Baby Books: A Review

I love buying books.

I really love buying books.

I really, really, no question about it, definitely do, 100% love buying books.

To be clear, I also love reading books (and just occasionally writing them too…). The size of my to be read pile varies, but generally it sits around a dozen choices waiting for my attention.

With a wee nipper on the way, I have discovered one (of many) unexpected joys: I can now buy books for someone else too! While the baby is not due until the end of May, I have not waited to get her TBR pile started.

I managed to join up this spending spree with the discovery of an indie bookshop just a couple of minutes from my house. All but one of the books I managed to source from Truman Books. The last book was not in stock there, but I managed to find a copy on Hive instead. With them all arriving with a couple of months until the big day still ahead, I have decided to give them a read myself, and then tell you lovely people what I think about them! If I have time when baby has arrived (…) I will add a follow up to this post to let you know what she thinks of them too.

For these reviews, I have focused on a couple of factors I think are important in baby books. In no particular order, they are:

  • Sturdiness of construction
  • Drawing quality
  • Use of colours
  • The narrative/educational quality
  • And finally how fun the book is

As I have done with my other review posts (examples here, here, here and here) I will also finish each review with an overall baby rating from 0 – 5 (with 5 being the best). Regular readers will probably have noted these scores can often bare no resemblance to my thoughts on the important parts of the book, and to that I say, yes but I’m not going to stop now. The overall rating is more a gut feeling rather than evidence based, and I will continue that tradition today.

I should also probably mention, I was guided more by the cover and title than anything else when buying these books. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the content is about…

20 Dinosaurs at Bedtime by Mark Sperring and Tim Budgen

Almost the perfect bedtime reading book (at least for me), 20 Dinosaurs does pretty much what is says on the tin. With a list of dinosaurs and their common names (including my favourite Pachycephalosaurus) to begin with, the book then moves to a rhyming bedtime narrative any child is bound to enjoy. My only quibble, Pterodactyls (Pterosaurs) are not Dinosaurs…

  • Construction: A nicely embossed cover and well made pages
  • Images: Fantastic drawings, with easy to recognise dinos
  • Colours: Love the colour use, gradually getting darker as the book progresses ready for bed
  • Narrative: A strong theme throughout which hammers home the point it is bedtime, with a bit of education thrown in to boot
  • Fun: Oozing with fun throughout

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻 (could have been even higher, shame about the pterodactyl faux pas)

An ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing and Paulina Morgan

You’ve all probably heard A is for Apple, but did you know A is for Ability too? In this novel take on the classic ABC book, An ABC of Equality begins to introduce some important concepts around tolerance and inclusion which will be important for baby to know as they grow up. And they even found a word for X!

  • Construction: Solidly made, thick cardboard and nice feel
  • Images: Fun and diverse characters (what were you expecting…?)
  • Colours: Non-stop bright and colourful
  • Narrative: Important ideas presented at an appropriate level
  • Fun: There’s a bit of rhyme here and there to keep a baby occupied

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻1/2

Animal Words with illustrations by Tiago Americo

I was expecting a book along the lines of a cow goes moo when I ordered Animal Words, but was pleasantly surprised to find it had a little more substance to it. Covering a range of creatures from the typical (sheep) to the more exotic (narwhal), the book includes a delightful selection of textures and simple puzzles for baby to really get the grey cells working.

  • Construction: Another solid cardboard choice, with the added bonus of textured materials throughout
  • Images: A little simplistic but clearly identifiable animals
  • Colours: Multiple bright colours from cover to cover
  • Narrative: There is a sort of story here, I’m sure…
  • Fun: Definitely fun for the eyes and the hands

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻1/2

A Scientist Like Me by Dr Shini Samara and Nadia Sarell

If you have ever heard children described as natural scientists, this book hammers home the point time and again. While the book is jam-packed with interesting science, I did feel it was somewhat all over the place, and I was not entirely sure the point of the book. Coupled with it being on the wordy side, and I was more than a little disappointed.

  • Construction: Reasonably well made, feels like a good quality book
  • Images: High quality cartoons in this one
  • Colours: No end to the eye-catching colours throughout
  • Narrative: As I said above it felt disjointed, but full of sciencey facts and tidbits
  • Fun: I’m really not sure on this one. The main character Ruben certainly had fun, I’m just not sure the baby/reader will

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻

Book of Opposites by Oliver Jeffers

Starting almost inevitably with Big and Small, the Book of Opposites includes a pair of, well, opposite words on each page accompanied by cartoons of animals and scenes from around the world to illustrate the concepts. For a child beginning to build their vocabulary this book is a great choice.

  • Construction: Thinner card than some, but still solid enough for sticky fingers
  • Images: Some of the highest calibre illustrations of all the books in this review
  • Colours: A real negative point here. Dull, dark colours are to be found throughout
  • Narrative: No real narrative but certainly educational.
  • Fun: The illustrations are interesting and the whole book is a quick page turner

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻

Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood

I loved this book. It is simple yet effective, a tale of friendship and accepting each other for our differences. The perfect book for a child learning about the world and looking to make new friends.

  • Construction: Feels good quality, if fairly standard for a children’s book
  • Images: Apparently made out of old plastic bags, they are unmistakably a carrot and a pea
  • Colours: You better like green and orange…
  • Narrative: A really important message covered in a fun and not too serious way
  • Fun: From start to finish. Loved it

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻 (Nothing’s perfect, except when it is)

Don’t mix up my Dinosaur by Rosamund Lloyd and Spencer Wilson

I’ll be honest, I was expecting a book introducing different dinosaurs here, when the book is more of the matching different colours and textures to a description variety. The big wheel at the corner of the book is a fun touch, but I was disappointed with the lack of focus here.

  • Construction: I’ve spun the wheel a fair few times and it seems well made
  • Images: The dinosaurs roughly look like recognisable specimens, though the lack of names makes it hard to be sure
  • Colours: No problems here, bright and colourful throughout
  • Narrative: Lacking, and wanting a little because of it
  • Fun: The mixture of the wheel and different textures adds an element of fun to the book

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻

Evolution for Babies by Cara Florance and Chris Ferrie

Part of the University for Babies series, Evolution for Babies is the only book I could not find at Truman Books. Based around the principal you are never too young to start learning, Evolution for Babies introduces the topic of evolution in a colourful and accessible way. Will they be ready to sit a University biology exam after reading this book? Probably not. Will they have enjoyed a fun read with mummy or daddy? Almost certainly yes.

  • Construction: Made of a good firm card which will take a few knocks.
  • Images: Basic drawings, essential just a series of balls
  • Colours: Bright and eye catching throughout
  • Narrative: High on the educational points
  • Fun: Not quite laugh a minute, but should keep the nipper entertained

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻1/2

Little Feminist Book Set by Emily Kleinman and Lydia Ortiz

Actually four books in a set, the Little Feminist Book Set introduces some inspirational women from history to a little feminist of the future. The books Artists, Pioneers and Activists are full of good choices, but I was a little disappointed in Leaders (two historical Queens which is hardly an aspirational role), but overall a good collection of books.

  • Construction: Sturdy enough to take a good gumming!
  • Images: Perfect little cartoons with a feel of Playmobil
  • Colours: Bright, new colours on every page
  • Narrative: Not much of a narrative to be found, rather short bios of each of the women included
  • Fun: Other than the fun pictures, these books were a little on the glum side.

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻1/2

This Girl Can Do Anything by Stephanie Stansbie and Hazel Quintanilla

Ruby really can do anything, at least she gives it a good try. This book is a short story of Ruby trying her hand at everything from painting to skateboarding, and with a little encouragement from parents makes a good go of things.

  • Construction: The matt finish is a welcome change from the traditionally shiny book choices
  • Images: I like the graphic novel style aesthetic while being clearly aimed at children
  • Colours: A little on the muted side, I do like that each page has a colour theme
  • Narrative: Is there really a narrative when all that is happening is Ruby trying new things?
  • Fun: Ruby certainly has fun, and I am sure the reader will too

Jamie’s Bouncing Baby Rating: 👶🏻👶🏻👶🏻

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