Welcome to a new year for the Touring Picture Book , we took a short break over Christmas and it has taken us a couple of weeks to line...

Touring Picture Book: All Are Welcome Here & Multicultural People Craft

Thursday, February 28, 2019 BookBairn 4 Comments

Welcome to a new year for the Touring Picture Book, we took a short break over Christmas and it has taken us a couple of weeks to line up some truly awesome books to share with you. If you're new to the Touring Picture Book, here's a short recap: four of us, all parents, blogging predominantly about children's books, share one of the most interesting new releases that we have lovingly selected from a very long list. We all share our reviews of the book from our own perspectives - I love this part as we all see something a little different in the books, showing, to me, that one book can be many different stories to different people - and then we share a follow-up activity you can do with your children or a connection that we have made to the book that you might find helpful to think about.

And it has taken us a whole month to come up with the next couple of books as there have been so many interesting new releases already this year! But we are starting with an inspirational one!

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman is a must for every children's bookshelf, classroom and library. And I don't say that lightly! (We were accidentally sent a second copy from the publisher which I immediately donated to BookBairn's nursery as I want as many children as possible to have experienced this book!) 

This is certainly a book to experience as well as read. It's a celebration as much as it is a story! Following a group of children in their school and throughout their day in school, this book shows a school where diversity it's at it's heart. Everyone is welcome no matter their race, religion or background. this story shares an uplifting celebration of cultural diversity and belonging where all children are welcome in the classroom. With children wearing hijabs, patkas, baseball caps and yarmulkes playing and learning side-by-side the illustrations in the book create a world where all the children belong. With scenes of the children pointing to their family's countries of origin, and the children gathered on the floor in a circle drawing illustrations of families of all sizes and colours and a playground full of happy children having fun together this is a really welcoming book! You will want to jump into the illustrations. The accompanying poem (it's definitely more a poem than a story) lets readers know that what they see in the illustrations is reinforced by the language of the school and community: everyone is welcome, they all have a place, they all have a space, no matter what. The school also has children of a variety of abilities including a blind child who carries a whitestick and a child in a wheelchair, reinforcing the lovely message of inclusion. I particularly like this quote from the lyrical text:

"We're part of a community.
Our strength is our diversity.
A shelter from adversity.
All are welcome here."

That, for me, sums up what I want a school, and a wider community, to be and to cherish. This book is so wonderfully executed and really lives up to it's important message! If you would like to watch a video of the story being read aloud I've linked that here. Such a wonderfully uplifting book!

Multicultural People Craft

BookBairn and I haven't done much craft since before Christmas so I thought it would be fun to make some people inspired by the characters - particularly using the cover illustration. 

I picked up some coloured paper in a pack of different skin tones and cut out some people shapes for her to choose from. We then raided our craft box for coloured paper, felt, buttons, ribbon, googly eyes and a whole manner of bits and bobs and got cutting and sticking. Such an easy set-up and would be great to do in a classroom as the kids could work on it independently.

BookBairn had very clear ideas of the sorts of characters that she wanted to create - mostly girls (I had to persuade her to make a couple of boys! She is only three!) and she really enjoyed the freedom to create rather than replicate. I found this really interesting to watch. She required quite a lot of help with the cutting but she did have a go so this is going to be a sort of activity we revisit, under different guises, to encourage her to develop this skill further. But mostly it was lots of fun to do together!!

On a side note, if you are planning on using this book in the classroom, I have seen some great teachers at the start of the year getting each of the pupils in their class to create their own personalised pot of skin tone paint. A whole lesson dedicated to mixing just the right shade for your particular skin tone - showing that each tone is valued in itself and also creating a resource that the children can use all year. This is definitely something I would do with my class! Cassie Stephens has a great tutorial for this lesson here.

Check out the other activities happening across the Touring Picture Book Club and pop over to our Twitter to be in with a chance of winning a copy of All Are Welcome of your very own!

Acorn Books - Lego Braille Activity

Along Came Poppy - People Paper Chains Activity

Mamma Filz - Homemade Crafted Food

And look out for our next touring picture book which will be In the Swamp by the Light of the Moon by Frann Preston-Gannon.

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. And by using our Audible links I receive what is called a 'bounty' but is also a type of commission. 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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I love World Book Day ! It's a celebration of books so what's not to love? I love that World Book Day has become a big celebrat...

Easy World Book Day Costumes

Monday, February 25, 2019 BookBairn 5 Comments

I love World Book Day! It's a celebration of books so what's not to love? I love that World Book Day has become a big celebration that most schools and nurseries in the UK take part in, I love that all children get a £1 book token which they can redeem against the £1 books created by authors and illustrators and starring characters that they know and love or they can put that £1 towards a book of their choice. This is brilliant. I love that their are online masterclasses with authors and illustrators inspiring children all over the country to enjoy reading and writing (it's hard to beat an author visit for inspiration and a video chat means everyone has access to that!). I love that schools and nurseries celebrate books, often all week, with reading challenges, and games and fun. I even love the dressing up. 

But I do not love the pressure on parents to buy a ready-made costume in supermarkets. Often costing £15 or more. Think how many books you could buy with that? 2, 3, 4? Wouldn't it be better to buy the books to celebrate rather than feeling pressured into buying a costume just for the day? And in fairness I think that's what World Book Day is aiming to be about, and especially this year a lot of the promotions have been focussed on their share a story tagline. 

I've gathered together books off of our shelves with characters that will make great, easy and cheap World Book Day costumes. World Book Day costumes made easy for you. So you can save the costume money and buy a(nother) book instead. Also these are great for kids who aren't so keen on dressing up: last year BookBairn (who is now a dressing up princess!) point blank refused to wear a typical costume so she went as one of these characters utilising things we already owned! And we went to the bookshop and spent our token and another couple of quid on the £1 books for her age range. And they are great if you are looking for something last minute!

Anyway, enough waffling from me... (Except to say if you save on a costume and buy one of these books instead you will be far richer - they are also all great stories!!)

Stardust by Jeanne Willis & Briony May Smith is the book that inspired BookBairn's makeshift costume last year when she refused to get dressed up. But all I had to do was find a turquoise T-shirt and some jeans in her wardrobe and we already had some star hair clips. Easy! And a last minute lifesaver. It's also an awesome book about how we are all made of stardust and therefore we all shine in our own ways!

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers is a firm favourite of ours and look how easy it would be to create a costume (or repurpose a Where's Wally costume!) with just a red and white striped jumper and hat and some jeans. And an umbrella and a cuddly penguin would just finish it off perfectly. This is also one of my favourite books about friendship. 

Edie by Sophy Henn is perfect for children who enjoy a quirky costume! All you need is a red hat (and the creative of you could rustle up a pom pom for the top), a yellow top, navy skirt and some red socks. And if your child loves a fancy dress-up, then let them go wild in the dressing up box and add some accesories of their own - Edie-style! It's also a great, and funny, book about a helpful little girl and her almost always patient parents!

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies stars a lovely little boy called Noi who finds a whale washed up on the beach. And all you need is a blue and white striped top, jeans and a black hat. Yellow mac jacket and cuddly whale are optional. This is another great book about friendship!

His Royal Tinyness by Sally Lloyd-Jones & David Roberts is the story of an attention-starved princess! All you need is a purple dress and a pair of tights to wear on your head, yellow-preferable but given the character's personality I suspect she wouldn't care. This book is also a great story about getting a new sibling and sharing the limelight as well as making a teammate to last a lifetime.

The Lumberjack's Beard by Duncan Beedie stars a lumberjack with a huge beard. So a beard really is a necessary part of the costume! But other than that a red (maybe checked) shirt and a hat with ear flaps will complete the look. If you want to take things a little further you might want to add some small stuffed toys to the beard for them to take up their new homes. This is a great story about a Lumberjack who cuts down the trees leaving the animals homeless so he gives them refuge in his beard - a wonderful message about environmental impact and deforestation.

Odd Bods by Steven Butler and Jarvis has a whole host of crazy characters that your little one could dress up as. And as they are all a little odd, there's no reason why you couldn't throw together some crazy combinations from your kid's wardrobe. It's a great alphabetical rhyming poem about a whole cast of odd balls and about being unique!

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival is a story about a boy who is hiding his wings because he's ashamed of them so all you need is a colourful set of wings to bring Norman to life! And with such a great message about self-worth and accepting yourself this is a book you must have so why not use this as an excuse to pick up a copy. Also Ruby's Worry by the same author would be a great book to dress up as for World Book Day - all you need is a blue cloud to follow you around!

Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist (along with Iggy Peck, Architect, which we don't have yet) by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts are all wonderful characters for dressing up for World Book Day. Rosie stands out in her red headscarf and Ada in her red and white spotted dress and Iggy in his black polo neck, they are all easy to emulate. And the stories are truly brilliant! All have messages of being true to yourself and following your own passions and with more books coming to the collection and new chapter books too these are characters that you will enjoy reading over and over.

Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen stars a little girl with very big hair! So big in fact that she keeps a lot of stuff, including doughnuts stuffed in there! If you're not lucky enough to have big hair of your own you need little more than a big wig and a yellow mac jacket to pull off this awesome look. This book also stars one of our favourite mighty girls so we highly recommend you read this one.

All these are based on picture books as they are the books I am more familiar with, having two very young readers myself. But for older readers I have a few book-tips that might help based on books that I have enjoyed reading myself.

Firstly, almost anything by Roald Dahl stars a lead character that is a human - making it inifintely easier to come up with a costume at the last moment - Matilda, Charlie, James, Danny, George - all require just a few props to give the idea of a costume with little effort. If it were me I would definitely be dressing up as one of the characters from the Beetle Boy series by MG Leonard because, if you haven't read those books you will absolutely love them, and the children are normal children who have lots of beetles - so you simply need a pack of plastic beetles and pin them on a top. Another book I enjoyed and would buy rather than a costume is The Explorer by Katherine Rundell - kids that get lost after a plane crash in the amazon rainforest so you just need to look a bit scruffy, rough and ready, and perhaps a snake/spider prop or two would bring these characters to life. Another book I read and loved aimed at young readers was A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan and this only requires a pair of rose-tinted glasses! And the book is so so good!

So instead of spending a lot of money on costumes, treat your kids to some really great books.

Just one last thing - make sure you enjoy a story together on World Book Day, because that's what it's all about!

Hope you have a wonderful World Book Day!
Kim and the bairns x

Disclaimer: these are all our choices. Some were sent from publishers (others are books that I have bought myself) but they were not sent in connection with this post. Their inclusion here is my choice. Because I really do think they are great and would make easy costumes. Please read our Review Policy  if you want to know more. 

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You know that we love a book with a mighty girl at the centre and share lots of them as part of our Little Feminist Book Club  posts ...

Little Feminist Book Club: Chicks Rule

Saturday, February 23, 2019 BookBairn 1 Comments

You know that we love a book with a mighty girl at the centre and share lots of them as part of our Little Feminist Book Club posts so I was really excited to see a book starring lots and lots of mighty chicks and wanted to share it for our 'book of the week' feature on our social media. But I also wanted to share it here!

Chicks Rule by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen & Rene Kurilla is one of our favourite books at the moment! From Maker Chick to Baker Chick to Soccer Chick and Rocker Chick all the chicks in town are horrified by and standing up to the “No Chicks Allowed” rule! Nerdy Chick isn’t standing for this senseless rule and won’t let it stand in their way to achieving her dreams of launching a rocket into space! She turns to her fellow chicks for help. And together they lift each other and prove once and for all that chicks are truly out of this world!

I love that this is a book about a group of chicks working together to achieve their goal. There are lots of great books about mighty girls but those girls are often flying solo against the system and I think it's important to share a message that whilst we are mighty on our own in our own right, we are more powerful when we work together.

Written in the most wonderful rhyme and packed full of humour and fun, l love reading this one aloud! I love that this book has a huge cast of characters with all different passions and with all different interests as well as all different colours of feathers. The illustrator has very cleverly created a diverse coop of chickens!

The illustrations aren’t the kind that I’m usually drawn to but we love the bright colours and cartoon/comic style. I am totally won over by them! Showing you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And you shouldn’t judge a Chick by her feathers! I cannot say how much love I have for this book! And BookBairn wants it read over and over again so I will happily oblige!

If you love a book about a mighty chick, or even better a team of mighty chicks that work together to achieve their goal then this is a must-have for you bookshelf!

Chicks Rule!
Happy Reading,
Kim and the bairns x

Disclaimer: This book was sent by the publisher for review. Words and opinions are my own. Please read our Review Policy  if you want to know more. If you click on the image of the book below 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 20-90p 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 post 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 Readers Section.


Last year I read over 100 books. No small feat for a mum of two small children. I wrote a blog post about how I manage to fit so much...

Why I Don't Finish Every Book!

Thursday, February 21, 2019 BookBairn 6 Comments

Last year I read over 100 books. No small feat for a mum of two small children. I wrote a blog post about how I manage to fit so much reading into my day with lots of tips for fitting in more reading. But one of the main reasons I manage to fit in so much reading, which I didn't mention in that post, is because I don't finish every single book that I start. 

In the past I did read every page of every book I started. It was like some sort of sacrilegious thing to finish every book. But here's the thing: if you aren't enjoying a book it becomes hard work to finish it. You choose not to read because you aren't enjoying it. 

You will choose to read if you are enjoying a book. You will find time for it if it makes you happy. 

There are so many wonderful books out there why stick with something that doesn't bring you joy, or at least enthral you where you have to know what happens next!?

UK publishers release more than 20 titles per hour* so unless you read at an exponential rate, you are never going to be able to read every book written. And why would you want to? Not every book is a good fit for you and that's ok.

Here are some wonderful (and I do mean wonderful!) books that I gave up on reading simply because I wasn't enjoying them enough to find time to read them. 

1984 by George Orwell
Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (don't get me wrong I admire her greatly but this book was so long-winded that I just couldn't keep going, I even tried the audiobook.)
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Grief is a Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
Why We Need Sleep by Matthew P Walker

And it doesn't mean I won't go back and try reading them again. But I probably won't. Because I have a pile of unread books on my bookshelf that I am excited about. So I'm bound to try reading any of those first. And if I've included a book that you love in the list above, I'm so glad that you enjoyed it, but it just wasn't for me. The same way that we don't all have the same palette when it comes to taste, we don't all have the same reading palette. 

I love reading because I love the books I choose to read. And by giving myself permission to not finish a book I have freed myself from slowly tredging through books that just aren't holding my interest. And then I have more time for ones I do really love. And also I read them much quicker because I love them.

Life is too short to read every book. So I recommend you give yourself permission to put down those books that you don't love, so that you can pick up one that you do love!

Happy reading,

*According to this Guardian article.

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Welcome to a brand new blog feature! For many months (perhaps even years now?!) I've been linking up my favourite blog posts with t...

Kids Love to Read #39 & Giveaway

Monday, February 18, 2019 BookBairn 2 Comments

Welcome to a brand new blog feature! For many months (perhaps even years now?!) I've been linking up my favourite blog posts with the lovely Laura from Laura's Lovely Blog on her monthly linky (or link-up for less bloggertastic lingo!) Kids Love to Read. Not only do I enjoy linking but I also love reading blog posts written by other bloggers that star wonderful children's books. It's a great way to find new blogs to read and new book recommendations too, as well as invite people to come and read your own blog. So when Laura asked if I wanted to join the team as a host I really did jump at the chance! And excitingly the other new host is my lovely friend from Acorn Books who you might know from our monthly Touring Picture Book posts (back later this month!).

So if you write about your favourite children's books I would love it if you link-up your post! And I'm looking forward to reading them all!

Last Month's Favourites

Last month my favourite post came from my lovely co-host Laura's Lovely Blog with The Girls Book Review. Regular readers will know that it was my favourite book of last year so reading how much someone else enjoyed it made my heart soar to read her say:

"‘The Girls’ has such a great message of female empowerment and friendship."

Something I also felt strongly about this book.

Linky Rules:

– Write about reading with children, share your love and your children’s love of books, what do you love to read together, how do you encouraging reading and books with your little or not so little ones? Books you love or book reviews.
– This Linky is open every 3rd Monday of the month for one week.
– Grab the Kids Love to Read badge and pop it in your post. It's linked at the end of the post for you.
– Use the #KLTR hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.
– Share the love – try and read & comment the host’s posts and on 2 other blogs listed on the Linky.
We look forward to reading your posts! And don't forget to enter the competition below!
Kim and the #KLTR team x

Inlinkz Link Party


Each month, to encourage reading with kids and to go along with our #KLTR Linky, we host a Book Giveaway.
We have a fabulous giveaway this month of Gangsta Granny by David Walliams.
*Terms and conditions: Entries are open to UK and Ireland residents. The competition closes on the the 10th March 2019. Winners will be announced on social media and contacted via email. If the winner does not respond to the email in two weeks, a new winner will be randomly chosen.

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Grab the Button:

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Late last year I promised myself that I would not commit to doing so many blog tours as I find the pressure of writing to a deadline ...

Books With a Deeper Message - Duncan Beedie Blog Tour

Monday, February 18, 2019 BookBairn 14 Comments

Late last year I promised myself that I would not commit to doing so many blog tours as I find the pressure of writing to a deadline and writing for a specific purpose that isn't necessarily the blog post I would chose to share first (if that makes sense?) a bit tedious and can put unnecessary pressure on me to share blog posts that aren't my priority. But when I was asked to join the Duncan Beedie blog tour for his latest release - Molly's Moon Mission - I was delighted to join in because I just love his books.

Duncan Beedie is an expert in writing books with a deeper message! What do I mean by this? Well, there are lots of great books out there that share values and modern day (as well as old-school) morals with children and teach them a little lesson and they are helpful and good books in their own way. But Duncan's books never ever sacrifice the value of a good story and engaging characters over sharing a message with children. His books balance wonderful storytelling with sharing a value or a message or helping children develop their empathy with characters who are facing challenging situations. In all of his books, Duncan's illustrations are witty and characters expressive which for younger readers will help engage them with the story first and then, sometimes after several read (because they will want to re-read) children will begin to understand the message of the story.

In a recent discussion on Twitter about how he develops his books Duncan said:

"I wouldn't want to force a political/social message into a children's book. If a parent or child gets to the end [of] the story and it sparks a discussion about wider social themes, then that's great. But if not - also great."

And this is really the feeling I get from his stories - he wants you to enjoy a good story first and foremost and if you get a little something deeper out of his books then that's an added bonus.

In The Last Chip, it tells the story of a pigeon who is hungry and cannot find food until a homeless person gives away their last chip. It's s story about even when you don't have much, there is often someone worse off who needs our help. It's about looking around you and spotting the pigeon who is hungry. It's about not hoarding. It's simply about sharing. 

In The Lumberjack's Beard, the Lumberjack is so busy chopping down trees that he doesn't notice the animals going homeless as he destroys their homes. But when the come to him and explain their plight he offers them a home in his beard and he begins to replant the trees. 

In The Bear Who Stared, Bear isn't very good at making friends. He doesn't know what to say and he just stares at people making them uncomfortable. But with the help of a little frog he learns to share his lovely smile as he meets new people, breaking the ice, and giving him time to formulate his thoughts to say hello. This is such a great story that shows us the importance of a smile. Any of these books would be a great choice for sharing a deeper message with children. And of course, they are just great stories.

And his newest book Molly's Moon Mission is no different. Molly the moth (have you ever heard of a book with a moth as the main character - just one of the many reasons to love it!) has always been told that someone as small as her can never make it to the moon. Yearning for adventure, she helps her mother look after her siblings (larvae) during the day and trains hard for her space mission by night. And soon she is ready to blast off. But perhaps the moon is further than even Molly believed. First she gets as far as a lightbulb, but that's not the moon. Then she makes it as high as a street lamp, but that's not the moon. Then she gets confused but a lighthouse, that's not the moon either. Along the way she is belittled and made to feel too small for such a feat. Will she ever make it? And show everyone that size doesn't matter when you have a big dream? I think you can probably guess! With adorable illustrations and the underlying message of reaching for your dreams, this is a wonderfully heart-warming and gently encouraging story.

As part of the blog tour we got the opportunity to ask Duncan a few questions about how he creates his wonderful books.

Where do you start when you are creating books? They always have such a poignant messages/themes and I wondered do you start there? Or does a character jump out to you? Or the story? I'm fascinated by your writing/creating process.
In the past I have always started with a character. I usually base my stories on characters I have created in previous illustrations, and sometimes a story idea emerges from there. I like to draft up a cover design early on as well. I realise that this is essentially approaching the process backwards, but it helps me refine the story if I have a clear idea of the character and the aesthetic of the world they inhabit.

You often pick less conspicuous creatures to star in your books - a moth, a pigeon - is this deliberate? 

Well, the bear and lumberjack were fairly conspicuous I suppose, but the latter two characters were certainly less so. It wasn't a conscious decision on my part, but they were apt characters for the type of stories I wanted to convey. Percy the pigeon was perfect for the urban environment of The Last Chip, and I liked how Molly was determined to get herself to the moon in spite of her comparatively tiny stature.

What creature is next on your list? Or is it top secret? 

I have literally just got off the phone with my editor to discuss book no. 5. We have punted a few ideas around based on drafts I have submitted recently (bears and penguins were in the mix), but the favourite idea at the moment features a hippo. This may very well change in due course!

Thanks so much Duncan for taking the time to answer my questions! To check out more of the blog tour you can find all the details in the banner below.

And if you want a whole set of Duncan Beedie's picture books - check out our Instagram post going live at 8pm this evening! 

Thanks for reading,
Kim and the bairns x

Disclaimer: We were sent all four of Duncan's books over the years from the publisher but it's a credit to how wonderful they are that we still have all four books! Because we only have space to keep the very best. Please read our Review Policy  if you want to know more. If you click on the image of the book below 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 20-90p 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 post 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 Readers Section.

Read With Me