When is a book not a book? Several years ago, I bought a convertible book for my nearly nephew, that built up into a truck and he adored...

When a Book is Not Just a Book

Sunday, May 29, 2016 BookBairn 6 Comments

When is a book not a book?

Several years ago, I bought a convertible book for my nearly nephew, that built up into a truck and he adored it! So, I was delighted when Miles Kelly publishers got in touch to offer us a sneak preview of their newest convertible book. This new addition to the range is a beautiful submarine/underwater story book/playmat.

Written by Claire Philip and illustrated by Simon Abbott, this invention is truly ingenious! As a book, the story tells of a underwater adventure as the submarine and it's passengers travel towards a shipwreck, passing many sea creatures on their journey. The illustrations are bright and colourful and all the sea creatures are instantly recognisable even to little readers like BookBairn. She can easily point out the dolphins, turtle and whale and can be entertained for several minutes looking for the crab. I have no doubt that this book will advance her vocabulary for underwater creatures. As a story, I would say that it lacks a narrative and any real characters, instead being more of a tour of the ocean depths. This is where the ingenuity of a book that converts comes into play.

You can fold the entire book out flat as a long playmat which has a path for children to play with their own toys as they trace the path of the submarine from the story. And I'm now on the hunt for a submarine toy!

But the real star element of the 'book' is when you build it up, using the velcro straps, into a 'climb-inside' submarine. BookBairn now shouts "sub sub!" when she wants to climb inside and explore the depths of the ocean. She enjoys spotting the sea creatures, looking through the porthole, lifting the front up and down and opening and closing the door. She is still a bit too young to really 'role play' but she does enjoy playing with her toys inside, and even flipping through the pages of her other books.

I love that this 'book' is so engaging, colourful and vibrant, introducing sea creatures to my little BookBairn! I am surprised by how robust the submarine has proved to be, it is sturdy and strong ensuring that even with a bit of rough play it will endure, this submarine isn't going to take on water easily.

The idea of a convertible book truly is ingenious. For us, we haven't really explored the book element particularly much, as BookBairn sees this as more of a toy, always wanting the submarine built up to play inside. This is probably reflective of her age (she's nearly 15 months - where did my baby go?) and the publishers do suggest that their convertible range is aimed at children aged 3+. I imagine that older children would love to let their imaginations run wild as they go on their underwater adventures. However, we've still had plenty of fun out of it!

Miles Kelly have a whole range of these wonderful convertibles from cars to tractors to spaceships (to see the full range click here). Something for every adventure!

Climb onboard for your own adventure! Mummy and BookBairn xx

BookBairn really enjoyed watching
her favourite TV show 'Hey Duggee'
from inside the submarine.

*DISCLAIMER* I was given our convertible book for free for review purposes, however, all words and opinions are my own.

Read With Me


The sun has finally arrived in Scotland, it seems it took a little longer to reach us than the rest of the UK, but I won't grumble bec...

BookBairn and the Great Outdoors

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 BookBairn 7 Comments

The sun has finally arrived in Scotland, it seems it took a little longer to reach us than the rest of the UK, but I won't grumble because, despite the duller weather, we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world!

BookBairn recently got her very first pair of shoes (Mummy was more excited than her but, it's ok, she will learn to love shoes as much as mummy, just like she has with books) and is now ready to toddle and explore the great outdoors. So far, much of her experience outdoors has been from a baby carrier or her pram (read more about this here) and whilst this is great, she's getting a much more hands-on experience of the world now!

We recently went (pre-new-shoes) for her first toddle along the beach and when we tweeted the pictures, the lovely Fiona Barker sent us a copy of her book to celebrate! Before we review the book, can I just say that Fiona also sent a lovely handwritten letter that made me feel like a marvelous mummy! So, a personal message to you Fiona: thank you! It's not the easiest being a mummy, and at times it feels like I'm 'winging it' or bumbling along, making mistakes along the way, so when someone gives you that proverbial 'pat on the back' it feels like a warm hug! Thank you!

'Amelie and the Great Outdoors' is the story of a little girl who never ventures outside, preferring to play on her own indoors. Like many children, Amelie loves her toys, computer games and television, none of which she could find in 'the Great Outdoors' and, like most parents, Amelie's parents tried many ways to get her to choose to play outside but to no avail! One day, a little bird, named Barlow, begins to visit  Amelie's windowsill to tell her of all his adventures: from the beach, to the park, to the farm fields. He comes and goes, through all seasons: from autumn bonfire celebrations to winter snowmen. Until one day his visits stop. Amelie wonders if he is "lost out there somewhere in the Great Outdoors" and when she goes in search of she discovers something wonderful!

Amelie is a character that many children will relate to! And I'm sure many parents can sympathise with Amelie's parents efforts! Personally, I adore Barlow as he reminds me of that little robin in the Mary Poppins film, just hopping along the windowsill of the children's nursery! Rosie Brooks has illustrated this book beautifully, capturing the magic of a child's bedroom in contrast to the magic of the Great Outdoors.

This is a wonderful story to gently encourage little ones who are reluctant to adventure outside, or feel anxious about new experiences! This heart-warming and thoughtfully told story is a great way to foster a love of the outdoors and we highly recommend enjoying this story al fresco, in the garden, park or at the beach!

BookBairn also enjoys a
computer game with her daddy
from time to time!
As we approach the better weather, or should I say as the better weather approaches us (?), I hope BookBairn and I will be spending much more time outdoors!

Happy outdoor reading, 
Mummy and BookBairn xx

*DISCLAIMER* I was given our book as a gift from the author, however, all words and opinions are my own.

Read With Me


For May's #2016ClassicChallenge I plan to read The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. But best laid plans... Whether I will actually manage to r...

Tiger Tales

Thursday, May 12, 2016 BookBairn 4 Comments

For May's #2016ClassicChallenge I plan to read The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. But best laid plans... Whether I will actually manage to read it this month is another question as I have a large book for my book group to read alongside a pile of library books which are due back soon! I'll try! And if I don't I'll add it to next month's reading.

BookBairn, on the other hand, has been reading lots of tiger-y books!

'Goodnight Tiger' by Timothy Knapman and illustrated by Laura Hughes is a funny bedtime story with characters that truly come alive. Many children struggle to fall asleep, but few have the troubles that Emily experiences in this story. The animals in Emily's jungle wallpaper can't sleep and they are keeping Emily awake with all the stomping, bellowing, trumpeting and growling. Emily climbs into the wallpaper to sort them out, taking them through her bedtime routine: bath, hot chocolate, a bear to cuddle, lullaby and bedtime story. However, a bath in the jungle is not quite as we would expect; the jungle animals find their hot chocolate rather muddy-tasting; and the lullaby is incredible noisy can be heard across the jungle. The bedtime story, however, seems to do the trick.  But the tiger needs something more help to fall asleep!

What a lovely story for reinforcing bedtime routines with little ones. And I love that the bedtime story is the most effective and important part of the routine in this book. It's true for BookBairn too! BookBairn knows our bedtime routine so well that she sometimes gets grumpy when we take slightly too long to get all those poppers on her sleepsuit done, she's just desperate to get her milk and story. This story is beautifully illustrated and it is magical when Emily steps inside her wallpaper and the jungle comes to life! The characters are far from the fierce-some jungle animals they represent, with friendly eyes and smiles and soft colours, they are exactly the sort of creature BookBairn would like to have cuddled up in her cot. I would like, in particular, to point out that Emily wears pink bunny slippers throughout the story - what's not to like about this character?

For lots of parents to babies and toddlers, sleep and bedtime routines can be stressful, I'm just glad BookBairn doesn't have jungle wallpaper to contend with, otherwise it could have been a lot tougher!

In 'Squish Squash Squeeze' by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Jane Chapman, Mouse is delighted to move into his new house. What he doesn't know is that lurking around each corner is one unexpected roommate after another! A bear growling beside the piano, a crocodile snapping in the bathtub, and a tiger sliding down the banister, this house is bursting at the seams. How will Mouse fit them all in? By making the pages of the book bigger with a pop-up pull-out final page, of course!

A brilliantly funny new release from the author/illustrator team that wrote 'The Little White Owl', which was a favourite story of my class of primary two (aged 7-8 years old), this book is equally as appealing. Chapman captures the expressions of the animals perfectly, who look equally as surprised as you would to find a crocodile in your bath. I love that the characters are over-sized and out of proportion to the page, making them all seem as squashed into the page as they are to the house. BookBairn was delighted to pull-out the pop-up page and likes to re-read the final page over and over again. I think she would have just enough room to climb inside and join the Tiger, Bear and Crocodile, and she would if she could!

I think we might just squish, squash and squeeze this one into our bookshelf!

'Augustus and His Smile' by Catherine Rayner is a special 10th Anniversary edition that features a beautiful gold-foil slipcover which truly highlights the beauty of the story! I hadn't discovered this book before but I'm so glad that I have now. It is the tale of a tiger who has sadly lost his smile and he sets off to find it. He explores the jungle looking for it, from the forest floor to the tops of the tallest trees, her climbs mountains and looks amongst the clouds, he swims to the bottom of the deepest oceans, he crosses the vast desert, searching and searching everywhere until it begins to rain, creating puddles. Tiger looks down into the puddle and remembering the fun of his adventures, and the beauty in the world, he re-discovers his smile.

The beauty of the story is in it's use of language and beautiful layout, making it feel more like a poem than a story. It's illustrations are absolutely stunning and create a real feel of movement across the pages. Rayner truly captures the beauty of these environments in all their glory. The illustrations are deceptively simple, which perfectly portrays the message that we should appreciate the beauty of the world and the simple happiness it can bring us when we open our eyes to it. This book is a wonderful example of how art and stories can open us to discussions about emotions and how to cope with difficult emotions, such as sadness, to little readers.

The magic of this story is that it will appeal to adults equally as it appeals to children.

We have also been reading 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' by Judith Kerr, but I will review this for our next 'Story Book Classic' post! BookBairn keeps choosing it over and over at naptime at the moment so I had to mention it too!

There are only 3000 tigers left in the wild and I greatly hope that BookBairn will grow up appreciating these majestic and wild creatures and will not have to see them become extinct in her lifetime. I am delighted that Little Tiger Press has paired up with the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's TigerTime. For every copy of the 10th Anniversary edition of 'Augustus and His Smile' sold, a donation is made to the foundation (for more information click here).  What can be better than a books that makes you feel good that also does good?

Do you have any favourite tiger tales to share? Please let us know in the comments below.

Happy reading, Mummy and BookBairn xx

*DISCLAIMER* I was given these books from the publisher for free for review purposes, however, all words and opinions are my own


Up until very recently, I've always thought that buggy books were a bit gimmicky and that babies didn't really bother with them o...

Babies Don't Walk, They Ride!

Sunday, May 08, 2016 BookBairn 8 Comments

Up until very recently, I've always thought that buggy books were a bit gimmicky and that babies didn't really bother with them other than as a teether. This week, BookBairn has totally proved me wrong. Whilst she has always adored books, our buggy books were more an accessory than something fun to play with. Until now!

I attached a Peter Rabbit board book to her car seat and she surprised me one day by shouting "rabbit rabbit" from the back seat. Of course, I thought to myself, she couldn't possibly have seen a rabbit from the car but, when I glanced in my mirror, I realised that she had her wee nose inside a book!

Over the past few weeks, BookBairn has become rather fascinated by the pedestrian crossings (I'll admit I have been encouraging her here as I believe it's never to early to learn red means stop and green means safe to go!). Last year, one of the books that Scottish babies got free in their baby Bookbug bag (for more info click here) is called 'Out and About', and each page features things you might see out on a walk in the buggy, such as cars, vans, and the green man! She loves to turn to this page and say "beeb beeb beeb" just like the crossing does. She even spots the crossings when we are out and about now!

On Friday, the lady behind the counter in our pharmacy said "she looks like she's really reading that" and I exclaimed "she is" in response. BookBairn has mastered many animal words, particularly farm animals, which is why she loves "Baby Animals" by Rod Campbell. Packed full of all the animals that she knows best she loves flicking through the pages and saying their names.

I am converted! Buggy books are a great way to keep wee readers busy whilst out for a walk and also helping to expand vocabulary and strengthening prior learning. I couldn't help but notice that our local Waterstones has a wonderful section dedicated to buggy books and there are lots to choose from. Perhaps I should top up our collection!?

We recently borrowed a wonderful book from the library all about babies in buggies, back-packs and slings out for walks with family and friends called 'Babies Don't Walk, They Ride' by Kathy Henderson and Lauren Tobia. This book is beautifully illustrated with busy scenes of babies out for the day! The babies are not only in buggies, but also on tube trains, in trolleys , car seats and slings: such a superb reflection of all the different options for taking your babies for a walk. The illustrator has paid attention to so much detail: families of all different shapes, sizes, colours and ethnicities set in scenes of everyday life from the park to the supermarket. "Riding, gliding, sliding, strolling... Bumping, flying, cruising, rolling..." that's the reality for our babies. This is truly a joyful celebration of modern babyhood!

However your babies travel, we recommend trying out some buggy books! 

Happy reading whilst riding, gliding, sliding and strolling! 
Mummy and BookBairn xx

Read With Me