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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Stripes! No, Spots! by Vasanti Unka

Vasanti Unka is starting to make a big name for herself. She has designed and illustrated Hill and Hole which won the Russell Clark Award for best illustrated children's book from LIANZA in 2011, as well as the best designed book from BPNZ in the same year. Her own book, The Boring Book, won NZ Children's Book Awards in 2014.

Stripes! No, Spots! is about a Tiger and a Leopard who disagree with each other. They start to fight and cause a lot of uproar. However, the Jungle Council called a meeting to sort their differences.

There is a lot to like about Stripes! No, Spots! It's design and illustrations are again right up there. There is a lot of detail in every page, from words to pictures. The array of different kinds of animals in the book was also a hit with the kids in my class. It uses just the right amount of humour without forcing it and even David Attenborough makes an appearance (which got me very excited!...kids had no idea).

Definitely a book to be picked up. Ages 4-10. While the story could be too simple for the older children, there is still a lot of vocabulary here for them to learn.

4 Stripes (no, Spots!) out of 5.

The Dinosaur that Pooped the Bed by Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter

The Dinosaur that Pooped the Bed is a long line of other books in this series. Technically they called the Danny and Dinosaur series, but every single one of them involved poop.

I first encounter this series when I reviewed The Dinosaur that Pooped the Past, which I found quite favourite, so I picked up The Dinosaur that Pooped the Bed.

Even though I had read a previous Danny and Dinosaur book, I thought that this one would have been about bed time problems. Something that young children could relate to and help them overcome it.


This is about Danny who isn't allowed to watch TV until he has tidied his room. Instead of actually cleaning his room, he has a not so bright idea of getting his dinosaur to eat everything instead of cleaning it up. Well, you probably know where this story is headed to.

I read this to my class. Usually kids love toilet/poop humour. Baa Baa Smart Sheep is a brilliantly written book whose whole story revolves around poop! Initially my kids were intrigued; I'm not sure if it was the story, the pictures or both combined, but as class, they didn't enjoy it. It was too disgusting.

Sure, a couple of kids thought it was funny, but there were no cries of read it again, nor did anyone pick it up during SSR time.

Redeeming features? The illustrations are good. Nice and vivid.

If you want to check out Danny and Dinosaur, perhaps start with a different one.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Ten Little Dinosaurs by Mike Brownlow & Simon Rickerty

I love dinosaurs, kids love dinosaurs and you probably like dinosaurs. So when dinosaur books come out, I must get it!

Ten Little Dinosaurs is a simple and familiar story of ten dinosaurs who go wandering around without their mother and get hopelessly lost. There are many picture books like this, one that comes to mind is 'Ten in a Bed' by Penny Dale.

So what makes Ten Little Dinosaurs stand out?

First off, I think one of the most important things in a picture book are pictures! They captivate the reader and draw them into the story and then, as the reader reads on, the pictures compliment and add to the story. These pictures are cute as. Not just the dinosaurs though, but everything else around. The kids in my class kept finding new things on every page and it was exciting to find them.

I bet you already know the ending to this story, and that is why I am disappointed. I wish the ending was different! Help the kids learn about extinct, have mammals rise up and be the dominant species (which will lead to a sequel) or something that isn't predictable.

Harsh yes, but dinosaurs are very dear to my heart.

However, if you like these kinds of endings, or your child is very empathetic, then Ten Little Dinosaurs is perfect. As the pictures have so much detail, there is a lot of re-readability.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Giveaway! Harper Voyager Tote Bags!

To help celebrate Harper Voyager's 20th Anniversary, thebestkidsbooks.com have 3 exclusive tote bags to giveaway to Australian or New Zealand residents!

To enter, simply comment on this post, comment on facebook, or retweet on twitter!

Entries close Wednesday 11.59pm 19th August (NZDT).

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Daddy Cuddle by Kate Mayes

A super cute book with delightful pictures. Daddy cuddle is about a little bunny rabbit who tries to get dad out of bed in the morning. 

The little bunny starts off just getting dad to wake up, but soon enough (because dad isn't getting up), he tries many different ways of getting dad up or asking dad to do all sorts of stuff. Not long, dad's bed is full of kites, bikes, cellphones and even squeezed out toothpaste!

I read this to a bunch of 5/6 year olds and 8/9 year olds at the same time. The little ones loved it and cracked up laughing at every instance, while the older ones probably thought it was a bit babyish. I think the little ones could really relate to it, and at the end when bunny hops into bed and cuddles with dad, they probably did that exact thing on the weekend. 

Take a look and maybe you and your kid(s) can come up with sentences that you guys might do together! 

Daddy read?

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Piri's Big All Black Dream by Jared Bell

Piri's Big All Black Dream is written about Piri Weepu's dream of one day playing for the All Blacks and winning the World Cup, this book should get lots of kiwi kids interested in this book.

The message the book promotes is working hard and striving to achieve big goals, a great value to impart and there will be many who will latch onto this.

I really enjoyed the pictures. I could relate to those cheeky and funny pictures to the personality of Piri (at least what I see on TV). The koru design embedded in the capital letters is a nice touch and I wished there were more bits like this throughout the book.

I think that this book with all its great things has missed a bit of a trick here. It has taken a long time since that World Cup win and the book is written like it is for younger audiences who probably don't have any idea who he is. It either should have come out early or the way it was written should be more for the older kids.

However, just being about an All Black is probably enough to get many kids enjoying this book. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Mad about Megabeasts by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz

The counter-stroke to Mad about Minibeasts, Mad about Megabeasts is about all things large on land and sea.

What will get children excited is that many of their favourites will be on here; tigers and blue whales. They will also get extras and perhaps even animals they haven't heard of before like giant manta rays or the mega dinosaur, argentinosaurus.

Another great thing is the rhyming is better and more fluid than in Minibeasts, which will make reading more sing-song like.

What I would have liked to see was more animals. Rhinos, Hippos would have been a great start, but if Emperor penguin was there, then why not Clydesdale or Condors?

With all that said, it is a thoroughly enjoyable book and I would recommended it to all primary school aged children, as they can all learn something new.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Mad about Mini Beasts by Giles Andreae & David Wojtowycz

Mad About Minibeasts is one of many books from Giles and David. However Giles Andreae is probably a bit more famous having written the very popular Giraffe's Can't Dance.

Essentially, Mad about Minibeasts is about what you might find in the garden. From slugs to insects to centipedes.

It is a great way to introduce lots of animals (invertebrates) to youngsters. This book would be a great resource after a dig around the backyard or as an accompaniment to other books about creepy crawlies. Many of the rhymes will help detail facts about the minibeasts and some of them I did not even know!

If your little boy or girl loves bugs, then this is definitely a book that can help get them even more excited.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Just The Way We Are by Jessica Shirvington and Claire Robertson

As a teacher I see lots of different families. In our society today, we are a lot more accepting of the different kinds of families, such as same sexed couples, adoption of children from different nationalities etc.

'Just the way we are' is about different families and how each one is special and perfect to that particular family.

I think sometimes we perceive that children are "ok", but in actual fact, it is really hard for them to express themselves. Reading about situations that are familiar to them, immensely helps to bring clarity and acceptance. Think about how values are taught. If we wanted to teach children about sharing, we'd find a book about sharing.

It is very rare to find one that will help with children's social and emotional needs. I think Just the way we are, is a very cool way of showing to many children that everyone not only looks different, but their families can be very different too.

If you also want to teach and expose your children to diversity, then this is great beginning.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Magic Animal Friends - Poppy Muddlepup's Daring Resue

Magic Animal Friends by Daisy Meadows is a series of books that has a variety of different animals that star as the main character. I think it is always hard for us adults to judge what is a good kids book especially when it is for audiences so young. What may seem obvious and droll to us, is scary and exciting to them - so I got a 6 Year old to review it for me!


This book was about a wicked witch who put a spell on a dog named Patch. Patch fell into a deep sleep and two girls named Jess and Lily didn't know the cure for Patch.
Jess and Lily had to look for ingredients before sunset. The first ingredient was a hummingbird's feather.
I enjoyed the story because there was magic in it and cute animals. It was a bit frightening in the middle.
If you don't like magic this book is not for you.
Reviewed by Olivia aged 6

Monday, 1 June 2015

Henry's Stars by David Elliot

Young children are very subjective and it is very hard to get them to see other people's perspective, heck, it can be hard for some of us adults too!

Henry's Stars is one of two books in which he stars (pun!) in. Henry's Map is the first.

Henry is a pig and one night he stares into the night sky and spots a constellation that looks like a pig. Excitedly he runs to his friends and tells them all about his 'Great Pig' in the sky. However, his friends don't agree and tell him they see something more akin to themselves.

This book could be a great way to help introduce children about constellations and how the Greeks chose to name the constellations we observe today. It can also be a great way to get children talking about why the different animals saw what they saw.

Henry's Stars has a funny ending as well and can lead to a lot more conversation afterwards!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Peppa Goes on Holiday (Peppa Pig series)

Peppa Pig is undoubtedly one of the pre-school favourites.

In 'Peppa Goes on Holiday' her whole family are going to Italy! As a reader, you get to experience a lot of what happens in Italy like, driving on the other side of the road, policemen on Vespas, seeing little villages and eating pizza!

Lots of little jokes in there for the parents and a reoccurring theme of a lost teddy which I'm sure every parent can relate to.

What's also good, is this book is really cheap and has a lot of re-readability. The pictures are vivid and has an array of animals to point to and learn their names.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Mad Apprentice by Django Wexler

The Mad Apprentice by Django Wexler is the sequel to The Forbidden Library, a very good Adolescent/Young Adult fantasy book. The story of Alice and how she is sucked into a world where Readers (magicians) bind creatures to their being by confronting and conquering creatures from within Prison Books.

In The Mad Apprentice, Alice is instructed to go to Stronghold of Esau, a Reader of renown. Esau has been murdered by his apprentice and thus Alice, along with other apprentices, will go and bring back this apprentice to justice. Most stronghold's defences dwindle when its Master dies, however, this is not the case and Alice and her cohort are in far more danger than they realise.

As an adult reading this book, I do find it lacking in areas, however, one thing experience has taught me is this, children have way less expectations from a book.

Essentially for a lot of kids a couple of factors matter:

  • Does it have magic?
  • Lots of action?
  • How much description is there?
The Mad Apprentice can definitely tick off the first two. For the third, I think it has too much description, too flowery and unnecessary. This can turn off most young readers. 

From my "child's perspective", I think the beginning is really slow but builds up around the middle of the book. The death of characters help to spice things up and the array of powers make it exciting. The action is pretty much non-stop once the danger begins and this makes it a page turner. 

With all that said, I do feel that The Mad Apprentice is a plot device that had to happen in order to facilitate the third book. There is a bit too much describing at the beginning, but if your young reader can get through that, they will thoroughly enjoy this book.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Rory the Dinosaur: Me and My Dad by Liz Climo

Liz Climo is well known for her cute art and funny little one page comics. Just take a look at her Facebook profile and she has over 137 Thousand likes! Rory the Dinosaur: Me and My Dad is her first story book and I would say it is one of the cutest, most adorable and "awww" books, of the year.

Rory is a little dinosaur (I'm not sure which kind of Theropod) and he likes to spent time with his dad. They go fishing and find seashells together. One naughty moment has Rory drawing all over the walls and dad's books. So after a big clean up, dad needs some quiet time.

Rory decides he doesn't want to disturb his dad so he goes on an adventure all by himself. He starts off smartly by packing what he needs. Yet, as his adventure goes on, he notices he's missing things like his drink bottle, or he encounters a wild pig and doesn't know what to do. Dad however, has sneakily followed Rory and helps him solve some problems without letting hint he was ever there.

One thing is certain to Rory though. As he delves deeper into his adventure, the more he misses his dad.

If you want a book that is cute, funny and has lots about being a family, then quickly get a copy! I know there will be more just like this awesome book in the future. Too good not to.

* This book is release on the 28th July in New Zealand.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

It's a Book by Lane Smith

We now live in a world where technology dominates our lives. In our houses, cars and work place, devices like phones, tablets, computers and kindles are ubiquitous. Our children know how to swipe by the time they are 2, and get confused why it doesn't work on the TV.

I've had conversations with people that once were totally against Kindles and e-Readers are now only using them. However, do you think children will love reading as much if there were no more physical books, no libraries? How will they explore? How will they flip through pages and then suddenly be immersed by the words or the pictures?

It's a Book is a funny tale of a Jackass (I'm not kidding) and a Monkey sitting together. The Jackass asks what Monkey has in his hand. He then goes on and asks lots of questions like, does it swipe, does it play games and make lots of noises? I think you know how this story goes.

It's a Book by Lane Smith is quietly funny and has an in joke for us adults right at the end. While not a book you'd want to read over and over again, it is a great chuckle if you bring it out occasionally, and to remind one self that the simpler things in life are often great (if not the best!)

Monday, 6 April 2015

Big Bouncy Bed by Julia Jarman & Adrian Renoylds

Ben and Bella are bouncing on their bed, higher and higher they go. Then other animals start to join in on the fun, but as more and more animals appear, how many will fit?

Who hasn't as a kid bounced on their bed, maybe even on their mum and dad's bed! This book will be something that all kids can relate to and it will be a good giggle when they are reading it. However, it might also encourage bed bouncing!

There is a lot of rhyming in Big Bouncy Bed, lots of animals and a bit about outer space too! So besides relating to the book, there will be some learning to go along with your bed time stories. The pictures are big and vivid and will be a hit with kids. As I write this, a little girl next to me at a cafe is peeking at the book!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Review: Dear Greenpeace by Simon James

Dear Greenpeace by Simon James is kind of an old one. Published in 2008, it is perhaps my favourite non-sophisticated picture book of all time. That's a big call I know. However, things like that are subjective. Let me tell you why it might be my favourite.

The story details a little girl called Emily who loves whales. She pens a letter to Greenpeace, asking them for more information about whales, as she might have seen one in her pond.

Of course, Greenpeace thinks/knows she is making this all up. At first they kindly convince Emily that whales can't exist in her pond, especially since whales live in salt water. Emily pens back again, thanking Greenpeace for their advice, because adding salt water to her pond made her whale happier!

A few more forceful (Greenpeace) letters about how a whale can't be in Emily's pond continue back and forth and it tells how wonderful and imaginative Emily really is.

Now besides the on the surface cute story, there are many cool teaching points.
  • It is in letter form and the cover looks like a stamped envelop
  • There are a few facts about whales and good vocabulary
  • It shows that even the littlest minds can wonder and enjoy the beauty of the world
  • With help from a teacher or adult, children learn about a little about Greenpeace
  • At the heart of it, it is a love story
Go visit your local library and see if they have a copy. If they do and you love it as much as I do, it won't cost you much to get one for yourself!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett

Sadly, a day ago since this post, Sir Terry Pratchett died of the embuggerance (his term for Alzheimer Disease). Many of us will know him from his beloved Discworld where many characters came to life. We loved his wit, humour and storytelling. I remember him for Good Omens a novel with Neil Gaiman and also DEATH a character from Discworld.

What many of you may not know is that he has written several children's books as well. Some of them which were part of Discworld i.e. The Carpet People, The Nome Trilogy. He also had the lesser known Johnny Maxwell Trilogy.

Dragons at Crumbling Castle is an anthology of short stories about a boy named Ralph who decides to help the Castle because most of the knights had gone off on other duties like visiting their grannies. With the help of Fortnight the Friday Knight and Fossfiddle the Wizard, they embark on an adventure to defeat the fire-breathers.

If you want your child to get into Pratchett one day, this would be a great start. If you've never picked up a Pratchett book, then I recommend that you do! My recommendation, is that you don't start with The Colour of Magic, which is the first book in Discworld. They don't need to be read in chronological order. Give Guards! Guards!, Mort or something newer in Going Postal a go.