Thursday, 31 March 2016

My first book of the FARM / My first book of OPPOSITES

My first book of the FARM /
My first book of OPPOSITES

By Alain Grée
Published by Button Books
I must admit I've been keeping me eye on the Alain Grée series as I'm a big fan of his retro style illustrations. There's 9 books in the My First Book series as well as flash cards, hard backs and activity books featuring his distinctive style, all published by Button Books. 

My First Book of the Farm is a board book covering a good selection of animals and what you may find on a farm. Animals, such as cows, pigs, sheep and goats as well as farmers. It gives a few selection of birds and jobs the farmer may undertake, like looking after the animals and growing food. Farm vehicles are also mentioned. It's a lovely introduction for very young children. 

Aoife is now at the age where she is taking a huge interest in animals and enjoys visiting the farm which makes this a great book to use to help identify animals and learning the words for the food and vehicles that she may have seen. She already likes looking through the book by herself and making the sounds of the animals.

My First Book of Opposites is filled with a good collection of opposites; big, small, light, heavy, hot, cold, empty and full among a few more. The illustrations are clear and easily convey the words well. Alain Grée's illustrations are simple but engaging.

I've only seen two books from this series but I'm definitely considering a few others for Aoife. Other subjects include Animals, Colours, Letters, Nature, Numbers, Sounds and Vehicles. These books are sturdy little board books, suitable for babies and young children. You can find more information on this series here.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do You Hear What I Hear?

By Helen Borten
Published by Flying Eye Books

Flying Eye Books have just released the Helen Borten Collection; Do You Hear What I Hear? and Do You See What I See? First published in the late 1950's, they have been thoughtfully reproduced with vivid poetic word imagery and bright, colourful illustrations.

In  Do You Hear What I Hear? everyday sounds are explored. Sounds that can make you do stuff such as wake you up from an alarm clock, or bering startled by a sneeze. They can make you feel different ways, fill you with excitement or terror. And some sounds are so quiet you can not hear them at all. The length of sounds are explore, like the never ending sea, that never stops. This book explores and gives descriptive examples where children may hear high, low, loud, quiet, harsh and musical sounds. Rhythm and symphony is also briefly explored. 

I found the book quite reflective, making you stop and listen to what you can hear around you and how you would describe it. This would be a lovely book to read to a class when exploring sounds and music. There's some lovely descriptions which are accompanied by strong, bold illustrations, it's a lovely exploration. The illustrations feature some lovely mark making and screen printed imagery that captures the energy of sound. I believe Flying Eye Books have printed this in 4 spot colours creating a unique colour palette and then printed in layers. 

'The world is like a great symphony, full of sounds to listen to and enjoy.' A lovely sentence to end this unique book. As per all Flying Eye Books, there's a lovely quality to the pages and cover which allows the colours to jump out. I hope children will be encouraged to stop and listen to everything around them to see just how beautiful our world can be.
Available online here

My First Bible Stories

My First Bible Stories

Stories retold by Becky Davies
Illustrated by Anna Jones
Published by Little Tiger Press

My First Bible Stories is a lovely board book that features simple stories from the New and Old Testament. With a nice padded cover and sturdy pages, this would make a lovely gift for young children and especially as a gift for Christenings or Baptisms. 

This is a lovely introduction to the Bible. The little book covers In the Beginning, Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, The story of Moses and many more. The stories have been retold in a simple way and are accompanied by bright and sweet illustrations that are suitable for children, ages 1+.

Even if you're not religious, I still believe this is a lovely little book filled with sweet stories or that can be used to create awareness of religion or maybe the start of their spiritual journey. My First Bible Stories is available in all good book shops or online here.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Interview with Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman

With the follow up to the stunningly brilliant, Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space, Dominic and Ben have done it again and put the super intelligent alley cat on a second outing where he explores the important world of physics. I had the opportunity to interview Dominic and Ben and find out what exactly makes these books more than just educational.

Dr. Dominic Walliman is a scientist who lives and works in Vancouver where he works on Quantum computers. He studied Quantum Device Physics at Birmingham University where he also taught Physics. He also holds a BSc and MSc in Computer Science.

Ben Newman is an award-winning illustrator and the author of two books, The Bento Bestiary and Ouroboros under Nobrow.

BWB: Dominic, when researching the book was there any facts that you found hard to explain in a simple way?

DW: Because I'm a physicist, and know the subject really well, the thing I found really difficult was how much information I wanted to pack into the book. My early drafts were way to long and detailed and so the difficult part was cutting it down and getting to the essence of each topic. Whenever we cut anything I thought "But that is all so interesting", but you have to draw the line somewhere, and Ben helped me out loads with this.

BWB: Ben, how did you feel about returning to Astro Cat after the huge success of Frontiers of Space?

BN: I was really pleased 'Frontiers of Space' was received well so I was excited to return to a project that I didn't think we’d get a chance to. Dominic and I had spoken earlier about subjects that we would like to do with Professor Astro Cat but didn’t want to get too ahead of ourselves in case it didn’t happen. We learnt a lot about working together on the first book but I think we learnt more on ‘Atomic Adventure’.

BWB: Dominic, how did you and Ben get introduced?

DW: Ben and me go back a long long way to our school days in secondary school. Fast forward a few years, he had become a successful illustrator and I had just finished my PhD. He wanted to create a kids science book, and I think he remembered me in school enthusiastically telling him about crazy and amazing the Universe is, and he thought we would make a good team. I jumped at the chance!!

BWB: Ben, what inspires your beautiful colour palette?

BN: I like to work with restrictions on my colour palette so I only use the secondary colours that that palette provides. I collect lots of old printed ephemera, like 50s matchbox labels, so that physicality has had a big effect on my perception of colour and how I use it.

BWB: Dominic, what gave you the idea to do this second book with Ben?

DW: Physics is a subject that a lot of people remember being difficult and kind of intimidating. I think this is such a huge shame as physics is deeply fascinating, and doesn't have to be difficult if it is explained well. So this was my approach to the second book, physics is very dear to my heart and I wanted to try and share the joy with young people today to help them have a really positive experience with it.

BWB: Ben, what part of this book did you enjoy illustrating the most and why?

BN: Funnily enough, the front and back cover. I think it’s because it’s the first thing people see and is often a reason why they pick the book up to look at it in the first place. There were a couple of spreads inside that took me a long time to solve but I really enjoyed drawing the pages with lots of characters. I get free reign over the page designs and illustrations so it’s impossible to not enjoy that. I’m very lucky.

BWB: Dominic, would you like to do another book with Ben?

DW: Yes please! With two books under our belt we are becoming an ace team and Ben is a pleasure to work with. I still think it is amazing that I get to have my words illustrated by Ben Newman. Wowza! What a privilege!

BWB: Ben, what's next for Professor Astro Cat?

BN: Hopefully more adventures in different areas of science. We have plans. Some are already in motion. Some are still whispers.

A huge thank you to Dominic, Ben and Emma at Flying Eye Books for this insightful interview. Professor Astro Cat's Atomic Adventure is available to buy now from Flying Eye Books.

Professor Astro Cat's Atomic Adventure

Professor Astro Cat's Atomic Adventure

By Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
Published by Flying Eye Books

The smartest cat in the Universe is back, and this time he's here to teach us about the fascinating world of physics.

Ever wonder how a boat floats? Or why the sky is blue? Or where electricity comes from? Well, listen up! Professor Astro Cat has the answers!

Fresh off his journey through the Frontiers of Space, Professor Astro Cat is back on Earth and ready to explain how physics is responsible for the wonders of the world around us! 

Ben's illustrations once again don each page of Atomic Adventure - much in the same way that they helped each topic/fact more digestible. I just can't get enough of the retro pictures and the fact that Ben can even make the periodic table look beautiful and stylised.

Again Ben has used a gorgeous colour palette and subtle textures that help make it feel even more retro and too cool for school. Dominic's words again are easy to understand and make the most difficult subjects an interesting read. Perfect for any child struggling to grasp physics.

Another fascinating book from a great duo! I hope Ben and Dominic have a few more of these up their sleeves as I think any child (or adult in fact) will not be able to put it down. A great way to learn about facts and topics that are usually not told in such a simple and interesting way, making learning a joy! Professor Astro Cat's Atomic Adventure is available from all good booksellers and from the Flying Eye Books website.

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space

By Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
Published by Flying Eye Books

Meet the smartest cat in the alley - Professor Astro Cat, and he has come to teach the young and old about the Universe! 

Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space will tell you everything you need to know about our planet, our solar system, our galaxy and the universe that there could be to know. Our clever little cat has made sure of that, he’s a fastidious little feline!

Astro Cat explores topics such as gravity, extra terrestrial life and time with fun facts and fascinating insights that will take you and your children on a journey to the very frontiers of Space!

Ben's illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Dominic's words, with each illustration simply showing each fact in a beautifully rendered way. Ben has also added a touch of humour to some spreads that will keep children of all ages engaged. 

I also can't praise Ben's use of colour enough. The whole book is a retro coloured delight to look at, with subtle colours used throughout, making each page a work of scientific art.

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space is the perfect book to get any child into astrology. It is full to the brim with fascinating facts, I even found myself learning things I never knew! And based on my own experience I know that there's probably quite a few adults that would love to have a read of this fascinating book too. Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space is available to buy from all good booksellers and on the Flying Eye Books website. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

I Love My Mummy (My Little World)

I Love My Mummy: A Blossoming Book of Giving

Written by Jonathan Litton and illustrated by Fhiona Galloway
Published by Little Tiger Press

I Love My Mummy is the latest book in the My Little World series, just in time for Mother's Day. Having reviewed Boo! and EGG last year, they're a lovely collection of books and are great for little ones - Aoife especially loves the different shaped finger holes, easy for turning pages and wiggling fingers through.

I Love My Mummy features a colourful cast of animals all expressing their thanks and love to mum by giving flowers.  Filled with bright colours, cute characters and a cheerful rhyming story, all make this a great book for mums to read with their toddlers.

I adore this range of books, they're super sweet and I Love My Mummy is no exception. A sturdy board book, easily wipeable and enjoyed by my little one! Available in all good bookshops and online  here.

Wishing all mothers a Happy Mother's Day for Sunday x

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Peekaboo 123 / Peekaboo A to Z

Peekaboo 123 / Peekaboo A to Z

Illustrated by Gareth Lucas
Published by Little Tiger Press

Meet the latest range of concept books from Little Tiger Press, Peekaboo 123 and Peekaboo A to Z are illustrated by Gareth Lucas and feature a crazy cast of animals partnered with fun and humorous alliterative text. 

Peekaboo 123 features an 'Animal Antics' race, starting with 'One polar bear on a pogo stick', ' Two turkeys on a tandem' and 'Three gorillas in a gondola', it's a race filled with a range of animals racing to get to the finished line. From 1 - 20, it then jumps to the numbers 30, 40, 50 and ends at 100. There's also a zebra commentator cheering on the animal contestants. The numbers are printed in large number and word format on each tab, which stands out nicely against the background. Great for encouraging an early awareness of numbers, this book will definitely get children chuckling with the crazy animal antics.

Peekaboo A to Z is a fun alphabet book featuring a mad menagerie of animals. Under each flap features an animal up to something fun from an alligator admiring some art, an elephant eating an egg to a panda pretending to be a pirate. Mr Zebra also pops up again eagerly awaiting his turn. Each flap features the letter and animal with the name of the animal printed alongside the flap. The same typeface of the animal's name is used again under the flap, which for older children may help with word recognition.

These two books are aimed at ages 1-4, and Aoife was no exception to enjoying these chunky board books. She enjoys lifting the flaps, as they are large enough for little fingers to lift, and will flick through these books by herself. I'm currently using these book to identify animals as she wants to turn the pages to quickly for me to read out loud but I'm sure it won't be too long before she's laughing out loud at the collection of these fun and quirky animals.

Peekaboo 123 and Peekaboo A to Z will be available from the 10th March in all good bookshops or online here.