I've been to London to visit the Queen!
Kitty Kat, Kitty Kat, what did you see?
I'll tell you the story, just listen to me...
The premise of this book is a new take on an olde English rhyme dating back to 1805. In the story (an Usborne book written by Russell Punter and Dan Taylor), a cat recounts his recent trip to London to his owl friend, taking his friend on a virtual tour of the city. As Kitty Kat shares the key points of his trip, he also shares a nugget of information about each site - so the book serves as both a playful book to read aloud and a first tour of London for young readers!
I have visited London a few times over the years, so I loved virtually visiting it again through Kitty Kat's eyes and introducing these beloved sites to my four year old, Josh. He loved learning about Big Ben - and, of course, watching a video I found that shows the famous bell ringing. On the page that shows the whispering gallery in St. Paul's Cathedral's dome, I could tell Josh about whispering there myself when I was a kid.
Kitty Kat also introduces Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the Globe Theatre, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and a few other famous spots in London. And, as a fun bonus, the inside cover of the book shows Kitty Kat's tour on a map, complete with cat paws marking the route. Now, when Josh and I read the book together, he flips between the page we are reading and the map inside the cover to trace Kitty Kat's journey.
Would you rather travel to Paris? Kitty Kat went there, too! Hopefully he'll keep up these worldly wanders - I want to see where he travels next!
"By midday, the air was heavy and clammy. Soon the day's rains would start. Insects chirruped and buzzed, and Mouse Deer was at the river's edge, leaning down to drink." This line from "The King's Pudding" in Usborne's 10 Ten-Minute Stories illustrates what makes these stories so enchanting: a combination of vivid storytelling with new concepts and perspectives from a varied collection of cultures.
The ten stories in this book (which do really take about 10 minutes to read - I timed it) are wonderfully diverse. They hail from all over the world: Indonesia, France, Greece, Italy, Korea, Russia, England, Denmark. I was familiar with four of the stories already, but the other six were new to me, and I loved being introduced to some classic tales from other cultures! And learning new things, like that mouse deer are real things. :)
Besides the stories themselves being diverse, I love that each story is accompanied by its own style of illustration. The collection was designed by Laura Nelson and Lenka Hrehova and has a variety of authors and illustrators contributing, which leads to a diversity of language and artistic style. Check out the photos below for a sampling. Each story has its own mood in both narration and illustration - you really feel transported when you switch from one tale to the next.
Here's a quick overview of each of the ten stories:
So there you have it! These are each unique, beautifully written and illustrated stories that will add flavor to your nightly bedtime book routine. They are long enough to include depth and complexity, but short enough that your young audience won't lose interest before the final page.
It's that book you'll read again and again until your audience starts reading it to you.
"Look mom, I made a T!" This is music to my ears. My toddler munchkins (2.5 and 4) are jumping into the world or letters, and the Usborne Wipe-Clean books have hugely helped propel their interest in writing. These dry-erase books are sturdy, easily washable, and filled with content that has piqued the interest of my boys - and for that, I will be eternally grateful to Usborne.
You'll find an impressive 28 books in the Wipe-Clean series (written and illustrated by a variety of contributors) ... and a handful of activity card packs, too. Letters, drawing, numbers, puzzles, farm activities, time tables, telling time, words, mazes, etc. - with such a wide variety, you're bound to find books that fit your kiddo's engagement style. (Pirate activities, anyone?) Each book is 22 pages, made from heavy-duty card stock with a laminate covering that allows for easy cleaning. The books come with a dry erase marker, but if that one eventually goes missing, any dry erase marker will work as a replacement.
My older boy, the 4 year old, was hesitant to write in these books at first (he wanted the lines to look perfect the first time), but it wasn't long before he was tracing the letters and pictures, and now, he'll even try them on his own. He especially loves the mazes! My other boy, the 2.5 year old, jumped into the First Letters book right away and started copying the letters curiously. It was so fun to watch him do this - he isn't following the typical writing patterns yet, but he is exploring!
One of the best features of these books is the way they integrate skills with creativity. The pages each focus on a couple shapes or types of activities, and they are tied in to playful, colorful drawings. I have posted a bunch of pictures below - check them out! It's easier to see in the pictures than for me to try and explain concisely. :)
I have taken to bringing a couple of these books and markers in the diaper bag when we go out with the boys, because I know I can whip them out for engagement on the fly. And we even have mini versions of the alphabet and numbers books - but they're not available for direct purchase on the website, so contact me if you're interested in getting this special deal! I can order the mini-books for you.
It's that book that transforms a toddler into a writer and an artist in one go.
Peruse the Wipe-Clean series here ($7.99 each)
Check out the activity card packs ($9.99 each): Alphabet, Numbers, Animal Doodles, Travel Doodles, Trip Activities
Samples from First Drawing:
Samples from Wipe-Clean Alphabet:
Samples from Wipe-Clean Farm Activities: (pen removed because it's our personal copy)
Samples from Wipe-Clean First Letters: (pen removed because it's our personal copy)
Samples from Wipe-Clean 1 2 3: (pen removed because it's our personal copy)
One thing I love about this book is that it really is adaptable for kids of varying ages. My kiddos are toddlers, but there are already a bunch of activities within these pages I know they'll have fun with this summer. The activities are also well-suited to elementary school kids to do with families - but really, I can see middle school kids getting excited about so many of the ideas in The Outdoor Book. Heck, I would do them myself even if I didn't have kids!
And you're going to learn skills and interesting facts with each activity, which is even better. Talk about meaningful play! Ok, and one more thing: the book naturally will encourage interaction and collaboration, which is so important for kids. And adults. So many layers of goodness! Pick up a copy for you and your family... and get outside. :)
It's that book that will ignite a love for the outdoors wherever you are in life and in the world.
Buy The Usborne Outdoor Book here and get ready to play! (hardcover, $9.99)
Better yet - want a free copy? Schedule a book party with me! I'll send you a copy of The Outdoor Book when your party reaches $200 in sales - on top of all the rewards books you'll earn. :)
Hi there! I'm Christine - Usborne Books & More independent consultant, kids' book fan, English teacher, mom of two boys.