11 books my children have loved this month (February)

Books

We’re back with another round-up of books we’ve enjoyed reading recently. Some of them are new releases, some of them are old favourites. There’s a mixture of fiction and factual as well as picture books and chapter books. Some we own ourselves, others are borrowed from our local library. All are genuine recommendations, rather than books we’ve been asked to promote.

Reading is a huge part of our family life and we love being able to share our current favourites, as well as hearing your recommendations to inspire our future reading.

If you missed our January round-up, you can read it here.

All Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase via this link, I will receive a small fee at no extra cost for you.

We hope this post will provide inspiration if you’re looking for new reading material for your children. We’d also love to hear about your favourite books so do let me know in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or you can tweet me on @cardiffmummy or tag @cardiffmummysays on Instagram and I’ll share your recommendations on my Instagram Stories.

For more reading inspiration – for children and grown-ups – see the Books section of Cardiff Mummy Says.

 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Puffin)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This an old favourite in our house, its creased pages testament to the hundreds of times it’s been read over the past decade. First published in 1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is an absolute classic, having sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. It’s ideal for toddlers, who will love poking their fingers through the holes in the food the caterpillar has munched his way through (the board books is perfect for younger children). It’s also a good one to introduce the days of the week, numbers, letters, different types of food and the idea that caterpillars turn into butterflies. Now that my children are getting older, we don’t read this as regularly as we used to, but recently it’s made a reappearance at bedtime stories, with my middle child reading it to his younger brother.

 

 

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins)

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers’ beautiful books and they have been a regular part of our family reading ever since my daughter was gifted Lost and Found as a newborn baby. The Way Back Home is a heartwarming tale of friendship and kindness featuring the same little boy as in Jeffers’ Lost and Found, and Up and Down. This time the boy finds himself on the moon after his aeroplane runs out of petrol. He’s scared and alone… until he meets a Martian facing also stranded on the moon with a broken spaceship, and feeling just as frightened. Realising they have met someone else in trouble, the two work together to fix their aircraft and get back home. Aimed at children aged around six and under, this is charming little story, slightly surreal in parts, but lovely nonetheless in showing the value of friendship and helping other people, all accompanied by tender watercolour/pen illustrations.

 

I Need a New Bum by Dawn Macmillan and Ross Kinnaird (Scholastic)

I Need a New Bum by Dawn McMillan

First published in New Zealand in 2012, this book made its way to the UK in 2018, made famous by ‘Scottish Granny’ whose YouTube video reading the book out loud went viral. My eight year old son didn’t know any of this when he picked it up in Morrisons while we were doing the weekly shop recently. He can be a bit of a reluctant reader, but was intrigued by the title, and read the whole thing through, out loud and by himself, asking if he could buy this and the follow-up I’ve Broken My Bum with his pocket money. It’s a slightly silly and cheeky book about a boy who looks in the mirror, sees a crack in his bum, thinks it’s broken, and goes on a mission to find a new one, imagining all kinds of ridiculous possibilities, such as an alien’s bum made from titanium or a knight’s bum that’s armour plated. Both my eight year old and his five year old brother think this book is hilarious. But I think it requires a certain sense of humour, as reviews are really mixed with some people thinking it’s too crude and appropriate for young children. Personally, we didn’t find it offensive – there are the odd words such as fart, bum crack and illustrations of bare bottoms, but this seems to be typical humour for some children of this age. As I said, my reluctant reader read this from cover to cover in the shop and bought it with his own money – and that’s a good enough recommendation for me.

 

 

 

SuperTato Veggies in the Valley of Doom by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (Simon and Schuster)

Supertato Veggies in the Valley of Doom

My five year old youngest child has long been a fan of the Supertato series, but his interest has been revived following a school project on supermarkets which has involved reading the Welsh version of some of the books and making their very own ‘Supertaten’, as he is known in the Welsh language, out of a potato. This book is one of several in the series, in which the hero and his vegetable friends find a treasure map while playing hide and seek. However, as they travel around the supermarket seeking out the treasure, the veggies soon find themselves in danger, with help coming from an unlikely source. Fun and vibrant illustrations and quirky characters make this an enjoyable read for younger children.

 

 

 

Albie the Adventurer: A Dinosaur in the Forest by Grace Todd and Caroline Duffy (National Museum Wales Books*)

Albie the Adventurer A Dinosaur in the Forest

This book was given to one of my sons as a birthday present a few years ago, but with first Dippy the Dinosaur and then the animatronic T-Rex both visiting Cardiff in recent months, we’ve been reading a lot of dinosaur books recently. Written by Grace Todd, a member of staff at National Museum Cardiff, this is a lovely story for younger children about Albie the Alamosaurus. His parents call him Albie the Adventurer… but the young dino isn’t even slightly brave. However, as he walks through the forest with his mum he realises the things he’s afraid of aren’t so scary after all. A good choice for dino-loving children, there are plenty of real dino facts weaved into the story, all accompanied by bold and vivid illustrations. First published in 2013, the book was longlisted for the Ti’r na nog prize, the annual awards for children’s literature in Wales, and is also available in Welsh as Arwyn y Anturiwr.

*As you may know if you read Cardiff Mummy Says regularly, we are blogger ambassadors for National Museum Wales. However the inclusion of this book is of our own choice and not part of any work we have been commissioned to do for them.

 

 

Croeso i’n Cragen by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks (Rily)

Croeso I'm Cragen Julia Donaldson

I picked up Croeso i’n Cragen, the Welsh language translation of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks’ best-selling Sharing a Shell in a local charity shop where it was on a sale for a bargain £1. My children are in a Welsh medium primary school and we’re always looking for new books to read. This one is especially good for parents who are learning Welsh or who don’t speak the language, because every page contains both the Welsh and the English translation, with the rhyming couplets flowing well in both languages. The story is about a little crab who doesn’t want to share his new shell with anyone. But he soon discovers that life in the rock pool can be tough, and realises the value of sharing in this heartwarming tale of friendship. We have quite a few of the Donaldson/Monks collaborations and my children love the glitter on all the pictures, so we were pleased to see this appeared in the Welsh version too.

Buy from the Gwales website,

 

Monsters Like Us: Call of the Wild / Monster Movie by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore (Franklin Watts)

My eight year old son picked these up at our local library recently – and they really engaged him. Part of the Monsters Like Us Series, the books are written in a simple comic book style, with large text and without too many words per page, meaning they’re great for developing readers. The books are set at Hangem High School and follow a zombie called Sam, a werewolf called Lin and a demon called Danny as they attempt to pass as regular students. In Call of the Wild, the trio and their class mates head on a school trip to a safari park. But trouble ensues when Lin steps too close to the wolf enclosure and finds herself transforming… In Monster Movie the three have to make a scary film for a class project. Not wanting to be found out, they stay behind the camera. However, none of the cast are scary enough…

I was intrigued by the series, so did a little research and discovered that the two authors – known as The 2 Steves – met more than 20 years ago as teachers in Nottingham, and have since written more than 200 books together, as well as acting editing numerous reading programmes for several major publishing houses. These are a great alternative for those who’ve had enough of the traditional and less exciting reading schemes.

 

Balloon to the Moon by Gill Arburthnott and Christopher Nielsen (Big Picture Press)

Balloon to the Moon

My husband and I bought this book for our middle child as an eighth birthday present a few months ago (not long after the 50th anniversary celebrations of the first humans landing on the moon) and he absolutely loves it. Indeed, we all do. Balloon to the Moon is a beautiful hard back book charting the human journey to space. It’s full of colourful illustrations in a wonderful retro style, packed full of fascinating information, and presented in an easy-to-follow format for children, while at the same time keeping the grown-ups interested with so much fascinating information. A timeline on the opening page covers all things air-travel related from the 5th century, when kites were invented, through Isaac Newton’s 17th century discovery of gravity, the unveiling of the hot air balloon in the 18th century, to the space expeditions of the 1950s and 1960s, including animals in space and Neil Armstrong becoming the first person to land on the moon in 1969, to more recent expeditions such as 2019’s Chinese robotic space probe Chang’e-4 making the first ever landing on the far side of the moon, and everything in between. Each of these events is explored in more detail throughout the book, with pages devoted to early aviators, notable aircraft, rocket science and satellites, the first space explorers, an in-depth look at the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States, the various Apollo missions, plus a look at what the future could hold. It’s one of those books with bite-size chunks of information dotted around the pages, meaning you can dip in and out of it, rather than needing to read it in a linear manner. This would make a lovely keepsake present, a book to be treasured for years to come.

 

 

Kawaii: How to Draw Really Cute Stuff: Draw Anything and Everything in the Cutest Style Ever! by Angela Nguyen (Search Press)

Kawaii How to Draw Really Cute Stuff

Not a reading book as such, but a book my 10-year-old daughter absolutely loves at the moment and one which she was keen to recommend to you all. Kawaii is the Japanese culture of cuteness, found in anime, fashion, art, music, lifestyle and more, and this book teaches you how to draw in the style. Cute animals and objects are broken down into basic shapes and effects, some in a step-by-step manner, others by showing how different basic shapes are put together to create the end result, so that you can easily create pictures in the style yourself. My daughter has produced some beautiful drawings from following this guide. She bought this book with her pocket money, after being told about it by a friend at school, and we’ve since bought it as a present for a couple of her friends too. It’s certainly a big hit among her age group at the moment, and it’s kept her entertained for hours, as she draws all manner of cute animals and objects. This is one of several books by the author in the same series… I’m sure it won’t be long before my daughter decides to add another one to her collection.

 

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Andersen (Egmont)

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball

My daughter is really enjoying the Amelia Fang series at the moment, having borrowed several from the library over then last couple of months. The age guidance is 7-10, so she’s on the upper range, and as a competent reader, whizzes through them, but she’s loving the strong and feisty female lead and the slightly grotesque, slightly dark undertones in the world of Nocturnia, where all things glittery and unicorn related are terrifying but blood and darkness are not. This is the first book in the series, and follows young vampire Amelia as the Barbaric Ball approaches. She’s dreading the ball… until the mysterious King Vladimir and his son, Prince Tangine, decide to come. Amelia and her friends are over the moon… until she is shocked to find he is spoiled and selfish. Investigating further she discovers he has many secrets. Why can he hold flowers and touch glitter without flinching? Why is he so spoiled? And did his mother really get eaten by a fairy? My daughter says these books are funny, easy to follow and hard to put down.

 

 

Pages & Co: Tilly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James (Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Pages & Co: Tilly and the Book Wanderers

This popped up as a recommended read on my daughter’s Kindle (she had a children’s Kindle for Christmas) – and it was perfect for her. She devoured it in a couple of days and tells me it’s brilliant. “It’s fun, really cool, magical, and imaginative,” she says. The book is about Tilly, a young girl who has lived in a book shop with her grandparents ever since her mother’s disappearance. She finds comfort in her favourite books… until one day her favourite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, appear in the shop and her adventures become very real as Tilly discovers she can ‘bookwander’ into any story she chooses. Could this be the key to helping her solve the mystery of what happened to her mother? The book is magical, laced with slight danger, and a great way to introduce children to some of the classics, as well as the magic of books.

My daughter’s looking forward to reading book two in the series, Pages & Co: Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales – and I’m so intrigued I want to read the books myself too.

 

 

We hope this post will provide inspiration if you’re looking for new reading material for your children. We’d also love to hear about your favourite books so do let me know in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or you can tweet me on @cardiffmummy or tag @cardiffmummysays on Instagram and I’ll share your recommendations on my Instagram Stories.

For more reading inspiration – for children and grown-ups – see the Books section of Cardiff Mummy Says.

 

 

 

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