Tag Archives: colours

What a wonderful and colourful world

As it is feeling more and more like winter in London, we find ourselves going to either seasonal books (a selection of which I am working on) or really colourful ones. So to brighten up your Monday I’ve decided to review a colourful trio of books to be read with your loved ones.

Tom Hopgood is a favourite in our house, and since I’ve recently bought a bunch of books for the kids’ school including the first we enjoyed as a family, I thought it would be nice to tell you about it before we give it away.

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Wow! Said the Owl is a perfect book for babies and toddlers, but it also works with early readers who are keen to try reading bits of text since the font is clear and very kid-friendly.

When we are feeling tired and ready to go to bed, owls are just waking up, like the one in Hopgood’s book. But this little owl is very curious and therefore decides to take a long nap and stay awake until dawn. She can’t believe her eyes when she sees the wonderful yellow sun, the white fluffy clouds floating across the bright blue sky, and the pretty red butterflies fluttering over some gorgeous orange flowers.

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Not even the rain will dampen her enthusiasm, since it reveals a beautiful rainbow. As she catches the sunset and ponders over the magnificent colours that she has seen, she realises that “the night-time stars are the most beautiful of all.”

One of the last two pages of the book shows a circle of coloured dots and invites the reader to go back and find these on the pages of the book, a fun game my little boy likes to do. This is a perfect introduction to colour hunting, an activity that we regularly do and that can be adapted to be taken outdoors, as explained in this post by Valerie. All you need is a few paint samples and a perforator (or hole punch) and you’re good to go.

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Tim Hopgood’s blogs include lovely photos of school visits as well as tons of ideas to make craft projects, such as this nice little owl that I find adorable.

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Hopgood’s most recent publication is a joyous interpretation of  Louis Amstrong’s What a Wonderful World. A CD naturally comes with the book which includes a recording of Amstrong’s song and a reading of the book.

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Each page shows the same little boy enjoying the wonders of the world, from blooming red roses to the dark sacred night. Sometimes by himself, sometimes with his friends, the boy walks, flies and even rides a horse while inviting us to slow down and pause to enjoy our wonderful world.

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We are big fans of audio-books, but this is in a different league altogether from read-aloud recordings. It is not just a great way to get your child to flick through a book by themselves, it is an invitation to think about music and art as complementary means to appeal to our senses.

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I love Hopgood’s original idea which was “to capture the joy of the song in a picture book” and I must say watching my son chilling out on the sofa and enjoying the book makes me think he has thoroughly succeeded.

If you’re unconvinced by the idea of music as both a valuable and enjoyable element, and if you wonder why music delights not only our heart but also our brain, watch this fun little video.

NB: This educational clip mentions drugs so do not watch it with your little one unless you want to have a conversation about this particular topic.

Last but not least is Sarah Massini‘s If I Could Paint the World. In this funny story a little girl and her chameleon find a magic paintbrush which lets them paint the world. I wish she did not start by turning the world all pink (but this is me, my son did not object at all as he loves pink and yellow).

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After that things start to take a different and fun turn. For breakfast, she paints red juice, and purple cornflakes with orange milk, and brushes her teeth with black toothpaste.

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Once at school, she makes a few changes to the stories she reads and these crack my kids up. Meet little Little Lilac Riding Hood, and Pea Green and the seven dwarves! But there is a limit to craziness and after yellow tarts and blue baboons, the little girl declares: Stop!

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The reason she gives is the best of all: “when you really think about it, the world is perfect, exactly as it is”. In this story, mischievous changes and cheekiness go hand in hand. My children love the gorgeous illustrations and tried to paint blue bugs, peppermint puppies and purple pigs after reading this book, which shows you how inspiring it really is.

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For other ideas and activities involving colours, check this couple of suggestions, or go back to one of my post on diversity, which included several colour-related activities.

Look at this great lego game here, perfect for toddlers who very often go through a phase of filling in and filling out things. Perfect!

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For older ones, and future scientist or artists, here is a brilliant walking water experiment,  which teaches children about water, colours and science at the same time, a really wonderful trio, don’t you think?

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Finally, something that we have done many, many times but that keeps my children excited is the rainbow milk experiment. Check the tutorial and instructions at the Artful Parent, it is easy and worth a try!

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Embracing and celebrating diversity

The best books are sometimes the most simple and there are two that I really want to share with you today. My Nose, your Nose by Melanie Walsh, and Red Rockets and Rainbow Jelly by Sue Heap and Nick Sharratt are great books for toddlers, but they also work well with children who are starting to decode and read as I discovered with my four year old son. They could also be great prompts to start discussing diversity, stereotypes, and peer pressure.

I have been thinking about the post I wrote on diversity in children’s books, I have read other bloggers‘s posts on the subject, and I also looked at many of the comments and conversations on the Guardian’s website. This is encouraging but what I would like these diverse books to be above all is great books, fun books, books that my children and I will want to read again, and again, and again. This is why these two books are so dear to me.

I could write a whole series of posts on Nick Sharratt’s work, and maybe I will at some point. His sense of humour and fun characters almost feel like they are part of our family.

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I will be honest though, there has been a few times when I wish we’d lost You Choose, since it probably is the book we’ve read the most in the last 7 years! But I still feel a bit sad that we do not live closer to Sheffield because there is a great looking show devoted to Sharratt’s work on tour from October to next summer.

In Red Rockets and Rainbow Jelly, Sue and Nick are friends and they’re also two different ‘characters’ (although one may wonder whether they are characters or alter egos). NickSharratCrazyHairThe text accompanying the illustrations could not be simpler as it alternates between descriptions of what Sue and Nick like. For instance, Nick likes yellow socks, Sue likes yellow ducks. Nick likes red apples, Sue likes green pears.

One thing I like in particular is that contrary to gender stereotypes, Sue likes everything blue, while Nick likes pink and orange dinosaurs. When my son comes home and tells me that he has been told off by girls in his class because he wanted to play hairdresser with them, of course I’ll explain that he can play or like anything he wants, regardless of what others say. But what’s the voice of a mother when facing those of peers?

Finally what I value in Red Rockets and Rainbow Jelly is the fact that it concludes on the absolute non judgmental: Sue likes Nick, Nick likes Sue, thus showing that you are worthy of both consideration and affection whatever you like and whatever you wear.

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Now My nose, your Nose also works on juxtapositions. Its clear simple text matches its bold and bright images. While Daisy’s skin is brown, Agnes’s is white but they both have cheeky pink tongues!

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The book goes on comparing  these children’s hair, their eye colours, and their legs among other things.

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There is something of the simplicity of Dick Bruna’s work in My Nose, your Nose, and I love this, certainly because it reminds me of my childhood.

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But among all these comparisons, Walsh keeps coming to a common ground whether it is their love for chocolate cake, their energy, or the daily rituals that they experience.

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I wish I had known about this book earlier since we only bought it a couple of years ago. I can see how it would be a great baby book, one that a child can grow with, and appreciate year after year. We regularly go back to Walsh’s ‘lift the flap’ books and we’ve had them for years in French. Like My Nose, Your Nose, they are simple, colourful, and fun.

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Additional ideas:

Now if you want to do more than just reading these two books, how about a game of colour match or colour hunt as suggested in the lovely blog It’s All About Stories?

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You could also try to make a batch of coloured rice! Jackie’s recipe from Happy Holligans is foolproof and you can be sure your children will have a ton of fun.

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Additional readings;

As for other reads, how about challenging gender stereotypes a bit more? Rosie is a brilliant and inspirational girl engineer, read about her in this review, isn’t she irresistible?

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And finally here’s Raffi, a boy who’s a little bit different, who loves knitting, and who after a while finds people who recognize his talents. See it reviewed here.

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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!

 

Aujourd’hui, on en voit de toutes les couleurs! or why nothing will ever beat messy play!

Que dire de ce livre si ce n’est qu’il est sur tous les plans à toute épreuve?! Dans l’ensemble je dirais que notre famille est plutôt respectueuse des livres que nous lisons. Lorsqu’ils étaient petits mes enfants ont, comme tous les autres, malmené ou machouillé des bouquins (SVP abstenez vous de me dire dans les commentaires que non, non, jamais vos têtes blondes n’ont gouté la cellulose de vos livres!) Nous avons bien eu une ou deux pages de Petit ours brun déchirée à l’occasion, mais pas plus. Toutes les couleurs d’Alex Sanders est un des premiers livres que j’ai lu à ma fille lorsqu’elle était bébé. Il est carré, cartonné, coloré mais pas criard, très résistant et nous l’avons donc lu en 8 ans et demi un nombre de fois incalculable!

J’ai beau le connaître par coeur, ce livre me met toujours de bonne humeur, peut être à cause de l’enthousiasme communicatif de Lulu le petit lapin au centre de l’histoire, ou peut être parce que je me reconnaît dans l’incorrigible maman qui oblige Lulu à sauter dans son bain, histoire de se débarbouiller.

Comme tous les jeunes enfants, Lulu déborde d’énergie et il s’en fiche bien d’être tout crotté!

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Ce qu’il aime ce sont les surprises qui l’attendent au tournant du chemin,

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et qui provoquent en cascade une avalanche de couleurs. Du vert sur son derrière, du marron sur ses pieds, du rouge sur sa bouche et du jaune sur ses mains.

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Au final c’est un arc en ciel de couleurs que nous offre Sanders, chose qu’il semble apprécier tout particulièrement ,comme dans sa série de livres intitulée Pop (le dinosaure multicolore) dont  vous pouvez lire une critique ici.

Et si après ça vous vous dîtes que j’exagère et que ce bouquin ne peut pas être si bon, je vous laisse juge mais je voudrais quand même conclure sur un lien et deux photos. La première est celle d’une peluche lapin utilisée par une enseignante et la seconde est un magnifique dessin de Lulu version enfant, vous voyez? Il n’y a pas que moi qui suis convaincue?!

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Il est pas beau ce Lulu tout cracra, allez avouez qu’il est craquant?!

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Now that you’ve already enjoyed the art, what else could I say to convince you that this is a great book (and that, even if you speak very little French)?! Alex Sanders has a talent for colours, simple design and facial expressions.  You know just by looking at Lulu’s mother that even if she does not like his getting messy, she can’t really be cross because of the joy and kindness he exudes!

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After all, he only got these flowers for her, right? Lulu is a fun little rabbit and the pleasure he gets from his adventures is irresistible. He will teach your kids in no time their colours and encourage them to get messy! Yeah!

In our house, a good day is a day where we’ve spent some time outside, either mucking about making mud-pies, gardening, or just chilling under the tent/reading nook we’ve installed in the shade of our plum tree, especially for these long summer days, So whether it is to read Toutes les couleurs or not, try to go out today, even for 5 or 10 minutes and enjoy rolling on the grass, spalshing in muddy puddles, eating summer berries or picking up wild flowers, because really isn’t it what summer is all about?