As a lucky member of the Top That Publishing book reviewer team I had another exciting parcel recently - another two books for my very lucky boys to peruse.
The first out of the envelope was Po-Tolo - plan bee from outer space.
Written and illustrated by Olly Oliver the book tells the story of a little alien whose planet is dying because their bees have all died and the plants are dying. An Earth bee helps him and they save his planet.
There have been a variety of books from from Top That before, and this is one of there more recent titles - and I'm sorry to say I really don't like it. The pictures are fab, as always, but it seems like they wrote a story then rubbed half of it out without making the bits left make any sense.
The idea is sound - teaching children about insects and wildlife and the importance of the ecosystem and how finely balanced it all is; teaching children about bees and flowers and how they are connected - all sound.
I just can't understand how or why a puncture repair kit came into it, why there's a hint that Earth bees are all dying too with no action taken, or why a dying breed of bees head off to Po-Tolo's planet to help with no follow up to how the story ends!?
Saying that - my children love it. LOVE it. Jellybean requests it daily and laughs at the pictures and the story - he thinks it's brilliant and has been learning the words in it.
Not only does he remember the whole story, word for word, he now recognises some of the words in other stories, which is brilliant.
So much as I feel personally that the book could have been better thought out I also think that it has to be great because Jellybean can't get enough of it, and he's learning a lot about reading by insisting I read it to him a gajillion times, over and over!
Totally different to Po-Tolo is the second book we received; When I Dream Of 1 2 3.
The Top That website says that this book is written by Mr Henry Fisher, which was my first assumption about the book because he wrote our favourite Top That book of all time, When I Dream of ABC. The copy we received, though, says that it was written by Oakley Graham, though Henry Fisher is listed as doing some of the illustrations.
Whoever wrote it, it's magical. I ADORE When I Dream of ABC and when I saw that there was a similar book for numbers I couldn't wait to read it. When we visited family up North recently the ABC book was a big hit with everyone - you can see Jellybean enjoying it in a storytime with my Grumpa, my Step Mum and my Dad on this post here.
Knowing how much we loved the first one this 123 book had a lot to live up to - and it didn't let us down! The font and layout are the same, so it had a lovely sense of familiarity, and the illustrations and rhyming phrase are just as amusing and witty as the ABC book.
I love the textures and bright colours of the illustrations - as I've said before about Top That books I'd be thrilled to have them as framed images on the wall, they're exactly the style that I like and the children love spotting everything in them and laugh at the silly goings on in every page.
The book counts from 1 - 20, then jumps in 10s from 20 to 100; Jellybean counts the characters on each page and because we've enjoyed reading the book so many times he can now, before he's even turned three, count to 100 (and does so constantly, to show how very very clever he is to anyone who will listen!)
Midget Gem can't count to 100, but he does love this book as much as the rest of us and in his own babbling baby language tells us what's happening on each page whilst Jellybean does his counting. (Apart from when he can't be bothered, when he makes ME do the counting!)
Another big success from Top That - I insist you buy it, all of you; this and the ABC version - they are a joy to read with your children and I genuinely credit them with helping Jellybean learn his alphabet and get so good at his counting so quickly. Previous to this book he had plateaued at 25 (23, 24, 25, POO!) and didn't seem interested in getting further - and how he's well on his way to 1,000!
Both these books are available from the Top That website - Po-Tolo for £6.23 currently, and When I Dream of 123 for £7.19 and worth every penny.
Disclaimer; I was sent these books for free to review, but Top That don't bribe me in any other ways to be nice about them.