"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." - Jorge Louis Burges

We are a household of book lovers. That seems like a pretty pointless statement to make because I have always though as there are probably as many different books as there are stars, those rare folk who say they don’t like books, simply haven’t found the right one(s) yet. Either that or they are actually mad. We however are unashamedly in love with books and in an electronic world, in our house, all things paper reign supreme. My Dad sells second-hand books and I have been going to antique and book fairs since I was just a few weeks old. My two Master’s are both in Literature (and Theatre) and I am physically surrounded by books in pretty much every room of our house. As for the kids, well they consume books as if they were air, they simply can’t get enough of them and the endless doors to new world’s that they open.

With books playing such a significant and prominent part of our daily lives then I have decided to start a new and ongoing project. I have called it Paper Paradise and it will be a place to collect our thoughts on all these stories and books that worm their way into our core. Just as books come in all shapes and sizes, we too will be covering everything imaginable under the #paperparadise umbrella. The kids favourites, books the parents love, theatre, poetry, music (coming from a paper score you see) and great pieces of art (most likely first sketched on a pice of paper). All of these artforms will be invited to leave their impressions on our live’s and create an everyday paradise for us all to bask in.

As a stay and play at home Mum to a toddler and a baby I will be honest and say I don’t get to read as many books myself anymore as I would like to. I do however get to read multitudes of children’s books which must be most adults dream come true if they are good books. We read every single day without fail. We read while I breastfeed Faye, when we are out and about and waiting, on rainy afternoons and always at bedtime.  Aiden and Faye have over one thousand books (honesty I counted!) and we are continually growing their collection and discovering new favourites.

With this in mind it seems only fitting that the first ever Paper Paradise post will be featuring the books that Aiden has been reading recently. Laurence King Publushers send us a great selection from their 2017 Children’s catalogue a fee weeks ago and honestly Aiden was so excited by the catalogue itself I knew we were in for something special straight away. There was such a variety in the books they sent that I think you would be hard pressed to find a child that doesn’t like love one, if not all, of these books. We will be splitting them into categories and letting you know how we are enjoying them over the next few weeks as each book has so many aspects to it. This week we are looking at the animal books as now that Spring is fast approaching we can go outdoors even more and Aiden is noticing so many tiny insects everywhere which he wants to know all about.

The Amazing Animal Adventure : An Around-the-World Spotting Expedition by Brendan Kearney and Anna Claybourne.  (£14.95)

Now I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover and all but this book was the one Aiden went straight for as I unpacked the box of books Laurance King sent over last week. He was happy as anything sat examining the intricate illustrations on the front cover before I even suggested we could actually look IN the book! A hardback book made with excellent quality paper; you get the feeling straight away that this is a special book. You know the type, the ones that you hold dear year after year and a book you hide if friends with ‘less careful’ kids are coming round.

Once Aiden had allowed us to move past the front cover and we were able to delve inside we were not disappointed. The illustrations are spot on perfect. My Dad is a keen bird watcher so I know a thing or two about good animal who’s who books. This book is such a fantastic children’s version of a grown-up animal reference book and Aiden always seems to enjoy books that appear not to be exclusively for kids if you know what I mean. He likes to do what the adults are doing and he loved carefully searching through this book with great concentration, matching images of the animals from the key on each page with their hidden counterparts within each habitat. The illustrations (I am going on about them because they are just so wonderful) give a detailed and realistic depiction of each animal whilst maintaining the charm that is usually only available in children’s fiction books.  Each animal appears a different amount of times on their page which adds a nice additional counting game to the search.

Each double page spread depicts a new, colurful and brimming habitat, filled with a mixture of common and wonderfully unheard of animals you would find living there. The animals to spot are listed along the bottom of the pages and supported with a sentence or two about them. We found this to be the perfect amount of information for both Aiden to digest and for me to read to him and remain completely engaged and interested in finding out about the next animal.

The book contains 62 pages and 48 truly glorious colour illustrations (hey I wouldn’t go on about them if they weren’t both so stunning and in perfect keeping for the type of book). Each time you open the book you spot something new which means it doesn’t look like we will tire of this one for a very long time. In addition to the animals habitat pages, there are some other individual ones at the back with all kinds of Guineas Book of Records style facts about the world’s animals. Aiden’s face as I tried to explain to him just how big a whale is or how fast a cheetah can run was an absolute picture as his brain went into over drive. There are so many aspects to this book and it is definitely top of my list for birthday ideas for friends of Aiden who turn 3 soon and who I think would also appreciate it’s beauty.

Animal Doctors: Incredible Ways Animals Heal Themselves by Julio Antonio Blasco, Mark Doran, Angie Trius. (£10.95)

First off (and it seems this is a Laurance King standard) this is another book with great illustrations. These though, I feel, lend themselves to being more fully appreciated by slightly older children than Aiden who is coming up on three. Don’t get me wrong, Aiden enjoyed this book as we sat together on the sofa and made our way through it, but he hasn’t since gone and sat and looked at it on his own as he has done with several other books that Laurance King sent over. I think the reason behind this is because there isn’t a story to follow through the pages and it isn’t filled with tiny details to hunt out on each page as there is with the Amazing Animals discussed above for example.

Reading it sat with me though he was completely captivated and wanting me to read every little detail. Each page features one animal and has different pieces of information on their habitat, their diet, their appearance etc. The focus and thread of the book though is about the weird and wonderful ways in which these animals are able to combat things like getting sick or recovering from attacks from other animals. On the right hand side of each page is a flap to lift to reveal a doctors chart / information summary. Opening that section and reading how the animal doctor fixes itself was Aiden’s favourite part as he always loves getting involved. He had a lot of questions to ask about what we were discovering and whilst we did read it all in one sitting, I think dipping in and out, one page at a time and featuring that specific animal for the day, might very well be the way to return to this book as Aiden grows up.

Midnight Creatures – A Pop-up Shadow Search by Helen Friel (£15.95)

From the outside Aiden looked uninterested but I was super excited about this one because I knew what was inside…

We waited till just before bedtime and armed ourselves with book and torch and found a blank wall in Aiden’s bedroom. When I got Aiden to open the first page we got a genuine Oooo wowee as the most stunning cutout shadow world was unfolded. Aiden figured out straight away what to do with the torch although rather cutely every time he wanted to show me something he spotted in the shadow on the wall he would use the torch to point and of course it would vanish. Bed Mum that I am, I let him do this a fair few times for I managed to get him to understand what was going on.

Faye enjoyed the show almost as much as Aiden but of course we had to keep her out of grabbing reach on the book otherwise I fear there would have been tearing from Faye and tears from Aiden and myself. We gave her a toy torch to chew on and all was good.

The book consists of five double spread shadow world’s.  Each is a new and fantastically unique habitat such as the Deep Ocean and a Moonlit Woodland. In each scene there are 5-6 animals to spot as you position the torch at the right angle. Aiden spotted a good half of them without my help and was so chuffed with himself. There are pictures of the animals you are looking for along the bottom of each page as well as a sentence or two with interesting facts about that animal that I talked to Aiden about as he looked forit in the shadow. Aiden absolutely loved this book and bedtime was later that night!

We have had such a great time exploring these wonderful animal books over the last week and I am sure we are going to be rereading them many many times again. They are the type of books that grow with you and I can already see how Aiden is enjoying them in different ways since we first looked at them. You can purchase all of these and many others too from the Laurence King Publushers website.

Disclaimer: We were sent these books in exchange for a honest review. As always, all opinions are my own (and the kid’s, can’t silence them!)

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