published by Wacky Bee Books, 2017.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat is a lovely picture book collaboration between mother and daughter. It begins and ends with verses based on the Edward Lear poem, except in this story the owl and the pussycat are a little boy and girl (perhaps a brother and a sister) in fancy dress who have made a boat out of a cardboard box. They have a pair of pants for a sail and a broom handle for a mast. They set sail from their living room floor, and their imaginations take them on an exciting adventure. On their journey they encounter swashbuckling pirates, all sorts of sea creatures, and a particularly naughty seagull.

IMG_2433The lively illustrations are packed full of detail; there’s plenty to notice and smile about. I also loved spotting the little extra details in the illustrations. For example, the name of the pea-green boat is Petit Pois, and the puffin flying to the moon and back in an aviator cap and goggles is a nod to Amelia Earhart.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat is great fun and a joyous celebration of the magic of imaginative play.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 2+

Thank you to Wacky Bee Books for sending me this book to review. I reviewed this book as part of The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat blog tour.

The Safari Set by Madeleine Rogers

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Published by Button Books, 2017.

This lovely rhyming board book introduces young readers to five different safari animals: lions, giraffes, elephants, zebras and hippos. For the most part, there is a only a single line of text per double page and so it’s incredible just how many fascinating facts are packed into the book! The Safari Set is pitched at just the right level and is a brilliant introduction to children’s non-fiction. In the inside back cover there’s extra information about the animals along with an environmental message about climate change.

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The book will really engage young readers – the pages are colourful, the animals cute and cartoon-like, and the sturdy pages with rounded edges are perfect for tiny hands. At different points in the book the reader is addressed directly and this will help them to connect even more with the text.

IMG_2420The book is beautiful to look at – bold and eye-catching. I really like the stylised, design-led illustrations and the use of patterns, in particular.

There’s some fabulously ambitious vocabulary for this age range, for example, ‘scorching hot’, ‘dazzling sight’, and ‘dusty plains’. This, combined with the jaunty rhymes, makes it a treat to read aloud.

There are a number of other books in the series, including The Polar Pack and The Jungle Crew. We’d love to collect them all!

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable from birth.

Thank you to Button Books for sending me this book to review and to Toppsta for organising the giveaway.

Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light

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Published by Walker Books, 2014.

This is a fabulous search-and-find number book. It takes the concept of the counting book to a whole new level. It is magnificent. As a parent, I sometimes find counting books to be dull and uninspiring. Not this book! There’s plenty in its pages to keep both the parent and the child interested.

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A little boy has lost his dragon and begins a city-wide search to find him. As well as looking for the dragon on each double-page spread, you go through the book counting objects from 1-20.

I was immediately drawn to the beautiful black and white pen and ink illustrations with their gorgeous splashes of colour. This accent colour is used to pick out whatever you are counting on each page – monkeys, ice creams, hot dogs, balloons…

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The story is set against a dazzling New York cityscape. Steve Light, a New Yorker himself, brings the buzz of the city to life in his pages. There are iconic locations (Grand Central, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park) as well as iconic symbols of the city: yellow taxis, the subway, steaming manhole covers and snack food carts.

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This is a counting book with style and sophistication. It’s great fun to read and oh so beautiful to look at!

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 2+

We borrowed this book from Solihull Libraries.

The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook by Katie Haworth & Mónica Armiño

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Published by Templar, 2016.

This gorgeous lift-the-flap, pop-up book begins with a large parcel being delivered to your door. Inside is a dragon egg and your dragon keeper’s starter pack. The premise of the book is that it will guide you through the various aspects of dragon care and training. There are also sections on famous dragon keepers from history, and a map showing the native habitats of different dragon species.

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There are lots of exciting interactive elements: flaps in all shapes and sizes, books-within-a-book, and a wheel that rotates to let you learn how to understand your dragon’s facial expressions. The pop-ups are impressive and will certainly delight children and adults alike.

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The illustrations are great: bold, colourful and funny. There’s lots of glorious detail in the text and the pictures; young trainee dragon keepers will be able to acquire a wealth of fascinating dragon knowledge (for example, how to cure common ailments, tips on fire-proofing your home, and some nifty stunts to pull off when flying).

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I particularly enjoyed the book’s humour and found myself chuckling a lot. Children will find lots to laugh about too. They will also enjoy the undercurrent of danger; the book is laced with an underlying sense of peril (looking after dragons is a hazardous business) but the overall tone is light-hearted and very entertaining.

While the book can be read cover to cover, its non-fiction style means that you can also take a more non-linear approach and jump between sections. This is a book you can dip in and out of and because of the level of detail it stands up to repeated readings.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 6+

Thank you to Templar Publishing for sending me this book to review.

Hush-A-Bye Bunny by Holly Surplice

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Published by Nosy Crow, 2017.

Hush-a-Bye Bunny is the perfect bedtime story to share with your little one. The book traces Baby Bunny’s bedtime routine from tidy-up time to bath time and story time. The familiarity makes it comforting. The shared, cosy moments between Mommy Bunny and baby are tender and heartwarming. The gorgeous illustrations capture this beautifully – the cuddles, the laughter, the eye contact – Baby Bunny really is the centre of his mommy’s world.

Hush-a-Bye Bunny is marketed as a story designed to help ease separation anxiety but, whether or not your child suffers from these fears, I think the sentiments the book expresses are relevant and reassuring to all children at bedtime. Mommy offers to “hug away worries and kiss away tears” and promises to love baby forever.

I love this story and it’s one that Sam and I enjoy as part of his bedtime routine.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable from birth

Thank you to Nosy Crow for sending me this book to review.