From our reviewers: Children's books

Last updated 12:22 27/09/2013

Our reviewers look at books for younger readers.

Bad Grammar
By Nathan Luff (Walker Books, RRP $19)

Reviewed by Conal Mulligan, aged 9

Bad Grammar is a place for kids who other schools don't want. The main boys in the story are Marcus, Trent and Fred and their enemy is the prefect Derek, nicknamed Scar- face.

Marcus is a video game addict. This story is about how Scarface has been paying attention in history class, learning about the mutiny on the Bounty. He decides to lead a mutiny against Principal Dempster. He tries to get together the whole school to help him.

Bad Grammar is not a school that I would like to attend.

I give the book seven out of 10. It would appeal to boys aged around 8 years old who enjoy unravelling stories with a bit of mystery.

Recipes for Play
Recipes by Rachel Sumner, photography by Ruth Mitchener (Penguin, RRP $30)

Reviewed by Naida Mulligan

This book is a successful project by a talented pair of sisters, one a writer, the other a designer. Subtitled "Fun ideas for small hands and big imaginations", it has a tripartite structure of Indoor Play, Outdoor Play and Takeaway Play.

Messy play is pretty much par for the course other than in the third section which gives some great ideas for what you can carry in your wallet, your handbag or in a small kit in the car, to alleviate toddler boredom when you are out.

These are activities aimed at keeping the children quiet and the surroundings clean and tidy. Not so the first two sections which at the very least require vacuums or brooms to clean up and, at the extreme end, a good hose down either in the garden or bathroom.

Rachel has an antipathy towards glitter so you won't find it in any of the recipes but feel free to use it anyway. A lot of the recipes contain food dye and Rachel gives ideas on how to make your own and advises when it may be best to use the bought variety.

Each recipe is also coded with which of the five senses are engaged for that particular activity. Some of the activities you may do a fair bit of at home anyway like play dough or couch play but there's a lot of different painting and colour-experimenting ideas that are worth a try.

So what did we try that was new for us? I divided a kilo of rice into five bags and dyed four lots using food dye and hand sanitiser. However, I should have used white vinegar to help spread the dye (it just takes longer to dry) because the first thing Mr 22 Months did was bring a bowl and a spoon. Glad I'd kept a bag undyed, I let him go for it.

His 6-year-old brother joined in and soon they were firing rice from the palm tree on Skull Island.

Meanwhile, the newly made Rainbow Rice waits for another day - when no-one is hungry! Another recipe I'm keen to try soon is Fizz Droppers using baking soda, white vinegar and food colouring from eye droppers.

There are so many great play ideas in this book, it's sure to be a real treasure for many parents and caregivers of toddlers. Highly recommended.

The Holiday Creativity Book
By Mandy Arthur (Walker Books, RRP $23)

Reviewed by Rosemarie Smith

This went down a treat during the school holidays with its international holiday-themed activities catering for a wide range of ages and abilities. It also inspired interesting conversations, so will generate interaction with adults, even those who might not usually be chatty with children, but may have been there, done that.

At the Beach: Explore and Discover the New Zealand Foreshore
By Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler (Craig Potton Publishing, RRP $20 for paperback and $30 for hardback)

Reviewed by Rosemarie Smith

While aimed at 5 to 8-year-olds, this beautiful little book will have wide appeal as a simple seashore guide to the plants and animals of sandy beaches, mudflats and rockpools. It is a finalist in this year's New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.

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