Four New Children’s Books

I have been lucky enough to have been sent 4 children’s books to review this month. I absolutely love reviewing kids titles as Edith (4.5) takes the job really seriously. She is in her first year of school and has just started reading so to ask her opinions on new books makes her feel really important. Ceci (2.5) doesn’t seem to understand a lot of the stories but she always seems to pick out something that Edith and I hadn’t noticed.

The Wardrobe Monster by Bryony Thomson

What’s that knocking sound coming from the wardrobe? Every night, it makes Dora and her toy friends afraid to go to bed and every morning they are grumpy through lack of sleep. Eventually, they summon up the courage to face their fear together and open the wardrobe door…what falls out provides a humorous and reassuring story for all children who imagine monsters in the darkness.

Bryony Thomson is a Surrey based illustrator and writer. The Wardrobe Monster is her first book.

Both my daughters LOVED this book. What’s not to love???? There is the scare factor….the monster in the wardrobe and there is pink. This shouldn’t put boys off the book but there is a fair bit of pink. Dora’s hair is a tremendous shade of pink which has caused a few arguments with Edith (4.5) who thinks she should now have pink hair. I have to say that the pink is a lovely addition to the pictures and it really makes the colours pop. As soon as Ceci (2.5) saw the monster, she decided that because he was green and pink he couldn’t really be scary.

Edith was a big fan of the penguin who spends a lot of the book watching the proceedings and blinking. As the adult, the penguin was definitely my favourite character.

This book deals with the ever present night fears in a brilliant, unpatronising way. Firstly, we all laughed at the excuses Dora uses to delay going to bed. ‘I do that mummy’ were the cries from both my girls. The idea that the Wardrobe Monster was scared of noises coming from outside his wardrobe was fabulous. Ceci  was very concerned that he was lonely and now, the whole idea of night terrors has been turned on its head.

 

Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords by Laura Ellen Anderson

Amelia Fang is the biggest hearted vampiress you’ll ever meet. In this adventure, she and her friends Florence the yeti (DON’T CALL HER BEAST), Grimaldi the Death and Prince Tangine (reformed spoiled sprout), along with her pet pumpkin Squashy, must brave the journey to the terrifying Kingdom of the Light to try to find Tangine’s missing mother, Queen Fairyweather.

But with unicorns, fairies and angel-kittens lurking around every corner, who can they trust? And will they finally uncover the real villain keeping the kingdoms of Light and Dark as mortal enemies?

Join Amelia on her latest adventure. She won’t bite!

This gloriously ghostly new series from the creator of EVIL EMPEROR PENGUIN  is perfect for 7-9 year olds and fans of THE WORST WITCH and WITCH WARS. Amelia Fang is a modern Wednesday Addams – but much more loveable!

This was a hit in our house with my 4.5 year old and her 7 year old cousin. Edith (4.5) loved the fact that it looked like a ‘big girls book.’ I thought it was beautifully presented with purple edged paper and shiny purple on the front cover. We all loved the very Tim Burtonesque illustrations. In fact, my 2.5 year old LOVED the pictures. Particularly Amelia’s teeth, Florence and Fabio.

All the girls are massive fans of Hotel Transylvania so they are used to the idea of vampires as comedy characters but the addition of fairies, pumpkins and unicorns meant the girls were in magical heaven.

I read the book aloud to my 5 year old. I made some simplifications but it is great to read to kids….ample opportunity for a funny voice. Emily (7) read it herself and she loved it. The chapter lengths are short enough to feel she is making progress and there is enough action and pictures to hold interest. Another massive hit were the fart, poo, sweat and pus gags. It shouldn’t be underestimated how much these appeal to kids….when Squashy pooed down the well, Edith cried with laughter.

Erik the Lone Wolf by Sarah Finan

Erik had had enough of the wolf pack and it’s silly rules. “That’s it!”he muttered to himself. “I’m going to be a lone wolf.” And when no one was looking, he walked away.

Now nothing could stop Erik having fun…could it?

This book is about Erik, a young wolf who is sick of being told what to do and always being surrounded by his pack. So one day he decides to go it alone. He has a great time until he falls down a crevasse (quite a complicated word for children). He realises that he can’t climb out and just when he was starting to get scared, the wolf pack show up and rescue him, proving that he no longer wants to be alone.

Interestingly, on our initial reading of this book, Edith was very concerned that Erik had decided to leave his family. She seemed upset that Erik was on his own (even though in the beginning, Erik was quite happy). Edith is quite clingy so the idea that Erik would choose to leave his pack seemed totally alien to her. She almost seemed smug when Erik fell down the crevasse…..”see mummy…bad things happen if you run away.” She was really relieved when the pack arrived to rescue Erik. Ceci  was the complete opppsite. She LOVED Erik on his skis, doing what he wanted with no one to stop him. I guess that just goes to show how independent younger siblings often are.

Lovely, heartwarming story with beautiful illustrations.

Baby Bird by Andrew Gibbs and Zosienka

‘All birds are born to fly,’ thinks Baby Bird, watching the other hatchlings leave the nest. ‘I suppose it’s now or never…’ But one of Baby’s wings is twisted and shrunken and not at all like the other one. Instead of flying, Baby plummets to the ground. There, Baby makes a new friend, and learns that sometimes you have to find unexpected ways to achieve your dreams.

Both the girls enjoyed this story. Ceci (2.5) really enjoyed the pictures. Finding the caterpillar on the first page is her new game. She also loved the birds eating the worm. Ceci and I had lots of conversations revolving about Baby Bird hurting himself. “Ouch” has been a very overused word when discussing this book. Ceci fell off her scooter yesterday and she told me she was like Baby Bird.

Edith got onto the deeper meaning of the story….we are not all the same, some are better at some things than others. However, she was sad that Baby Bird couldn’t fly with her brothers and sisters and I have to say that I agree with her. The idea that Baby Bird practised and practised and was still unable to fly was a little depressing, particularly when that was combined with his family flying away.

Having said all of that, the illustrations are completely beautiful. We particularly liked the birds eye view of the countryside.

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