Thursday, 26 February 2015

Round Trip by Ann Jonas

I found this book on a list of maths books for small kids on the great blog What Do We Do All Day. Check it out.

Round Trip is a day out in the city, New York City, I'm pretty sure. It starts at home, journeys into the metropolis and then, at the end of the day, you just turn over the book and drive home. Each illustration makes sense from both perspectives. Its very clever.

and from the other direction...

Cool, isn't it? For ages three and up.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Leif the Lucky by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire

This is a read-aloud-over-two-nights book. Another adventure (like Calico, we are on an adventure roll here), it's the story of Leif, son of Erik the Red, who discovered Greenland. It's a rollicking tale (really, it actually is!) of sea voyages, hot tempers, banquets and battles. For ages four and up to read aloud, and six or seven for reading alone.

All the D'Aulaires books are wonderful - but if you are looking for a beautiful present- get Greek Myths and Norse Myths. They are masterpieces.

P.s. This is an American published book - which I bought from the American Amazon site (no more expensive than here, but it wasn't available on any European sites) and it is about Leif's landing in the States. I did wonder whether I should be buying kids books on Irish history, seeing as that is where we live, but then noticed that in my sons (Irish) First Class workbook, there is a section on Leif - which gave me the perfect excuse to buy.

P.p.s. Cartoon Salon, who were recently nominated for an Oscar for their animated film Song of the Sea, have illustrated a funny and information book about Irish history The Story of Ireland. Its great!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Saturday morning here..

None of my kids wanted to go for a walk today, but they coped well with the trauma of leaving the house on this sunny afternoon. After we finally got them to the park, and were on the way home, surprise, surprise, none of them wanted to go to the library either. But my late fees were on my conscience, so we all trooped in.

Anyway after all that complaining, lo and behold, everyone chose a book.
For our nine year old..Pirate Penguin Vs Ninja Chicken.
This is the third, or maybe even fourth time this book has been taken out on one of our library cards. My nine and eleven year olds love it. In fact, I could have bought it for the amount I paid in late fees. Oh well. And for the same boy...Ottoline goes to School. He read the first in this series a fortnight ago and loved it.
For our teenager....Moone Boy the blunder years.
I never watched this series, nor did my son. And it really grates on my nerves when people who are famous for other stuff elbow into the book world. However, Chris O'Dowd seems nice enough and the book is co-written by Nick V. Murphy, who I never heard of. (He co-wrote the television series with O'Dowd.) More importantly, my thirteen year sloped into the library, picked this off a shelf and for the next fifteen minutes sat reading it crouched on one of those tiny childrens chairs. Without giving me any agonized "how much longer?" looks. And when I picked it up when we got home (still thinking about damn greedy celebrities), I read the line 

"She then picked up her buttery toast and wrapped her snack-happy jaws around her sixth slice of the morning."

Anyone who spent their teenage years in Ireland in the 1980's will know what a massive part buttered toast played in our everyday life. Mothers never bought biscuits then, and if they did they were hoovered up by ravenous brothers long before the shopping was put away. Chocolate was for Easter and there were never, ever special offers on giant Cadburys bars like there is now. Not that any mothers would have been tempted. They were far too busy choosing root vegetables (turnips!)for that. 

So toast was our snack food. We had it when we were on homework breaks /on the phone /having breakfast /having supper /home from the disco. Slice after slice after slice. Anyway, once that line hooked me in, I read a few more pages. Its very funny. I'll definitely nab it when my son is finished.

My eleven year old chose Danger is Everywhere (good, he says) and my four year old got The Lego Annual 2015, which is currently on special offer for €6.85. It would be a great one to produce from a bag if you were on a long flight/train trip.

And..playdough plus garlic press = five minutes peace, should you need it.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Calico The Wonder Horse or The Saga of Stewy Stinker by Virginia Lee Burton

I bought this because I thought it best the we own all of Virginia Lee Burtons books. Everyone with kids should. And also because of the title.
I hadn't realised that the author wrote it specifically because her son had lost interest in books and only had eyes for comics. So, even in the early forties, parents were trying to lure their kids away from comics, back to books, failing and then searching for a combination of the two. Now we have a multitude of graphic novels, mentioned, here and here.Then, Virginia Lee Burton created Calico The Wonder Horse or The Saga Of Stewy Stinker. It was inspired by her sons comics, the "funnies" he read and the radio programmes he listened to with his friends. (I wonder can I buy them anywhere?)

Its an adventure - a western to be precise, laid out with two pictures per most page, to keep things moving along. As an aside - probably not important to kids but it might be to you - the pictures are extraordinary(I've just spent an age on google to see if they are block print or screen print or what, but no luck.)

The background colours on the pages change according to the amount of excitement happening and its all just a fantastic, thrilling adventure. So, so, highly recommended. For ages four and up.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

The Right Word by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

I should probably have called this blog On the Kitchen Table on a Wednesday Afternoon as I rarely seem to photograph books on this stripey couch anymore. And if I do, its never a Saturday morning! Anyways, to remedy that, and celebrate this book, I took this picture above this morning.

The Right Word is the story of Peter Roget - the author of the original Thesaurus. It's a hardcover and costs around €15, more than I usually spend but I indulged because firstly, I always LOVED my Thesaurus and secondly, my kids have spoken about Action Jackson (the picture book story about Jackson Pollack) many times since we got it from the library.
The Right Word is one of those books whose target audience is really older than you would first think. It's a picture book, but is telling a story that is for kids older than the usual picture book readers. (I'd put this at ages two to five) What children need for this book is a familiarity with what both a dictionary a biography are. This will in turn lead to questions like "So he really did this?" and you can say "Yes!" and it all gets even more interesting for them. 

Not that this book really needs any help to make it interesting. It's very nicely written and has lots of detail in the illustrations - actually it's sort of Oliver Jeffers-ish with lists of words and thought bubbles. Look below - it's lovely.

So, on the one hand, it's pretty pricey, but on the other it has a good shelf life and is an excellent book to have while your kids are in that "brains like sponges" phase. There is a big trend for these quality biographies for kids at the moment and I love it. I think next on my list will be The Noisy Paintbox.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Grasshopper on the Road by Arnold Lobel

I've never bought any of Arnold Lobel's I Can Read books and not loved it. (Especially Owl at Home - Tear Water Tea is such a perfect story.) Grasshopper on the Road is no exception. A collection of stories all centred on Grasshoppers daily walks. Wonderful stuff. For ages three to adult.

P.s. These are read-aloud books for us at the moment - but as you can see from the text above, they are ideal for novice readers.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Our house, this morning.

This made a very pleasant thump on our hall floor this morning. A gift from me to me.

And upstairs, to deflect attention from his debatable sore throat, my nine year old is reading this.
Some people will do anything to get a day off school.

On other bedside tables...I've just finished The Rosie Effect. I loved it. It's funny and heart warming and clever. The only problem with it is that I kept worrying whether characters like Don - a lovely, Aspergers-ish man would, in the real world, have such kind friends? I felt the same when I read Wonder, which my thirteen year old is studying in school. Would a ten year old boy with an extremely deformed face find friends his own age who can see past it to the fantastic personality underneath? 

Anyways, I do hope this things happen in reality and not just in these (highly recommended) books.

Finn's Causeway Adventure by Lauren Graham and Dave Orchard

Finn's Causeway Adventure. This is not the nicest cover in the world. I think its the font of the title that is the problem. And maybe the shine? But the illustrations inside (and the one on the cover!) are stunning. Also, its a lovely story about a shark who swims a bit closer than planned to the Giants Causeway. We have read it many, many times.


The same team, writer Lauren Graham and illustrator Dave Orchard also produced Brainy Bot, the South Belfast Squirrel which has an equally uninspiring cover but I'm betting is beautiful inside. There's also Napoleon the Lonely Leopard, which is available from Dave Orchard site here.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell

This book was a bit young for my nine and eleven year old's and a bit old for my four year old. I suppose its just about perfect for ages six to eight year.

Howandsoever, the older two really enjoyed Ottoline and the Yellow Cat and have both read it twice. A little bit Eloise-ish, a bit A to Z Mystery-ish, it is a clever, really nicely illustrated read.