Our new favourite children’s books

September 20, 2014

IKEA Bekvam spice racks as children's book shelves

Like lots of children her age, Eliza loves to read. As well as her bedtime book-fest, it’s a staple daytime favourite too. Which is pretty convenient at the moment as it’s an activity that involves both of us sitting down (unlike dancing, spinning or jumping, which one of us really doesn’t like doing at nine months pregnant).

So here’s our new favourites, all from publisher Paragon Books:

Children's book review from Paragon Books

Wonderful Wildlife 1-2-3, Charles Fuge – Yetis, chipmunks, bats as mats, twenty different dinosaurs; what more could a small child wish for? This sneakily combines counting and animals, and there’s also a run-on story with the characters (e.g. the moths then go on to make holes in the table cloth). The pacing is great, and it’s a really fun one to read out loud.

I Love You When – Clearly one of my favourites because I’m pregnant and ever-so-slightly emotional, this is the story of a rabbit telling their bunny baby of all the occasions when they love them in the day-to-day and through the seasons (although the ending – ‘mostly I love you whenever I’m with you’ – doesn’t make that much sense to me, as what about the times they’re not?). Very sweet though.

Away in my Aeroplane, The Fish with the Deep Sea Smile and Sunshine and Snowballs, by Margaret Wise Brown – Sunshine and Snowballs is about two children exploring the passing seasons, so it’s pretty timely. Away in my Aeroplane is about a small child’s fantasy flight in the sky, up high, through the clouds and rain and over the city. This is responsible for Eliza’s new love of playing the airplane game (made out of cushions; she’s the captain, I’m the co-pilot). The Fish with the Deep Sea Smile is about an epic fishing trip to find a smiley deep-sea species.

With all three the words and rhymes are cleverly and deceptively simple, the illustrations are both bold and intricate, and they are easy to memorise, so we can ‘read’ them in the dark. I think it’s safe to say that we like this author.

And three more about animals, Anthony and the Ants – Poor old Anthony and his lunch, but positive underlying messages about sharing and getting on together. Wakey, Wakey, Big Brown Bear – Basically the John Lewis sleeping bear advert in book form, and a story about friendship. And the Owl and the Pussycat – aha, it’s not what you think – this book takes the opening lines of the poem and then spins it in a completely different direction.

Review of children's books from Paragon

What all these books have in common is the really wonderful illustrations with attention to detail, and the ways the stories seem like fairly simple concepts but tend to provoke an imaginative response.

Also huge apologies Paragon! They’ve been sending me these books for months as part of the Book Buddy scheme and this is our first review. I’m so slack. But needless to say, Eliza has loved most of them (there’s only been one, Pipe Down Milton, that we both weren’t so keen on). But these are alternative books to the usuals and classics that it’s definitely worth checking out.

(And Eliza’s blue bookshelves are IKEA hacks, the Bevkam spice racks used as children’s bookshelves I wrote about a few months ago).


  • Shirley

    September 22, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Books are the best present you can give a child after your time, love and fun

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