It's that very spooky time of year again and BookBairn has been enjoying the Halloween fun! We've been embracing pumpkins by playi...

Spook-Bairn's Halloween Reads

Sunday, October 30, 2016 BookBairn 6 Comments

It's that very spooky time of year again and BookBairn has been enjoying the Halloween fun! We've been embracing pumpkins by playing with miniature pumpkin pots and conkers (chestnuts) counting them as she plays; painting pumpkins, creating Halloween sticker pictures and getting all dressed up for Halloween parties. Just the big night tomorrow to go out guising (trick or treating).

And, of course, we've been reading some spooky books to get in the mood! I bought a bundle of new books for BookBairn this Halloween but I will be completely honest with you: she prefers reading the ones from last year! We've read Spooky House countless times and Boo! just makes her giggle galore! To read our previous reviews click here and here. But that's not to say she hasn't been spooked by her new reads too!

I absolutely adore the BabyLit books by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver and when I saw that they had classic dark horror stories I couldn't resist! Unfortunately I couldn't get 'Dracula' in our local bookshop and it was going to be delivered after Halloween if I ordered online so I picked out 'Frankenstein' instead and it has been a brilliant read! Like all the BabyLit books this a vocabulary primer based around a classic text and is as much fun for adults as it is with children! BookBairn has certainly enjoyed this one in particular as she is loving singing "head, shoulders, knees and toes" at the moment. Each page introduces a new part of the body and the opposite page builds it onto the Frankenstein character. Alison Oliver has again done an incredible job of making complicated literary texts accessible to little readers through irresistible illustrations that are less monstrous and appropriately adorable for the young audience! Another fantastic addition to our collection!

Another great Halloween primer book that we have been reading is 'Halloween ABC'  by Jannie Ho. An alphabet of all things Halloween: perfect for introducing little readers to the idea of Halloween and the season! BookBairn has enjoyed flipping through these pages and has learned lots of new words like "ghostie", "pumpkin" and "witch". A great little vocabulary-builder. The illustrations in this book are more treat than trick with cute monsters, silly zombies and smiley bats. Perfectly-pitched for toddlers and little ones (or for grown-ups who spook easily). As this is an alphabet book, it is limited in holding BookBairn's attention as she already shows a preference for stories and has moved on from primer books for the moment (not that it stops me from buying them of course!). Instead, I gave her charge of turning the pages and we started a simple game of "can you find ...?" which was great fun!

 We've also been reading 'The Haunted House' by Kazuno Kohara (who wrote and illustrated 'The Midnight Library' which is one of BookBairn's repeat library borrows!). Illustrated using only orange, black and white, this book is a perfect Halloween tale. A little girl moves into a new house to discover that it is haunted! But this little girl isn't just a little girl, she's a witch and she knows just what to do with the ghosts. First she catches them and wrangles them into the washing machine! Of course, the washing machine - why didn't I think of that?! And then she hangs them out on the washing line. Finally, she puts them to new use as tablecloths, blankets and curtains. What a sweet story! And perfect for putting any little minds to rest about how to deal with ghosts. BookBairn loves counting the ghosties on the page and it would make great inspiration for older ones artwork. I love the strong colour contrasts and bold lines that are typical of Kohara's illustrations and this is just perfect for Halloween!

Finally, a book I couldn't resist but it turns out it was more for me than for BookBairn! 'Boo! Haiku' by Deanna Caswell and Bob Shea is a book filled with Halloween haikus (a style of Japenese poetry) set in the for of riddles. Each page shares a three line poem describing a typical Halloween character and the idea is you guess the solution before turning the page to reveal a cute and colourful illustrated solution. Such a great way to use the page-turn to interact with readers! This is a brilliant book and would make a great teaching resource but, unfortunately, it's not for BookBairn yet. It's a little too complicated for a toddler and perhaps I should have read the description more carefully before ordering. However, I really enjoyed it. And I can save it for future Halloweens!

Hope you all have a spooky Halloween tomorrow night! And I promise to share some pictures of Spook-Bairn all dressed up back here later this week! *UPDATE* BookBairn had a great time as a little witch and she enjoyed the sweeties even more!

Happy haunting!
Mummy and Spook-Bairn xx


One of the best things about writing this blog is that we get lots of lots of book parcels in the post and if you have seen our Instagram ac...

A Monthly Delivery of Book Post

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 BookBairn 8 Comments

One of the best things about writing this blog is that we get lots of lots of book parcels in the post and if you have seen our Instagram account or read our post 'Stalking the Postman' you will know how much BookBairn loves to run to the door and collect the parcels, even the heavy ones, and drag them to open. Today she had a lovely moment as I spotted the postman walking towards the house and we ran to greet him. She took the parcel and politely said "ta" and I really hope that she made his day, because the post definitely brings BookBairn much joy.

But you can share this 'book post' joy with your little ones as there are now some new and fantastic book subscription services available in the UK. I have long been jealous of some of the subscription boxes available in Australia and the US but the postage is just extortionate. But now I'm delighted that we can join the fun in here too!

The Little Reading Club

Now, before we go into saying much about this subscription service, can I just say how amazing the packaging is? What little kid (or big kid) could resist the bright shiny red padded envelope! Anyway, not to be distracted by shiny things...

This service provides a monthly delivery of three books based around a specific theme for the month. I was concerned about joining any subscription services as we have quite a lot of books already and are sometimes sent new books by publishers before their release, which made me concerned about duplication. But of the books we received we only got one doubler and it's so good I'm going to re-gift it anyway. The three books chosen in the 'friendship and kindness' theme are beautiful, funny and sweet.

Firstly, 'Have you Seen Elephant?' by David Barrow is a cute and funny story about an elephant who wants to play hide and seek, but, of course, being an elephant, he's not very good at hiding. The little boy plays along nonetheless. It also has an adorable ending featuring a tortoise who wants to play chase! 'Grandad's Island' by Benji Davis is one that I have had my eye on for a while and it didn't let me down. A magical tale about a little boy who goes on an adventure with his grandad to find a beautiful tropical island, reminiscent of the old man's adventure in the Disney film 'Up!' When Grandad decides to stay, the story beautifully, softly and subtly, shows us that no matter how far away the people we love are, we still hold them close in our hearts. Yes, it's a tear-jerker. And Benji Davis's illustrations are wonderful! Adorable characters, bright and colourful scenery and tropical animals for BookBairn to spot - this is a perfect combination of beautiful storytelling and magical artwork. The final book in the parcel was 'The Smartest Giant in Town' by the dynamic duo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Written in Julia Donaldson's trademark style mixing fabulous prose and rhyme, the book tells the story of George the giant who wants to be the smartest giant in town. But as it turns out he's not that smart. But he stumbles through and find himself a new, more appropriate title, the kindest giant in town. And paired with Axel Scheffler's illustrations it is a delightful tale!

To add a little sparkle to this book service (as if the envelope wasn't sparkly enough), alongside a list of the book titles and why they were chosen, is a little gift and activity for wee bookworms. As this month's theme was 'friendship' we were given two started friendship bracelets one labelled with BookBairn's name and another to give to a friend. Perhaps not the easiest for little fingers still developing their fine motor skills but I finished the bracelets for her and she can now share with her bestie.

The Little Reading Club have several subscription options available to view on their website here.

The Happy Book Club
The Happy Book Club is more than just a book subscription box - it's a rainy day lifesaver! Each month is themed and includes two books with a huge suggestions of activities included too. We received their 'Imagination' themed box and what an absolute delight it was! You can see BookBairn enjoying collecting it below!

Firstly, the books: this parcel included two wonderful books - one of which I have wanted for a while, and another of which I hadn't even heard of. 'The Wonder' by Faye Hanson is the magnificent story of inside a little boy's imagination. Simply using a muted colour palette for the 'real world' in contrast to the spectrum of colours used in his imagination, Faye Hanson beautifully crafts a story about what it is like inside the mind of a child. You could pour over these illustrations for hours. Also included in the box was 'Use You Imagination' by Nicola O'Byrne where a wolf and a rabbit make up a truly ridiculous story as they go along. This makes me think of trying to encourage children to write stories at school as they come up with the strangest and most brilliant ideas when telling stories! Bright and colourful with a huge pull-out spread at the end, this is a delightful and imaginative book that will encourage little readers to make up stories of their very own.

Also included in The Happy Book Club parcel was a little brown paper bag packed with crafty bits like pipe cleaners, lollipop sticks, pop poms and feathers to create whatever your heart, or imagination desires. Perfect for a rainy day! The newsletter included as has a long list of activity suggestions to help explore your children's imagination as well as a competition based on the crafts. One of the other lovely things that makes this subscription service stand out is that every month they donate a proportion of every delivered package to a charity, which changes monthly.

The Happy Book Club have several subscription options as well as a special Christmas Book Package that would make a great gift for little bookbairns. You can find their website here.

So a great choice of services for little bookworms! These subscription services would make great gifts for Christmas as the children get to enjoy the magic of a monthly parcel in the post just for them!

BookBairn is certainly awaiting the postman's arrival tomorrow, let's hope there is a parcel in the post for her!

Love Mummy and BookBairn xx

*Disclaimer* We received both of the book subscription services free for one month in exchange for sharing on our social media and writing an honest review. The words and opinions are my own. To read more about my review policy click here.


Our Autumn/Halloween Favourites Shelf I'm going to start today's post by apologising - I haven't been a very consistent blo...

Favourites Shelf - October 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016 BookBairn 10 Comments

Our Autumn/Halloween Favourites Shelf

I'm going to start today's post by apologising - I haven't been a very consistent blogger recently and I've missed it. But I have struggled with concentrating to write posts that I'm happy sharing, we have been away on holiday, BookBairn caught Hand Foot and Mouth and was incredibly poorly and then last week I caught tonsillitis and was stuck in my bed. However, we are all on the mend. And we have lovely, happy news to share.

BookBairn is going to be a big sister. I'm thrilled to be expecting another baby BookBairn. And I hope you will forgive me for being a bit preoccupied recently. But I am now feeling better and have my full blogging faculties back! I have tried to keep you up to date on some of our recent bookish moments on our social media pages which can be found here:

So I thought I would start by updating you all on some of the books we've been reading from our Favourites Shelf.

First Stories: Jungle Book by Miriam Bos
This was one of the books that we took away on holiday with us (you have no idea how difficult I found it to take only a small selection!). But this one really captured her imagination and she became quite obsessed with the page featuring a waterfall as we had seen these when out on some walks on holiday. We had also watched some scenes from the film and she really enjoyed seeing the elephants marching so she also liked to find the elephant illustration and stomp her feet. This series of books, by a variety of illustrators, are short but incredibly cleverly constructed so that little ones can really play with the mechanisms and they are super-sturdy. We've had ours for nearly a year and there is no sign of wear and tear at all! To see our full review of the series click here. (Also, at time of writing these books are on a super deal on at the moment for only £2.99 so would make a great stocking filler for little ones at Christmas. Sorry, I don't normally advertise but this is such a good deal that I had to share!)

Together by Emma Dodd
If you read the blog regularly you will know that I adore the stories by Emma Dodd (in fact, they are the books that I wish I had written!) and 'Together' is no exception! This is a lovely story about a parent and baby otter who spend all the day together playing, learning, enjoying. It's truly beautiful. BookBairn really enjoyed reading this one a lot whilst we were away and when I picked it out to take a quick snapshot for this post she wanted to read it again and again. She really enjoys the page of the otters swimming and blowing bubbles and chasing each other along the beach. These stories by Emma Dodd make a fantastic gift for new babies and parents will enjoy reading them as much as little ones do! Great for re-reading over and over again! To see some photos from Together click here.

Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt and Sarah Massini
You will no doubt be able to tell from the title that this book is sort of a motto for our life! BookBairn really enjoys reading this one and she is beginning to use the rhyming couplets to be able to join in with reading the story. She also likes to revisit the page 'book park' with the swings and 'book sunny' which has a little girl reading on the beach! These are two of her favourite activities so she no doubt enjoys them for that reason. She also joins in with reading the last page "books always everywhere!" which makes me smile! Read our full blog post here.

Boo! by Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway
It's just getting into that spooky season so I thought I should dig out some of the Halloween books that I read with BookBairn last year and she loves them! She has re-named this book "peek boo" when she wants to read it because she enjoys peeking through the die-cuts to see what's coming next. She also likes to poke her fingers back through the holes and thinks it's hilarious if you tickle her from the other side. This is such a cute Halloween book and introduces some of the key words associated with Halloween. To see cute little BookBairn peeking through this one a year ago, click here, and honestly - she's too cute in these photos!

Spooky House by Roger Priddy
Another spooky book we've been enjoying again is 'Spooky House' which is jam-packed with lift-the-flaps on every page. BookBairn loves exploring through the haunted house, lifting all the flaps to discover the spooky goings-on as the characters prepare for their Halloween party. She particularly giggles at finding the gremlin in the toilet! Perhaps slightly spookier and less cute than 'Boo!' this is a great introduction to some of the scarier characters of Halloween without frightening little ones. Read our full review here.

Hope you've enjoyed reading about our favourite books of the moment. I'll aim to update this list once every six weeks or so, so keep an eye out for changes to our favourites list.

Mummy and BookBairn xx

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I know things have been rather quiet here recently. Between sickness bugs (plural) and a holiday I've found that I've not had a hu...

Banned Books Week: And Tango Makes Three

Monday, October 03, 2016 BookBairn 9 Comments

I know things have been rather quiet here recently. Between sickness bugs (plural) and a holiday I've found that I've not had a huge amount of time to blog. We have still found lots and lots of time to read. And in fact I had to take a library of books with us on our holidays to keep little miss BookBairn happy. If you've missed our blog posts, I apologise - hopefully we are over the bugs and I'll have a bit more time to write again. I have still managed to keep our Instagram account up to speed with our latest book post and some favourites so if you want to see what we've been up to please pop on over and peruse!

Anyway, back to the books...

Last week was 'Banned Books Week' - a concept that I find wholly bizarre. Who's out there banning books? Surely they are there to push boundaries, expose truths, comment on society and challenge our thinking. Last year, BookBairn and I enjoyed reading 'The Family Book' by Todd Parr and reviewed it on the blog. This year, I discovered another controversial family book that I just love!

Celebrating it's tenth year, 'And Tango Makes Three' by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell with illustrations by Henry Cole, is based on the true story of two male penguins who raised a chick in te New York Central Park Zoo. And apparently, even ten years on, this book is still one of America's 'most complained about books'.

Roy and Silo do everything a normal penguin couple do: the bow to each other, they walk together, the sing to each other, and swim alongside each other. They even copy the other penguins and build a nest together. What they can't have is an egg to sit on. Part of the role of male penguins is that they sit of the eggs, often for months, waiting for the female to return with food, but Roy and Silo are denied this role due to the biological restrictions of being a male-male penguin couple. They watch on as the other penguin couples take turn sitting on their eggs and watching them hatch. Roy and Silo sweetly try sitting on a pebble hoping that will do the trick but alas no baby penguin hatches. Having watched all this going on Mr Gramzay, the penguin keeper has an idea: he gives them an abandoned egg to look after. Roy and Silo take turns sitting on the egg until one day they hear a "peep, peep, peep". They have their very own baby whom Mr Gramzay names Tango (after all it takes two to make a Tango!). Roy and Silo sing for her, feed her, snuggle her. Tango is the only penguin in the zoo to have two daddies!

What a delightful story! This is such a heart-warming tale that shows that all you really need to make a family is love. It is a beautiful story made all the sweeter for the fact that it is based on real penguins whose story you can read about in the author's note at the end. The illustrations in this book are delicate, using a simple colour palette featuring mainly blues and browns for the zoo landscape and soft black, white and grey for the penguins. Roy and Silo are such sweetly expressive little penguins it's hard not to fall for them. Given that this book is based on a true story, the penguins featured are Chinstrap Penguins rather than some of the more familiar breeds which makes this book all the more unique.

We all know that life is rarely simplified into black and white, and is more of a fuzzy (fluffy) shades of grey and to simplify this book into 'inappropriate' or 'banned' seems, to me, to be as equally simple-minded.

In my previous post about Banned Books I said that I wanted BookBairn to know that "not all families are the same and that's ok." I couldn't re-write this any better.

Love and Happy Reading from our unique family to yours,
Mummy and BookBairn xx

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