'The Book of Things' by Sarah Dyer: Review + READER GIVEAWAY

Post updated13/02/15: Congratulations to Kate Malbon, Lisa Wheeler and Seonid Beecham for winning the three copies of ‘The Book of Things’! 


And so finally the day comes where I get to pen a post about the work of my friend Sarah Dyer, a very talented children’s book illustrator who is Sussex born and bred and now lives in Hove. Yes, another illustrator who’s a friend of ours and whose book I’m reviewing – so sue me. Like attracts like, and since my husband draws for a living, we’re naturally going to have some mates who do the same.

An image from Sarah’s ‘Perfect Guests’ Hove post, of her son Stanley at Hove Museum

If you’ve read this blog since it began, you’ll recognise Sarah’s name – she was the first person to write a Perfect Guests post for me, about her perfect day in Hove with her rosy-cheeked wee boy Stanley. Then she hosted the first event we ever attended at Bags of Books, which I documented here too.

Sarah has since had another wee boy (so she and I are now in our own version of a ‘boys’ club’), who is just as cherubic as the first. She’s also since had a new book out, ‘The Book of Things: 250+ First Words‘, published by Templar.


I first caught sight of the book in Sarah’s converted-garage studio in her back garden. The book was in French, and it was the only one she had lying around. I headed to Bags of Books in Lewes not long after and bought the English version for my younger boy. He’s pretty far ahead with his speech, but I’m a sucker for a ‘things’ book because I love Richard Scarry (who, pray, doesn’t?) and thought it would be less something to teach him words as to be a conversation starter. How right I was.


But when I gave it to him for Christmas, I was a little shocked by what unfolded… Because my six-year-old was the one who lay down on the floor and got busy with the book. He was the one who trawled the pages and started the conversations. So, more fool me, these kinds of books are not just for toddlers!


Here’s what they talked about and did with the book:

Spent the longest time on the Big Things page, even though it has the least things on it.

Big asked Little (and I) questions like: ‘Can you see something yellow with four sides?’ (Answer: door to house), ‘Can you see a red button?’ (Answer: the hubcaps on the bus), and ‘Can you see a basket?’ (Answer: the hanging one on the hot air balloon). I loved that in asking us ‘trick’ questions, he was setting himself a task of sorts, reinterpreting the book in his own way and all the while stretching the mind of my little one (and me!), too.


This quiz continued on the Living Things page, with: ‘Can you see something that flies with blue eyes?’ (owl) and ‘Can you see something with a tongue like this *drew a zigzag in the air* (snake) and ‘Can you see something that’s good at balancing?’ (goat AND seal – double-trick!).

While looking at the Small Things page, we discussed many of the things we saw. Big thought lots of it was ‘cute’, including the bubbles, the lentils and the dust. Little said he liked the biscuit the best (surprise) and Big went for the LEGO brick.


We were interrupted at that point, but the book has been looked at many times since. Sometimes I come into the playroom and there they are, buried in conversation over a tiny funny detail. We’ve particularly enjoyed looking at the little ‘jokes’ on some of the pages – the cross-eyed girl bear spinning on the roundabout, the ‘struggle’ illustration on the Thins We Can Do page, and the bear pulling the page to turn it. We laughed about the More Noisy Things page missing two things: my two boys.


For us, it’s been a totally successful buy – I love Sarah’s illustrations, which are completely hand-drawn (something that’s becoming rarer these days). Sarah doesn’t work any part of her process on a computer in the creation of her books, and I think it’s this that makes her characters feel warmer – as if they could walk off the page. Don’t you agree?

Because of this, I want to get to know a little more about the book – the whys and hows behind its creation – from its creator. As I started to write this review, I Googled Sarah, and found there are quite a few old interviews lying around the Internet, some of them from before she moved down to Hove and had Stanley.

So I thought I’d ask her some questions myself – these will be published in a new post in a couple of days. Which will act as a handy reminder to enter the competition to win a copy of ‘The Book of Things.’ But why wait until then? You can enter via any of the methods below… Good luck!



This is a social media competition in which THREE copies are being given away. To enter to be one of the lucky winners of ‘The Book of Things‘ just:

  • Share this post on Facebook (yes, you may do that despite how I feel about it! But if you do, please let me know in the comments section below so that I can register your entry)
  • Share the post on Twitter, following @LittleLewes if you don’t already, as well as @iamsarahdyer with the tag #BookofThings
  • Share the post on Instagram – take a picture of your screen, or a screen grab from your phone of one that I post, follow @littlelewes and @sarah_illustrator, hashtagging #BookofThings
  • Share the post on Google+ (again, please let me know in comments, as I’m so new to it)
  • Comment on this post in the section below, making sure to put your email address in the indicated field so I can reach you. If you subscribe to receive Little Lewes post notifications (in the side bar on computer, at the bottom on mobile), extra credit again… *smiley winky face*


The competition/giveaway will run for just over a week, closing next Friday the 13th of February at midday. So get sharing!



The book retails at £8.99 and is only available in hardback. It’s available in English, French, German, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Italian. ‘The Book of Colours’ is out in May – I’ll be reviewing it!

‘The Book of Things’ can be found at Bags of Books, who have a good stock of the book. If they’re out of them, Bags of Books can order copies in for next-day or two-day delivery at no charge. It can also be ordered Hive.co.uk – if you order through Hive, you can have your books delivered in to Bags of Books at no charge.

The book makes a fantastic present for all kinds of ages of children (as I hope I’ve shown), and is a brilliant book for a new baby. It includes a double page spread about seasons and day/night, which I know makes it great for schools, nurseries and libraries.

Sarah drawing her character from ‘Bear’s Best Friend’ for a captive audience at Bags of Books a couple of summers back


Sarah’s website is at: sarahdyer.com, where her old blog is still live (she no longer keeps this up but it’s a good read anyway!)

Sarah can be found on Twitter at @iamsarahdyer

She’s also really prolific on Instagram at @sarahdyer_illustrator

Good luck in the competition!

Disclosure: I bought ‘The Book of Things’ after I saw a copy of the French version in Sarah’s studio. I approached Templar about reviewing it, and they offered to give away three copies. There are a couple of affiliate links placed in this post to The Hive, but otherwise no compensation, financial or otherwise, has been offered or exchanged for the writing of this post.

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

22 thoughts on “'The Book of Things' by Sarah Dyer: Review + READER GIVEAWAY

  1. Gorgeous book – totally for Richard Scary lovers! Am going to get this for the boys if I don’t win. Thanks Kate (shared by the way on the dreaded FB and Titter) x

    1. I tittered when I read that Kate! I’ve logged your entry to the comp and thank you for sharing on IG and ‘Titter’ too! Hope you win my friend. xxx

  2. We love books like this, the ones that you can look at again and again and see something new each time. I receive your posts to my email.

    1. Thanks for sharing everywhere Kelly – you’re so much more widely followed than me, I really appreciate it! Your entry to the comp has been logged! x

  3. Hi Kate – another good tip in Richard Scarry, I’ve never heard of him before. I think I’ve shared on Instagram but in case I haven’t done it properly I’m covering myself with this comment as I’d love to win a copy. Your post made me excited for the day my two boys will be best buddies and entertain each other rather than the four year old squashing my poor three month old in the name of ‘cuddling’! Sally x

    1. Always love your comments Sally, if nothing else because they remind me of how far my boys and I have come. I remember like it was yesterday feeling like you – with the age gap seeming huge. You won’t believe what best friends they come. My 2yo only wants to invite my 6yo to his birthday – he insists he doesn’t want anyone else. And when my dad asked my 6yo who his best friend at school is, he said my 2yo. It’s lovely having two the same sex, watching them fall in love with each other and become best mates is truly magical. (Sorry to sound cheesy). Your entry into the comp has been logged! x

    1. Hi Bee and thank you for your very nice words about the blog! The book is really brilliant – and your entry to the comp is logged! x

  4. What a lovely way to review a children’s book! It was great to hear about the kinds of questions and interactions it prompted : ) I love the “struggle” page too.

    1. Thank you so much Julia! Yes it was really intriguing seeing my older one getting so immersed in it… The interview with Sarah that’s coming in a few days will be super revealing too. I’ll take this comment as an entry to the competition? Kate x

  5. I LOVE your blog! Have just subscribed to it. The book sounds so nice that I want to get it for my girls even though they’re almost too old. But what would be great, should I win it (wink, wink) to also buy it in German, so that they can improve their vocabulary.
    Either way, thanks for the post and the inspiration!

    1. Ahhhh Gabriele, so nice to have you with me! Thank you for your wonderful comments and yes it would be so nice of your girls to have it in German too! You’re on the list for the comp – it’s my youngest who draws the winners and I’ll put in a good word! xxx

  6. This book looks gorgeous, just like all the other things on your blog. I’m a avid follower and I’m not sure which of us has more fun with it, my daughter or me! Thanks x
    (PS also shared on FB.)

    1. Thank you Bryony! It’s a really great book that you’ll both like! More images from it coming on Monday when I publish Sarah’s interview… Kate x

  7. Hallo!!!!!!!
    Happy to see this GIVEAWAY event !!!!!:D
    I like Sarah Dyer and her family and her drawings so much!!!! Hope I can be one of the lucky ones this time:))))))))

    I shared on facebook, twitter, google, instagram already!!!!!! my friends will know it!!!!

    Thank you !!!!!<3 hehe

    1. Thanks for your very enthusiastic comment Eunice! Pleased to enter you into the comp and thank you for sharing. Kate x

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