Broomsticks, jack-o’-lanterns, haunted houses, tricks and treats, ghostly games, neighbourhood parties, skeletons, Frankenstein, candy c...

KidLit Picks October Round Up - Halloween

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 BookBairn 2 Comments

Broomsticks, jack-o’-lanterns, haunted houses, tricks and treats, ghostly games, neighbourhood parties, skeletons, Frankenstein, candy corn… the list goes on. All things fun and fearsome come out at Halloween. There are children who countdown the days until that frightfully fantastic night when they get to dress up as anything imaginable, hang out with family and friends, and eat bucketloads of candy. The build-up adds to the excitement—carving pumpkins, decorating your home with scary spiders, tombstones and fake zombie arms, picking out your costume, baking apple pies, watching spooky movies and reading Halloween stories.

Throughout October, @kidlitpicks shared standout Halloween-themed books for your children to enjoy. These are sure to delight kids eager for the festivities to start and ease the fears of others that may be a little anxious about the hair-raising holiday. Books are good like that. We hope that you too will dust the cobwebs off your favourite Halloween stories, those scary and those not so scary, and join us! Thanks to Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore for our spooky scary theme!

Bonaparte Falls Aparte, by Margery Cuyler and Will Berry
“Bonaparte Falls Apart, by Margery Cuyler and Will Terry, is a tender story with considered and playful words, one that kids will love because of its relatable subject matter, fun, spooky characters, humorous mishaps, and the sweetest resolve.” — Summer from @readingisourthing

Maurice the Unbeastly, by ​​Amy Dixon and Karl James Mountford
“Halloween means scary beasts, ghoulish hijinks, and . . . strange eating habits?" — Mel from @spiky_penelope

Spells, Baby Jesus, by Emily "Gribbitt" Gravett
"This book can be used as a seasonal book or a book on fairy tales. Leah from @astoryaday

Huge Makes a Change, by Scott Emmons and Mauro Gatti
“This is a beautifully designed book and a sweet story all about the world’s cutest little vampire and his adventure discovering fruits and vegetables.” — Clarissa from @book.nerd.mommy

Trick or Treat!, by Sarah Vince and Hayley Down
“It's ingenious and so much fun to read!” —  Kim from @bookbairn

One Spooky Night: A Halloween Adventure, by Kate Stone
“This festive read is perfect for preschoolers.” — Miranda from @bookbloom

Emu's Halloween, by Anne Mangan and David Cornish
“Emu's Halloween puts an Aussie spin on Halloween celebrations.”  Carissa from @bookskidslove_

Monster Needs a Costume, by Paul Czajak and Wendy Grieb 
“Monster needs to find a Halloween costume!”  Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore

Fright Club, by Ethan Long
This is a fun Halloween read with delightfully spooky illustrations that had my boys laughing throughout.” — Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

A Monster Alphabet: The ABCs of Screams!, by Gillia M Olson
From “A” for Afraid to “Z” for Zombies my little guys where howling in delight!” — Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

Goldfish Ghost, by Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown
“This not-so-scary ghost story is perfect for kids who are spooked by the usual Halloween characters and also reminds us that we all need kindness, companionship and a place to call home.”  Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream, by Monica Brown and Angela Dominguez
“Can Lola learn from her mistake and still have a Happy Halloween?” — Charnaie from @hereweeread

Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World, by Joy Keller and Misa Saburi
“A perfect not-so-spooky tale for monster lovers, truck lovers, and those that just need a good bedtime story.” — Heather from @kidlitbookbits

No Such Thing, by Ella Bailey
“Hopefully your kids will have as much fun as mine did finding all the mischievous ghosts in this not-so-spooky book.” — Anna from @kidlitcrafts

First Day at Skeleton School, by Sam Lloyd
“What a great book to read for Halloween.” — Mel from

November is the month for counting up and counting down. Our theme, chosen and introduced by Kim @bookbairn (it's me!!!), is Counting and Numbers. 

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

We are fast-approaching the season of the countdown. Children are getting more and more excited counting down the days, lighting candles, opening advent calendars of all shapes and sizes – we will be having a book-a-day for our advent season. Parents are getting more and more frantic to get organised as the days disappear. It’s the time of year that everyone practises counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…

A study several years ago by researchers from the Institute of Education in London found that children who receive bedtime stories from their parents as infants perform better in vocabulary and spelling but also in maths. Reading supports numeracy. Books are full of numbers and images for counting.

Next month the @kidlitpicks team will be sharing books about counting up and counting down. Join in by tagging your favourite Counting and Number books with #kidlitpicks_numbers

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


It can't have escaped your notice that the bairns and I live in Scotland! And there are some great bookish experiences that being Sco...

My First Scottish Books

Monday, October 30, 2017 BookBairn 8 Comments

It can't have escaped your notice that the bairns and I live in Scotland! And there are some great bookish experiences that being Scottish affords us. Firstly, the Bookbug scheme - all children in Scotland receive four bags of books before the end of their first year at school and each bag contains at least three books along with other goodies like drawing materials and simple toys. Bookbug also runs sessions in our libraries (and other venues) where children can join in with songs and rhymes as well as storytime. Also, Scotland is the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie - the father of libraries and therefore a hero of booklovers! We also have a great history of writers and poets and some brilliant Scottish rhymes and songs to share with our bairns.

So our littlest in the family enjoys a Scottish tune - Ally Bally Bee is his favourite; and his big sister now insists on singing the Skye Boat Song as her bedtime lullaby. And now we have a great selection of 'My First Scottish' Books by Kate McLelland to enjoy too!

These are perfect first word primers for Scottish bairns packed full of lovely Scottish characters, scenes and creatures. Just to be clear these books are not written in Scots (apart from the inclusion of the word 'bairns') and are in proper English. There are six books in this fabulous series: Animals, Numbers, Colours, Things That Go, Weather and Opposites (we haven't seen the latter two other than a quick flick through in the bookshop).

The illustrative style is just perfect for a first word primer - very clear and deceptively simple - with big spaces surrounding the object, colour or creature allowing little ones to really centre on the word that the page is focussed on. Using a limited colour palette of primarily bold colours, Kate has created adorable creatures from puffins to highland cows to Scottie dogs and depicted elements of daily Scottish life in a genuine way trams on Princes Street in Edinburgh (overlooked by the castle) or yellow wellies splashing in puddles. My favourite has to be the seals beneath the freezing North Sea (if you know about Scottish folklore you will understand that I wonder if they are selkies). The illustrations would make fantastic prints for a nursery or playroom too!

Such bonnie books for a bouncin' bairns!
Mummy and The Wee Page Turner xx

*DISCLAIMER: We own 'Animals' and 'Colours' and have borrowed 'Things that Go' and 'Numbers' from the library.


Did you know that Halloween originated in Scotland? It's connected with the historic customs that relate to the Celtic festival of Sa...

Haunted Favourites Shelf: Top 5 Spooky Books for Tots

Friday, October 27, 2017 BookBairn 8 Comments

Did you know that Halloween originated in Scotland? It's connected with the historic customs that relate to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of summer and harvest and the beginning of the dark and cold winters. The festival symbolised the boundary between the living and the dead. So for many centuries, the Celts, and modern day Scots, set large bonfires to ward-off the ghosts and spirits. Bonfires are now predominatly saved for Guy Fawkes Night just a few nights later but all those pumpkin lanterns now do the same job (and in some parts of Scotland folks are still partial to a carved neep - turnip). Until recent years, children went guising (disguised in costumes) pretending to be evil spirits in hopes they would blend in with the spirits wandering that night. Children received a treat for warding off evil of the houses they visited. This has been replaced by the slightly americanised trick-or-treating (they still called it guising in my day) where children perform a little party trick in exchange for a treat. Dookin for apples is a Halloween party game that all Scots bairns have played which stems from the Celts who held apples as a sacred symbol. It's amazing to think how traditions have developed and changed over time. But it sounds a lots more fun these days and a lot less scary as we worry less about evil spirits roaming the streets and are more likely to see a variety of vampires, Frankensteins, ghosts, witches and a variety of superheroes and princesses at our door.

But we have started a little tradition of our own in the BookBairn house - the Haunted Shelf. As this is now BookBairn's third Halloween I have collected several spooky books (and topped up from the library) to haunt our shelves this month. Here are some of our favourites:

Halloween ABC - Jannie Ho

This is a brilliant selection of all things Halloween: perfect for introducing little ones to the idea of Halloween and this spooky season. It's a great vocabulary-builder and even this year BookBairn has enjoyed spotting things and recognising them. The illustrations are less scary and more adorable: cute monsters, silly zombies and smiling bats. Perfectly-pitched to avoid spooking toddlers but still in the spirit of Halloween. There's even a spirit or two in there! You can check out a little preview video over on our previous post 'Spook-Bairn's Halloween Reads'.

Boo - Jonathan Litton & Fhiona Galloway

This is such a fun little book about a cast of Halloween characters who are spooked by a resonating "boo" on each page. BookBairn loves turning the pages using the die-cut holes and, this year as she's a little older, she loves holding the book up and peeking through. It's got a great cast of spooky characters that are not in the least bit scary! Just great fun. And "full of spooky surprises!" Perfect for the littlest readers in your house.

Ten Spooky Skeletons - Garry Parsons

This book genuinely gave me a fright today. I turned off the light for bedtime and there was this strange glowing from the bookshelf. I forgot this one glows in the dark! A superb counting book, with excellent rhymes, an an eclectic array of scenes, this is a firm favourite. It also has cut-outs on each page and the corresponding numeral hidden in the illustration which BookBairn now enjoys finding. But mostly I love this one because I think the skeletons are adorable. They are so sweet. And they get up to some great fun! If you're looking for a super-spooky-fright(!!) you could have a sneak peek on our old post 'Halloween Hijinks' (with baby BookBairn).

Spooky House Aimee Chapman, Hannah Cockayne, Amy Oliver and Dan Crisp

Do your kids adore a lift-the-flap book as much as BookBairn? This one has loads of flaps on every page, and spooky things hidden under each one. The illustrations in the book are spine-chillingly and hair-raisingly delightful! Whilst all of the characters are typical Halloween ghouls, they are more enchanting than bewitching! The characters are delightfully named, such as Skelly Bob, Willa the witch, Bogey Monster adding to the captivating magic of the book. There is not much of a story to the book, we simply journey through each room of the house to the party finale; however, each page treats you to a lovely rhyming couplet about the characters featured. It's 'Spook-tacular'!

Trick or Treat - Hayley Down and Sarah Vince

This is a new addition to our Halloween Shelf and it is defintely a firm favourite. I'll be surprised if BookBairn lets me hide it away for a whole year when I pack the Halloween books away. Complete with a torch so children can join in, you go on a Halloween trick-or-treating (guising!!!) adventure with two children and discover the ghouls behind each door. But don't be frightened you can reveal what's hiding underneath the costumes with your clever torch. I need more books like this. It is just magic. I did a review a couple of weeks ago on this one and we have been reading it over and over since.

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of our favourite spooky books. And have a brilliant Halloween whether you go guising or trick-or-treating (or hide in the dark hoping no-one frightening comes to call).

Happy spooking,
Mummy, SpookBairn and The Wee Monster xxx


For children's book lovers I'm about to say something that appears to be sacrilegious. I said it once before one Twitter and I b...

To the Moon and Back

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 BookBairn 6 Comments

For children's book lovers I'm about to say something that appears to be sacrilegious. I said it once before one Twitter and I believe my fellow book chatterers were flabbergasted. And I'm going to put it out here again: I do not like the children's classic Goodnight Moon. There I said it. I just don't get it. It's weird. The story is weird, the illustrations are trippy and the colour-scheme is garish. It is not the book for me, that's for sure. And please don't be offended if you love this book - I'm sure there are some books in my collection that I adore that others don't like. There is certainly room on the shelf for lots of differing opinions! But I have discovered a few lovely alternatives for little lunar lovers.

Goodnight Baby Moon by James Mitchem and Claire Patane

This is a very special book that is the perfect bedtime read. Before I tell you anything about the insides, let's talk about the unique cover. It features a huge moon with the silhouettes of a family of rabbits in front and the moon lights up at the push of a button. It's seriously enchanting for little ones and BookBairn adores playing with it (especially just before bedtime when it gets dark). Inside are similar silhouettes set against beautiful nighttime scenery with a large moon featured on each page. As you join the rabbits on their nighttime hop-abouts through the woods and join them in gazing at the moon you will soon notice that the moon changes shape. The phases of the moon are discussed over the course of a lunar month by the rabbit family giving children a gentle and simple introduction to the phases of the moon. The text is written in simple poetic prose making it a delightful bedtime read. This is such a charming book, little ones will be asking for it time and again at bedtime (especially now when they can really see the phases of the moon because it is actually dark at bedtime!). If you want to know a little more about this book I'll link the advert here (yes, some books have video adverts - who'd have thunk it?!).

The Marvellous Moon Map by Teresa Heapy and David Litchfield

I have wanted one of David Litchfield's books for a long time - they are absolutely beautiful - but I felt many were a little long for BookBairn and this one probably is too though we are growing into it! It tells the story of Mouse, who sets off on an adventure to find the moon with the Marvellous Moon Map that he has created. But his worried friend, Bear, follows along too and appears to Mouse's aid just as it begins to get dark and creepy in the woods. Mouse can't seem to find the moon but Bear has a good idea of how they can put the map to better use. The illustrations in this book are truly stunning and I look forward to reading this one for bedtimes to come.

Moon by Britta Teckentrup and Patricia Hegarty

I just adore this series of books by Britta Teckentrup (and pretty much all her books) as they are incredibly beautiful. So many of the pages would make stunning artwork for your walls never mind beneath the pages of a picture book. In my post, 'When Illustrations Become Art', I said 
"For BookBairn, there is, without a doubt, nothing more important to her when reading books than the illustrations. She feels them, touching the pages, she pours over them turning page after page after page. She can't read the words. And as much as she enjoys listening to stories read aloud to her, it's primarily the illustrations that determine her favourites."
And I think this is probably true for us grown-ups too! 'Moon' is an atmospheric book that will take you on a journey through the dusky peek-through pages under the light of a shimmering moon from woodlands full of night-time creatures, to antarctic skies, to sunny beaches and to (my favourite) the northern lights. Featuring animals as diverse as jellyfish, turtles, bears, penguins and puffins to name a few, this really is a mesmerising book. The die-cut pages means that little ones can see the shape of the moon change before their eyes. The rhymthical text of Patricia Hegarty should not be forgotten amongst the stunning artwork as it too is beautiful. But mostly this series is intricate, innovative and incredible! This really is breath-taking. And if you don't want a copy for your kids - make sure to get one for you!

These three books all make beautiful bedtime stories - far more magical than the aforementioned Goodnight Moon. The moon and nighttime sky really holds a true fascination for little ones and these books certainly capture it's magic!

Goonight Moon-Books,
Mummy and BookBairn xx

*Disclaimer: these books were sent from the various publishers for free for review purposes. Words and opinions are our own.


Does anyone else do a 'dress-rehearsal' of their Halloween outfits? Last year I didn't bother and the first thing BookBairn sa...

If You're Spooky and You Know It

Monday, October 23, 2017 BookBairn 8 Comments

Does anyone else do a 'dress-rehearsal' of their Halloween outfits? Last year I didn't bother and the first thing BookBairn said when she got her witch's dress on was "Don't like it Mummy" and the only reason we got her out the house to go guising (Scots for trick-or-treating) was by telling her that she got to go out in the dark! So this year I decided not to risk it and I have had her outfit hanging up in her room for her to see and I convinced her to pop it on and now she loves it (and wants to wear it everyday!).

But of course (you know me so well) I had a little fun book activity to go with the try on! I couldn't resist 'If You're Spooky and You Know It' by Aly Fronis, with illustrations from Jannie Ho (whose Halloween ABC we just loved!) and it was so much fun.

Warning: this book is not good for bedtimes! It is just a funny and fun version of the song "if you're happy and you know it" but instead of being "happy" children are to be "spooky" amongst others. BookBairn loves this song and we have a book that I love to hate that plays the tune on repeat. (I hate it but she loves it so I tolerate it and even replaced the batteries inside it. The only thing worse than the tune is the tune on low batteries when it sounds like something from a scary movie!)

This book, fortunately, doesn't play the tune. But it gives you a different version to sing! The first page is full of spooky skeletons (and they know it) clapping their hands, followed by sneaky vampires nodding their heads, wicked witches stomping their feet and naughty mummies snapping their fingers (I changed this to wiggle because BookBairn can't snap her fingers). These are oddly followed by "if you're hairy and you know it, jump up and down" which feels rather odd to sing when children can't see the book but the illustration features a werewolf to give you some context. Then my favourite is a creepy Frankenstein honking his nose and if you watch the video below you will see why that's my favourite! The final scene shows all the frightful characters dancing around and BookBairn just loves to spin around in her 'ghostie' dress. What fun!

The illustrations in the book are superb! And were a huge part of the appeal for me to order it! The are spooky and contain all the key features of the quintessential monsters  but they are adorably cute! Perfectly-pitched for toddlers and little ones (or for grown-ups who spook easily). This would be great for a Halloween party or, like us, for fun in the lead-up to the spooktacular antics of Halloween. I might even use it as her party trick for the neighbours!

What are your little ones dressing up as this Halloween?
Happy spooking!
Mummy and Spook-Bairn xx


As the days get more and more autumnal (and sometimes wintry), there are days where the weather is miserable outside and the thought of g...

Lift-the-Flap for a Rainy Day

Friday, October 20, 2017 BookBairn 2 Comments

As the days get more and more autumnal (and sometimes wintry), there are days where the weather is miserable outside and the thought of going out in the dreich, wet, windy days is just too much to bear. But it's ok, I've got some great new colouring books up my sleeve (ok there in my book-stash box) to keep BookBairn entertained whilst we are stuck inside.

In this series of 'Lift-the-Flap and Colour' books by Alice Bowsher you can create your very own colourful habitats including Jungle, African Animals, Forest and Ocean! In collaboration with the Natural History Museum, young animal enthusiasts can lift the flaps on each page to reveal hidden animals in the natural habitats. From the dense jungle-floor to the tree-top canopy; from the shallow waters to the open ocean; from the plains of the savannah to the lush watering hole; and from woodland undergrowth to the tall forest trees, you can explore a whole world of environments and creatures. Each page has accompanying rhyming text that allows the reader to learn a little more about each environment and parts of the text are hidden under the flaps too meaning that children really reveal the story as they interact with the books.

But these books are a little dull - they are in black and white. So it's up to you to add the colour! The illustrations are bold using wide lines that a perfectly suited to little ones just learning to colour inside the lines. But they will also appeal to older readers/colourers as they are filled with character and humour and they will get a better sense of the overall scene.

BookBairn is beginning to make attempts now to colour deliberately. She doesn't stay inside the lines but she is beginning to pay attention to them. I decided to start with 'African Animals' knowing that she would enjoy colouring the elephants and giraffes and lions best! I love to sit down beside her and share the pages of a colouring book - it's a great way to chat and spend time together. Perfect for wet and windy winter days too. These books really are great fun!

Happy Colouring
Mummy and BookBairn xx

*Disclaimer: these books were sent for free from the publishers but words and opinions are our own!


  Start Some books just wow me! I audibly gasp when we discover what's inside. Sometimes it's because it's something I...

Night and Day

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 BookBairn 6 Comments


Some books just wow me! I audibly gasp when we discover what's inside. Sometimes it's because it's something I've been anticipating, sometimes it's because the story melts my heart, sometimes it's because the artwork is just incredible. But sometimes it's because the book is just so clever.

'Night and Day' by Julie Safirstein is a very clever book. Described as "A Big Book of Opposites" this book is so much more than a basic word primer. I don't know where to begin with explaining this one, but here goes...

This is an oversized book that is filled with opposite words: night and day, high and low, open and closed, as well as other basic vocabulary like numbers. But it goes beyond simple pictures to represent the concepts. It brings them to life. Truly. Colourful pop-ups, lift-the-flaps and cut-outs create an interactive book that is packed full of bold and modern graphics that will engage little ones with the concepts.

It starts quite simply with big, small, large, tiny with appropriately-sized coloured blobs on the top of flaps and similarly appropriately-sized objects underneath. Then numbers, with spots on top, numerals and fingers underneath alongside toddler-sized hands representing left and right (which BookBairn just loves to high-five). But then it starts to get cleverer: pages that pop right out to show objects that are outside and inside, in front and behind where children can literally reach through the pages to discover in 3D what the positional language really means. Next, a circle that slides to the top of the page to represent being alone and then to the bottom to join it's fellow shape friends to represent together. Another sliding circle moves from 'next to' to 'in the middle' to 'far' allowing little hands to bring these concepts to life. With braille-style bumps little fingers can explore 'straight' versus 'curved' and pop-ups that show above and below. And just to outsmart me (genuinely took me a day to figure it out) it says 'open' on the final page (I couldn't figure out where it's partner 'closed' was) and then of course you turn the back cover and close the book finding the word 'closed' on the back cover. Genius.

This book gets read/played with over and over again. It's too big for the shelf to perhaps it has an advantage sitting beside all the other books but more likely it's because it's pretty awesome! This really is a book like no other. And would be a brilliant addition to any child's bookshelf (or floor in our case!)

Happy Reading,
Mummy and BookBairn xx


*Disclaimer: this book was sent by the publisher at our request. As always words and opinions are our own.