Friday, November 21, 2014

The Eleventh Hour - Graeme Base (a book review)

Welcome to another children's book review! This week, I'm digging through my old favourites to share a book I received for my eleventh birthday (ten years ago *cough cough*) with you: The Eleventh Hour.

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The Eleventh Hour / Graeme Base

(Penguin, 1998)

Image source*

Last year, I shared our family's favourite picture books. The Eleventh Hour* just missed out on inclusion. This had little to do with the book being inferior to those selected, and a lot to do with the ages of my children.

If I were to write that list again now, it would definitely feature.

The Eleventh Hour is my all-time favourite Graeme Base book. And I'm thrilled that my daughter now enjoys it too.

Horace the Elephant is turning Eleven. He plans a Grand Affair (a Fancy Dress one, of course), and cooks a Fantastic Feast for the Guests to enjoy after a morning of Games.


But the Feast disappears. Who is to blame?

Base's artwork is legendary, but his rhymes and rhythm are no less amazing. I like that he doesn't tone down the language and choose the simpler word just because he's writing for children. He assumes - rightfully so - that children will understand from context, and learn new words in the process.

I had the pleasure of meeting Base (briefly) at Melbourne Zoo earlier this year. I took our collection of books to sign for the kids. And he signed most of them for the kids.


But I had him write this one to me. Because, well, you know. I got it for my eleventh birthday once upon a time, and I ain't giving it up!


*affiliate link
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Have you or your children read The Eleventh Hour? What did you think?

And do you have any recommendations for future reviews?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kids develop at their own pace

My boy isn't a baby anymore.

And it took me by surprise.

I know that sometimes you blink, and miss those moments. Those moments your children grow up.

I'm so used to helping my little boy climb things at the park. Lifting him over obstacles. Reassuring him that mummy's here. Mummy's here. It's okay, mummy's here, I'll help you.

It took a moment of distraction for him to show me he's more than capable of doing it all by himself.

(And then a moment of rapt attention for me to capture these photos!)

I can climb! By myself!
Seriously, mum, all by myself!
I can even balance... and then climb again!

Often, kids are more capable than we give them credit for. Maybe it's because we try so hard to protect them. Maybe it's because they grow up so fast that we just don't realise how many developmental milestones they click through in such a short time.

Maybe it's because we spend all day, every day with them, and it's easier to think of them as being the same people they were yesterday. And the day before. And the day... you get my drift.

But they do change. Every day. Always growing, always changing. Always developing, always evolving.

Always precious.


Have you ever underestimated your child's capabilities?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Because I fucking said

You've no doubt seen the news; maybe you've even got yourself a copy. The hilarious Go the Fuck to Sleep has a sequel!

You Have to Fucking Eat was released this month (along with a special YouTube clip narrated by Stephen Fry).


Image source
Image source

Well, I have something very special for you today. Since hearing this news, I have been working on my own book. And I'm sharing it with you for free!

Welcome to a special preview of the next book in the series, Because I Fucking Said.

(Before I start, I'd like to apologise. This is very far off the usual tone around here. I don't like to swear at YLSNED: I think you could count the sum total of swear words on this blog on one hand. And two of them appear in a single guest post.

But as soon as I started thinking about what the third book in the 'Fuck' series of parody children's books would look like, I couldn't switch the thoughts off. This felt like the natural extension.

I'd also like to apologise to anyone who hasn't yet had children, or who thinks that the 'why' stage is nothing but precious. This may seem outrageously horrible to you. And by may, I mean will.)

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A zebra has stripes and a leopard has spots
From its toes right up to its head.
But why does a lion have a mane?
It's simple: because I fucking said.

You mix red and yellow to make orange,
And purple is blue mixed with red.
Why do blue and yellow make green?
Because they fucking do, okay? I said.

A rainbow has all the colours within
And stretches above your head.
Why does it come out after the rain?
Fuckity fuck! It just does! I SAID.

Mythological creatures, monsters and dinosaurs,
Animals alive and dead.
But why did the asteroid hit the earth?
Are you shitting me? Because I said!

Cupcakes and chocolates are really yummy,
And your favourite is fairy bread.
Why do you have to eat vegetables for dinner?
Because. I. Fucking. Said.

On Dasher! On Dancer! On Vixen and Prancer!
And Rudolph with your nose so red.
How do the reindeer fly in the sky?
Fucking magic, okay? Yep, magic I said.

You're calling me a silly goose now;
I must have rocks in my head.
Then you go and say exactly the same thing!
For fuck's sake! That's what I said!

Bath time is fun, with bubbles and toys
And shampoo all over your head.
Why do you have to brush your teeth?
Don't fucking bother. Yeah, you heard what I said.

Paddington, Maisy, Charlie and Lola;
That's at least eight books we've now read.
Why have we finished reading now?
Because THE END. I fucking said.

Your pillow is fluffed, your blankets pulled up,
It's time to lay down in your bed.
Why do you go to bed before mum and dad?
Fuck this shit. Because I said.


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I'm tired. Exhausted. Drained of energy.
I need to rest my head.
Time to replenish, ready for tomorrow's round of
BECAUSE I FUCKING SAID.

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So, what did I miss out on? What questions do your children ask you? Over and over and over...
And what do you think the next book in the series will be?

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Wish I Had a Pirate Suit - Pamela Allen (book review)

This week's book is an oldie but a goodie. A long-term favourite of mine and Ashleigh's, and Mitchell's new favourite, it's Pamela Allen's I Wish I Had a Pirate Suit.

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I Wish I Had a Pirate Suit / Pamela Allen

(Puffin Books, 1989)

Image source

We are BIG Pamela Allen fans in this house. We haven't met a Pamela Allen book we didn't like, and we've met a lot of them! In fact, when Ashleigh first started trying to read, she would always read the title of whatever book we were reading and then say, "by Pallum Allen."

Our all-time family favourite is Bertie and the Bear (which I reviewed last year along with our other favourite books), but I Wish I Had a Pirate Suit is adorable for different reasons.

Adorable from page 1. Look at that face!

Our narrator (pictured above) has an older brother named Peter. And Peter has a pirate suit.

Peter gets to boss his brother around as they sail the seven seas and bury treasure. He decides everything, from who walks the plank to who gets to eat the jelly babies.


It's not fair. Nothing's fair. This book is similar in tone to There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake*, but this time there's no sympathetic roofbound hippopotamus who understands our protagonist's pain.

It all comes good in the end...

Happy chappy!

...But you'll have to read it to find out how!

*affiliate link
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Have you or your children read I Wish I Had a Pirate Suit? What did you think?

And do you have any recommendations for future reviews?