Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Why We Love: Archie

This one is a bit different to the sorts of picture books I'd normally get and was actually one my daughter picked out by herself. Archie doesn't have many words, leaving you to discuss the pictures as you go to tell the story. My husband's expression quickly changed from puzzled - when he opened the book and realised there was nothing to read - to dismayed when I told him he needed to talk about what he could see happening and discuss it with our daughter! However, I found it made a refreshing change,  as I sometimes feel like the rhythm of a story is so strong you can't keep breaking it to talk about the pictures. 

Archie is the story of an anthropomorphic dog who is sent a sewing machine and becomes an instant success as fashion designer for all of the other dogs (and their pets) in the area. By the end, he is exhausted and in need of a holiday, but on the final page he gets a call from a client far too important to refuse!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Why We Love: Nothing

Whenever Lila's mother asks her what she's up to, Lila replies 'nothing'. She might look like she's messing with a scarf and mittens, but she's really battling a sea monster, and when she's whizzing along on her scooter, she's actually a fearsome charioteer travelling faster than the wind. Nothing is a beautiful look into a child's imagination, and a brilliant reminder that you don't need fancy toys to have fun. 

This is our second Yasmin Ismail picture book, as we already have (and frequently read) I'm a Girl. The art work is very similar and the words have a familiar rhythm and flow. I think I prefer this to I'm a Girl as it's a bit easier to read aloud - I sometimes stumble over quite how I should be saying all the 'I'm a Girl's and would love to see a YouTube video of someone else reading it.  

Nothing is another library book we'll be disappointed to return. I have a horrible feeling our library trip is going to have turned into research for a big book order!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Why We Love: The Lion Inside

Another brilliant library book! The Lion Inside is one that has popped up in my Amazon recommendations a few times, so it was great to get to read it. 

The Lion Inside follows a quiet, often overlooked, mouse on his quest to speak up and be noticed - and who could teach him to be loud better than a lion?

It has cute artwork and a lovely rhythm, which makes it a lot of fun to read. I like the varied use of typography too, as it places emphasis on certain words. Bravery, friendship and self-confidence also all play an important role in bringing depth to this lovely story. 

It's been the favourite of the books my daughter borrowed from the library and we will be very sorry to return it. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld. {goodreads summary}

Brilliant heists, amazing characters and a curve ball at the end that I didn't see coming. 

“You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede. You are overwhelming.”

Crooked Kingdom follows Kaz and his band of criminal teenagers as they attempt to rescue Inej, reclaim the money Van Eck swindled from them and bring down Pekka Rollins. And they attempt it all with schemes, teamwork and a healthy dose of magic. 

“Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don’t forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for.” 

It was really interesting to see the subtle progression in Kaz and Inej's relationship. Their final chapter together was sweet and also felt realistic given everything they have gone through. Crooked Kingdom had romantic plot lines without the romance having to be at the centre of its characters every action. They were free to act on their individual dreams and wishes as well as forming relationships. 

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting.” 

I really liked the inclusion of characters from the Grisha trilogy and the part they played in the narrative. Bardugo has brought her two series' together seamlessly and Crooked Kingdom is a spin off which is faithful to the original world, but moves the story in an entirely fresh direction. 

“Jesper couldn’t quite believe he was having a conversation with the Sturmhond. The privateer was a legend. He’d broken countless blockades on behalf of the Ravkans and there were rumors that… “Do you really have a flying ship? blurted Jesper.


“I have several.”
“Take me with you.” 

Spoilers ahead: Veronica Roth and George RR Martin have a lot to answer for. However, I do love that I no longer read YA expecting all of the major characters to make it through to the end of the series.

Friday, 26 May 2017

CBeebies Bedtime Stories

My daughter doesn't really watch kids TV yet, but recently we decided to introduce CBeebies bedtime stories into her evening routine, as it seemed like a good way for us to discover new books without having to spend a small fortune buying them all! Here's a quick round up of the one's we've enjoyed best so far:

A great message for siblings. Three bears question which of them their parents' loves the most, and the mummy and daddy bear have some great answers. 

Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (We're Going on a Bear Hunt) so the art work is adorable. I loved this story and it was great hearing it read aloud by Simon Callow. 

This one I might actually buy so we can keep reading it. It's a great story about having out of control emotions and how to deal with them - perfect for toddlers with a tendency to throw dramatic tantrums!

We've also loved the Very Busy Spider and My Mum has X-Ray Vision. 

This week, they've actually done two stories we own - Zoe and Beans: Where is Binky Boo, and Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon. It's really interesting getting to hear stories you've read on repeat in a different way, with different emphasis and voices. 

You can catch up on any stories you've missed on the CBeebies website. If you watch them too, which ones have been your favourites?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Why We Love: Tidy

Last week I finally managed to get the little ones registered at our local library and we borrowed a selection of lovely picture books while we were there, one of which was Tidy, by Emily Gravett. 

This is the second Garvett picture book we have read, as we got Where's Bear in a Bookstart pack.

Tidy is a funny, clever story that follows a badger called Pete on his quest to make the forest tidy. It wasn't at all what I expected from its title, however, as Pete is interested in tidying far more than just litter! As a result, the story contains an important message about the vital role trees and natural spaces play in allowing the world around us to thrive.

Tidy is a really lovely book and I would definitely recommend it.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Snow Like Ashes

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raach

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again. {goodreads summary}

Snow Like Ashes has been on my tbr since I first saw the cover; it was too beautiful to ignore. The picture above really doesn't do it justice. 

“Even the strongest blizzards start with a single snowflake.”

Meira's kingdom has been defeated and enslaved for the majority of her life, and she'll do anything to help rescue her people. She's desperate for a chance to prove herself, learning to balance what is best for herself with what is best for the people who depend on her. 

“Holding on to some part of your past even if it means also holding on to the pain of never again having it. That pain is less horrible than the pain of forgetting.”

I loved the twists and turns in this novel; it didn't always go in the direction I was expecting and I often found myself looking at how many pages I had left, wondering how everything would be resolved in time. 

"Someday we will be more than words in the dark."

The world building was a real strength, with the kingdoms and their magic fully worked out. I felt really immersed in Meira's world and am looking forward to hopefully finding out more about the other kingdoms in the rest of the series. 

“Sometimes placing our belief in something bigger than ourselves helps us get to a point where we can be enough on our own, magic or no magic.” 

Meira was a fantastic character. I loved watching her develop as the novel progressed, weighing up how the decisions she makes affect not only her own life, but those of the people she cares about. There are interesting observations on selfishness and selflessness, courage and resilience, throughout the novel. I'm really interested to see how her character will progress in the next novel.