Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: book reviews

Matilda’s book reviews – Shouty Arthur

Shouty Arthur coverI think Angie Morgan may well have been spying on Matilda and Henry when she was writing this book, the characters are scarily similar. Right now my 2 little monsters are your stereotypical boy and girl. Matilda is clever (to the point of being manipulative), loves pretty things, carries her bunny everywhere and quietly goes about her business. In fact she is also just like Road Dahl’s Matilda! Henry on the other hand is a noisy boy, who is always climbing things and then falling off them, he’s easy going and loves playing with cars.

If you sit trying to do a jigsaw with Matilda you can guarantee Henry will appear and crash right through the middle. Interestingly one of the few times he will sit still and mostly quiet is when reading a book. Which brings us nicely onto this one. Arthur, as the title suggests, is a little on the loud side and much to his sister Edith’s frustration never stops shouting.

Edith tries to teach Arthur about wildlife but everywhere they go he scares them away ‘COME OUT YOU OLD RABBITS’ he shouts, ‘COME OUT YOU OLD SQUIRRELS’. Then he gets tired and falls asleep and all the animal re-appear until Arthur wakes up and starts shouting again. He then utters the classic line which I have no doubt I must have uttered when my parents took me around many Scottish forests ‘wildlife is a bit boring, isn’t it?’. Oblivious to the reason why he’s missed out on seeing all the wildlife in Edith’s book.

Shouty Arthur inside pageThe illustrations in this book are great, a little cartoonish and not trying to be perfect life drawings of the animals. I also like that the colours are not bright and in your face as seems to be the case for many children’s books. More subtle and in keeping with the natural landscape the children are exploring.

Matilda loves this book and looking at all the different animals, I’m not sure if she’s quite twigged that it’s like her and Henry though. Plus it means we can talk about what noises the animals make and where they live, I like being able to connect those things and then point them out when we see them in the wild.

Finally like all good books there is something to spot on each page, in this case it’s a lady bird hiding somewhere. The lady of the manor and I most definitely didn’t have a competition when the book arrived to see who could spot the ladybird first on each page, because that would be childish wouldn’t it?

Disclosure – we were sent this book free of charge, but all views are our own. Shouty Arthur was published on 6th March by Egmont.

Matilda’s book reviews – Little Robin’s Christmas

My favourite thing about reading this book is getting to this page:

 Little Robins christmas inside

What you can see on this page is a hedgehog and I have no doubt this is exactly what the artist wanted you to see. However when you are 18 months old and called Henry what you see is a Gruffalo. And when you see a Gruffalo you of course also have to do you very best ‘growl like a Gruffalo’ impression. Which of course sounds much like a baby lion trying to growl, definitely more cute than scary.

It’s hard reading when you’re laughing your head off I can tell you.

Little Robins christmas coverI really quite like this book though, it’s a cute little story about a robin who has 6 vests and gives them away one by one to other animals that need them. Then when he’s got none left and is all cold that fine fellow Father Christmas turns up, whisks him off to Lapland and gives him his very own red vest. All with beautiful illustrations making it perfect to get you and the little ones into the Christmas mood and not a single mention of TV ad’s or special lorries turning up in towns.

Matilda of course loves it, although she does give Henry a disapproving look with his Gruffalo impression “it’s a hedgehog Henry, a Hedgehog, silly Henry”. She also makes sure to point out the moon on one of the pages and not just any moon “a crescent moon daddy”, where does this stuff come from?!

We haven’t got any other books by Jan Fearnley in our collection so I’m off to have a look now at what else she’s written. If anyone has any recommendations for books by her or similar ones then do please let me know.

Disclosure: I was sent this book free of charge but as you can see the opinions here are clearly my own

Matilda’s book reviews – Colours

I think I’ve shown some restraint in not yet reviewing a Shirley Hughes book here, if I had to read just one children’s author it would be her. I love the style, the words, the drawings, everything! Thankfully Matilda seems to agree and will often grab one of her books out of the book bag.

We’re been trying recently to make story time a bit more educational rather than just her hearing some fun words. In all the books we spot different objects or animals, learn the animal noises and have some discussion about what’s on the page. Nothing ground breaking in the approach but absolutely fascinating to watch as she develops and learns things. She can find a dog or cat on a page within 2 seconds flat now, she knows what noise a monkey makes and knows where fish live. All important life skills I’m sure you’ll agree.

What I particularly like about this book is that it introduces colours but in the form of a story and interesting objects rather than something more blatant. Feels nicer as a bed time book that way and a bit more sophisticated than a picture and a label. What is also quite amazing is that the book was first published in 1986 but really doesn’t feel dated, maybe that’s partly my love of classic English countryside living but I think it also gives some credit to the drawings in particular.

Matilda loves flicking through and pointing at the pictures, it’s one of the few books where she’ll actually sit still and read the whole way through. Her favourite page it seems is purple but she does get quite frustrated that she can’t eat the blackberries on the page. Her new food obsession after we introduced her to them on a dog walk. We have the book in a nice small size which she also finds very easy to sit and open herself, I think my mum gave them to us from her collection so no idea if you can still buy in this form.

So the first of most likely many Shirley Hughes books to grace this site and most definitely  comes highly recommended.

Matilda’s book reviews – that’s not my ….

These are just a few of the books from this series that have somehow built up to somewhat of a collection in our house. We also have that’s not my snowman and that’s not my plane amongst others. Now let’s be clear from the start, these are not literary classics, they don’t really challenge or educate and they aren’t going to win any prizes.

But if you take Matilda’s opinion on them they would be top of the best seller list. She absolutely loves them, they are one of the first books she’ll pull out of the bag much to my annoyance.

The concept is simple, each page starts with ‘that’s not my…’ and has a picture of that object. Some part of the object then has a fluffy/bumpy/scratchy/shiny (the list goes on) part and this is the reason that it’s not yours. So pretty straightforward really.

6 months ago Matilda would have just reached straight for the part to touch and feel it not really understanding what it was etc.Now she takes in more of the picture, we spot the mouse that is on every page (normally her record is 100% here aside from when she points at a chicken instead) and she turns the pages to the specific one that she wants.

I’d prefer to be reading her something with more of a story or something that was simply more interesting to read. But it is a good place to start and is also quite a good book to read with both Matilda and Henry as right now it has something for both of them.