And just like that, he was two…
Today is Baby Bookworm’s birthday and it feels like both a lifetime and a flash since this flame-haired wonder arrived in our lives.
We’ve had lots of laughs, lots of tears and LOTS of bedtime stories in that time. Beloved books have fallen out of favour and back in again, and delightful new discoveries made.
Last year, to celebrate his first birthday, I made a Victoria sandwich with fresh cream and strawberries, and posted a round-up of the ten books I felt he had enjoyed most since being born.
In the name of tradition, I made the very same cake for his birthday party on Sunday – and here is the round-up of his top ten from the last 12 months.
It was incredibly tough to choose, but I’ve selected ones we’ve consistently read on repeat, that he keeps coming back to and in some cases, he can recite almost word for word.
A special mention goes out to Nosy Crow’s Early Learning At The Museum books, Jane Cabrera’s first concept books and anything featuring Charlie and Lola. They almost made the cut but it was too tough pick one of each series.
1. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee.
This ode to love and acceptance was a gift when Baby Bookworm was born and a book that every parent should read to their child. Using the repetitive refrain of “every day, everywhere”, author Susan Meyers gently guides us through the ways in which babies grow and develop from birth to first birthday with the help of those around them.
The cast is wide and diverse, with lovely detailed artwork by Marla Frazee, but the essential and reassuring message is that all babies are the same at heart – and all adored by their families.
2. Kevin by Rob Biddulph. £6.99 (paperback), HarperCollins Children’s
When Sid Gibbons gets in trouble with his mum, he blames a make-believe friend called Kevin – only to discover that this furry vanilla and pink creature is actually real. Thus ensues a tale of friendship, taking responsibility for your actions and learning to say sorry.
With its magical bold illustrations and rollicking rhyming text, this is another winner by Rob Biddulph – and we just love that there is a bit of pink and sparkle on the cover of a book with such a laddish name!
3. A Little Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. £6.99 (board book), HarperCollins Children’s
When Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree, he throws his shoe to try and knock it loose. From here begins a superbly silly sequence of events as the determined lad uses ever more comical items to dislodge everything from the branches.
Oliver Jeffers’ wry wit and quirky childlike artwork are a joy, with the outrageous visual humour of Floyd flinging an orangutan, cruise ship and even the kitchen sink at the problem funny no matter what your age. Plus Baby Bookworm loves joining in with the repetitive refrain of “stuck” as each cunning plan fails.
4. Cook in a Book: Tacos, illustrated by Lotta Nieminen. £9.95 (hardback), Phaidon
This interactive recipe book is a feast for the eyes and loads of fun for mini foodies, giving a whole new spin to playing kitchen. It takes a proper recipe and guides your child through how to make it, with flaps, sliders and spinners to simulate the stages.
Baby Bookworm demands this book almost daily, pointing out different ingredients (although he insists the black beans are raisins) and pretending to munch on the cardboard taco at the end. His absolutely favourite part is ‘chopping’ with the removable cardboard knife though. So much so, I now have to keep a very close eye on my own set in the kitchen!
5. So Much! by Trish Cooke, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. £6.99 (paperback), Walker
This uplifting story about a family’s love for a baby is a joy to read. The language is rich, descriptive and repetitive, with Helen Oxenbury‘s bright gouache pictures capturing their energy perfectly.
While the book reflects Trish’s Afro-Caribbean heritage, the message is universal and brought to mind my own family’s festive gatherings in Wales.
6. I Really Want The Cake by Simon Philip and Lucia Gaggiotti. £6.99 (paperback), Templar
Just like the beautiful bake that has stolen the heroine’s heart, this witty book is impossible to resist. It’s held in such warm affection in our house that I can tell you the story without looking at the pages.
But look you must, because the energetic and amusing Manga-esque artwork by Lucia Gaggiotti is just brilliant, while Simon Philip’s account of a toddler’s internal battle between her desire for a sweet treat and her knowledge that it is forbidden is spot on.
7. Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy. £6.99 (paperback), Macmillan
Mrs Large is a mum we can all relate to. She loves her three elephant children with all her heart but they are of the heavy-footed, boisterous variety. Sometimes she just needs a bit of space!
While chronicling her failed attempts to take a break, Jill Murphy has created a picture book that is very honest and true to family life, yet completely delightful and amusing at the same time. It makes both parent and child laugh – which is always a winner.
8. Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Kevin Waldron. £6.99 (paperback), Puffin
I thought Michael Rosen’s love letter to this sweet treat would be far too old for Baby Bookworm and initially, it was. But one day he fell totally head over heels for it and became a complete chocoholic, greedily gobbling it down over and over again.
Originally written as a poem, the language is descriptive and full of funny noises, with Kevin Waldron’s cool artwork bringing the whole amusing caper to brilliant life. It’s loads of fun to read. Thankfully, because we read it a lot!
9. Pom Pom Gets The Grumps by Sophy Henn. £6.99 (paperback), Puffin
We’ve all had those days. You get out of the wrong side of bed and nothing is right. This is exactly what happens to poor Pom Pom the panda, who is in such a bad mood that he alienates all his friends – until he learns to say sorry.
We just adore Sophy Henn’s classy artwork and the way she tackles toddler tantrums in this book is funny but reassuring for little ones confused by their emotions. I just wish Baby Bookworm would take a few notes…
10. The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr. £6.99 (paperback), HarperCollins Children’s
This fantastical classic is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and remains as appealing as ever. The unflappable nature of Mummy in the face of their visitor, the happiness on Sophie’s face as she cuddles his tail against her chin and the tiger’s big beaming grin are just a joy.
We love the mix of the mundane and the extraordinary – not to mention Judith gorgeous 1960s artwork. One for every child’s bookshelf.