Danny and the Dream Dog Blog Tour

Growing up I always dreamed of having a dog. With all my heart I wanted one. And now we could easily have one but I think about all the wo...

Growing up I always dreamed of having a dog. With all my heart I wanted one. And now we could easily have one but I think about all the work that they are and I wonder if it's the right time for us. And I think...

Well, I don't know what I think. I think from a practical point of view it's a bad idea. There's too many things to consider: puppy training, daily walks with two toddlers in tow, the fact that those two kids are handful enough, what happens when we want to go out all day, what about holidays, can we afford to get one, what breed... the list goes on and one. But my heart swells at that the thought of our bairns growing up with a loyal friend who would love them and I just want one. Who knows what we will decide. At least the kids aren't old enough to ask because I don't think I would say no.

But the little boy in Danny and the Dream Dog by Fiona Barker and Howard Gray, he really really wants a dog, he dreams about it. But his mum says no (for all the reasons I've listed above and more). So when elderly Mrs Owen moves into the flat below them and needs help walking her dog, Danny's mum volunteers him for the job. But Maximus, the dog, doesn't look like Danny's dream dog, he doesn't behave like Danny's dream dog, but it turns out Maximus brings a lot of joy, and new friendships into Danny's life and in the end Danny, his Mum, Mrs Owens and Maximus are all happy. Such a joyful ending.


The illustrations in the story bring to life the magic, and mundane of having a dog. I particularly love the scenes of all Danny's dream dogs floating, scarpering around his room as he slumbers - it really brings to life a child's dreams of owning a dog. The characters are so expressive - when Danny tries to beg, plead with his mother for a dog, his expression, and his puppy dog eyes, are perfectly depicted. The cast of characters in this story are wonderful and the illustrations add to the heart-warming nature of this book which is ultimately about finding friendship in unexpected places.


As part of our stop on the Danny and the Dream Dog Blog Tour, we are delighted to welcome Howard Gray, the illustrator of the story, to tell us a little bit more about what and who inspires him and how he came to bring Danny and Maximus to life.

I have fond memories of Roald Dahl growing up. I think his work is a big influence on my stories. Also, I love the old, classical stuff. Grimm and Anderson in particular! My Mum is Dutch, so we would occasionally go to the Efteling, which is an immersive fairy tale theme park in The Netherlands. I absolutely love It there. A great Dutch illustrator, Anton Pieck, was responsible for designing much of it. It’s very cool and I would recommend it to anyone. Although, I’m not 100% sure if anything is in English? It might be now. Along with Anton Pieck, I really like older illustrators like John Bauer and Arthur Rackham. My Mum collects antique children’s books, so that might be partly why I have a soft spot for that kind of style. I love the moodiness in their work. This comes through in my own artwork at times, I think, but contemporary children’s books generally call for bold and bright artwork. Something I am working towards having more of. Of contemporary children’s illustrators, I’m a big fan of Benji Davies, which is perhaps no surprise being an aspiring children’s author/illustrator who has been involved in a few dolphin stranding rescues (in Oman) – cf. ‘the storm whale’. I also love David Litchfield. There is something magical and twinkly about his every spread. I can just look at his artwork all day. Working digitally, I am in awe and admiration of Jonny Duddle’s work too. He truly is a master and big inspiration. There are so many other illustrators I love. Alex T Smith – I love his characters. Catherine Rayner – awesome animals! Karl J. Mountford – such a cool style. Richard Jones – where does he find his colours? I could go on and on. 
I am delighted to be represented by Bright. An agency that represents many of my favourite artists too. Shortly after I met Fiona, and agreed to work with her on Danny, I was approached by Bright who had seen my portfolio on social media to ask whether I was interested in representation. I absolutely was, of course. Now, a couple of years in things are going well and I am building towards bigger things – hopefully author/illustrating my own book one day. We’ll see. In the meantime, I am over the moon to have worked with Fiona on Danny and the Dream Dog which will be the first picture book featuring my illustrations. Can’t wait for you all to see it.
Thank you so much, Howard, for sharing that with us. To find out more about this wonderful book or learn more about it's creators check out the other stops on the blog tour, pictured below.

*Danny and the Dream Dog is released on 25th October* 

If you've got a kid who is desperate for a dog - why not give this book a try in the interim?
Happy Reading,
Mummy and the bairns xx




Disclaimer: I was sent Danny and the Dream Dog for  free for review purposes by the publishers. Words and opinions are my own. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to Amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on Amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-70p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.


5 New (to us) Halloween Picture Books

This spooky shelf might be one of my favourite ever creations as a book blogger - it's just so cute! And I love that the covers of t...


This spooky shelf might be one of my favourite ever creations as a book blogger - it's just so cute! And I love that the covers of the books are so well co-ordinated. This is BookBairn's fourth Halloween so I've curated a great selection of Spooky Books over the years and you can read about all of them by clicking here, and two that we have returned to over and over this year are Trick or Treat by Hayley Down and  Sarah Vince, and Spooky House by Aimee Chapman, Hannah Cockayne and Amy Oliver with illustrations by Dan Crisp. And this year we have added a few more to our collection.



Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski are a classic pair who have been haunting little readers for nearly thirty years and they still stand the test of time. Meg is preparing for a Halloween spell-fest with her friends, and Mog, her cat, tags along on her broom. But Meg's spell doesn't quite go as expected. With brilliant bright backgrounds, and characters that are enchanting, it's no wonder BookBairn is just another reader to fall under Meg and Mog's spell. A spooky joy to read!



I Am Bat by Morag Hood has to be BookBairn's current favourite read. It's not a surprise really as she loves Morag's other three books in this style of illustration and the crisp clear printing with simple colours and plain backgrounds really make the elements of the story stand out. It also means that there is no where to hide so the story has to be charming. And this one is. It's about a bat who likes cherries and does not want anyone, including you and your reader, to steal them. But they start to disappear. Reading this book requires a great sense of humor and some exasperated and exaggerated expressions but it's just so much fun! And BookBairn has given it her seal of approval.



A Werewolf Named Oliver James by Nicholas John Frith is my favourite new find - thank you our library - and it's the story of a little boy, Oliver James, who was just waiting for the bus when something strange happened. The moon appeared from behind a cloud and Oliver became a werewolf. And he thinks it's amazing! Until he realises that everyone he meets on his way home is frightened of him, and then he wonders what his parents are going to say when he gets home. He needn't worry as there's a wonderful twist at the end! The deep purple backgrounds give this book a wonderful eerie feel with an utterly spook-tacular little werewolf at the centre of each spread. The expressions on all the terrified passer-bys faces are wonderful and only upstaged by the perplexed look on werewolf Oliver's face. It's visually stunning and packed full of fun!



How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green was much lauded last year amongst picture book bloggers, but I didn't get a copy as I just felt BookBairn was too young for it, and to be honest she still is for the most part. Though she enjoys the illustrations and the little ghost, she doesn't really understand the humour in the book. But I wanted to share it because I love it. It's exactly what you would expect: a manual for how to make friends with a ghost. It includes a three-step guide with diagrams and recipes on everything from activities, bedtime and hiding spots. The ending is bittersweet as it talks about growing old with your ghost and then the girl character disappears and there are two ghosts instead. This touching on death and afterlife is handled very delicately but you may want to think about whether your child is at the right stage to understand this or their own experiences on this subject - you know your child best. The illustrations are adorable, and have charmed BookBairn, and I love the layout of the book. It may be one better for slightly older children but it's a wonderful book!




We got this book last year but BookBairn showed very little interest in reading it until I put it up on the shelf and she said "Mummy, that's Funnybones" after they had read it at nursery. I could have fist bumped the air as I love Funnybones by Janet and Allan Ahlberg and it's one of the few books that I remember from my childhood. I can recite the first page from memory! These three skeletons: big skeleton, little skeleton and dog skeleton are imprinted on me and now I get to enjoy the story with BookBairn. It's about these three skeletons and the wonderful mischief they get up to at night and it's a perfect example of everything a wonderful read aloud book should be. The illustrations are packed full of humour and the comic book style is great for readers like BookBairn who want to follow a slightly longer story. We just love it!

I hope you found some Spook-tacular stories here and 
Happy Halloween when the time comes!
Mummy, SpookBairn and The Wee Page Vampire (who struggles to resist taking a bite out of a book!) 


Disclaimer: We were bought or borrowed these books, none were gifted for review by publishers. Words and opinions are my own. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-70p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.




Touring Picture Book: Storm & Conker Crafts

We have already had our first autumn storm and when I took this book out for a walk to take some photos of it amongst the autumn leave...


We have already had our first autumn storm and when I took this book out for a walk to take some photos of it amongst the autumn leaves that feature on the cover, I discovered that one of the trees along the river which runs through our local park had lost a huge branch into the river in the last storm. So when we were choosing our latest book for Touring Picture Book Club, we felt that this one was the most relevant book for the moment!

Storm by Sam Usher is the final installment in the quartet of seasonal books which highlight the special relationship a boy has with his grandfather, as well as beautifully depicting the changing weather and landscapes around us. In this book, it's blowing a gale and the boy and his grandfather decide that it's perfect kite-flying weather! (Now personally I think it's a don't try this at home sort of story as it's far too stormy to actually fly a kite but we will let this book have some artistic license because it makes for a wonderful and atmospheric story.) But, of course, they can't find the kite. Isn't this always the way? As they search through the cupboards for their beloved kite, they happen across a whole cacophony of items that allow them to reminisce of wonderful memories of their days out together and the special bond that they have.  And each page of the search is interspersed with the increasingly stormy weather developing outside, including a rather hilarious elderly gent who gets more and more swept up by the storm! When they do eventually find their kite and make it outside, they have their best adventure yet. So much so that they actually take flight!



The magic of this book, for me, comes from the incredibly dramatic illustrations of the stormy weather, so much so that as you gaze at the pictures you can almost hear the wind blowing (or perhaps that's just me because it's blowing a gale here as I type). The colour-palette of the greys of the sky is truly perfect when set in contrast against the bright rainbow of kites that tear across it in the breeze. The selection of autumnal leaves which swirl on each page are crafted so beautifully you can feel their movement. This book really is a wonder! And it's a perfect read for autumn which is why it made our 15+ Autumn Reads to Cosy Up With list.


Conker Crafts


After the last storm we went on a woodland walk along the river near where we live to the best conker tree in town and collected over 100 conkers that had tumbled to the ground in the gales. BookBairn loves collecting conkers, especially if she can find ones that are still inside their shell that she can help out. I love having a shiny flat-bottomed one to keep in my pocket, so this is fun for us both but my pockets can't possibly store all those conkers - thank goodness for her brother's buggy. But we have so many I thought we would try our hand at crafting with them!

This is the best conker tree in our local area!

Before I share some of the craft ideas I just wanted to say that collecting conkers is a great way to keep the spiders in your house at bay. As someone who lives in a cottage built in 1760 there are plenty of opportunities for spiders to sneak in but whenever we have conkers lying around for the kids to play with they don't. The only spider I have seen recently (and it was blooming huge!) was when we collected this whole bag of conkers and I suspect it was promptly leaving after being dissuaded by the conkers.

If that's not reason enough to have conkers in your house, I've got a few ideas for how you can use them to keep the kids busy during the next stormy day.


Why not add a play tea set and some water and make conker tea? BookBairn loves doing this and can spend a whole afternoon coming back to this activity over and over.



Similarly you could add some water, wooden spoons and a pot (or witches cauldron) and make conker soup or potions. BookBairn enjoys adding other ingredients too such as large colourful buttons or food from her play kitchen.



Stick some mini googly eyes on the conkers and create little critters that with a little bit of imagination can get up to all sorts of mischief. BookBairn likes to play hide-and-seek with them.



Add some play dough and googly eyes and have lots of fun making snails and then playing with them afterwards - you could even paint the conkers to look like shells.



Create a small world play in a big box by adding some of your other toys. The Wee Page Turner likes to move them around with his diggers. And last year I made a small world for BookBairn with some woodland creature toys and a bit of leftover astroturf from our garden makeover.



Why not set a challenge to see who can make the tallest tower? We used playdough as cement to glue to the conkers together but you could try other things too - even glue! As you can see we didn't manage taller than five conkers that didn't quite last long enough for our photo!

Some other things we are going to try:

  • Currently we have some water and conker muffin trays and bowls freezing in the freezer and I'm going to give BookBairn lots of different tools to crack them open.

  • I like the idea of painting with them by putting some splodges of paint on paper in a large box and rolling them around to create a masterpiece!

  • I think I will try pairing some of the rounder ones with our ball run for The Wee Page Turner.

  • I saw on Instagram when I searched for #conkercrafts that you can use cocktail sticks and florists oasis to make a conker tree which I think would make for a lovely autumn display.
Of course, you could always just drill a whole in them, thread them on to a shoelace and play traditional conkers too! Hope that has inspired you to go and collect some conkers!

Check out the other activities happening across the Touring Picture Book Club and pop over to Along Came Poppy's Twitter to be in with a chance of winning a copy of Storm by Sam Usher of your very own!

Acorn Books - Autumn Sensory Basket

Along Came Poppy - Sensory Playdough for Autumn

Mamma Filz - Autumn Globe  

And look out for our next touring picture book - "The Boy and the Bear" by Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massini.


And if you've popped over from one of the other fabulous blogs - hello! And our regular readers - hello to you too! We would love to hear if you have any signed books that you love!

Happy Reading!
Mummy, BookBairn and the Touring Picture Book Team!


Disclaimer: all four bloggers were sent copies of the book after we reached out to the publisher and requested them and we were provided with an additional copy for the giveaway. Words and opinions are each of our own. 

If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to Amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on Amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-70p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.


Read With Me

Laura's Lovely Blog

Sing to the Moon Blog Tour

As we move away from summer sun into autumn winds and winter chills, you know there are going to be some rainy days where you are stuck...


As we move away from summer sun into autumn winds and winter chills, you know there are going to be some rainy days where you are stuck at home. But imagine living in a country where the rainy season happens twice a year and can last for months at a time. My kids love to get outside and run around and I've noticed that recently BookBairn's imagination really takes flight when she is outdoors. So the prospect of keeping this imaginative little kids entertained during rainy days will take a lot of imagination of my own. Lucky for us we have some wonderful books to entertain and inspire us!

And one that has brought home that exact message - that stories entertain and inspire - is Sing to the Moon by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and Sandra van Doorn. This is the story of a little Ugandan boy and his grandfather who get stuck indoors by a rainy day (one of many during Uganda's two rainy seasons) and with an overactive imagination being stuck indoors provides one thing: boredom. Or does it? 



Over the opening pages, we meet the little boy and delve into his imagination - intergalactic adventures, ocean voyages, forest picnics with mythical beasts. But when he awakes to pouring rain, he becomes disheartened. His grandfather, Jjajja, tells him stories of his childhood as they do chores around the house and the the stories of lost cities, kings and crooks and even the beginning of the universe. And suddenly the day has passed. But more than that, they have grown closer, strengthening their love, and creating a little bit of real magic.


This is a lovely story sharing the love of hand-me-down storytelling from one generation to another. And is illustrated with beautiful subtlety and softness, with great contrast between the moments filled with wonder and those of grey rainy day sadness. It really is beautifully brought to life.

We are delighted to welcome Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl to share her thoughts on what inspired her to write for children as part of the blog tour.

How, by writing for children, I unexpectedly connected the dots...

Children's book authors often get asked why they write for children. For me, it was quite simple really. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I could not find a book about Uganda that spoke to the country's beauty and magic in a way that resonated with me. As it turned out, I was also then writing to fill a gap for other children who longed to see their culture or country or community reflected in an everyday story.

I loved to read as a child (still do) and I write for my day job, albeit in a totally different context, so my leap (of faith) into children's literature was not such a stretch. But since my first attempt at writing for children a few years ago, I have conceptualized an unimaginable number of ideas for children's books. What I have now realized is that writing books for kids, in the most organic way, has allowed me to combine several of my interests...

I work in international development during the day where I write for global programs in education, social protection, and public health. I also have an arts consultancy with my husband where we aim to advance the creative and cultural sectors using contemporary African art as a platform (archivalafrica.com). In short, I have life-long interests in culture, art, social justice, and storytelling. Children's book writing has unexpectedly allowed for the merging of these interests into one crisp (and hopefully impactful) offering.

While kids' books are encouraged not to be didactic, I often have a social justice or cultural empowerment thread running through my work even if it's not obvious. I don't set out to do this as I write from my heart, this is just how the books manifest. In addition, although it's not typical for authors to have inputs into the illustration process, I have been fortunate enough to work on two books with the same incredible publisher and incredibly-talented illustrator, both of whom have valued my contributions. This is also where my interest in art fits nicely as the prose and illustration literally transform children's books into 'works of art' once finished. Finally, and perhaps ultimately, writing books allows me to tell a very simple story. That story will invariably be about love: love of family, love of culture, love of simple days (like the ones in my current book, Sing to the Moon), love of dreams, any number of loves - love being the ultimate dot connector.

In this way, writing for children has given me the pleasure of endlessly connecting the meaningful and magnificent dots in my life. Initially, I did not write for this reason, but this certainly is what keeps pushing me forward. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Nansubuga, for sharing that with us. To find out more about this wonderful book or learn more about it's creators check out the other stops on the blog tour, pictured below.


If you struggle for a rainy day activity, why not pick up a wonderful book, like this one?
Happy Reading,
Mummy and the bairns xx



Disclaimer: I was sent Sing to the Moon for  free for review purposes by the publishers. Words and opinions are my own. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to Amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on Amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-70p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.


15+ Great Autumn Reads to Cosy Up With

We are just moving into the best season to curl up and cosy up with a good book! And we have read lots of really great books recently...



We are just moving into the best season to curl up and cosy up with a good book! And we have read lots of really great books recently. I have shared our favourite Autumn stories (linked here) if you're looking for a seasonal book, so in this post I'm just sharing our 'Favourites Shelf' books. The books that we have read over and over again in the last couple of months. And as The Wee Page Turner continues to develop his own reading taste (I think he might enjoy books more than his sister as he chooses books over toys so many times a day!), I've included some of the books that he grabs out of the book basket most often alongside BookBairn's favourite books at the moment. 

Here are our most recent favourites and repeat-reads:


A Little Owl Called Hooty and The Mysterious Apples by Diana C Vickery & Danny Deeptown



One of the first signs for us that the seasons are changing is when we go and pick apples off the apple trees in our garden, so reading The Mysterious Apples by Diana C. Vickery & Danny Deeptown is the perfect way to start our autumn reading. It's the story of two squirrels, Yasmin and Yo-yo who collect as many apples as they can carry. But these greedy little squirrels have eyes bigger than their drey can hold and they have to find a bigger place to stash their apple hoard. Unfortunately for them they decide to put their apple hoard in a basket by the cottage door and Mum is surprised to find that someone has picked the apples for her and she makes an apple pie. Written in delightful rhyme, with wonderful illustrations packed with garden and woodland creatures, this is a lovely autumn read. We previously review it here.

Also in the series is A Little Owl Called Hooty (by the same author and illustrator) and stars some of our favourite woodland creatures and two benevolent cats, Swankypants and Chatterbox. Hooty is a baby owl who has watched all his brothers and sisters leave the nest and despite his hunger he struggles to leave his branch. He is afraid of heights. Not much use for a hungry little owl. Swankypants and Chatterbox look on, trying to encourage Hooty to find the courage to overcome his fear. What a lovely story of friendship, love and conquering one's fears. The illustrations are beautiful and filled with detail allowing older readers to count the numerous butterflies fluttering across every page. The colour-palette is limited to autumnal tones making it a piece of artwork worthy of the magical story. Our original review, and a very little BookBairn, is linked here.



If you have a child under the age of ten, you will have come across this series before. The That's Not My... books by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells are some of the best baby books with textured elements that little fingers can explore. We love them and our library has a great collection so we picked up some autumnal creatures to enjoy over the next few weeks. You could buy endless numbers of these books, and they really are great, but worth checking out what your library has too so you can try before you buy. I particularly like the hedgehog as the very final page is delightfully prickly!


As the seasons begin to change and children can see the leaves on the trees change colour and then start to fall, it's wonderful to pair what they can see in their world around them with magical and beautiful storytelling. Following the life cycle of a tree through all the seasons has never been so beautiful in a book as brought to life by the incredibly talented (and a favourite of ours) Britta Teckentrup. In Seasons Come, Seasons Go: Tree, the clever die-cuts on each page are wonderful to add depth to the illustrations, and now in a board book edition, it's perfect for little fingers to explore as you read the lyrical rhyming couplets. Part poem, part work of art, part non-fiction, this book is a beautiful journey for little ones learning about the changing seasons. And it might also make us grown ups stop and appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature around us.



One of the fun things to do in autumn is woodland walks and conker gathering, and we are very lucky to live in a country town with several buggy friendly woodlands withing walking distance from our house. BookBairn has loved seeing the leaves change colour and fall off the trees. BookBairn adores the character in Tidy by Emily Gravett and finds the main character Pete's preoccupation with falling leaves fascinating. When all the leaves falls off the trees in Pete's forest, he cannot resist the urge to tidy them all away. And then the trees look rather scrappy without their leaves on them. So they get tidied too. Until the forest becomes a concrete abyss. Badger has taken it a little bit too far. But is it too late? With humour and delightful illustrations, this is a lovely autumn read. BookBairn just loves this story so much!




You will notice that there are quite a few books with woodland settings on this list. Woodland settings just lend themselves so well to autumn colours and creatures so I think that's why I associate them with this time of year. Everybody's Welcome by Patricia Hegarty and Greg Abbott promotes the ideals of refuge, inclusivity and friendship at a level even the littlest readers will understand. Mouse is building a house in the middle of the wood. When Frog's pond dries up and he has no where to live, Mouse suggests that they build a home together:



"Everybody's welcome,


no matter who they are, 

Wherever they may come from,

whether near or far."



Accompanied by beautiful illustrations that BookBairn loves to pore over, spotting all her favourite creatures, this magical book really teaches little ones about acceptance, generosity and to empathise with others. Our full review of this one can be found here.




Sunny days in autumn make for perfect walks. BookBairn, The Wee Page Turner and I explored a lovely walk near us and enjoyed looking at all the wonderful things around us: ducks, pine cones, geese, leaves, robins, squirrels, mushrooms, blackberries and more besides. And we could have spent ages counting them. We basically brought 123: A Walk in the Countryside by Rosalind Beardshaw to life. This is simply a counting book 1-20 of autumn flora and fauna. But it's exactly what you see out there on a autumn walk, making it perfect for text to life connections and bringing books to life. The illustrations are sweet, packed with details and capture the wonder of autumn time.




This is a book that we haven't read recently but I couldn't not have it on the list because when BookBairn was about 18 months old we read it over and over every night. Peek-Through Forest by Jonathan Litton and Kasia Nowowiejska is a woodland search and find for very little kids with accompanying text that tells a little bedtime story, as well as a side-flap on each page that has facts about the animals. The woodland creatures are sometimes hiding under the numerous flaps and are beautifully illustrated. That's a lot to pack into one little book. It's a great one for the youngest readers shelf!




Another woodland based story, Almost Anything by Sophy Henn is a wonderful story about self-confidence and stars a whole cast of woodland creatures. George, the rabbit, thinks he can’t paint, bowl, dance or skate like his friends and he’s too afraid to try. Bear makes him a magic hat to give him the courage to try and when he does it turns out he can skate, and dance and read and a whole host of other things! But then George loses his hat, and his confidence with it. How will he be able to join in with his friends? If he can't do all the new things he has learned how will he have fun? So Bear tells him the truth: the magic didn’t come from the hat, it came from inside. Now doesn’t that sound like a magic picture book? When you feel like everyone else can do something but you can’t it can leave you feeling lonely and left out. And in this book little ones will see that all they need is a little bit of confidence to try, resillience if they fail, and friends to help them find their own magic to succeed. And if all else fails - a paper hat might do the trick! We reviewed this one and selected it as our best book of the first quarter of the year, you can read about it here.



In autumn, BookBairn enjoys seeing the night sky and gazing up at the moon and the stars. Stardust by Jeanne Willis and Briony May Smith is the most wonderful book for making your children feel special. The little girl in the story is constantly outshone by her big sister - she's the star, the centre of attention. Until her granddad shares the secret that we are all made of stardust. We are all special. The illustrations are magical and I love the use of a darker colour palette for all the nighttime scenes. BookBairn and I just love reading this one, and it's a nice little reminder to read at the moment to remind her she's a star. She even says "mummy we are all made of stardust" - what better message to share with your little ones than that? 




During autumn, we have started to enjoy some spookier stories, perhaps it's the influence of Halloween, and perhaps it's that BookBairn enjoys stories with the big bad wolf in them at the moment. Either way, Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen is a story of bravery when faced with a terrible beast and set in a forest so it's a perfect autumn read. When a terrible beast starts roaming the forest in search of tiny creatures to make a big bowl of monster soup, Billy and her Fatcat cannot let him get away with it. He's got boil in a bag bunnies, spicy mice and grated hedgehog all on his list but can Billy outwit this ferocious beast and save the inhabitants of the forest? Packed full of humour, fun illustrations and a heroine who stashes doughnuts in her hair for emergencies this is a brilliant new fable that will empower as well as make you giggle.




Two autumn stories rolled into one! A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton is the same story but told from two different perspectives. Firstly from the side of a little girl who finds a strange creature in the forest who she hears as squeaking sadly, so she wraps him up and takes him home, looks after him, shows him to her friends until one day he escapes out of the window. And then for the point of view of the creature who is happily swinging from the trees, squealing in delight when a little girl kidnaps him, feeds him squirrel food (he is not a squirrel) and lets her beastly friends poke and prod him, so he takes his opportunity for freedom. So who is the beast? And is there a compromise to create a happy ending? 




Just the cover of Not Lost by John Bond is so evocative of autumn. Mini Rabbit really really wants his mother's berry cake, but when they run out of berries, he sets off before his mother has a chance to stop him. He passes people along the way, all of whom try to warn him not to stray too far from home in search of berries (especially as in each scene there are berries hidden) but Mini Rabbit is single-mindedly hunting for berries on his own. Until he finally finds one, of course, but then he realises that he really is lost. How can he find his way home again? But wait, he can smell something... cake! He follows the scent all the way home. But with a hilarious twist (in typical toddler fashion) at the end, this one will have you laughing out loud. BookBairn just giggles and giggles at the ending! I adore the colour palette in this and I love the deceptive simplicity with which Mini Rabbit is brought to life. 




Cosying up with a story for autumn reading means that you need to have a comfy reading nook or chair to curl up in, right? Are You Sitting Comfortably? by Leigh Hodgkinson is a brilliant rhyming story of finding just the right spot to read. With illustrations that are packed full of great patterns and creatures and a rustic colour palette make it a lovely one to cosy up and read together.



We have some lovely apple trees in our garden and BookBairn loves picking the apples of the trees and putting them in her basket. Hungry Bunny by Claudia Rueda is an interactive book where little ones have to do as the book tells them to help hungry bunny get apples. Shake the book to make them fall down. BookBairn really enjoys seeing the reactions when she turns the page to see her actions have made something happen in the story. This is a great read for little ones and has been perfect re-reading for over autumn! 

Sweep by Louise Greg & Julia Sarda


You could easily believe that Sweep by Louise Greig and Julia Sarda is just about sweeping up autumn leaves. But it's about so much more! The whole story, and illustration, is a wonderful metaphor for a bad mood. Ed gets swept up by his bad mood - not a storm in a teacup sort of bad mood, this is something much much worse. He can't look up and see the beauty around up. He just sweeps sweeps sweeps everything and everyone up into his bad mood. Until an autumn breeze comes along to sweep his bad mood away. The illustrations in this are visually striking and dramatic and you don't want to miss out on this one!

We have already had our first autumn storm and it certainly was blowing a gale just like in this book. I'm not sure that a storm is perfect kite-flying weather in real life (don't try this at home) but, in Storm by Sam Usher, a boy and his grandad decide that it's the perfect day to fly a kite. If they can find it that is! Their search brings up wonderful memories of their days out together and the special bond that they have. And each page of the search is interspersed with the increasingly stormy weather developing outside. When they do eventually find their kite and make it outside, they have their best adventure yet. But best get home before it gets too stormy!


So those are our most recent favourite reads! What have you been enjoying reading recently? And if you can't wait to see our next quarterly installment of our Favourites Shelf, I always include a book or two in our monthly Little Loves blog posts!

Happy Autumn Reading,
Mummy, BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner




Disclaimer: Some of these books were borrowed from the library or ones that I was bought myself. I was sent some of these books for  free for review purposes by the publishers. Words and opinions are my own. And I was not obliged to share any of them as part of this or any other blog post - selecting them for review was my choice. Please read our review policy if you want to know more. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to Amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on Amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-70p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section..




                  

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