Tag Archives: children

Bedtime Reading for Baby Geniuses

Jane Austen Emma Cosy Classic

Emma by Jane Austen for “younger readers”

iconLast night I was browsing on Not On The High Street for some non-chocolate Easter eggs for my nieces and nephew and came across something that made me giggle in a really geeky bookworm way. Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce classic literature adapted for babies, aka The Cosy Classics. They are described as a ” popular board book series that presents well-loved stories through twelve child friendly words and twelve needle felted illustrations.” I say- amazing.

My sister studied Emma as part of her AS Level in English Literature and hated it, so I feel that a Cosy Classic of this text would be an ideal gift for her daughter. Bedtime stories for baby geniuses, or their parents, the series includes such classics as Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, Moby DickOliver Twist and Pride and PrejudiceI might even buy myself War and Peace as it’s the only way I’m ever likely to read it!

Fantastic Mr Fox

You might have guessed from my recent post about my Sass and Belle cushions that I’ve got a bit of a thing about foxes. I’ve been feeling a bit run down at the moment, I just seem to be so busy that when I have a moment to myself I just end up falling asleep so I decided to buy myself a treat to cheer myself up. Meet Mr Cordy Roy Fox by children’s toy maker Jellycat.

I wanted to get Cordy Roy for my newborn niece at Christmas, but as you can guess by looking at his cheeky little face, he’d sold out so I got her a Jellycat raccoon instead who my sister assures me is now her best friend. If you’re looking for toys for children that encourage imaginative play, Jellycat is a great place to look. Not only do they have a great range of animals which includes dragons and woolly mammoths, but they have dolls which map to fairy tales and would make great bedtime story companions.

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book?

After our visit to Cotswold Wildlife Park today (amazing, go if you can) we popped in to visit my boyfriend’s sister and I read Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book by Lauren Child with my four and a half year old niece. It’s a great story for children, which sees a young boy called Herb fall into a story book that he has defaced and have encounters with fairy tale characters, including a very bratty Goldilocks. My favourite character was the queen he had drawn a moustache on some time ago.

It’s a beautiful book with a great plot, and while it’s not ideal for young readers who are just building up their confidence because of occasional backwards letters and upside down words, it’s a really fun book to read together. I hope it teaches children to look after their books properly!

I would recommend it to anyone who thought that Goldilocks was a naughty little girl and didn’t understand why she didn’t get into trouble when they were small.

Day 28 – First favourite book or series obsession

I remember this quite clearly because even though I was very small, I was quite naughty and it got me into lots of trouble. The book in question was Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and we had borrowed it from the library for me.

I doubt I could even read at the time, but the brilliant bit of the book was the amazing illustrations of characters from fairytale and nursery rhyme which meant you didn’t need Mam or Dad to read you the bedtime story, you could tell yourself it. After a fashion.

This was before my little sister was around so I must have been tiny (three or younger) and I didn’t want my book going back to the library. The others could go, but this was my favourite, so I hid it in the back of my toy cupboard and kept quiet when my parents took back the other books we’d borrowed (myself and my two older siblings) and would sneak it out when no one was looking.

I got in quite a bit of trouble when the library fines arrived. I might actually buy myself a copy of that now. For the memories.

What-the-Dickens by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is probably best known for his Wizard of Oz spin off, which despite its flair, owes some of its fame to the cult status of The Wizard of Oz and the runaway success of the musical version of the book, Wicked. However, in his modern fairytale What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy, Maguire shows that he has the ability to craft his own fantasy world securely within the familiar confines of our own.

Ten year old Dinah waits with her big brother, little sister and adult cousin for her parents who have left the house during a deadly storm to find insulin. Their neighbours homes have been evacuated, but the family’s strong religious conviction has made them attempt to weather it out. With little food and no power, their older cousin Gabe tells a story to pass the time.

The story, he says, is a true one which happened to him during his child hood, and explains how What-the-Dickens, an orphaned skibbereen, or tooth fairy to you and me, comes to find his place in life, facing deadly challenges and making friends along the way.

Even as an adult I found the story charming and funny. If I was still teaching, I would include it in a scheme of work for 11-13 year olds. It’s an excellent starting point for exploring fairytales and mythology, as the modern setting takes us away from the traditional men-in-tights-and-women-in-need-of-a-bloody-good-haircut scenarios children expect from a fairytale. It’s also a lovely little tale about culture, identity and self belief.

If you have a small person between the ages of 9 and… well I refuse to stick an upper age limit on it, then you should get this book for them. Read it yourself first though!

Chinese New Year: Top Five Fictional Rabbits

In honour of the Chinese year, the year of the rabbit, my list of my favourite rabbits in fiction are as follows:

1.       Velveteen Rabbit The Velveteen Rabbit Margery Williams

2.       Br’er Rabbit from The Uncle Remus Stories Joel Chandler Harris

3. Peter Rabbit The Tales of Beatrix Potter

4.       Hazel and co. of Watership Down Richard Adams

5.       The White Rabbit Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

Special mention to Rabbit of Winnie The Pooh fame.

Lettice Reading

To me, rabbits have always had a certain pluck and are far from the insipid little beasties they always seem to be portrayed as. That might just be as a result of my pet rabbits having bullied me through the years, but I’ve chosen my rabbits to reflect this, with the White Rabbit thrown in for a bit of variety.

I will never forget hearing the story of The Velveteen Rabbit when I was about four years old and how sad that made me. If you haven’t read it yet, then you really, really must. If you’re in the mood to weep over rabbits (well, you never know) one that has the potential to get me going is a poem by Roger McGough Rabbit in a Mixer Survives based on the true story of a little rabbit who fell into a cement mixer.

Rowling to Write More Harry Potter Books?

I’ve just read this BBC article which claims that Rowling has hinted at the possibility of more Potter books. Reading what is written she hasn’t so much hinted as said that she could write more, never say never and all that. Hmmm.

No one enjoyed the Harry Potter series more than I did. When I got each of the later books it was an eight-hour reading spree without food, with my family instructed to bring drinks but not to speak to me (Okay, I’m a weird herb, but they’re used to it…).

For me though, the Potter series came to a natural conclusion. I don’t think that she should write any more about Potter et al because it would seem to the outside world that she is milking a cash cow. And what would she write about? The obvious one would be to follow the offspring who are starting Hogwarts and for a rivalry between the Potters and Malfoys to be ongoing. But who would be the big bad?

I just really hope she doesn’t do this. It was sad that they ended but it will be worse if they carry on. Thoughts?

Banned Books in Schools

I was browsing the BBC website at lunchtime today and came across this feature on banned books in schools. I never encountered this kind of thing as a teacher, but I have always been profoundly amused at parents who believe that by stopping their children reading books they can somehow shelter them from the more unpleasant aspects of life.

Does anyone have any thoughts or feelings on this? I like to think when I have children I will be able to trust that they are mature enough to read the books and discuss themes like race, sexuality, drugs, violence or religion in an open and supportive way. That’s what my Dad always did with me. No books were off limits. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid ending up pregnant or addicted to narcotics. Go figure.

Seriously though. What do you think of this as a reader? Or as a parent? Or as a child?