Archive for the ‘Early Readers’ Category

Bookish Brits: Six Degrees Of Separation

6degreesThis video is based on a feature I first came across at YA Yeah Yeah (here) and is inspired by the Meme, Six Degrees Of Separation, created by Anabell Smith and Emma J Chapman (here)

Posted by Caroline

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Five Fabulous Books…Which Feature Imaginary Friends

fab five logo Five Fabulous Books is a new feature here at Big Book Little Book. The aim of the feature is to showcase fabulous books with connecting themes, there by promoting reads we have enjoyed and share recommendations for similar books. We hope to share contributions from fellow bibliophiles, bloggers, vloggers and twitter users. We love to hear from you too, so don’t forget to comment with your favourite themed books. If you create your own Fabulous Five posts be sure to link back to Big Book Little Book and leave your link in the comments below so we can check out your recommendations!

Playmate, confident or scapegoat?

The five fabulous books I have selected to showcase this week span the age categories and all feature imaginary friends (or do they?!).

I find the idea of Imaginary friends fascinating. Perhaps it stems from enviously watching my younger brother with his imaginary friend. The tale of his epic meltdown, when my aunty forgot his best friend “Boy”, is legendary within our family. He refused to calm down, or leave the building until he and my aunty had retraced their steps, taking a lift back up to the twelfth floor to collect Boy!

I suppose that my attachment to fictional characters is like having hundreds of imaginary friends within the pages of my beloved books.

dino bath tubThere’s A Dinosaur In My Bathtub by Catalia Echeverri
Only Amelia can see Pierre, because he is very good at hiding. The two have the most amazing summer full of adventures at sea, on the moon and in all kinds of magical lands. But everyone knows that French dinosaurs like Pierre only get to stay in people’s bathtubs for the summer.
This lovely picture book from Bloomsbury showed up on our door stop unexpectedly one morning and has become a firm favourite of both my four and six year old, a rarity recently, resulting in a harmonious shared story time.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: April 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Dystopian
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher

squishySquishy McFluff by Pip Jones
Can you see him? My kitten? Close your eyes tight
His fur is so soft and all silvery white
Imagine him quick! Have you imagined enough?
Oh, good, you can see him! It’s Squishy McFluff!
When Ava discovers an imaginary cat in the cabbage patch, she knows she’s found a new best friend. Together, Ava and Squishy McFluff get up to all kinds of mischief…

This gorgeous rhyming book has delighted both myself and my six year old daughter. The rhyme, the font and the division of the story in to chapters all led themselves to independent reading however, the cheeky humour is a delight for early and *cough* more mature *cough* readers alike. I defy you to not gobble this up in a single sitting, with or without your own mischievous Ava as a captivated audience.

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: February 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 80
Genre: Children’s, Humour
Age: Early Reader
Reviewer: Caroline and Ava
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book

a monster callsA Monster Calls by Patric Ness and Jim Kay
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

Karen says “Verdict: This is a book, even in it’s Paperback form that will be treasured for it’s outer beauty and for the heart wrenching story within”
Read Karen’s full review here

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: February 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 216
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book

unspokenUnspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.
But all that changes when the Lynburns return.
The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

OMG I absolutely loved this book, but my goodness Sarah Rees Brennan is a cruel, cruel woman who survives on the tears of her readers! Do your self a favour and check it out, but make sure that you have the second book ready to go because you are not going to want to wait to read the second instalment. The wait for the third and final book (September 2014) is going to be excruciating.

Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: September 2012
Format: Hardback
Pages: 272
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book

if you could see meIf You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern
Readers and critics alike adore Cecelia Ahern for her lighthearted yet insightful stories about modern women and their often unusual situations. In If You Could See Me Now, she takes that theme a step further, offering us a heroine who is entirely believable, and the new man in her life who is, well, slightly less so.
Elizabeth Egan’s life runs on order: Both her home and her emotions are arranged just so, with little room for spontaneity. It’s how she counteracts the chaos of her family — an alcoholic mother who left when she was young, an emotionally distant father, and a free-spirited sister, who seems to be following in their mother’s footsteps, leaving her own six-yearold son, Luke, in Elizabeth’s care. When Ivan, Luke’s mysterious new grown-up friend, enters the picture, Elizabeth doesn’t know quite what to make of him. With his penchant for adventure and colorful take on things large and small, Ivan opens Elizabeth’s eyes to a whole new way of living. But is it for real? Is Ivan for real?
If You Could See Me Now is a love story with heart — and just a touch of magic.

I have to admit that I felt a touch apprehensive at reading what was my first adult novel for some time, not to mention that it is a favourite of a good friend of mine. My apprehension was all for nothing. I loved the combination of contemporary setting, magical realism, laugh out loud moments and poignant, touching scenes. A lovely, lovely read. I will definitely be checking out some more of Ahern’s work in the future.

Publication Date: November 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 410
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Borrowed

Honourable Mentions:
Jack’s Amazing Shadow by Tom Percival and Memoirs Of An Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks.

Twitter Recommends:
A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce (@dark_Fell), Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets by Evan Roskos(@musingteacher), Who Framed Klaris cliff by Nikki Sheehan (@daydreamin_star)and The Perks Of Being A Wall Flower by Stephen Chbosky(@barbaralib0202).

Did you have an imaginary friend?
Are you as protective of your fictional friends as I am?
What are your favourite reads featuring imaginary friends?

Posted by Caroline

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Claude On The Slopes/At The Circus

Alex T Smith
claude-slopesClaude on the Slopes
In this latest adventure, on a winter’s day, Claude goes from throwing snowballs and making snowmen to causing an all-out avalanche!

Claude-CircusClaude at the Circus
A walk in the park leads to a walk on a tightrope when Claude joins a circus, throws custard pies, and becomes the star of the show!

Publisher: Hodder Children’s
Publication Date: Oct 2013/Jan 2012
Format: Hardback/PB
Pages: 96/96
Genre: Humour, Animals
Age: Early reader
Reviewer: Ava (6)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Dixie O’Day: In the Fast Lane

Shirley Hughes and Clara Vaulliamy (illustrator)
dixie O'dayIntroducing Dixie O’Day and also, of course, his friend Percy! This dashing duo are always getting into adventures – here they enter the All-Day Car Race little knowing what is ahead of them! Dixie and Percy run into all sorts of peril, as does their arch enemy, Lou Ella. But who will win, and will Lou Ella get her comeuppance?

It gives me great pleasure to introduce two dashing gentlemen, Dixy O’Day, the bow tie wearing, responsible car owner, and his best friend, co-driver, and all round good chap, Percy. These furry fella’s enjoy the simple things in life; Sunday motoring in the country, picnicing at the seaside and relaxing in the evening with a good cup of tea and their favourite biscuits. Not that they are adverse to a little excitement, which is handy as they do seem to get themselves in to tricky scrapes with alarming regularity!

While we still enjoy sharing our favourite picture books, my six-year-old daughter has started to request “grown up” chapter books for her pre bed reading. Although these books are written for early readers, with simple stories that appeal to her interests, I have found that the leap from picture book to chapter book to be a steep one. Particularly when I am reading an un-illustrated segment, I have noticed that my daughter’s concentration wanes mid chapter and without a visual reference and in the absence of descriptions she has trouble keeping track of the secondary characters.

From the very first page you know that you are getting something different. Dixie O’Day is a very British book about a pair of well-mannered British chaps. Beneath the excitement of the great Didsworth to Dodsworth car race there are some very gentle lessons about taking care of your possessions, consideration for others, manners and doing good deeds.

In a world full of apps, technology and extra digital content it was a delight to watch my daughter interacting with the book in a much more traditional way- exploring the included character interviews, games and maps – these added extras have pulled us back to the book as much as the story itself.

The chapters were the perfect length to maintain a fidgeting child’s attention, but long enough to that my daughter didn’t feel short changed at bedtime. The chapters each ended on a gripping cliff hanger and on more than one occasion I gave in (gleefully*) to my daughters pleas of just one more chapter.

In my experience the illustrations in similar books are usually black and white. While the illustrations in Dixie O’Day benefit from the edition of just red, pink and grey, the use of different retro prints add to the overall texture of the pictures and makes the overall book feel as if a much larger colour palate has been used.

I loved the retro 1940-1950’s styling. Everything from the illustrations themselves, the language use, even the compact size of the book, all nod to a past era. Although I was born long after the mimiced era, everything about the book made me feel nostalgic for my own childhood. Saturday mornings watching wacky races on the television, rummaging in charity shops for very British books about adventures, midnight feasts and lessons in morality.

Verdict: With it’s fast paced and exciting chapters and vibrant illustrations on every page Dixy O’Day is the perfect bridge between the chapter books my daughter craves and the picture books we already love.

* another step closer to creating a mini bibliophile

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Bodley Head
Publication Date: August 2013
Format: ARC
Pages: 128
Genre: Children’s, Humour
Age: Early reader
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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The Ravenous Beast

Naimh Sharkey

ravenous beastThe ravenous beast is hungry, hungry, hungry. But is he the hungriest animal of all? “Nonsense smonsense,” scoff the other animals, and “Hokum Pokum!” But they want to watch out or the ravenous beast might just gobble ’em up and swallow ’em down!

This is a lovely, fun picture book. Ravenous beast announces that he is ‘Hungry, Hungry, Hungry!’ and is the hungriest beast of all. The other animals all tell him how hungry they are too, they want to eat lots of weird and wonderful things (‘a bucket and spade and some red lemonade’). So we have to read on to discover who really is the hungriest of all.

This is written in rhyme and my children chant along with parts of the story. They giggle at all the different ways the animals are going to eat ‘munch ‘em, crunch ‘em’ and so on. There is great use of repetition which always makes things catchy.

The pictures are cute, bright and colourful and illustrate the animals weird tastes beautifully.

Verdict: This is a great, light-hearted book for children.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: 2009
Format: Picture book
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: Early readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Otter Chaos!

Michael Broad

otter chaosThe otterly bonkers Brown family are HUGELY excited, as today’s the day they move to their new home. But when they get there they find the beastly Black family have got there first!
This riverbank ain’t big enough for the both of them, so there’s only one thing for it: war. Well, not REAL war. Otters are more into playing than fighting, so instead they decide to hold a giant sports day – and may the best otters win! Whether that’s the Browns or the Blacks, only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, it’s bound to be OTTER CHAOS!

I love this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But I love animals anyway so reading a story about them is great!

This book is amazing. When the Brown family, a family of Otter’s decide their house is getting too small for them, Papa Brown, Mama Brown, Grandma Maple, Grandpa Brown, Cocoa, Beanie, Woody, Chestnut and Nutmeg (The twins), decide to move to a bigger, better house only to find another otter family (their arch enemies) were already living there. The only way to settle the dispute over who lives there was an ‘Otterly’ chaotic sports day!

I don’t want to give it away but an act of surprising kindness by Woody cost the Brown’s the victory.
This is a surprising book with a twist at the end. I really like Jim Field’s illustrations too. I’m looking forward to the next book Otter Chaos – Dam Busters.

Verdict: I love this book and think this book is for boys and girls aged 7 to 12 .

Reviewed by Izzy (9)

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: Children’s, Humour, animals
Age: Early Reader
Reviewer: Izzy
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British Book
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It’s Time To Celebrate Our….

Yes that’s right Big Book Little Book is two years old!

To celebrate this milestone we will be giving away 33 books (from picture books through to adult novels) and a gorgeous handmade eReader cover.

We will also be telling you all little more about ourselves and our reading habits, including the books we are most looking forward to reading over the summer.

So make sure you visit every day for your chance to win one of eight prize packs.

The Big Book Little Book Team X

Please note: Due to the cost of postage all of the 2nd Blog Birthday giveaways are for UK postal addresses only. We will be hosting an International giveaway during the New Adult Read-a-thon.

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2nd Blog Birthday: Pirates and Adventure Prize Pack

Complete the Rafflecopter form below for the chance to win five picture books with our Pirates and Adventure pack.

Click on the children’s book title to learn more about each book.

photo-14Pirates and Adventure Pack:
A paperback copy of The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
(Donated by HarperCollins Children’s Books)
A paperback copy of The Hueys in the New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers
(Donated by HarperCollins Children’s Books)
A paperback Copy of The Great Granny Gang by Judith Kerr(Donated by BBLB)
A paperback copy of Tim, Ted and the Pirates by Ian Whybrow and Russell Ayto
(Donated by BBLB)
A paperback copy of Florentine and Pig and the Lost Pirate Treasure
(Donated by Bloomsbury)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Princess Pony: The Magical Friend

Chloe Ryder

magical friendChevalia is an enchanted island where ponies and horses rule, its magic powered by eight golden horseshoes hanging in the royal castle. But the horseshoes have been stolen and must be found before Midsummer Day or the island will lose its magic . . A Magical Friend
On her summer holiday by the sea, pony-mad 8½-year-old Pippa is transported to Chevalia. A beautiful white pony gallops over and introduces herself. This is Princess Stardust, the youngest pony of the royal family; impulsive, impatient . . . and she has always wanted a pet girl of her own. Chevalia needs Pippa’s help, and with Stardust she sets out on a quest to find the golden horseshoes and embarks on the most exciting adventure of all – friendship.
The beginning of a fabulous series of six books filled with spooky Night Mares, unicorns, Princess Ponies, and rip-roaring adventure.

My niece has been reading Princess Pony books so when we had a chance to read one my 5 year old was so excited! I didn’t know much at all about these stories but it turns out that this is the first in a series of six books about the magical horse land of Chevalia. Chevalia is peopled by horses, there are no people there. As you would expect from the title they have a horse royal family too. But things are not all well in Chevalia as the eight magical horse shoes that keep the place in existence have vanished, they need to be found by Midsummer’s Day or the island will disappear. Pippa is brought to Chevalia by two impressive sea horses as she could be the one to find the magical horse shoes and save Chevalia.

Pippa arrives at Chevalia where she is greeted with a mixture of welcome and suspicion by the horses who have never seen a human before. Pippa makes friends with Princess Stardust and realises she has to help locate the missing hose shoes. The two become friends,( I liked the scene where they both recognise that to the other they are usually a pet) and set out to search for the golden shoes.

The book is well written, it has humour, mystery, princesses and, in this first story, a focus on friendship. We enjoyed all these themes and they are all things that appeal to young girls. If you have a horse lover then I am sure she would love them, but even for a non-horse person there is much to revel in. I was slightly apprehensive about whether I would like reading this to my daughter, but it turned out to be better than expected. It is girly, horsey, sparkly stuff, but Chloe Ryder has used interesting words and good prose so that it is not sickly or overly sweet.

It held the attention of my daughter, but it was not asked for every night. She got into it more towards the end. I think she is still a bit too young for it really and there were things that she did not understand. She enjoyed the parts about Pippa’s journey to Chevalia and the search for the horseshoes. As she gets older and understands more about horses (and about stories) she’ll appreciate it more. She does want to know what is going to happen next in the story, but I think she would get more out of it if we waited at least another year to read more, and probably even more if we waited until she was able to read them herself.

Verdict: Overall, an entertaining read for younger girls. I expect we’ll be collecting more in the series at some point.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Publication Date: March 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Genre: Horse/Pony
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
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Dr Dog

Babette Cole

dr dogMeet Doctor Dog, he’s the Gumboyle family’s favourite pet and their very own trusty physician. When Doctor Dog jets off to a medical conference in Brazil the Guimboyles decide they can’t survive without him and so he returns to rescue them from all sorts of ailments: itchy nits, tickly tonsils and worms to name but a few. . .

I have enjoyed a few of Babette Cole’s stories and when my youngest picked this up in the library I was quite happy to add it to our pile of books to borrow. However the girls decided that we had to read it in the library then and there, so we did and it attracted some comments from other library users too. This is a book that can’t fail to induce an opinion!

The story is about the Gumboyle family whose pet dog is also their doctor. This is of huge benefit to them as they are not the most hygienic or healthiest of families! Dr Dog has to treat them for such complaints as smokers cough, head lice and worms as well as tonsillitis, ear ache and tummy ache. He givens good advice and shows the family pictures (drawn in a childlike style) of what is happening in their insides as a result of their lack of cleanliness or their illnesses. It’s a great way to get a conversation going about health and hygiene. “Never scratch your bum and suck your thumb” has got us talking about lots of things, as well as raising giggles from the girls.

Dr Dog warns the family of that bad things will befall them if they don’t change their ways. I am sure none of them really thought that Grandad Gumboyle’s excessive wind would blow the roof off their house though. The illustration for this also causes much merriment as Grandad sails through the air on his toilet as the ruined roof lies beneath him. It may not be what happens to most people but it does make a point!

Unsurprisingly after all this Dr Dog has to have time off for stress – brilliant.

Verdict:This is an irreverent and amusing look at health issues that can affect children and families. It has been well loved for the three weeks it has been in the house!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Red Fox
Publication Date: February 1996
Format: Picture book
Pages: 40
Genre: Humour, Health
Age: Early readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British book
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