Monday, 14 December 2009

Anita Jeram

I just LOVE the illustrations by Anita Jeram.

Her illustrations are included in books - 'Guess How Much I Love You' and 'You're All My Favourites' both written by Sam McBratney.

I first noticed her illustrations on her greeting cards that were selling in my favourite store. I love them because of their precision and simplicity. They are really lovely. Anita's drawings of animals (often rabbits) are presented (usually) with a light humoured phrase. The cards appear to be child-like in terms of their subject, but are sophisticated with regards to their wit. The drawings appear as sketches with a soft colour dabbed in certain places. The outline of what she is drawing really stands out beautifully. They are just perfect and every time I see one of her cards I just think "I want!!"

You can see more of Anita's story at:

And one for Christmas..

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Just had to mention this book. Beautiful Doodles by Nellie Ryan. It was suggested to me through a friend. It epitomizes my reasons for wanting to teach. It is full of beautiful black lined and dotted drawings for children to complete. For example there is a lady holding several leads and the child fills in what he/she wants the dogs to look like. This type of idea.
I think this book is a little feminine based, but there are some great ideas for young boys too. I think it would be targeted at ages 6-8, but made for any age that would enjoy them!

It gives children a starting point and guideline from this, but allows them to finish the picture in whichever way they please. It encourages creativity and ownership, and they can be used during a lesson or simply for golden time and enjoyment!

Nellie Ryan also published Fabulous Doodles, and there are alternative doodle books created by other authors/illustrators. Some targeted at girls and some at boys, so you have the selection to choose from.

A really lovely collection.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Where the fairies fly

Cute. Cute. CUTE.

Where the fairies fly by Jane Simmons. Another classic bedtime story that is full of hope and wonder.

A little girl called Lucy loves telling imaginative stories and most of all loves to tell them to her teddy bear. Her brother Jamie does not like bedtime and is scared of the shadows on the ceiling. One night Lucy and Jamie can not sleep so Lucy suggests that they go on an adventure to find the Dreamtime Fairies.

They delve into a wonderful adventure meeting different animals along the way and learn about how they all sleep. Lucy and Jamie come to a forest where there are dark shadows. Out of the shadows come the fairies. They twinkle and flutter. Lucy tells Jamie that he does not need to be afraid of the shadows because that is where the Dreamtime Fairies fly. Lucy and her brother Jamie slip into a sweet dream. The final image shows the two of them sleeping together with their teddies. Perfect.

I like the fact that the story comes from a brave girl's perspective, often stereotypes make us believe that boys are the brave ones. I also love the fact that there is no mention of how Lucy and Jamie get to their adventure land, and that really it is all in the imagination. Only when an adult reads this story to a child will they recognise this, but the child will not because they are already deeply involved and part of this new, exciting and curious world. Children have a gift of being able to take themselves into other worlds, and this book really exemplifies that. When we get older we tend to forget about the fun of endless possibilities and become restricted in our thinking and think 'the right way.' Probably a reason why I am so fond of drama and implementing it in schools!

The images are just amazing. They are made of a sort of pastel texture that softly blends the energetic colours together.

This is one story I hope to be able to share with my children at bedtime.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A Hug for Humphrey

This book instantly makes you say 'aw.' It is ADORABLE.
A Hug for Humphrey is written by Steve Smallman and illustrated by Tim Warnes.
Humphrey does not know what sort of toy he is and what he can do. The other toys in the book help him to figure out what sort of toy he is. Humphrey is the sort of toy who can hug, and that is exactly what he does!

I read this book recently to a Year 2 class and they just LOVED it. They enjoyed the anticipation of finding out what he could do. This book also has an extra special touch, literally. Humphrey's tummy is made of felt, an added bonus for children who can follow Humphrey through the book.

As you can see from the illustration, Humphrey is floppy and cuddly looking. I want to give him a hug!

Belle & Boo

Belle & Boo has been created by illustrator Mandy Sutcliffe. Her designs are just GORGEOUS! Her designs are of a vintage style incorporating magic and childhood innocence.
You can view her designs at:

I am also really excited about her seasonal designs, and will be stocking up for Christmas!

This one is just in time for Christmas, and is one of several beautiful festive designs by Belle & Boo.

One of my personal favourites.


Monday, 9 November 2009

Jez Alborough tells some comical and catchy tales. Where's My Teddy comes first and tells the tale of both a boy and a real life bear both trying to find their teddies. They end up having each other's teddies! At the end of the book the words read 'huddled and cuddled their own little teds.' This gives you a taster of the amiable language used. It really is a snuggle up bedtime story! The children love it because the boy had a teddy bear too large (much bigger than him!) and the big real life bear is carrying a teeny weeny teddy bear belonging to the boy! The illustrations encourage a good chuckle, that's for sure.

Another book by Jez Alborough is It's the Bear! A Mum and her son go on a picnic in the woods. The boy is scared of bears and doesn't want to go. They get to the woods and set out their picnic but oh dear, Mum has forgotten the dessert! She leaves the boy to go and get the dessert (the only bit of the book I am a bit unsure about - leaving your child!) The boy sees a bear coming (his worst fears came true, oh dear!) and so hides in the picnic hamper!
One of my favourite parts of this book is the page that shows the boy in the hamper. There is a tiny picture of him in the hamper on the middle of the page, and the rest of the page is pitch black. It makes the reader feel like they are also inside the dark hamper, just brilliant.
The bear eats all of the picnic and then decides he also wants dessert, but oh no (yes you guessed it) there is no dessert! The bear looks inside the hamper, and is frightened by the boy!
Through this whole section, there is a strong element of 'he's behind you' when the bear is standing inches away from the hamper. This really gets children excited and they know what is coming but love it every time it does.

It is without a doubt a cheerful read (even to make the adults smile) and uses amusing rhyming text. The illustrations are bold and colourful, making it easier for a younger reader to understand.

Both story books are illustrated in a comic style fashion. This links to the idea of the reader virtually second guessing what is going to happen through each step, and this is great for children learning about structure.

In terms of learning, well I would probably say keep this one as a special bedtime read and perhaps it is not so much a classroom book. However, there is always the possibility of getting younger children to create their own picnic - including exciting food that the bear may want to eat! Or you could do the 'what happens next' and ask the children what they think might happen when the Mum leaves to get dessert, and get them to finish the story.

A bunch of jolly books indeed!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A Necklace of Raindrops

This book was a recommendation from a friend. We have similar interests in children's literature, and as expected it was a great book to get hold of. Plus this book is one of her favourite childhood stories which makes it even more special to look at. The story is called A Necklace of Raindrops and also comes as part of 8 stories about magical adventures.
This story is really something (I'm sure I am going to say that about every book - I love them all!) It tells the story of a little girl called Laura who gets a raindrop necklace given to her by the North Wind, how magical. Each year for her birthday she gets another raindrop added to her necklace. Each raindrop she gets allows her to do something else (rain related). For example on her 4th birthday (I think it was) she would be protected from rain and would never get wet. The North Wind tells her never to take the necklace off otherwise she will have bad luck. The necklace gets stolen at one point by a girl called Meg and the story continues. It's a good ending don't worry!

The author Joan Aiken plays with the imagination and creates a world around Laura that is so believable. She uses magical ideas in her book, such as a book that you can read forever because it has no last page.
The illustrations in the book are limited, but if anything it makes them more noticeable. Illustrator Jan Pienkowski has combined both colour with what appears to be black ink to create some clear fantasy-like images. The illustrations almost appear as print because they are so clearly defined. They are really lovely.

As for teaching purposes, well there is already a link to a lesson plan that had been created around this book:

You could also follow something along the lines of the image above, 'if I were a raindrop..' and ask the children to tell their own adventure story. Also this could link nicely to environmental studies and looking at where water comes from and where it goes (the water cycle).

A really lovely and magical adventure story.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Magic Paintbrush

The Magic Paintbrush does exactly what it says. The story by Julia Donaldson follows a village girl who is given a magic paintbrush but told to only use it for the poor and not for the wealthy. When the girl paints, whatever she paints comes to life. What a brilliant notion for children.
She meets the Emperor who asks her to paint certain things for him. She refuses as she only paints for the poor. The Emperor becomes annoyed and puts her in prison. During the night while the Emperor is sleeping, the girl paints a horse and a key. She escapes and rides off into the distance. There is a little more to the story, but that is the general overview.
What makes this book so special is its use of rhyme. The whole story is told in rhyme and the words are clear and comprehensible for children. Joel Stewart has illustrated the book and uses what appears to be watercolour images. The images are warm and truly vibrant. They illustrate movement making the images almost come off the page.
Another great stimulus for teaching. Children can be given their own choices about what to paint if they had a magic paintbrush.
It really is a beautiful book and magical too.


I will start with Window by Jeannie Baker. This is one of my FAVOURITE picture books. I first discovered this book in a geography lesson and I think this book is perfect for teaching children about the environment.
The book is made up of 13 beautiful images of a window. In the first image a mother stands with her baby looking out of the window. She sees nature at its finest. The book progresses to show the baby growing up, and each window shows the ever changing effects of industrialization on the environment. The changes from one picture to the next seem only minor, until you reach the end of the book and discover how much has changed from the first image. Jeannie Baker uses this book to demonstrate exactly that; that our environment is changing from one day to the next but that it is hard to see that in terms of the 'big picture.'
The book is fascinating and has great attention to detail. The pictures work as pieces of art/collages and I for one could study them for hours (if only I had the time!) In fact Jeannie Baker has her picture books exhibited.
Her book can be used as a fantastic stimulus for teaching. You can ask the children what has changed from one picture to the next and why they think this is. It really is the most amazing book, and appeals to both children and adults. This also sends out the message that we all collectively need to look after our environment.

Towards the end of the book

Middle of the book

Where the book begins

Cover of book

Friday, 6 November 2009


Children's books are a precious type of book. Story books are filled with fine art and delicate illustrations. Young people love and are captivated by the stories written and/or illustrated by some pretty amazing individuals. I am just as captivated.

Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.
- Dr. Haim Ginott