Category: children

The Story Orchestra: Carnival of the Animals

Discover the world of Carnival of the Animals in this musical reimagining of this celebrated suite for children – push the button in each scene to hear the sounds of an orchestra playing from Camille Saint-Saëns’ score.

About The Story Orchestra: Carnival of the Animals

One day, two brothers discover a magical animal kingdom behind their bookcase. They are greeted by the royal lion with his shaggy mane; ask for directions from an old lonely tortoise; take a ride on some lumbering elephants; topple a skeleton of dinosaur bones; and swim among a school of shimmering fish. If only they could take them all home!

The book includes extracts from ‘The Swan’, ‘Aquarium’, ‘Fossils’, and ‘Finale’ (From Disney’s Fantasia) along with a new story to link the pieces together.

As you journey through the magical scenes, you will press the buttons to hear 10 excerpts from the suite’s music. At the back of the book, find a short biography of the composer, Camille Saint-Saëns, with details about his composition of Carnival of the Animals. You can replay the musical excerpts and read a discussion of the instruments, rhythms and musical techniques that make them so powerful. A glossary defines the musical terms.

The Story Orchestra series brings classical music to life for children through illustrated retellings of classic ballet and program music stories paired with 10-second sound clips of orchestras.

Our Thoughts

When you first glance at this book, you have a strong suspicion it is going to be a treasured keepsake, a special journey for you and your child. Carnival of the Animals does not disappoint.

It has been a long time since I have read a book with my child that has accompanying sounds and music. I forgot how important this sense is when it comes to bringing to life a story. Each sound clip that is associated with a two page spread is a perfect representation of the story – from the Swan (the two pianos sounding like the swans feet paddling along) to the Aviary (with the flute that brings to life a little bird). The back of the book explains each sound that we are hearing in each part of the story.

The story itself is an amazing journey that two brothers take – one that you can easily imagine a child coming up with. They explore the wonders of the animal kingdom – meeting lions, tortoises, elephants, coral reef inhabitants, birds and so much more. The illustrations are rich and colourful, complimenting the story perfectly.

This is a spectacular book that will easily become a family treasure. It is visually stunning (you can’t help but run your hands over the illustrations and cover), the sound clips are a great introduction to classical music and the story will entertain.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Jessica Courtney Tickle​ is an illustrator who graduated from Kingston University in July 2014. Her absolute favorite thing to draw or paint is nature, finding a focus on foliage of any kind as well as children’s stories about adventure and exploration. She also has a penchant for drawing theater from music makers to dancers and even singing animals. Jessica is most influenced by vintage picture books, travel posters, and folk art as well as numerous painters and printmakers.

Katy Flint is an author, editor, and musician, based in London. She studied violin at the University of Southampton, before moving into children’s books. She is the author of the best-selling sound book The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker, and has worked on many other non-fiction titles—from human bodies to dinosaurs. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

Illumisaurus Book Review

Journey back in time to the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods with Illumisaurus, come face-to-face with prehistory’s most spectacular dinosaurs, plants and animals. Bring this lost world to life with your magic three-color viewing lens.

About Illumisaurus

Journey back in time to the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods with Illumisaurus, come face-to-face with the most spectacular dinosaurs, plants and animals. Bring this lost world to kaleidoscopic life with your magic three-color viewing lens.

With your lens in hand, discover amazing places and the creatures that roamed them.

  • Your green lens reveals a location, spanning 9 land masses across millions of years. Learn how these places transformed to become the habitats on Earth.
  • Your red lens brings to life the dinosaurs. Meet a T. Rex, run with packs of velociraptors and marvel at the gigantic brachiosaurus as you discover how these animals came to rule the Earth.
  • Your blue lens uncovers the wildlife that lived alongside and after the dinosaurs, including dragonflies, woolly mammoths and fungi taller than trees.
  • Fact pages fill in the details and guide you through a world bursting with life and color.

The latest in the bestselling Illumi series, Illumisaurus is a hidden-world adventure with a scientific angle, and the perfect gift for dinosaur enthusiasts. Innovative illustrations from award-winning design duo Carnovsky make this a book like no other, with hundreds of places, plants and creatures to discover on three layers of detailed artwork.
 
How many dinosaurs will you find on your prehistoric journey?

Our Thoughts

Wow – this was the first thought that went through my head when we opened this book (my son – this is so cool!). The book is dedicated to dinosaurs but told in such an unique manner – using three lens that explore and reveal dinosaurs, the place and the plant life all on the same page.

While the book is visually stunning, it is also full of amazing information about dinosaurs around the world during this time period. We explore Western Europe, Central Asia and Russia, East and Southeast Asia, Middle East and India, Africa, North America, Australia, Antarctica and South America. For each place, we learn about the history (climate, time period, fossils and so much more) while using the green lens to visually bring the place to life. We use the red lens to bring to life the dinosaurs of this region and the blue lens on that page to bring to life the plant life. We turn the page to learn about each of the species, meaning behind their name and how many million years ago it lived. They also include a dinosaur discovery guide (our kids found it amazing that there was a dinosaur discovery close to where we visited family in Zimbabwe!).

Illumisaurus is a stunning, well written book for children (and their parents) to explore and learn about these incredible creatures that roamed our Earth so many years ago. There is so much to learn and explore in this book, your child will spend hours on each page with each lens discovering new dinosaurs and plant life.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Milan-based design duo Carnovsky was started by Silvia Quintanilla and Francesco Rugi in 2007. They have gained wide recognition for their RGB project, first displayed in 2010. Their work has been published in magazines around the world, such as VogueWiredFrameWallpaperElle Decor, and Whitewall. Their wallpaper ‘Jungla’ won the 2012 Wallpaper Magazine Design Award for Best Wallpaper.

Lucy Brownridge is an author and editor of children’s books based in London. She writes books for children about history of art, history, animals, and science. She has an MA in history of art from the Courtauld Institute of Art and a BA in history of art from the University of Bristol. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

A Natural History of Fairies

This enchanting natural history of fairies, compiled in the 1920s by the botanist Professor Elsie Arbour for her niece, is now unveiled for readers of today in A Natural History of Fairies.

About A Natural History of Fairies

Featuring a gold foil–embossed cloth cover, a ribbon marker, and sprayed gold edges, this book is full of colorful sketches and precise notes detailing the secret life of fairies and their important role in the natural world.

Inside, you will discover the wide and wonderful array of different species of fairies around the globe and explore where and how they live. Delight in this world as you learn all about:

  • The anatomy of a fairy (Land-based fairies have individual, separated toes, just as humans do. However, many species of water fairies have webbed feet.)
  • The life cycle of a fairy (When walking in the heather, be careful of the tiny flutterpillar of the Wicklow Fairy, decked out in greens and purples.)
  • Clever fairy camouflage (Reed fairies living in wetlands usually wear striped clothes to hide among the tall reeds.)
  • Fairies around the world (Meet the Lily Hopper of sub-Saharan Africa, the Queen Fairy of New Guinea, the Penguin Fairy of the Antarctic, and many more.)
  • Fairy habitats (Fairies make their homes in all types of places: woodlands, jungles, deserts, the Poles, and even human homes.)

Concluding with a reminder that we must protect the endangered habitats of fairies, and all other creatures too, this is a book to be treasured for a lifetime.

My Thoughts

I love learning about folklore and the beliefs of others when it comes to mythical creatures, like fairies. How can you not want to believe that these beautiful creatures are real? I love the authors approach to fairies – so many times in history, science has thought something has not been real but later proven to be real (platypus and the giant squid as mentioned in this book!).

First, I have to say how stunning this book is – the cover of the book is just incredible and hard to put in to words. It is gold foil-embossed and you will find yourself running your hand over each line. The beautiful fairy in the middle of the cover, is just a preview of what is to come. The illustrations are stunning and bring the fairies to life page after page in their gentle, earthy tones.

I loved learning all fairies – from their anatomy, to their life cycle, fairies of the world, their connection with animals and plants, language and so much more. It is approached in such a wonderful way that reminds us that sometimes we have to believe (and how can you not believe in such wonderful, magical creatures).

A Natural History of Fairies is a stunning, incredible gift for young readers – they will fall in love with the knowledge sharing and the stunning illustrations. It is a special gift that will be treasured for years to come.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Emily Hawkins is a writer and editor of children’s books for all ages. She wrote the New York Times bestseller Oceanology, as well as several other titles in the Ology series, which has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. She holds a first-class English degree from Nottingham University, and now lives in Winchester with her young family.

Jessica Roux is a Nashville-based illustrator and plant and animal enthusiast. She loves exploring in her own backyard and being surrounded by an abundance of nature. Using subdued colors and rhythmic shapes, she renders flora, fauna, food, and many other things with intricate detail reminiscent of old world beauty. Her first book with Frances Lincoln is A Natural History of Fairies (September 2020).

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

12 Days of Christmas Book Review

Celebrate the magic of Christmas time with this well-loved traditional poem, The Twelve Days of Christmas, beautifully illustrated by Laura Hawthorne.

About 12 Days of Christmas

Take a walk through each beautiful scene brimming with details that will remind you of the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas. Perfect to read with your true love.

This is the second title in the series, The Christmas Choir, which beautifully illustrates beloved Christmas carols. Don’t miss Silent Night, the first title in the series.  

Our Thoughts

12 Days of Christmas is a beautifully illustrated children’s book featuring the famous song. It had us singing and laughing as we prepare for the holiday season. We have read this book several times over the last two weeks (it is my personal favourite song) and each time we have found a way to sing it slightly different and be a little sillier each time. Finding moments of laughter and light with family, especially during a time that has been clouded with COVID, is so important for us right now.

The book also contains a history of the carol, something that I was never aware of and never thought to look into. I had no idea that the carol originated in the 1700s France! There is also an activity at the end of the book that you can do with your child, where you try to find all of the items/people that are mentioned in the song. The illustrations are stunning and bring to life the joy and happiness of Christmas.

This is a beautiful, Christmas treasure that families can read over and over again. It brings light and fun into the home as we prepare for the holiday season and all that comes with it. It also sparks great conversations about Christmas traditions, favourite songs, foods and gifts over the years. We learned so much about each other. This will be a book that you can bring out yearly and enjoy together.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Lara Hawthorne is an illustrator based in Bristol, UK. After graduating from Falmouth University in 2013 where she studied illustration, she has had work shortlisted for the Lowry Children’s Book Award and has written and illustrated Herberto, a picture book published in Portugal, Brazil, Slovenia, France and South Korea. Her other books include The King of Christmas, Carol Ann Duffy’s 2016 Christmas poem, published by Picador, and The Night Flower, published by Big Picture Press. As well as focusing on narrative work, Lara also sells a variety of prints, notebooks and cards. Through Betty & Dupree, her prints are distributed to shops throughout the UK and internationally.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

Ways to Say I Love You Book Review

A picture book for younger children celebrating all the ways that creatures on our planet say “I love you.” 

About Ways to Say I Love You

From snuggling garter snakes to big, cozy bear hugs, this book in verse shares how animals that we would expect, and some that we wouldn’t, express affection for each other. Each animal interaction is compared with a similar human one, in blended illustrations composed by the talented Alette Strattoff—showing that we are not so different from our animal neighbors.

Find out more about the animals in the back pages and discover how to say “I love you” in different languages.

Our Thoughts

Especially during this crazy time, it so important to let those in your life know that you love them and there are so many ways to show your love and appreciation. We are always trying to teach our children that we can do little actions each day to make the world a better place and to show our love to our friends (and to our mates as they get older!).

We loved how this book had on one page an example of how animals expressed their love and feelings for each other and on the opposite side was the similar human interaction (our personal favourite – the smelly path that deer’s leave and the baths that humans take). The writing is simple but full of impact and at times left us in giggles. The illustrations are just beautiful and really help bring home the message that animals and humans, we are all the same when it comes to love.

Ways to Say I Love You is a beautiful book for young children as we explore love, ways to express our feelings and how at the end of the day, we are all the same. This would make a beautiful holiday gift this season, especially as we find new ways to share our love and time with out families during COVID.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Marilyn Singer is a multi-award-winning children’s author who has written many books, spanning poetry, picture books, fiction, and non-fiction. Her awards include the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in poetry, the Cybil Award for Poetry 2011, and several Children’s Choice and Parents’ Choice Awards, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Alette Straathof is an illustrator who lives and works in Paris, France. She graduated in January 2016 at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Alette tries to hide small details in every one of her illustrations for people to discover – see if you can find them all. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading