July has brought more great children’s books than you could poke a stick at. There are lots of really great stories including a new addition to the Pig the Pug series (Pig the Tourist), the charmingly quirky Otto Goes North, a gentle and genuine take on a tricky subject with The Funeral and a delightful collection of stories with The Puffin Book of Bedtime Stories. We are also loving a couple of brightly illustrated and engaging non-fiction from DK: Animals Up Close and Wow! The Visual Encyclopaedia of Everything. Enjoy the July 2019 Children’s Book Roundup!
Disclosure – these books were provided to Blog of Dad free of charge for the July 2019 Children’s Book Roundup. For further information, please read my disclosure statement.
Otto Goes North – Ulrika Kestere
Way up in the north lives a lynx called Lisa and a little bear called Nils. Their friend Otto, a lemur, has been cycling for months, maybe even years, to come to visit and see the northern lights. Once there, Otto sets out to paint the northern lights, but he hadn’t realised just how cold it would be. For there is a difference between fur and fur, it seems. Otto catches a chill and falls sick. While he is recovering, his friends set out to make him a jumper adorned with a scene of the northern lights, toiling away, persevering and learning new skills and using their own fur in order to do so. Otto recovered and, with his new jumper, was able to stand outside painting the norther lights for hours without feeling the slightest bit cold. Leaving his painting for his friends, he bid them farewell and travelled home, taking his northern lights jumper to hang on his wall at home like artwork and as a reminder of his friends and the beautiful landscape up north.
Otto Goes North is a genuine and unique story. It has a substantial storyline and charming illustrations. This combination feels respectful of its child audience as capable and curious people.
Bear Out There – Jacob Grant
Bear and Spider are great friends, but they are different. Spider likes to be outdoors in the warm sun and fresh breeze with colourful plants all around. Bear likes to be snug and cosy indoors. When Spider’s kite blows in to the forest, Bear does what good friends do. He steps outside his comfort zone to help his friend (with a few grumbles and thoughts of giving up here and there, but overall having a really lovely time together).
Bear Out There is a heart-warming, feel-good story of friendship, perseverance and compromise.
The Funeral – Matt James
The Funeral addresses the topic of the death of a relative (great uncle) and attending a funeral from one child’s perspective.
A few days ago Norma’s mum received a phone call. Her great uncle Frank had died and today was for saying goodbye. She is excited for time off school and the chance to play with her favourite cousin, Ray. They travel to the church in big black cars. As they listen to talks about God and souls, and not very much talk about Uncle Frank, Norma breaths in the scent of her mum’s purse (her favourite smell – a mix of toothpaste and make up and sweet warm leather), and watches the dust dancing in the beams of light streaming through the church. Ray, fidgets and studies the hairy ear of the man next to him.
The Funeral is a gentle story about this aspect of death and how a child may experience it.
Pig the Tourist – Aaron Blabey
Pig is back and as hilariously badly behaved as ever. This time Pig is on holiday around the world and everywhere he goes his causes great offence. From peeing his name on a polar bear, to parachuting on to (and breaking the head off) the sphynx, Pig’s presence is an insensitive and unmitigated disaster.
A wonderful addition to our well-loved Pig The Pug collection.
The Ultimate Survival Guide to Monsters Under the Bed – Mitch Frost and Daron Parton
At Goodnight Labs they take the Monsters Under the Bed problem very seriously. Their Ultimate Survival Guide to Monsters Under the Bed provides steps to get rid of all monsters, all the time, guaranteed. Now, the cynic in me wonders whether some of the steps are included for the benefit of us, the parents. For example, step 1: Always tidy your room before bed. Then again, I am no monster expert, so who am I to argue?
The Ultimate Survival Guide to Monsters Under the Bed is filled with great monster illustrations, scattered with monster jokes, and the step-by-step guide style is fun to read. The dustcover opens up in to poster, so your little mite can have the steps right there on their bedroom wall for easy reference!
You can find The Ultimate Survival Guide to Monsters Under the Bed on the Affirm Press website.
Noodle Bear – Mark Gravas
Noodle Bear loves noodles. In fact, instead of having his big sleep over winter he spent his time watching a wacky TV game show called Noodle Knockout, and snacking on noodles. When his friend fox comes by to see why Bear didn’t show up to the party to celebrate spring, Bear is incensed at the lousy selection of snacks – no noodles! In fact, there are no noodles anywhere in the forest and so Bear heads to the big city and becomes a contestant on Noodle Knockout. Crowned as Grand Noodle Champion, Bear becomes a big star. He has all the noodles he can eat. Slowly, but surely, Bear begins to miss his cave and friends, and the fun things they used to do together. So Bear heads home to the forest to his friends, with enough noodles for everyone.
Noodle Bear is a little whacky and, with its realty tv cooking show storyline, so on trend.
The Puffin Book of Bedtime Stories – various authors
A simply lovely collection of eight bedtime stories from authors including Stephen Michael King and Tim Winton. A Bear and a Tree by Stephen Michael King was a particular stand out for us. Ren’s favourite tree had lost it leaves for winter and Bear was out collecting them for his winter bed when he found her crying. My favourite line “Bear offered Ren his umbrella and they sat, as they often did, for as long as was needed.” It is a gentle, beautiful exploration of some melancholy emotions we all feel as human beings and the special magic of simply having someone just be there – not speaking, not trying to distract you or cajole you from the emotion but just acknowledging the feeling and letting you know they are there for you however you may need them.
This collection will be an obvious one to reach for during our nightly ‘bath, book, bed’ ritual. (Well, truth be told it is a ‘song, procrastinate and complain about getting in the bath, bath, complain and procrastinate about getting out of the bath, complain about being cold but dawdle to get dry and dressed, dance, book, special bed time song and cuddle, bed, call our obscure requests from bed’ ritual, but that is another story!)
Bad Crab – Amelia McInerney and Philip Bunting
Hannah LOVES this book. What’s not to love? Its main character is a pinchy, crabby crab. Hannah’s delighted squeals of “It pinched him, Dad!” abound.
Crab must be having a bad day because whatever sea creature floats on by, crab goes right ahead and gives it a nip. While his victims are working to enact their revenge by pushing a boulder on to poor old crabby crab, along comes lobster and gives crab a big nip. Must be a crustacean thing. When lobster scuttles off to nip the other sea creatures, crab protects his former victims, challenging lobster to a dual. Then along comes shark. What will the sea creatures do now?
Almost wordless (except for “ow”), Bad Crab is excellent for building visual literacy and is simply a toddler’s delight!
Bitsy – Nicki Greenberg
Bitsy, a delightful and daring bat, is restless hanging out in the cave and longs for a daytime excursion. Her colony tells her she is batty – the day-beasts will get her! Curiosity gets the better of Bitsy and out into the glorious daylight she flies, delighting in the colourful flowers and sunshine. Soon, however, she is under attack from the day-monsters. “Help! Help! It’s a horrible beast from the night!” they cry, throwing gumnuts. Luckily Mitzi the numbat is not scared. “You can hang out with me.”
Told in wonderful rhyme, Bitsy tells a charming story about overcoming fear and prejudice. The illustrations capture stunning Western Australian flora and fauna magnificently.
Arthur and the What-Ifs – Heath McKenzie
Arthur loves to play his violin more than anything in the world. He only plays alone in his apartment where no-one can hear because ‘what if’… What if no one likes it? What if he makes a mistake? What if people laugh at him? One day the voice in his head asks a different ‘what if’. What if it’s good?
When Arthur is told of a jam session in the park, he goes in disguise, hidden inside a post box. But as he jams away, uninhibited, his disguise breaks away. And it’s good.
Set in suburban Melbourne, Arthur and the What-Ifs tells of following your heart, chasing your dreams and overcoming your fears. It has a beautiful message of challenging your negative thoughts, trusting yourself and following your interests.
Baa Baa Blue Sheep – Tony Wilson and Laura Wood
With nine bags of blue wool from the blue sheep, eight from the purple sheep, seven from the red and six from the yellow, you’d think that the master and the dame would be rolling around in rainbow knitted jumpers, but no. They keep fighting over the bags and the wool spills everywhere and no-one has anything. When the little boy from down the lane suggest that they share, can they come to an agreement?
A twist on the well-known nursery rhyme, Baa Baa Blue Sheep is a fun book to read!
Jack and the Beanstalk – Matt Ottley
“Fee fi fo fum!”
I’d forgotten how much fun Jack and the Beanstalk is to read. (I’d also forgotten how brutal many fairy tales are!) Hannah is loving my booming fee fi fo fums and the intensity of the thrilling storyline.
Jack and the Beanstalk is a nicely illustrated, fun classic fairy tale to add to our collection. Captivating from start to finish.
Animals Up Close by DK
Filled with stunning, bright photos of animals, Animals Up Close is a delight to explore. Some supremely cute, other weird or interesting, each double page spread includes the details of an animal with interesting facts and, of course, the stunning photo. So get up close to a mini marmoset, a brittle star (a starfish relative), a swallowtail butterfly and much more.
Wow! The Visual Encyclopaedia of Everything – DK
Wow! The Visual Encyclopaedia of Everything is almost 300 bright, engaging pages on the topics of nature, human body, science and technology, space, Earth, people and places, history, art and culture. Each subtopic has a detailed, visual double page spread.
It is filled with stunning photos and illustrations and detailed diagrams. I particularly love the highly magnified image of blood cells – the pillow like red blood cell for carrying oxygen around the body interspersed with the net like white blood cells that for a key part of our immune system.
Wow! The Visual Encyclopaedia of Everything is a great book to thumb through and explore for a bit of down time and will also be a great resource throughout the primary school years.