Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Fun with Roman Numerals by David A.Adler, illustrated by Edward Miller III

Now that I'm on the hunt for picture books for the older set, this caught my eye..
I don't think my kids will be overjoyed to see it but I do think they will be interested. And it is interesting! Surely knowing roman numerals is a useful skill to have? And maybe if I try to fill their heads with useful knowledge, it will squeeze out some of the Pokemon rubbish currently residing there.
P.S. We read this last night and it was excellent. A crystal clear explanation that left us all fluent.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Alpha by Isabelle Arsenault

The funny thing about alphabet books is that they are traditionally for babies and toddlers, who are years away from wanting or needing to know about their A, B, C's. And then if you do look at them with school age kids, the font will be different to what they are learning at school or the words used to illustrate the letters aren't phonetic or the C isn't a hard one. They do not work as a teaching tool. But that doesn't mean they can't be a fantastic read. I definitely have a soft spot for alphabet books, which is lucky as every illustrator who is popular at all seems to do one. My favourite is Paul Thurlby's Alphabet. I have two copies, one on the shelf and one on the wall facing my younger three boys beds.

I know, you could say they will grow out of it, but I don't care. It's just beautiful art and hopefully they will never grow out of that. Bruno Munari's ABC is one I have often wanted to get but never did and Alpha is my latest purchase. The excuse I used to get it was that it was for older kids insofar as each letter is written using the NATO phonetic alphabet. You know, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, with each illustrated so, so beautifully. I do love it but have a feeling it could be a bit too aimed at hipster parents. Its dangerously cool, to be honest. However, it is quite fun going through it and seeing which letters we know and which we don't and It would be FANTASTIC pasted onto boards like the one pictured above. The letters are opposite the illustrations though, (fifty two pages!) so you would need a very big bedroom. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

I'm hosting my book club this month, so I get to pick our next read. So, I haven't read this yet but I'm really not sure if I can wait until our meeting. I know, you can't tell a book by its cover, but if you could, this one would be great, right?

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfield

This is one of those books that I really want my boys to read. Written (originally in German) in 1956, set in Roman times, full of good clean fun and absolutely NO SCREENS. So needless to say, when I purchased it for our holidays I was not feeling very hopeful. I've bought quite a few cloth bound beautifully reproduced classics that got rave reviews on Amazon from people who read them as kids to have them tried and swiftly rejected by my boys. Anyhoo, they all read and loved this one. Ideally for aged eight and up, Dectectives in Togas would be a great addition to any classroom library. Mystery of the Roman Ransom by the same author looks good too.

Friday, 26 August 2016

love, nina by Nina Stibbe

I read this when we were camping earlier this month. I remember starting it on the ferry from Cork and thinking great, my holidays have begun. I LOVED it. It's just letters, all from Nina, to her sister Vic, but they are wonderful. I spent a summer in London in the late eighties so there is some nostalgia for me but my son, who wasn't born until 2001 loved it too. He read it twice. Usually when we camp I read a book and leave it a common area on the site. But this one came home as I am sure I'll read it again.

Friday, 29 April 2016

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

The party invitations for my Junior Infant(he's five) are usually joint ones - so we get one present and it is added to a black sack of gifts to be divided between the birthday boys. I spend between twelve and fifteen euros and if I'm organised, get books. (And if I'm not I wander around the Tiger and Tesco beside the party venue wishing I'd bought books.) Anyway, these arrived this morning in time for the party next week. I've already reviewed Petunia here - its perfect, and its my first time getting one of this lovely series. Its not my last though, I'll definitely be getting one or two more for our camping holiday.

An Egg is Quiet is great. Its one of those non fiction books that we all love - there's beautiful illustrations and its so interesting! If you liked Feathers, Not Just For Flying, you'll love this. If you liked Bird Bingo, you'll love this. Its just 36 pages about eggs - their colours and shapes and how they are cared for by their parents. It would have been a great addition to an Easter basket. I think I'll get A Rock is Lively next. Or maybe A Seed is Sleepy?
first two pages..
..last two pages.

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle buries its eggs beneath the sand.

Hummingbird eggs are the size of a jelly bean.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren Child, Polly Borland and Emily Jenkins

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (this link brings you to the paperback. It looks like the hardcover is out of print.)
This caught my eye in the library yesterday. I had been reading about the Lonely Doll series, so books with photographed dolls were in my mind. I have never seen that series in real life so cannot accurately give an opinion but images I have seen give me the idea they are magical insofar as kids who have given their dollies real lives can actually see this in photographs, but the pictures can also look a bit creepy. They were, in fairness, first published in 1957. Anyway,  I thought this twenty first century take on the idea would be worth a look.

My five year and I LOVED it. The sets are designed by Emily Jenkins, photographs by Polly Borland and of course, the words are by Lauren Child.

And as a bonus, very pretty title page.
Calligraphy and textile design are by Benjamin Duarri.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Nicholas again!

Sorry. I know I have gone on about the Nicholas series a few times but it has occurred to me that they are perfect for anyone looking for a series for ages eight to twelve, for those who have got stuck on Wimpy Kid or Big Nate or that other one they get stuck on whose name escapes me. Anyway, they are all great but sometimes kids do need a nudge. My ten and really twelve year old are reading Nicholas at the moment. Reading and swapping and hiding the next one so it is waiting for them when they finish what they are on.
Its a quarter past eight in the morning, this boy should be dressed!

That's homework on the table. Underneath the book.

I like this picture. One building, one reading. (Two more upstairs watching Youtube, sadly!)

I love them because they are a change from the middle school, surviving adolescence stuff. They are set in France, and from what my boys say, funny. Really, they are the perfect addition to any classroom or home library. 
Get them herehere or here.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Nicholas, At Home in her Tomb, ice cream cake, boa constrictors in woolly suits

I know I have mentioned the Nicholas series before, when my eldest boy was reading them, but my ten year old has just started and I was reminded how great they are. This one below, was our first and purchased purely because of its lovely clothbound cover. The hardcovers are more expensive, needless to say, so our series is a bit of both. Anyway, he loves them all. Here they are.

Next, At Home in her Tomb, an expensive, award winning, really great quality non fiction book that sadly, made my son gag when he saw it. I've got a lot of different reactions from my boys when I show them new books, but this was a first!

It was one of the "surprises" in his 13th birthday pile but anyways, he has yet to read it. The problem was the photo of the amazingly preserved two thousand year old body of Lady Dai. If only her tongue wasn't poking out. So, its fascinating but I don't know when it will be opened.

Luckily, he loved his cake. It was a real chore to make. Not. I smushed two vienettas, one mint aero and a punnet of raspberries into a lined loaf tin and left it in the freezer for an hour. We could turn it out then and stick the candles on top. By then the birthday boy has his appetite back.

And by the by, I've mentioned these two books before, because they're great, but last night I read them back to back. And only noticed then that they are both about boa constrictors whose owners knit them their own suits. Now we love them even more!

and Crictor.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Exploring English and Soundings

I didn't buy these reissues of old school books when they first came out a few years back, reasoning that I still had my copies somewhere. And anyway, I didn't need rose coloured glasses of nostalgia to see how great they were - I loved them at the time.

Well of course I could never find my copies which were most likely long ago traded in to fund my J1 trip, or a pair of Dr Martens. So when I saw these, box-fresh in the library, I thought I should have a look. Oh my goodness, it was a real pleasure to see them again. And it made me realise they had never left me. I owe such a debt to Gus Martin. He gave me T.S. Eliot and a lifelong love of American literature. He gave me Tennyson and John Donne and Wordsworth and planted so many wonderful words in my head that have never, ever left.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (Soundings)
Every time I look in the mirror these lines come into my head. And every time I eat a peach. And God love me, I had a line from A Song for Simeon (Soundings too) written on the cover of my homework notebook.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind.
(Teenage angst, literally!)

My youngest boy looked over my shoulder when I was browsing through The Splendour Falls, (Exploring English) probably the first poem I loved learning off my heart and asked what the numbers on the right hand side were.
Sadly, I could not tell him. Metre or rhythms or something? When my teacher was explaining my eyes had drifted to the opposite page, where I saw The Eagle. I'm sure you can understand why I was distracted.

And then there were these which I don't remember loving but yet seem unable to forget.

If I were to pick one, it would definitely be Soundings. But Exploring English comes a close second. 

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty

Andy and the Lion was a Caldecott Honor book in 1939, and was published the previous year. And seventy eight years later, its still a great bedtime read and also a real window into 1930's America. What is crazy about these illustrations of Andy's parents is that they were not drawn to be "old-fashioned", they are wearing the clothes of the illustrator and his peers.

Look at the Mums shoes! And the dads moustache! 

Its one of those books that after I read it to my five year old, his older brothers went through it slowly, really inspecting the illustrations. Which is no less than they deserve. A great story, for ages four to seven.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl

I've been starting to think that my kids are coming close to the end of their picture book era. Or my youngest at least. The others listen in at bedtime, but with their own books on their knees too. He's only five so we have at the very least a year to go, two if I try to delay his independent reading..just kidding, I love picture books but I'm not that bad. Anyways, that was my excuse for ordering this:
The Duchess Bakes a Cake

(That lipstick is Fire and Ice by Revlon, its on sale since 1953, and the book was published in 1955. Maybe some mother would have read this book aloud whilst wearing it. And hopefully her kids didn't say "that doesn't fit your face" like mine did. Oh dear. Its a fab colour though.)

Its a slightly smaller than normal hardback and if you are into your colours and covers and design, its wonderful. Also, its a really, really great rhyming story. I say really, really great because there are lots of rhyming stories out there and a lot are ok but this one is up there with Seven Silly Eaters. Although I should say that one is up with The Duchess Bakes a Cake, seeing that it came first. It was over fourteen Euros, so more than I usually spend but definitely worth it.

(sorry, the lipstick is there again.)

For boys and girls two to six or seven.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Fallen by Lia Mills

I'm pretty sure this silver mirror belonged to my granny. Its in the photo above because she was the same age as Katie, in Fallen, in 1916, and also lived in the city centre.

Katie lives on Parnell Square and Granny lived down in Dublin 7 and her brother was shot there too, fighting for the Irish Volunteers. I never heard her speak about that Easter so have no idea what she thought of it all. All I know is that he was her favourite brother. I don't know if these are the reasons I am enjoying this book so much but I am. Fallen is a literary contribution to Dublin City Council's 1916 centenary programme. Which is a sentence which would not make me want to read it, that's for sure. Howandsoever, I'm really, really enjoying it. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A Busy Day for a Good Grandmother by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain. Mrs Armitage Queen of the Road by Quentin Blake.

Well, its International Women's Day today, so I'm blogging about two books we've been reading recently, about strong women. Strong, older women with grey hair and intelligence and a sense of fun and adventure. My favourite kind.
First, a book my mother always had in her house for when the grandchildren came; A Busy Day for a Good Grandmother. She said everyone from age two to ten loved it, and I'm not surprised.

Mrs Oberon is busy fixing her trail bike when her son Scrimshaw calls.

His little son Sweeney is teething and badly needs some cock a hoop honey cake!

Mrs Oberon is on her way.

She had quite a few adventures on the journey, but my favourite part is at the end, when Sweeney is settled and Scrimshaw plonks down in front of the t.v. Not this time says Mrs Oberon, you need to learn how to make cock a hoop honey cake yourself!

Mrs Armitage Queen of the Road gets an interesting letter one morning. Her Uncle Cosmo had bought himself a new motorbike and is giving his car to Mrs Armitage. 
She heads outside to try it out. Again, there is no shortage of adventure, or wonderful illustrations, and eventually, Mrs Artmitage meets Uncle Cosmo, and his biker pals.
They all head off to the Crazy Duck Cafe for a game of billiards and a can of banana fizz, which is just about the most perfect ending ever.