There have been a range of activity books that have been published recently. There is something for everyone in the family, from toddlers right through to the 12-year-old history buff.
Alison Lester’s Wonderful World brings together Alison’s illustrations from her many delightful books and gives kids the chance to create their own colourful adventures with Noni the Pony, beach holidays, and explorations of the jungle and oceans. There are more basic illustrations for younger children, right through to very detailed scenes for older children (and their parents). It’s a wonderful colouring book for old and young alike.
See Play Do: A Kid’s Handbook for Everyday Fun is the ultimate activity book for Kiwi families. This fantastic book is packed full of games and activities to get kids thinking, moving, exploring, being creative and having fun. There are pages to draw on, with activities like planning your dream breakfast and drawing while listening to music. There are pages to write on, like writing about what happened the last time you were at the park and writing a playlist of the favourite songs you like to listen to. There are also pages with recipes to try, bird feeders and bath paint to make, and heaps of pages with suggestions of fun things to do and try. There are so many things in this book that I want to do with my toddler. Every family in New Zealand needs this book under their Christmas tree because it is certain to be loved by everyone. It is a real winner!
Peter Goes’ Timeline was a fascinating book that Gecko Press published last year. It starts at the beginning of time and follows events right through to the present day. It is a large book chock-full of information about people, places and events throughout time, and you find something new every time you look at it. Gecko Press have just released a companion activity book for Timeline. This is the perfect book for those kids that love history and who have lots of fascinating facts stored away in their head, especially older children. Kids can be creative while learning about civilisations, historical events and famous people from history. Kids can decorate a cave with rock drawings, bring Ottoman designs to life, graffiti the Berlin Wall, decorate the uniforms of soldiers in the Russian Revolution and help Michelangelo decorate the Sistine Chapel. There is so much variety in this book and it will keep anyone entertained for many, many hours. The pages can also be detached from the book so you can hang your masterpieces on the wall or share them with friends. This is a must-buy Christmas present for older children.
I also want to give a special mention to Gecko Press for their new card games based on two of their best-selling books. Noisy Dominoes was inspired by The Noisy Book, a gorgeous board book featuring lots of different noises to make. In Noisy Dominoes, players have to imitate the noise of the object or animal on their card or mime the action. They have also released Poo Bum Memory, inspired by my favourite Gecko Press book Poo Bum, and featuring words and images from the book. I think these are both a wonderful idea to extend the fun of these two books and they are a lot of fun.
In my school I very rarely have shark books sitting on the shelves because sharks are one of those animals that kids, especially boys are fascinated with. I’ve been keeping my eye out for any great shark books that I can find and thankfully the lovely people at Walker Books have brought a new one to my attention. It’s called Smart About Sharks by Owen Davey and it is absolutely stunning!
Smart About Sharks is one of the most visually appealing nonfiction books that I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those books that you just know kids are going to gravitate towards. The cover grabs you and draws you in to the world of sharks.
Smart About Sharks has everything you wanted to know about sharks and more. Owen explains what sharks are, tells you about their fins, their teeth, their prey, their social life, and he compares the sizes of different sharks. He tells us about the weird and wonderful varieties of shark, shark reproduction, and the place of sharks in mythology. He also tells us what we can do, as humans, to help sharks. There is a great contents and index too to help you find your favourite type of shark.
The thing I love the most about the books from Flying Eye Books is the premium production and this book is no exception. The hard cover, binding and paper are high quality, which makes it feel like a book to treasure. As a librarian I know that it is going to last the distance too. My favourite part of the production of this book is the gorgeous shark end papers.
Smart About Sharks is the second children’s nonfiction book that Owen Davey has created for Flying Eye Books (he also wrote Mad About Monkeys) and I certainly hope he has more in the pipeline. Grab a copy of Smart About Sharks now.
I am a huge Timmy Failure fan! He is one of those characters that I find both funny and annoying. I love his determination and his strive for ‘Greatness.’ Timmy’s mum doesn’t like him doing his detective work because Timmy always ends up in trouble, but Timmy will stop at nothing to keep his business going. In Timmy’s latest adventure, The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have, his mum has banned him from detective work but Timmy finds a way to continue behind his mum’s back, with hilarious results.
The only thing you need to know about Timmy’s latest memoir is that it was never meant for publication. Timmy’s detective log was stolen, and if this book gets out, Timmy will be grounded for life. Or maybe even longer. Because while Timmy was meant to be focusing on schoolwork, he was continuing his detective work in a garden shed. You don’t need the details. Just know this: there’s a Merry, a Larry, a missing tooth and a disappearing friend. But don’t tell Timmy’s mother!
The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have is Timmy Failure at his finest. It is full of Timmy’s silly antics that will make you laugh out loud. His latest case involves the possible kidnap of his best friend Rollo Tookus and there are plenty of suspects, from his piano teacher Ms. Hardie-Heeron to his cousin Larry. Timmy Failure always solves the case, even if it takes him a lot longer than it should.
One of the things I love the most about the Timmy Failure books is the characters. There are some great new characters in this story as well as old favourites that always make me laugh. In this story, Timmy’s cousins Larry and Merry (or Merry Nightmare Before Christmas as he calls her) come to stay at his house and take over his bedroom. Timmy makes them out to be horrible, weird people but of course they’re not. Poor Ms. Hardie-Heeron (great name) is Timmy’s piano teacher, who puts up with a lot from Timmy. Probably my favourite character in this story is Toots, Timmy’s substitute teacher who sits down the back of the class and eats jellybeans by the handful. The ever-entertaining Molly Moskins is back again, trying to help Timmy solve his case.
If you’re a fan of Timmy Failure you must get your hands on this book (even if the title suggests you’re not supposed to have it). I certainly can’t wait for the next Timmy Failure book. The Timmy Failure books are perfect for fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Tom Gates and Big Nate, as they are a great blend of text and cartoons.
Australian author Sally Murphy has recently launched her fantastic new series of books following the adventurous life of Sage Cookson. Sage isn’t your average 10-year-old. Her parents are television chefs who travel around Australia and the world meeting lots of different people, sampling the food and learning new cooking techniques. They then share their new knowledge with their huge TV audience. This means that Sage gets to travel with them, tasting lots of yummy food herself and getting into all sorts of adventures. There are two books in the series so far:
In Sage Cookson’s Sweet Escape Sage and her parents visit a chocolatier to film a segment for their TV show. Things go drastically wrong when the competitive spirit gets the better of the chocolatier.
In Sage Cookson’s Ring of Truth Sage and her parents visit a bakery to film a segment for their TV show. They are all in for a bit of a surprise when a treasured ring goes missing.
These books are perfect for early readers who are growing in confidence or for slightly older children who want a quick read. The font is large, the chapters are short and there is lots of action to keep readers engaged. I really like the way that Sally has given Sage the sense of a normal life by connecting her with her friend through the text messages they send to each other. They are perfect for fans of Billy B. Brown but especially for kids who love cooking and baking and are fans of the many cooking shows on our TV screens. Each book includes a recipe at the end (relevant to the story) that kids can make themselves.
If you’re looking for a fun new series for 7-10 year olds then Sally Murphy’s Sage Cookson series is perfect.
Check out www.sagecookson.com.au for more information about the books and some great recipes to try.