Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Once upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

When I heard about this book first, I thought god, another alphabet book. It seems like a writer sells, and instead of doing another wonderful story, their publisher says, we've got to get an alphabet book out, its a no brainer, it'll sell and the framework is already done. Anyway, there it was in the library, the CBI book of the year, so I thought I'd take a look.  
My kids loved it. They laughed and laughed. And the illustrations are AMAZING. Its worth buying alone for them - especially if you have a budding artist in the family. There are so many times when a pencil "scribble" or "messy" brush stroke makes something stunning - or hilarious and usually both. 

I'd pitch this at ages four to seven - alphabet books seem to be traditionally aimed at babies and toddlers, which when you think about it, is daft. Kids usually don't learn letters until school and this starts at four at the youngest. 

Parnsips. We read so many American picture books in our house that sweet potatoes and squash are the vegetables we are accustomed to hearing about. I hadn't thought how lovely it would be to see a parsnip here. (As I read this book, I realised it was written in a Belfast accent. I wonder is the American version different? I hope not.)

Once Upon An Alphabet has a story for every letter.The book is enormous - coffee table size - and weighs a ton. While it is clearly aimed at those trendy bearded parents of kids who already have Maps and Iggy Peck Architect (And I'm sure they will buy it - they should), it is still really very good. 

Yep, Oliver Jeffers has done it again. More power to his elbow. P.s. the book design is by the authors older brother Rory Jeffers.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

schoolbag books

I was cleaning out the schoolbags the other day and dug these two books out. (Along with about six empty water bottles and quite a few old crusts.) During class time, my middle boys (aged nine and twelve) are allowed read what they like when set work is done. And these two books had made the cut.

Now that I think of it, both of them have recently read The Trumpet of the Swan. I read it aloud a few years ago on holidays and then it became so familiar on the shelf neither of them bothered with it, until a few weeks ago when I got one of them to read three pages and see if he liked it. Of course he did.

Skullduggery Pleasant was finished in three days by my nine year old. I don't know when I've last seen him so stuck to a book. He stayed up late reading, read over breakfast and yesterday, when we walked through his school gates he said with dismay"Oh no! I forgot my book!"

His older brother read the whole series a few years ago, dressed up as Skulduggery at Halloween and even went to meet the author (he was so shy and nice!) at a book launch so luckily, we have all the books.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

what we're reading these days

 I could hear my four year old "reading" Bears In The Night to himself last night. His brothers beside him were quietly discussing whether he was actually reading it or not..."He's reading by himself!" .."Well, Mum has read it like, millions of times. Maybe he just knows it off by heart?"

I have read it millions of times, and would happily read it a million more. It is without a doubt one of my favourite bedtime reads.

I think some people with kids aged between three and seven might not have this. They really should. (I reviewed it here.)

 I am loving this, (cannot put it down)

and my nine year old is enjoying this.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

enormous SMALLNESS A Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

 When I first reviewed The Right Word, I loved it. Then I thought, well, it was expensive, it probably wouldn't be one my kids would read a lot, maybe I should have got it in the library?

But I've changed my mind again. enormous SMALLNESS arrived the other day. I love e.e. cummings work and  I wanted to love this book  about him. And I did. I have a collection of his poetry, so we had a look at it first. These poems are great to look at with kids - they can be puzzles and  are always rule breaking and funny. And it also reminded them of The Right Word and I heard how much they liked it. (and remembered about Roget!) So I'm very glad we have a copy of both biographies. This book is, as you can see, quirkily and beautifully illustrated and is sixty four pages long. I like that as I feel I'm getting my moneys worth. Sometimes thirty two just doesn't seem enough!
The telegram e.e.'s father sent him before he went to France during the Second World War.



Also, just by the by, this is not a story of someone who was not accepted or loved at first but found their own way. It is the story of a little boy who was loved and cherished and always, always encouraged to write his poems. To be honest, he was  quite spoilt - in the best way possible. It was nice though, to read about such loving parents. It made me think I must read about quite a few not so loving ones!

P.s. I just realised I said a few posts ago that I was keeping this for a birthday - oops!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Weird but True!

My nine year old is being taken to a party today. That is, the birthday boy's Mum is collecting a group of them at school and taking them to the movies. And I pick him up afterwards at a nearby MacDonalds.  At least I think I do. I must check. Anyway, the long and short of it, there was no day this week when I felt like driving to Smyths Toys to get the present. Actually there is no day any week when I feel like doing that. Luckily, Weird but True came through the letterbox this morning. I'd got it to put away for Summer holidays, but now I'm going to wrap it up with a copy of  Poop Fountain and thankfully, the jobs done. (Poop Fountain is fiction, by the way! Written by Tom Angleberger, all of whose books have been devoured here. Great for Wimpy Kid fans.)

So, there are advantages to buying early for Summer. I'd recommend it. Really, anything is better than trawling around Smyths.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Cinder-Eyed Cats by Eric Rohmann

This book is about a little boy who...
climbs up into his boat, and flys off to the island where the cinder-eyed cats live.
There, when the sun goes down the fish can leave the sea, and swim, in the sky around him.
For ages two and up. Some pages are wordless, some are not. All are beautiful.

P.s. In the background are our new Coke sheets, from Penneys. For a boys bedroom they actually look ok. Red, black and white, no licenced characters that they will grow out of, sort of classic looking. Around €7 for the fitted sheet, €18 for the duvet cover and pillowcase.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Sunshine and book delivery!

Difficult as it is to believe now, but the sun came out for a little while yesterday. And, the postman rang my doorbell and gave me these. That's why I love online shopping so much. Until the visa bill arrives, it feel like presents being delivered! I have hidden these away to take on holidays this Summer. I'm hoping The Happy Lion will keep my four year amused on the ferry. (Its overnight - I may be being a little optimistic!) And the picture book biography of E. E. Cummings, Enormous Smallness is to be sneaked into my ten year old birthday pile in August. He hasn't requested it but if its tucked in between lots of Nintendo -ish stuff, he'll like it.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce

My nine year old is reading this at the moment. I didn't know it last night though. I was sitting in the middle bed in his room, reading to his younger brother when to my amazement he said "Where's my Millions?" He had just brushed his teeth and now he had the nerve to ask me to find a pack of tooth rotting sweets for him to eat in bed! And when, by the way, had he purchased them? And with whose permission, young man?
Luckily for both of us, before I launched into him, he found it.

Once you buy one Frank Cottrell Boyce book, you'll just buy them all. They are funny and well written and kids just enjoy them. I'd say they are in most classroom libraries in Ireland and England and hopefully further afield. We have this one too. Our pages are edged in silver, which is cool but the one I have linked has a pretty nice cover too. For ages nine and up.
Oh, and if his name is familiar to you, Frank Cottrell Boyce is the guy who wrote the sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - which went down very well here too.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Snipp, Snapp and Snurr and The Red Shoes by Maj Lindman

A quick post today, and pretty awful picture too. I'm so sorry, I really don't know why I this lovely book on the floor to take the photograph. Possibly because the kitchen table was covered in half empty cereal bowls and the couch (yet again) needs a clean.

Anyway Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and The Red Shoes is one in a series of books about the adventures of a set of sweet, feisty triplets originally published in Sweden in the 1920s.

In our book, the lads want to buy their mother a pair of red shoes lined with gold for her birthday and need figure out how to earn the money to do so.

The illustrations are vintagey and lovely and the messages wholesome(Think of others! Work hard! Be a team!) This one is wildly old fashioned insofar as the boys all approach men they do not know and offer to work for them.

In the illustrations these men- a chimney sweep, a baker and a painter (sorry, I know I really should have a photo here, but I do not. And if I go off to find the camera and the book, someone will ask me for lunch, or their shoes, or the ipad charger and I'll never get this written.) are hilariously creepy. So much so that the first time I read it to my then three year old I assumed he would be frightened and this book would be delegated to the back of the shelf forever. Not at all. He LOVES it. And there's loads of them and they cost around €6 each. I'm definitely getting more, starting with this to bring on Summer holidays.

For ages three to six. Oh, and theres a girl version too - they're called Flicka, Ricka and Dicka.