Tag Archives: mouse

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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Do you like slimy slugs…in your stories that is?

For the last few days, my children have reminded me how much they love reading about yucky things. Alice Bell has a brilliant post on poo books that I suggest you have a look at if you’ve ever wondered about the why of poo literature. I have already written a couple of posts on poo literature myself, so you may be thinking; what?! Another post on poo?! Not quite. I will spare you and focus on a slightly different topic today, but expect a gruesome (and slightly delayed) French Friday that will no doubt include the p word this week end.

Gareth Edwards’ and Hannah Shaw‘s The Disgusting Sandwich starts off with on the one hand a boy going to the park with a truly beautiful sandwich, and on the other hand a very hungry badger salivating at the sight. But almost as soon as the little boy gets into the playground, a girl bumps him and his sandwich falls in the sandpit. Does he apply the 2 second rule? No! This may be because the girl tells him: “Well you can’t eat it now. It’s disgusting!” or maybe because he has experienced the unpleasant grittiness of sand on food before, we don’t know.

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But from then on, we follow the sandwich as well as the badger who is trying to catch it. Before he can grab it, the sandwich is picked up and discarded by a squirrel, a frog, a crow, and finally a fox.

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And every time the sandwich gets dirtier and more disgusting until it is “covered in sand and smelly green goop and big squish marks and hundreds of ants and grimy old feathers and slippery slime and oozy grey bubbles”.

DisgustingSandwichScooterBut the badger is still ravenous, his tummy still rumbles and his hunger has to be satisfied, so guess what he does? I’m not going to say! All I will say is that my kids love this slimy and yucky ending. The repetitive pattern and lines, the funny faces the animals make, and the yucky, slimy sandwich are winners with both my children. Almost every single time we’ve read this book, we’ve discover new details about the park, its inhabitants, and those who use it daytime or nighttime. From the yellow wellies worn by the frog to the little boy in a wheelchair playing tennis, it abounds in fun details.

If sandwiches are your thing, go and see this post which gives you additional reading suggestions including a great pop out book I did not know about and ideas for activities!

And for a bit of drawing and assembling, download this activity sheet by the illustrator to make the squirrel’s sandwich or make a beautiful sandwich truly disgusting!

 

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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Swimming in a gigantic bowl of creamy milk, what a dream!

I wish I’d had this dream, but this is Colin’s, the cute and fun cat in Leigh Hodgkinson‘s book Colin and the wrong Shadow. My son picked it  up at the library and decided that reading it twice was not enough (which I guess is always a good sign). Since then (a mere 10 hours ago) we’ve probably read it another six or seven times, and I would not be surprised to hear that his father has also been solicited! I am not sure what my son prefers in this book but here is a list of the things he has appreciated and underlined as we read together:

1-the cereal shaped ‘o’ going from Colin’s head to the giant bowl full of milk he is dreaming about      

2.the giant elephant shadow and the little pink mouse Vernon

3-the bouncy flowers that make Vernon jump like a super-dooper star and his tuba&mask at the end of the story

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From this list you would not know that this book is all about Colin’s search for his lost shadow, but it is. After realising that the funny feeling he has when waking up is due to his new mouse-shaped shadow, Colin tries to ignore the sniggering of other cats. But this is really hard. Finally sad and frustrated, he manages to spot his original shadow and chases it down. It turns out that Vernon, a little pink mouse, has ‘borrowed’ his shadow while he was sleeping. But Colin is not happy with this switch-swap and wants his shadow back. After a heart to heart conversation, Vernon and Colin finally come to an agreement and swap shadows again before having a lot of fun together.

While my son was curious about the interchangeable shadows and the details of the collages making up part of the illustrations, I could not refrain from admiring the various levels this story could be read at . You can look at it as a simple lost&find type of adventure, but the story is also about appearances and the way individuals perceive each other and act accordingly. The fun these two improbable companions eventually have proves everyone wrong in the end, which is a relief.  The ‘all is well that ends well’ cuppa that Colin and Vernon share was a highlight for both my children, who seem to understand instinctively that this special tea&cheese break stands for both resolution and comfort .

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As for me, I loved the attention to texture, layers and details of Hodkinson’s illustrations. Colin’s soft looking fur, Vernon cracker-sofa, and the fun camembert on the back cover all added to my enjoyment. There are several other books by this author including one starring Colin again, so I suspect we will be reading more of these this summer…and you may read more about them in another post.

(To be continued)