There can’t be a parent or grandparent in the land who hasn’t read one of the That’s Not My… series of touchy-feely books at bedtime.
The simple sensory reads with their repetitive language, bold illustrations and chunky pages are perfect first books for babies and equally enjoyable for curious toddlers.
The bestselling Usborne series began in November 1999 with That’s Not My Puppy and since then, author Fiona Watt and illustrator Rachel Wells have published 55 titles and counting.
More than 20 million copies have been sold over the last 20 years and rival publishers have created plenty of imitators, but the brand remains the most loved. You can even buy themed babywear from Sainsbury’s and there are gift sets that come with matching soft toys as well.
This year will see Mermaid (March), Zebra (May), Flamingo (June), Lion (July), Bat (September) and Polar Bear (November) joins the ranks of Llama, Plane, Unicorn and Elf.
One of Baby Bookworm’s gifts as a newborn was That’s Not My Lamb, which featured heavily during early attempts at bedtime routine, while we’ve also got a well-thumbed copy of That’s Not My Witch and a festive That’s Not My Elf.
He enjoys them as much as he did when he was chewing rather than reading books, now joining in with the words and pointing out attributes of the different characters. They are designed to develop sensory and language awareness, which they do while also being engaging and fun.
A huge amount of thought and care goes into these stories and Usborne has a fascinating blog on its website about the process of making one, from the characteristics discussed to the textures used.
To mark the 20th anniversary, Usborne has a year of celebrations planned, which started with the publication of a special edition of the first book, featuring gold-edged pages and a new cover with metallic sparkles and celebratory balloons.
And holding these balloons is the secret star of the show – the white TNM mouse, who narrates every story and has appeared on every single page since the start.
A tiny but true legend of children’s books, we say!
That’s Not My Puppy by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells is out now. £6.99, Usborne.
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I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. My little girl loves them. That’s Not My… Cow is the favourite at the moment (subject to change!)
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Good choice! We are partial to That’s Not My Witch at the moment.