Tag Archives: book review

Book review: Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids

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Have you filled a bucket today?

I have been on the lookout for books that teach kindness and empathy. So when I came across this multiple award-winning book on Amazon, I did not hesitate to buy it. In the reviews, Have you filled a bucket today? is described as a “heartwarming book”. Once you open the pages, it’s easy to see the appeal of the simple prose and beautiful illustrations.

In the book, author Carol McCloud uses a simple analogy to describe our state of emotional well-being. We all carry invisible buckets!


Everyone carries an invisible bucket

The metaphors “bucket-filling” and “bucket-dipping” are used to describe the effects of our actions and words on others.


You never fill your own bucket when you dip into someone else’s

Examples of day-to-day bucket-filling actions are given: saying “I love you” to our parents, being nice to friends, writing thank-you notes to our teachers.


A smile is a good clue that you have filled a bucket

C’s review

It was a simple read for 8-year old C. I know she liked the book because I caught her flipping through the book by herself on a few occasions. It definitely made an impact on her because she started referring to her friends as “bucket-fillers” 😉

G’s review

The simple text and vivid illustrations helped to keep his interest. While G understood the literal meaning of “bucket-filling” and “bucket-dipping” (or bucket-emptying in his words),  I had to explain that a full bucket means that the person was happy, and an empty bucket meant that the person was sad. He was also able to describe how he could “fill buckets” – by helping his friends and sharing his toys.

My review

I loved the fact that a bucket was used as an analogy instead of an emotional tank so that the kids could easily relate to it. The examples of “bucket-filling” actions were also easy for kids to follow. I really appreciated the fact that they made an effort to include different nationalities in the illustrations 🙂

The language used is simple and it makes for a great read-aloud (helpful when you have to read the book over and over again!) I enjoyed reading the book with the kids, and it was a good starting point for a discussion on positive and negative behaviors and their impact on others.

I would definitely recommend this lovely book to kids as young as 2, to 9. There are also follow up activities available on the web.

You can get the book here:

Do you have any book recommendations to teach empathy to kids?


Linking up with:

Growing with the Tans

Book review: ćŻçˆ±çš„éŒ ć°ćŒŸ

In a previous post(eons ago :p), I mentioned that I would be introducing some books and tools that helped C gain interest in Chinese. Here’s the first of a series of posts on this topic.

One of the first Chinese books that C really enjoyed was theÂ ćŻçˆ±çš„éŒ ć°ćŒŸ series. shuxiaodi This series is translated from a Japanese picture book collection by Yoshio Nakae, first published in the 1970s. The stories follow the exploits of Little Mouse (éŒ ć°ćŒŸ) and his animal friends. The story lines are easy to follow, and the charming illustrations hold their attention. Language used is simple and repetitive, like most early readers are.

Here’s a sneak peek into the contents. In the first book, Little Mouse shows off a new vest that his mother made for him.


Little Mouse’s Vest


This is the vest that my mum made for me, doesn’t it look good?

As the story progresses, each of his friends admire and compliment him on his beautiful new garment, and asks to try it on.


Your vest is so beautiful! May I try it on?

The problem is… his friends are all bigger than Little Mouse!


It’s a little tight, but doesn’t it look good on me?

I’ll leave you to guess the ending 😉

C’s review
C enjoyed the simple text and repetitive phrases in the book. She found the mouse really cute, and laughed along with Little Mouse’s experiences.

G’s review
I introduced this book to G recently. Like C, he was able to appreciate the humour in the book. Since C was already familiar with the book, she played the part of a big sister to read it to G. Win-win situation 🙂

My review
I enjoyed reading this picture book with the kids. The text was repetitive but not boring. The illustrations, while simple, did a lot to bring out the humour in the situation without being distracting. As I’ve mentioned earlier, C was really resistant to learning and speaking in Chinese, but she was willing to repeat the phrases after me, and learning to recognize some of the characters.

This is definitely a good book to start with young toddlers or even older reluctant readers like C 😉 Do try it!

For those who are residing in Singapore, this series is available at the National Library.

For those who are interested in the English version of the book, it can be found on Amazon.

Do you have any recommendations for Chinese books for kids?

Book review: The Hueys in The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers

I first saw The Hueys in the New Jumper at a book fair. The illustrations on the cover caught my attention immediately! Flipping through the book, I fell in love with the adorable oval-shaped Hueys, and the deceptively simple story-line. I didn’t buy the book as I wasn’t sure if C would enjoy the illustrations as much as I did, but I took note of the title and borrowed it from the library later.

Meet the Hueys!

Meet the Hueys!

As the title suggests, this picture book is about the Hueys and a new orange jumper. What made the jumper so special? Well, the thing about the Hueys is that they were all the same. They all looked the same, thought the same and did the same things. And no one wore jumpers.

The things about the Hueys... was that they were all the same

The things about the Hueys… was that they were all the same

So when Rupert, one of Hueys, decided to knit himself a new jumper (in bright orange, no less), he was ridiculed and gossiped about for standing out from the crowd. Didn’t he know that the Hueys were all about being the same?


Happily, another Huey, Gillespie, decided that being different was nice, and decided to get himself a new orange jumper too.


Another Huey who dared to be different

Guess what happens in the end? All the Hueys decided to get their own orange jumpers to be different! 😀

C’s review
Contrary to what I thought, C loved the Hueys! The first question she asked about the Hueys was “Are they Chinese?” LOL. Yes, I did think that “Huey” sounded like a Chinese name. She thought the Hueys were really cute, and easy to draw. She actually laughed out at the end of the book when all the Hueys decided to be “different”.

We also found a site to create our very own Huey here!

Our very own Huey!

Our very own Huey!

G’s review
He was too young to appreciate the message in the book, but he enjoyed looking at the “eggs with hands” characters. I think it might have given him some inspiration because he has been adding lines to his circles recently 🙂

My review
Although The Hueys in the New Jumper is a picture book meant for children, I thought that the message on individuality versus conformity was brought across very well. This book gave me an opportunity to discuss with C the importance of daring to be different, and standing up for her own opinions. This was especially important, as I foresee that peer pressure will be an issue when she starts attending primary school next year.

Highly recommended for both young and old!

Have you read any books by Oliver Jeffers?

P/s: I found this really cute introduction to the book on youtube. Do check it out!

Get The Hueys in the New Jumper from Amazon or bookdepository

Book Review: My Pop-Up Body Book by Jenny Maizels and William Petty

In an earlier post, I’ve mentioned that C is learning about the human body.

We had already gone through several books on this topic, including Okido’s My Head-to-Toe Body Book, which was a fun read with games and experiments. Two days ago, I finally received My Pop-Up Body Book, a hardcover pop-up book on the human body, which I had ordered a month ago.

I love pop-ups – they make the whole experience of reading so much more interesting (I’ve always been in awe of paper engineers). This book did not disappoint- it was filled with lots of interactive pop-ups, flaps and wheels to turn. The experience started with an invitation to turn the wheel – doing so revealed a drawing of the internal organs of the boy, followed by his skeleton.

My Pop-Up Body Book

Turn the wheel to reveal the internal organs and the skeleton!

Upon opening the cover, a huge pop-up baby greeted us. On the two-page spread, there were flaps to open, revealing facts about conception, pregnancy and even an introduction to DNA!

A pop-up baby!

A pop-up baby!

In a corner of the page, we got a closer look at fetal development. By turning the wheel, we observed how the unborn baby grew in the womb from a one-month old fetus to a fully developed nine-month old baby ready to meet the world :

Baby at 1 month old

Baby at 1 month old

Baby at 7 months

Baby at 7 months-he can swallow!

Flipping the page allowed us to look a closer look at the human head. Activities included pulling (paper) snot out of the nose, examining how the eye focuses, observing a pop-up set of teeth chewing and a hands-on demo on how the smallest bones in our body work to help us hear.

The human head

The human head.

Opening the head revealed the skull and the muscles on the face. The functions of the different parts of the brain were introduced (e.g. the cerebellum helps keeps the balance) and there was also a look at the differences between the left and right brain. 🙂

A look inside the head

A look inside the head

The respiratory system and the digestive system came next, with full pop-ups (imagine a pop-up of a rib-cage, and of intestines!). As with the human head, each page was filled with many different flaps, wheels and tabs to explore. We got to see how the diaphragm worked by pulling on the tab:

Learning about the diaphragm

Learning about the diaphragm

Of course, what is a book about the human body without a pop-up skeleton (complete with names labelled on each bone!)

A pop-up skeleton!

A pop-up skeleton!

C’s review
She has been holding the book almost every waking moment since it arrived, lifting the flaps, pulling the tabs, turning the wheels. Enough said.

My review
My Pop-Up Body Book is filled with information, presented in a format that is interactive and attractive. I thought the pop-up format worked really well with this topic, and the wheels and tabs helped to demonstrate the concepts that would be otherwise be difficult to explain in words. And did I mention that I loved pop-ups? Highly recommended!

Do you like pop-up books?

Book Review: Math-erpieces by Greg Tang and illustrated by Greg Paprocki

I try to find opportunities to introduce famous artwork to my two children. While looking for books to reinforce maths concepts, I came across Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving by Greg Tang.

Perfect! A math book AND an introduction to art history 🙂

Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem Solving

Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem Solving

Math-terpieces is part of a series written to teach children creative maths problem-solving skills. In this book targeted at 4-8 year olds, 12 famous works of art are used to teach children addition using groups. The masterpieces featured include work from various different art styles – including impressionism (Monet), pointillism(Seurat), fauvism (Matisse), cubism (Pablo Picasso), abstraction (Mondrian), surrealism (Dali) and pop art (Warhol).

An example with Henri Matisse’s The Goldfish is shown below. On the left, the artwork is shown together with a short poem to highlight the key element from this painting. Here, the reader is tasked to find 6 different ways to group the fishes in groups of nine.

Such vivid colours pure and bright -to some it was a shocking sight! For this they dubbed Henri Matisse a fauve, which means a "wild beast". Please group the FISH to make a 9, SIX smart ways would be just fine!

Such vivid colours pure and bright –
to some it was a shocking sight!
For this they dubbed Henri Matisse
a fauve, which means a “wild beast”.
Please group the FISH to make a 9,
SIX smart ways would be just fine!

At the end of the book, the strategy to solve the mathematical problem is discussed, and solutions are given. There is also a short introduction to the various art styles found in the book.

C found this book to be a welcome break from her usual math worksheets, and was even inspired by the art (she requested to do some paintings!). I found the book a refreshing change from the boring conventional maths books, and have bought more from the same series 🙂

How do you teach maths?