So imagine my joy when I sat next to a lovely lady from Penguin books at a blog event recently and she asked if I wanted to review books for her. HELLO?! Yes. Yes I want to review children's books. Every day. Can I do them every week forever? (I played it pretty cool and professional right?)
Anyway, welcome to the new arm of my blog, The 2boys1mum Bookshelf! (Title is work in progress... bear with.) This is the first of hopefully many book reviews to come!
First up, 3 books by an author and illustrator I had never heard of, but who I now stalk a bit on twitter called Sophy Henn.
Where Bear is a sweet, charming book with a simple repetitive structure, perfect for little ones. My almost 2 year old joins in on the "Where Bear"s with glee. It's about a bear who lives with a boy but gets too "bearish and big" to live in a house, so the boy tries to find somewhere better for him to live.
That's my favourite line:
"I think it's time we found you a new place to livewhere you can be bearish and big,"
said the boy. "But where bear?"
Options include, a toy shop, the circus and a zoo. He says no to them all, and I won't spoil the ending by telling you where the polar bear does choose to live! (Ok I will, its the Arctic) Interestingly, and in a freakish display of insight, aforementioned nearly 2 year old has started pointing out the flaws with each suggested place, like the toy shop "too big" (the bear is too big) and the zoo "no gate"?! Does my 1 year old actually understand the concept of bears in captivity?! Or can he just say the word gate and got lucky? We'll never know.
The illustrations are adorable and beautiful, and I love the pages with plain colour backgrounds, like this one.
The photos don't show the paperyness of the paper. (Will have to learn words about paperyness instead of making them up if I'm going to carry on this book review lark!) The pages are thick, almost like sugar paper that children seem to spend their life at nursery painting on, but much better quality! I only mention this because most kids books seem to be glossy but I liked the 'matt'ness about it (again with the words).
This book is perfect for very young readers. My 3 year old likes it but not as much as the nearly 2 year old who occasionally shouts "Where Bear!!!" in the street if he sees something vaguely resembling a polar bear. It's adorable, funny and a pleasure to read.
Pom Pom gets the grumps
Pom Pom is a smash hit in our house. He's SUCH a realistic child. I mean apart from being a Panda bear who is friends with a lion, raccoon, tiger, bear and other geographically disparate animals. I don't know if he's supposed to be 3 but he feels it to me! It's like Sophy Henn knows my son very well and based Pom Pom's character, language and general demeanor on him (and all 3 year olds).
It's a brilliant story of Pom Pom having your typical preschooler's WORST DAY EVER. (Capitals because they shout don't they? Grumpy preschoolers.)
It's funny because it's true. He has terrible ordeals such as a too scratchy toothbrush, his mum singing a song and not being able to do a thing with his hair. The struggle is real Pom Pom life is tough for small children. I sang a song when my son didn't want me to once, and still wince at the memory of the resulting tantrum.
I defy any parent of a preschooler to read this without identifying with at least 4 of the "HARRUMPH"s uttered by Pom Pom.
I also love the ending, because, after shouting at his friends and then making up with them, there isn't a happy ending, which as a mother of a real life Pom Pom, rings true for me!
Illustrations are, unsurprisingly, as beautiful as Where Bear, but with a little more detail and humour. I love Pom Pom's grumpy little face so much.
Brilliant for 3 year olds and anyone who knows one! My littler one loves Pom Pom too and is very keen on his new word "Harrumph" but happily hasn't used it in a genuine grump yet!
Pom Pom the Champion
More spot on character assassination of all 3 year olds in this one. It's not just me (I've asked at the preschool gates) literally every preschool aged child gets a weird "winning" fetish at some stage. My son's is happening right now. He has to win at everything. To the point where he'd gladly run in front of a car if it meant he was the winner at being knocked over by a car.
Ditto Pom Pom. In this book he goes on a 'winning' craze, then loses at a lot of things so goes off on his own to win by himself (that's my favourite part).
Unlike in Pom Pom gets the grumps, this one has a happy little ending where Pom Pom and his friends "all win together". As the mother of a perpetual winner (and therefore also the mother of a perpetual loser) I repeat this line several times a day! I feel
I love all three of these books, which I realise as the beginning of my book reviewing life makes me look a bit sycophantic and lame, but I promise the next ones won't be so glowing. These are really lovely books and I think Sophy Henn has a big future ahead of her, especially with Pom Pom.
You can get these books at any good retailer and they are widely available online. Here's a link to Pom Pom on Amazon if you want.
I was sent these books to review but all gushing praise is entirely (embarrassingly) my own!