The World’s Most Pointless Animals – Philip Bunting

It’s no secret how much I love books that tell me a whole bunch of fun facts about animals. My favourite facts in this book are:

  • Leeches have 32 brains.
  • Elephant shrews “are typically 15cm long, but can jump almost a metre in the air”.
  • An axolotl can regenerate its body parts when it’s injured.

I’m not sure how well this book will work with its target audience (one website says 4+, others say 5 to 8 years). I didn’t find the humour funny, although kids may. I think some references will go straight over the heads of many kids. Have kids that age even heard of The Beatles?

description

Terms that adults would understand could confuse younger readers, especially without a glossary to refer to. A quokka is said to be a “pseudo-roo”. About the myotonic goat: “Somebody should teach them about the fight or flight response.” Do you want to explain to your 5 year old what it means for a stick insect to be “amorous”?

The illustrations are colourful and the animals are cute. I particularly liked the platypus and sloth.

description
description

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Happy Yak, and imprint of Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The World’s Most Pointless Animals is a witty, quirky, colourfully-illustrated book featuring fascinating facts about some very silly animals … who we find are perhaps not so pointless after all.

From familiar animals like giraffes (who don’t have any vocal cords) through to those that surely should not even exist, such as the pink fairy armadillo (absurdly huge front claws, super tough protective shell in baby pink, particularly susceptible to stress), our planet is full of some pretty weird and wonderful animals. For example:

  • Koalas spend up to 18 hours a day asleep!
  • Pandas are born bright pink, deaf, and blind.
  • Dumbo octopuses flap their big fin-like ears to move around.
  • A Narwhal’s tusk grows through its upper lip – ouch!

With hilarious text throughout and bright, contemporary illustrations, this guide to absurdly awesome animals contains funny labelled diagrams and some excellent made-up Latin names (N.B. The jellyfish’s scientific name is not actually wibblious wobblious ouchii).

Carrying an important message of celebrating diversity and differences, The World’s Most Pointless Animals inspires a drive to conserve our amazing planet and the creatures we’re lucky enough to share it with.

A Little Bit of Courage – Claire Alexander

The Ploofers are back and they’ve continued to add some colour to their lives thanks to the SHOOF! Ploofer from A Little Bit Different. Now the Ploofers are ready to try something new. But Little One is scared of attempting this new thing.

Luckily Toasty, my favourite carb cheerleader, is also back and ready to provide Little One with some much needed support. I absolutely love that Toasty acknowledges Little One’s anxiety and reassures them that everyone gets scared.

description

Little One isn’t left to face their fear alone. Toasty remains by their side, supporting and encouraging them as they bravely attempt the thing they didn’t think they could do.

description

Toasty reminded me that it’s okay to accept help, that you don’t have to face the scary things in life alone.

My favourite part of Little One’s story is that he doesn’t overcome his fear on his first attempt. It is through perseverance that Little One succeeds. His fear doesn’t magically go away because he decides to try the scary thing; doing the thing even though you’re scared is what being brave is all about.

I need more of Toasty and the Ploofers in my life!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Happy Yak, and imprint of Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, for the opportunity to read this picture book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In this follow-up to the beloved picture book A Little Bit Different, the Ploofers are back for a heartwarming exploration of fear and finding courage.

The Ploofers have just learned a valuable lesson in celebrating differences and trying new things. They’ve been practicing something very special again and this time it requires extra teamwork… But Little One is too scared to go on this new adventure. Will some kind and encouraging words from Toasty help him find a little bit of courage?

With simple, striking illustrations and a cutaway cover design that adds tactile interest, A Little Bit of Courage picks up right where A Little Bit Different left off. With a subtle yet powerful message on overcoming anxiety and finding the courage to live life to its fullest, this book will resonate with children and adults alike.

A Little Bit Different – Claire Alexander

The Ploofers all PLOOF! Except for one, whose PLOOF! is a SHOOF! This Ploofer loves the thing that makes them different … until the rest of the Ploofers question it.

The other Ploofers all think the SHOOF! is weird. It’s outside of their comfort zone because they haven’t seen a SHOOF! before.

description

The judgement of the other Ploofers makes the SHOOF! Ploofer sad. They wonder why the other Ploofers aren’t accepting of the thing that makes them different.

It isn’t until Toasty recognises the beauty of this Ploofer’s SHOOF! and encourages them to embrace their difference that the SHOOF! Ploofer regains their confidence.

description

I loved the SHOOF! Ploofer and the message that it’s okay to be different. It can be scary to have the courage to be yourself, especially when the way you express yourself is outside of the norm, but there will always be those like Toasty who will value you for who you are.

Although the other Ploofers originally shy away from what is new, eventually they realise that different doesn’t automatically equal bad. By accepting the Ploofer who is different, the rest of the Ploofers learn acceptance and in doing so their own lives are brightened.

I naturally rebel against any system that asserts that because this is the way we’ve always done something, that’s the only way it can be done. You shouldn’t have to hide your unique gifts just because some other Ploofers are unwilling to think outside of the box. Meaningful change can come when we open ourselves up to possibilities we haven’t considered before.

I’m all for anything that celebrates diversity. In this book, it’s diversity of expression that’s addressed but this can be applied to all forms of diversity.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Happy Yak, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, for the opportunity to read this picture book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A light and fun story depicting the journey from ignorance to acceptance and celebration. A Little Bit Different by Clare Alexander is a beautiful story exploring acceptance and joy in being different. 

Meet the ploofers. The ploofers have been practicing something special which they all want to do at the exact same time – but wait! What’s that? One of them does something different! When one little ploofer goes against the usual flow of things, the rest of them turn their backs on him. But all it takes is for one person to recognise the beauty in being different to spark a change in attitude of everyone.

With simple and striking illustrations, A Little bit Different is a joyful reading experience for both you and your child, with the opportunity to spark more meaningful discussions about people’s differences and how we accept and value them. 

Love Your Body – Jessica Sanders

Illustrations – Carol Rossetti

Every so often I stumble across a book I wish I’d had the opportunity to read when I was a kid. This is one of those books.

While acknowledging that all bodies are different (and this is okay!), the focus of this book is appreciating what your body can do rather than what it looks like. Examples include using your hands to create, your eyes to watch television or read and your nose to smell the sea or flowers.

Self care ideas for showing your body kindness are included and seeking help from others is normalised. What you can do for your body and what it does for you are addressed but you are also reminded that you are more than your body. You are kind, curious, passionate and so many other wonderful things.

description

I absolutely adored the message of this book but it was Carol Rossetti’s illustrations that sealed the deal for me. So many different bodies are represented. Bodies of various colours, shapes, sizes and abilities are included. There’s even cellulite, body hair and stretch marks, and I love that!

description

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read this book so far. Although the target audience are children, adults who didn’t receive this message as kids will also be able to use this book to challenge the stereotypes they’ve internalised about their own body.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

What if every young girl loved her body? Love Your Body encourages you to admire and celebrate your body for all the amazing things it can do (like laugh, cry, hug, and feel) and to help you see that you are so much more than your body.

Bodies come in all different forms and abilities. All these bodies are different and all these bodies are good bodies. There is no size, ability, or colour that is perfect. What makes you different makes you, you – and you are amazing!

Love Your Body introduces the language of self-love and self-care to help build resilience, while representing and celebrating diverse bodies, encouraging you to appreciate your uniqueness. This book was written for every girl, regardless of how you view your body. All girls deserve to be equipped with the tools to navigate an image-obsessed world.

Featuring a special surprise poster on the jacket, this book will show you that freedom is loving your body with all its “imperfections” and being the perfectly imperfect you!

The Animal Awards – Martin Jenkins

Illustrations – Tor Freeman

I just can’t go past a kid’s book that tells me fun facts about animals. This fascination has led to me knowing the most random and strange little tidbits about all sorts of animals, and I can’t stop. So, here’s another one! Unlike others I’ve read, this one presents awards to the winners in each category.

Each award is granted two pages, incorporating information and illustrations. Beside learning the name of the animal that has won each of these prestigious awards, I also learned the type of animal they were (insect, bird, mammal, reptile, etc), where they live and for how long, and what their diet consists of. Then there’s information specific to the award they’ve won and other interesting facts.

Relevant information about other animals was also included. For example, while the chimpanzee won the coveted Nifty Tool-User Award, other animals that also use tools are mentioned, including sea otters.

A couple of times there was no overall winner for the category but instead several winners for its subcategories, such as the Family Awards, where winners were selected for the cool dad award, mom-of-the-year award, loyal couple award and great-grandmother award.

My favourite awards were the:

  • Enlightenment Award, which was won by the Deep-Sea Anglerfish. I am fascinated by bioluminescence and I have a soft spot for strange animals that are unlikely to win any beauty pageants.
  • Deep Sea Diver Award, which was awarded to the Cuvier’s beaked whale, who was also awarded my Favourite New Fact Award for this marvel: “Its longest and deepest dive recorded so far lasted for an amazing 2 hours and 17 minutes, with a descent of nearly 10,000 feet below the surface of the sea.” The runners up in this category were also given medals.

I usually prefer fact books to include photographs of the animals but I had fun looking at Tor Freeman’s illustrations. The animals were expressive and had character, and I loved the winners pictured with their award on display. Their poses often reflected the attribute that won them their award and the backgrounds were effective, simple enough to place the animals in their native environment but not so detailed that they took away the focus from the stars themselves. I particularly loved the chameleon, who looks very proud to have won its award.

I learned some new facts about some of my favourite animals and encountered a few animals that I previously knew very little about. If this book had been available when I was a kid I definitely would have borrowed it from the library for a school assignment. The information would have made me sound smarter than I was and I’m almost positive I would have traced some of the illustrations to spruce up my assignment as even drawing a legible stick figure has only ever had a 50/50 shot of success with me at best.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for granting my wish to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Fifty fantastic creatures are awarded prizes to celebrate their most dazzling talents and some unusual skills. Roll up, roll up! The Animal Awards are about to begin. Who will win the Terrific Teeth Award? Who will claim the title of Most Smelly? Who will win the prize for Best at Pretending To Be A Plant? Celebrate with 50 brilliant animals from around the world who represent nature’s rich tapestry.

Little People, Big Dreams #10: Ada Lovelace – Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrations – Zafouko Yamamoto

Whatever device you’re reading this review on, you have Ada Lovelace to thank for it. The child of poet Lord Byron and Lady Byron, Ada had big dreams. Although her mother tried to dissuade Ada from her passion of inventing and replace it with her own love of mathematics and logic, Ada was able to combine her mathematical talent with her dream.

She was introduced to Charles Babbage who was working on a machine that could solve maths equations quicker than people could. Ada thought she could make the machine do even more impressive things and so she worked on a code that would tell machines what to do, a code we still use today.

To say Ada was a visionary is an understatement. She became the world’s first computer programmer a century before computers were even invented!

Despite obstacles including illness and simply being a woman in the 1800’s, Ada proved that with determination and hard work, she could achieve greatness in her field. She was so ahead of her time that her work went largely unnoticed and unappreciated during her life, yet her contributions are vital to our everyday lives over 150 years after her death.

If Ada has something to teach us besides girl power, it’s that you should follow your dreams and not allow anyone to squish them.

This is only the second book I’ve read in the Little People, Big Dreams series. There’s enough information in them for kids to learn about the basics of the person they’re reading about’s life and their contributions to our society but not so much that they’re bogged down with dates and boring bits.

The illustrations are interesting and have a childlike quality to them but I would have preferred there to be more bright colours and for the peoples’ faces to be more expressive.

While I would have used books like this one for school projects, it wouldn’t have been the type of book I would have chosen at the library to read for fun. I was all about Roald Dahl with his wacky and whimsy worlds and cared little for non fiction, but that’s just me. I definitely appreciate this type of book now and can see how it would have inspired me to want to follow my dreams had I read it as a child.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Meet Ada Lovelace, the British mathematician and daughter of poet Lord Byron. Part of the beloved Little People, Big Dreams series, this inspiring and informative little biography follows the colorful life of Lord Byron’s daughter, from her early love of logic, to her plans for the world’s first computer program. 

As a child, Ada had a big imagination and a talent for mathematics. She grew up in a noble household in England, where she dedicated herself to studying. Her work with the famous inventor, Charles Babbage, on a very early kind of computer made her the world’s first computer programmer. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical images and a detailed profile of the mathematician’s life.

Little People, Big Dreams is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

Look for Ladybug in Plant City – Katherina Manolessou

Daisy’s pet Ladybird has decided to play a game of hide-and-seek. Daisy enlists the help of the best detective in Plant City, Basil, to help find him. They search the school, train station, museum, fun fair, restaurant, garden centre, a concert, hospital, riverbank and market. Along the way they find many other animals doing fun activities including a skateboarding crocodile and items such as a picture of a pineapple.

The illustrations were colourful and jam packed with activity. Kids will enjoy spending time searching the pages for animals doing cute and funny things. This book is the first in a planned series and it definitely has potential but I think it could have been more interactive.

I had expected the book to ask the reader/seeker to find more things. As the front cover boasts that there are over 500 things to find I was surprised that each scene only required on average three things to be found. Perhaps additional items to find could have been listed at the back of the book, along the lines of, “Well done! You’ve found Ladybird and some of the residents of Plant City. Can you also find …” and then maybe list some more things to find in each scene.

I know kids can find their own items in the scenes and adults can ask a kid if they can see something but most of the fun of this sort of book is having a big list of items to find and then having the satisfaction of knowing where everything is in each scene.

While I liked the style of the illustrations there were a few animals I couldn’t identify. I’d be able to work around this with a child by asking them to find an animal of a certain colour doing a particular activity. I also would have liked a final page where Daisy and Basil actually find Ladybird. As it stands, Daisy wants to cry because she misses her pet so she and Basil try silly hats on to cheer themselves up so the story itself finishes on a bit of a downer.

Helpful Hint: Just because Daisy and Basil can’t find Ladybird in each scene doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find him.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Daisy’s pet ladybug goes missing, so she visits super-sleuth Basil, the best detective in Plant City. Can he help her find Ladybug? Follow Daisy and Basil as they look for Ladybug all over Plant City.

Is he in the museum, the carnival, the train station, the school, the concert or the restaurant? Witty, colorful, illustrations packed with visual jokes and plenty of wild things to spot in the background will delight children of all ages.