Tag Archives: Macmillan books

The Princess and the Pig

The third book we have been sent by Macmillan from the Let’s Read series is The Princess and the Pig.  We loved Room on the Broom and What the Ladybird Heard, and this one was equally popular with the children.

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Let’s Read! The Princess and the Pig, Jonathan Emmett and Poly Bernatene, paperback, £4.99, published by Macmillan.

This is another excellent story, redesigned to be approachable to early readers.  The text is not changed, but the layout and font are child-friendly and the book is a comfortable size for small hands to hold.  I know I keep going on about how brilliant the Let’s Read series is, but I can’t tell you how excited I get when a publisher understands that great books are great books, reading them is a pleasure, and children will want to do it if you give them the chance.

The Princess and the Pig is a humorous reworking of traditional fairy tale themes, characters and language.  The story begins with a poor farmer who is returning from market with a piglet in the back of his cart.  As the farmer passes the palace, a wonderfully improbable set of circumstances occur, leaving Pigmella the piglet in the palace, and Priscilla the newborn princess in the cart.  The King and Queen think it is the work of a bad fairy, while the farmer and his wife believe a good fairy is responsible.  The princess and the pig grow up in each other’s homes until the farmer and his wife realise what has happened and decide that they must take Pigmella back to the palace.  It doesn’t end there however.  There is of course a happy ending, but it is not quite the one you might predict.

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We really enjoyed this book.  The story is funny, the subversive allusions to fairy tales are cleverly thought out and the ending is satisfying.  The illustrations are excellent, and they inspired the children to do some lovely drawings of their own.

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

Rastamouse and Da Micespace Mystery

Rastamouse and Da Micespace Mystery

By Michael De Souza and Genevieve Webster

Published 12th September 2013, Macmillan, £6.99

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My first impressions of Rastamouse and Da Micespace Mystery were that it was bright and colourful and I loved the illustrations.  The little ones certainly found it appealing too, and they enjoyed seeing the familiar characters from the excellent Rastamouse programmes on Cbeebies.

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I read the story to all four children together and we all enjoyed it, though I have to admit that my rendering of the Jamaican patois probably left a little bit to be desired.  It’s a funny story though, and cleverly written.  Rastamouse and the Easy Crew receive a call from the President because his bank account has been hacked and the Mouseland millions have been stolen.  Luckily Rastamouse has a plan to track down the geek-a-mouse who’s responsible – the gadget-loving Mister Flash. I liked the reference to “MiTube” as well as “Micespace”, and it made Owl laugh out loud.  In fact, on first reading I think he liked it the most, as he was quickest to understand the story.  With the others, I had a lot of explaining to do, with the help of the glossary and list of abbreviations at the back of the book – I needed it for “Criss” and “G2G”!

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After reading the story, the three older children drew pictures inspired by the excellent illustrations, and Monkey made a Rastamouse finger puppet!

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It’s a fun book, and even more so when daddy reads it out loud – his patois, though decidedly dodgy, is definitely better than mine!

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This book was sent to us for review by Macmillan Children’s Books.

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts

We have been sent another lovely book to review by Macmillan and this one has inspired us so much that it was hard to know when to write this post as we have more ideas we would like to follow up.  However, we have had the book a while so I thought we should let you know what we think of it, and what we’ve been up to so far.

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett is a picture book with a difference.  It is the follow up to the multi-award-winning Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears which was published in 2007.

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Little Mouse has found a book about the world’s most terrifying and ferocious beasts, but they are all a bit too scary for him.  So he changes the book to make it less frightening.

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He gives the lion some pretty mittens to cover up his sharp claws, and removes his loud roar.

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He removes part of the instructions for making an origami shark, and adds his own for making an origami mouse instead.

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The rhinoceros is given a selection of dainty shoes.

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The jellyfish is crossed out and replaced with a dish of jelly.

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And at the end, the mouse is cleverly transformed into a monster using parts he has torn from the previous pages.

When I first shared the book with the little ones (aged three and five) I think they were a bit bemused, and I felt I had to do a lot of explaining.  The older boys (aged seven and nine) liked it immediately, so I thought it might appeal more to this age group despite being a picture book.  However, the younger children did enjoy it and it definitely grew on them.  I liked it because it sparked off so many ideas for activities we could do together.

We talked about how it would be fun to draw our own pictures of animals with a difference and we decided to play heads, bodies and legs (like consequences but with pictures.)

Heads, Bodies and Legs

Then we decided to have a go at some origami.  First we made some origami planes using an excellent kit from Djeco.

Origami Planes

Then Rabbit and I tried out the much more fiddly Safari Origami kit from 4M.  We just about managed the butterflies and birds which are for beginners but quite hard.  We haven’t tried the rest of the animals yet but we will!

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The following day we had another go with the much easier Djeco origami animals kit.

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Next, Owl wants to try following the origami instructions in the book to see if they work.  Will they make a shark or a mouse or something else?!

And we are also planning to draw some animals and then change them in the way the Little Mouse has done.  That should suit all the children, as the older ones love drawing and the little ones love cutting and sticking!

So what else would you do?  Any more ideas gratefully received.  I have a feeling that this book is going to be keeping us busy for a while!

The book was given to us free to review.  The origami kits were our own but I have linked to Craft Merrily because that is where I would go to buy Djeco products.

Oliver Fibbs and the Giant Boy-Munching Bugs

After enjoying Oliver Fibbs: Attack of the Alien Brain, the children were keen to read the second book in the series.  Oliver Fibbs and the Giant Boy-Munching Bugs, by Steve Hartley, is another adventure of the comic-reading, storytelling boy whose vivid imagination allows him to escape his dull and boring life and become a superhero and defender of planet Earth.

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This is Rabbit’s book review.  What is the story about? A boy who tries to get bitten by a bug to catch Wenghi Benghi fever.  Do you like this book? Yes. Why? It was funny and I like the giant bug pictures.

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This is Monkey’s review.  What is the story about? A boy who makes some comic stories about him getting Wenghi Benghi.  Do you like this book? Yes. Why? I love it because of the tropical jungle comics he made.

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This is Owl’s.  What is the story about? A boy who pretends/ tries to get bitten by a tropical bug to get a fever for something good to tell at school.  Do you like this book? Yes. Why? I like the Wenghi Benghi comics.  The latest episode of Superboy is “Superboy and the Jungle of Death.”

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So they all loved it, and I enjoyed reading the story to them and seeing how they were inspired by it.

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I recently took the big boys to a bookshop and they wanted to check if there were any more Oliver Fibbs books yet, so I think that is a good sign.  Steve Hartley, your next book is eagerly awaited here!

We received the book for free in order to write this review.



Oliver Fibbs: Attack of the Alien Brain

We recently reviewed a picture book from Macmillan which all the children enjoyed, but it has taken us a bit longer to read and review the two chapter books which arrived at the same time.  Although Owl very quickly read both of them I really wanted to wait until I had finished reading them to all the big three before writing about them.  We have been enjoying sitting in the garden reading together whenever we could find the chance in the last couple of very busy weeks, and now that the summer holidays are here it has got much easier.  We have finished one and have started reading the second one together.  This review is about the first one, Oliver Fibbs: Attack of the Alien Brain by Steve Hartley.

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Oliver Fibbs is the nickname of Oliver Tibbs, a boy with an over-achieving family who can’t find the one thing that he is really good at.  All he wants to do is read his Agent Q comics which spark his vivid imagination.  At school, he never has anything interesting to share at Show and Tell so he makes up stories in which he is a superhero saving the world from the attack of the alien brains.

The children have written their own book reviews.  This is Rabbit’s.

What is the story about? A boy who tells stories.  Do you like this book? Yes. Why? I like the alien theme.

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This is Monkey’s.

What is the story about? A boy that likes comics and he is DAB which stands for dull and boring.  He changes it to Daring and Brave.  Do you like this book? Yes. Why? I like all of it because I like Agent Q comics.

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This is Owl’s.

What is the story about? A boy who makes up comic stories about him as a superhero at show and tell to make his life more exciting.  Do you like this book? Yes. Why? I like the comic stories and the text.  It has also inspired me to make a comic series about me as a superhero.  It’s called Superboy.

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I rather like Monkey and Owl’s drawings of Oliver!

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We all liked the book a lot and we’re enjoying the second one as well.  We just hope there will be another Oliver Fibbs book out soon!

I was sent the books for free in exchange for this review.

Wake Up Do, Lydia Lou! : a Book Review

Last week we received three new books to review from Macmillan.  The children were very excited and wanted to read them straight away.  I was really pleased to see that one of them was Wake Up Do, Lydia Lou!, a new picture book by Julia Donaldson, who is a firm favourite in our house.  The other two were Oliver Fibbs: Attack of the Alien Brain and Oliver Fibbs and the Giant Boy- Munching Bugs, which looked just right for the big boys. We sat in the garden, on blankets in front of the teepee, and I started by reading Wake Up Do, Lydia Lou! to all the children.  After that I read a chapter of each of the Oliver Fibbs books to the big boys, then left them to read on for themselves.

reading in the teepee

The boys and I will tell you more about the Oliver Fibbs books in another post, but first I want to tell you about Lydia Lou.  This is how the story starts:

One night a ghost glided into Lydia Lou’s bedroom when she was fast asleep.

The ghost said: Whoo!  Wake up do, Lydia Lou!

Wake from your dream

And scream!

But Lydia Lou goes on sleeping, so the ghost calls in several noisy animals (and a baby) to help him.  It’s a brilliant story to read aloud, with its repetitive rhyming text and ever-increasing list of noises (Cock-a-doodle-doo! Boo hoo! Too-whit-too-whoo! and so on) which the children had great fun joining in with.  The illustrations, by Karen George, are lovely and the ghost looks more friendly than scary.  The story has a happy – and funny – ending, and as soon as I had finished reading it, Tiddler asked me to start again.  I have read it to him countless times since then, and to Rabbit several times too, and they love it.

As is often the case with really good books, this one gave us plenty of inspiration for further activities and learning.  Monkey and Rabbit drew pictures of the story, and Monkey painted his ghost with glow-in-the-dark paint.  Rabbit and I made flash cards of the noisy words from the story, and we have been practising matching up the pairs.  We will be able to use them to play snap and the memory game when she gets more familiar with them.

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Thank you, Macmillan, for sending us such a lovely book to review.  This one definitely gets a ten out of ten from all of us!