The Scottish Book Trust announced the contents of their new 2019/2020 Bookbug bags this week.
Targeted at babies (from birth), toddlers (between one and two) and three-year-olds, the books gifted within the bags have been a welcome element of our family reading for several years.
Bookbug has introduced us to some fantastic authors who went on to became favourites, and crucially, that first bag encouraged us to read with our first baby from the very beginning – something that we are so glad that we did.
This year’s packs include some books that we already love, like Joseph Coelho’s Luna Loves Library Day, and some that we love the idea of: Tuck me In, by Dean Hacohen and Sherry Scharschmidt is a variation on lift-the-flap in which children can turn the page to tuck in the baby animals – it sounds adorable.
As we’re (sniff) coming to the end of our Bookbug years, we thought we would have a look through the shelves and pick our all time top five Bookbug books (excluding those in the P1/Bookbug prize bag, which we can shout about in the Autumn). It wasn’t an easy task!
Mouse is Small, by Mary Murphy (Baby Bag 2015/16)
This was a perfect first book for toddlers and babies to enjoy together, combining a tactile and colourful experience with a simple, but ‘proper’ story. Turning the pages to find out who and what would come next was a delight – and there were giggles all round at the end.
My Big Shouting Day! by Rebecca Patterson (Pirate Bag, year not known)
As a parent, how could you not love a book that captures toddlers so precisely. It is kind as well as funny, and Bella is a loveable character despite and because of her outbursts. Our kids quickly knew this by heart and loved to shout the shouty bits for themselves.
Never Bite a Tiger on the Nose, by Lynn Rickards and Eilidh Muldoon (Pirate Bag, 2015/16)
This book was a collaborative project in which the author worked with Home-Start volunteers and parents to write a story promoting healthy eating. The finished rhyming story is funny and catchy and we loved the unfamiliar children’s names (especially Humperdink) and fun illustrations of them hanging out with the animals and fruit.
The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water, by Gemma Merino (Explorer Bag, 2017/18)
We have enjoyed lots of Bookbug books for being bright and funny, but this one (though still both of these things) was an introduction to fuller and slightly cleverer stories. We liked working out what was happening, the role of the rubber ring, and the way the final illustration hinted at another whole story to come.
Ten Little Pirates, by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty (Pirate Bag 2015/16)
The ‘ten little’ books might be everywhere now (princesses, dinosaurs etc) but this was our first encounter with this series of clever count-down books and was a hit from the first reading – our little ones liked chanting the bouncy rhymes and revelled in the idea that disaster was just around the corner!
And…not a Bookbug book exactly, but a mention has to go to the tale of Pirate Jenny, from story-tellers Fergus and Claire McNicol, which featured on the 2014 Bookbug Pirate CD, and was the chosen accompaniment to many a car journey for us.
It’s about a little girl who plucks the bristles from her hairbrush and glues them to her chin to make a beard, so she can sneak onto her dad’s pirate ship. It’s great fun, with lots of rhyming piratey language (“Yo ho ho and a pot of stew, might I ask just who are you?”) and a fantastic wee heroine. It’s still available online – you can listen here:
And a final mention for John Fardell, whose stories were Scottish Book Trust gifts before our time, but first discovered by us in our local Mary’s Meals shop, thanks to someone else passing theirs on. The Day Louis Got Eaten is our favourite book – the language is pure genius and there’s always something new to discover in the pictures, and we’ve yet to meet a picture book villain who matches up to the wickedly wonderful Manfred the Baddie (imagine getting your henchmen to pick the pips out of raspberry jam!)