We’re reading: Emily Gravett #fiveforfriday

Emily Gravett is a firm favourite in this house. Her illustrations are beautiful, the stories often quirky and always engaging. As she has produced a special book for World Book Day this year, Little Book Day Parade, I thought she was the ideal focus for my #fiveforfriday links this week, with five of our favourites plus an activity to go with each one.

Emily Gravett #fiveforfriday

1. Dogs






We’ve had this book since ToddlerGirl was a baby and it’s always gone down really well. It was simple enough for her to enjoy when she was little and, now she’s older, she laughs at the humour in the text and the images. The dogs are beautifully drawn, expressive and realistic, and we like to pick our favourite at the end. Each spread pairs differing types of dogs together – e.g. slow dogs and fast dogs, clean dogs and messy dogs – which is a good way of introducing the concept of opposites.

Activity idea: Make a dog hat with floppy ears

This is a sweet dog-themed activity from Toddler Approved. Take a length of white card to use as a headband and two long shapes to use as ears. Paint the pieces before attaching them; Toddler Approved used a sponge to give a textured effect. You could also use pieces of paper, felt or other material to stick on like a collage. ToddlerGirl loves making anything that she can wear afterwards, so I know this would be a definite hit!

2. Monkey and Me

Monkey and Me






Another deceptively simple book that can be enjoyed from baby age upwards. A little girl and her toy monkey visit different animals, mimicking their movements. The soft, pencil lines of the illustrations are again wonderfully expressive and I love some of the animals. This is a great book to get active with once your toddler is on the move as well.

Activity idea: Go on a animal hunt

This is a very simple game to set up: hide representations of the animals from the book around the living room or house and then set off to find them together. ToddlerGirl and I also acted out the different animal movements, which provided a lot of silly entertainment for us both! Read more about it in my blog post Going on a Monkey and Me animal hunt.

3. The Odd Egg

The Odd Egg






This is a very sweet story about Duck who finds an egg to look after. It’s not like all his friends’ eggs, though. It is huge and covered in green spots. The other eggs hatch, one by one, leaving only Duck’s odd egg to go – and he gets a shock when a crocodile pops out! ToddlerGirl loves the ‘creaking and cracking’ of all the eggs opening and finds it particularly funny when the crocodile follows the duck at the end, calling it ‘mama’.

Activity idea: Decorate foam eggs

This is an Easter activity from The Imagination Tree but would work really well with The Odd Egg. Cut egg shapes out of craft foam, plus an assortment of shapes for decorating. Provide water and a paintbrush and let your little one have fun sticking these onto a window. Water activities are, of course, always a winner and ToddlerGirl was in her element with this one! To tie this in with the book more obviously, you could talk about what sort of creature might be inside each egg.

4. Meerkat Mail

Meerkat Mail






This was a great find in the library. Sunny the meerkat is fed up with his life at home with his huge tribe of a family and decides to travel around the world to visit his mongoose relatives. He doesn’t enjoy it as much as he thought he would, though, as he doesn’t quite fit in with his relatives and ends up appreciating all the aspects of his family life at home that he had wanted to escape from. One of the things I love about a lot of Emily Gravett’s books is the creativity behind the entire design of the book, which may go slightly over the head of a younger toddler but older children and adults will really appreciate. This is a perfect example. Sunny sends postcards back to his family and the book is laid out in the style of these, with lift the flap postcards to look at and little touches, such as the photo albums and newspaper clippings on the inside covers. ToddlerGirl may not understand all the clever aspects of the book, but there is more than enough to keep her interest and make this a winner for us.

Activity idea: Create your own postbox and postcards

I covered a tall cardboard box with wrapping paper, cut out a slit to make the letterbox and stuck a sign on the front saying ‘Post’. ToddlerGirl and I then made some postcards together, using pieces of card that I had precut into postcard size. This can be a nice craft activity as you can decorate the ‘postcards’ any way you like – painting, stickers, colouring in, etc. When we first did this activity, I simply wrote family members’ names on each postcard and ToddlerGirl decorated with stickers. We also turned this into a Christmas postbox in December, making Christmas cards to go with it. For ToddlerGirl, the initial fun of the game was in repeated posting and emptying of the ‘postcards’ in the box. Now she is older, I am redoing the cards with her to add a literacy element to the game, to introduce letters and simple words in a fun way.

5. Cave Baby

Cave Baby






Another brilliant library find, this lovely book is illustrated by Gravett and written by our favourite, Julia Donaldson. Cave Baby is bored in his cave until he finds a pot of paint and a brush to decorate with. His parents are cross with his artistic efforts, but a woolly mammoth spots them and whisks him off to his home where he can paint as much as he likes! Gravatt’s illustrations are beautiful, with the dark world outside the caves offset by the brightly coloured paintings that Cave Baby produces. ToddlerGirl and I both love this book and it has been taken out of the library on many occasions.

Activity idea: Cave Baby paintings

The perfect activity to go with this book is, of course, painting! A few different coloured pots of paint and a blank piece of paper is all you need – but you could also print out some animal pictures to paint over. ToddlerGirl and I talked about the different patterns Cave Baby made and she had a go at doing some spots, stripes and even zig zag lines before just getting stuck in. The Cave Baby website has a pdf of the wall that you can print out and a dot to dot activity suitable for older children.

Take a look at Emily Gravett’s website for a full biography and information about her work. You can also find a huge list of activity ideas to go with her books on Playing By The Book.

(NB: This post contains affiliate links.)

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