I wanted to share with you some of the picture and story books that we've recently been sent. As with most five year olds, The Boy loves reading books and there are some crackers in this batch, including plenty of tails and tales!
Holly Webb: A Treasury of Animal Stories
We are big fans of the publishing house 'Little Tiger Press' and they are our 'go to' books at Christmas time for wonderful little stories of forest creatures and their Winter adventures leading up to the festive season. When 'A Treasury of Animal Stories' popped through the letterbox, we were both quite excited about reading it together.
Not a picture book as we're used to, the text is a little longer and harder providing more challenge and helping to develop concentration when reading. There are illustrations intermittently throughout the book, and they are a good aid to keep the interest of a new reader. The 303 page treasury contains eleven stories and a whole host of other pages devoted to facts about the author, animals, writing tips, interviews and profile pages; it's great to see fiction and non-fiction mixed together in this way.
However, I have an issue with this book; it's clearly aimed at girls. I don't go in for gender stereotyping in toys or books, if The Boy wants to push a pushchair or read about fairies (both often seen as 'girls' territory') then I'll happily embrace that because I fail to see why we have to force boys into being macho and lacking empathy. In the treasury, every main character is a girl (Izzy, Charley, Emily, Lucy, Milli, Lily, Lara, Kate, Sophie, Mia, Lulu) with the exception of one story centred on a boy, and there are two other boys mentioned out of all eleven stories. Added to this is that nearly every non-fiction section is coloured in pink or lilac, and there is a definite 'feminine' vibe about it. As The Boy is at the youngest end of the target age range, and my nephew at 8 years old is slap bang in the middle, I can see straight away that most boys wouldn't enjoy reading this. And actually The Boy didn't, he asked if he could give it to his (female) cousin. Boys can't equate with the characters when every one is a girl with long, flowing locks. Surely stories about animals should be unisex?
Available from Little Tiger Press for £9.99
'Tilly and Friends'
As far as I'm concerned you can't go wrong with any programmes on CBeebies, especially the wonderful storytelling sessions from the likes of 'Abney and Teal' or 'Tilly and Friends'. The Boy loves watching both of them, and was overjoyed to receive a selection of 'Tilly and Friends' books a few months ago. Who wouldn't love a group of five animal friends and the little girl that they live with in a sunshine yellow house? The drama of Pru, shy little Hector, the bitey biteness of Doodle, surprising Tiptoe, and the clumsiness of Tumpty. The stories of the friends reverberate with the echoes of real-life situations that children can relate to; not sharing, falling out, listening to each other, playing fairly, all while having fun and playing creatively.
The books themselves are beautifully presented, inviting and appealing for children. Because regardless of the fact that we tell children not to judge a book by its cover, that's exactly what they have to do as emergent readers! The text inside is simple and challenging enough for a reception aged child to attempt, especially as the font used is very clear and easy to read. What I particularly like is that speech is presented in a different font. While this helps to make it look more attractive, it has a greater purpose as children can then learn the purpose of speech marks with examples laid out in front of them.
Available from Walker Books from £3.99 each
"Dino-Mummy" by Mark Sperring
'Dino-Mummy' is a wonderful story illustrating how special mummies are, but under the guide of a dinosaur and his mum. There are many books which list ways in which parents are important and special, this is a cute alternative to the usual bears or humans, using bright green dinosaurs and identifying the fun activities and simple loving touches that a mummy does throughout the day. We particularly like that the Dino-mummy is the best bubble-popper ever as that's what we do ourselves at bathtime.
Available from Bloomsbury online for the discounted price of £6.29
"There's A Dinosaur In My Bathtub" by Catalina Echeverri
This is a really delightful story, quite possibly one of my favourites in a while. Amelia is a little girl with a very BIG secret; there's a dinosaur in her bathtub. Moreover, he's a French dinosaur called Pierre with a curly black moustache, but no-one else can see him!
Pierre likes to read books and stay in the bath, but he has to hide whenever another family member needs to use the bathtub, and he is becoming very good at disguising himself and being inconspicuous. Together Amelia and Pierre have all sorts of fun, especially after school when they drink hot galactic chocolate with marshmallow stars. I particularly like the idea of a sweetie-tasting tour conducted by a jelly bear in a cowboy hat.
Illustrated very much in the style of Charlie and Lola, this book is really enchanting and appealing to children. And to mummies!
Available from Bloomsbury for £6.99
We were sent these products for the purpose of this review, our opinions are honest and unbiased.