Little Bo Peep’s Troublesome Sheep

Little Bo Peep can’t find her sheep (a common complaint), and sets off to find them. Little Boy Blue suggests there might be a book in the library that could help her strategise a means of locating her lost flock, so Little Bo Peep heads straight for her local library.  A local library which boasts Mother Goose as the head librarian.  A local library where books are browsed (and one would presume borrowed) by the Big Bad Wolf, the Queen of Hearts, the Three Bears (of Goldilocks fame), and Little Red Riding Hood. So, the perfect local library for the likes of Little Bo Peep. She’s unsure of where to look for the kind of book that might offer some guidance to finding sheep, and her hunt for exactly the right kind of book about sheep is where the real delight of this children’s book lies; for as Little Bo Peep wanders from section to section of the library, we

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Mr Pusskins: Best in Show

My two-and-a-half year-old son is completely obsessed with this latest addition to his library.  We have not previously discovered Mr Pusskins, so this is our introduction to Sam Lloyd’s ‘books with cattitude’. The latest book in the series has Mr Pusskins entered into a pet show by Emily, the little girl with whom he lives. Mr Pusskins finds the whole thing a yawn until he realises that he is competing for ‘the most fabulous thing he has ever seen’ – a trophy. The story is energetically realised, both in the telling and the illustrating, and I suspect that all toddlers going through potty-training will be thrilled with a pivotal moment in the plot which features a toilet. Each page has plenty of text, but it is written in a way that ensures we make it to the conclusion of the book every time. For my 31-month-old son this story has immediately become a favourite, with him asking for Mr Pusskins:

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Song of Middle C

Ever since I started my piano teaching career at the age of 14, I’ve  attempted to provide appropriate ‘waiting room’ materials for my piano students, things that are engaging enough to promote quiet waiting behaviour for the the 2 or 3 minutes (hopefully no more than that) that might pass between the student’s arrival and the start of their lesson proper. Good and well, but finding books or activities that fit the bill is actually quite a bit more difficult than it seems.  One solution, Stephen Biesty’s Incredible Cross-sections series, seemed ideal – lots to look at, an educational element, all the kinds of things that one looks for in this circumstance. But one day the students started giggling as they looked through, and giggled loudly enough that it was distracting to the student whose lesson was just concluding. Turns out Mr Biesty has incredibly included somewhere tucked away on every page of his cross-sections one poor soul caught in

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Big Bear Little Bear

This book came into our library as a gift a year ago, and to my way of thinking was far too advanced for our then 18-month old.  But it quickly became a favourite, and has remained so ever since. This is a tale about a little (toddler) polar bear who is keen to be as big and run as fast as his mother.  Each page is illustrated with the mother and child bears playing together, either wrestling in the snow, diving into the water, or stretching up to the sky.  And each charming illustration of the two bears is further enhanced by a velvet feely-touchy sensation wherever they have fur. It’s a simple story of how a child yearns to have mastered all the skills required for adult life, and how the parent is there to guide and teach. And to cuddle! I love a lot about this book, and the aspect I love the most is the depiction of

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Jasper’s Beanstalk

There are books that demand one’s attention on the shelves of the children’s section in the bookshops of the world, and then there are the books that, out of the blue, one notices already sitting on one’s bookshelf, a gift probably, maybe given in anticipation of the child’s changing tastes in reading material, so unread at the time of receipt, but now ripe for exploration. Jasper’s Beanstalk was one of these less noisy books that was given to my son when he was still much too young to appreciate or enjoy its charms. But one day, quite unintentionally, Jasper’s Beanstalk was pulled from the shelves, and we began to read. We read about a cat, Jasper, who found a bean and decided to help it grow.  Each day Jasper tries some new gardening technique to encourage the bean to sprout, until he despairs of ever seeing a beanstalk… The trick with any picture book is, of course, to have a

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Fabulous Children’s Books

Children’s books have always been seriously fabulous (think Peter Rabbit) but somehow during the last decade the standard has become truly stunning, whether we are talking design, wit, educational value, moral lessons, illustrations or intelligence. My most exciting find (since the birth of my son 29 months ago) has been a writer/illustrator called Petr Horacek.  I came across “Beep, Beep” and “Choo, Choo” either in late 2007 (which must have been the moment they were in the book shops) or early 2008. Absolutely perfect for my then not-yet 1-year-old.  Since then we’ve collected Petr Horacek’s earlier books “Stawberries are Red” (an introduction to colours) and “What is Black and White?” which won awards back in 2002, and just this week we bought “Silly Suzy Goose” (2006). The first four books I’ve mentioned are board books, and simply perfect for the pre-2-year-old.  There are die-cuts, glorious illustrations, and energetic (but not plot-driven) text. “Silly Suzy Goose” was this week’s addition to

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