Tag Archives: book review

Poo! What IS That Smell? – Review

We’ve been sent another great book to review by Macmillan – Poo! What is that Smell, written by Glenn Murphy and illustrated by Laura Murphy.  In fact, I’ll be honest, we were sent it a little while ago.  We started reading it, then lost it, then found it just as I was starting to panic and think I would have to get on and buy myself another copy.  Anyway, after that false start we are loving it.  The title is perfect for catching children’s attention, and the book doesn’t disappoint.  It is full of really detailed Scientific information, but very readable and entertaining.

Poo! What is that smell

The book has a chapter on each of the five senses, and so far we have been reading the first chapter which is about Sight.  I asked the children to recall one fact that they had found interesting from the chapter and draw a picture.  Owl and Monkey both chose to illustrate the reason why zebras have black-and-white stripes.  “It’s so they can hide among each other.  A herd of stripey zebras presents a confusing optical illusion to lions and hyenas.  The stripes disguise the outline of each animal in the herd, making it hard to tell where one zebra ends and another one begins, or which way they might be facing.  This makes it especially difficult for their predators to select a target, let alone predict which way they might run once the chase begins.”

Animal drawing 1

Don’t ask me why there are rabbits flying overhead, and animals holding up umbrellas to protect themselves from their droppings.  All I can say is that the boys found it very amusing, and I hope it helps them to remember this Science fact!

animal drawing 2

Rabbit was interested in the fact that some animals can see different colours, or types of light, because they have more types of cone cells in their eyes.  “Many birds, for example, can see ultraviolet (UV) light.  This lets them see patterns of light on flowers, trees and grassy hillsides that are invisible to humans.  Snakes, meanwhile, have extra cone cells that can detect invisible, infrared (IR) light given off by warm objects.  With this special, snakey , super-vision, a pit viper can pick out the warm body of a quivering mouse in complete darkness.  Good news for the snake; bad news for mousey…”

animal drawing 3

I am really enjoying reading this book to the children, and I’m learning a lot too!

We were sent the book free of charge for the purpose of this review.

Scary Dinosaurs and Sleepy Animals

At BritMums Live, I was very happy to have the chance to sign up to be a Parragon Book buddy, and to receive my first two books to review.

The first book is Things You Never Knew About Dinosaurs by Giles Paley-Phillips

dinosaur book

It is a bright and colourful picture book, appealing to toddlers and young children.  When I showed the book to Tiddler, he said “I don’t like dinosaurs eating me” which made me wonder if he had had a sneaky look at the end of the story.  I don’t think he can read, but as he is the fourth child it’s entirely possible that he could have learnt to do it without me noticing!

The story starts with a question.  “Did you know that dinosaurs are still around today?  They didn’t die off long ago, They never went away.”  It then continues with what the dinosaurs are getting up to, for example playing tennis, riding bikes and bouncing on trampolines.  The rhyming text is quite fun to read aloud, though in some places it doesn’t quite scan which I find a bit annoying.

The idea that dinosaurs are alive today is a good starting point to the story and some of the things they do are quite funny.  I rather like “Dinosaurs love to play guitar, to stomp their feet and sing.  They love to waltz and cha cha cha and do the Highland fling.”  I’m not so keen on the part about things they “really HATE” (a word I am trying to teach my children not to use, or at least not to overuse) and in particular the line “Dinosaurs don’t like doing math…” (note this is the US edition.  The UK text edition will be out in August.)  It’s not very helpful to have a children’s book that reinforces the idea that Maths is something to dislike.

There are more things that dinosaurs like doing, such as going up in space, sailing the seven seas and trekking from pole to pole.  However, the story ends with the thing that dinosaurs like most of all which is “eating kids like…YOU!”  When I read the book to each of the children, they all had the same slightly worried look on their faces, and I don’t think any of them liked the ending very much.

They do like dinosaurs though, and they liked the illustrations. After listening to the story and looking at the pictures, Rabbit drew a dinosaur picture of her own.

dinosaur book picture

She then set up a dinosaur scene.

dinosaur book scene

The second book is Goodnight Little One by Margaret Wise Brown.

donkey book

When I showed this book to Tiddler, after reading the dinosaur one to him, he said “I like donkeys because they don’t eat me!”  It is a simple and gentle bedtime story, with a well-written rhyming text, perfect for reading aloud.

One by one, animals and children settle down and go to sleep, and it is easy to read in a soporific voice at bedtime.  It starts with the donkey.  “Little donkey on the hill, Standing there so very still.  Making faces at the skies, Little donkey close your eyes.”  Tiddler really likes this bit, and also the part about the cat.  “Old black cat down in the barn, keeping five small kittens warm.  Let the wind blow in the skies, Dear old black cat close your eyes.”

And it finishes with a child at bedtime.  “Little child all tucked in bed, Looking such a sleepy head.  Stars are quiet in the skies, Little child now close your eyes.”

All the children liked this story, and enjoyed the illustrations.  Monkey drew a picture of a donkey like the one on the cover of the book.


donkey book picture 1

Rabbit drew a picture of a house, with a child in bed inside it.

donkey book picture 2

She also drew a donkey picture and a star, and then she and Monkey made a bed for some of their soft toys and tucked them in.

donkey book scene

I asked the children what they thought of both the books.

Me: Do you like the dinosaur book?
Rabbit: A bit.
Me: And the goodnight book?
Rabbit: Yes.  It’s a bit night-time-ish.
Me: Which do you like best?
Rabbit:  The night time one.

Me: What do you think about the dinosaur book?
Monkey: Odd.
Me: And the goodnight one?
Monkey: Nice.  I like the night time one best.

The conversations I had with Owl and Tiddler were similar.  Owl said that the dinosaur book was “quite good” but the night time book was “good” and he liked it best.  Tiddler also said the goodnight book was his favourite.

Thank you very much, Parragon, for giving us the books to review.  We enjoyed them both, but “Goodnight Little One” was a clear winner for us!




Maths for Martians

This post is written by Owl.


Today I read this book: Galaxy Getaway.  The theme is space, and the main character is called Zeno.  The main part of the story is Zeno travelling on a long space journey to meet her cyberpal, Zormella, in Myria City on planet Numis.  (A cyberpal is a bit like a space penpal.)  There are Maths puzzles throughout the book. My favourite puzzle is called Underground rescue.  You have to find the missing numbers to complete several sequences to open the door to a mine.  Then you have to find the missing number in this sum:

17 x ? =34

(You have to work out the answer yourself.  I am not going to tell you.)

I would give this book 10 out of 10.  If you want to read it, you can buy it here.