Friday Favourites – Christmas Special

There are only two more sleeps until Christmas. We’ve been reading Christmas themed books all month here and wanted to share some of our favourites.

Title: Elmo’s Christmas Colours


What it’s about: The characters from Sesame Street look at all the different colours (from red to green to pink to brown) and tie them in with Christmas. Written in rhyme. A board book.

Why the fairy princess likes it: She loves identifying the colours on each page.

Favourite part: Pink–her favourite colour. She also likes the page with Elmo.

Title: The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas

Illustrator: Heath McKenzie

What it’s about: A version of the twelve days of Christmas using Australian animals accompanied by some crazy illustrations. (Also comes with a CD with the song.)

Why the captain likes it: Because it’s a Christmas story and because he likes all the animals in it. He loves turning the pages along to the CD.

Favourite part: Flies a’feasting.

Title: An Aussie Night Before Christmas

Author: Yvonne Morrison

Illustrator: Kilmeny Niland

What it’s about: An Australian version of the classic Christmas poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ complete with a ute pulled by kangaroos.

Why I liked it: This is one of my all time favourite Christmas books. I love Aussie versions of classic Christmas songs and stories as they’re so relatable to me as an Australian. I love the use of familiar Aussie jargon and Aussie culture. On top of that, it’s very clever and funny in the way it’s written.

Favourite part: When Santa calls the kangaroos by name:

“‘Now, Kylie! Now, Kirsty!

Now, Shazza and Shane!

On, Kipper! On, Skipper!

On, Bazza and Wayne!”

Friday Favourites – Bananas in Pyjamas, Funnybones and Revolting Rhymes

It’s been a while since I did a Friday favourites post, I thought it was about time I posted one.

Title: Bananas in Pyjamas: It’s Going Out Time

Illustrator: Peter Townsend

What it’s about: The Bananas in Pyjamas are getting ready for a day out at the beach. A board book written in simple text.

Why the fairy princess likes it: It’s Bananas in Pyjamas. She loves them in any form, whether on TV or in books. Perhaps because she likes bananas.

Favourite part: She likes the book as a whole, she doesn’t have any particular favourite part.

The Captain has been requesting this book every night for the past week (he even got it read to him twice the other night– once by mum and once by dad).

Title: Funnybones

Author/Illustrator: Janet and Allan Ahlberg

What it’s about: In a dark dark cellar live some skeletons. The two skeletons and their dog go for a walk one night with the idea to frighten somebody. They play at the park and visit the zoo, but can’t find anybody to frighten. Luckily the little skeleton has an idea. The book uses repetitive language, singing and funny scenarios. The illustrations and text work together perfectly to tell the story.

Why the captain likes it: Because it has skeletons! Which makes it different to many of the other books we have, which usually have people or animals as the main characters. He also likes the interaction of the songs.

Favourite part: The song the skeletons sing when they put the dog back together:

The toe bone’s connected to the – foot bone!

The foot bone’s connected to the – leg bone!

The leg bone’s connected to the – hip bone!

The hip bone’s connected to the – back bone!

As it was Roald Dahl’s birthday this past week, I thought I should include one of my favourite Roald Dahl books. It was a tough choice deciding which one, as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda are both at the top of my favourites list, but I decided to go with…

Title: Revolting Rhymes

Author: Roald Dahl

Illustrator: Quentin Blake

What it’s about: A collection of twisted fairytales, including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. Dahl takes the familiar children’s fairytales and turns them on their head in a wickedly disgusting way.

Why I liked it: I love twisted fairytales and I love anything by Roald Dahl. His use of language and rhyme is both clever and witty.

Favourite part: This line from Red Riding Hood has always been my favourite line of all the stories since the very first time I read it:

The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.

She whips a pistol from her knickers.

*Parental warning: For younger readers it may be a good idea to read the stories in Revolting Rhymes first before reading them to your child or letting you child read them on their own as some of the content may not be appropriate for your child. In particular, Cinderella contains a certain word that is not appropriate for younger (or even upper primary) children.

Friday Favourites – Caterpillars, Brown Bears and Rowan

It’s Eric Carle’s birthday this week, and it just so happens two of the princess and the captain’s favourite (and often requested) books are Eric Carle books.

Title: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Author/Illustrator: Eric Carle

What it’s about: A hungry caterpillar hatches from an egg and spends each day of the week eating different foods until he becomes fat and makes a cocoon for himself.

Why the fairy princess likes it: She loves all the different foods in the book and naming them all. She’s a big food lover. She also loves what he turns into at the very end of the book (hint: it has very colourful wings).

Favourite part: Saturday, when the caterpillar eats lots of different foods, like cakes, sausages and pies. She likes to point to and name each item of food on the page.

Title: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Author: Bill Martin Jnr.

Illustrator: Eric Carle

What it’s about: Using repetition and rhyme, each page has a different animal and each animal is a different colour (it’s a great book for teaching colours and animals).

Why the captain likes it: The repeating rhyme on each page makes it easy for the captain to ‘read’ the book himself. He also likes being able to predict which animal will be on the next page.

Favourite part: The last page where it lists all the animals from the book (“Children, children, what do you see? We see… “)

Title: Rowan of Rin

Author: Emily Rodda

What it’s about: The water has stopped flowing to the village of Rin, so six of the strongest villagers have been selected to climb the mountain and find the problem. Unfortunately, due to a witch’s idea of a joke, Rowan, the scrawniest and weakest boy of his age, is forced to join the group (as the map given to them by the witch will only reveal its contents when held in Rowan’s hands). One by one, each of the group is tested by the mountain and not all of them make it to the top.

Why I liked it: I love the idea of Rowan – the reluctant hero. He’s small, weak and scared of everything, but he is forced to accompany these six strong, brave villagers in a quest to save the village. I love how through the story he discovers that even the strongest villagers have fears and that even though he is small and weak he has value of his own.

Favourite part: I have always been a fan of riddles, so I loved the riddles/rhymes on the map that warn them of the impending dangers on the mountain. My favourite of all is the first/last:

“Seven hearts the journey make.

Seven ways the hearts will break.

Bravest heart will carry on

When sleep is death, and hope is gone.

Look in the fiery jaws of fear

And see the answer white and clear,

Then throw away all thoughts of home

For only then your quest is done.

All the prophecies had come to pass, except the last. The last, and the most terrible. And now it was time.”

Friday Favourites – Green Sheep and Twisted Fairytales

Since the following book is a big favourite of both the princess and the captain, and both have been requesting it quite a bit this week, I’ll be combining them together into one.

Title: Where is the Green Sheep

Author: Mem Fox

Illustrator: Judy Horacek

What it’s about: There are thin and wide sheep, swing and slide sheep, near and far sheep, moon and star sheep, but through the entire book we’re asked the question, ‘Where is the green sheep?’ His location is finally revealed at the very end.

Why the captain likes it: He currently has the book memorised and can sit down and read it word for word. The repetitive rhyme scheme and bright colourful pictures accompanying the text make the words easy for kids to remember. When I asked him why he liked it, he said it was because he could read it all by himself.

Why the princess likes it: She loves the bright colourful pictures, and the simple text combined with the illustrations means she can say some of the words on each page too. we have a lot of fun reading it all together.

Favourite part: The captain told me this is his favourite part, but I’m pretty sure it is the princess’s favourite part too: The last page when we finally find the green sheep.

 

Title: Sisters Red

Author: Jackson Pearce

What it’s about: Based on the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood, the story alternates between two sisters, Scarlett and Rosie, who are werewolf hunters. They are joined by their long time neighbour and best friend who is the son of a woodsman. The three travel to the city together to find out why werewolves are gathering in force. Amongst the action there is change in the relationships between the three that threatens to tear them apart.

Why I liked it: I love reading about strong female characters and I also love fairytale retellings. The voices of both the girls come across really well. The ever-changing relationships between the three main characters drew me into the characters on an emotional level, while the action in fighting the werewolves had me on the edge of my seat in suspense. Although I had a suspicion throughout the book what part of the twist at the end would be, I still bawled my eyes out as I read the final chapters.

Favourite part: “I close my eyes again, but instead of searching for a dream to take me away, I focus on a person. My sister, the other half of my heart. The only person I know who could unfailingly find a way through a locked door and a pack of hungry Fenris. Think like Scarlett. I push myself into her mind until I can almost feel her scars on my skin, feel the rush of energy that flows through her during a hunt… I am Scarlett. I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter. I will escape.”

Friday Favourites – Farms, Fire Fighters and High Heels

Title: Baby’s First Farm

What it’s about: A simple words and pictures board book. Each page has a picture of a farm animal or other item found on a farm (eg: tractor, boots, etc.) accompanied by its name.

Why the fairy princess likes it: Although she’s now getting a little old for simple word and picture books, she still loves to look at them. She’s at an age now where she can name each animal/item without much prompting from me, so it’s almost as though she’s reading the book herself.

Favourite part: ‘Cat’. She loves cats, so she always gets excited when we get to this page. She makes a big show of saying ‘cat’ and meowing.

Title: Busiest Fire Fighters Ever!

Author/Illustrator: Richard Scarry

What it’s about: The four fire fighter pigs of Richard Scarry’s Busytown. The book shows the sort of things they do as fire fighters, and ends with them going to a big emergency fire. Quite an appropriate favourite to have this week, as it was the anniversary of Richard Scarry’s birthday only five days ago.

Why the captain likes it: We were at a book stall at a market and he was allowed to pick any book he wanted; this was the book he choose and it has been a recurring bedtime read ever since. He says he likes it because it has fire fighters in it. (And, funnily enough, he doesn’t want to be a fire fighter when he grows up, but he does think his sister should be a fire fighter when she grows up).

Favourite part: The last page where the fire fighters are having a barbeque with those they helped. “Fire fighters know how to make good fires as well as how to put out bad fires!”

*Parents of children aged 10-13 may want to judge for themselves if they think it’s appropriate, but I can’t recall any instances of swearing (except for the word you can see on the cover below) or any sexual references. One character smokes, but we don’t see very much of her in the book.

Title: Running in Heels

Author: Helen Bailey

What it’s about: Daisy Davenport is popular, comes from a rich family, goes to a posh school and has a hot boyfriend. Then everything goes wrong. Her dad gets sent to jail, she has to move to a school where everyone hates her and her entire world is turned upside down.

Why I liked it: The characters, particularly Daisy, are so real. I could really relate to Daisy because, like me, she hates confrontation. In Daisy’s case, the inability to confront people leads to some funny situations. The bullying she receives also really hit home for me too, and a few parts had me in tears because I could relate. The book made me laugh and cry and really root for the main character, which is everything you want a book to do.

Favourite part: This part made me laugh out loud. Daisy is sitting in the principal’s office feeling overwhelmed, so to calm down she starts count the beads on the principal’s necklace. “I’m transfixed by a strange bead-shaped bulge. Oh God, is that a bead or an enormous nipple? It’s green but it’s a different sort of green to the others, more dress-green than bead-green, but it’s so hard to differentiate between the swirly-patterned dress and the multi-coloured necklace. Oh no! How has this happened? Wanda-May never warned me about getting stuck trying to decide between a bead and a nipple.”