Welcome to my new series, ‘What we’ve been reading’. I’ve decided to start writing a little more about the books that we have been reading, with the idea that each week I will write up a summary of the top three books the boys have been choosing to read and what we thought of them. It may even uncover some hidden gems that you may want to add to your children’s book collection.
So to kick off the series, I’m talking about a classic, a very British, tea loving dragon and a story about how our preconceptions may not always be right!
Peace at Last by Jill Murphy
The story follows Mr. Bear, who is having a rather tough time of getting to sleep. It doesn’t seem to matter where he goes, there is always something to keep him awake. It’s alright though, the Bear family have discovered caffeine too, so not all is lost!
This is one of my childhood favourites, so I had to buy it for the boys when I saw it. The language is very simple and there are a range of different sounds to make throughout the story, something that is brilliant for younger children who are learning to talk especially. The illustrations are what make this book stand out though. The main illustrations are in colour and set on the page opposite to the text. The smaller illustrations are in black and white and are set on the page of the text. Although on a very basic level, this multidimensional layout combined with the use of simple language keeps younger children particularly interested in the story. I did wonder if reading ‘Peace at Last’ as an adult would take the magic out it somewhat, but that hasn’t been the case. The story is as fun and endearing as it was when I was a child, which I personally think is always a sign of a good children’s book. If you’ve never read ‘Peace at Last’ by Jill Murphy, I strongly recommend giving it a read.
Dragon Stew by Steve Smallman & Lee Wildish
The story of five bored Vikings looking for something to do, which leads them on a fearless quest to find a dragon to put into a stew. Unfortunately for these Vikings, they aren’t the best dragon hunters, which leaves for a very interesting story indeed.
Oliver was given this book as a ‘graduation gift’ when he finished his sing and sign classes before Easter and since then it has become one of his favourites. The story is accompanied so well by the pictures that together, they make this book quite humorous for both children and adults alike. The dragon is portrayed as incredibly British, which makes it quite easy to give him a very posh, English accent and the Vikings themselves all have humorous character traits. While I wasn’t a fan of this book to begin with, but Oliver kept choosing it as a bedtime story (every night in fact) and over the weeks, it has grown on me. Everything about this book is fun, bouncy and silly, which makes it very easy to be silly and use funny voices when reading it, meaning the boys enjoy it so much more. So while I didn’t like it at first, Dragon Stew has become a much loved book in this house and I would highly recommend giving it a read.
The Fox in the Dark by Alison Green and Deborah Allwright
Rabbit rushes home and shuts himself in his house after being chased by a fox through the dark but then he gets an array of guests including a couple of foxes… are they really so scary after all?
The lesson behind this story, ‘not to judge people on their appearance’, is an important one and the story itself is beautifully written, with lovely illustrations to accompany them. The rhythm can be quite challenging in parts, making it perfect for children who are learning to read. However for a confident reader, the rhythm and the repetition make for quite a conversational story. This book is one of Oliver and Mr. C’s favourites, hence it making this week’s top three. However if I’m completely honest Duck is a bit of too self-righteous for my liking, just strolling into someone else’s house and acting like lord of the manor. It you can tolerate a self-righteous duck, you will probably like this book, maybe I’m just not accepting enough of certain personality traits.