Tag Archives: Macmillan

A Squash and a Squeeze

We love A Squash and a Squeeze, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, so we were really pleased to be sent a Let’s Read version to review.

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I’ve written here, here and here about how much we love the Let’s Read books, so I won’t repeat myself again, but I will just say again that as a teacher, parent and home educator I can’t recommend them highly enough.

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A Squash and a Squeeze is the story of a little old lady who is unhappy because her house is too small.  A wise old man tells her to take in all her farm animals one by one.  Then he tells her to take them out again, and she finds that “There’s no need to grumble and there’s no need to grouse.  There’s plenty of room in my house.”

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The story is brilliant for reading aloud, and seems to be just as appealing to nine year olds as to three year olds – in this house anyway.

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Thank you Macmillan, we love this book!

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

Christmas Poems

Advent is here and we will be counting down the days by reading a Christmas book each day.  Today we started with this selection of Christmas Poems.

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Christmas Poems, selected by Gaby Morgan, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Macmillan, £10.99

The book contains a varied selection of Christmas carols, and classic and new poems, chosen by Gaby Morgan (who also selected the War Poems we have recently reviewed.)  It is illustrated in full colour by Axel Scheffler.

We have read and enjoyed several of the poems over the last few weeks, and I am sure we will keep coming back to this book throughout Advent.  This was one that all the children liked:

In a Forest Clearing

Pine tree in the forest

Standing tall.

Water dripping from needles

Like crystal baubles –

Exploding on forest floor

Like fairy lights.


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After we read the poem, I asked the children to draw a picture, copy out the poem or write one of their own.  Rabbit drew a Christmas tree, then some reindeer which she cut out, and she also made a paper plate snowman.  Owl wrote out the poem and illustrated it.  Monkey wrote some Christmas words and illustrated them, then he decided to write a poem of his own:

Christmas Eve

Waiting for Christmas

To celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Stockings hanging, Santa coming

Decorations on the tree.

Asleep on my bed

Waiting for dawn

In my dreams.

We received a copy of this book to review.

What the Ladybird Heard

Following on from our review of the Let’s Read! version of Room on the Broom, we have been discovering some more books in the series.  What the Ladybird Heard is another excellent Julia Donaldson story which has been redesigned into an early reader format.

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Let’s Read! What the Ladybird Heard, Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, paperback, £4.99, published by Macmillan

I love the concept of the Let’s Read! series – that you don’t need to alter the text of well-loved stories to make them more accessible to children who are learning to read.  Simply changing the font and redesigning the format can be enough to encourage children who are growing in reading confidence.

What the Ladybird Heard is the story of a farm full of noisy animals.  Two thieves come with a map and a key and a cunning plan to steal the fine prize cow, but a quiet ladybird saves the day.

When we had finished reading the story together Owl and Monkey took turns to read it themselves, and then the three older children drew some pictures.

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Thank you Macmillan, we really enjoyed this story!

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

Room on the Broom

I was very pleased to be offered the chance to review Let’s Read! Room on the Broom for Macmillan, because we love Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.  The children already know and enjoy the story of Room on the Broom and we found it interesting to compare the Let’s Read version with the original.

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Let’s Read! Room on the Broom, paperback, £4.99, published by Macmillan

The Let’s Read series takes the complete original stories of popular picture books and re-designs them to support children who are growing in reading confidence.  I asked the children what they thought of the new version and they said that they liked it.  They noticed that the print was clearer, with a child-friendly font (no strange curly letters like “a” and “g”) and the enlarged capitals at the beginning of each page have been replaced with normal-sized ones.  The book itself is a suitable size for a child to hold.  It is also shaped like other books which might appeal to older children, so they will not associate it with a younger child’s picture book.  I think it is a really clever idea, to extend the life of some excellent stories which can appeal to children of all ages.

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The story is about a witch and her cat who fly happily over forests, rivers and mountains on their broomstick until a stormy wind blows away the witch’s hat, bow and wand. They are retrieved by a dog, a bird and a frog, and each animal asks for a ride on the broom. They climb on, one after the next, until the broom is so heavy that it snaps in two!  They tumble into a bog and meet a greedy dragon who wants to eat the witch.  The story cleverly culminates in a perfectly satisfying denouement.

After reading the story, the children had fun drawing pictures of the cover image.

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All of the children really enjoyed the book.  The older boys could easily read either version, though I think the new one might appeal to them most.  Rabbit can’t read it all yet, but she definitely finds the new version more approachable and I think the series will be really useful to her as her reading skills develop.  And Tiddler was keen to read it too.  At first he had a look and said, “Hmm, I don’t know all the words…”, but then he decided not to let that stop him and sat happily reading the story to himself for several minutes.

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Thank you, Macmillan, for sending us this book to review – it is a great addition to the collection, and we are really excited about the Let’s Read series.

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