Isabelle loves her books and magazines, she always has done. I think she has practically borrowed her own (ever increasing) height in books from the library and has bulging shelves of them in her room. She even has some new baskets so she can pick and choose her books whenever she wants.
We’ve always felt it important and just natural to read to Isabelle from when she was a baby, so that is what we have done. When she was really little I would read her articles from The Guardian or Empire that I’d been saving to read and even read her the opening chapter of the Alan Partridge autobiography, ‘I, Partridge’. Note that doesn’t make the list below.
I think I was going through my fatherhood by way of Hollywood phase and was taking my cue from Tom Selleck in Three Men and a Baby when he is caught reading a boxing match review in a hushed, storytelling tone. When asked what he is doing by Steve Guttenberg, he replies: “It doesn’t matter what I read, it’s the tone you use. She doesn’t understand the words anyway.”
Soon, Iz did understand the words, would comprehend their meaning, and laugh (each and every night) at the stories those individual words make.
I was going to say that making it to the top of Isabelle’s list might not be the Booker Prize or be of any literary merit, but you know what, that is exactly what it is. These books sit proudly on her shelves and in her hands. They are well loved and well read, they are forming her childhood memories and will always be a part of her…what greater accolade can there be than that?
Isabelle’s top ten books…ever!
The Singing Mermaid by Julia Donaldson (illustrations by Lydia Monks)
Donaldson, recently appointed as the UK Children’s Laureate, dominates this list and The Singing Mermaid pretty much without fail has been read each and every night since she got it as a second birthday present at the end of August 2012. It’s perhaps no surprise then that You Bet style Sarah can receipt the whole book word perfect without it in front of her and Iz is also pretty adept at finishing of sentences.
It’s the tale (no pun intended) of a mermaid who is lured away to the circus to sing by the horrible Sam Sly, who promises her the earth but delivers nothing. And now the mermaid, with the help of her new circus friends plots her escape back to Silversands. It’s a great little story and the illustrations really help set it apart as (in the hardback edition at least) they are full of glitter.
And what 2.5 year olds don’t like (eating, throwing) glitter. As well as great to look at it also gives the pages a texture which Iz has been exploring with her fingers giving them a gentle rub. So, this book works on multiple levels and is a worthy recipient of the title Isabelle’s favourite book.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson (illustrations by Axel Scheffler)
The witch and her cat fly happily over forests, rivers and mountains on their broomstick until a stormy wind blows away the witch’s hat, bow and wand. They are retrieved by a dog, a bird and a frog, and each animal asks for a ride on the broom. They climb on, one after the next, until the broom is so heavy that it snaps in two! What will happen next as they tumble into a bog and meet a greedy dragon?
Already a firm favourite with Iz, it was a close run thing between the number two and number one slots on this list…afterall we somehow have this book three times, including one edition being the sound book version.
Broom’s high placing on the list was rubber stamped with its adaptation into a short animated film for the BBC over Christmas which vividly brought the characters hitching a ride on the broom to life. I think the dragon troubled Iz for a while but she, like others no doubt, loves the witches and chips for tea moment.
The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson (illustrations by Axel Scheffler)
One dark night the Gruffalo’s child disobeys her father’s warnings and ventures out into the snow. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn’t really exist . . . does he?
Iz finds The Grufallo a scary monster but seems to identify more with the sequel which is a retelling of sorts and features clever cameos from creatures featured in the original, think of it as Back to the Future II as it essentially the same story from another angle.
The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson (illustrations by Axel Scheffler)
‘Give me your buns and your biscuits! Give me your chocolate éclairs! For I am the Rat of the highway, and the Rat Thief never shares!’ Life is not safe for the other animals, as the villainous Highway Rat gallops along the highway, stealing their food. Clover from a rabbit; nuts from a squirrel – he even steals his own horse’s hay. Will he finally meet his comeuppance, in the form of a cunning duck?
Inspired by the poem, “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, even using the same riding, riding, riding phrase throughout , something that certainly won’t be picked up on by any of the young readers and I’m sure will be missed by many an adult reader as well.
As such it takes a few times of reading it to et used to its pace and slight departure for Donaldson. Still, it’s a fun take on the classic poem.
Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson (illustrations by David Roberts)
Everyone knows that tyrannosauruses are big and scary, so when a placid duckbill dinosaur’s egg ends up in the wrong nest confusion is sure to ensue! When the baby dinosaur hatches out, he’s so out of place that his grisly big sisters call him Tyrannosaurus Drip. Poor little Drip: all he wants is a quiet life munching on water weed . . .
Clever, witty and with the odd word to confound the grown ups, which I thought was a masterstroke, this has to be one of my favourites. I was always a big dinosaur fan when growing up and I thought the tale of the veggie dinosaur was an epic one that had you on the edge of your seat at times. It also has a fantastic rhyming pace about it that makes it a dream to read aloud and has plenty of opportunities for a whole cavalcade of voices.
What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson (illustrations by Lydia Monks)
With all the MOOing and HISSing and BAAAing and CLUCKing, the farmyard is full of noise. But when Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len hatch a plot to steal the fine prize cow, it’s the quietest animal of all who saves the day!
Another book with sparkly bits! This has some great repetition for children to recognise and join in with. It’s also a bit Where’s Wally as you are also constantly looking for the ladybird. The villains are also great as well, Hefty Hue and Lanky Len and the build up and pay off is brilliant. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was the next Donaldson book to be animated for TV.
Bunny My Honey by Anita Jeram
Life is just about perfect for the little Honeys ( Bunny, Little Duckling and Miss Mouse) until the day Bunny gets lost in the woods and Mummy Bunny has to search long and hard for “Bunny, my Honey!”
A great book to use to show the perils of wandering off to children.
The Princess and the Wizard by Julia Donaldson (illustrations by Lydia Monks)
The princess has been captured by the wicked wizard. She may try seven times to escape by changing her colour and changing her shape. But each time Princess Eliza changes – into a blue fish, a yellow
chick, a red fox or a black cat – the wicked wizard finds her and sets her another horrible task. Will this plucky princess be able to outwit him and escape back to the palace in time to cut her birthday cake?
Have you seen my Potty? by Mij Kelly (illustrations by Mary McQuillan)
The perfect book about poo and potties! What’s not to like?
Hugless Douglas by David Melling
Douglas is a huggable, lovable young brown bear who wakes up one morning in need of a hug. He goes to try and find one but none of them seem quite right. Join Douglas on his search for the perfect bear hug! A charming tale, we could all do with more hugs, think of it as a longer version of Goldilocks, Douglas trying to find a hug that is just riiiiiight.