Sunday, 4 March 2012

Reviews: British Books for March

This month brings a rare old mixture of books.

I'm starting off with another YA Title that I really enjoyed.

This is Not Forgivenessen, england, english, great britain icon This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is NOT Witch Child! This is not even an historical novel; it is most definitely set in the here and now, but is equally as unsettling. Written from the point of view of Jamie, a love lorn teen, it touches on such themes as dysfunctional families, violence, post traumatic stress, suicide, and sibling rivalry. Yet
Celia Rees pulls it all together to make a gripping tale of young lives lead dangerously. This may be too controversial for some readers, so watch who you recommend it to!
Readers who loved John Green's Looking for Alaska will probably like this one too, although this is a little more 'raw'.

In the interests of disclosure I should declare that:
  • I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (as the result of being an early reviewer on the British Books Reading Challenge and 
  • Witch Child is possibly my favourite YA novel, ever!

Witch Child (Witch Child, #1)

Now ... back to more familiar territory; picture books.  Here are some that I've discovered this month.

Some Dogs Doen, england, english, great britain icon Some Dogs Do by Jez Alborough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*** This is my favourite picture book read this month. ***

I read it as part of my Dogs Toddler Storytime and to one of the visiting Nursery classes. It is a fun rhyming story of a young dog who flies to school. When he arrives at school and tells all his friends nobody believes him. He finds this both frustrating and upsetting, and I may have laid that on a little too strong because I saw a few eyes widen and get a little teary! However, it all gets a lot happier once he gets home and his dad believes him. That's because ... well, you'll have to read the book to find out why!
It's a great opportunity to discuss what is real and what is not, and to talk about imagination and the power of positive thinking.

Red Car, Red Busen, england, english, great britain icon Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With minimal text, this book traces the journey of a red bus, with changing scenery, and a growing convoy of other vehicles (cars, vans and lorries of various colours, and another bus). The pictures also depict pedestrians and a bus stop. There is plenty to discuss, but I unfortunately missed the little boy's loss of his teddy (mentioned by other reviewers) and I need to go back and look at it again. The pictures are clear and make great use of primary colours. This book would work for a colours, traffic or vehicles storytime, particularly if you wanted to model a discussion about pictures.

scotland icon Iris and Isaac. Catherine Rayner by Catherine Rayner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A nice story about Polar bears and friendship.

Mr Gumpy's Motor Car: Book and CDen, england, english, great britain icon Mr Gumpy's Motor Car: Book and CD by John Burningham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another nice story about an outing in Mr Gumpy's overcrowded car. Mr Gumpy allows an assortment of animals to accompany him on a car ride in the country. When it starts to rain and the car gets stuck in the mud all the passengers have an excuse for not getting out to push. Eventually when they all have to help and no one seems to mind. The illustrations are beautiful with retro appeal as are all John Burningham's books.
However, I much prefer the boat journey described in Mr Gumpy's Outing.

Tigeren, england, english, great britain icon Tiger by Nick Butterworth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tiger is a kitten, not a tiger, but he'd like to be one! In this amusing tale he pretends to be a tiger. The illustrations are adorable.

Nick Butterworth is a British author-illustrator of children's books best known for his "Percy the Park Keeper" picture books.

On a the theme I Tigers, I recently re-read The Tiger Who Came to Tea. I'd forgotten what a great read aloud it is!

The Tiger Who Came to Teaen, england, english, great britain icon The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A story about a tiger's teatime visit with a little girl and her mummy. The tiger's insatiable appetite leaves the family with no food or drink.  The family situation is a little dated, but the story is still a fabulous one.
We read the 40th anniversary edition which included tactile tiger stripes! The reading lead on to a great discussion as to who each child would like to have around for tea.
Judith Kerr is a German-born British author and illustrator who created the Mog series and the autobiographical novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit about her childhood experiences in the Second World War.

What Colour Are Your Knickersen, england, english, great britain icon What Colour Are Your Knickers by Sam Lloyd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the UK this book has the alternative title: What Colour Are Your Knickers? US: What Color is Your Underwear?
This short lift the flap book doesn't have much text, and doesn't tell much of a story, but is a lot of fun none the less. Questions are posed about the colour of each animal's underwear, then lifting the flap provides a rhyming answer. 'What colour are your knickers Horse Ned? They're red! Other animals featured are a turtle, a crocodile, a spider, a cow, a sheet and an elephant.

Panda's New Toy: A Panda and Gander Story (Read Me)Panda's New Toy: A Panda and Gander Story by Joyce Dunbar
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A familiar sounding tale to many parents; Panda has a new toy and won't share with his friend Gander. Gander gets impatient and goes off to play with something else, which Panda then wants to play with (of course). The friends finally resolve the problem. This book is one of a series of four Panda and Goose books. The author Joyce Dunbar suffers from a hearing impairment and has written many books which are sympathetic to the woes of small children. She is the mother of award-winning author, Polly Dunbar.

Rabbit Earsen, england, english, great britain icon Rabbit Ears by Amber Stewart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A nice story about Hopscotch the rabbit who DOESN'T like to have his ears washed. Hopscotch's mum uses all sorts of enticements to get him to comply. It brings in issues of negotiation, refusal to comply, growing up, becoming independent and sleeping over.
There are some lovely touches to the illustrations, including Hopscotch wearing oven gloves on his ears to hide them at bath time. He also makes a cat disguise with a paper bag which would made a nice extension activity.

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