Tag Archives: 3 years and up

Autumn books we love

Yes, the weather has turned to wet and miserable, but we can still rejoice at the thought of hot chocolate and biscuits, or whatever treat warms both your belly and your heart. Autumn is almost certainly my favourite season and Jane Porter‘s gorgeous illustration seemed to perfectly illustrate the joy this time of year summons in me. Don’t get me wrong, my kids and I love summer with all the opportunities it offers to spend time outside, but I like the fact that summer is precious because it is short lived.

If you don’t feel like braving the rain and wind, or if your kids need to be convinced that autum is a great season, then read them these two lovely stories. The first of these will explain to them why leaves fall, and the second will encourage them to be patient and understanding, so really, what’s not be liked?

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When we picked up Leaf Trouble written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church at the library recently, I wondered why it looked familiar to me. Then once home, I realised that Caroline Jayne Church had made a series of books that my son adored as a baby and toddler whose main character is a fun little puppy called Woof.

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Now in Leaf Trouble there is no dog, but a family of squirrels who lives in an big oak tree. Pip when he realises that the leaves are not only changing colours but also falling from the trees, starts to panic.

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He calls for his sister’s help and hopes that they can save the tree which is “falling to pieces”. After making a huge pile on the ground, this spontaneous rescue team tries to stick the leaves back on the branches, but of course this fails, and thank goodness their mum arrives and asks them what they’re doing!

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She then explains to them that the tree needs a rest and that when spring comes, the leaves will all come back again.

Relieved to hear this, they play beneath the old oak tree until sunset, collect some leaves to take back to their nest, and watch the gorgeous colours of the sunset which perfectly match the ones on the leaves. Seeing them happy and soaking in the scene contrasts nicely with their frantic panic and makes for a nice ending.

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This story gave us a chance to think about the change of season and what happens to trees and animals who live outdoors. If your child has ever wondered why it is that leaves change colour in the fall, read this great post by an expert who has tons of ideas to make this tangible and fun with experiments and activities.

Now for a visual feast you can’t really beat the lavishness of Helen Cooper‘s work. “Deep  in the woods there’s an old cabin with pumpkins in the garden. There’s a good smell of soup, and at night, with luck, you might see a bagpiping Cat through the window, and a squirrel with a banjo, and a small singing Duck.”

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Each of them has a special role in making this yummy soup: Cat slices the pumpkin, Squirrel stirs in the water, and Duck adds the right amount of salt. But one morning Duck wakes up early and decides to borrow Squirrel’s special spoon and to become the Head cook. Of course this is not going to work and not only because he is too short. The three friends start squabbling and arguing until Duck walks out, annoyed that no one will let him help.

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Contrary to what the Cat and the Squirrel thought Duck does not come back for breakfast, not even for lunch. The soup they make is not tasty and they don’t feel hungry anyway. So they start to look for him and to worry about where he has gone.

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After looking for a long time, they decide to go back home, see some light from a distance, and run to the house where they are finally reunited.

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My kids love pumpkin soup and understand all too well falling out with friends, so when the Cat and Squirrel decide to let Duck make the soup for the sake of their friendship, they understand why it is, believe me! And they love the look of the messy kitchen too.

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For another visual automnal feast, watch Co Hoedeman’s Ludovic who has been a favourite in our house for years. We have a DVD with several of this cute teddy’s stories but you can watch Magic in the air on the National Film Board’s website for free.

For more activity ideas, have a look at our seasonal pinterest board!

Finally here is some inspiration for those of you who like making yummy snacks together. Look at these maple roast pumpkin seeds or apple pie cups on Weelicious, don’t they look nice? I also love improvising with date-nut bites, there’s a good recipe here, but feel free to try your own combination. We like date+cocoa+walnut+almond butter, rolled in dessicated coconut to make them a bit less sticky. As long as you’ve got a good food processor, they are easy and kids love these energy balls.

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Just in case you get thirsty, why not try THE drink that says autumn: apple cider, a good old classic which makes the house smell like heaven. Here’s a link to a foolproof recipe with an option to make it plain, decadent, or even boozy.

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Our top 5 spooky stories for Halloween

After the post I wrote on Zouk, the feisty little French witch, I thought it would be nice to rummage through our collection of books with subjects loosely related to Halloween.

My list will not be as long as this elaborate one where you will find great suggestions by age range. But our top 5 contains five tried and tested books that you can trust will please young readers in search of a not too frightful reading session.Room-on-the-Broom

First, I thought we should start with one of our favourite witches in the classic Room on the Broom by Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson. Do I really need to introduce Julia Donaldson considering the Gruffalo has sold over 6.5 million copies? I’m really not sure. My son’s currently obsessed with Superworm that he read at school, and I have read with him and his sister the Gruffalo, Zog, Stick Man and the Smartest Giant in Town countless times.

In this book, the witch loses her hat, her bow, and a wand, but luckily finds three animals: a dog, a frog and a green bird willing to help her find her possessions. For each loss she gains a new friend and each time she makes room on her broomstick and whoosh flies away. That is until the broomstick snaps in two, and they all tumble in a bog. Suddenly alone and face to face with a hungry dragon who’s eager to have witch and chips, she manages to escape thanks to her new group of friends. The care with which the story is written, its rhythm and its rhymes are a delight. No review can do justice to a reading, so here is a link to one that I like:

Now the fact that I have a child who’s allergic to cats does not mean that we don’t love feline creatures, quite the contrary actually. At the moment, we all have a bit of a crush for Wilburn, Winnie’s companion in the series of books Winnie the witch by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul. In Winnie Flies Again, my two kids love seeing Winnie both puzzled and scared when she turns her broomstick into a bicycle and later a skateboard in order to avoid the dangerous flying machines that she keeps facing in the sky. I’m not giving away the end as it is hilarious and unexpected, but trust me, this is a good one!

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A more recent discovery for us is Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock and Ali Pye. It is a mouse’s first night at school and it’s going to take all the patience of her teacher and the kindness of the other pupils bat, cat and owl to make her feel less shy. This album is full of exquisite details that my children love: the jars and books of spells on the shelves of the classroom, the tables and chairs that are just right for each of the creatures, and the shiny bits on the cover. You can see how welcoming the classroom is on the illustration I chose for the whole post.  This book would also be a great choice for kids starting school, one to read with their parents during a peaceful summer at home.

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Finally the last two titles we chose are quite different. If your children like books like Where’s Wally? and challenges, they will love The Best Halloween Hunt by John Speirs. Fear not and enjoy the mazes! All the answers are at the back if your little ones get too frustrated. This one is great to keep them busy on the train, or when you’re waiting for a meal at the restaurant.

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And last but not least, here is another book by Rebecca Cobb titled Spooky Sums and Counting Horrors.  I know I have already reviewed another book by Rebecca Cobb, but this is such a hit with my son who loves counting that I could not keep it off this list.

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Slightly older readers will delight in the gruesome details of the feast’s preparation. Look at these cocktails, aren’t they delightful?

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My son adores the ten dancing monsters all in pairs. the yeti, the mummy, the dragon and dracula are clearly having the time of their life. I like the fact that at the end of the party, the little ghosts, exhausted yet happy, and needing their beauty sleep go to bed like everyone else.

If your kids are into numbers, you should try some of these Halloween maths games. I like the idea of spooky sums almost as much as that of Frankenstein puddings (although in the case of the later, I would probably change the recipe for a pistachio flavoured custard and homemade double chocolate cookies).

For more Halloween ideas, see my thematic board on Pinterest and have fun this Halloween!

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Pomelo est bien sous son pissenlit, or how a tiny pink elephant can make your day

Pomelo est un petit éléphant charmant et un peu peureux qui vit tranquillement sa vie dans un potager au milieu des escargots, fourmis et autres insectes locaux. L’album Pomelo est bien sous son pissenlit est un florilège de trois histoires. Dans la première, on apprend à connaître Pomelo. Par dessus tout, il aime sa tranquilité, mais aussi faire des grimaces, bricoler et essayer d’épater les fourmis en faisant la fontaine avec sa trompe géante.

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Sa trompe gigantesque lui cause d’ailleurs quelques soucis, elle se coince au moment les plus inopportuns, l’empêche de respirer s’il veut la discipliner en s’en faisant un collier, et lui vaut l’affection indésirable des bébé escargots. Les yeux de merlan frit des bébés escargots ne manquent d’ailleurs jamais de nous faire rire!

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Même l’histoire  dans laquelle Pomelo nous raconte ses frayeurs a de quoi faire sourire ses lecteurs. L’ombre des poireaux la nuit et leur raideur menaçante saura peut être émouvoir vos plus petits, mais je vous défie de résister à Pomelo en petit chaperon rouge (qui a peur de se retrouver dans la mauvaise histoire), ou à l’image qui illustre sa peur de voir sa trompe ne jamais s’arrêter de grandir!

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Le ton des trois histoires a beau être changeant, on ne peut que sourire et se dire que vraiment Pomelo est un attachant petit personnage. La preuve en images? Regardez ces petits bouts de chou de maternelle approcher et caresser le modèle réduit de Pomelo que la bibliothèque de Liévin avait mise à disposition pour une super expo l’hiver dernier dans le Pas de Calais! Quel potager! Un vrai régal pour les yeux, et quelle bibliothécaire, vraiment!

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Les plus grands aimeront sans doute dans d’autres albums comme Pomelo grandit la myriade de questions et réflexions philosophiques sur le fait de grandir.

En bref, à mettre entre toutes les mains de 3 à 7-8ans de préférence.

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Pomelo is a tiny pink garden elephant, so tiny that he likes nothing more than sitting under a dandelion. Pomelo likes his freedom and enjoys his own company. At times, he feels cheeky and makes cracking faces, at other times he prefers riding his Italian snail-friend Gigi across giant carrot fields.

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Ramona Bădescu and Benjamin Chaud render the ever changing mood of Pomelo with both tenderness and accuracy. For toddlers who often struggle with their emotions, it is very reassuring to see this little elephant being upset, and clumsy. With my older daughter we talked about his utterly funny yet irrational fears like when he finds himself in the wrong story.

Pomelo’s books have been translated in several languages including English, and the various titles in which he stars range from simple picture books for the youngest to more elaborate ones where Pomelo questions growing up and changing.

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Here is a link to a review and pics of one of his translated stories where Pomelo explores colours. If you want something more detailed and you’re curious about the illustrator Benjamin Chaud, go and see this page where you can see him in action in New York last spring. My advice is, do give this adorable elephant a try, you won’t regret it!

 

A growing collection of charming dragons

We spent the summer enjoying the resources of our local library, but I must admit that I got lucky with books in charity shops too, hence our growing collection of dragons…

Guess what I Found in Dragon Wood by Timothy Knapman and Gwenn Millward is the story of a very special friendship. Benjamin is a cute little boy with blond curls and big red wellies, but he is not like in many other books the narrator of the story. A young dragon who comes across Benjamin on one of his walks through the woods is the one who tells us about his wonderful discovery.

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Surprised and curious, the young dragon decides to bring Benjamin home and then to school to show him to everyone. Imagine what a wonderful show and tell session this will be!

As you would expect, Mr Rockface,the teacher, decides to cancel the volcano sitting class and to give all the little dragons a lesson in biology and anatomy.

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But the lesson quickly takes a different turn since  it appears that Benjamin is both home sick and sad. Kindly, to take his mind off his family, the little dragon asks Benjamin what he can do if he can neither fly nor breathe fire. This is when the magic happens since Benjamin decides to teach the  whole class how to play football and this turns out to be a fantastic and eventful match.

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But at the end of the day Benjamin still misses his mum and dad, so his new friend, interested in discovering the land of the Benjamins decides that he will help him to get back home. Together they fly over the quiet city and finally land in Benjamin’s front garden to the surprise of all the neighbours. When the dragon comes back to school and tells his friends what he has seen, they are amazed and ask whether he will go back. To which he replies of course, since he is going to be the subject of a lesson at Benjamin’s school.

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My kids found this book to be great fun not only because it is told by a dragon but also because it shows how the ideas of make believe and stories are not set in stone. Benjamin and the little dragon get on very well in spite of their differences and look happy together.

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The difficulties they face are often created by the fear of their respective communities. In short, this lovely story shows how young minds are often more open minded than adults who can come with a seriously detrimental set of prejudice and baggage. So hip hip hurray to curiosity, consideration and courage and long live dragon football matches!

If your kids are into dragons, there are tons of crafty activities to do with them, my favourite list is here, but I also love this array of projects using loo rolls.

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Now if they love music and dragons, Eric Puybaret’s gorgeous paintings in Puff the Magic Dragon and the CD that comes along with songs by Peter Yarrow are a real treat, so try to find a library (or charity shop) that has them, and read this excellent post by Adam Mason on the theme song accompanying the book!

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Mazette quelle aventurière cette Zipette!

Autant être claire dés le début, mes enfants et moi adorons les dessins et histoires de Jeanne Ashbé.  Nous avons lu L’heure du bain un nombre incalculable de fois mais je le relis avec plaisir chaque fois qu’un tout petit nous rend visite.

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Pour un excellent billet sur ce titre en particulier, je vous conseille d’aller lire les trucs de Myrtille. Mais aujourd’hui, je délaisse Lou et Mouf pour vous parler de Zipette, une sacrée coquine de souricette!

Zipette est certes une petite souricette, mais elle ne manque ni de courage, ni d’énergie. Fatiguée d’être toujours considérée comme la cinquième roue du carrosse, elle décide de profiter du petit matin pour partir à l’aventure.  Mais avant ça il faut se préparer et elle décide de prendre certaines choses et d’en laisser d’autres de façon assez cocasse: ‘Mon parapluie? Fi! S’il pleut, je cherche un abri! Ma paire de bottes? Mais non, quelle sotte!’ Au final, on peut dire que Zipette voyage léger! Hormis son doudou souris, pas de lourd bagage pour cette excursion mais juste un petit sac.

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Malheureusement  à mesure que Zipette progresse, elle se rend compte qu’elle aurait pu utiliser son parapluie, ses bottes et un goûter! Quand la nuit se met finalement à tomber, elle est bien affamée et frigorifiée. Heureusement pour elle au loin apparait une lueur, celle de la lanterne de Pigolin, le pingouin, qui la recueille et au final change tout le sens de son voyage.

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Mon fils de 4 ans adore les petits cris ‘Aie, aie, aie’ de la souricette Zipette, mais il comprend très bien aussi son envie d’indépendance et d’aventure. Cette fin heureuse lui plait bien parce qu’elle efface les mésaventures de la petite souris. Quant à moi, je dois dire que je trouve les rimes superbes, les illustrations (y compris celles du doudou de Zipette) charmantes et le format parfait.

 

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Tous les titres de la collection des ‘Belles Histoires des tout-petits’ sont plastifiés et résistants à la fois, un atout certain si vos enfants aiment lire et relire. Et puis une héroine un peu rebelle, faisant preuve de ténacité et de courage, et prête à reconnaître ses erreurs, je trouve que c’est vraiment un cocktail réussi.

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Zipette is a tiny mouse who’s decided she wants to go on an adventure, and even if she is small and the baby of the family, nothing will stop her. So quick, quick, she packs up her essentials and leaves the house before anyone wakes up!

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But as she soon realizes, she really could have used some of the items she discarded like her wellies and brolly. I don’t know whether it is because we often need our wellies too, or because of her endearing enthusiasm , but my kids love Zipette. Because in the end, she is ‘saved’ by Pigolin a kind penguin, you get the benefit of a happy ending, which looks almost as good as a sunny picnic.

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Of butterflies and other flying creatures

There is something mesmerizing about the work of Sara Fanelli. A couple of years ago, on one of our trips to the Tate modern gallery and its great bookshop, we came across her book called Mythical Monsters of Ancient Greece. At the time, my 6 year old daughter was obsessed with greek legends and in particular with Medusa. Mythical Monsters is no story book, but rather a fascinating catalogue of some of the creatures that my daughter had been reading about at the time, and she immediately decided that she wanted to take it home in order to have more time to look at the incredible details of each of these creatures. And I can tell she spent a lot of time looking at these fantastic collages and compositions.

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Some of the reviews written online about Mythological Monsters do not seem as captivated as we were, but we go back to our copy quite regularly and love it very much still! Come on, how can you not admire her flying creatures, I wonder?!

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Anyway, today I want to tell you about another of her books, First Flight whose narrative will no doubt charm any young reader. It is the story of a little butterfly who does not know how to fly and who desperately wants to learn. Unexperienced and at a loss, the little butterfly decides to consult the knowledgeable readers of a newspaper. Following the readers’ suggestions, butterfly travels by plane to faraway places to train with experts from the kite flying master Wing  in China to a very friendly ghost in Scotland.

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But every single attempt is a failure even if, for a few seconds or a couple of minutes butterfly manages to fly!

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In the end, it will be without even realising it that the little butterfly will manage to fly. On hearing her mother who is calling her, she decides to jump into her arms and soon comes to the conclusion that at last she can fly!

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This is an adorable story about dreams, tenacity and love. The final embrace and the genuine drawings at the beginning of the book made my 4 year son ask me tons of questions about trying and trying again, growing up, as well as drawing. So what better way to answer than to draw or paint butterflies, or to go out and fly a kite?

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For those interested in crafty activities with butterflies, why not try this simple paint&fold one? Hope you enjoy it, have fun!

 

 

Bonne nuit, mon amour!

Non, non, vous ne rêvez pas, je n’ai pas décidé de discuter de lectures plus adultes, au contraire je me suis dis que je n’avais pas assez de billets pour les tout petits, alors voilà mon mea culpa.

La couverture de Bonne nuit vous dit sans doute quelque chose et c’est normal parce que Soledad Bravi a un coup de crayon assez reconnaissable et que ses dessins apparaissent régulièrement dans la presse française. Cet album, une collaboration entre Bravi et Benoit Marchon, est simplissime mais craquant. Nous l’avons offert à pleins de bébés dans notre entourage et c’est toujours un franc succès. Après une première double page ou un bébé, bras grand ouverts, vous accueille accompagné d’un “bonne nuit mon amour!”, le livre égraine simplement tous les petits noms que nous utilisons pour appeler nos enfants, des plus classiques au plus inhabituels.

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Le format est parfait pour les petites mains, cartonné et résistant, avec un trou au centre qui laisse apparaître le visage souriant du petit bébé (au départ en pyjamas) qui change de page en page, à mesure que les petits noms défilent.

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Parce qu’enfant, j’ai été affublée par mes parents de bien des noms d’oiseaux et d’animaux, j’ai retrouvé  avec nostalgie au fil des pages un petit lapin et un chou (le gâteau, pas le légume!). J’ai aussi été surprise par certains de ces surnoms (mais je ne vous dirai pas lesquels, pour vous ménager la surprise); mes enfants en ont également trouvé certains cocasses! Et puis la fin est tellement mignonne qu’on ne peut pas résister et qu’on retourne avec plaisir à la première page…

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I’m afraid Soledad Bravi’s book Bonne nuit will be to a foreign speaker a bit like Marmite, you know the dark substance that many people love to spread on toast in England?

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You either love it because it is quirky, cute, and a fun way to wind down at the end of a long day, or you hate it because you find it utterly bizarre. Me? I love it and not only because it shows the richness of the French language. To me and my kids, it really is a feel good book, and one that we sometimes like to act out (if we do not read it before bedtime).

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The unconventional character of some of the names used in this book will often generate a good laugh. So I guess if you do not take things too seriously, this book is likely to appeal to you and your kids. In any case, it is a great way to polish your French and to revise your animal and bugs’s names. So, bonne nuit mes chatons!

Have you had your dose of Rabbityness today?

Now you are probably wondering what on earth this title means?!  And unless you know Jo Empson‘s work, the title of this post  will indeed remain obscure. Empson’s  illustrations are visually stunning and the cover was certainly what appealed to my son when his eye caught Rabbityness at the library

Rabbityness is the story of a very special rabbit who likes doing rabbity things such as hopping and burrowing.

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But unlike other rabbits, he also likes doing unrabbity things like painting and making music. And this is what makes him truly special. So special in fact that he fills the woods with colour and music, and makes all the other rabbits catch his happiness.

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But one day, rabbit disappears and the woods become quiet and grey, that is until the other rabbits find in the deep dark hole that he has left, a pile of things to inspire them to do unrabbity things too.

By remembering him, and by using the instruments and tools he has left, the rabbits fill the woods with colour and music, and feel happy again.

Now, expect questions when you will be reading this book as the rabbit’s sudden and unexplained disappearance was puzzling to both my children. But I found it an interesting blank or void. You may want to discuss loss and pain, or some less abstract possible scenarios, this is your choice, and I definitely appreciate the freedom this book gives you in terms of where you want to take it.

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Because the end is colorful and full of joy, younger readers may even forget about the grey and somewhat scary episode in the middle of the story. But whatever you make of the plot, this is an explosion of colour, a great incentive to take your painting kit and (or) your favourite music outside and to enjoy it all together. Come on, you know cleaning up won’t be as bad if the painting is done outside! And if messiness is not your kind of thing, why not improvise a disco in the garden or the park? Happiness and joy do not need to be time or material intensive!

 

Rita et Machin à la plage, un duo d’enfer!

Vous ne partez pas en vacances cet été et votre progéniture vous réclame une sortie à la mer? Ou peut être êtes-vous coincé(e) à la maison à attendre une livraison ou une alcamie entre deux grosses averses et vos chers enfants n’ont rien trouvé de mieux que de vous faire tourner bourrique? Que faire? Ma solution: sortez quelques albums de Rita et Machin de vos étagères, et celui qui raconte leurs aventures à la plage en particulier! Vous allez leur en mettre plein les mirettes, je vous le garantie!

Rita et Machin à la plage fait partie d’une série de courts albums dessinés dans un esprit un peu BD par Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod et Olivier Tallec. Assez minimalistes avec leur coup de crayon noir, réhaussé de blanc et rouge, ils sont un vrai plaisir pour les yeux et les zygomatiques (vous savez ces petits muscles qui servent à rigoler et qu’on oublie souvent quand on essuie  ce qu’on appelle chez moi un épisode de ‘gronchonite aigue’?!).

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Dans ce volume au paysage balnéaire, nous sommes invités à suivre les aventures de Rita, une petite fille espiègle et son petit chien qui n’a pas de nom: Machin. Tous les deux aiment aller à la plage, soit. Mais ils ne savent pas s’accorder sur quoi y faire. Rita attend que Machin lui serve de valet et décide d’ignorer sa mine dubitative à la vue du maillot de bain qu’elle lui a tricoté exprès! En fait cette sortie est mal partie parce que Rita et Machin ont des envies bien différentes et pas vraiment envie de faire de compromis.

Rita attend qu’on la serve et qu’on lui obéisse au doigt et à l’oeil. Quant à Machin, il ne l’entend de ce ton là et décide, au vue des attaques répétées sur son château de sable, d’enfiler sa tenue de nageur de combat pour calmer les ardeurs de Rita, alias La Princesse Bikini.

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À l’issue d’un combat sans pitié (mais sans sable jeté) et de poursuites navales effrénées, un vainqueur voit le jour et demande réparation. Tout compte fait à la plage ou ailleurs, c’est toujours la même histoire, on joue et on papotte, on se dispute et on se bagarre.

Pour ceux qui voudraient lire d’autres titres, ou essayer un défi de lecture estivale pour jeunes lecteurs (7-8 ans), je ne peux que vous recommander le site de ces deux enseignantes, et leur rallye de lecture autour de la collection complète.

Comme en été nous sommes en mode détente, les accrochages entre ces deux personnages attachants nous servent plutôt de point de départ pour échanger sur le sujet des disputes et conflits. S’il pleut toujours, pourquoi ne pas lancer à vos enfants un défi ludique et leur proposer de construire un chateau de sable en lego-duplo ou pâte à modeler, ou de jouer au vendeur de glace? On n’a pas nécessairement besoin de partir à la plage pour se dépayser, avec un peu d’imagination, un parapluie comme parasol et des maillots de bain, on peut s’imaginer au soleil et se débarasser de la mauvaise humeur qui parfois assaille sa maison!

 

ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ The English corner ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

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Olivier Dallec is an expert at capturing the ups and downs of the dynamic exchanges between Rita, a mischievous little girl, and Whatsit (in the English version) her dog. When they decide to go to the beach, they  both know what they’d like to do, but will they agree? Rita wants to fly her kite  or rather fly Whatsit as her kite, and build a sandcastle destroy Whatsit’s sandcastle. As for Whatsit, he plans to eat yummy sticky donuts, and to nap all day in peace.

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You will have guessed by now that the clash brewing between these two ideals is at the chore of the book. In short, it is going to be a battle of the will between these two cheeky little characters. Who will win Princess Bikini or Captain Whatsit? You will only know if you read the book! We managed to track a copy in English at our library, so I guess it’s easily available in the UK and it is published in the US too, so you have no excuse (unless you need like Whatsit a big nap this very minute).

 

 

 

Want to forget the battle of mealtimes?

Rebecca Cobb‘s  illustrations summon the everyday with so much accuracy and tenderness that it is hard to resist them. Proof is that in the last 6 months, my son has borrowed Lunchtimes at least 3 or 4 times from the two nearby libraries. Now, if this is not a sign that we need to buy this book (or to get her new book The Something) I don’t know what is!

Because meal times can be a battle regardless of age, this simple story can be enjoyed by children as young as two years old. On the first two pages,  we see a little girl, engrossed in painting, who is happily focusing on colouring a crocodile. But her mother, because it is lunchtime, is having none of her ‘I’m too busy’ talk and sends her off to sit at the table. So what do you think she does?

Like a good girl, she sits down and waits, waits, and waits until she gets asked by a gentle looking crocodile, a woolf and a bear whether she is going to eat that yummy looking lunch. After explaining how disgusting children taste, they it eat all up and kindly thank her. Finally, she can go back to her activities, even if some rumbling noises tend to interrupt her otherwise joyfully busy afternoon.

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Now can you guess what happens at dinnertime? Not only does the little girl run to the table, but she also gobbles up her whole plate! The animals’ disappointed look is priceless and it makes my kids laugh every single time!

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This funny story made me think of one we read often by John Burningham  called Where’s Julius?  Julius is just as busy building a den, keeping hippopotamuses cool with buckets of water, or throwing snowballs in Russia, and his parents decide to go with his fantasy world rather than fight it.

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I love Burningham’s book because both parents cook in turn elaborate 3-course meals and carry on trays to Julius as if he was royalty! Besides after each delivery, there’s always a cheeky creature (monkey, goat or fish) to steal at least some of the meal!

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Granted these books won’t necessarily convince your child to eat everything you place on their plate, but they will show them that mealtimes can be pleasant opportunities to chat together and that they are not an obstacle to having ‘imaginary fun’ together.

Rebecca Cobb’s publisher has a lovely placemat available for you to use as a drawing prompt, if you ever needed one (my children are always happy to be scribbling away). I can just imagine how, once laminated, this could be used as a great prop to keep your little ones busy at the restaurant while one is waiting for their meal to arrive!

So all that’s left for me to do is to wish you good luck with the next meal(s) 😉