Posted on | March 5, 2014 | 7 Comments
Need a quick fix for a dose of bookish delights? For World Book Day or just for fun? I’ve prepared a picture book Book Bingo game you can download, print and play – please feel free to use with your kids, your class, your library book group!
There are 16 different sheets (on 8 pieces of paper/pdf files), all featuring fabulous picture books, many of which are by World Book Day authors David Melling, Emily Gravett and Jill Murphy.
And here’s the set of caller’s cards – matching images of the front covers used, so that the whole game can be played by non-readers too.
I’ll be cutting up the caller’s cards and putting each mini book cover in a box. For non-readers I’ll just show them the book cover pulled from the box, whilst for a more challenging game for older kids I won’t show them the cover, but rather simply tell them the title of the book and who wrote/illustrated it.
Unfortunately I haven’t got prizes you can download but they needn’t be expensive – a trip to a charity shop could result in some nice books, or you could download lots of book related activity sheets and put them in a smart envelope with some colouring pencils.
I’d love to hear how you get on playing book bingo – good luck, and have fun!
Posted on | March 3, 2014 | 5 Comments
The adage “Books can take you anywhere” is beautifully exemplified by My Pop-Up City Atlas by Jonathan Litton (@JonathanLitton) and Stephen Waterhouse (@SWIllustrator), a thrilling, whistle-stop tour through 70 cities around the world.
Using pop-ups and a whole host of paper-engineering whizzery to bring to life exotically coloured urban scenes from cities both well known and surprising, this book has given us the dream ticket to travel the globe from the comfort of our sofa and duvets.
This book is no long, dry list of capital cities. In fact, it places locations together by type, creating interesting juxtapositions and taking you travelling via unexpected routes. For example you could travel London-Athens-Luxor-Xi’an-Dawson City (a historical cities tour), or Vatican City-Mecca-Varanasi-Salt Lake City (a religious cities tour). Perhaps Helsinki-San Fransico-Honolulu-Sydney-Cape Town (a coastal cities tour) is more your cup-of-tea. By grouping cities together by type the book explores answers to a question posed on its opening page, “Why do people live in cities?”, and what could have been a boring list of facts instead becomes a story with options and opportunities.
The 3-D city scapes are great fun, with lots of illustrative details partially hidden underneath and beside so that the views of the city are rich from which ever angle you look. We’ve enjoyed looking for photos which show the same city and seeing how closely the illustrations match real life; indeed I think the publishers, Templar, have missed a trick here in that they could have made this an internet-linked book (a little like many of Usborne’s non-fiction) as the facts and images have definitely left us hungry to find out more, amazed and intrigued by the facts and vistas inside this book’s covers.
“Further reading” (online or in a suggested bibligraphy) could also have provided background to the various statements throughout the book which are stripped of any (in its broadest sense) political commentary; mention is made of the Aral Sea and how it has shrunk but the causes of this change are not even hinted at. Likewise it is noted that the Dalai Lama used to live in Lhasa without any indication of why this is no longer the case. Some (adult) readers may feel it is better to leave such things out, but I believe facts work best when they are contextualised and linked to a bigger narrative – precisely why I think the themed grouping of cities works so well in this book.
A well produced, engagingly presented, and exciting book, My Pop-Up City Atlas will make young readers curious and no-doubt spark some wanderlust, quite possibly in their parents as well!
There’s an interesting interview with the book’s illustrator, Stephen Waterhouse here, on Illustration Cloud.
After reading My Pop-Up City Atlas we too wanted our own city to pop up at home and decided the best way to go about this was to use building blocks. But to give things a twist we first put our plain wooden blocks in the oven!
Once warm (about 10 minutes at 160C, starting from a cold oven), we illustrated our blocks with wax crayons, drawing windows, doors and other architectural features.
The warmth of the wooden blocks made the wax melt ever so slightly, creating a lovely feeling when colouring the blocks, and also an interesting effect with the oily wax melting slightly into the wood. Whilst the blocks were warm, it was easy to work them simply by holding them in a dishcloth. If they cooled too much in the time it took for us to decorate them, we just put them back in the oven for a couple of minutes.
Once our set of blocks was fully decorated, we laid down roads on the kitchen table, using masking tape…
And then it was time to start building architectural gems!
In no time at all an entire customised city had popped up in our kitchen. We used wooden blocks we already had (you quite often see them in charity shops), but I did order some more interesting shaped wooden pieces from Woodworks Craft Supplies (who also supply lovely wooden peg doll blanks).
Whilst decorating our blocks and building our city we listened to:
Other activities which could work well alongside reading My Pop-Up City Atlas include:
What books and songs about cities do you and your family love?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of My Pop-Up City Atlas from the publishers.
Every Monday is a celebration of all things non-fiction in the online children’s book world. If you’d like to read more reviews of children’s non-fiction books, do take a look at the dedicated children’s non-fiction blog: http://nonfictionmonday.wordpress.com/
Posted on | February 26, 2014 | 40 Comments
Pick up There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri and let your hair down; turn the pages and you’ll enter into a joyous and playful imaginary world with ice-creams so tall you need a ladder to eat them and a roller-coaster ride through a fairground filled with outsized lollipops and candy cane.
Your guides for this adventure of delight are Amelia and her pal Pierre.
Who just happens to be a dinosaur.
With a magnificent moustache.
Yes, this is a bonkers tale, full of happiness, wish fulfilment and whimsical fun. Oh what mischievous good times can be had with a cheese chomping dinosaur, especially one who can hide so well from your parents!
Echeverri’s carefree, light-hearted tale combining fantasy food and a (secret) dino of one’s very own is a winner. On a practical note, primary schools with French lessons could include this to jazz up story time, for the text is very lightly seasoned with a few French phrases. But really this book is about fun and nonsense. Silliness, sweets and someone special to share it with – we could all enjoy a dose of that, couldn’t we?
And would you believe it, not long after sharing this book with my girls, what did I discover in our own bathtub?
It seems Pierre paid us a visit, complete with his beret, and stripy cardigan, manicured moustache and penchant for flouncy fun!
So now you’ve seen how we created costumes for Mortimer Keene, Squishy McFluff and Pierre the Dinosaur. But there are even more ideas for dressing up as a book character over on Book Aid International’s website.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know by now that I’m a long running supporter of Book Aid. A few years ago we did a sponsored Librarithon, and then we had a marvellous competition to win an original illustration by one of my favourite illustrators, Katie Cleminson, in return for guessing how many books I had in my home at that time.
I love what Book Aid do because they know that books change lives. Every year they send around half a million brand new books to Africa, reaching thousands of readers in towns, villages, prisons, refugee camps, schools, hospitals and universities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Maybe you could use this year’s World Book Day to also support what Book Aid does? Here are some great ideas to get you going!
But whatever you do, don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to be in with a chance of winning my final giveaway. Yes, I have one copy of There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri to send to a reader…
The giveaway is open to residents in UK/Eire only. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post.
For extra entries you can:
- (1) Tweet about this giveaway, perhaps using this text:
Win a copy of the hilarious There’s A Dinosaur in my Bathtub by @cataverri over on @playbythebook’s blog http://www.playingbythebook.net/?p=28960
- (2) Share this giveaway on your Facebook page or blog
You must leave a separate comment for each entry for them to count.
Disclosure: My thanks go to the publishers, Bloomsbury, for donating the book for this giveaway, and for sending me a review copy. I was approached by Book Aid to spread the word about the charity and I am very happy to do so. I received no payment for this post.
UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. The winner was entry no. 2, Paula Readings