Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

A day on the buses and books for baby

Posted on | November 9, 2011 | 10 Comments

Do you know anyone who’s expecting a baby soon? If the answer is yes, then forego another babygro and give the new baby a book – baby and parents will get much more enjoyment out of the gift, and it may even stay with them their whole life :-)

But what book to give?

Peepo! and The Baby’s Catalogue, or an Eric Carle book are all popular choices, but me? The next baby I’ll be giving a book to is going to receive the new Taro Gomi Board Book Boxed Set which is made up chunky versions of Spring is Here, My Friends and Bus Stops.

Spring is Here tours the four seasons but what makes it different from many other books about the seasonal change is that the story appears to take place on the back of a young calf! This may sounds strange, but it’s actually an effective way of showing that the change from spring to summer and so on is not just as a cycle abstractly repeating itself but also physical time moving forward. As the seasons change the calf (and by extension the reader) grow up and older.

My Friends is a playful appreciation of friends in all forms and what we learn from different sources of inspiration. The text is like a beautiful poem, for example:

I learned to watch the night sky from my friend the owl.
I learned to sing from my friends the birds.
I learned to read from my friends the books.

And the final lines of this poem are the loveliest I’ve read in a long time in the often-too-saccharinny world of love-makes-the-world-go-round type children’s books. This little book brings a tear to my eye and makes me (even after repeated readings) hug which ever child I’m reading to.

J reading My Friends

Bus Stops is a simple but fun I-spy book following a bus on its journey dropping passengers off along its route. Amongst others there’s the salesman who hops off at the edge of town, the children and their parents running off at the fair, a woman who misses the bus and a nurse who meets a patient off the bus at the hospital. As a passionate supporter of public transport I loved the (perhaps rose tinted) showcasing of how buses are used by everyone to get everywhere.

J reading Bus Stops

All three books share bold, simple imagery and bright colours, perfect for the youngest of listeners and the format of these books is just right for little hands (and mouths) – proper board books each about 13 cm x 16cm so easy to fit in a bag or a pushchair pocket for taking out and about.

As you’ll see from the fun we had below, this selection of books isn’t just great for newborns, but also for older kids. The text of all three is ideal for emergent readers to read for themselves, the poetry of My Friends is perfect for inspiring older readers and writers to create their own poems, and the text and illustrations will be enjoyed by toddlers and pre-schoolers too.

Inspired by Bus Stops we went on our own bus adventure. Each girl was armed with a camera of their own (we used disposable ones) and they were charged with spotting as many bus numbers as possible. I have to admit, the idea was not only for us to have fun on the buses, but also to practice our numbers!

With a packed lunch, “emergency supplies” (yes, chocolate), and stops at a playground, a library and a garden centre along the way we spent the entire day (literally just over 6 and a half hours) bussing it around our city.

The girls were in seventh heaven and the entire day was something like a giant bingo game with them calling out bus numbers as they saw them.

The next day we took our photos to be developed and the girls then used them to create their own bus map. I drew an outline and they added cut-out bus stops along the way. Photos they took of actual buses were stuck on the side of small cardboard boxes to create buses to travel the routes and playmobil people soon populated our little landscape.

Whilst we made our bus map we listened to:

  • Wheels on the Bus… there are lots of different versions. Here’s a fun one:
  • The Wheels On The Bus from Readeez on Vimeo.

  • The Red Bus by Tom Gray – this is one of the Songs from the puppet show “Flyaway Katie” based on the book of the same title by Polly Dunbar.
  • Bus Stop by The Hollies


  • Other activities which would work well along side this Taro Gomi Board Book Boxed Set include:

  • Creating your own seasonal cycle – I love this one from RedTedArt showing a tree in each of the seasons, created with bubblwrap!
  • Making some Taro Gomi illustrations all of your own – there are several to download from here which are great for colouring, painting and decorating.
  • Putting on a show of My Friends – there are lots of actions (walking, jumping, climbing etc) and I can see this working so well as a school assembly or simply a fun little show at home.
  • Visiting a transport museum! This always goes down well with kids. If there’s no transport museum nearby, a trip to the bus station/ train station / airport just to watch what’s going on is very exciting for young children.


  • Have you read any books by Taro Gomi? Have you any stories to share about public transport with your kids?

    Disclosure: I received the Taro Gomi Board Book Boxed Set gratis from the publisher. This review, however, represents my own and honest opinion.

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    Comments

    10 Responses to “A day on the buses and books for baby”

    1. Stacey
      November 9th, 2011 @ 12:24 am

      I would like to trade places with your girls for a day, please!! Your day sounds amazing! And I had to laugh- my post tomorrow will be about reading to babies- there must be something in the air!

    2. Zoe
      November 9th, 2011 @ 7:44 am

      Hi Stacey, we certainly had a fun day and were lucky with the weather. I shall look out for your post..

    3. Barbara
      November 9th, 2011 @ 10:21 am

      What a lovely day out and yes I do know someone who’s expecting a baby soon – my son and daughter-in-law. Lots of excitement in our house! Thanks for the review.

    4. sophie
      November 9th, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

      I think the only book we have from Taro Gomi is “c’est l’heure du bain petit lion”, and it’s gorgeous !!
      here is the link on amazon (french) http://www.amazon.fr/Cest-lheure-bain-petit-lion/dp/2746712814/ref=sr_1_24?ie=UTF8&qid=1320855788&sr=8-24

    5. Zoe
      November 9th, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

      Thanks Sophie, I don’t think I’ve seen that one in English. We’ve had several of his colouring books before but these are our first proper books and I really like them.

    6. Yvonne Keen
      November 9th, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

      Zoe, yet another beautiful, educational and thoughtful post from you. Your girls must have so much fun working on the lovely ideas you come up with. Absolutely well done. You are an inspiring educator.

    7. Zoe
      November 9th, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

      You’ve got me blushing Yvonne. But thankyou! We all have lots of fun (most of the time!)

    8. Ali B
      November 10th, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

      What a brilliant idea! And finding numbers in the environment is so much fun; my nephew gets very excited at finding 100 on front doors at the moment :o) I love Taro Gomi as well; lovely, well made, durable books too.

    9. Tim Hopgood
      November 10th, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

      No babies on the way as far I know, but I must get my hands on that box set. Love your bus map too!

    10. Zoe
      November 10th, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

      Thanks Ali and Tim! Yes, ambient numbers are hot at the moment with J in particular, Her favourite number is 3 (because she is 3).

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