Playing by the book

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

A Perfect Picture Book Picnic

Posted on | July 30, 2012 | 23 Comments

Thanks to the very generous folk at Walker Books I got to do something which makes me very happy earlier this week – read aloud lots of fabulous picture books with friends and their kids, and then give the books away, all part of a Picture Book Picnic

The day started early, baking “Walker Bear” Gingerbread biscuits…

With the first of our “emergency supplies” ready for scoffing, we got to to the main business of the day – reading together!

We started with The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems, humorous take on why it’s so nice to be polite.

Full of chocolate chip cookies (we used this recipe) and cold milk I then read How to Get a Job by me The Boss, actually by Sally Lloyd-Jones & Sue Heap. After a long conversation about what everyone wanted to be when they grew up, I interviewed the kids for the post of Explorer. All the kids sailed through their interviews (Do you like being outdoors? Yes! Are you afraid of snakes? No! Do you like climbing trees? Yes!) and so we got down the map of our local area and off we set on our bikes to have an adventure.

We set up our first camp by a sunny stream, perfect for a reading of Arthur’s Dream Boat by Polly Dunbar.

After the story we made paper boats and floated them off down the river.

Then we climbed up a hill to one of my favourite climbing trees, and in we all clambered to read Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia.

Anna Hibiscus’ Song is an exuberant, joyous book about what makes people happy – just perfect for me on a day doing what makes me happy!

Anna Hibiscus (yes, the very same character as in the fabulous early chapter books also by Atinuke with illustrations by Lauren Tobia, although you absolutely don’t need to be familiar with the chapter books to love this picture book) has woken up in a good mood. She’s so happy, but she’s not quite sure how to express her happiness and so she goes around her family asking them each what they do when they are happy. Some love to dance, others love to sit still and be quiet, some love to walk on their hands, others love to be active and energetic because being happy gives them strength.

Anna sits up in her mango tree, listening to the birds. And then it strikes her – what she wants to do with her happiness is to sing, and so sing she does.

Anna Hibiscus’ Song is a pure delight to read. It’s the sort of tonic that will absolutely brighten your day. Atinuke keeps the emotions authentic and vibrant, never veering into soppiness. I’m so glad that Lauren Tobia’s evocative, warm illustrations have been given a starring role; they really add something special to the Anna Hibiscus chapter books, but it’s wonderful to see them take centre stage in this generous picture book.

After a snack of some fresh and dried mango, we also read You’re a Hero, Daley B! by Jon Blake & Axel Scheffler, about a rabbit who doesn’t know what he is, but for a while lives the life of a squirrel (up in a tree). Whilst we couldn’t eat acorns (as Daley B does) we did try all sorts of other nuts.

Then it was off to the playground to let off some steam, pretending we were at the Olympics. Here we read A Walk in London by Salvatore Rubbino whilst we had chips for lunch; Rubbino mentions that a favourite meal in the UK is indeed Fish and Chips.

Late in the afternoon we moved on to a nearby meadow to read George Flies South by Simon James and Butterfly, Butterfly by Petr Horacek. We played frisbee (inspired by George’s nest which goes flying off all over the place) and hunted for the minibeasts and butterflies we saw in the Horacek book.

Finally we made it home just in time to read A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham and Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton.

The day was full of books and food – our last treat was George’s purple and orange cake. **UPDATE: The recipe I used for this cake is now available on Chris’s website: **

As you can see it was a jam packed day with enormous amounts of fun had by all. The kids have already requested we do it all again next week… (and do you know what, I’m totally up for that ;-) )

So that was our Picture Book Picnic. *Thank you* Walker Books for enabling it – a lot of book love was spread at our picnic!

Our picnic was just the first of 10 over the coming 10 days, each focusing on a different book out of the 10 mentioned here today – do stop by Rainy Day Mum tomorrow to see her Picture Book Picnic!

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23 Responses to “A Perfect Picture Book Picnic”

  1. Stacey
    July 30th, 2012 @ 12:51 am

    Love, love, love this!! What a super fun day you must have had.
    Stacey recently posted..The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

  2. Damyanti
    July 30th, 2012 @ 5:42 am

    What a great way to spend the day & that called looks fantastic
    Damyanti recently posted..Interview with Sarah McIntyre

  3. Zoe
    July 30th, 2012 @ 5:43 am

    Hi Stacey, it was indeed a great day :-) Not least because of all the yummy things we had to eat!

    Hi Damyanti, thanks, it was a super way to spend a summer holiday day.
    Zoe recently posted..A Perfect Picture Book Picnic

  4. Damyanti
    July 30th, 2012 @ 6:14 am

    Sorry it should say ‘cake’ looked fantastic,I blame blurry morning eyed typing
    Damyanti recently posted..Interview with Sarah McIntyre

  5. choxbox
    July 30th, 2012 @ 6:51 am

    And for the nth time I wish we lived in your neighbourhood!

  6. Barbara
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:23 am

    What a perfect day! Trees to climb, paper boats to float, delicious food, sunshine and books. Heaven.
    Barbara recently posted..More on Enid Blyton and an update

  7. Zoe
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:35 am

    Choxbox, you’re in my spiritual neighbourhood!

    Hi Barbara, the boat floating was the biggest hit of the day, which surprised me a little – so simple and yet everyone got really excited about it.
    Zoe recently posted..A Perfect Picture Book Picnic

  8. bookaholic mum
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    Looks like you all had a wonderful day and lucked out with the weather! That cake dies indeed look fantastic! Can you share the recipe?
    bookaholic mum recently posted..Book Review: Dolly’s Diary by Clare Bromley and Holly Blackman

  9. Cerys @ Rainy Day Mum
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:59 am

    What a wonderful picnic and the orange and purple cake looks absolutely scrumptious.

  10. Polly
    July 30th, 2012 @ 8:08 am

    Wow. fab fabness.
    Polly recently posted..Summer Holiday Theme: 3 Olympic Legacy

  11. Zoe
    July 30th, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    Hi Bookaholic Mum, yes recipe is going to be sent to Chris (Haughton) who wants it for his blog…

    Thanks Cerys, hope you have as much fun at your picture book picnic!

    Polly :-)
    Zoe recently posted..A Perfect Picture Book Picnic

  12. Clara
    July 30th, 2012 @ 9:00 am

    One of your VERY best. Delicious to read! X
    Clara recently posted..silent sunday

  13. Zoe
    July 30th, 2012 @ 9:31 am

    Thanks Clara! Books and cakes and fun make a great combo :-)
    Zoe recently posted..A Perfect Picture Book Picnic

  14. se7en
    July 30th, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

    I absolutely totally love this post!!! A lovely day of magical reads and treats to eat… You so know how to make books special and memorable!!!
    se7en recently posted..What We Are Reading Right Now… GiveAway Time…

  15. Helen Dineen
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    What an amazing picnic! Looks fantastic. I really want to read the new Mo Willems book, I love his books.

  16. Zoe
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

    Hi Se7en, yes, it was definitely (y)our sort of day!

    Hi Helen, the Mo Willems book will work well as an early reader too – like his elephant and piggie books, though it’s packaged like a regular picture book.
    Zoe recently posted..A Perfect Picture Book Picnic

  17. Tasha Goddard
    July 31st, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

    Oh, what an amazing adventure of a picnic you had. We just went down to the local park, though of course we did enjoy ours lots.

    Love the cake! I’m going to have to show the girls this tomorrow, as they adore Oh No, George!

    We really enjoyed Anna Hibiscus’ Song, too, and I thought the pictures were beautiful. I must look out for the chapter books for RoRo.
    Tasha Goddard recently posted..London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony: Pleasantly surprised to feel proud of this country

  18. Isil
    July 31st, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    What a great day and what lucky kids!All the books sound intruiging,will see if the library has them.x
    Isil recently posted..Book Sharing Monday

  19. Zoe
    July 31st, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

    Thanks Tasha, we had a ball. Do have a go at making the cake – it’s quite a show stopper on the table :-)

    Hi Isil, I do hope the library has them – they’re all lovely.

  20. TheBoyandMe
    August 6th, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

    Wow, you did a brilliant job of sharing these books with your children and friends. Excellent post, excellent mummy, can I come and live with you please?
    TheBoyandMe recently posted..Country Kids: Ahoy There M’Hearties!

  21. Jenny Paulin
    August 6th, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

    wow! your post is amazing!!! it looks like a lot of fun and i have serious picture book picnic envy!!
    we love ‘Oh No George’ and that cake is a real show stopper isn’t it, i may also have to check the recipe out. x
    Jenny Paulin recently posted..Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken & Potato Bake

  22. Zoe
    August 7th, 2012 @ 5:54 am

    Thanks, TheBoyandMe! You’re welcome to visit anytime :)

  23. Zoe
    August 7th, 2012 @ 5:54 am

    Hi Jenny, do check out the cake – it was easy to make, and fun to eat!

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