Squirm’s Book Reviews: The Frances Watts Edition

Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here

Frances Watts worked as an editor for ten years before starting to write picture books. She has several award winning picture books, plus a couple of series and a trilogy which I’ve just tracked down to read. Recently Squirm and I read several of her books and we want to share them here

Kisses for Daddy

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Kisses for Daddy

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 20)

Baby Bear is grumbly and very fond of the word ‘no’! Daddy wants to get him to bed, but Baby Bear doesn’t want to give him a kiss. Not a bear kiss or a giraffe kiss. Not even a crocodile kiss.

This is such a sweet bedtime book, the kind of book you’d probably read over and over again at bedtime. Although the story is relatively simple, going through the bedtime routine while looking at different animals and the way they might kiss goodnight, an added quality is added through the amazing illustrations by David Legge. One of the real strengths of Frances Watt’s books is the lovely descriptive language and it is evident throughout this book, with ‘cuddly, clingy kisses’ and ‘snappy, watery kisses’.

This is a book to spend time looking at, to find the hidden ‘clues’ in the pictures. You could also spend some time looking at the different animals that are in the book and the different ways you could draw them, or use them in art. It would also be a lot of fun to look at the relationship that different animals have between parents and babies. The tiles in the bedroom have lots of options for fun maths activities – you can create your own to rotate and flip and join together.


Parsley Rabbit’s Book About Books by Frances Watts

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Parsely Rabbit

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 29)

There’s been a bit of a boom in books about books in recent years. This one is quite straight forward, looking at the different parts of books, but with a healthy dose of humour throughout. You start learning from the moment you open the book and are informed that you are looking at the endpapers. It talks about the role of the reader and how some books have flaps to extend the book – and once you learn about flaps, you start finding them through the rest of the book.

I really like this sort of book, which manages to ‘teach’ while keeping the tongue firmly in the cheek. There’s a lot more to books that people first realise, and this book does a great job of introducing these elements in a simple, easy to understand fashion.

This would be a great book to read before a visit to a library, or if you want to have a go at making books of your own. You could create some pretty professional looking books with your children by including some of the elements you find in actual books. You could also use the information in the front of books to set up your own library at home. An interesting thing would be to look at e-books and compare and contrast them, and talk about other ways you can enjoy books.


A Rat in a Stripy Sock by Frances Watts

Adventures of a Subversive Reader: A Rat in a Stripy Sock

(AWW 2013 Squirm Challenge: Book 28)

The rain poured down like misery, washing the city in grey . . .

Any book that begins with a fabulous sentence like that immediately gets my heart. This is the story of a grey rat who finds a stripy sock – a beautiful, bright, multi-coloured stripy sock which could take the grey rat anywhere. A grey rat could have the best house or eat in the best restaurants with a stripy sock. He could play beautiful music or follow his dreams. He could be happy.

This was a gorgeous, stunning, uplifting – but understated book. It shows you how just one bright and colourful thing can make everything look better, can take you out of your everyday existence and let you fly. The illustrations by David Francis only add to this, showing the contrast between the grey and miserable and the colourful and beautiful.

This is the perfect book for crafting for. You could practice drawing with greys (lead pencils or grey crayons/felt pens) and drawing the same thing with colours and look at how different they look. If you’ve got older children they might be interested in learning how to crochet and could make their own stripy sock (or a stripy scarf, if they’re a little younger) Younger children might like to decorate an old grey sock and make it into something beautiful of their own. I’d really love to try using an old grey sock (man’s size) to try and make a grey rat toy, which of course would mean that I’d want to create some of the other elements of the book 🙂 This would also be the perfect book for talking about dreams and how you can hold onto bright things on grey days. It would be a brilliant book to pair with Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree.



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