So often I spend my time reviewing new books. And new is great! We all know that shiny and new often receive the most attention and i...

Quick reviews: Five New(ish) Favourites

Monday, April 27, 2020 BookBairn 2 Comments

So often I spend my time reviewing new books. And new is great! We all know that shiny and new often receive the most attention and it's quite probably the main reason that my TBR (to be read) pile doesn't seem to be getting any smaller! Because I want to read all the new books.

However, my kids are less attracted to shiny and new (ok not entirely true but the shine seems to wear off very quickly, sometimes as soon as the book parcel is open and what's inside is revealed they are like "ok, it's another book") but prefer to return to the same favourites over and over again. Unfortunately it means that I've read the My Little Pony books approximately "too many" times and I can read our Spot box set back to front (don't get me wrong I actually love spot but he's been to the library and the supermarket and nursery every day twice a day for the last two weeks - maybe more as lockdown is messing with my time frame!). So I'll spare you those! But here are five books which are new-ish but not brand new that we have been enjoying (me too!) recently.

Otto Blotter Bird Spotter by Graham Carter

My kids absolutely love bird spotting. So it’s no wonder that they find themselves sympathising with Otto Blotter whose whole family are famous bird spotters. But Otto wants more than to spot birds, he wants an adventure. And he finds one. A small one that grows rather out of proportion into a gigantic adventure! Hidden in the bushes, all alone, he finds the most unusual little bird and he takes him home to care for him. But it’s a secret he must keep from the rest of his family as he’s not allowed any pets. Unfortunately for Otto his secret just grows too big to hide. Literally. But maybe the bird has a trick up it’s feathery sleeve? Able to continue on their adventures brings much more fun until Otto realises that his bird friend his lonely and really wants to find it’s family. So Otto enlists his own family to help - after all who could be better to seek out a bird family than Otto’s? A story about friendship and family and joyous fun with illustrations that glow right off the page. This is one of my new favourite storybooks. It has a gentle message but mostly it’s just a super fun little story that my bairns want to read over and over again! 

When I Grow Up I Want to Drive by Rosamund Lloyd & Richard Merrit

Every since this book provided a full 30mins entertainment through BookBairn's swimming lesson (that's a parenting win for sure) The Wee Page Turner has been asking for the green tractor book over and over again. But it's not all tractors, through the pages we explore the most exciting vehicles from tractors to ambulances and even aeroplanes. Hidden under many of the flaps were lots of things the vehicles could do, the impact that they made, making them tactile and exploratory for his little fingers and mind. He loved chatting about all the vehicles he could see and what they were doing and whilst it didn’t expand his knowledge much (he’s well-versed in vehicles) it consolidated his learning and kept him entertained and busy right at his play level. I love the contemporary art style: they are so bright and crisp and… just plain cool. The lift the flaps add a tactile element for curious kids. But these are perfect for keeping little hands busy and little minds curious.

Slow Down by Rachel Williams & Freya Hartas

The world may have finally been forced to slow down. But all around us, nature is working wonders. Every day magical transformations are happening right in front of you and now is your chance to learn to stop and see them. They are feasts of wonder, fantasies brought to life, miracles in the making. This book will encourage little ones to see the little things. With 50 different nature stories, slowed down so that you can appreciate their miraculous nature: the way a sunflower tracks the sun across the sky, or how an ocean wave forms , crests and breaks, or the snail leaving it’s trail, a ladybird takes to the air. All things that we often allow to go unnoticed. This book is beautiful illustrated and with each story written across two pages it’s one to enjoy dipping into the pages of and then putting down again to go outside and see what you find when you take the time to slow down. BookBairn likes to read a few stories from this every day. But mostly she loves the ladybird page!

Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins & Richard Jones

This is a very clever book that blends storytelling with an introduction to science. In fact, it's the perfect blend for BookBairn's Papa who is a former physics teacher with a passion for bird spotting! Bird is up early and she's building her nest. She pushes and pulls twigs into place until it's ready. She pulls big worms (and small ones) from the ground. She drops twigs and gravity pulls them back to Earth. It's a perfect introduction to forces and how we use forces to move things. And BookBairn has been talking about gravity a lot since! (It helps that there's also been mention of it in the Rabbit and Bear Rabbit's Bad Habits reviewed below.) Beautifully illustrated Bird will become an enchanting character to follow on the journey and that's what makes the science learning so subtle and easily absorbed. It's like learning through play - you don't notice it happening. This is learning through stories. And what could be better than that?!

Rabbit & Bear series by Julian Gough & Jim Field

So I have had these books stashed away for a while but at the time I got them BookBairn definitely wasn't old enough to enjoy them and wouldn't have been able to sit for the whole story. Rather than being an early chapter book these are more like long picture books where the story continues through less than 100 pages. There are illustrations on each page (though with a limited colour palette) that help with understanding the story for little readers and keep them engaged - Jim Field is an expert in hilarious facial expressions for his characters and we laugh out loud at the illustrations. Interestingly this is one of the first book I've seen BookBairn looking at the pictures trying to predict what will happen next and talking to me about that before we turn the pages. The stories (we have the first two) are full of fun, humour and friendship and BookBairn enjoyed them so much we have actually read them a couple of times each this week! And I'm quite happy to read them over and over. Yes, they take longer to read than a picture book and you can't (I mean you could but we couldn't) stop part-way through (they are just so good) but they remind me of something I read a while ago about the value of that extra page or reading for 15mins more. And when a book is as good as these, you won't want to put them down anyway!

I hope you enjoy reading these over and over again! They are fab! If you are looking for more of our very favourite repeat reads check out my Amazon shop and click on the section for Favourite Books.

Happy reading again and again and again...
Kim and the bairns x

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  1. Otto Blotter could be in the shortlist for funniest character names. You should definitely produce the list for voting on.
    I love all these science and nature books that BookBairn is getting into at the moment. Long may her interest continue. “Bird builds a nest” is very apt jat this time. I see lots of building going on when out on my daily (government mandated) walks. I’ve even got a pair of blue tits nesting in a box in my garden this year. I can picture the Wee Page Turner going through the “Tractor book”. He really does love cars, tractors - anything with wheels and this book sounds great for him...... and when I grow up I want to drive a Ferrari. 🏎

    1. Wait until you see the character name in my next post! When I grown up I'm not sure my nerves will cope if he drives a ferrari!