Spring has sprung (with a competition)

The Easter Bunny, chocolates, Easter egg hunts, crocuses and daffodils, the arrival of Spring … what traditions does your household love about Easter? I love the fact that we celebrate all that is bright, fresh and new in the world, the sun is usually shining, and we can all have a few days to have family fun time or just quiet time to reflect and enjoy the natural world.

For me, and I hope for many of you, it is also a great time to find some lovely books to read and for little ones there is always a wonderful selection, this year being no exception.

I failed to mention above another animal that maybe we don’t always associate with Easter but that we will begin to see as the seasons move from Winter to Spring and that is the duckling – perhaps you would associate this with the Easter chicks? Well ducklings come in all shapes and sizes but have you ever found a Dino Duckling? NO? I am surprised for after enjoying Alison Murray’s Dino Duckling, (Orchard Books) you will, like me, be on the look out for them! Dino duckling is different from the start – his egg is so much bigger. When he is born he is different and as he and his brothers and sisters grow the difference become more marked, he is reassured that difference does not matter but does it? Discover how important family is and how little difference matters in this delightful reinterpretation of the Ugly Duckling story.

Now from chicks to chicks and rabbits … plus a few additional friends … The First Egg Hunt by Adam & Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Pippa Curnick (Egmont) is certainly one to read before you embark on your hunt for there is a lot to learn about how to get it right, how to do it properly …check the shopping list, do the shopping, make the deliveries and most of all don’t panic when it seems that disaster has struck for it may be just the thing you need. But remember, when reading this book don’t just look at the words – but do as they have a wonderfully gentle rhyming scheme making them perfect for reading aloud – be sure to also look again and again at the pictures for plenty of clues embellishing the story. A fabulous, friendly, fun-filled egg hunt awaits.

Going on the egg hunt is fun but children do need to learn or know how to count in order to make sure they get all the eggs. Everybunny Count! by Ellie Sandall (Hodder Children’s Books) will not only teach children their numbers from one to ten but encourage them to share in a game of hide-and-seek with a group of bunnies and a not-so-scary fox! Will the game come to a good end or will is there a surprise in store? Get your counting brain in gear, get your reading eyes ready and remember not to peek when you are playing this wonderful game. With its vibrant illustration and simple text there is so much to enjoy in delightful story.

We have had the chicks and the egg hunt now it is time to Grab that rabbit as Polly Faber (Egmont) explains in her charming story with big, gentle and classic illustration by Briony May Smith. With some great word play, ‘Hodge is a white rabbit with one black splodge’ and ‘… wedged rabbit. An in the-hedge rabbit’ being just two examples, this is a very funny story of one little rabbit who gets stuck doing what he loves best (eating carrots). With a little help from the not very happy Mrs Sprat Hodge may just make his get away but then there is the threat of the buzzard before once more Mrs Sprat, this time with her cooking pot … The textual word play and the expression in the illustration give this book a wonderful edginess and make it a true delight to read again and again this Easter and beyond.

Can you do almost anything? There is one little bunny who thinks he can. Sophy Henn’s delightful Almost Anything (Puffin) is the perfect picture book for all those children who have ever said ‘I can’t’. George is one of those, he is a bunny who is quite convinced that he really is no good at anything. He can’t do this or that. Painting? Dancing? No. Roller skating? Most definitely not. Is there anything that George can do? Well you will have to read on to discover for yourself and at the same time learn why the magic hat may be just what you need too. A beautiful book for Easter – after all it features a bunny – but also an important book for empowering children, instilling them (and us as adults) with self belief and encouraging them to look closely at the pictures to see just what is going on and can be done by even the most surprising characters!

On the subject of intrepid rabbits delve into a third adventure with Shylo and the royal rabbits of London in Royal Rabbits of London: Escape from the Tower by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore, with illustrations by Kate Hindley (Simon & Schuster) now available as paperback.

A lovely box of Spring & Easter goodies has just arrived on the doorstep and whilst I have read and we have also reviewed in previous editions some of the titles already there are others that were new to me and I would like to share with you here – so thanks to Macmillan publishing you can now sit back, munch a few Easter eggs (from the hunts the children will no doubt have been on) and enjoy these titles!

Catch that Egg by Lucy Rowland and Anna Chernyshova may be a good title to share before the hunt commences … join Floppit rabbit with his big clumsy feet as he tries to help chicken catch her egg. Floppit’s adventure gets better with every turn of the page as more farmyard animals join in. You will find yourself joining in with the rhyming text and marvelling at the vibrant illustration which adds such life to the story.

Peace at Last may be how some of the adults feel after a busy Easter egg hunt and Easter holiday! Jill Murphy’s classic book is now available in a new edition along with Peace at Last which is celebrating it 35th anniversary this year!

Tired of bunnies? Turn to Paul Strickland’s Ten Terrible Dinosaurs in a charming new board book format with plenty of colourful dinosaurs to spot and numbers to learn – settle down to some learning fun this Spring!

You and the children are on holiday and so is Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monk’s Ladybird … What the Ladybird Heard on Holiday is a glittery delight – a charming story, with so much to spot, lots of rhyming text to enjoy.

A Far Away Magic by Amy Wilson is the story of how magic can be around us in the everyday but needs to be understood and controlled … a touching, moving and compelling read for Middle Grade.

The Lost Island by Laura Powell is the second title in the Silver Service Mystery series and returns us to the crime-solving world of plucky Pattern as she helps to solve a supernatural mystery on the Island of Cull …

For teens there is plenty to get stuck into with the gripping I Am Thunder by Muhammed Khan addressing the issues surrounding growing up in Britain today as an apparent outsider. Difficult subjects are dealt with in a sensitive but thought-provoking story.

Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard is a story of friendship, secrets and asking difficult questions of those who you thought you knew well and put your trust in …

So that was the books now it’s time for the cooking … because of course no Easter would be complete without some of Baby Bunny’s Simple Shortbread, the perfect recipe for little hands to attempt … Are you wondering what has inspired such goodies? Well okay, there is a book involved, Ellie Snowdon’s

(Simon and Schuster) with its tempting tower of a cake. Bread, trifle, honey buns, pastry pie and finally Chocolate Cake Extravaganza but for one contestant this may be just a step too far, unless …

No, I shan’t spoil the surprise, I shall leave you to enjoy the Great Bunny Bake off with its many tempting treats, its classical style of illustration and its amusing story with appeal to adults as well as children this Easter.

Now don’t forget to try out your baking skills too and maybe, just maybe if you send us some pictures we too will be able to award a prize …

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