I am posting these reviews on behalf of my 5 year old son, Neil for #KbcBookBingoJr (4-7 years).
Books have been a constant for me and my child, not only through this summer, but all of last year (from last book bingo to this one)! We have gotten through online school, tantrums, meltdowns, big emotions, the start of physical school and more big emotions – all with the help of books. Books have given us comfort in times of worry and made us laugh when we were sad. Here are Neil’s current favourite thirty.
1. A green colored book – The Giant of Jum by Elli Woollard
This book is one of our most favourite books ever, about a giant who has heard that giants are supposed to be mean and grumpy and so he sets about trying to be mean – does he succeed? Will the world place more importance on his actions or on the stereotype of a mean giant? The book helps one understand that nothing – absolutely nothing – is more important than being kind.
2. A book with a penguin character – Sunk by Rob Biddulph
If there is anything such as a perfect story book, it is this one – minimal, rhyming text, mind blowing illustrations, pirates, penguins, sunken ships, and a treasure map. All the elements that kids this age love. The text alignment is just as enchanting as the different shades of colors of the ocean, and I’m not sure what I love more – the treasure map, the clever plan to save the ship or the ending. The story carries a beautiful message of not giving up in the face of adversity, staying calm and figuring a way out.
3. A Tom Percival book – Tilda Tries Again
A beautiful book by Tom Percival, this one is about trying again and again, and not giving up even if you feel frustrated and confused. The illustration of the ladybird, unable to turn around, but not giving up, is so powerful that it stays in the child’s mind long after you finish reading. I love that this book has very simple language and equips the children with a powerful line of “Tilda Tries Again”, which can be repeated whenever needed.
4. A book with siblings – A Saree for Ammi by Mamta Nainy
A pair of siblings watch their mother weave beautiful sarees everyday, but wonder why she never wears them. They decide to buy one for her, but find out that buying it requires money. So, they go about collecting money by doing small odd jobs, and in the process learn about how a saree is made. The book is a wonderful way to make children learn gratitude for what you have and love for your family.
5. A book about school – Clifford’s Big Red School by Scholastic
There is something about Clifford, the big red dog that appeals to kids. When he wants to go to school, but can’t because of his size (and also because he is a dog), it is decided that school shall come to him! So, Clifford’s Big Red school is organised in the backyard where they do all the activities done in school. Reading this book, helps kids get over the anxiety of what will happen in school, and since the book has stickers, it quickly becomes a favourite!
This book and other Clifford books can be ordered from Scholastic India via our kbc storefront as well. Scholastic India always has special offers on.
6. A rib-tickling book – Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman
If your child is anything like mine, the mere mention of underwear or poop, will make them roll on the floor with laughter! Now imagine aliens with weird eyes and arms, mad about underwear, and coming down to earth to literally steal them! This book is a complete laugh riot.
7. A book by an Indian author – A Little Spice is Extra Nice: Annie goes to Mattancherry by Sruthi Vijayan
A wonderful story of a child cooking a meal with the chef of the house, and then going on a spice run in the city of Cochin to replenish the spices in the spice box. The text makes kids feel like they are really cooking and smelling the spices, while the illustrations make you feel that you are walking in the lanes of Jew town in Cochin.
8. An award-winning book – The Mountains of Mumbai by Labanya Ghosh (Winner of the Neev Book Award 2020, Picture Book Category)
This is a story of a little girl who visits the busy city of Mumbai, all the way from Ladakh. And while she is fascinated by the busy city with its bustling sights and the varied colours, she misses the mountains. Her friend tells her that there are mountains in Mumbai too! Surprised? I was too! The watercolor illustrations in this book will take your breath away. The minimal text makes it perfect to read to toddlers/pre-schoolers. And, if you ever want a souvenir on Mumbai to gift someone, look no further.
9. A book with a female protagonist – Princess Swashbuckle by Holly Hughes
The parents of Princess Swashbuckle think that she must get married to a handsome frog prince, but she doesn’t want to. So she packs her bags and goes on an adventure on a pirate ship. But, will she be able to make her parents realise that she’s happy with the frog prince? A wonderful book on being independent, where the female protagonist goes on a high sea adventure!
10. A book that breaks gender stereotypes – I’m a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail
This book breaks gender stereotypes, and how! A little girl loves doing all the things normally associated with boys – playing with cars, running fast, doing dangerous stuff, and so people keep mistaking her to be a boy! The book helps kids understand two things – you can play with any toy (toys are not gender specific), and that even if people mistake you to be of the other gender, you just need to be assertive instead of getting upset. We adore the two other books by the same author – Nothing! and Specs for Rex. Specs for Rex especially is a wonderful book on the sensitive issue of accepting spectacles and being kind towards those who wear glasses.
11. A Scholastic book – Eva’s Imagination by Wendy Shurety
How many times have you heard the line – “I’m bored. What shall I do next?”. And, this line is exactly what makes this book so relatable for the kids. Eva is extremely bored, and her mom asks her “What’s happened to your imagination?”. Eva thinks imagination is some toy she needs to find, and goes on an expedition around the house, under the tables, through forests, and caves – does she find her imagination and learn how to deal with boredom? This is a wonderful book to read to kids to help them understand the limitless possibilities of creativity and what they can imagine. It won’t stop them from saying they are bored, but it may give them some ideas for role play!
This book can be ordered from Scholastic India via our kbc storefront as well. Scholastic India always has special offers on.
12. A Zayn & Zoey book – Zayn and Zoey explore Asia (a part of the Zayn and Zoey continent set)
It’s very difficult to choose one favourite Zayn and Zoey book, but amongst our favourites is the continent set and in that, Zayn and Zoey Explore Asia. Kids don’t really have a concept of cities, countries, continents. So when I bought the set, I thought he wouldn’t understand much but I was wrong! The illustrations and bite sized information in these books, make them appealing to all kids. Moreover, it has very interesting information through the book be it the national symbols of India, the cuisine across India (beautifully depicted on a map) or the sports played in the different countries. There’s nothing that makes me happier than books that engage children, while also helping them to learn something.
ONLY KBC MEMBERS HAVE A SPECIAL COUPON CODE KBC15 which will give you 15% OFF when you order directly from the ZAYN AND ZOEY website. Simply click this link that takes you to the Zayn and Zoey shop on their website.
13. A non-fiction book/encyclopedia – Science Squad by Robert Winston (DK)
My child is deeply into non fiction, asking a wide variety of questions every other day, and while we have many encyclopedia, it is not possible to cover all topics. Or is it? With this book, it is! It has a little bit on everything – from water cycle, evolution, food chain to simple machines, and technology! An absolute must have book for curious kids.
14. A mystery/adventure book – Cats and Robbers by Russell Ayto
The best way to describe this hilarious book is Home Alone on steroids! It involves two cats, three burglars and ingenious traps. However, the best part is the ending which will leave you in splits, no matter how many times you read it. One of the funniest books we’ve ever read!
15. A book on space/solar system – Meet the Planets by Caryl Hart
We have many many books on space, but none are as simple, engaging yet informative as this one. My son, who is fond of reading huge encyclopedia, found this sweet and simple book irresistible, and wants to read it every few days. The rhyming text combined with nuggets of information that may be new for this age kids, is what makes the book super duper awesome (it’s amazing for them to read independently too).
16. A book on any festival – Santa Claus vs the Easter Bunny by Fred Blunt
Santa Claus vs the Easter bunny is a book that integrates the best bits of Christmas and Easter. The Easter bunny is jealous that Santa has help from so many elves and he works alone to make and deliver his Easter eggs. He’s particularly upset that children don’t write notes to him like they do to Santa, or give him carrots like they do to reindeer! So he plans to sabotage Santa’s Christmas plans – with hilarious results. This extremely funny story, celebrates togetherness, positivity and teamwork and the best way possible.
17. A book about a place in India – Leopard in Mumbai by Lubaina Bandukwala
Want to introduce your toddler to Mumbai? There cannot be a better book than this. A leopard escapes from the Sanjay Gandhi National park and goes around Mumbai, eating vada pav, travelling in the famous “Kaali Peeli” taxi on the sea link and much more! The huge size of the book is definitely a big selling point.
18. A book that talks about food – Sugar, Spice and all foods nice by Katie Bagli
For a long time I looked for a book on Indian spices and vegetables, with little success – till I found this gem of a book. It checks all the boxes for me – it has information about all Indian spices including bay leaf, turmeric, cloves etc, along with all the other things that we use regularly in the kitchen like onions, spinach, cucumber, coconut, cereals, milk etc. The information about each item is in rhyme, and there is enough in the book to engage 4 year olds as well as adults! A very well researched book, that has been painstakingly simplified in terms of the language, so that kids enjoy and understand it.
The narrative is from the point of view of seven year old twins and their grandmother. The grandmother realises that the only way to keep the kids busy is to take them into the kitchen with her and tell them all she knows. So, she tells them everything she knows about each ingredient she is using, where it originated from, which dishes it is used in. There are limited pictures in the book, but the text is enough to keep kids engaged.
19. A bilingual book – I’m going to the zoo by Narendra Jain
This is a great bilingual book for kids learning a new language because it introduces the names of animals and colours in a fun way. We have the English-Hindi bilingual book, and absolutely love reading it. Some of the lines are just so mesmerising, that kids love repeating them – “Neela Peela Hara hai Tota”, accompanied by a lovely picture of a macaw!
20. An inspiring book – Three Little Vikings by Bethan Woolvin
We want our kids to be kind, but when they see an adult authority figure, with a booming voice, all the kindness and compassion we’ve taught them, intuitively tells them that this person is someone we need to be scared of. Kids need to be able to think for themselves always, and be assertive where they think they need to be. This book, Three Little Vikings is as much about standing up to authority figures as it is about girl power, being assertive and being confident. The three little girls know that there is something or someone who is destroying their village, but their concerns keep getting dismissed by the chief, who says in a booming voice “Nonsense! I’m the chief, and I know best”. So, the girls take matters into their own hands and decide to investigate. What will they find? Will the chief admit he was wrong?
If your child finds teachers intimidating, please get this book to tell them that no one, not even teachers are perfect, and that they must always use their intelligence to think about situations.
21. A book by your favorite illustrator – Love is my favourite thing by Emma Chichester Clark (Illustrated also by Emma Chichester Clark)
I think I’ve been swooning over the story and illustrations of this book forever. The story is about Plummie – a little dog who tries very hard to be good, but keeps getting into trouble. The story highlights how it is important to listen to elders, why what they say is for your good – but also that you shall always always be loved, no matter what. And the illustrations – they are so so good! We have spent hours and hours staring at the watercolor pictures, and going awwww over the doggie paintings!
22. A book by your favorite author – Along came a different by Tom McLaughlin
The author has a very simple way of conveying deep meanings, be it that getting outdoors and staring at the sky can be fun in The Cloudspotter, or that creativity and imagination is your best friend, in the story machine. However, the book we’ve loved the best from him, and re-read a million times is this one – it is mind blowingly simple, yet super powerful. What happens when shapes of different types and coloirs refuse to get along? What happens when a rainbow coloured shape comes along, who refuses to follow any of their rules? A beautiful book that is capable of teaching the youngest of kids the importance, beauty and joy in getting along with everybody.
23. A new author you were introduced to – Lots of Frogs by Howard Calvert
This is an author I had never heard about, and he does not have any other books. But, this one book that he has written is not only a complete laugh riot, it helps ease school worries too! A hilarious story of a boy who took a box of frogs to his school for show and tell day, and the madness that ensued after that! The story is in rhyme, and very easy for early readers to read independently.
24. A book that helped address an issue – Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen
We all want to raise kind children, and constantly teach them to be polite. As a result of that, sometimes our children think that everyone is as kind as them, and end up being bullied. The truth is this world is full of wolves, and our kids need to be able to protect themselves by choosing their friends wisely. This book is a funny story about a good wolf who tries to explain to a bad wolf that he should be good, but does he succeed? This book helped me tremendously in explaining to my child to stay away from children who use bad language, who are aggressive and who scare him, because they are like the bad wolf in this story!
25. A book on potty humor – Poo in the Zoo by Steve Smallman
If you have a toddler, chances are they are obsessed with potty. Now add in description of the sounds made by the animal potty hitting the ground, glowing potty, dinosaur potty, mammoth potty and much more – and you have a winner of a book that kids will never refuse to read. The rhyming text combined with pictures of the different types of poo, make it absolutely irresistible. We love the other books in the Lets read together series too, particularly The Great monster Hunt, The Great Cheese Robbery, Blue Monster Wants It All and A Friend Like You.
26. An interactive book with an unconventional format – You Choose by Nick Sharratt
This is a book that every child over 2.5 years should have. Oh what joy we have experienced reading this one, and the other one in the series – You Choose in Space! The illustrations are brilliant and allow the child to indulge in every kind of adventure and fascination they may have imagined, and create their own story (good, bad, funny, strange or anything they want it to be!). Want to be really tall? Really short? Visit a strange planet? Keep a pet? Keep a pet that is a combination of animals? And much much more. Limited text and rich illustrations will make these books much loved by young kids and adults, alike. They are perfect to play I spy, and perfect to be co-read by someone not fluent in English.
27. A picture book with more than 40 pages – The good Indian child’s guide to eating mangoes by Natasha Sharma
Neil couldn’t stop giggling through this book, and was literally drooling! It’s tough to describe the beauty of this book through words. The format the author has chosen, of how best to eat a mango in 7 very hilarious steps, is so unique. It takes you through steps of how to find the perfect mango, how to know which variety it is, and of course how to eat it (and whether to share it or not, and how to save your skin if you accidentally ate someone else’s mango!). Just reading the book, makes you feel like you are eating a mango, and makes the whole experience of pressing a squishy mango, having the juice all over your face come alive. If you, your child, your family members like mangoes, please get this book. It will make you roll on the floor in laughter
28. A hook book (by Duckbill) – Moodunnit! by C G Salamander
A little girl and her parents set up a vegetable cart everyday, but one day they find all their vegetables missing. The little girl decides to become a detective and follow the clues left by the vegetable thief! A hilarious whodunnit, which makes for the perfect mystery book for early readers. We love hook books.
29. A book on being eco-friendly – One more does matter Lana by David Howlett
Lana loves to upcycle things, but Mr Wolf does not – he keeps chopping trees for different things, saying “one more won’t matter”. But, does “One more matter?”. It does, as we find out in this beautifully illustrated book. It shows us the many ways in which we can upcycle things too.
30. A book that was gifted to you – One Lonely Tiger by Benita Sen
Explaining environmental degradation and its impact on animals can sometimes be difficult and heartbreaking. How do you explain to a young child that their favourite animals are disappearing due to the greed of adults like us? This book helps you to. It is funny, yet amazingly beautiful. All about how the disappearing forests lead to the animal population dwindling, and becoming sad and lonely – especially this one tiger. And one day, he decides to take a big leap, and jump off to? Get the book to find out where he jumps off to! This book was gifted to us by Achira on Neil’s 5th birthday!
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