Churchill’s Tale of Tails by Anca Sandu

The book’s pastel illustration caught my attention when I first saw it. Often, children’s books have bright, vibrant and bold colours to capture their attention. So I thought this was different. I didn’t quite know if it would be well-received at home. But it was on sale at the Frankfurt Book Fair, I bought it for Theo. 

It is a tale about a Pig named Churchill who has lost his very precious tail. His friends knew how upset he was that they came up with ideas to “replace” it. However, Churchill had so much fun trying out the different new tails that he had no more time for the friends who helped him out. He stopped playing with them and talking to them. It wasn’t until he found a new friend who had his tail (and returned it to him) that he started to miss his old friends. 

This is a book to explore themes such as kindness, friendship, and  generosity but in a fun and comical way. 

My boy has his own tail now too. 

The Beeman by Laurie Krebs and Valerie Cis


Children’s books are fantastic – they allow us to enter a different world, where everything is magical, and they let our imagination run wild. But there are times when I want to actually teach my son some facts too. 

Back to when I was a child, I learnt facts from textbooks, flashcards, newspapers and encyclopaedias. While the latter can be interesting, the child needs to be able to read and/or understand quite a bit before benefitting from them. Therefore, I’m all for NON-FICTION picture books.

They are educational yet engaging enough for toddlers. In The Beeman, the little boy introduces us to his Grandpa who is a beekeeper. The entire process is of course simplified, but it covers areas such as equipment used, how a beekeeper dresses, how to care for a hive, the different types of bees, how honey is collected and enjoyed. At the end of the book, there is even a muffin recipe to try. 

The rhyming text is a hit with my son. He’s at the age where he loves completing familiar sentences from books he has read. The vivid illustration of bees excite him too. For educators, there are additional informative pages at the end of the book should you decide to use this book for a classroom activity. I personally find them very useful to talk to my son about bees when we see them flying around.

Where’s The Cat by Stella Blackstone

 
This is an exceptionally fun book to read for storytime. Each page is vibrantly illustrated by the ever so talented Debbie Harter (read her interview here).

It features a playful cat who has gone into hiding. Can the kids spot its pointy triangular ears, its long back tail or its spotty fur body? Where is it hiding? Adults will find this activity amusing too because just when you thought you’ve found the cat, it’s actually not there! 

Short, simple and repetitive rhymes suitable for very young children (even babies!). 

The Story Machine by Tom McLaughlin

  

These days, gadgets such as tablets, computers and smartphones are everywhere. I do wonder if children know what a typewriter is? I’m not exactly ancient, but I did use a typewriter when I was a child. My cousins had one and I enjoyed hitting the keys. 

This is a fabulous book to share with children the beauty of storytelling. Elliot, the boy in the story, chances upon a machine that’s quite different from the gadgets he knows. He figures out that it makes letters and hence it must be a story machine. As he isn’t very good with letters, he thinks he can’t create great stories. However, he soon notices that the letters look like pictures and brilliant stories need great pictures. And with great pictures, he can make magical stories!

It is a tremendously inspiring book for both adults and children. At the end of the book, Elliot realises that he’s the one creating the stories; not the machine. Even though he isn’t good at spelling, he manages to tell his own stories in his own unique way – using pictures. 

Not every child is a spellingbee champion. They all learn words as they go along. As adults, should we extinguish the fire they have in them just because they aren’t good at something? I doubt so. Let’s encourage children to blossom, to think out of the box and be creative. Let’s bring out the best in them. 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

 

I’ve heard so many good things about this book, therefore I had to pick it up when I saw it in the bookshop. 

A brilliant book for very young readers who love repetition. 

We can’t go over it. / We can’t go under it. / Oh no! / We’ve got to go through it.

This beautifully illustrated family of four encounters caves, mud, forests and rivers while on their journey to hunt a bear. Each time they encounter an obstacle, they overcome it with great enthusiasm and confidence. I imagine that it is a great book for storytime as there’s frequent usage of onomatopoeia which can be exaggerated if you get kids to carry out the actions too. Don’t children just love to participate at storytime too?

I particularly liked the part when they finally found the bear and had to go through all the obstacles again to get home. It felt pretty thrilling! It’s definitely an interactive book which will capture the minds of little ones. 


The Dawn Chorus by Suzanne Barton

 

 The illustrations in this book are a combination of collage, drawing and painting. It is so visually engaging that I can’t see any child not enjoying this book. 

This is a story of Peep who wants nothing more than be part of the Dawn Chorus. He wants to be part of a group who sings ever so sweetly. However he can never quite make it for the audition no matter how much he tries. At the end, it’s revealed that Peep is a Nightingale. He finds a special friend to sing their own sweet melodies.  

Most of us can relate to Peep – trying hard to be another person. We know how exhausting that could be. It is only when we meet special people who let us be ourselves that we shine. It’s a great story for children to know that it’s absolutely fine to be different, and that it’s important to give challenges a shot. 

This is one endearing and lovely story to share with little ones. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

 

It’s a classic. Every child (and parents) love Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I’ve read this so many times that the story has been engraved in my mind. I do wonder if it flows out of my mouth when I sleep talk? No, I don’t. 

Theo loves poking through the holes of each fruit in the book. He loves it when I say “beautiful butterfly”. Never fail to get a few giggles when I reach the end of the book. The colourful, broad brushstroke illustrations are an eye-catcher for kids and babies learning to turn pages will love the flaps in the book. 

This is a great book even for toddlers because it makes the whole process of metamorphosis fun and interesting. A hungry caterpillar that eats all the goodies such as a lollipop, cupcake, ice-cream cone and chocolate cake is surely something a young child can relate to. Definitely a good book to use in the classroom to teach children how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.