Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: matildas book reviews

Matilda’s book reviews; Shirley Hughes

One of the rights of a parent is to indulge their own childhood memories a little and this most definitely applies to choosing books. I love rediscovering books that I read as a child and introducing Matilda to them, however we both know that there is no guarantee she will like them. She won’t hesitate to tell me ‘no daddy’ and push a book away with a look of disgust when she doesn’t want to read something.

One thing we both agree on though is that Shirley Hughes rocks. If we were limited to just one author to read I think we’d both agree that Shirley is the best choice. Sure Janet and Allan Ahlberg might push her close (remember the Jolly Postman obsession?) but there is something about her books that have us coming back again and again.

For me it could be the nostalgia or that the stories that don’t involve TV characters, computers or mobile phones. They tell stories about a simpler time, perhaps a bit idealistic but definitely close to the Darling Buds of May way of life I dream of. But more than that the illustrations are beautiful, no need for the bold brash colours you often find in children’s books these days. They challenge the child to spot the details, revealing new things each time you read them.

A collage of Shirley Hughes

One particular favourite is Alfie gets in first, I love how she uses the spine of the book as the door he gets stuck behind. Which leaves him on one page and his mother outside on the other page. A simple concept but one that shows the story so well.

The prose is eloquent, understandable for a child without being dumbed down. Sometimes rhyming and rhythmic, others classic fiction. For me the rhyming books are probably her best but both are interesting to read which is always important.

Matilda loves Alfie, we have 2 or 3 books featuring him and they are extremely well read, some of them she can now tell you the story as we’ve read them so much. ¬†There is one book where his sister Annie Rose is crying in her cot, for some reason this always bothers her and we have to talk about how she’s really ok and he parents are going to see her.

Matilda reading

The other favourites are the nursery collection which are more educational teaching things like colours and numbers. What I love is that colours are taught by showing a scene with lots of things in that colour. Yellow has a sun and a cat in the scene for example. It seems to really sink in with Matilda and she loves spotting each of the things in the picture.

We’ve now started moving onto the Lucy and Tom books which have a few more words to the story and so work well now she is a bit older. Looking at the other books she’s written it seems like we have more to come for older ages too.

So now you know who our favourite author is tell me about yours. Who do you like reading and more importantly who do your children like? Any tips for slightly older books also much appreciated.

Matilda’s book reviews – Hippos go berserk

We’ve been getting through a lot of books recently, I’ve started reading Matilda 2 stories before she goes to bed. I’d resisted for a while doing this as her routine was in general working really well and she seemed to just get excited rather than chill out when I read. But it’s been nice to have 10 minutes of reading a story and talking about a book with her in what is the only real time I have with her each day.

However it does mean having to chose 2 books every day to read and some of them are getting pretty tedious already. But this book is one that I quite enjoy reading, it’s about hippos turning up to a house, it starts with one hippo and then counts up to 10 with each set doing something different. Then in the second half of the book it counts back down to 1 again as they leave.

There is a nice rhyme to the story which always pleases me AND it gives me the opportunity to say “all the hippos go BERSERK”. Love it.

Matilda loves seeing what the hippos are doing and in particular spotting the monster than sneaks in on one of the pages. She also seems quite partial to reading this one to herself, it’s quite a nice size and made of cardboard so easy for her to flick through the pages herself.

For a random book that the lady of the manor found in a local bookshop it’s become a firm favourite.

Matilda’s book reviews – Bear on a bike

This book came in a big bag of books as part of my prize for winning a BIB award back in June, they all come from a company called Barefoot Books who I’d never heard of but are now firm favourites with the wee girl. So much so that some of them may have been put in a high place for ‘safe keeping’, there are only so many times you can read a story in one day isn’t there?

I do like this book though, it’s bright and colourful ¬†and I love the style of the art work. It has a simple repetitive story as most classic books for this age do. The story involves a small boy or girl chasing after a bear asking him where he’s going, the bear then replies and describes where he’s going. It has lovely rhyming phrases like “I’m going to the forest where fearsome creatures prowl, where racoons play and bobcats snarl and hungry foxes howl.”

Oh and of course it allows me to do a bear impression with a big deep voice.


Matilda I think quite enjoys the way the words bounce along and trip off the tongue. She also most definitely enjoys finding things on each page, pointing to the bear, spotting the dog and the fish. She’ll often sit on her own and flick through the pages exclaiming as she spots things. Plus if you take her rating as the amount of times she takes it out of the bag to read then this definitely gets 5 stars!