February Bookshelf

After a couple of months off, with books going into our Christmas gift guides and there not being many new releases in January, our monthly Bookshelf feature is back.  This month we bring you a wide range of books, from mini reads for mums to little treats for babies, and all ages in between.  Enjoy!

One of the things that comes up most often when mums are comparing their now life and their past, pre-children life is the lack of time to read.  After a long day of childcare, housework and often work outside the home too, we're more likely to collapse in front of the TV or a box-set than we are to pick up a book.  Hoping to plug the gap, the 2016 range of Galaxy Quick Reads, short books that can be purchased for just £1, features whodunnits, literature, real life and chick lit.  With books by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a former SAS soldier and renowned crime writers, it is hoped that the Galaxy Quick Reads books will help people rediscover the pleasure of reading in 2016.

The Quick Reads initiative was launched in 2006 to help the country’s one in six adults who struggle with reading, as well as the one in three adults who do not read for pleasure.  Quick Reads has now distributed over 4.7 million books to libraries, hospitals, schools workplaces, parents, family groups and even prisons, where literacy continues to be poor.  The stellar line-up of writers this year includes Malala Yousafzai, Andy McNab, Agatha Christie, Ann Cleeves and Lucy Diamond.

If you want to get little ones into reading early, try one of these fab new picture books out this month:

It's a bumpy, jumpy brightly-coloured ride through the jungle when monkey finds a bicycle and giraffe insists that he knows how to ride it.  With lots of other weird and wonderful animals jumping on for a ride, giraffe's wobbly progress looks set for disaster in this fun, exciting picture book.  Full of the kind of chaos that appeals to most toddlers, bright appealing illustrations and lots of fun,  Giraffe on a Bicycle is a great book to inspire little ones' own adventures.  Great fun.

Anything with cat in the title is sure to be a hit in this feline-dominated house, and The King Cat doesn't disappoint.  It tells the tale of a happy cat who unexpectedly has to share his space, and his humans, with one of those slobbery, common, tail-wagging things.  How will he come to terms with sharing his home?  How will he show the usurping upstart who's boss?  How will the dog ever learn how things work?  And maybe, just maybe, could they find a way to live together happily...?

The new Wee Gallery series of books from Quarto are designed to stimulate from birth and to help engender a love of reading from the earliest age.  With high contrast repeating patterns, easily recognisable faces and sensory experiences, these are brilliant first books.  They also extend up to pre-school age with the activity book seen on the left above, which encourage mark making and early writing.  There's lots to do, games to play, dot to dots, colouring fun and enough puzzles and activities to keep little ones busy for ages.

The slide and play books (above) are perfect for encouraging babies to explore and predict, and have moveable puzzle pieces that will never fall out, such a fun concept and great for honing motor skills.  Pets and Safari versions are available.  While the lovely super soft cloth books (below) fold out into a series of pictures for baby to examine in easily recognisable black and white print.  The simple illustrations are perfect for babies' face recognition patterning and open up a world of possibilities for wrapping the book round things, mouthing, and endlessly folding and unfolding.  Machine washable, lightweight and robust, the cloth books would make a lovely baby gift.

If you have older toddlers and children, the wonderful ideas inPirates and Pompoms: How to Make Children's Toys and Costumes  will be just what you are looking for.  Perfect for creating a rainy day activity box, there are 26 easy projects to create handmade costumes, toys and props that will spark their imagination and boost playtime creativity.

This is back to play basics, with ideas for a variety of projects with which to populate imaginary Pirate, Circus and Woodland worlds.  Reusable again and again, a toy box filled with these toys will while away many a happy hour, and best of all they are simple enough for even the most amateur crafter to make.  Each project includes a simple template and illustrated step-by-step instructions, requiring only basic cutting, stitching and sticking skills.  Start now and you'll have a fantastic toy box ready and waiting for the Easter holidays!

In the run up to World Book Day on Thursday 3rd March, Aldi have some super special offerings for kids in their Special Buys range.  With dressing up clothes, dress up storage, face paints and fun accessories, their imagination will run wild this World Book Day!  The range also includes great value book collections, such as the best selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series below, Roald Dahl and more.  Prices range from £1.99 for character drinks bottles to £14.99 for the dressing up storage wardrobes; books are priced from just 99p!  As with all Aldi Special Buys, once it's gone it's gone, so head in store now to pick up some bargains.

Spring is one of the best times to introduce children to nature and even the most urban little person can be encouraged to get out and explore with this gorgeous new book illustrated by Nina Chakrabarti.  Hello Nature: Draw, Collect, Make and Grow asks the reader to think about the nature all around them, in wild spaces, in the park, in the garden or even in your sitting room!  This nature scrapbook invites responses to a series of tasks and challenges, allowing the child to delve into the natural world as much as they want to in order to create their own special book.  Doodle, draw, colour and write, this versatile book will be a treasured companion indoors and out, and is bound to inspire a new found interest in and love of nature.

The second book in a hilarious new series of adventures, Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City sees our feisty heroine embark on a quest to save her baby sister.  On the way she faces a perilous jungle, dastardly villains and deadly monsters, and poisoned jelly babies.  Will Mabel Jones survive to fight another day?  Will she rescue her sister from the Witch Queen?  Described by The Times as "The Mighty Boosh for 8 year olds with a dash of Lemony Snicket thrown in", this series is terrific fun and genuinely LOL.  The first book, The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones is also available.

Set in the adventure world of Tale Town, a place where the everyday adventures of school kids take place in extraordinary surroundings, populated by classic characters from fairy tales and legends, such as Jack, Little Red, Anansi and Rapunzel.  Turning our world on its head, these innovative new stories feature adventures with trolls, witches, mermaids and fairies, and are suitable for children aged 5 and up, although I would say more like 7.  The first two adventures The Spell Thief and The Great Troll Rescue are available now.

See you next month for more reading adventures!

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