Book-O-Masks by Donald Lemke & Bob Lentz

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

  This book makes a fabulous addition to the dressing up box. A brilliantly designed wearable book with each double page spread offering a new mask, such as super hero, wrestler, ninja etc.

There were peals of laughter from the kids as they tried out the different masks. They also spotted that there were others in the series, Book-o-Beards, Book-o-Hats & Book-o-teeth which they were keen to try out. The Superhero mask was a favourite with the children & provided plenty of fun photo opportunities.

A fun novelty book which we all enjoyed playing with.

A Tower of Giraffes:Animal Bunches by Anna Wright

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

We received this book just as Freya was learning the collective nouns for different animals at pre-school so was very timely. Aware of common terms such as swarm of bees & litter of kittens we had fun discovering some more obscure ones such as mischief of mice & ostentaion of peacocks.

The highlight of the book for us however was the striking illustrations. We loved how some of the animals were a mixture of drawing & collage. My favourite spread was the flock of sheep with patterned wool for bodies with the odd bit of unravelled yarn. We were so inspired by the pictures the children created their own groups of animals.

An interesting,stylish & inspiring book that captivated us all.


Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake

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


This book is based on an exhibition, ‘Tell Me A Picture’ curated by Quentin Blake when appointed Children’s Laureate in 1999. The pages are filled with pictures by illustrators, modern painters & some of the old master paintings from the national gallery. Each picture in the exhibition has been chosen as it has some kind of story in it.

The drawings of children chatting and asking questions on the page facing the picture helped encourage Bryn to explore & talk about the pictures. He enjoyed discovering pictures where he recognised a character like Hunuman or St George or ones with lots of detail to study. There are also useful pages at the back providing a brief description of each picture & details of where you can find it.

I also found having only the prompts & name of artist on the page great for focusing on the picture & enjoying the art.

A great art book for children perfectly pitched to engage, enthuse & inspire.

Picturebook makes

Here are some of daughters creations inspired by books we’ve read;

The Princess and the Wizard by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Lydia Monks 


Old Bear’s The All-Together Painting by Jane Hissey


One More Sheep by Mij Kelly & Russell Ayto


Jampires by Sarah McIntyre & David O’Connell

Please Mr Panda by Steve Antony 


(Jampires by me)

A Tower of Giraffes by Anna Wright


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


Those Magnificent Sheep in their Flying Machine

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

Freya described this book as ‘a bit sheep-y’ as eight ‘magnificent’ sheep take centre stage in this funny story.

This rhyming tale of the sheep and their adventures across the world, having accidentally taken off in an aeroplane, is great fun to read out aloud. The stylish, humorous & detailed illustrations bring the story to life especially the characters of the sheep. Freya was keen to spot & name each sheep on each page and with names like Eunice & Mabs they fit perfectly with the Edwardian style setting for this tale.

On their journey the sheep take in some common tourist attractions. One of Freya’s favourite spread includes an ‘old maharajah’ which appeals to her dark humour when at the bottom of the page he is seen waving a cleaver saying ‘mutton curry’. Luckily at the end of the story all the sheep return to their quiet life in the hillside munching the grass.

Even after numerous re-readings this book never fails to delight, induce a chuckle and in my case leave me with an ear worm of the theme song from the movie “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines”

Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews 
Its very easy to fall in love with Louie however smelly. This adorable mutt starts the story smelling of roses & apple blossom something which he is not very happy about. With the help of an old boot, stinky bins & some sticky sludge Louie gets back the smell he wants, but will he get to keep it?
I really enjoyed reading this book to the children and Freya especially liked spotting all the different animals Louie encounters. The wonderful illustrations help bring the outdoors inside by evoking not just the beauty of nature but even its smell. With each turn of the page the colour of Louie’s coat gets darker & darker as he gets gradually smellier & smellier.

Poppy Pickle by Emma Yarlett

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

From the first reading I was completely bowled over by this book. A blast of sunshiny goodness brimming with gorgeous witty illustrations, well designed page layouts, a fabulously funny story and a larger than life heroine bursting from the pages with her joyous imagination.

Poppy Pickle is a little girl with a big imagination living with her ordinary family. When sent upstairs to tidy her room she discovers her imagination comes to life with a ‘pop’ and soon she is surrounded by lots of funny creatures including a monocle wearing mammoth, a crablo picasso and a hungry crocodile. It turns out letting your imagination run away with you can lead to trouble. With a hungry crocodile & two angry parents to cope with will Poppy have a happy ending?

While Freya was a little worried about Poppy’s parents reaction to the chaos her imagination caused Bryn couldn’t stop laughing at Poppy’s imaginative creatures. A book we will enjoying reading again & again.

Space Dog by Mini Grey

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

“We love it!” sums up Freya.

This intergalactic adventure in which Space Dog not only rescues the inhabitants of Cornflake 5 & Bottleopolis but also discovers how ‘sworn enemies’ Astrocats and Moustronauts can become ‘sworn friends’. A heartwarming romp in a fantastically zany world expertly crafted by Mini Grey.

The children were very taken with Dairy Quadrant map at the front of the book and use it for their own adventures. Like Space Dog they wanted to explore & rush to the aid of anyone needing help.

With every reading theres a new reference or joke to discover for both me and the children. A treat of a picture book for the whole family.

We also followed Mini Grey’s excellent advice on How To Draw Space Dog. I will leave you to guess the artists of the pictures below.