Our Bookshelf: The Children

We have been discovering many British authors and illustrators of children’s books, and learning more about some classic favorites as well.  This post is meant mostly as a way for me to remember some of the books we have enjoyed while we’ve been here.

We love the work of Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler, including Room on the Broom, Stick Man, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book, Tabby McTat, The Highway Rat, and of course, The Gruffalo, which is a sensation here, complete with a gorgeous short film narrated by Helena Bonham Carter.

We love Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul’s Winnie the Witch and all of her crazy adventures.  Our favorites are Winnie’s Amazing Pumpkin and Winnie’s New Computer.

We love Katie Morag.  She is a spunky (sometimes mischievous) girl who lives in a small island community in the Hebrides.  What’s not to love?

A recent library find was Whale by David Lucas.  We loved this one so much we sought out others by this author and found the sweet, sad story, The Robot and the Bluebird.

We have discovered many dragon stories that we love, and Flora is now jonesing for a red dragon for Christmas.  The Junkyard Dragon is a good one, as is When the Dragons Came by Lynne Moore and Naomi Kefford.

We’ve also been enjoying the adventures of Small Knight and George.  We especially love Small Knight and George and the Royal Chocolate Cake.  Another favorite knight story is Good Knight, Sleep Tight by David Melling.

We discovered Zoe and Beans at Christmas time.

The kids (both of them!) go nuts for Little Boat by Thomas Docherty.  I think they just love seeing the different sea creatures swimming and playing together.

One that we’re taking home with us is Queen Victoria’s Knickers.  Just too fun.

And we just discovered The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis.  This one got me thinking about fairy stories and magical tales of Scotland.  I think we’re going to have to find some books when we get there that will feed the kids’ imaginations and keep them looking for critters while we’re enjoying the great Scottish outdoors.  Any tips?  (Another one by Jeanne Willis that we love is Mole’s Sunrise.)

One of the kids’ favorite things to do now is to play or sit quietly while listening to stories.  We have several sources for these:

Tales2Go, an iphone/ipad app that has a huge selection of stories and books for various ages.  Our current faves on Tales2Go include the “Geronimo Stilton” stories, “Ready Freddy”, and “The Magic School Bus” series.  We definitely have a couple of budding scientists here, and they love all the detail and explanation they get with Magic Schoolbus.  Can’t wait to get a whole bunch of those books when we get back to the States.  We also find lots of classic tales and songs on this app.  Good stuff!

Storynory is a British website with free audio for kids!  I adore this website.  They have wonderful audio versions of Aesop Fables, Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Perrault, 1001 Nights, Dickens, Wilde, and Kipling, plus many more.  They have versions of the Wizard of Oz (told by chapters) and Alice in Wonderland.  They also have excellent versions of many Greek and Norse myths.  What we’ve been enjoying the most, though, are their original stories about Bertie the frog (who was once a prince).  This website is EXCELLENT!  And all the stories are read by British people, so very pleasant to listen to.

We have also been getting audio books from our local library and downloads on iTunes.  We have classics like Where the Wild Things Are, Blueberries for Sal, Curious George, The Little Red Hen, etc.  We have been listening to Winnie the Pooh (with such luminaries as Stephen Fry and Dame Judy Dench) a LOT!  Charlie especially just loves these stories.  This is one of the reasons we decided on a Pooh-themed birthday party this year.  This, and the fact that we will hopefully get to visit Pooh country before leaving the area.  We can actually see the Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh Sticks Bridge, and other sites that were the actual inspiration for A.A. Milne’s stories.  We now also have the audio version of Return to the Hundred Acre Wood and will begin listening to those stories soon.  You just can’t really go wrong with Winnie the Pooh.

We’ve also picked up an audio version of A Bear Called Paddington, which we’ve listened to until the cassettes started to jam up in the machine.  We found this for 1 pound at a charity shop.  We love this story, and the version we have of this is also read by our beloved Stephen Fry.

Other things we’ve enjoyed at the local library include Thomas the Tank Engine stories, Harry and His Bucketful of Dinosaurs, and loads of classic fairy tales and dinosaur and pirate stories.  Flora especially loves pirates.  Some favorites:  Cats Ahoy! by Peter Bentley, Pirate Patch and the Great Sea Chase by Rose Impey, and Captain Buckleboots on the Naughty Step by Mark Sperring.  And of course, we adore The Night Pirates by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright.  And Charlie loves his dinosaurs.  There was Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson, Dinosaur Chase by Benedict Blathwayt, Tom and the Dinosaur Egg by Ian Beck, and Cruch Munch Dinosaur Lunch by Paul Bright and Michael Terry.

We are starting to read the Beatrix Potter books in preparation for our visit to the Lakes District.  We can actually visit her house there at Hill Top, which we intend to do.  There is also a visitor attraction with larger-than-life sized scenes from her stories. I’ve heard it’s quite nice, and fun for children, so we may visit that as well.

I hope we can come back to England when the kids are older.  I’d love to visit all the places that appear in the Harry Potter films with interested children…wouldn’t that be fun?

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