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Reviews from birth to 5 years

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By Deborah Oxley — an early years playworker

Enjoy this month’s selection of books for early years

Wendel’s Workshop by Chris Riddelld (MacMillan, HB, £10.99).

This is a story based on the idea of reusing and recycling materials. When Wendel the mouse starts to build robots from junk in his scrapyard, he finds that some are more useful than others. After reading the book to the children, they immediately wanted to look at it again. The inside cover shows blueprints for various robots, which capture the imagination – the children wanted to suggest robot names, too. The story can be easily linked to drawing or modelling activities.

Suitable for ages three to seven.

The Cat Sat On the Mat by Fiona Manlove and Hannah Carding (Ragged Bears, PB, £4.99).

This lovely book has simple text and pictures showing a cat on a mat – but the mat moves! The book has rhyming text and bright, cheerful pictures that the children can look through themselves, although they will get more from it by sitting alongside a practitioner. We asked if the mat was magic, and how the cat was feeling. The antics of the mice on each page add interest.

Suitable for ages two to five.

Let’s Take Over the Nursery by Richard Hamilton and Sue Heap (Bloomsbury, PB, £5.99).

A rhyming tale about how the children in a nursery behave when their teacher is stuck inside the climbing frame. The book attempts to show the children what would happen if they got up to mischief (they run a little wild, but in the end they need their teacher). We felt the joke only really appeals to older children and adults.

Suitable for ages three to seven.

If My Dad Were a Dog by Annabel Tellis (Chicken House, PB, £5.99).

This fun book has a quirky mix of real and cartoon pictures, and is different from any books we have bought before. Its simple rhyming words and primary colours, combined with photographs of a real dog made us laugh and it begs to be read again.

Suitable for ages two to five.

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret (Macmillan, HB, £10.99).

A beautifully presented hardback featuring the words of the well-known song, with an accompanying CD. I was looking forward to sharing this book with the children, but found the pictures rather whimsical to appeal to the very young and the wording is repetitious. However, the CD featuring the song of ‘Puff’ is lovely – calm and relaxing – and you can hear the different instruments being played.

Suitable for ages three to seven.

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