Book Review: The Very Cold, Freezing, No-Number Day, by Ashley N. Sorenson

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_very_cold_freezing_no-number_dayThe Very Cold, Freezing, No-Number Day, by Ashley N. Sorenson, is an interactive counting and colours book aimed at children aged up to about five.

With some cool (as in icy-looking) illustrations by David Miles, this book would be perfect for cold winter nights by the fire, snuggled up reading.

The book starts off with the numbers calling out for help because no one is counting. They’ve been forgotten – literally left out in the cold – and they warn that time will stop and there will be no birthdays (oh no!) and no clocks unless they warm up.

You can see the numbers fading with every page and it’s up to the readers to count them out loud and see what happens next.

Children will notice the colours going from icy white to blues and greens as they slowly warm up and more of them appear. The grass starts growing and the readers are urged to trace the numbers and keep counting and see if they can help the numbers warm up even more. Sunshine yellow and orange show up and flowers start to sprout. Tiger stripes and a blow of warm air – just to see if it helps – and boy, look what happens!

The next page is like a jungle and readers are asked to count out loud, trace the numbers with a finger, and blow on them softly… and it’s working, the numbers are all there and they’re red hot – you did it! It’s no longer a cold, freezing, no-number day!

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

The Very Cold, Freezing, No-Number Day
by Ashley N. Sorenson
Published by Familius
ISBN 9781942934349

Book Review: Parenting for the Digital Age, by Bill Ratner

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_parenting_for_the_digital_ageAfter reading this book, I went to the internet to learn more about the author and publisher. I love watching a movie, then reading all about it on IMDB. I wish that there was something similar for books. Goodreads is nearly there – but imagine having a page where you could click on trivia about the book, character break-downs and then click through to learn more about the illustrator or publisher. It is the sign of a thought-provoking book when you want to learn more about it.

Parenting for the Digital Age is written by Bill Ratner, a voiceover artist perhaps best known for voicing ‘Flint’ in the 1980s GI Joe cartoons. He learned a lot through having a father work in advertising and through his own voiceover and promotions work in advertising. This book is quite simply his explanation of advertising, television and the kind of harm it can do to children.

Not in the least dry or prescriptive, this book is very engaging, with quite an engrossing narrative. Bill is quite an accomplished storyteller (he even competes in storytelling competitions) and his book mostly outlines his experiences. He focuses heavily on the purpose of advertising and his commitment to limit the influence of this advertising on his family. He talks a lot about how he and his wife decided to be very deliberate about what their children were exposed to – they do not oppose all movies or TV for example, just unexamined, mindless watching.

There are no lists or directives, rather Bill seeks to persuade you of his approach through his accounts. It is more persuasive I think for presenting his information this way. However, some quick summaries of his main points might have been useful. There are, though, references and suggestions for websites to assist parents if they wish to get specific tips on digital parenting.

This is a very simple to read book, and a good starting point for thinking about parenting in a world full of devices.

Reviewed by Emma Wong-Ming

Parenting for the Digital Age
by Bill Ratner
Published by Familius
ISBN 9781939629050

Book Review: Book, by David Miles, illustrated by Natalie Hoopes

Available now at bookshops nationwide.

cv_book_davidThis book is breathtakingly beautiful. Dreamlike and imaginative, you are drawn into the wonder of what can be created with a few pieces of paper and board, and a little artfully-applied ink.

Book is about the book as a physical object. It reminded me a little of the award-winning The Boring Book, and my favourite book about books A Book is a Book. It carries on the recent trend in picture books of talking directly to the reader, drawing them in directly, through a great use of the slow-reveal. As the reader is brought closer and closer to the words, they come alive.

The wee boy who is climbing into the world is then taken into the world of imagination, with floating lighthouses, and a slightly steampunk-feeling world of hot air balloons and blimps, with suspended castles and stairs leading to the top of a story-place. Cut-up newspapers in various languages are used to beautiful effect, but when the narrative of the story is told using these strips of paper I found it very difficult to follow when reading the book aloud to 5-year-old Dan.

As we are drawn closer into the world of imagination, there are little monsters that are reminiscent of Shaun Tan’s illustrations, plus fairies, witches… As the story says, ‘A place where everything is possible.’ Our wee boy gives a key to the witch, and she sends him off on a flying book, into the woods, where many of the most familiar characters of fairy tales await him.

The illustrations by newcomer Natalie Hoopes are utterly faultless – graceful and light, with a sense of wonder infusing each of the pages. The story emphasises the many qualities of books: they are there when you want to learn, when you need a friend, or when you want to escape from world for a bit. There is a slightly long dig at technology, with an accompanying illustration of old electronic equipment: “There, no alarm will disturb and no screen will crack. Because it doesn’t have one. Or an off switch. Or a password to keep you out.”

This is an ode honouring the joy of paper books, and of reading. It would make a beautiful gift book for somebody who is just beginning their reading journey themselves, and discovering the possibilities of the world of literature. It would also make a wonderful resource for schools, for teachers to use the words scattered throughout as story starters. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

by David Miles, illustrated by Natalie Hoopes
Published by Familius, distributed here by Exisle Publishers
ISBN 9781939629654