Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson

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Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson is a really fun introduction to gardening, and is one of those books which call for a high degree of interaction between reader and listener – something I absolutely love.

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Told in verse and requiring lots of finger actions, this is a fantastically fun little gem of a book. Beginning with the page above and ending with a row of flowers, there are all kinds of things to giggle at in between.

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There isn’t a great deal more to be said about this book – lots of bright illustrations, few well-chosen words… it’s a delight to read to small people.

It’s definitely one I would recommend getting a copy of and just trying for yourself.

Have you read Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson? Did you like it as much as me?

Farn ❤

The Gifts of Autism by Katherine Uher

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The Gifts of Autism by Katherine Uher is a fairly rare thing – being one of only a handful of books I’ve come across so far which is both written specifically for children, and aims to highlight the positive aspects of autism.

Whilst other factual books exist about autism, they focus on parts of the condition which might result in a child feeling stigmatised or even inferior to their peers. This book, conversely, describes various autistic traits – as the title suggests – as gifts.

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I always feel that you can tell the quality of an alphabet book by the choice of word for the letter Q and this didn’t disappoint – the word ‘Queen’ doesn’t make a tenuous appearance and the alternative word isn’t something entirely un-Q-related with the word ‘quite’ whacked in front. Whilst this might not seem like big praise, but you’d be amazed at how often the above happens, so full marks there!

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The book also contains a section designed to encourage self-reflection with a focus on positive autistic traits – indeed, positive traits for anyone to possess. I really like this invitation to praise oneself in detail – whilst drawing in a book, or even drawing-at-all, might not be every child’s cup-of-tea, the art pages can still serve as cues to think about what makes us awesome. Autistic or not, self-praise is something that doesn’t happen nearly enough – particularly not in the UK, where we seem to be bound by some unwritten law to downplay our own achievements for fear of sounding like we’re boasting. I think we’d all feel a lot better if we took the time to acknowledge the things that make us great, whether we’re autistic or not.

I also feel like it’s important to add that this is an excellent book for any child. As I’ve said above, the vast majority books that I’ve found on autism focus on traits that are often perceived as negative, even if the book is trying to take a neutral, fact-based approach. If we want to live in a society which values everyone for the contributions they do make then we need to make sure we that we focus on this when we explain the world. By thinking about the gifts of autism, the condition becomes a lot less isolating and neurotypical children might begin to see their autistic peers in a more positive light. And a little understanding can go a very, very long way.

Do you know of any positive books on autism I might not have come across yet? I’d love to hear about them if you do!

Farn ❤

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

I feel like Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers is the author’s love-letter to planet earth.

Full of Jeffers’ usual humour, beautiful illustrations and important information, this is a lovely book to share with very young, very curious people.

Jeffers talks about land and sea, the sun and stars and everything in between. Familiar characters feature …

… such as The Penguin and The Boy from ‘Lost and Found’, in addition to various other animated animals and people.

There’s not a vast amount that I can say about this book – beyond, “it’s fabulous and you should own it,” – because the subtitle does it all for me. Technically called Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, the book is just that – a series of notations about the world – this is what land looks like, and sea, this is the sky in the daytime and at night, here are constellations, here is a city, here is a forest, it can feel as though time can move slowly or quickly, people are mostly concerned with eating and drinking and staying warm…

There are so many things to like about this book, but they’re the sorts of thing that I can say about any of Jeffers’ works and the title of the book explains the rest, so I’ll just leave you with the above pictures and the promise that there’s a high probability your local library will have a copy you can enjoy…

Farn ❤

The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen

I first stumbled upon The Year at Maple Hill Farm by Alice and Martin Provensen by accident whilst rummaging through a pile of ‘3 for 99p’ books at our local charity shop. I picked it up solely to make up the numbers, but of the three I bought that day, this is the only one that’s still around.

At the time of writing this review (5/8/18), the book is out of print, but available second-hand in all the usual places you’d expect to find it. To my mind, it’s definitely worth going out of your way for.

The extract below pretty much sums up the book better than I could.

The twelve months each have a double-page spread, full of glorious illustrations which follow the inhabitants of Maple Hill Farm as they plant and harvest crops and work with livestock.

The book’s pace is sedate, but it isn’t lacking in humour. I really like the language – suitable for the very young but dry enough to leave me smiling.

And I love the artwork – I periodically toy with the idea of buying a second copy to cut up and hang on my walls.

This has been a favourite when my children have gone through phases of loving farm machinery and animals, and I usually bring it out again in the autumn (the season that speaks most of change to me). I use it to talk about where food comes from and about the months of the year – it’s a really rich book which covers many topics, making it ideal for home-ed libraries.

Which are your favourite books about the seasons? And where do you go to find your out-of-print books?

— Farn ❤

Play of Light by Herve Tullet

Play of light by Herve Tullet is, as the title suggests, all about play. The book itself contains few words and scant artwork but that isn’t where its charm lies.

I love a book that does more than you’d first think – fold-out artwork, flaps and magnifying glasses, coloured films which reveal other aspects of the pictures… it all really helps to make books and reading a properly magical experience.

Now, you’ll have to take my word for it – because this book was essentially impossible for one woman with a camping lantern and a blanket to photograph – but when you hold it to the light, magical things happen!

I especially love the way that the waves shine on the surface that the book is stood on, making it feel like the ‘sea’ is bigger.

This is a wonderful book for very small children, because of the contrast between light and dark and the lack of complex text. It’s a great sensory experience, and as the child grows, can act as a starting point for discussions about how light works and how shadows are made.

Which are your favourite books which contain ‘a little extra’?

Farn ❤

Lots by Marc Martin & Maps; special edition by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

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In addition to the lovely books we’ve been reading about migration, I also broke out these beauties – Lots by Marc Martin & Maps; Special Edition by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski.

Lots definitely lives up to its name. It is, essentially, a picture book of many things, grouped by country.

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It’s safe to say that the artwork is the book’s main selling point, but although the words are sparse, they still manage to convey a wealth of humour and information. I particularly like the page about Japan, featuring Godzilla.

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The detail present is magical, and the artwork glorious.

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I love which details the artist has chosen to highlight from each place, like these pretzels from New York.

I also really like the fact that this book isn’t British-centric. In fact, we don’t even feature. It really is about the wider world and for me, that adds to the feel of adventure.

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Coupled with the special edition of Maps, these books are a fantastic introduction to geography.

The format of Maps isn’t that dissimilar; the pages are divided into countries, and some aspects of the nation’s culture are overlaid on the map in the form of small pictures.

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I really love the selection of things that are displayed in this book. Despite having studied Danish for four years and living in Denmark for two years, this spread still taught me new things about the country.

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I really love the detail in the illustrations, the colours, and the beautiful writing. As with Lots, I feel as though this book would have been far poorer for having been type-set. The hand-written look makes it feel almost as though you’re paging through someone’s sketch book – something that I really enjoy.

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Although both of these books are classed as children’s books, I would feel good about giving them to an adult friend who appreciated good art and travelling. And to me, that’s the mark of great children’s books – they appeal to everyone and bring generations closer together.

Which of your kids books are your favourites?

Farn ❤

 

 

We Travel So Far by Laura Knowles and Chris Madden & Wildlife: a map colouring book

Recently, we’ve enjoyed watching the swallows and house martens return to their nests around our eaves. There’s something about the construction of our cottage which seems to make it particularly inviting to these amazing birds and last year, we had over 30 nests by the end of the season. The skies outside have certainly become a lot busier and I wonder how many residents we’ll have by the time summer is out!

Coincidentally, We Travel So Far by Laura Knowles and Chris Madden arrived in our local library this week and gleefully we took it home to pair with our Wildlife maps colouring book.

As you can probably guess from the title, this book follows the migration journeys of various animals from around the world. Whether they’re going home to mate, or to spend winter in warmer climates, the book offers an insight into the lives of many incredible creatures that I’m guilty of taking for granted.

For example, I had no idea whatsoever that the humble monarch butterfly was a migratory creature!

The art work is absolutely beautiful – it’s bright and colourful, without being patronising, and accurate whilst maintaining its style.

Adding in the information from the maps colouring book, we were able to build up a pretty good idea of how far things had come in relation to existing journeys that we’ve taken – my kids know how long it takes for us to drive from Scotland to Denmark and we could look at that distance on the map and match it to those the animals had taken. We could also have a look at pictures of countries we know and see which animals we recognised from We Travel So Far.

One of the things I like most about this particular colouring book is that the pages are perforated and blank on the back. They’re ideal for hanging on the wall or on an easel. So often when I’ve coloured gorgeous pictures, I’ve thought about hanging them, only to decide against it on account of the fact I’d have to choose between sides.

Do you have any favourite books about the natural world?

Farn ❤