Michelle Robinson Books

Over the summer I was lucky enough to win all of Michelle Robinson’s picture books to date, what a wonderful haul. 

My intention was to donate them all to the local school so they get to experience the magic of her books. The majority did get to the school but when I realised Michelle was willing to sign them I had to pick out 4 for the family.
Over Michelle’s many fantastic picture books her marvellous writing has been teamed up with glorious illustrators including Kate Hindley, David Roberts, Jim Field,… the list goes on. These great pairings have led to some amazing creations so picking 4 was pretty tough.

The first book I chose (for me) was How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth, illustrated by Kate Hindley. Many of Michelle’s books are fantastically funny whether its the witty writing, farcical situations or just plain ridiculous scenarios and this is one of my favourites.

For O I choose Odd Sock, illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown, as an old romantic I couldn’t resist a tale, told in rhyme, of 2 socks destined to be together whatever life throws at them.

For B I chose Michelle’s latest book The Forgetful Knight illustrated by Fred Blunt. B was keen to read this to us but found himself overcome by fits of giggles at the turn of each page. 

For F I chose A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting illustrated by David Roberts which appealed to her dark sense of humour.

Whether its a soothing bedtime read, a heartwarming read or a rib-tickling read that you’re looking for I guarantee you’ll find something to suit from Michelle’s books. Don’t forget to check her out next time you are in a library or bookshop.

Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

On a day celebrating Ada Lovelace it seems apt to talk about the new young scientist on the block. From the talented duo who brought us Iggy Peck & Rosie Revere we now have a new inspirational character: Ada Twist.

Written in verse the story introduces us to a young Ada Twist who, once she starts speaking, is a bundle of questions. Driven by curiosity, her questioning nature has her investigating everything. Luckily she has a supportive & understanding family who are on hand to help her become a ‘great scientist’.

This book is a joy to share with the kids. Their favourite spread is the page of questioning words, which I have no doubt will be echoing around this house. It’s always lovely to share a book with an inspirational character, somebody the children can identify with & introduce them to the importance of asking questions.  

Thanks to the publisher for sending us a copy of this marvellous book. 

Illustrated Library

Libraries and librarians in picture books 

Mango & Bambang. Tiny Tapir Trouble by Polly Faber & Clara Vulliamy

This is book 3 of one of my most favourite book series. The books are beautifully written & illustrated. They are filled with fun heartwarming adventures & a charming friendship between tapir & girl, perfect for new readers. In this book  Mango visits the library.

Max & Bird by Ed Vere

Max is back & in this adventure he & bird have plans to learn how to fly, where better to look for help then in the library.

The New Libearian by Alison Donald & Alex Willmore

The children, ready for storytime, cant find their librarian but luckikiy they discover a liBEARian instead.

Reading Landmark

Yesterday F picked up a book & read independently without any prompting. Although shes been reading school books for a while & completed the summer reading challenge they are always read with us & at our request. 

She loves having stories read to her & happily flicks through her favourite  books telling herself the stories. She is also keen on writing her own stories with pictures. 

Its nice to see another reader in the house. (Hoping our bookshelves can cope)

The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies

One of our favourite picture books is the Storm Whale about a boy called Noi who rescues a baby whale. When we heard Noi was back we were very pleased to get a review copy from the publisher as we had all been hoping to meet these characters again. Like the first book we were completely charmed & happy to be back in their beautiful little world.

In the Storm Whale in Winter Noi sets out on a snowy winters night determined to find his father & luckily finds some help along the way. This is another truly heartwarming tale of friendship & family. 

As with the Storm Whale we were completely smitten with this book. On the first reading the children were captivated & ran a gamut of emotions alongside Noi eagerly chasing the happy ending. On subsequent readings we have been able to ponder over the beautiful illustrations, especially the snowy scenes in readiness for the winter.
A stunning picture book & perfect cosy bedtime read. 

Fairytale Hairdresser & the Princess & the Pea

Fairytale hairdresser & the Princess & the Pea by Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard
Thanks to Penguin for the review copy.

The latest book in one of F’s favourite book series is Fairytale Hairdresser & the Princess & the Pea (out today). As with the others in this charming series it has been a complete hit with F. It contains all her favourite elements, familiar fairy tale characters, fabulous make overs, Kittie saving the day & a happily ever after.

In this story Kittie befriends Princess Penelope, a talented chef, and helps her find a job at the local food festival. One of my favourite things about these books is that Kittie is a great role model in showing how to be a good friend & resolving problems quickly.

In this retelling of the Princess & the Pea we get to meet a wicked witch, plenty of food themed outfits as well as hearing sensible words from Prince when his Mum tells him Penelope passed the pea test.  

This book is a fun read but be warned the numerous food references can make you peckish so have snacks at the ready.

Inspired by Kitties food based make overs the children created their own versions.


Friday night dinner

Arthur & the Golden Rope by Joe Todd Stanton

Thanks to Flying Eye Books for a review copy of this book.

 We all adored this sumptuously illustrated story of Arthur (the first Brownstone), who finds himself on a quest to help the gods defeat the wolf Fenrir & in turn save his own town. 

Arthur begins the book happily having adventures in the forest & meeting magical creatures. After being blamed by the town folk for his ‘meddling’ he embarks on a much larger & more dangerous quest. 

The children enjoyed hearing this exciting & adventurous story many times over. They both liked how although Arthur is just small he was able to defeat the wolf, where even gods had failed. The gorgeous illustrations helped bring the story to life in glorious technicolour. 

Unsurprisingly my favourite spread was of the library in the god’s hall, a place you could get truly lost in.
Another spread we liked was a map of Arthur’s journey to the great hall which inspired the children to make thier own. It proved to be a fun way to create their own mini adventures of battling monsters & trekking over mountains. 

This is a fabulous book leaving us all waiting impatiently for more stories from the Brownstone’s Mythical  Collection.
Quest for the helmet of Diaphrodon by B  

Ninja travel to meet the Book Goddess by F


Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book

Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book by Zelda Turner & Ben Newman. (Thanks to Flying Eye Books for a review copy)   

Review by B (aged 8)

This is a fun activity book where Professor Astro Cat, a cat intent on discovering all the secrets of science, encourages you to discover interesting facts about space. On this intergalactic journey you find out about how cadets train to go into space, astronomy, rocket science & space missions. 

I liked the activities in the book because they were very varied, from designing your own cosmonaut suit to discovering the laws of physics with chocolate. There was enough to do just sitting at the table as well as some hands on activities (you might need a helpful adult around).

So far I have enjoyed doing the quizzes & testing my knowledge. I am really looking forward to the Space Missions section because its filled with out of the ordinary puzzles like ‘Being an Ambassador For Earth’

This is a brilliant book for the summer holidays because theres so much to do, it will keep you busy & once you’ve finished there is always the Professor Astro Cat’s books to discover & read.


Doodle Girl & the Monkey Mystery

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews
Doodle Girl by Suzanne Smith, Lindsay Taylor, illustrated by Marnie Maurri

This is a lovely fun book about Doodle Girl who lives in a magic sketchbook and has a very handy magic pencil, when she whispers “Draw, draw, draw” the adventure begins. Starting with just a triangle Doodle Girl conjures up an aeroplane. She soon finds herself in the jungle, with her incredibly cute pals, and gets to put her drawing skills into action.

Freya & I enjoyed this book. Freya loved the story especially the imaginative way Doodle Girl rescues the monkey.

While reading the book we were reminded of the ‘shape game’ we like to play where we draw shapes & turn them into pictures. Inspired by the story Freya was keen to get her pencils out, luckily the book came with a special bonus – stickers & a giant colour-in poster. While colouring the poster Freya liked looking back at the pages of the book and spotting the different characters.

A beautifully creative book which makes us reach for the pencil case after every read.


Are You Sitting Comfortably? By Leigh Hodgkinson

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews  

Before reading this book we did as the title suggested & found somewhere comfy to sit. Luckily unlike the boy in the book we didnt encounter places that were too “growly, itchy, fuzzy” or had “giant stamping boots”. As we follow the boy in the book looking for the perfect place to read his books we see him learn that the real joy in reading is not about where you sit but who you sit with.

This is such a beautiful book in both story & look. Freya and I loved the illustrations. She was especially taken with all the different patterns on all the chairs, she couldn’t pick a favourite because they were all too beautiful. We also enjoyed spotting the different animal friends the boy collected on each double page spread.

What I enjoyed about this book is that Freya, who is beginning to read independently, was keen to join in & read some of the words from the story. Some words in the book stand out owing to the different fonts used, my favourite was ‘hoots’ with eyes in the ‘o’s, and Freya enjoyed reading those words aloud.

A treasure of a book celebrating the joy of reading.