„Gus’s garage“ by Leo Timmers

There are some books we don’t read once or twice, but three of four times – per evening. „Gus’s garage” by Leo Timmers is one of them.

Guss-Garage-cover-LROne of the reasons: Main character Gus is instantly likeable. The friends pig stores lots of curious things in his garage. Curious children will discover metal bins, an old fridge, a goldfish glass, a bathtub, some old piping, an old grandpa chair. What will he use them for? The next page brings the answer: Rhino Rico is complaining about the too small seat of his scooter. Gus has the answer: “Let’s see. I have some bits and bobs. This goes with that. There. Just the job!” Soon a happy Rhino leaves Gus’s garage on a completely remodeled scooter, sitting comfortable on his newly designed grandpa-chair-seat.

Will Gus find a way to help his other customers? Giraffe Gina is freezing her long neck off in the chilly air, while penguin Mrs. P “needs refrigeration”. Walrus Walter on the other hand is suffering what is, in his opinion, a too dry car… When the last customer of the day, rabbit Henry, is speeding away in his newly tuned up car, there is nothing more to do for Gus. Except: Inventing something for his own comfort…

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Leo Timmer’s story about going out of your way to help others features friendly Gus, who creates unique gismos to help his customers. Gus uses old garbage to invent something new, tailored to his friends’ needs. The colorful pictures by the author show how the pile of square parts in front of Gus’s garage slowly shrinks with each customer. Curious children will re-discover the abandoned parts in the newly renovated cars of Gus’s friends! The rhyming text is catching and Finja loved to read it with me: “Let’s see. I have some bits and bobs. This goes with that. There. Just the job!” Although the book is recommended for children age 5 to 7, it is a fun read for younger children, too.

Leo Timmers is one of Belgium’s most popular children books authors and we are glad Gecko Press brought „Gus’s garage“ to the US!

More information:
“Gus’s garage”
written and illustrated by Leo Timmers
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Gecko Press
ISBN-13: 978-1776570928

“When dad showed me the universe” by Ulf Stark

When Swedish star author Ulf Stark and Eva Erikson, winner of the Astrid Lindgren price, pair up to make a children’s book you know it will be special.

"When dad showed me the universe" by Ulf Stark, published by Gecko Press
“When dad showed me the universe” by Ulf Stark, published by Gecko Press

We just read “When dad showed me the universe” by Ulf Stark – and I have to be honest, this book was totally different from what I expected! But this is not a bad thing…

The story: Dad wants to show his son something very special he will remember forever: The universe. To prepare for the daring adventure they wrap up warm after dad put aside his bloody dentist coat, get some gum and start they walk. Eventually they get there… The dog park. All seems to be going to plan. It’s totally dark, the universe unveiling in his full majesty. While son is more fascinated by a snail on the ground (because “The entire universe includes everything” doesn’t it?) dad explains about star constellations. Sometimes you have to look up – but sometimes you should look down, too. While dad wanted to give his son an experience he won’t forget he learns a lesson himself… “The entire universe includes everything, my friend”. This includes snails, flowers – and, sometimes, stepping into dog poop… While dad seems to be slightly disappointed about the whole evening, his son is more than happy. He had a wonderful time with his dad and saw everything, the whole universe – including its smallest residents and its up and downs. “It was beautiful – and funny.”

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Sometimes parents forget that small things are what matters to our children. We have dreams, we want to show our children something great, something that lasts. But sometimes dreams and reality don’t match. That’s not a bad thing though, because children find the beauty in every small thing. Some alone time with us sometimes means more than the whole universe. Sometimes it’s about the experience, not about the lesson. How do you say? The journey is more important than the destination. And sometimes lessons come in unexpected packages.

Reading this book I got a lesson as well. Not just about expecting a certain content from a book title, but also to enjoy every moment, every page read and every minute on the playground with my daughter. We just ditched the running stroller and I don’t get as many miles in as I planned as Finja sometimes is running with me (so it’s just one kilometer instead of ten or more…), what sometimes makes me frustrated. I kind of missed how special it is that Finja is holding my hand and sharing my love for running and the great outdoors… This was definitely a lesson for me – one I will try to remember in the following days.

But back to our review.

I love the surprising sense of humor Ulf Stark shows in his book. From the blood freckled coat to stepping in dog poop, “When dad showed me the universe” is more than a science book. It’s a book about an adventure with dad, about the magnificence of the universe and the importance to cherish the small things.

Eva Erikson’s artwork is just grand. Full of expression and mirroring Stark’s humor her pictures are also soft and quiet, making this book a perfect match for bedtime. Her illustrations of the night sky make curious – and maybe your little one even requests a “real” science book about the universe after reading “When dad showed me the universe”?

“When dad showed me the universe” was pubished by Gecko Press, an independent publisher from New Zeeland. According to Gecko Press, the publishers aims to encourage children to love to read. “We champion strong stories rich in language and illustration – books that are ‘crunchy’.” “When dad showed me the universe” is definitely a crunchy book – fun and full of love! Enjoy! 🙂

…and please enjoy our reviews of “The big book of animals of the world” and “SHHH, I’m sleeping” by the same publisher!

More information:
“When dad showed me the universe”
written by Ulf Stark
illustrated by Eva Eriksson
Publisher: Gecko Press
ISBN: 978-1927271810

 

„SHHH! I’m sleeping“ by Dorothee de Monfreid

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted the last book review… Here I am, reading at least four books each day (…to our daughter, that is…) and you have to wait so long for another blog post… But, with the start of the new preschool year I’m positive I’ll be able to improve during the next months! 🙂

One of the reasons I didn’t have any time to review new books (…or read any, other than Kidlit…) is that Finja started sleeping even less during the summer months. She didn’t nap since she was about 1 1/2, and we always worked with about 10 to 11 hours of nighttime sleep only, but now she started to get down to nine or even eight hours. More time to do fun things, more time to read – less time to write… That’s why I choose today’s book of the day: „SHHH! I’m sleeping“ by Dorothee de Monfreid. Is there a better book to read to a girl who just doesn’t have time to rest?

"SHHH! I'm sleeping!" by Gecko Press
“SHHH! I’m sleeping!” by Gecko Press

„SHHH! I’m sleeping“ is one of the newer comic-style books for preschool aged children. It took me some time to get used to comic books, especially when reading aloud – but reading with different voiced did the trick. Good for us, because “SHHH! I’m sleeping” is a fun little book about bedtime routines and how hard it can be to finally find some rest.

The story: Eight dogs are sound asleep in two tall bunk beds when one of the dogs, Nono, is awakened by another dog’s snoring. He asks one of his friends for a story, which awakens another dog, who wants to borrow a toy. And so it goes… Soon all the dogs are cuddled under one tiny blanked, enjoying a bedtime story. As each dogs awakes, his reading light is being flipped on – and soon every light shines, except the snoring Popov’s…

"SHHH! I'm sleeping!" by Gecko Press

“SHHH! I’m sleeping” is a cute book, an unconventional bedtime story and easy to understand for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school children. Finja loved to discover each dog’s movement and talking about his feelings and what he needs to finally get some rest. Is he thirsty? Is he lonely? The comic-style illustrations are expressive and fun to look at, especially in an oversized board book format.

This book was published by “Gecko Press”, a publisher located in New Zeeland. According to Gecko Press, the publishers aims to encourage children to love to read. “We champion strong stories rich in language and illustration – books that are ‘crunchy’.” ““SHHH! I’m sleeping” definitely is such a book! Definitely a new favorite at our house, sure to bring smiles during bedtime.

More information:
„SHHH! I’m sleeping“
written by Dorothee de Monfreid
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Board book: 24 pages
Publisher: Gecko Press
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1927271957

„The Big Book of Animals of the World“ by Ole Könnecke

It’s always fun to discover an English translation of a German original! I have to be honest that I wasn’t familiar with Ole Könnecke’s big books of words before receiving “The Big Book of Animals of the World”, published by Gecko Press. But the large-format board book was loved by our daughter and me right away. Is it surprising, as we both love animals and a trip to the local zoo is an important part of our week?

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„The Big Book of Animals of the World“ is more than a simple book of words. Each page introduces a certain habitat as well as the animals living in it. Children are travelling from the Northern sea over the European alps to the South American rain forest, learning which animals live in each ecosystem. The illustrations are rather simple – but this is not a biology book and the friendly animals hold a toddler’s and preschooler’s attention for a long time. Elementary school kids can learn how to read, write and pronounce each animal’s and habitat’s name.

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But more importantly: As „The Big Book of Animals of the World“ comes with less text, it invites to discover, wonder and discuss. How can you get stranded on a tropical island – and which animals will you meet there? What are the relatives of the spectacled bear, living in Northern America? What is the biggest mammal in the ocean? And what’s the most outstanding attribute of the anglerfish? And in which other book did you meet a giant octopus? The story around the animals of the world can grow and change every time you read, depending on your children’s age and interest, your focus, knowledge – and mood! What will it be today? A short biology lesson about the earth’s ecosystem or a fictional story about the mice, which appear on every page of this book?

„The Big Book of Animals of the World“ is a sturdy, extremely versatile book for parents and kids. It’s a great read-a-loud for babies, wonderful for curious toddlers and keeps the attention of active preschoolers. Emergent readers can discover the book by themselves. Parents will be surprised how many stories are hidden in a single book.

More information:
Board book: 20 pages
Publisher: Gecko Press
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1776570126