Book Reviews

Kitten Corner: Short Books, Big Ideas

This is quite a varied selection today, but what these very different books all have in common is that they’ll get kids engaged with learning new concepts, even if they don’t necessarily realise it! All of these books were sent to me free of charge, but that doesn’t affect my opinions.

How to Count to One by Caspar Salmon and Matt Hunt, from Nosy Crow

Matt Hunt illustrated two of our favourites, The Cat and the Rat and the Hat (review here) and The Pirates are Coming (review here) so I’ve been eagerly looking forward to this picture book since I first heard of it! This is a counting book with a difference – you are only allowed to count to one, no matter how many things are on the page! I can see this being a giggly, hilarious read with a preschooler who can enjoy all the tricks the book employs to get you counting accidentally – it’s a really fun one, and the wacky creatures, from rollerskating ducks to worms in disguise, keep the humour coming. A very enjoyable way to explore counting!

Once Upon a Big Idea by James Carter and Margaux Carpentier, from Little Tiger

I got my wires a bit crossed on this one, and was expecting a non-fiction read all about inventions for much older children, in this vein – but this is a cute, simple picture book for much smaller kids! In zingy rhyming text, it takes a quick tour through inventions from the very first tools to modern electronics, which is fun, but doesn’t provide much information beyond a name check of the item and the material it’s made from. It’s definitely a great introduction to the concept of inventions, though, and the busy, colourful art will keep you spotting things for ages.

Building a Home by Polly Faber and Klas Fahlén, from Nosy Crow

Telling the story of a building site from beginning to end, this book manages to feel really cosy and gentle despite the big, practical subject matter. It focuses on each member of the team individually, which gives it a personal feel – it’s a lot nicer to imagine Summer the plumber or Jane in the crane, rather than be told blankly ‘and then the pipes are fitted’ or similar, and it definitely gets you thinking about the humans doing the job! The team themselves are wonderfully diverse in race and gender, which is always great to see. It’s not exactly a rhyming book overall, but there are lots of nice bits of wordplay, particularly in the names, that make it lovely to read aloud. It strikes a nice balance of being informative (there’s an illustrated glossary at the back!) and telling a story that the reader can connect to. Plus, I always enjoy busy scenes with cats to spot!

Do Baby Elephants Suck Their Trunks? by Ben Lerwill and Katharine McEwen, from Nosy Crow

This lovely gentle book explores all the things animal babies do that’s just like human children! Despite the title, it’s not strictly questions and answers about animals, but rather asks children to think about the things they themselves do, and then provides an animal comparison, from cats and dogs to giraffes and whales. With an overall message of celebrating similarities as well as differences, and a focus on the bond between families, this is a sweet book that feels like a very calming read, but will certainly spark off many more questions.

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