Tag Archives: Reading

Book review: 布布爱上动物园 (Bubu loves going to the zoo)

In a previous post, I promised to introduce some books that piqued C’s interest in Chinese. Here is a recent series that she has read.

布布 series was introduced by C’s school as part of the recommended reading for Primary 1 students. Written by Singaporean author Lee Kow Fong, also known as Ah Guo (阿果), this series of books follow the life of a boy named Bubu (布布). In this review we will take a look at the first book in the series.

IMG_4187 Continue reading

Book review: Give Me a Hug – 8 Life lessons from Nick your kids cannot miss

A week ago, I was browsing at the bookstore when “Give Me a Hug” caught my eye. It was the charming illustration on the cover that first drew me in. Taking a closer look, I recognized the man on the cover as Nick Vujicic, the motivational speaker who visited Singapore at the beginning of September.

For those who are not familiar with the name, Nick Vujicic is a man with an amazing personality who lives his life to the fullest. He swims, golfs, plays soccer, and sky-dives. Nothing special, you might think. But Nick was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a condition characterised by the absence of all four limbs (yes, you read it correctly, all four limbs are missing)

Give Nick a hug

Give me a hug – 8 life lessons from Nick your kids cannot miss

As the title suggests, the book is based on Nick’s life. In each of the 8 chapters, Nick starts by recounting an episode in his life, followed by a summary of the life lesson to be learnt at the end of each chapter. Since the book is targeted at children, the language used is simple, with plenty of illustrations scattered throughout the pages. Love is a recurring theme throughout the book, and positivity radiates from the pages. The lessons learnt include the importance of empathy, perseverance in the face of failure, dealing with bullies in school, and making the correct choices in life.

My favourite page in the book

My favourite page in the book

C’s review
C found it an easy and enjoyable read. When we discussed the story, I realized that she didn’t know Nick was a real person. She couldn’t imagine someone living with no arms or legs. After showing a Youtube video of Nick swimming and playing soccer, she was first fascinated, then in awe. Days after we read the book, C has forgotten Nick’s name, but she still remembers “the man with no arms and no legs”.

My review
I bought this book with C in mind. I found that the incidents highlighted in the book were age appropriate and easy for C to relate to. Although the book was meant for children, I found it to be an inspiring read even for adults. As a parent, there were important lessons to be learnt too! Nick’s example showed me how important the parents’ love is – it is the foundation upon which the child builds his confidence to surmount the difficulties in life.

It is definitely a book worth reading. I’m sure you’ll be as inspired by Nick as much as both of us were.

Were there any books that inspired you recently?

Note: Various translations of this book are available in Asia (Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore). In Singapore, the Chinese version 拥抱力克 is also available at Popular and Kinokuniya bookstores. Kinokuniya offers international shipping.

Book review: The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett

the-girl-who-never-made-mistakesI chanced upon this book while searching for another title by Mark Pett (I was in fact looking for The Boy and the Airplane, but that’s a review for another day).

I was immediately drawn to the title. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes sounded like the perfect book to read with C.

Nine year-old Beatrice Bottomwell was the perfect little girl – she never forgot her math homework, never wore mismatched socks, and always remembered to feed her pet hamster. She has NEVER made a mistake. In fact, with this record of perfection, Beatrice was known as “The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes” in her hometown.

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In contrast, she has a little brother Carl, who seemed to relish making mistakes (and having fun at the same time!)

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We meet Beatrice on the day before the annual talent show in school (which she has won with her juggling act three years in a row).

As we follow her through the day, we are given subtle hints that Beatrice has maintained her record of perfection by following the same routine each time, and avoided activities like skating where there was a risk of making a mistake. Life has been smooth for her.

However, on this day, things go a little differently. She slips during a cooking class, and narrowly avoids dropping her eggs.

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This almost-mistake causes Beatrice to worry for rest of the day. What if she blunders during the talent show?

On the night of the talent show, her worst fears are realized, and she makes her first mistake, a BIG mistake, in front of a large audience who expected perfection from The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes.

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So how did Beatrice react? Did she cry? No. She laughed, and the audience laughed along. Mistakes were not bad afterall.

At the end of the story, we see Beatrice enjoying her freedom after shedding the label “The Girl Who Never Makes Mistakes” – wearing mismatched socks, having inside-out PB&J sandwiches, going skating with her friends, having fun 🙂

C’s review
I had a feeling that C would be able to relate to Beatrice. I was right. C was engrossed in the story. When Beatrice stood drenched in front of the audience, C was near tears. When Beatrice laughed, C laughed along. At the end of the story, C told me, “Everyone makes mistakes, it’s ok not to do it right all the time.”
C requested to keep the book for a longer period of time because she wanted to re-read it (I had borrowed it from the library). I’m happy to note that she did read it again by herself.

My review
I had initial concerns that the illustrations might not appeal to C, but they proved to be unfounded. The storyline is simple, but got the message across very effectively. After reading the book with C, we got to discuss the fear of failure, risk-tasking and perfectionism.

Recommended for all little perfectionists!

Do you have a little perfectionist at home?

Book review: Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell

Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell

Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell

I came across the book Oh Dear! while browsing at the bookstore. Written by Rod Campbell, the author of the classic children’s book Dear Zoo, it follows the same formula of bringing us on a hunt. However, instead of searching for the ideal pet (in Dear Zoo), we are now on the hunt for eggs.

In the story, Buster, the little boy, is tasked to find some eggs for his grandmother. However, he has forgotten where they should be found, and so the search begins….

So he went to the barn

So he went to the barn…

Buster shows the way around the farm, and on each page, there are flaps that open to reveal the animal found there.

He asks the sheep

..and he asks the sheep

Of course, there is a happy ending, when Buster finally remembers where the eggs should be found. There is also an additional bonus flap to open in order to reveal the eggs.

Finally!

Finally!

G’s review
G loves lift-the-flap books, and he loved reading Dear Zoo. So when he was introduced to Oh Dear!, it was not surprising that he took to the book almost immediately. He enjoyed identifying each animal, and imitating the sound each animal made. Of course, the repetition of the phrases, “No eggs here! Oh dear!” in the book had him echoing in no time.

G asked to be read to three times, then he proceeded to bring it to a corner to read it by himself (it’s amusing to hear him mooing, then going “oh dear!”)

My review
It’s a good introduction to farm animals and where they can be found on a farm (barn – cow, stable – horses, etc). The repeated phrases also encouraged G to point out the words and read along. There was one part where I had some issues – at one point Buster asked the duck for eggs. Of course, ducks lay eggs, but I suppose Grandma was looking for chicken eggs (ok, I’m nit-picking here).

Overall, a good book for young toddlers. If your child enjoyed Dear Zoo like G did, I’m sure they will find Oh Dear! equally interesting.

Have you read any books by Rod Campbell?

A visit from the book fairy

C has been reading independently for some time now, and its not unusual to find her sitting down with one of the many picture books from her bookshelf. However, I’ve had trouble persuading her to pick up a chapter book out of her own accord.

It’s not that she has difficulty reading – her assignments from enrichment class include chapter books from the Katie Woo series, which she has no trouble completing. Aside from doing her homework, there was no motivation to read “thick books with few pictures”.

In order to spark her interest in chapter books, I tried introducing different books without much success. This included titles from several popular children’s series:

  • Arthur (I borrowed the DVDs, and the computer game too)
  • Geronimo Stilton (all the rage among the younger crowd… but apparently not for C)
  • Rainbow Fairies (somehow she didn’t find the books attractive enough).
  • Secret Kingdom (she started reading but didn’t have the motivation to complete it).

Although she didn’t complete the Secret Kingdom book, it gave me a good idea of what got her interest: (1) the cover had glittery stars (yes, that helped!) and (2) the mention of a token given in the book.

She had asked about the token – how it looked like, how it appeared. Somehow, she got the impression that it appeared magically at the end of the book. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was in fact a coupon to be cut out. Instead, I told her that the tokens were given by the book fairy, and yes, they appeared if she read the book. She seemed rather taken with this idea.

Last week, I tried another chapter book. This time, I introduced her to one of my favourite authors from my own childhood – Enid Blyton. I made sure to find a book that had a glittery cover , and told her that the book fairy would give her a token at the end of the book. The fairy would know if she really read the book or if she simply flipped through it – mummy would help the fairy check.

wishing-chair

The New Adventures of the Wishing-chair was the chosen book. You can’t see the sparkles here, but the actual book had a really pretty, glittery cover page. It’s part of the early reader series, so there were not too many words on a page, and fonts were bigger.

C dove into it with gusto, finishing the book in three days (it was not a difficult book to read, she only spent about five to ten minutes a day on it). Here’s the token that “magically appeared” a day after she completed the book:

Book Token

She was elated to get the token (she claims that it was a present from Jack, Jessica and Wishler from the book, and the book fairy just helped to pass it to her). When asked if she liked the book, she replied that she did, and asked to read a second book! 🙂

Although the method used was not the conventional “read with the child, they will grow to love reading” way, it got C started. Perhaps she is reading the books for the tokens now, but I hope that she will grow to love chapter books in time. For the sake of my pocket, I’ve explained that there are only certain special books that contain tokens, so she has to read more in order to find them.

I’ve got her a little wooden box to keep her book fairy tokens. Hopefully she will get to fill it up soon. I can’t wait to share some of my favourite childhood books with her (Roald Dahl, Nancy Drew, Malory Towers etc) once she is ready. 🙂

Have you used alternative ways to get your child to read?