It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs! by Sherry West

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It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs! written by Sherry West and illustrated by Sherry West and Larkin Stephen-Avery, picture e-book, published by Morgan James Publishing in 2019.

The rain began with cats, followed by dogs, but then things just got crazy! A zoo of animals begins raining from the sky in this fun picture book.

This really is a laugh out loud silly rhyming story book full of  gorgeously rendered animals in pastel colours.

Each page contained just a few lines of easy to read text. Most of the text is printed in black, but a selection of words are brightly coloured, which draws the eye to them. The lyrical story flows well, making it perfect for reading aloud. And overall, it was such a fun book to read.

The illustrations are whimsical and stylised, and perfect for little readers. I love the herd of guinea pigs, and the mice, and the penguins, and… oh, really I just adored all of the illustrations; they are so cute!

It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs! is most suitable for toddlers and preschoolers. Lower primary school children may also enjoy reading this by themselves.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

Sand Art Spelling

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Painting on the glue

I’ve been trying to get T1 excited about spelling, but he’d much rather be off playing video games or jumping on the trampoline.

 

We have actually done a lot of spelling on the trampoline; he says one letter of the word for every jump he does. And we have done lots using other activities, but when I found some tubs of coloured sand, I knew we needed to try making some sand art!

 

Sprinkling on sand

 

We used everyday white glue to paint each word onto a page of paper. T1 chose to do all of his words in red sand. After painting all of the letters in each word, he carefully sprinkled the sand onto the glue. Once there was enough sand to cover all of the glue, T1 tipped the excess sand off into the baking tray we were using underneath the paper (useful for reducing mess)

 

 

Shaking off excess sand

Each word or even letter could be done in different colours if desired. I think it would look good on black paper too. T1 is keen to make his next spelling list into sand art as well!

 

 

Sand art spelling words

Hurricane Vacation by Heather L. Beal

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Hurricane Vacation by Dr. Heather L. Beal and illustrated by Jasmine Mills, picture e-book, published in 2019.

Lily and Niko are visiting with their aunt and uncle when a hurricane watch is issued. They have never experienced a hurricane before, so Uncle Brian, Aunt Sarah and cousin Emma explain all about them.

Hurricane Vacation is an educational picture book designed to explain hurricanes to young children. It does this through the explanations given to Niko and Lily, and the actions that the characters need to undertake in order to prepare for the storm.

As well as being nicely integrated into the story, all of the information presented is clear and logical. The level of detail given is suitable for young children, including explanations of evacuation and storm shelters. A short song about shelters is included in the text, making it easy to remember that the shelters are the safest places to be during a hurricane.

It’s wonderful to see that even though something quite scary is happening in the story, the characters are all helping each other, and being happy to be together. The character’s reactions to the oncoming storm are calm and reasonable; there is no hysteria or anxiety, just the need to complete the preparations and get to the shelter safely. This helps remind us that we need to keep our heads in an emergency.

At the end of the story there are questions and activity suggestions, which will help to reinforce the knowledge gained via the story. There is also a list of resources for further investigation. Reading this story and trying some of the activities is a great way to prepare children for the possibility of a hurricane.

I really like the cover art for this book, it is clever and appealing, something that I would want to pick up and have a look at. The illustrations throughout the story are colourful and realistic. I like that the eye of the storm is drawn literally!

Hurricane Vacation is suitable for preschool children and primary school children, and would make an excellent tool for use in hurricane prone areas.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Booger Hunter’s Apprentice by Benoit Chartier

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The Booger Hunter’s Apprentice by Benoit Chartier and illustrated by JuanBJuan Oliver, picture e-book, published by Trode Publications in 2019.

Flintebetty Flonagan (Flin Flon for short) responds to a poster advertising for the position of Booger Hunter’s Apprentice. Flin Flon is not sure what the position will entail, but she accompanies the current Booger Hunter on her nightly rounds to find out.

When I saw the title had the word “booger” in it, I was prepared to read something gross, and probably funny, in a disgusting way. So I was pleasantly surprised when the story turned out to be about helping others rather than about snot wrestling. Of course, there are many ways to help and be kind to others, but the Booger Hunter works in a unique and niche role, not suited to many. Never had I considered that beasties would require help to remove the boogers from their offspring’s noses!

The story was nice enough, and certainly creative, but some of the word selection seemed forced. Parts rhymed, parts didn’t, and overall I found the flow of the story to be a bit stilted. The illustrations were detailed and colourful, and covered the entirety of the pages. I liked the owl on the first page, the length of the Booger Hunter’s nose and the feathery house the most. Due to the extensive pictures, the text was printed in white on the coloured illustrations, which I find more difficult to read. The text was also much smaller than I like to see in picture books.

I think that generally kids will like this story, first attracted by the word “booger”, and then fascinated by the illustrations, and the idea of a job removing boogers! And it does help to highlight that even small acts of kindness can make a difference.

The Booger Hunter’s Apprentice is most suited to preschool and lower primary school children.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made by Fiona Katauskas

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The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made by Fiona Katauskas, hardback picture book, published by ABC Books in 2015.

This is a cute and comprehensive aid for helping parents explain human reproduction to younger children. It covers basic anatomy, puberty changes, sexual intercourse, IVF, sperm donation, fertilisation, gestation, birth and breastfeeding.

We are very open in our family, with no topic off limits for discussion. We adjust the depth and detail of information as well as our language to suit the kids’ ages, but we never avoid their questions. I’d much rather they hear about some things from us, then get a grossly twisted version on the playground! So The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made really suited us. It provides all of the necessary information respectfully, with appropriate language and a little humour. I have used it with my three younger children when they were each around the age of five. We read it together and I answered any questions they had. They were all engaged and curious.

I really liked the way that gestation is explained, using a fruit analogy along illustrations of the growing baby inside its mother. The kids wanted to know if it actually felt like carrying a watermelon by eight months along. And my son did a wonderful impression of a caesarean birth, where he was the mother behind the sheet having her tummy cut open!

In the Feeding Baby section, the two pictures depict women breastfeeding. This is great, but I would have liked to see a picture of a baby being bottle-fed too. Fed is best, irrespective of whether that is from breast or bottle. (Trying not to rant here, just thinking about how I was made to feel like a failure when my baby needed formula, and I feel strongly that no one should be shamed for feeding their baby milk in whatever form they need).

The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made is suitable for lower primary school children and above. It is best read together!

 

I’ve been busy…

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As many of you will have noticed, I haven’t been posting much this year, and especially in the past few months. Now, it’s not because I’ve lost interest (I haven’t), or that there is a lack of review requests (there’s not) or even because I’m not reading (picture books still count!) No, it is because I simply haven’t had the time of late to spend at my computer, or to read much of anything that requires me to concentrate. My time has always been stretched thin with four kids, a couple of part-time jobs, volunteering at the schools, and a house to upkeep, but this year all of my kids have required some extra TLC. I don’t want to go much into it, just suffice to say I have found myself bouncing between various appointments, meetings and educational courses and seminars to help us through, and as an added bonus our family has been repeatedly hit with the virus stick, knocking us down one after the other for the last six months or so. I’m pretty tired…. and I’m only getting time on my computer today because I’m in bed recovering from the latest illness.

Now, I hope you won’t give up on me just yet! With spring in the air, hopefully the coughs, sneezes and snots will leave us be for a while, and life will return to some semblance of its normal chaotic self. I can’t predict when I will be back on the blog more regularly, but I will try to get more reviews happening, though I may be limited to picture books for a while….

I apologise if you have sent me a review request and I haven’t gotten to it yet, I do keep all review requests on file, so it’s still in my to do pile! I get more requests than I could ever complete even when times are good, but I will do my best!

Thanks for your understanding,

Sara

The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey

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The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey, paperback chapter book, 144 pages, published by Scholastic Australia in 2015.

Mr Wolf is known for trying to eat old ladies and their relatives, but does that make him a “Bad Guy”? To change his image, Mr Wolf starts a good guys club with Mr Shark, Mr Piranha and Mr Snake, with the aim to help people, and to become heroes. Mr Wolf has plans to make this band of stereotypical baddies be seen in a better light, through rescuing cats in trees and freeing dogs from the pound. But, will his plan work?

The Bad Guys is an easy to read chapter book, fantastic for those just moving up from first readers. The book had a comic book feel to it, with the story told through the extensive black and white illustrations and character dialogue.

I read the first episode to my kindergartener, who absolutely loved it (and I did too!). I think my son could have read it himself, but at 144 pages, he was a little intimidated by the physical size of the book. However, with all of the illustrations, and only a small amount of text on any one page, it was quite a quick read.

All of the characters have some quirky traits, but I particularly liked Mr Wolf’s upbeat nature and his unwillingness to accept defeat. My son liked Mr Shark’s ability (and desire) to eat anything and everything, even his own hat! The group dynamic and the interaction between the individual characters was excellent. It was easy to believe that this group could turn their bad ways over for good with Mr Wolf’s leadership and some great teamwork.

Be prepared for a good laugh whilst reading The Bad Guys; just about everything in this story was funny. The reactions to being rescued by a wolf, a shark, a snake and a piranha are great, and of course, my son thought Mr Piranha’s gassy little problem in the car was hilarious! How sceptical of Mr Wolf’s plans the others are, and how completely committed to his mission Mr Wolf is, even how they dress, it is all funny. Overall, we just really enjoyed this turned backwards tale.

The Bad Guys series is now up to, as I write this, I believe, episode 9, so there is a lot more laughter and joy to be had from these four formerly dangerous pals. We are looking forward to their next mission.

The Bad Guys: Episode 1 is suitable for lower and middle primary school children.

Kids Books for Early Sexual Education

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When kids start asking those awkward questions (or when you overhear your preschooler explaining to his friends how babies get pooped out of butts), it’s time to arm yourself with some great picture books about sexual education.

A few things to consider when choosing early sexual education books includes the child’s age, whether the book is to be shared or read alone, and how inclusive the book is. I think the best books are the ones that also discuss alternate methods of having a baby, such as IVF, surrogacy and adoption, as well as vaginal and caesarean births. Some might also picture different family configurations, such as two dads or two mums, and parents of various cultural backgrounds. If you’re looking for one comprehensive picture book, my vote goes to The Amazing True Story of How Babies are Made by Fiona Katauskas. However, I’ve always found it useful to use an array of books, and to keep them lying about for the children to peruse at their own leisure.

Below, I have put together a list of books I have used with my own children, and have found useful. Some are about our bodies, and some deal directly with intercourse and reproduction. You might be able to find some of these at your local library, or at second-hand bookshops (I have also included an affiliate link to each picture for convenient purchasing of the books).

Picture Books for kids aged 3 to 7 

The Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson with art by Heather Collins

 

Mummy Laid an Egg! by Babette Cole

 

Amazing You! by Dr. Gail Saltz and illustrated by Lynne Avril Cravath

 

What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth

 

The Amazing True Story of How Babies are Made by Fiona Katauskas

 

Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle

 

Overall, I personally prefer to get the kids reading sexual education books early (sharing picture books) before they realise there is any potential for embarrassment, and then provide a range of age appropriate sexual education literature for them to peruse as they get older. By the time they are adolescents, I think it’s important to have books available covering the changes occurring to both girls and boys, sexual health, pregnancy, sexuality, and how to be sexually safe and responsible. I try to be open to questions, and answer them as honestly as I can. If you appear embarrassed and reluctant to discuss sexual education, this conveys to the child that there is something “wrong” or “taboo” about our bodies and reproductive abilities. I also try to keep things light.

And I have never managed not to laugh when one of my kids has mispronounced the word vagina as ‘bagina’ or told a helpless (and increasingly embarrassed) adult that the penis fits inside said ‘bagina’! I try to stop them, I do, but often the words are out before I can intervene, and then what is there to do, but apologise and laugh? I have talked to my children about not sharing their knowledge at school, but they all seem to find this very difficult too.

Do you have or know of any sexual education books for younger children that you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

 

*Please remember that I am not an expert, just a parent speaking from experience with my own children (two girls and two boys).

 

 

International Book Fairs on the Kotobee Blog

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I really love anything and everything to do with books. I can’t pass a bookshop, a book stall at a market or fete, or even the library without having a browse! I love to check out other people’s bookshelves, small and large, and I really enjoy wandering through a book fair. Unfortunately, with little kids, I don’t often have the opportunity to visit book fairs (at least not alone, or with the time and funds they really deserve!).

Putting aside my current inability to attend them (I’ll just keep dreaming…), each year there are lots of wonderful and spectacular book fairs around the world, and luckily for us, Kotobee Blog has compiled a list of some of the biggest and best international book fairs throughout 2019. These fairs bring publishers, authors and readers together to celebrate all things literary. Below is an infographic of the book fairs sorted by month, but if you pop over to Kotobee and have a look at the original article, you can look at the list by month or by continent, it’s pretty neat! There is also some information about each fair, and links to find out more. Some of these are trade fairs, while others welcome all visitors interested in the fascinating world of books.

If you’ve attended one of these events or are intending to, I would love to hear about it! The closest one to me is Melbourne’s Rare Book Fair, which I think would smell utterly delicious, ahhh… I will make it there someday, and many of the others will be added to my bucket list!

Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? … and other questions by Camilla de la Bédoyère

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Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? … and other questions by Camilla de la Bédoyère and Aleksei Bitskoff, hardback junior non-fiction, published by QEB Publishing in 2015.

Want to learn about blue whales? This book will help to answer some of your questions, such as what if a blue whale came to stay, or tried synchronised swimming!

In Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? facts about blue whales are presented in a fun and quirky way, perfect for younger readers. The text was nice and big, and clear, making it easy to read. The amount of information on each page was not overwhelming, and the illustrations were lovely. My 5yo was fascinated by the baby whale being pushed in a pram with a milk bottle and I liked the whale strapped to the jumbo jet.

At the back of the book, there were some bonus facts, along with a map of the world showing where blue whales live. I found all these facts to be quite interesting and I enjoyed sharing them with my sons. I did have to do some quick calculations into metric lengths and weights, but that was just an extra brain workout for me!

Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? is suitable for preschool and lower primary school students. There are a number of other animal fact books in this series which I think will be worth taking a look at. I want to try Could a Tiger Walk a Tightrope? or Could a Penguin Ride a Bike? next.