Tag Archives: Book

Cub’s First Summer by Rebecca Elliott

Cub’s First Summer

by Rebecca Elliott

Sorry about the bad photography, the leaves got in the way more than I realised. It says 'Cub', not 'Cup' or any other variation. Taking pics outside seemed a good idea at the time!

Last year I was lucky enough to review Cub’s First Winter by the same author, so I was very pleased to have been sent the sequel, Cub’s First Summer.

These books appeal to me because they combine animals, nature and the seasons – three subjects I personally find fascinating.  I’ve always tried to instill a love of the natural world in my children too, so I love reading these kind of books to them.

This book reads along very similar lines to the last one I reviewed, it’s about a fox cub experiencing a new season and wondering at all the changes in his surroundings – his mother tries to answer his many questions about his first summer in the best way she can.    Winter is left far behind and he begins to notice that the days are warmer and longer, that the vegetables grow bigger in the rich soil, that the bees buzz around and make honey, and that there are thunderstorms sometimes and fields full of wild flowers.  Cub wants to know why this is, so he asks questions such as ‘Why are the days so long?,’ and ‘Why are there so many wild flowers?’

'Why is it so hot?' asked Cub.
'So that we can splash in the cool water!' giggled Mum.
And the sun shone down.

Cub’s mum replies that the days are so long so that ‘We have more time for fun!’ and that all the flowers are ‘So that we can enjoy their beautiful smell!’  All her answers are beautifully simple, concise and touching as they are all about how they can enjoy the world together.  Cub learns about his world through his mother’s observations and her actions.  Both of them dance to the sounds of the birds singing and little Cub clings to his mum’s back as she climbs up to a bee hive to show him the busy bees making honey.

'Why are the birds singing so loudly?' asked Cub.
'So that we can dance to their music! sang Mum.
And the clouds got darker.

Whenever I read a book, I always try to work out what the author is trying to say, or the feelings that they are trying to get across.  Wrong or right, I’m not sure, but Cub’s First Summer and Cub’s First Winter both strike me as a celebration of the wonderful sharing experience that is part of being a parent.   Our children learn about the world through us and our eyes as well as their own, Cub and his mother revel and learn about the natural world together.

I love that at the end of each of Rebecca Elliot’s books, it shows both of them curling up in their den, snug, warm and safe – the day’s lessons learnt. The illustrations are gorgeous!  The one where they curl up in their den is drawn in almost glowing shades of orange and earth brown, with the mother encircling the little cub with her fluffy, white tipped fox tail.  As a mother myself, I look at that and remember the times when my two fell asleep in my arms and I felt like nothing else existed in the world.

'Why am I so tired?' yawned Cub.
'Because it is sleepy time,' murmured Mum.
'Night night, little cub.'

There’s so much to look at too, although the pages aren’t cluttered.  Swallows swoop over a rain striped sky on the thunderstorm page, and ladybirds climb up blades of grass for example.  The drawings are lovely to look at, and the story is beautifully simple whilst still being entertaining.

If you and your children have an appreciation for the world outside your window, the sun and showers and the changing of the seasons – I honestly can’t see how you wouldn’t love this.  Cub’s First Summer can be bought from Top That Publishing for £5.39 HERE, personally I think it’s priceless.

Top That Publishing sent me a copy of Cub’s First Summer to review, no other financial reward was given.

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‘The Silent Owl’ from Top That Publishing

‘The Silent Owl’

from Top That Publishing

Illustrated by Sam McPhillips and written by Clemency Pearce.

So, my first impressions!  First and foremost I love owls so that was a good start and I was immediately attracted to the lovely greeny blue, decoupage illustrative style.   I love that the owl is a silent owl, and yet it’s drawn as being made from different coloured pieces of written on notepaper – it doesn’t utter a single word, but it’s literally made of them.  Clever!

The narrative is beautifully simple, the owl sits in his tree observing the world around him, not uttering a single hoot.  His fellow forest dwellers try to get him to make a noise by any means possible, including teasing him and telling him off, but to no avail!  The owl remains silent……until he starts playing the bongo, the piano, the trumpet, the flute, the guitar and the big base drum.  He might not want or be able to communicate with his voice, but he can make just as much noise and is obviously just as clever as the animals that were goading him earlier in the book.  The last line goes:

The animals cheered, ‘What a clever bird!’ And Owl just winked without a word.

That line does make me laugh.  I can’t read it without winking at the kids and grinning.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting the book, but I understand it as meaning you can’t judge people by the chatter they come out with, they may be a ‘dark horse’ or a Silent Owl in this case.  Something like that.  That’s something I enjoy about this book, it’s very subtle and very simple, it doesn’t preach a message; it just very gently illustrates that everyone is not always as they seem.

Get the kids to join in and do actions!

When I asked Darlek what she thought of this she said she thought it was like one of her early reading books, I’m presuming that means she thinks it’s too young for her.  Sausage, on the other hand, said he ‘liked all of it’ and wouldn’t elaborate any further – but he did sit quietly and listen to the tale and commented on the shape of the moon and named the different animals.  The Silent Owl does seem to be better suited to approx 2 – 5 years.  Darlek is nearly seven and said that she prefers something with a bit more detail to it.

The Silent Owl is all written in verse form which is great to read aloud, it flows nicely and there’s lots of opportunities for silly voices for the fox, and the squirrel and the mice etc.  It’s also fun to get the kids to pretend to play the instruments too.  I always think the more engaged children are in a story, the better it is and the more they get out of it.

If you would like a copy of The Silent Owl you can find it on Top That Publishing’s website which is HERE!  It’s on offer at the moment and is £5.39 and in my opinion it is a quiet gem of a book.

Top That Publishing sent me a copy of this book to read and review,  no other financial reward was given.

The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped – A Review

The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped

I so wish this was the title of one of my every day blogs.  Oh to have a Gogglynipper and to find out it had escaped!  Life would be so exciting.

But no!  It is the title of a book I have been sent by Top That Publishing to review and it is written by James McKnight and illustrated by Mark Chambers.

I wouldn't want to meet one of these on a dark night!

The story goes that there is a farmer called McDoogle who has a Monster Farm and ‘on that farm he had some Monsters.   Eee I, Eee I, Oh!’ *sings* (sorry there was no way I could stop myself from doing that, that was completely involuntary!)

So….back on topic…… on this farm there is also a little boy called Diggle who helps Farmer McDoogle look after the monsters.  Diggle is the hero of the book who accidentally loses one of the monsters and has to go and find him. He searches high and low and eventually falls in a huge pile of Gogglynipper poo which gives him a clue as to where it is hiding.  It is in a very big dark cave, and as Gogglynippers can be very ‘big’ and also very ‘dramatic’ he is rather scared of going in there to fetch it.

As it happens the Gogglynipper is so pleased to see him that he rushes out and licks him all over like a huge oversized labrador.  Phew!  Diggle is so relieved to find him and begins the journey home with the Gogglynipper in tow.  Unfortunately the Gogglynipper smells some particularly fragrant smelly socks (Gogglynippers love eating smelly socks) and dashes off leaving Diggle chasing after him.  Luckily the smelly socks belong to Farmer McDoogle who is resting with his feet out of the window, and even more luckily he moves them before the Gogglynipper tries to eat them.

The moral of the story is, if you want your Gogglynippers to find  their way home, don’t wash your socks!  A helpful, life affirming kind of message I thought.

Cute funny illustrations, I loved the humour in this book.

Narrative aside, the illustrations are really charming.  They are hand drawn, cartoony and full of character and easy on the eye.  There’s also a fair bit of detail to pick out, and it has a great sense of humour.

My one criticism is that I find it almost impossible to say ‘Gogglynipper’ and ‘Noober’ (the name of the dog).  In fact, and this is hand on heart true, I kept calling them ‘Googlynipples’ and the poor doggy got called ‘Nobber’ a few times.  No I hadn’t been drinking and no it’s not Freudian.

As for my kid’s opinions – they love it.  Good pace of story, cute illustrations, great novelty factor and I’ve had to read it at least 7 times at bedtime, over the last two weeks.  The Day the Gogglynipper Escaped has been one that they’ve asked for specifically so they do enjoy reading it, my son in particular.

If you’d like a copy of this book it is £5.39 reduced from £5.99 and you can find it HERE!

When I Dream of ABC – by Mr Henry Fisher

When I Dream of ABC by Mr Henry Fisher

 Top That Publishing were kind enough to send me one of their beautifully illustrated children’s books, and it would be a travesty not to tell you about it!  It’s already a firm favourite with the kids and one that I’d definitely invest in if I were you.  Here it is!

Simply brilliant! This book oozes character and interest.

This book is a rare breed, not only does it radiate humour and character, there are really gorgeous, detailed illustrations too.  My two love this, and have actually argued over who gets to keep it in their room, it’s that popular at our house!   Apologies for the very slightly battered looking appearance, this is because When I Dream of ABC been read many, many times already.

It’s a traditional format, alphabet letters associated with pictures and rhymes, but it’s done so well! Take a look at this!

The mischievious humour is really appealing to adults and children alike!

I don’t know how clear my photograph is so I’ll type out the letter D’s contribution to the book so you can see why we like it so much.

D is for Dragon.  

‘Dragons are very shy and live in caves.  Despite popular opinion, dragons are very polite, but are best avoided on account of having rather smelly breath’

It’s just so cute, and such an original little observation.  Each and every letter of the alphabet is treated to the same quirky, amusing wording and beautiful imagery.

O is for Octopus! It's tickling the diver! Great for interacting with the kids.

When I Dream of ABC is educational too of course, which is always a bonus.  The last page has a spread of all the little pictures and letters of the alphabet to look back over too which is a great summary.  Personally I think it would make a fabulous poster wall chart and one that I’d certainly buy, Mr Henry Fisher is a very talented artist!

Mr Henry Fisher, please make these pages into a poster wall chart!

The only drawback is that When I Dream of ABC is paperback.  I think its a really special book that will be read and treasured, and these sorts of books do tend to get damaged over time.  If it was hardback it might last a little longer.

One to buy for the grandchildren! A keeper!

If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, it costs £6.29 (on offer at the moment) from Top That Publishing.  Of all the kids books I’ve reviewed, this is the best one so far.  Lovely!