Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews


Aged 3
Joined January 2016

Favourite book EVER is Pip and Posy
Samuel, 3 78 books
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Was read to me 17th March '19

Daddy Hairdo
Author: Francis Martin Illustrator: Claire Powell
Daddy Hairdo is a brilliantly funny new picture book about a little girl, called Amy, and her dad. As Amy’s hair grows and grows, Dad’s drops out and soon he’s pretty much bald apart from the tufts above his ears. There are some great scenes as Amy and her dad consider what might have happened to Dad’s hair (a hair-raising round-the-world adventure perhaps?). Amy’s hair, by contrast, is the stuff of fairy tales. Eventually, it gets so long that she can’t stand on the floor anymore and has to be carried around.

Dad needs to come up with a solution. Fast. Amy’s hair is taking a lot of looking after and it’s ruining her games of hide and seek. After careful research and hours of pet- and topiary-based practice, Dad perfects the Daddy Hairdo. His creations are fabulously outrageous and extravagant. For example, there’s the ‘Ice Cream Cone’ (complete with sprinkles and a cherry), and the rocket-topped ‘Rings of Saturn’. Children and parents alike will delight in these eye-catching and imaginative hairstyles and may even dream up some of their own.

Amy’s dazzling new hairstyles soon become the talk of the town and she and her dad become minor celebrities. People are queuing up at Dad’s hair salon to get their own flamboyant hairstyles.

However, while Amy’s striking up-dos certainly keep her hair tidy, they are not without their problems. She is too tall for the bouncy castle, even more spottable in games of hide and seek, and, worst of all, too wide to fit through the sweet shop door. Dad and Amy will have to think again.

Daddy Hairdo is such a fun story. I particularly love the pictures, and all the hair themed puns which Claire Powell also carries through into her glorious illustrations.

Was read to me 17th March '19

The Big Sticker Book of the Blue
Author: Yuval Zommer
This sticker and activity book accompanies the fabulous non-fiction title The Big Book of the Blue. I think the sticker book works best when read alongside the book as there’s a lot of crossover but it can also be enjoyed on its own.

There are over 200 sea animal stickers in the book but there’s much more to this than stickers. There’s spot the difference, a quiz, mazes and games too. There are also sea creatures to colour; teeth, spikes and tentacles to add; and space to design your own deep-sea fish.

The book is packed with fun and fascinating facts so, as you decorate the pages, you can learn cool stuff too.

Was read to me 17th March '19

The Big Book of the Blue
Author: Yuval Zommer
I’m a big fan of Yuval Zommer’s books, and The Big Book of the Blue is particularly fabulous. It’s the third in the series; Yuval has previously written and illustrated The Big Book of Bugs and The Big Book of Beasts.

After an introduction to the different ocean families (molluscs, mammals, crustaceans etc), and pages about fins and flippers, gills and blowholes, The Big Book of The Blue then presents a vast array of sea creatures. Lesser known animals such as dragonets, gulper eels and boxfish are included alongside more familiar animals such as whales, penguins, crabs and octopuses. Each animal gets a fully illustrated double page spread. The accompanying text always begins with a question: what makes a pufferfish puff, why does a crab run sideways, does a ray make electricity? The facts that are dotted about the pages are interesting and accessible. There’s lots of original content too; I discovered loads of new things. For example, sometimes krill form big swarms that make the sea look pink. These krill swarms have been seen from space! A sperm whale can hold its breath for two hours, and no two seahorse crowns (or coronets) are the same – just like human fingerprints. Sea turtles can eat jellyfish without getting stung and they have see-through eyelids to see underwater. It’s all pretty amazing stuff.

Yuval’s illustrations are stunning: gloriously detailed, richly textured and vibrant. You’ll find yourself poring over them for hours. Two illustrations in particular stood out for me: the krill shimmering under the sea’s surface, and the glowing jellyfish warning off predators. Both animals actually glow in the dark and Yuval’s pictures really do appear to glow. There’s a lovely interactive element to the book’s illustrations too; the same sardine is hidden 15 times throughout the book for the reader to find.

There’s also a very important environmental message running throughout the book. The reader is invited to spot something that doesn’t belong in the dolphins’ habitat (litter) and the book ends by exploring how humankind is damaging the oceans, with a particular focus on plastic pollution.

The book works really well as a reference book; there’s a nicely detailed index, a glossary (ingeniously presented as ‘Fishy Phrases: How to talk like a sea life expert), and a handy contents page.

This book is a wonderful celebration of ocean life and a timely reminder of our responsibility to protect it.

Was read to me 17th March '19

Isla and Pickle: The Highland Show
Author: Kate McLelland
This is the second story in a new picture book series about Isla and her pet pony, Pickle. Pickle is a miniature Shetland pony and he’s often up to no good: stealing vegetables from the shop, chewing the washing, or chasing the chickens. It doesn’t really make him the ideal candidate for the ‘Perfect Pony’ contest at the Highland Show but Isla enters him nonetheless. Isla’s friend Rosie is also entering the contest with her pony, Belle. Belle is very well behaved and her coat is smooth and sleek. How can Pickle compete?

In the days leading up to the show, Isla tries to prepare Pickle by grooming him morning and night and practising graceful trotting and obedience. The day of the Highland Show arrives and cheeky Pickle gets up to lots of mischief. By the time of the contest, Pickle’s coat and mane are in a mess. He doesn’t fare much better in the obedience category either. What he does display though is lots of charm and a friendly, warm personality. Isla learns that perfection isn’t what matters; friendship is more important.

The story is light-hearted and fun. There’s lots of slapstick humour in the cheerful, brightly coloured pictures. It’s interesting to learn about aspects of Scottish life: hairy Highland cows, gorgeous tartan prints and the events of a Highland Show. I also liked the depiction of a single parent family headed by a father. It’s important for all types of families to be represented in children’s fiction and it’s quite rare for this particular family dynamic to be portrayed.

Sam and I had fun reading this book and we look forward to sharing more of Isla and Pickle’s adventures.

Was read to me 20th November '18

The Fox on the Swing
Author: Evelina Daciute
The Fox on the Swing is a beautiful book. The vibrant orange fox on the midnight blue of the cover is really eye-catching, and I love the sparkling silver foiled stars too. The illustrations are like collages; Aušra Kiudulaitė has combined different textures, materials and mediums in her pictures. I really like the depth and detail that this provides.

The story is about a young boy called Paul who lives with his parents in a tree. Every afternoon, his mother sends him to the bakery to buy three bread rolls which they later eat together as a family. Paul takes the shortest route to the bakery but walks the long way home. It’s on these long walks home through the park that he sometimes sees the fox on the swing. Paul and the fox become friends. He gives her his bread roll each time they meet. They tell each other stories. The fox shares her wisdom. One day, Paul’s father comes home and announces that he’s got a new job and that they will be moving to another city. Paul is upset and troubled by the prospect of this move. He is happy where he is and doesn’t want to leave the fox. In the rest of the story, with help from the fox, Paul learns to adapt to change and find happiness again.

The book is a lovely introduction to the important concepts of gratitude and mindfulness. As Paul walks the long way home from the bakery, he takes time to notice the small things: strangely shaped stones, fascinating twisted roots, fancy birds, and puddles that glisten on the ground. He is living in the moment and taking pleasure from the little things in life. The fox teaches Paul how to find happiness in small things: carrot cake, marmalade and trees in autumn. These are valuable lessons for life.