Monday, 16 December 2013

Five of my favorite books from 2013

In the spirit of lists, here's five of my favorite books published in 2013 (in no particular order):

Molly O'Doon ties a message to a balloon and sets it loose in the sky. The balloon rises higher and higher until the fields look like patchwork and then it crosses the sea.  It eventually comes to rest on the porch of another little girl who happens to be right next door.  They are instant friends. Beautiful illustrations with a magical rendering of perspectives.

A young boy lives by the beach with his father who works long hours and days as a fisherman.  One day, after a storm, the boy is alone on the beach and finds a whale. He brings it home and tries to care for it.  His father discovers the whale and together they return him to the sea. The boy learns a difficult lesson as does his father. Stunning illustrations and a gentle story. 

The life of a loaf of bread, slice by slice, is charmingly captured here. The story unfolds as each slice disappears in the tummies of the baker, the ducks the birds and the dogs. This one left E shouting 'Hooray for bread' for weeks on end.

Sammy and Paul, the plumbing toucan brothers, enjoy veritable celebrity status in our house. We read this book so much that the other day E overheard a woman on the bus talking about 'two cans' of beer and he asked me why they were talking about Sammy and Paul. 

I'm sneaking in a vintage one here because 2013 has been a year of Lyle for us. Lyle is the oh so lovable crocodile who moves in to the Primm's house on East 88th Street. Mayhem, then order, then tears, then laughter, all follow in due course.  They don't make many book characters like Lyle.  He's not to be missed.

And here are two books on my list that are currently unavailable in the UK (!).  I'd hope to give them to E for Christmas but clearly many others out there had the same idea.

Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska/Daniel Mizielinska

Under the Ocean by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud

 Happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Letter for Bear and more Christmas picks

A few years ago I started a tradition of giving E a new book at the beginning of the festive season. He likes reading them regardless of the time of year, and I like the idea of creating a book trail from Christmas to Christmas. This year our pick was clearly going to be none other than David Lucas' new release, A Letter for Bear, from the marvelous UK publisher Flying Eye Books.

Bear is a dedicated postman who regularly battles ice and snow to ensure that every animal receives their post on time. After a while he realizes that it's a lonely job and he'd like to meet some of the the other animals in town.  He delivers an invitation to each of them for a party and is over the moon when they all eventually turn up and welcome him into the fold. And the biggest surprise of all is the stack of post he receives in return, thanking him for a wonderful party and wishing him a Merry Christmas.  This is a sweet story with a happy ending that gives you a chance to talk about feelings. The illustrations are enchanting in a limited range of colours, and David Lucas' characteristic drawing style works beautifully for the Christmas season. 

Our picks from previous years are still going strong and I can highly recommend them both.  Llama Llama is up to his usual antics in Llama Llama Holiday Drama (I think most of of will be able to relate). The double page spread of Llama Llama collapsed in a heap is particularly comical.

I Love Christmas is a beautifully illustrated little tale from the imminently loveable Ollie. The text is sparse with recognizable references to Christmas that E likes to point out each time we read it. I fully expect this one to make an appearance again this year.

All of our Christmas books are about more traditional celebrations (albeit with animals rather than people).  For a great reference on multicultural Christmas books I suggest reading this post from the whatwedoallday blog.   And if any readers are looking for picture book recommendations for their Christmas list then please give me a holler and I'll do my best to assist!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Books, play & vintage animation

Last week we took a trip to Paris to visit E's cousin and her family. We had several cold but clear days to explore new parts of the city and our visit began with a session at the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, the biggest science museum in Europe. We could have spent the whole day here it was so big, but instead we spent just one morning in the young children's section. E was in hog heaven with this building site set up. He couldn't get enough of the working crane, conveyor belt and loading ramp. We could do with something like this here in London! 

Next stop was the first of several independent book stores.  Though I do not read French, I can enjoy picture books in any language and we warmed ourselves amongst the shelves of two great shops. I picked up the book Avions et fusees (aircraft and rockets) for his friend's 4th birthday present and a copy of Paris: A Three Dimensional Expanding City Skyline for E.

My favorite book store had rows of steps alongside big crates of books in the children's section.  It was an inviting space that doubled for author events and was an all around  inspired experience. E and his cousin had a few blissfully quiet moments looking through books on their own. 

Our last stop was a screening of vintage 1960's Chinese animation. Though it was dubbed in French and neither E nor I could understand (I hold my hands up here), the beauty of the cut out shapes and music was universal. It reminded me of how much E can absorb from just looking at the pictures in a book. The story told by the illustrations is not to be underestimated! 

We hope to see his young cousin again soon and in case you wondered, yes, we did manage to see the Eiffel Tower as well. Until next time - Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Gus, the Dinosaur Bus by Julia Lui & Illustrated by Bei Lynn

I had to sneak this one out of E's room tonight.  He's always very curious as to why I'm taking his books away to read on my own, and I could see this discussion becoming an easy and unwanted bedtime distraction. 

Gus, the Dinosaur Bus is a find from the US this past summer.  I originally thought it was a vintage book which is a compliment to the award winning illustrator Bei Lynn. It was actually published in 2013 though it hasn't made much noise here in the UK from what I've seen. This is a shame because it's a sweet story with cool illustrations and E's really taken to it.

Gus is a massive dinosaur who lives in the city (think Clifford the Big Red Dog). He acts as a school bus for all the local children, and it all goes swimmingly until Gus accidentally knocks down a few houses, power lines and bridges.

Under pressure from the police, the school principal has no choice but to relieve Gus of his duties.  Luckily, by happy accident Gus soon finds another role at the school, which has him and the children happy again.  Like I said, it's a sweet story pulled along by funky childlike illustrations with a wonderfully effective range of colours ... just my sort of book. Gus, the Dinosaur Bus is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Gorilla live! & London International Animation Festival

Recently it was half term at E's nursery and as a treat we went to the Polka Theatre to see a theatre adaptation of Anthony Browne's book Gorilla. Regular readers of the blog will know that I'm a huge fan of Anthony Browne. It was actually his endorsement of this particular production that prompted me to book tickets, and I think at the outset I was more excited than E. Not for long though as he quickly rallied and sat still and quiet for a full 45 minutes to experience the magic of Gorilla live!
This is a clever and quietly beautiful production that makes the most of its set design and carefully chosen props, music and puppets to bring Browne's book to life.  Gorilla is the story of a little girl named Hannah who absolutely loves Gorillas.  Hannah spends most of her time drawing, reading and thinking about gorillas.  The remainder of her time is spent trying to get her busy father's attention.  The night before her birthday she has a magical adventure (dream or not, you decide) with a gorilla who takes her to the zoo, the cinema and a cafe where she feasts on a bountiful collection of sweet treats. When Hannah awakes it's her birthday and she's over the moon to discover that she has another magical day in store... only this time it's with her Dad. 

The Choir Tour
Our second half term outing was to the London International Animation Festival. I don't know a great deal about animation, nor do I often seek it out, but everyone in my household thoroughly enjoyed the screening we went to.  So much so that E is borderline 'bereft' that he can only watch a very brief clip of his favorite short from the day, The Choir Tour (Edmunds Jansons).

The Mole at Sea
The kids' screening session was incredibly well programmed and other favorites of ours included The Mole at the Sea (Anna Kadykova) and Rising Hope (Milen Vitanov). And for UK readers it's not too late to catch these animation shorts. Check this listing for screening schedules at local cinemas. 

And if you're local to London then you may wish to check out the next threatre production in our cultural itinerary: White at London's Southbank.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara

Happy Halloween everyone! As the lone American in my house it's up to me to carry on the Halloween spirit and initiate E as best I can in my childhood traditions. We've hung some decorations, picked a giant pumpkin from a Surrey farm and we'll be watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown at some point this week.  The last piece of the puzzle was to find a suitable Halloween themed book.  I've searched and searched for something that looks interesting in its own rite and not just because it fits the theme.  Luckily, my dear college roommate came to the rescue with her recommendation of Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara. Published in 2008, this was Kohara's debut book and it won the New York Times Best Illustrated Book award. It's easy to see why.

Drawn in stark black outlines against an orange background, the illustrations tell much of the story of a young girl who moves into a haunted house.  Luckily, she's a witch and she spends her time rounding up the ghosts and stuffing them in the washing machine.  Freshly washed, she uses them to spruce up her new house in the form of curtains, tablecloths and bedspreads.  The text is sparse and the story is a great balance between that little bit of spookiness and an engaging tale. I think we'll be reading this one well beyond the 31st of October!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Olive and the Bad Mood by Tor Freeman

I plucked this little gem from an unsteady pile of picture books at my local library last week.  I'm probably the only person who plans their library visits to coincide with their toddler's nap time, but in my defense the children's section at my local is often in a bit of a state and I need full attention for searches.

Tor Freeman has become a fast favorite at our house and Olive and the Bad Mood is no exception. Freeman's characters are incredibly fun and expressive. I find myself instinctively changing voices for each one and it makes reading aloud a pleasure.  Just look at that cat's face on the cover, who could resist her?

The premise for this title is short and sweet. Olive is one seriously grumpy feline and she inflicts her mood on all of her friends by either insulting them or blanking them completely.  A bag of jelly worms reunites them for a brief period, but when the bag is empty and the last gummy worm is a distant memory, Olive's bad mood threatens to return.

This is a fun story that offers a moral as well, and it's pretty much a perfect length for E and me. It's a testament to Freeman that her animal characters are so loveable even when they're grumpy and behaving badly. E's memorized this one already so I better revisit that pile of library books again soon. Do visit Tor Freeman's website and prepare to be charmed by her work.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

... my Donald Crews wishlist

The New York Public Library has just published a list of 100 great children's books. In reading through the titles, enraptured, I decided to do a little research on the American author/illustrator Donald Crews. Crews is a two time Caldecott Honor winner, and among a whole host of other titles, he's produced a collection of stunning picture books featuring transportation. I'm familiar with his Freight Train book, but I have to admit that I had no idea of his expanded repertoire. The following four books are going straight on my wishlist:

Crews has also created books about his summers spent in the American south as a child.  This, of course, is a subject close to my heart and I'll be scouring the library soon for a copy of Bigmama's.  I'll let you know if I find it!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Little Boy with a Big Horn by Jack Bechdolt, illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia

Little Boy with a Big Horn is a 1950 little golden book classic that was recently re-released with new illustrations by Dan Yaccarino. A little boy named Ollie is the one with the big horn and though he loves to play, alas he only knows one song.  His playing is deemed a nuisance by the local townsfolk and Ollie heads off to the fields in search of a place where he can practice in peace.  He's quickly moved on by a farmer, and so he decides to use his rowboat to take his music out to sea. Whilst at sea he realises a passenger ship is danger of crashing into the rocks in the thick fog. He decides to play his one song as a warning and manages to save the ship and everyone aboard. Ollie is renamed a hero and instantly revered by the town.  And his reward for this deed? Funds to attend music school outside of town.

E loves to retell the bit where the ship's captain whips out his telescope to see what's making all that racket (Ollie), and we always spend a minute or two talking about the instruments pictured on the final page.

 The original version is a classic that features artwork from Auerlius Battaglia. I've not had a chance to see Dan Yaccarino's version but I'm a huge fan of his work and I imagine it's a real treat!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Time for Bed, Fred! by Yasmeen Ismail

Just what happens when it's 'Time for Bed, Fred!' is the question you'll be itching to answer in Yasmeen Ismail's debut book for children. Filled to the brim with page after page of eye watering water colours, Fred comes to life as a naughty, funny and sometimes filthy little pup who just won't go to bed.

Fred gets into all kinds of trouble in an effort to avoid bed and dog lovers may find themselves nodding in agreement.  Interestingly, I found myself nodding along not because of dogs but because Fred's antics so closely resemble E when he's in a cheeky mood. On such nights E, like Fred, will try all manner of tactics to avoid bed: playing with trains, demanding a ridiculous number of books and finally jumping into my bed and hiding instead of snuggling down in his own room. Admittedly, I find Fred a lot funnier than E!

The illustrations are magnificent and the story is fun yet sparse.  The short narrative may appeal even more to the under 3's.  Yasmeen Ismail is a wonderful artist in her own right and there is lots more to see on her website and in this lovely short video showing her painting Fred.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark

It's back to school (aka nursery) for E this week and I'm very much looking forward to the return of our routine. E, however, is less impressed by the idea. So much so that he woke up shouting in the night this week, 'no school, no back to school.'  I decided that I needed a little help bolstering his enthusiasm and was delighted to see that one of my favorite author/illustrators, Emma Chichester Clark, released a title last year called, Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo!'.

This engaging, colorful book continues the story of the very loveable Blue Kangaroo and his very lively owner, Lily. Lily is about to go to a new school and she's worried about getting lost and making friends.  Blue Kangaroo, however, can't wait.  He accompanies Lily on her first day, and later finds himself alone at school after Lily has so much fun that she forgets him by mistake.  Playful mischeif ensues and Blue Kangaroo is busy overnight painting pictures, solving math problems and building towers with blocks.  The surprised children discover their classroom transformed the next day, but only Lily and Blue Kangaroo know the secret of how it all came to be.

E is a big fan of Lily and Blue Kangaroo, possibly because he can match their knack for moods and antics.  I like the series for their happy illustrations and totally on the mark narratives.  Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo! is published by Harper Collins in the UK.   Emma Chichester Clark has a beautifully illustrated website and a fun blog about her dog Plum. Make sure to check them out!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Three top titles to round out the summer

We've been carting around three top books with us on our travels and they've now taken up permanent residence in E's bedside reading basket. They make up the equivalent of a 'book soundtrack' for summer 2013 and I can highly recommend all three:

The Toucan Brothers is a new release by Tor Freeman.  E now name drops Tor Freeman if that's any indication of how much we all love this book.  I discovered this one through one of my favorite book blogs, Playing By the Book. It's a fantastic story with mesmorizing Richard Scarry like illustrations. 

The town of Tapton is rife with plumbing disasters after a cowboy plumber, Flash Rover, comes to town and swindles all the residents.  Sammy and Paul save the day to the tune of a lovely, funny and clever ryhming narrative.  It sings along when read aloud and reminds me of the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' it's so effective.  We love this book and will be giving away lots of copies for 4 year old birthday presents this year.

My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza was a holiday loaner from a dear friend in the US. It's the story of a pig who outfoxes a fox. The pig saves himself from the fox and manages to get bathed, massaged and well fed in the process. The pig's refrain throughout, 'just a thought Mr Fox' lasts long after the story has finished. This is E's summer mantra at present (and I've now let the cat out of the bag that this one came back to London rather than returning to its home in Myrtle Beach!).

My Granny Is a Pirate is by Val McDermid and Arthur Robins. Another dear friend, Brixton based this time, gave me the tip off on this book.  This is a rhyming tale about a little boy who has a secret ... his Granny is a pirate.  She's worked her way up the pirate ranks and is a good pirate who captures naughty ones and orders them to return gold to the pirate bank.  At the end of the day she returns to her hiding place, trades her pirate uniform for her granny clothes, fights some ghost pirates and rounds out the day with her dog (Jolly Roger of course), and a big slug of pirate grog. Grannies, pirates, dogs and handbags at dusk - all the makings for a great read!

Happy last days of summer everyone!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Reading, relationships and words of wisdom from Anna Dewdney

newest title from Anna Dewdney's Llama Llama series

Hi all! E and I are officially back in London town.  The cat seems to have fared ok in our absence and though we're missing friends, family and the beach ... it's nice to be home. We've returned with books stuffed in every available air pocket of the suitcases and I'm eager to share our current reading list with you.  However, before I launch into these new (and some old) finds, I want to stop and take note of an editorial that I've been making a bit of noise about this week. 

Children's author Anna Dewdney published a piece in the Wall Street Journal last week entitled, How Books Can Teach Your Child to Care or Why Reading is Crucial Not Just for Literacy. I was so struck by this piece, and how she distills the precious act of reading aloud with a child, that I thought it warranted its own post. 

Dewdney deftly articulates what I often refer to as the magic of reading in saying, 'When we open a book, and share our voice and imagination with a child, that child learns to see the world through someone else’s eyes.' She goes on to write, ' that that child then learns to feel the world more deeply, becoming more aware of himself and others in a way that he simply cannot experience except in our laps, or in our classrooms, or in our reading circles.'

This got me thinking about the act of reading as much as what we're reading. She talks about the intimate human connection that is made when we read with a child and how this helps them to understand what it is to be human, and therefore teaches them empathy. Think about it.  These moments when we read aloud with a child are not just forming memories or teaching vocabulary, but they are providing a small yet highly powerful human interaction. 

It reminded me of our last night in the US reading bedtime stories with E.  He was a bit prickly this trip to say the least and would only let his parents read stories to him. However, on this night he permitted my Mom to linger in his room and listen to storytime.  It was interesting to me that though she didn't get to read to him as she dearly want to do, it served another purpose to share in that moment with him, to see how we all interacted and to be a part of that human connection.

If you get a chance then I urge you to click on the link above and read the full piece from Anna Dewdney. Her latest book appears to be out in the US already and it looks to be another hit, Llama, Llama and the Bully Goat.


Saturday, 13 July 2013

Hush, Little Beachcomber by Dianne Moritz & Holly McGee

We made it! E and I are now officially ensconced in North Carolina and lucky to be spending some time at the coast. It cheers my heart to no end to see him barefoot and giddy as he runs shrieking from the waves with a gaggle of cousins in tow. We're existing in a perpetual state of sunscreen sheen mixed with sand as we shed the skin of a long London winter.

To celebrate our time at the beach I've added this new book to the library: Hush, Little Beachcomber.  As the title suggests, it's set to the rythmn of the well known lullaby (Hush, Little Baby). This gives the text a lyrical quality as the narrative takes you on a journey to discover what's magical about a trip to the beach: waves, seaweed soup, seashell collecting, sand pies and ice cream cones. It's a fun story about a day out that we can instantly relate to, however, the illustrations are what set it apart from other beach books.

First of all, this book features characters of different ethnicities which is a refreshing change from most of what we see on the picture book shelf.  The illustrations have an appealing sketch like quality and their whimsical style matches the subject matter.  It was no surprise to me to learn that the illustrator, Holly McGee, has her own shop on Etsy featuring a range of artwork. You may want to check her out!

More to come from Mrs Brown on the move!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Sticker books, airplanes and little ones

It's that time of year again and we're getting ready for an annual trip to see friends and family back home in North Carolina.  It's a 9 hour flight from London so I tend to give my carry on bag more thought than any other packing duties. As I've mentioned in previous posts, flying with a three year old is pretty much about getting through it and a lot of my normal guidelines go out the window. I rely heavily on movies and apps and our narrative picture books are traded for sticker books. By the end of the flight we generally end up with E, the window shade, the tray table and me covered in stickers (and very few in the book). It's harmless, it's quiet and it passes the time.

For this trip my local news agent had a deal on sticker books and I picked up 3 for our flight:

My Swashbuckling Pirate is just one of the many titles available from Bloomsbury. In addition to the 100+ stickers, there are pages to colour and pirate paraphernalia galore to search for on each page.

Usborne are well known for activity books and they also publish specific books about first experiences such as riding on a plane or going to the airport. E never seems to tire of identifying things around the airport that he finds in the books.

There are lots of these sticker books on the market but I especially like this trio because of the detail on each page. Once E has finished decorating our seats with stickers the books still serve a purpose in stimulating our conversation about three of his favourite subjects.  I'll let you know how we do!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Bubble & Squeak by James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy

Bubble & Squeak is the story of an unlikely friendship between a performing elephant and a curious little mouse. Bubble is the star of Mr Magnifico's famous traveling show.  She's celebrated the world over for her Pyramid of Peril act, but despite the praise and adulation Bubble is lonely. She has fun with the other performers in the show but they're too busy to be the kind of friend that Bubble is looking for. She's acutely aware of her situation and when a brave little mouse turns up to save the day, Bubble decides to ask him to stay.  They soon become a very happy pair of loyal friends and Mr Magnifico seals the deal by asking Squeak to join the show.

This story excels as a longer narrative with well paced text. It doesn't skimp on the details and provides a distinct beginning, middle and end. E is uncharacteristically quiet when we read this book and he has requested it 5 nights running now. 

The illustrations are truly marvellous. Vulliamy's colour palette appears void of green or orange, and the irresistable result is a bubble gum feel that creates a dream world where bears run travelling shows and human beings perfom alongside a menagerie of animals.

James Mayhew and Clara Vulliamy are each established in their own right and I hope that they'll team up again for another creation in future!  Bubble and Squeak is published by Orchard Books in the UK and Sterling in the US.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Madeleine the City Pig by Karen Wallace & Lydia Monks

Madeleine the City Pig is a tale of life in the fast lane from an unlikely high flyer, a pig called Madeleine. She lives in a penthouse, she has a big job and she attends lots of fancy cocktail parties.  But something just isn't quite right, and Madeleine decides to take a much needed holiday to try and sort herself out.

She drives her fancy, fast car until it runs out of petrol. When it stops, Madeleine realizes that she's now very far from the city indeed and for the first time she has a chance to see the countryside, a pond and most importantly, a field full of other pigs. There and then she decides to change her life for good. She quits her job and with gay abandon takes the plunge to join the other pigs in doing what pigs do best, rolling in muck. Clearly, no fancy car, big job, expensive penthouse or exclusive parties are enough to keep Madeleine from returning to her natural state.

 E's papa loves reading this book and openly admires Madeleine's hutzpah. E has fun with it too though I'm not sure how much of the irony he understands. It's interesting to me that the anthropomorphic animals in the book mix seamlessly with humans in the illustrations.  The illustrations are modern and childlike at the same time and the collage style does much to bring Madeleine's human characteristics to life.


In doing my research I've just learned that sadly, this book is now out of print.  However, there are still copies to be found online and I suspect your local library may have a few copies on the shelf as well.

Monday, 10 June 2013

My Dad by Anthony Browne

 Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of Anthony Browne's books. I hadn't realised that he had written a book just about Dad's, but when I spotted this one at the grocery store last week I decided it was the ideal gift for E to give his Pop.

Filled to the brim with Browne's whimsical illustrations, it's a sweet story (though not sappy) of a child's admiration for their Dad. It's told from the child's perspective and wonderfully catches that innocent, unconditional admiration with lines such as: 

'My Dad is bigger than a house' 


'He's strong as a gorilla'

I love that it starts off so simply with the claim that 'He's all right, my Dad.' And true to Browne's playful nature, the Dad in this book spends the entire story dressed in striped pj's and an old plaid robe (aka tartan dressing gown). 

This is a great read for your little reader and I think a great gift book as well.  To hear Anthony Browne talk about the book click on this link:

Happy reading and happy father's day!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Apps, ebooks and traditional books ... can they coexist?

Little Red Riding Hood from Nosy Crow

I attended a panel discussion this week about apps, ebooks and picture books for children. Our speakers came from three different strands of the publishing industry: Oxford University Press, Nosy Crow and Me Books.

It may seem a bit strange for someone who is such a champion of traditional books to attend such a discussion. However, I found it refreshing to talk about books and their digital counterparts as part of the same conversation. I do feel that apps, ebooks and traditional books can coexist.  For me, it's about managing screen time and not allowing it to compete with traditional books.

We live in a digital age and fortunately, we all get to make our own choices about how much, if any, screen time we allow our kids. I take E on a long haul flight at least once a year to see family and friends back in America, and even if I could sustain his attention for 9 hours straight with traditional books, I would never be able to carry all the materials needed in one airline approved bag. I make use of an ipad in these situations and seek to include as many well produced, creative and hopefully educational apps as possible. After this week's talk I'll also be looking at ebooks as another option for content on the tablet.

My hesitation with apps and screen time in general is that I don't want books to suddenly pale in comparison. E's fascination with books is precious to me and it was therefore reassuring to hear industry representatives agree that traditional picture books are not in danger of being replaced, but rather the market is widening to include other platforms. The panel was quick to impress upon us that regardless of the format, the story is still the most important component and is still what drives things. Whew!

Fiete by Wolfgang Schmitz (app)

The panel came up with a number of good recommendations for companies producing apps and ebooks that they like.  I've combined their picks with serveral recommendations of my own:

And here's a savvy website and blog that I also go to for app recommendations:

And for further reading have a look at this April 2013 article from Booktrust in the UK:

Children's Books Apps: What's Next?

 Are there other children's apps and or app makers that you'd recommend?

I'll be back next week with a traditional picture book!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Duo Press counting books and guest post from Lattes & Juice!

I’m very honored to be doing my very first book post for my good friend over at Mrs. Brown’s Books.  Mrs. Brown is our go to children’s book guru and always knows exactly what book to recommend.  I love how excited she gets when she finds a new book to obsess over. 

Unlike Mrs. Brown’s 3 year old boy, mine still has a hard time sitting still for a whole entire book.  Bedtime is about the only time where he is patient enough to let us read to him cover to cover because he is trying to buy more time.  My son is a complete numbers fanatic and I can get him to pay attention for longer periods of time when counting is involved.  We were gifted a New York City Cool Counting Book by Duo Press when he was a baby and it is definitely one of his favorite books of all time.

Duo Press do a series of Cool Counting Books from the numbers 1-10 with each book featuring a different city, state or theme.  For each number there is a fun graphic illustration of something iconic from the title place.   For example there are taxis, the Statue of Liberty and subway trains for New York City.  I love reading these books to my son because many of the places are very personal for us.  I am originally from New Jersey, my son was born in New York City, my brother lives in Brooklyn, and my husband used to live in Seattle so there’s a book for each one of these places.  It’s nice for us to come up with our own stories each time we read the book while reinforcing numbers and quantities.  We will definitely be adding California to our collection for our summer trip to West Coast.  Definitely worth picking up a copy an introduce a little piece of the States to your little one.
Here is a list of the books currently in the Cool Counting Books series:
123 Beach
123 Atlanta
123 Baltimore
123 Boston
123 Brooklyn
123 California
123 Chicago
123 Hawai’i
123 Minnesota
123 New Jersey
123 New York
123 Philadelphia
123 San Francisco
123 Seattle
123 Texas
123 Toronto
123 USA
123 Washington D.C.

For more ideas from Lattes & Juice visit her blog!