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My fav books – here’s what I learned

My fav books

My fav books A to Z.

Last month I did the #AtoZfavbooks challenge: 26 letters, 26 days, 26 books. It was a fun exercise but, analyzing my fav books led to some interesting discoveries.

To rhyme of not to rhyme.

I love reading books that rhyme and yet the non-rhyming books I chose out-numbered them 18/8. Maybe these results are a little skewed as I deliberately didn’t fill the challenge with Dr Seuss or Julia Donaldson books but even so, I expected more of the children’s books to rhyme. However, even the non-rhyming books often used repetition or alliteration to add interest to the text.

Here’s some brilliant rhyming from “Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy” by Lynley Dodd.

Off with a yowl
a wail and a howl,
a scatter of paws
and a clatter of claws,
went Schnitzel Von Krumm
with a very low tum,
Bitzer Maloney
all skinny and bony,
Muffin McLay
like a bundle of hay,
Bottomley Potts
covered in spots,
Hercules Morse
as big as a horse
and Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson’s Dairy,
straight back home
to bed!

I haven’t experimented with rhyme in my books, so this is something I’m excited to try out soon.

Animals rule.

my fav books19 of the books featured animals or creatures such as dragons. Most of these were anthropomorphic ie the animals were given human traits. I would have expected more cars, trucks and trains, but maybe that said something about my choice rather than the actual balance of these in children’s books. After all, my grandson certainly has more than his fair share of “Bob the Builder” and “Thomas the Tank Engine” books.

Being a scientific sort of person, I had to put this theory to the test. A quick search on Amazon brought up these top 20 titles in the Baby and Toddler Education Section. (6 of these were by Julia Donaldson, so maybe I should have included more in my #AtoZfavbooks.)

Anyhow, “Dig Dig Digging” was the only motorized entry, 8 of the books featured children but 11 were indeed about animals, indicating this does seem the most popular theme for children’s picture books. Must take another look at the book I was working on about a cat ūüôā

Putting on the style.

Oh, how I wish I could draw.

Mog and the BabyI loved looking at the fantastic variety in styles from the talented illustrators who have worked on these books. From Beatrix Potters beautifully realistic “Peter Rabbit”, to the modern lines of “The Little Boy who lost his Name”, and Judith Kerr’s cuddly cat, “Mog”, all the books have gorgeous colours to attract little ones to explore their pages.

“Dear Zoo” and “Where’s Spot” are lift the flap books aimed at younger readers and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” has those lovely holes ‘eaten’ through its pages. “The Jolly Postman” goes further and includes separate envelopes and postcards which are a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this kind of embellishment is not available through the ‘print on demand’ technology I use so it’s not something I could consider at the moment.

Computer generated magic.

better buckle up race carMy last realization was that, as far as I can tell, Better Buckle Up is the only book on the list with computer generated imagery (CGI).Ollie with plane

In designing the book, I wanted illustrations that looked like they could have been photographs taken of models, (along the lines of the early Thomas the Tank Engine animations) but I would have expected that in this digital age there would have been more books like this.

Again, I trawled through Amazon.

my fav booksSome Postman Pat books had covers with actual photographs taken from the television programmes, although they were filmed using stop-motion animation not CGI so that didn’t really count.

my fav books

Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam were also filmed originally in stop-motion but have since moved onto CGI but I couldn’t find book covers that used this.

So, it looks like Better Buckle Up is something of a rarity and, whilst my next book, “Things Evie Eats,” will be in a completely different style with actual drawings, I will be revisiting CGI very soon.

My fav books

To conclude, it seems my fav books are predominately non-rhyming stories about animals. How about you?

Let me know your favourites in the comments.

Happy reading.

Suzie x


Writing Bubble

Talk of the Town
Empathy: how reading helps

empathyAbout empathy?

“Empathy: The ability to identify with or understand another’s situation or feelings.¬†The Free Dictionary.”

Empathy is our capacity to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to know how they’re feeling and then to use that understanding to guide our actions.¬† And it’s a vital skill every child should learn.

“The brain development of babies has deep implications for society. A human being without a properly developed social brain finds it very difficult to empathise with other human beings. This can pose risks along a spectrum from a lack of emotional resilience leading to depression or general unhappiness, to antisocial behaviour, drug-taking, and criminality, and at the most extreme end to psychotic behaviour.” Andrea Leadsom.

How reading helps.

empathy someone else's shoes

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes

Humans are hardwired to listen to stories. Our brain loves them. They help us make sense of the world and our experiences. A good story can make us laugh or cry. We put ourselves in the protagonists shoes, feeling their pain or their happiness as if it was our own. We are emotionally transported into the story.

Psychologist Dr. Raymond Mar has shown that children begin to understand that other people have thoughts and feelings that are different from their own between the ages of three and five. Reading stories and talking about the behaviour of characters in books is a non-threatening way to help children sort out the rights and wrongs of their experiences.

Reading is a way of thinking with another person's mind: it forces you to stretch your own. Charles Schribner Jnr. Click To Tweet

And it’s not just speculation. One study by¬†neuroscientist Gregory Berns,¬†showed MRi scans of people had heightened connectivity in the area of the brain associated with receptivity for language after reading a passage of a novel.

‚ÄúThe neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,‚ÄĚ Berns says. ‚ÄúWe already knew that good stories can put you in someone else‚Äôs shoes in a figurative sense. Now we‚Äôre seeing that something may also be happening biologically.‚ÄĚ

Disturbingly, watching TV has the opposite effect, with children exposed to lots of television performing worse in theory of mind tests.

Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another ... and feeling with the heart of another. Alfred Adler Click To Tweet

Some books about empathy.

And some books to share with your baby.


Whatever you do, make sure you read with your baby. There is no down-side.

Suzie x

Laura's Lovely Blog
The Rabbit ate my Homework: Book Review

Book review: “The Rabbit ate my Homework” and “The Rabbit ate my Flip Flops”.

rabbit who ate my homeworkI spent the sunny afternoon reading “The Rabbit ate my Homework” and it’s sequel, “The Rabbit ate my Flip Flops,” by Rachel Elizabeth Cole.

Eleven year old Drew Montgomery is having a bad day. He breaks his new bike, after being told not to ride/do jumps on it by his father, and his little sister, Libby, knows what he’s done. So, when they find a rabbit abandoned in a box and Libby wants to take it home, she threatens to tell his parents about the bike unless he agrees. Blackmailed and miserable, ¬†with problems at school and rather absent, work-a-holic parents Drew’s life quickly lurches from one disaster to another in a hilarious chain of events all centred around the rabbit.

The characters in the book were really well-drawn with Drew and his sister having distinct personalities and voices. Their reactions to the problems of keeping a rabbit hidden in Drew’s room were hilarious and spot-on for their different ages. The book has short chapters and rattles along at a cracking pace, just right for the target, middle-grade, age group but will also be enjoyable to adults reading it with their children. I really had to find out how all Drew’s problems would be resolved. Needless to say, things did turn out right in the end. ¬†

It says a lot about a book when you want to read it’s sequel. So, I set into book 2 of the series, “The Rabbit ate my Flip Flops.”rabbit ate

The Montgomery household has now got used to the routine of having a pet house-rabbit but things start to go awry when their parents go out of town and Drew and Libby are taken on holiday with their grandparents. The plan is for Drew’s friend to look after the rabbit, but Libby is worried he’ll feel abandoned and sneaks him along.

This story sees Drew coping with kids with a mean dog, their grandparents over-bearing friend and a defective campervan as well as Libby finding more rabbits to rescue. It’s cleverly plotted so each disaster followed nicely from the one before and events don’t feel forced.

I particularly liked the way the relationships between Drew and his friends, both male and female, were drawn and also the realistic way the rabbit pooped and chewed it’s way through everything it shouldn’t, making a refreshing change from the usual fluffy way rabbits are presented in children’s fiction.¬†Anyone considering getting a rabbit for a pet should definitely read these books.

There are more books due in The Rabbit Ate series and they are well worth looking out for,

Happy Reading.

Suzie x 

PS There’s a giveaway over on Goodreads for an autographed copy of Better Buckle Up. ¬†Check it out.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Better Buckle Up by Suzie W.

Better Buckle Up

by Suzie W.

Ends June 21, 2016.

See the details
at Goodreads.

Enter Here 

Read With Me
Zog – #AtoZfavbooks challenge Day 26

ZogZog by Julia Donaldson…

… Day 26 May #AtoZfavbooks challenge.

It’s the last day of the #AtoZfavbooks challenge and the book for Day 26 is Zog, by Julia Donaldson.

Let’s face it, you could fill your shelves with books by Julia Donaldson and get a winner every time but let’s focus on Zog.

Zog is a young dragon at Dragon school who is learning how to breathe fire, roar and capture princesses. He’s very keen, but not always very successful. However, when Princess Pearl volunteers to go back to school with him, he finally gets the gold star he was trying for. But in a clever plot twist, this is not the end of the story. A knight comes to rescue Princess Pearl, who has been having a great time looking after the young dragons and she doesn’t want to go.

How will the story work out?¬†Julia Donaldson’s brilliant imagination comes up with a happy ending for everyone … even the knight’s horse.

Told in rhyme and featuring fantastic illustrations with lively colour and lots of detail, this book is bound to be a winner with you and your little ones.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my choices for the #AtoZfavbooks challenge. Look out for my round-up of the books and the things I learned along the way coming soon.

Happy reading.

Suzie x

P.S. Read this book? Let me know in the comments below.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to share your favourite book title starting with the letter Z¬†in the comments below or post them on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #AtoZfavbooks so I can find them.

You Can’t take an Elephant on a Bus – #AtoZfavbooks challenge – Day 25

You Can't take an elephant on a busYou can’t take an Elephant on a Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck¬†…

… Day 25 May #AtoZfavbooks challenge.

You can’t take an Elephant on a Bus. Well, of course you can’t. This book, chosen for the pen-ultimate of the #AtoZfavbooks challenge, explains why.

It then goes on to look at other modes of transport for different animals. We see centipedes on roller skates, pigs on skateboards and monkeys in shopping trolleys; all with appropriate, hilarious explanations of why this would not be a good idea.

I don’t know why, but I haven’t chosen many books written in rhyme. Children love the rhythm of the verse in this book and there is plenty to talk about in the funny illustrations. After several readings of this book, we started making up silly scenario’s of our own which was really fun and a great way to spark your child’s imagination.

Suzie x

P.S. Read this book? Let me know in the comments below.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to share your favourite book title starting with the letter Y¬†in the comments below or post them on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #AtoZfavbooks so I can find them.


Giveaway on Goodreads: Better Buckle Up

giveawayGiveaway on Goodreads: Better Buckle Up

Starting today, there’s a chance for you to win a shiny, new, paperback copy of Better Buckle Up in the giveaway over on Goodreads autographed especially for you or your child.

Entry is easy.

Click on the link below.

(You do have to be a member of Goodreads, but it’s free and there are lots of other interesting books for you to try for as well)

Better Buckle Up aims to make car safety fun. You can find out more here but this is what people are saying.

The colourful illustrations are delightful and add a level of humour for the parent to enjoy, while reading the story with their young family.   Callie Carling

A delight for parents and children.     Murboyd

This book does an excellent job reinforcing the importance of buckling up … in a manner that empowers the child to choose and cooperate. ¬† ¬†L. Favreau

A very clear and positive message, in a captivating story.    P. Edwards

The winner will be decided by the Goodreads team on 21st of June.

So, don’t delay. You have to be in to win.

Good luck.

Suzie x 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Better Buckle Up by Suzie W.

Better Buckle Up

by Suzie W.

Ends June 21, 2016.

See the details
at Goodreads.

Enter Here 

Better Buckle Up cover

Xavier Ox’s Xylophone Experiment – #AtoZfavbooks challenge – Day 24

Xavier Ox's Xylophone ExperimentXavier Ox’s Xylophone Experiment by¬†Barbara deRubertis¬†…

… Day 24 May #AtoZfavbooks challenge

OK, I admit it. I had no idea what book to choose for Day 24 of the #AtoZfavbooks challenge. We didn’t have one that started with X at home and I couldn’t find one on my visit to the library. Thank goodness for Google. And enter¬†Xavier Ox’s Xylophone Experiment by¬†Barbara deRubertis.

The book is part of the Animal Antics A to Z series published by Kane Press. (Hey, if I’d known that at the beginning of the challenge, I could have used all their titles and had an easy time ūüėČ ) Anyway, it has beautiful illustrations that I fell in love with immediately and is a fun story about¬†Xavier, an ox who loves music. When his enthusiastic drumming at school ends in the boxes he’s using as a drum kit exploding into pieces, and the xylophone he would like is too expensive for him to buy, his school friends experiment to build him a xylophone he won’t be able to break.

Does the xylophone experiment succeed? You’ll have to read it and find out.

As well as being a good read, this book has the added advantage of giving early readers practice in the letter X which can be quite hard to find. With titles like Kylie Kangaroo’s Karate Kickers  and Tessa Tiger’s Temper Tantrum other books in the series promise to be just as good.

So, here’s my new favourite book for X. Bet you can’t say the title ten times fast without getting your tongue in a twist.

Suzie x

P.S. Read this book? Let me know in the comments below.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to share your favourite book title starting with the letter X¬†in the comments below or post them on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #AtoZfavbooks so I can find them.

Where’s Spot? – #AtoZfavbooks challenge – Day 23

Where's SpotWhere’s Spot? by Eric Hill …

… Day 23 May #AtoZfavbooks challenge.

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill was a firm favourite when my children were small. We even had a cuddly Spot dog. And I’m happy to report it’s still as popular with my grand-children too. Hence it has a well-earned place on day 23 of the May #AtoZfavbooks challenge.

The story is simple. It’s dinner time but Spot’s mummy can’t find him. Follow her as she searches the house, finding a crocodile under the bed, a hippo in the piano and a bear with a honey pot behind the door (don’t we all!)

Where’s Spot? is book to delight generations of children to come. ¬†Here’s the animated version for your delight.

I must look into finding a cuddly Spot for the grand-babies ūüôā

Suzie x

P.S. Read this book? Let me know in the comments below.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to share your favourite book title starting with the letter W¬†in the comments below or post them on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #AtoZfavbooks so I can find them.

Update on Better Buckle Up


I just had to update you with this this screenshot from Amazon.

Better Buckle Up is at no. 5 in the children’s ‘cars and trucks’ category. Squeee!

Yes, I know it has a long way to go to reach Amazon’s all time no. 5 but I was still excited anyway.

I’d like to thank all the people who have downloaded the book since it went live on Wednesday and especially those who have taken the time to post a review. Reviews means so much to authors.

I hope you and your little ones are enjoying the story and are chanting ‘Better Buckle Up’ when you fasten them in their car seats.

Love Suzie x 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – #AtoZfavbooks May Challenge – Day 22

Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle…

… Day 22 May #AtoZfavbooks challenge.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Who hasn’t read this classic children’s book? A no-brainer choice for Day 22 of the May #AtoZfavbooks challenge.

There are so many editions of this story. Books with pop-ups, books with finger puppets and bean-bag toys, books with touchy-feely bits along with the ‘eaten’ holes in the page. There have been games based on the book, it’s been used in a campaign to promote healthy eating and every year, on the first day of spring, we have a Very Hungry Caterpillar Day with folks dressing up to celebrate the book. Yes, it’s that well loved.

So, on the off-chance that you haven’t come across this book (or that you just forgot), the story goes: after hatching from his egg, the ever-hungry caterpillar eats his way through increasing amounts of food until he builds himself a cocoon, emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

As well as teaching children the life-cycle of a butterfly, you get the opportunity to practice counting to five and even very young children enjoy the award-winning, bright illustrations.

I love listening to authors read their books, so here is Eric himself to tell the story. Take it away, Eric.

It’s not hard to see why this has been such a popular book. A must-have for every child’s bookshelf.

Suzie x

P.S. Read this book? (Of course, you have) Let me know in the comments below.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to share your favourite book title starting with the letter V¬†in the comments below or post them on facebook or twitter with the hashtag #AtoZfavbooks so I can find them.


Talk of the Town