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We love our library! What we borrowed this week – sharks, whales, goodies and baddies!

We love visiting our library, it is such a great way to spend an afternoon and we always come away with an armful of books as we can never decide between them. I’m not sure what the limit is for borrowing, we haven’t hit it yet so we’re usually just limited by how many I can carry! This week we came away with 9.

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I always ask my bigger boy what sort of books he would like to look for when we’re on our way. “Sharks and whales!” was his answer this week. These are one of his current interests, he likes to know whether they are goodies or baddies and how big they are compared to his house and buses!

As if by magic, two of the books on display were about sharks and whales, job done! The first of these, Smiley Shark and the Great Big Hiccup, written and illustrated by Ruth Galloway proved a hit for both boys. It’s the story of a shark who is unusually sad because he has the hiccups. His friends, a varied group of sea creatures, try their best to cure them using lots of different methods. Bigger boy really enjoyed this story, the illustrations are bright and fun, he liked talking about the different sea creatures and of course discussing their goodie/baddie status, whilst little boy giggled at every hiccup! It was lovely to have 5 minutes or so with both a 3 year old and 7 month old engaged in the same thing. It was the first time I think we’ve all enjoyed a story together… long may it continue!

The second book we found on display was Little Whale’s Song, written and illustrated by Fran Evans. Little Whale loses his family in this book and is so sad he can’t even make a sound to call for them. He swims around the ocean meeting lots of different creatures (cue goodie v baddie questions) who all show him the sounds they make until eventually he finds the confidence to make his own sound again. We loved the beautiful illustrations of the deep and almost mysterious world under the sea. Again, there were plenty of noises and sounds to keep the baby interested too so another winner for everyone.

Bigger boy spotted Sinbad and the Whale by Martin Waddell and illustrated by A O’kif on the early readers shelf. Now, i cannot tell you how much he likes this book! We must have read it about ten times at the library… another ten times when we got home… I was glad when his Daddy got home so he could take the baton! This is an adaptation of a Sinbad the sailor tale where Sinbad and his shipmates land their boat on an island, only to find the island is actually a whale. The whale then eats Sinbad and his mate Ali. Luckily for both of them, Sinbad is savvy enough to find a way out and back to shore where they find their boat, shipmates and pots of money, just in time to have a party. I’m not sure what it is that he likes so much about this story, in part I think it’s the mistake they made about thinking the whale was an island and also being very intrigued about what else is inside the whale’s mouth. This opened up lots of discussion about what whale’s eat and we also related to the story of Jonah and the Whale, which he has learnt about at nursery.

I find it hard to find good reference books for my bigger boy. They either don’t have enough information or pictures or they have too much information that is way above his head. The one we borrowed, Animals Are Amazing: Sharks by Valerie Bodden, had some really good information that he enjoyed hearing about. There are some great, full page, photos of sharks in this book too, which was perfect as he is always asking to see pictures of them. Do much better to study a photi on a page than on a screen and by the way, searching for photos of sharks on the internet that are suitable for a three year old are tricky to find! We haven’t read this many times but he has remembered some of the facts, particularly about the gills that sharks use to breathe. He calls them stripes and used this to determine whether a toy was a shark or a whale, which I thought was pretty clever!

Moving on from the goodies and baddies underneath the sea to some baddies who sail the seas in Goodnight Pirate by Michelle Robinson. This is a really sweet bedtime book and the illustrations by Nick East are enchanting following the little boy on a pre-bedtime adventure with his pirate toys. I love how the book starts in the boys bedroom, with him saying goodnight to his toys but before you know it he has become engrossed in an adventure and escapes to the seas with his pirates. The treasure is found and we fly back to reality to the bedroom and the toys, to bed. This book reflects what my 3 year old is like at bedtime, tired but always with that little bit of extra energy for a quick imaginative adventure!

We have read Snow written and illustrated by Sam Usher many times now in the hope for some snow, unfortunately, all we’ve had is a few flurries. Although there was enough of a thin covering one morning to make a few snowballs it was all gone by lunchtime. Even so, my bigger boy is staying hopeful, snowy days are his favourite he says so this book will have to be enough for now. The story captures perfectly the excitement, anticipation and impatience you feel as a young child (or maybe you still do as an adult) of wanting to go out to play in the snow. The boy in the story is so eager to get out in the snow, he wakes up his Grandad to get him to come with him to the park. Grandad is being interminably slow at getting ready whilst the little boy watches from the front door as everyone else beats him to making the first footprints in the fresh, crisp snow.

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They eventually make it out and even have a snowball fight with some zoo animals, before heading home for a warm drink. The relatonship between the boy and his Grandad is heartwarming, any book with a Grandad in is a winner for my boy. Beautifully illustrated, Usher truly captures the magic of freshly fallen snow. Now we just have to wait for the real life version…

I am a huge fan of Judith Kerr, her illustrations are instantly recognisable and I spotted The Great Granny Gang in one of the big bookcases. Bigger boy found the title funny because he has a Granny and likes books that could be about her! As well as being about Grannies, this book has a burglary, rescue and cakes, all great topics for my 3 year old. The story is a poem about a tough and fearless gang of Grannies, each with their own unique strengths such as, hot air ballooning, pneumatic drill operator and lion tamer. They all come together to fight off a gang of hoodies who are raiding a bakery in a spectacular showdown with wild animals and heavy duty tools. The illustrations are, as ever, beautiful with lots of details to talk about. My boy’s favourite is the one of a hoodie who is hiding up a tree from a lion!

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We have read this book many times over, in fact I think we read it at least 5 times in a row at each sitting. My boy has of course shared it with his Granny too who is considering enrolling in the gang.

Just before we left, my bigger boy decided he needed just one more book. So he found Mad in the Back by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Richard Watson. This is an oh so true to life story of a car journey with young children. Before they set off their mother warns them not to go “mad in the back” but sure enough and probably after about 2 minutes, it all goes wrong. Anyone who has been anywhere with small people in a car will recognise the shouts, moans and demands all coming from the back seat. My boy found this hilarious and as a reader I loved doing my best over the top whining voices for the children. I had to laugh and also empathise with the poor mother who becomes visibly dishevelled as the book goes on. She tries her best to distract her children by pointing out random trees and lamposts, a method I often employ which is always as useless. This book really made us both laugh, I only hope it hasn’t given my son any ideas!

My 7 month old had a good look at a few books in the library but we settled on That’s Not My Teddy by Fiona Watt and illustrated by by Rachel Wells One from the series of That’s Not My… touchy feely books  by Usborne. He has really enjoyed feeling the different textures in this book, his favourite are the rough scratchy paws of one of the bears. My bigger boy likes to read this to him which is very sweet and has memorised the words on each page. I love seeing him share books like this even though he can’t read the words, I hope he encourages his little brother to be as much of a bookworm as he is.

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