The books that made me me – Emmi

I know. I know that this will be of zero interest to some of you, but SOME of you have babies, and some of you with babies might be interested in this. So. Here goes: Emmi is here to tell you about her current favourite books (NB She is fickle. These are merely this week’s favourites, next week we could have a whole different selection).

Mum has asked me to write and tell you about my favourite books. I have a lot of favourite books, so it was hard to narrow it down, but I think I’ve managed it. Basically I choose books based on two things. 1) The closest one to me at that point in time, and b) the ratio of animals to pages. This seems to work well for me. Mum tries to steer me towards what she calls ‘educational’ books yada yada yada, but basically animals and proximity are the key things here.

And that leads me on to this:

What the ladybird heard


This satisfies both of my requirements because it is always in the living room (mum’s not stupid – she knows this keeps me quiet), and even better, it has So. Many. Animals. And the animals all make noises. Which is brilliant for making any adult reading it feel like a fool. I used to have this in paper  back, but it is just so good that sometimes I get over excited and  just can’t wait to turn the page, and then it gets ripped. Mama’s pretty good with the sellotape, but even she has her limits, so I now have it in a lovely un-rippable cardboard version. Everyone’s happy.

This Moose belongs to me

This book makes me laugh. I don’t even know why, because I’m pretty sure that I don’t understand the words. I think it’s because everyone who reads it the first time laughs, so I’m assuming it must be funny. Also, the pictures are pretty. Like, really pretty. Like, Mum-has-bought-prints-of-some-of-the-pages-to-hang-on-my-wall type pretty. It also has a moose in it. Every child needs this book.

The Tiger Who came to tea

Mum had never read this book (although when she was little she did have Mog the Forgetful Cat by the same author, which she says is equally as good), but we were sent this by the wonderful Bex as part of the AOW Bookswap earlier this year, and it was an instant hit with me AND mum. She says that The Independent call it ‘a modern classic’, but all I know is that it has a tiger, and the tiger eats the food, and that no-one knows why, but I love it.

The cat at night

I think Mum would admit that she picked this up more for how it looked, than what was in it, and the fact that it was under the heading ‘Beautiful Books’ in Waterstones. She’s a sucker for marketing. The thing is though, I love it, despite her dubious reasons for choosing it. For a start it has a cat in. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I flipping love cats. Real life ones are best, because they squeak if you squeeze their tummy or pull their tails, but as a second best, I’ll take a cat in a book. Also, this book really is beautiful, and clever, and it ends with the cat going to sleep, so it’s always a good one if mum’s trying to get me off to sleep.

The monkey puzzle


Everyone has heard of The Gruffalo, yes? That would definitely be in this list if I’d not systematically ripped almost every single one of the pages in my excitement, and whilst I KNOW that mum knows the story off by heart, she refuses to read it now because the pages are so torn. So, as I still have difficulties with object permanence, it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind, and The Monkey Puzzle, which is written by the same person, makes a great substitute. Obviously it has monkeys (amongst many other animals) in, and as I do a mean ‘ooh ooh ooh’ monkey impression, that immediately puts this in the top five. It also rhymes, and sounds good when mum reads it out loud, so that gives it more points too.

How to catch a star

This one is by the same guy who wrote This Moose belongs to Me, so you can imagine the drawings are goooood. It also has a lot of pictures of stars in, which as ‘STA’ is my newest word, I LOVE pointing out every single one to Mum before we turn the page. She loves it. I can tell by the way she grits her teeth. I also have pretty much every other book written by Oliver Jeffers. Partly because I enjoy them, and partly because mum fancies Oliver Jeffers.

Mr Brown can moo can you

I don’t think I really need to explain why this one is here. Animals. Noises. Rhyming. Making mum sound like an idiot. It has everything I’m looking for in a book.

I’m the best


Clearly I mainly love this because I’m the best. But also it has a dog, and a donkey, and a goose and a mole in. Which makes me happy. The pictures are pretty, and the dog wears cool trousers. And mum says some stuff about it having good moral lessons or something like that. I don’t know, I just focus on the dog.

So that’s it…those are my current favourites. Are there any others that I should know about? Because I can always send mum out shopping for me. She’s good like that.

Categories: Any Other Baby, Books
28 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    This is hilarious. I am saving it for future reference.
    A Dutch classic is: “Over een kleine mol die wil weten wie er op zijn kop gepoept heeft” by Wolf Erlbruch. It’s about a mole who wants to know who pooped on its head… so he starts investigating. Lots of animals.
    I see it has been translated to English as: “The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business” and apparently this one comes with sounds.

    • Steff
      Posted May 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Best plot for a book of all time!!!

    • Vivienne
      Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      We have this book! Me and my husband found it funnier than Toby did….

  2. Carly
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I LOVE this!! I spend a lot of time buying & reading children’s books with my job & could literally lose hours in Waterstones looking at them!

    I fully approve of Emmi’s favourites, some of them are mine and my classes too. Don’t worry about sounding like an idiot – try reading ‘Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You?’ to a roomful of children AND their very bemused parents! I think that was also the day one of my class pulled my top down & stuck his head between my boobs in front of them but that’s a story for another day….


    • Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink


    • Lara Blue
      Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      I think that story sounds like a post waiting to happen – “adventures in teacherland” or something! Xx

      • Gemma N
        Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        I agree – we definitely need to hear more about this :)

    • Carly
      Posted May 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      I’d only been teaching a week – mortifying!! Still makes me laugh though. I’ll have a think abou that post, it could end up being VEEERRY long though. They make me laugh every single day!


  3. ChirstyMac
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Is it wrong that I now immediately want to go out and buy all these books… to read myself?! Great taste Emmi!
    As a kid I loved anything by Janet & Allen Alberg. Each Peach Pear Plum, Burglar Bill, Cops & Robbers. No animals but all rhyming. They must have made an impression because even now (at 32) I can recite every one by heart!

    • Peabody_Bites
      Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      I too can recite all of Each Peach Pear Plum. In fact, I just proved it to my officemate, slightly to his surprise as he clearly did not grow up with it!

  4. Katie
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Some great books there. I’m always flicking through the children’s books in bookshops and then pretending that the ones I buy are for my nephew and niece (they’re not – I only give them as presents so I get to read them again but to an audience). Current favourites, also with lots of animals are A Bit Lost which is the lovely and beautifully-illustrated story of a little owl who falls out of his nest and the various animals who help him find his mummy again, and I Want My Hat Back which is hilarious if you have quite a dark sense of humour and don’t mind introducing your child to the concept of homicidal rage at an early age. It also has woodland animals. One of them has stolen a bear’s hat. It doesn’t end well for him.

    • Liz
      Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      We are currently reading A Little Bit Lost incessantly, and I Want My Hat Back is my go to present for children at the moment as it so funny I know parents aren’t going to be driven mad by it!

      • Katie
        Posted May 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        My poor nephew didn’t get close to I Want My Hat Back when I first bought it for him – the whole family wanted a read first. Luckily Toby has a very innocent mind and still thinks that the bear has just sat on the rabbit rather than anything more unpleasant.

  5. Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Can I recommend this: I bought it as a present to myself because it was so beautiful (then James bought me the sequel which is equally gorgeous). Also anything with Spot the dog in it!

    • Lara Blue
      Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      My friend’s daughter has these as well and she loves them. They are so beautiful too xx

  6. Peabody_Bites
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Great book choices Emmi – particularly The Tiger who Came to Tea. This will greatly expand my present giving repertoire. My ever favourite is either Good Night Moon (not many animals there but perhaps quite sleep inducing) and, of course, Peabody (Rosemary Wells) about a little girl who puts aside her battered dog for a new doll.

    When I was little, my American cousins used to send us the most wonderful books about Maine with some very good animals in them. I loved Blueberries for Sal, about a little girl who goes blueberry picking and sees a bear, and also The Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch – excellent opportunities for seagull screeching noises.

  7. Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    We love all of these ones!

    George is loving “How to hide a Lion” by Helen Stephens and also “Captain’s Purr” by Madeleine Floyd is still my favourite after four and a half years of bedtime stories- it’s got the most lovely watercolour pictures and Captain the cat is beautiful. I think you’d really like it Emmi x x x

  8. Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Oh they look so pretty! Must stock up for if/when I ever have children. x

  9. Lara Blue
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Dear Emmi, thanks for sharing this- you clearly inherited your mother’s talent for writing! A firm favourite of both my 4 year old niece and the 2.5 year old daughter of my best friend is “Room on the Broom” by Julia Donaldson. I think that you’d really like it too as it has lots of animals in it (including a CAT!) and is written in rhyme. My friend also highly recommends “The worst princess” by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie. One of my favourite childhood books is called “Princess Lullaby and the Magic Word” by Martine Oborne but I think this might be a little old for you right now (I had it when I was 6) although it contains tigers and icecream, subjects of universal appeal, I’m sure you’ll agree. Xxx

  10. Pickle
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Emmi I think you might like the What–A-Mess books, though I’m not entirely sure they’re available these days. Also The Patchwork Cat is a lovely cat-based book and Borka: the adventures of a goose with no feathers might help you understand that strange thing called ‘cold’ people keep telling you about.

    I can also recite Each Peach Pear Plum almost by heart and loved the Lighthouse Keepers Lunch (which does involve a cat) – I clearly had very similar reading tastes to Peabody_Bites!

  11. Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Beautiful – the book about the moose looks like a lovely read.

    When I was younger we all liked the books about the Large family (they were elephants) by Jill Murphy. She also wrote ‘Peace at Last’, which my mother used to be able to recite by heart.

    My current ‘favourite’ is ‘Octopus Socktopus’ by Nick Sharatt (he of Jacqueline Wilsom illustrations); it’s complete nonsense but is pages of clever rhymes of ‘octopus’ with lovely illustrations :-)

    • Posted May 30, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      I was going to recommend the Large family books!

  12. Gemma N
    Posted May 30, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Ah, this is so cute!

    I love kids books – will bookmark this page for reference next year when I’m in need of some stories for my little one!

    Emmi, you’re obviously a fan of Julia Donaldson so you may already have these, but I have enjoyed reading Tiddler with my nephew, and recently bought Zog for one of my friends. I particularly liked Zog, it has lots of dragons, and an excellent ‘girls rock’ message. I won’t say any more as I don’t want to ruin the ending.

    You might also like Giraffes Can’t Dance – another rhyming story and it has LOADS of animals in it.

    Happy reading!

  13. Posted May 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Emmi, you ridiculously cute little thing, you MUST read The Giant Jam Sandwich. It’s the best children’s book ever. If your Mum can’t find it, let me know and I’ll send it you you!

    Kids books are just the best, my cousin always used to like ones where I had to make silly noises and voices.

    K x

  14. Posted May 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Awwww Emmi!

    This is a lovely post.

    Typing one handed but just to add -

    SHIRLEY HUGHES books! My fave is the Nursery Collection. Lots of lovely rhymes in those stories which is great to help children learn language.

    As a child I loved anything by the Ahlbergs. Did anyone else read the Happy Families series – Mrs Plug the Plumber and co?!

    • Posted May 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      YES! Mrs Wobble the Waitress was a favourite in our family.

  15. Posted May 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Emmi, if you love anything with animals have you read Six Dinner Sid? It’s about a greedy cat – I think you might like it. Another good cat story is Slob Cat (it reminds me of my parents very fat and lazy, but lovely cat, Kipper). There’s also a book which is really funny (and a little bit rude!) called noisy bottoms, which is a story – with sounds! – about a bear that discovers the animals in the woods have very noisy bottoms. I think it might make you giggle.

    I *may* have a wishlist on amazon for all the books that I want to read to Olive at home point. Thanks to all these wonderful recommendations it has just gone from being stupidly long to really, really stupidly long. Thanks ladies!

  16. Posted June 2, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    What the Ladybird heard is an all time classic in our house, my 2yo knows it by heart and normally let her read it to us! We are also big Dr Seuss fans and have Mr Brown can Moo, can you? as well as many others! Thanks for the tips on future reads, we will check them out! X

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