Review of small press and independent books.
You are not logged in.
Little Troubleblossom appears to be taking over this part of the forum to the extent that I may soon have to start calling her Little Bongleweed, but lots of short threads are better than one really big thread which everyone will eventually stop reading because they can't be bothered to scroll through all the stuff they've read already.
Pickleblossom's Useful Book of the Week is Once Upon a Potty, by Alana Frankel, 1980, Harper Festival, and it's definitely her own choice: Mummy and Daddy are more taken by Tony Ross's Little Princess in I Want My Potty, but Pickleblossom's never given that so much as a glance, while Once Upon a Potty is one of the few books she asks for by name ("Pot-pot!" can now mean either "I want my nappy changed!" or "I want you to read me the potty book!"). It's the story of a little girl called Prudence learning to use the potty, and the illustrations manage to be both charming and anatomically graphic at the same time, which is impressive. I find I have to supply almost all my own text, and this is likely to be the experience of most parents, because everyone will have their own words for bodily parts and functions; also, my copy is designed for the American/Canadian market, and uses 'diaper' rather than 'nappy'. However, since Little Troubleblossom can't actually read yet, and hopefully won't need this book any more by the time she can, this doesn't pose a problem.
Little Troubleblossom's favourite pages are the ones showing Prudence having her nappy changed as a baby, and the sequence in which Prudence tries to work out what she's supposed to do with this large white vessel that Grandma has just given her (is it a hat? a milk bowl for the cat? a flower vase? a bird bath?); I really hope she's also taking note of the pages showing what Prudence does when she's figured it out!
Heh heh - in a forum near here, one of our writers is complaining about his kids peeing all over him when he does bedtime songs and things - better recommend 'Once Upon A Potty' asap.
Oops, I should have specified that the book Little Troubleblossom's got is actually entitled 'Once Upon a Potty - Girl', which indicates that there is also a specialised boys' version, and you would need to make sure you'd got the right gender when ordering a copy.
The more I look for books about potties, the more impressed I am with Once Upon a Potty. There seem to be no other books out there that are aimed at the child but have illustrations clearly showing what the potty is for, let alone which parts of the person are involved - they all seem to show the child putting the potty on its head, or using it as a toboggan (things which Little Troubleblossom can think of perfectly well by herself), and if they do happen to show the child sitting on the potty with trousers down or skirt up, there is certainly no further depiction of the results.
I can now proudly report that we have had our first potty success, and we were reading Once Upon a Potty at the time: just like Prudence, Troubleblossom stood up, and there was a full potty! Things then stopped going according to plan, because Troubleblossom was horrified at what had just happened to her lovely shiny potty and climbed on my knee to get away from it, sobbing "Mess, all mess!", and although we did indeed do exactly as Prudence and her mother do and flush the results away with a "Bye, bye!", we required a twenty-minute session of cuddling, comforting and praising first!
I'm really not sure what category to place 'Bob's ABC' by Simon Bartram in (Templar Publishing, 2005), but it's definitely a 'Little Troubleblossom Recommends...' and I've eventually decided it counts as a Useful Book. This smallish board book is actually a spin-off from a much larger and more complex picture book about Bob, the Man in the Moon, which we do have, but which is lurking on a high shelf somewhere, waiting for Troubleblossom to grow into it. 'Bob's ABC' shows scenes from his working day, having his bath, setting off for the launch pad on his bicycle, flying off to the moon, and doing housekeeping and selling souvenirs there, while being spied on by rather cuddly little green men the whole time. It starts with 'A is for Alien... B is for Bob, Bath and Bubbles' and then gets really weird: Daddy bought it because he couldn't resist an alphabet book whose 'I' page featured a line of footprints with the text 'I is for Invisible Alien'. I'm not, to be honest, entirely sure what its appeal is for Little Troubleblossom, but she adores "Alien book!" and regularly takes it to bed with her.
Oops, Madam woke up before I'd finished. What I meant to say was that the enduring appeal of 'Bob's ABC' for Little Troubleblossom is something really unusual. Generally she loves a book to bits for a couple of weeks and then forgets about it and finds another one, but this odd little specimen hasn't been out of the favourites pile for six or eight months.
The Useful Book of the Month is 'Honey Biscuits' by Meredith Hooper (illustrations Alison Bartlett; Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2004). It tells the story of how Ben and Gran make honey biscuits together, with riffs on the origins of the ingredients:
"What do we need now?" asked Ben. "A thousand buzzing bees," said Gran, "working all day, sucking sweet nectar from flowers, then flying back to their hives and packing the nectar into little waxy cells, where it changes into runny honey. And one large tablespoonful of runny honey," said Gran, "is exactly what we need."
The idea is that a child and a parent can work through the book together following the story and making the biscuits step by step (although the parent will need to refer to the recipe given in the ordinary fashion on the last page, as Gran's explanation of the origins of flour is long on combine harvesters and harvest mice, but short on whether you need plain or self-raising). We have tried it out, and the biscuits are delicious.