Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Picture Book Review: Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

I can't believe that Easter is only a few days away! How did that happen? I don't know what it is about Easter but it always seems to sneak up on me (regardless of the fact that chocolate Easter eggs have been on sale in the shops since January!)

Anyway, I thought I would share an adorable picture book about rabbits today. It's not specifically an Easter book but it has bunnies, and who doesn't love a good bunny book at Easter time? It's called Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood.

Picture book review of Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

Mr Bear lives alone and that's the way he likes it. However, one day a family of rabbits move in next door and Mr Bear's peaceful solitude is gone in an instant. The rabbits seem to be constantly visiting Mr Bear. They want to borrow some honey or they need help chopping some wood and my favourite, they want to swap some books. 


illustration from Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

Those pesky and utterly adorable little rabbits are pretty persistent, but when Mr Bear roars at them, demanding to be left alone, they finally get the message. Life returns to normal for Mr Bear until one day he finds a basket on his doorstep with a note from the rabbits. This act of kindness finally helps Mr Bear realise the error of his ways and he reaches out to the rabbits. 

Ciara Flood has created an adorable picture book with a beautiful message of friendship and the importance of generosity (even for grumpy old bears).

The illustrations are simply adorable. The stunning detail in each double page spread is captivating and they add a lovely depth to the story. We enjoyed finding the little mouse hidden on some of the pages and I absolutely adored the labels on each of the honey jars. Also the subtle change of seasons are a beautiful touch too. 


illustration from Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

I have a soft spot for fabulous endpapers and I am totally in love with the endpapers for Those Pesky Rabbits. The front endpapers are of a Home Sweet Home cross stitch sampler with the solitary Mr Bear next to his house. Then jump to the end of the book to see the new additions of those adorable little rabbits standing next to Mr Bear. Too adorable for words.


Adorable endpapers from Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

This charming picture book would make a lovely non-chocolate Easter gift and because it is not specifically an Easter themed book, you can read it all year round. Yay! I may have purchased a few copies to give as gifts this year too.

Book Details:
Title: Those Pesky Rabbits
Author/Illustrator: Ciara Flood
Publisher: Koala Books an imprint of Scholastic Australia
Publication Date: March 2015
ISBN: 9781742761442
RRP: $24.99

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Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this picture book by the publisher. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Storytime fun: Robopop and Recycled Robots

Last week we read Robopop A Dad in A Box by Alice Hemming and illustrated by James Lent.


Review of Robopop by Alice Hemming and James Lent

On 'Bring your Dad to School Day', Daisy and Dylan are a little embarrassed by their Dad. Nobody really understood what their dad did and they all laughed. Daisy and Dylan wanted their Dad to be more like the other dads.


"You invent weird gadgets. And weirder recipes. You know nothing about football."

Daisy and Dylan's Dad is an inventor and a little bit quirky. He decides to show Daisy and Dylan that differences are not necessarily a bad thing and that not all Dad's should be the same. To do this, he creates Robopop, the 21st Century Father Figure! Robopop is going to babysit Daisy and Dylan for the day, but he may not be as fabulous as he seems. Perhaps Daisy and Dylan should be careful what they wish for?

At first Robopop seemed pretty cool, he loves to play football and even helps Daisy cut the queue for the swing at the playground. It doesn't take long, though before things start going wrong. Robopop takes everything to extremes. He wants to win the football game, no matter what! When Daisy and Dylan want to have a bath and read a bedtime story, Robopop thinks exercise and football training is what they need. Even their Dad's cooking is better than Robopop's, at least he gives them pudding! Daisy and Dylan start to realise that their unique inventor Dad is not so bad after all.

The story is a fun one to read aloud and Robopo speaks in rhyme compared to the rest of the prose text of the story. I really enjoyed speaking in my best robot voice. I also really loved the change of font when Robopop was talking too.

The illustrations are bright, colourful and full of fun. We loved trying to spot Daisy and Dylan's real dad throughout the book. He continues to keep an eye on the kids while they are with Robopop and hides in the some very funny places.

This is such a fun story with a lovely message that everyone is special and unique and we don't have to all fit the same mould. Also how could I forget the other message of be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

Book Details:
Title: Robopop A Dad in A Box
Author: Alice Hemming
Illustrator: James Lent
Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing
Publication Date: January 2015
ISBN: 9781848861664



After reading Robopop, Emily really wanted to make her own robot.  So we raided the recycling bin and our useful box. We found a selection of boxes, tubs, buttons and other bits and pieces that we knew would make a pretty awesome robot.


Using recycled materials to create a robot

Emily spent quite a lot of time playing around with the position of boxes to get the robot shape she wanted. 

A robot being created using recycled materials

She knew immediately that she wanted to use bottle lids for eyes and give her robot a happy purple felt smile.

The Robot's face was made using buttons, bottle lids and a little box.

Apart from a little help with attaching the robot's arms, Emily created the robot on her own. I love the little hat with pink felt hair too and all the detail she included for robot buttons.

The finished robot made from recycled materials

Emily insisted that her robot was a girl and her name was Calley. She was so proud of her robot that I had to print off a photo of it, so she could take it to preschool to show her teacher.

A Robot created using recycled materials

Creating recycled robots is such a fun and super easy activity and was a great way to bring the story of Robopop to life for the kids.

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Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this picture book by the publisher. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Picture Book Review: Our Love Grows by Anna Pignataro

This week we have been enjoying a new picture book by Anna Pignataro, called Our Love Grows.

Our Love Grows by Anna Pignataro


In the deep green forest, Pip asked, 'Mama, when will I be big?'

Pip is super adorable little panda who wants to know when he will grow bigger. His mum explains how he has already grown and changed so much, just like the world around him. The trees have grown and the seasons have changed. His footsteps were once smaller and even his favourite toy birdy was once shiny and new. Another thing that has grown over time is his Mama's love for him. 

Our Love Grows by Anna Pignataro is an adorable story about growing up and the changes in the world around us over time. The love and affection that a parent feels for their child grows as they spend more time with each other and create memories and experiences together, like the songs they sing and the games they play together.

This was such a lovely picture book to read aloud to my kids as it prompted some lovely conversations about when they were babies, and how much they have grown and changed. That lead on to remembering some of the funny little quirks they had as babies and sharing many wonderful experiences we have had together. Growing up is a regular topic of conversation with my four year old daughter at the moment and she is constantly asking to look through her baby photos. She loves seeing how much she has grown and changed, so this picture book has come at a perfect time for us. 

Anna's watercolour and pencil illustrations are just so lovely. The changing of the seasons are beautifully depicted and the illustrations complement the story perfectly. Simply adorable.

Here's a sneak peek inside:

A sneak peek inside Our Love Grows by Anna Pignataro

Illustration from Our Love Grows by Anna Pignataro

I would recommend this book for children ages 3 years and up.

James' review:
The book is about a mummy panda and her little panda baby who wants to grow bigger. His mummy tells him he has already grown a lot. I really like the book because it has pandas and I like pandas. Pandas live in bamboo forests and I love bamboo. I really like the picture where they play hide and seek.

Emily's review:
I like the front. It is so good and lovely. I like pandas and the baby panda is really cute. I like the picture where the tree and the baby panda grow. I think the panda wants to not be a baby anymore and wants to be a grown up.

Book Details:
Title: Our Love Grows
Author/Illustrator: Anna Pignataro
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: March 2015
ISBN: 9781743626269
RRP: $16.99

You may also like our review of How I Love You, also written and illustrated by Anna Pignataro.


How I Love You by Anna Pignataro



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Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this picture book by the publisher. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Our favourite picture books about Rhinos




We are having a bit of a rhino picture book theme at our house at the moment, so I thought I would share some of our favourites with you. Here are 8 fabulous picture books about Rhinoceros:

Rhino? What Rhino?


Rhino? What Rhino? by Caryl Hart and Sarah Horne

Rhino is bored and lonely in the zoo, so he decides to escape and leaves a trail of mess and destruction. The poor farm animals end up being blamed for his mess. When they try to explain that it was a rhino, no one believes them. The animals soon get fed up with being blamed for the rhino's bad manners and they decide to teach him a lesson or two! 

This lovely rhyming story is a pleasure to read aloud and the illustrations are bright and fabulously quirky.

Book Details:
Title: Rhino? What Rhino?
Author: Caryl Hart
Illustrator: Sarah Horne
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 9780340981399

Rita's Rhino


Rita's Rhino by Tony Ross


Rita desperately wants a pet of her own but her mum will only let her get a small pet, like a flea or even a frog. This will not do at all! Rita wants a REAL pet so she goes to the zoo to find a herself one. That's when she meets the rhinoceros and soon the rhino is going home with Rita. It's not long until Rita finds out that having a rhino as a pet is not as easy as she thought.

This is a truly funny story about the challenges and responsibility of pet ownership and the importance of choosing the right pet for your family. Full of silliness and fun, you will be laughing all the way through this book

Book Details:
Title: Rita's Rhino
Author/Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Koala Books
Publication Date: December 2014
ISBN: 978174261183

Rhino Neil


Rhino Neil by Mini Goss

Rhino Neil lives with lots of different animals in the safari zoo, but he is a very lonely rhinoceros. Neil is so big that all the other animals are frightened of him and stay away. One day a big truck arrives at the zoo and an even bigger animal called Tuscany moves into the zoo. While all the other animals run away from the new resident, Neil stays and finally makes a friend.

Rhino Neil is a lovely picture book with an important message about differences, intolerance and friendship. The illustrations are delightfully warm and the facial expressions of the animals are fabulous.

Book Details:
Title: Rhino Neil
Author/Illustrator: Mini Goss
Publisher: New Frontier Publishing
Publication Date: 2007
ISBN: 9781921042904

Rhinos Don't Eat Pancakes


Rhinos don't eat pancakes by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie

Daisy sees something strange while eating her breakfast, a big purple rhinoceros. She tries to tell her mum and dad but they are way too busy to listen. Since they won't listen to her, Daisy starts talking to the rhino instead and they soon become good friends. Daisy's parents still don't believe there is a Rhino in the house, so they take her to the zoo to see a real rhino. When they arrive at the Rhino enclosure, they only find a poster saying the purple rhino is missing. Finally they realise that Daisy was telling the truth and rush home to see the Rhino.

A beautiful and funny story about friendship and a poignant reminder for parents to take the time to listen to their children. You never know what they are going to tell you. Ogilvie's illustrations are simply charming.

Book Details:
Title: Rhinos Don't Eat Pancakes
Author: Anna Kemp
Illustrator: Sara Ogilvie
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 9781874388780

Preposterous Rhinoceros


Preposterous Rhinoceros by Tracy Gunaratnam and Marta Costa


All the animals are waiting for their bedtime story but King Lion has lost his voice and cannot read to them. Salamander can read, but he is too shy, so Rhinoceros volunteers. Rhinoceros doesn't really know anything about books or reading. So he seeks some advice from his friends. Unfortunately he takes this advice a little too literally and ends up in all sorts of preposterous situations. Finally Shy Salamander gets Rhinoceros' attention and helps him learn to read. Learning to read is a little tricky at first but it's not long before Rhinoceros gets the hang of it and realises that words are magic!

This is such a clever and very funny story about learning to read and it  would be ideal for young children learning to read themselves.

Book Details:
Title: Preposterous Rhinoceros
Author: Tracy Gunaratnam
Illustrator: Marta Costa
Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing
Publication Date: January 2015
ISBN: 9781848861657

Chief Rhino to the Rescue


Chief Rhino to the Rescue by Sam Lloyd

Chief Rhino is one of the bravest animals in Whoops-a-Daisy World. When he spots a fire, he knows it's time to save the day. He and his fire-fighting team rush to the fire, climb the ladder and spray the fire with water. Unfortunately the fire is not what they thought and it was just the flames of 100 candles on Great Granny Wrinkle's birthday cake. Chief Rhino has made a silly mistake but Great Granny Wrinkle reassures him and they all join the birthday party. 


Chief Rhino To the Rescue is a picture book that has been on our bookshelf for a very long time and was very popular with James when he was younger and we all still enjoy reading it. The illustrations are bright and full of fabulous little details. One of my favourite things about this book are the endpapers, which includes a lovely letter to Chief Rhino from Great Granny Wrinkle. Just so adorable.

Book Details: 
Title: Chief Rhino to the Rescue
Author/Illustrator: Sam Lloyd
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: 2008
ISBN: 9781846169410

The Really Rude Rhino


The Really Rude Rhino by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

Once there was a really rude rhino. He was rude from the day he was born and was rude from morning until night. While many animals said he would grow out of it, his mother began to worry and took him to the doctor. He was diagnosed with Ruditis Rhinoceritis, which unfortunately had no cure. However, just after his fifth birthday, Rhino went down to the waterhole, and what he found there shocked him so much that he ran all the way home. He was never rude to anyone every again.

This is a really fun story and, as you can imagine, the children love all the rude noises. The illustrations are hilarious too and are a perfect match to the story.

Book Details:

Title: The Really Rude Rhino
Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Anderson Press
Publication Date: 2006
ISBN: 9781842702789

Running Rhino


Running Rhino by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway

Rhino lives on the Great African Plain with the other animals. Rhino is very short sighted and runs after anything that moves and all the animals had to run to get out of his way. The animals were fed up with Rhino's behaviour, but it seemed like no one was prepared to challenge him. Finally little Tickbird challenged Rhino. If Tickbird won the challenge, Rhino would have to stop running and live on the stoney slopes. If Rhino won, he would "run and run even more".

At sunrise the next morning, the little Tickbird challenges Rhino with the help of three even smaller friends and wins! Rhino stomps off to live on the Stoney Slopes but Tickbird kindly goes with him on his back to always warn him of danger. So when Rhino wants to run at something that moves Tickbird gives Rhino a little peck which helps to calm Rhino down. 

This is a lovely story about how the Rhino and Tickbird become friends. The illustrations of the African animals by Adrienne Kennaway are beautiful and full of bright colours. I especially like the end papers.

Book Details:
Title: Running Rhino
Author: Mwenye Hadithi 
Illustrator: Adrienne Kennaway
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 9780340989371

I hope you enjoyed our little collection of picture books featuring Rhinoceros. Have I missed any? Do you or your kids have a favourite Rhino book? 

You might also like our rhinoceros finger puppets:


Simple Felt Rhinoceros Finger Puppets

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Picture Book Review: Rita's Rhino by Tony Ross


Picture Book Review of Rita's Rhinoceros by Tony Ross


Today we read Rita's Rhino by Tony Ross. Rita desperately wants a pet of her own but her mum will only let her get a small pet, like a flea or even a frog. This will not do at all! Rita wants a REAL pet she decides to take matters into her own hands and goes to the zoo to find a herself a pet. That's when she meets the rhinoceros. Rita asks if the rhino would like to come home with her and he says "Yes, please."

Rita soon finds out that having a rhino as a pet is not as easy as she thought. Trying to squeeze the rhino into the elevator was a a bit tricky and hiding a rhino in the bedroom of a small apartment was not easy either. Feeding a rhino proved to be another challenge as he only likes to eat special grass from Africa and it is very expensive. Then there is the unpleasant job of hiding the piles of rhinoceros poo every day!

Hiding rhinoceros poo. Illustration from Rita's Rhino by Tony Ross

While the rhinoceros loved Rita, it was not was working out as well as he expected either. He missed the special grass from Africa and his comfy bed at the zoo. When the children at Rita's school mistake him for a bouncy castle and started jumping all over him, enough is enough and he crept back to the zoo.

Illustration from Rita's Rhino by Tony Ross

This is a very funny story about the joy and the challenges of pet ownership. With it's gentle ending, Rita's Rhino is a wonderful picture book to encourage discussion about pet ownership and the importance of making sure you choose the right pet, not just for you but for the animal as well. Owning a pet is a big responsibility and choosing the right pet crucial.

We loved the silliness of the story, especially how the rhino is able to squeeze through the bars of his cage to escape and that all it took to disguise such a large animal from the zookeepers was a hat and a coat. We were laughing all the way through the story.

Tony Ross' illustrations are just as hilarious as the story itself and they complement each other perfectly. 

Book Details:
Title: Rita's Rhino
Author/Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Koala Books, an imprint of Scholastic.
Publication Date: December 2014
ISBN: 9781742761183
RRP: $14.99

Have you ever owned a pet that was more difficult to look after than you expected?

Following the Rhino theme, you might also like our review of Preposterous Rhinoceros:


Preposterous Rhinoceros

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Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Picture Book Review and Craft: Preposterous Rhinoceros by Tracy Gunaratnam


It's a disaster! All the animals are waiting for their bedtime story but King Lion has lost his voice and cannot read to them. Salamander can read, but he is too shy, so Rhinoceros volunteers. Unfortunately Rhinoceros doesn't really know anything about books or reading. So he seeks some advice from his friends.
"Just open it and dive straight in"
Rhinoceros takes this advice a little too literally and with swimming goggles on, poor Rhinoceros tries to dive into the book and lands with a crash. Toucan's advice about getting stuck in, doesn't help much either. 

Finally Shy Salamander gets Rhinoceros' attention and helps him learn to read. Reading is a little tricky at first but it's not long before Rhinoceros realises that words are magic. Now that he knows how to read will he get a change to read the bedtime story to the rest of the animals now that King Lion's throat is feeling better?
My kids thought the story was hilarious with all the misunderstandings and preposterous situations Rhinoceros finds himself in, especially when he tries to get stuck in the book using honey. This is such a clever story about learning to read and it  would be ideal for young children learning to read themselves.

There was lots of giggling as we read this story and the illustrations by Marta Costa are bright and colourful and definitely just as funny.

If you like to buy Preposterous Rhinoceros by Tracy Gunaratnam you can find it at Dymocks here in Australia or online.

Book Details:
Title: Preposterous Rhinoceros
Author: Tracy Gunaratnam
Illustrator: Marta Costa
Publisher: Maverick Arts Publishing
Publication Date: Jan 2105
ISBN: 9781848861657

Now that we are back at school I have been setting up some quick craft activities for the kids for when they get home.  On Friday we made our own rhino finger puppets just like Preposterous Rhinoceros.

I drew a rhino template for them and they set to work gluing on a googly eye and colouring them in. I am not sure it looks much like a rhino but the kids seemed to be happy with it and that's all that matters isn't it?


Rhino finger puppet template

Emily decided to make hers a rainbow rhino and James coloured his all blue.



We had lots of fun playing with our rhinos and Emily even put on a puppet show for us. We discovered her rainbow rhino not only loves to read but loves to sing too!



I think they turned out pretty fabulous and filled our afternoon with fun.



Using the same template and with hot glue gun in hand, I created a felt version of the finger puppet to add to our collection.



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Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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