Wow 2016 has been some year! BookBairn has gone from a babbling baby to a little chatterbox, from a crawler to a walker, from a highly ...

Best Reads of 2016

Saturday, December 31, 2016 BookBairn 16 Comments

Wow 2016 has been some year! BookBairn has gone from a babbling baby to a little chatterbox, from a crawler to a walker, from a highly dependent baby to an independent little thinker with a mind of her own. Goodbye baby, hello toddler. And it has been amazing! Like most parents, I'm in awe of all her daily achievements, many of which are now a blur as she whizzes on to learn the next thing. She still loves her books, but now it's impossible to get her to sit and read something that she doesn't want to read - we hear the phrase "don't like it" more regularly than ever and she can now request her bedtime reads by title. She can make choices. And that is fascinating.

So here are five books, published this year that she chooses over and over again. (I won't go into to much detail here as we have reviewed them all on the blog previously - just click the titles below to link to the original reviews.)

Nibbles the Book Monster - Emma Yarlett

This is a book that is constantly lying around our house. It's pulled from the book cupboard, lives on the toy box, or features on our favourites shelf. But wherever I put it, it never stays shut for long. Daddy, BookBairn and myself all love to read this story together but it's also one that BookBairn enjoys reading on her own. If you haven't discovered this book this year - you really must hunt down a copy! It is beautiful, funny, clever and keeps little ones busy for long enough to enjoy a hot cup of tea - what more could you ask for?

Oi Dog - Kes and Claire Grey and Jim Field

I could not wait for the release of this book and it did not disappoint! The rhymes are just ingenious, and the illustrations are laugh out loud. It's a real delight to find a book that we can all enjoy re-reading night after night, time and time again. There are lots of lovely books out there but there are few that will appeal to children and adults the way that this one does.

Pom Pom the Champion - Sophy Henn

BookBairn just loves these books - perhaps it's because she can sympathise with the grumpy toddler panda who likes to get his own way, perhaps she adores the colourful illustrations, perhaps she likes that Pom Pom does the same sorts of things as her? Who knows? But she loves him. And I think he's pretty darn cute too!

Together - Emma Dodd

"Today we had a dreamy day, we watched the clouds float by." 2016 has been a year of dreamy days for us, and BookBairn often falls asleep just after this book. She has requested it more than any other at nap and bed times. And she can recite much of it by herself. It's poetic, beautiful and brings a tear to my eye to read it with her. One of the most magical books of the year. It will make you proud to be a parent and want to squeeze one more cuddle in just before bedtime!

Tickle My Ears - Jorg Muhle

A lovely story that will help little ones get ready for bed. An interactive story that avoids the flaps, touch and feel or loop-the-loop gimmicks to get children involved in the story. It simply asks them to join in with the routine. And BookBairn loves it! She loves helping Little Rabbit get ready for bed. Bedtime story perfection.

Some honourable mentions (Mummy loves them but BookBairn is still too little to appreciate them) go to:

Welcome - Barroux
Feelings - Libby Walden and Richard Jones
The Colour Monster - Anna Llenas
Frida Kahlo - Isabel Sanchez Vergara and Gee Fan Eng
Amelia Earhart - Isabel Sanchez Vergara and Mariadiamantes 

This is by no means an exclusive list, I realise I've missed off so many great books but I thought I should limit myself so that I could get this post written before 2016 was over!

Look out for our post tomorrow sharing the 2017 books that we are most looking forward to!

Hope you all had a wonderful 2016! 

Happy Hogmanay, Mummy and BookBairn x

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BookBairn is an exceptionally lucky little lady. She has a truly talented Grandma who can knit just about any pattern she desires. (Amongs...

Throwback Thursday - Knitting

Thursday, December 22, 2016 BookBairn 4 Comments

BookBairn is an exceptionally lucky little lady. She has a truly talented Grandma who can knit just about any pattern she desires. (Amongst a collection of knitting aunties, and nearly-Grandmas too.) Over the last two years we have received some truly exceptional knits. From soft toys, to hats, to snoods, to the most beautiful cardigans and jackets, little miss is often dressed in bespoke, one of a kind, made with love outfits! Here are some of our favourites below...
This though, is one of my favourite photographs. One the left is little me. On the right is little BookBairn. In the same pattern bobble jacket, 30 years apart. Grandma BookBairn has only knitted a handful of these beauties and I love that BookBairn and I both had the same one.
In recent months, I have been collecting picture books that feature knitting characters in order to pay tribute to our favourite knitter. (And also to keep her on our good side for knitting for BookBump's arrival in April - not that she needs much encouragement - she's already got a mountain of blue wool, yes. blue! It's a boy!). Here are four of my favourites...
''I'm a Very Clever Cat' by Kasia Matyjaszek tells the story of Stockton who is a self-proclaimed 'very clever cat'. He can play violin, paint, juggle, do ballet and he can knit, of course. He is knitting himself a luminscent pink scarf and the thread of wool runs throughout the pages of the book. Until he gets the wool in a tangle! Fortunately, he has some very clever friends to help him out. This is a sweet and simple story that BookBairn loves. We love the fact that the text isn't too long (she still doesn't like stories where she has to wait very long to turn the page. But mostly I love the bright pink ball of wool that whirls and swirls across each page. So colourful - it really stands out! What do you think about neon pink knitting wool, G'ma?

'Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat' by Emily MacKenzie is another feline knitter! Stanley loves to knit gifts for all his animal friends: balaclavas for bunnies, nick warmers for giraffes, trunk tubes for elephants, and plenty of jumpers, socks and onesies for the rest of his friends. But one day, the day before the knitting competition, he runs out of wool for his big project. Oh no! He has to unravel all his knitted gifts, much to his friends dismay, but what could possibly require so much wool? What is his competition entry? I'll not give it (up up and) away but I will say his friends love his knitted project so much that they don't mind their missing woolies. This is such a bright and colourful book that is packed full with fascinating illustrations that you could spend lots and lots of time looking at and chatting about with little ones. And I just love Stanley! I reckon G'ma would love to steal some of his patterns!

If you like knitting kitties you should also check out 'Let's Talk Picture Book's review of Cat Knit by Jacob Grant, which Mel describes as "well-designed from cover to cover, with beautiful endpapers and a perfect book case featuring Cat's sweater pattern." 

Now when you think of animals associated with wool, you think sheep! Which is one of the reasons why I love 'A Knit and a Knot' by Amanda Brandon and Catalina Echeverri. I also love that it features Granny Mutton teaching her grandson how to knit (now G'ma no mutton dressed as lambs implications here, ok? It's just a clever pun!). But their ball of wool mysteriously disappears. They have to chase it across the farm, encountering some dangerous situations to try and get their wool back. But eventually they find the thief and it's a cute little mouse who just wants to make his siblings bed cosier. So when Pipsqueak returns the wool, Granny makes him and his little mice friends little patchwork quilts. Such a sweet story!! And some incredibly cute characters that you can't help but love!

How amazing is this blanket, knitted by
BookBairn's aunt? She's so clever!
But the magical story of 'Extra Yarn' by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is a modern fairytale of Annabelle who finds a box filled with yarn of every colour. And it seems to be never ending, she has enough wool to knit gifts for all the people in her town, and all the animals, and she even makes jumpers for things that didn't wear jumpers like mailboxes and buildings. News spread of the remarkable girl who never runs out of wool and an archduke, who was very fond of clothes, came to meet Annabelle and makes her an offer for her box of yarn but she refuses. So he hires some robbers to steal the box and they sail off to his castle, but when he opens the box, he finds it empty! He throws it out of the window and it floats home to Annabelle. It truly is a magical tale! And Jon Klassen's illustration are absolutely breathtaking!

For all those kind knitters who have created something special for BookBairn, thank you so much! She gets so many compliments on her hand-knitted clothes and it's lovely she has something unique to wear that someone has made with love! So Thank You!

And G'ma - get knitting with blue wool! Little BookBump will need an equally impressive wardrobe!

Love Mummy and BookBairn xx

*DISCLAIMER* We were sent copies of I am a Very Clever Cat and A Knot and a Knit for their publishers and we borrowed Extra Yarn and Stanley the Amazing Knitting Cat from out local library.

*This post contains Affliate links.


Excuse the post-nap hair but she wouldn't let me brush it whilst there was more fun to be had! In the run up to Christmas you have p...

Not Quite a Book - The Doll's House

Monday, December 19, 2016 BookBairn 2 Comments

Excuse the post-nap hair but she wouldn't let me brush it whilst there was more fun to be had!
In the run up to Christmas you have probably seen children's gift guides everywhere. I've decided not to do that, if you follow the blog you will know that we only share our favourite books so any of them would be great recommendations fro Christmas. And if you want BookBairn's top choices you can see them on our Favourites Shelf feature. But I couldn't help but share this lovely non-book book with you in the run-up to Christmas.

'The Doll's House' by Annu Kilpelainen is a 3D fold-out 'book' that creates a doll's house that little ones can really play with. BookBairn has a beautiful doll's house gifted to her by her great-grandfather that is reminiscent of Pemberley (from Pride and Prejudice) and it is a traditional, old-fashioned, large home for her Sylvanian families. However, it's so big that I've tucked it in a nook under the stairs meaning when she wants to play 'mimis' (I don't know where she came up with this word for her Sylvanian characters) we both have to sit on the floor under the stairs. So I was delighted with this modern pop-up portable home that can be played with anywhere. We moved the mimis into their holiday home and she delightedly played for nearly an hour all by herself! For those of you with toddlers you will know what bliss it was to have a hot cup of tea whilst your little ones entertain themselves.
Bold, bright and vibrant this Doll's House couldn't be the opposite to our other home. It is brilliant! Lots and lots of illustrative detail that children older than BookBairn will adore pouring over. We moved some furniture from our doll's house to give BookBairn plenty to play with and our only criticism is that this house has a garage but no bathroom. Probably not a problem to older children but BookBairn likes to play with her 'Pando' in and out of the toy bath. The style of the house is very modern, and having recently discovered that you can get doll's furniture from Ikea, I think they would make the perfect gift combination!

As I say, we only share what we love. And we love this! It's a great gift for little ones!

I've finished all my shopping and wrapping today so feeling a huge sense of festive achievement. Happy Christmas shopping everyone!

Love Mummy, BookBairn and the mimis! xx

Click on the image above to find this book on 
*This post contains Affiliate links.

*DISCLAIMER* I requested this 'book' for review purposes from the publisher Cicada books and was kindly sent a free copy for review purposes, however, all words and opinions are my own.



Time for another Throwback Thursday post and one of the fun things that we got up to in the late summer was picking the apples off our ap...

Throwback Thursday - Apple Picking

Thursday, December 08, 2016 BookBairn 12 Comments

Time for another Throwback Thursday post and one of the fun things that we got up to in the late summer was picking the apples off our apple trees in the garden. BookBairn loved picking the ones up off the ground, though I had to keep a very stringent eye on her as she loves to take a bite out of them and they really did need a good wash first as well as saying that they are cooking apples so taste pretty rubbish until they have been cooked and sweetened. But it was absolutely brilliant to have a little helper run put all the apples in the basket! (I can only say we were having way too much fun to take some photos of BookBairn being my little helper, I promise our next Throwback post will have lots and lots of photos over BookBairn over the last year!)

We were sent a truly lovely little book that fit our afternoon of apple picking just perfectly, 'The Mysterious Apples' by Diana C. Vickery is just a delightful tale. I previously reviewed the first book in this series (The Magical World of Swankypants - what a great title, right?) and described it as a "wee gem of a book" and the same is true for this book!

'The Mysterious Apples' is a funny story about two squirrels, Yasmin and Yo-yo who collect as many apples as they can carry in their basket. But these greedy little squirrels have eyes bigger than their drey can hold and they have to find a bigger place to stash their apple hoard. Unfortunately for them these silly little squirrels decide to put their apple hoard in a basket by the cottage door. Mum is delighted to find that someone has picked the apples for her and she makes an apple pie. The ever-resourceful squirrels aren't disappointed for long when they discover that their apples are gone. They instead resolve to raid the plum tree and steal the bird nuts! (Sorry Papa BookBairn - this made us giggle as we know how much you love an anti-squirrel devise for your bird-feeders.)

Formatted as a smaller and thinner board than the average board book, these books are great for little readers as they aren't too large or heavy for those small hands. They are also delightful for adults to read as they are written in rhyming sentences so simply role off the tongue! But the real highlight of this book is the fantastic illustrations. Each page is packed full of woodland creatures that BookBairn just loves spotting as we turn the pages. The illustrations are bright and colourful and much more summery in contrast to the autumnal tones of 'Hooty the Owl', the first book in the series. I also prefer the cheeky squirrels in this book as it seems so fitting to the squirrels we see in the garden. In short, this sequel is even better than the first!!

We are still eating our way through our apple haul, but I think I'll need to make a batch of stewed apples and freeze them as we won't get through them all any time soon!

I'm really enjoying reminiscing when I write these posts so hope you are enjoying reading them. Happy Throwback Thursday everyone! 

Mummy and BookBairn x

Click on the image above to find this book on 
*This post contains Affiliate links.

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

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Yesterday marked the final day of Picture Book Month by celebrating one of our favourite bookish creatures. We are kind huge fans of rabbi...

Picture Book Month - Rabbits

Thursday, December 01, 2016 BookBairn 12 Comments

Yesterday marked the final day of Picture Book Month by celebrating one of our favourite bookish creatures. We are kind huge fans of rabbit books in this house and it's no wonder with BookBunny to accompany our reading adventures. We've written posts about many lovely rabbits from Miffy to Peter (and friends) to Little Rabbit in Tickle Bunny. In fact, my first ever post was about the hare family from the Guess How Much I Love You books. So when I volunteered to write a post about rabbits for a team of fellow picture book enthusiasts it didn't concern me that I might run out of rabbit-y stories! And I haven't.

In fact, the book I've chosen is one that BookBairn adores and had been a favourite choice for nap and bedtime story recently. You know that we LOVE the Emma Dodd books and BookBairn just loves 'Love'. Like all the books in the series, this one tells the story of a parent and child getting ready to cuddle up at bedtime and recalling the events of the day. Written with the most beautiful poetry with words that will bring a tear to a parents eye, it creates moments of real magic. The illustrations are deceptively simple with beautiful creatures from the animal kingdom. But to add to the magic, many of the pages are embossed with gold foil making them literally glow!

'Love' tells the story of a mother (or father) rabbit tucking their little one in to bed and telling them all the things they know about love.

"Love is in the morning sun when you wake and smile at me,
Love is when we talk together, happy as can be."

"I love you when you get it right, and when you get it wrong.
The world is much more lovely since the day you came along"

But the lines that always get me are:

"I love you so and when I try to count the reasons why...
... I find there are more reasons...
... than there are stars in the sky."

It's beautiful.

As part of the Picture Book Month collaboration, I was also asked to share a craft inspired by the book and this is something I find quite tricky as BookBairn isn't yet two she doesn't really do 'directed' artwork. But I decided to give it a go and see what we could come up with. And it's cute, but not very imaginative! At nursery, little miss has apparently enjoyed gluing and sticking so I thought I would create a starry sky with her. I picked up some pre-cut stars (yes, I am that lazy but I did wrap 24 books for advent this month so I'm giving myself a break!). And she created this beautiful starry sky. And it's true I find there are more reasons than there are stars in this sky!

Do you have any good rabbit-y picture book recommendations for us? I'm always looking for more to add to our collection!

Hope you've read lots of picture books this month!
Mummy and BookBairn xx

Click on the image above to find this book on 
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Time for another ' Throwback Thursday ' post! One of the lovely things that we've been up to over the past months was having B...

Throwback Thursday - Finding Nemo

Thursday, December 01, 2016 BookBairn 10 Comments

Time for another 'Throwback Thursday' post! One of the lovely things that we've been up to over the past months was having BookBairn's grandparents (you may notice they lovingly and dutifully comment on every post!) stay locally for a week and they got to join in with lots of our activities as well as take us out for a few fun trips! One of the best trips we went on was to the local aquarium.

I should begin by saying that BookBairn had recently become rather fascinated by some clownfish stickers that are part of a reusable sticker pad that she adores. So we watched Nemo and Papa BookBairn had picked her up a light-up clownfish toy. So simply we told her we were going to the aquarium to find Nemo. But we found so much more! The first tank was full of terrapins and she loved spotting the 'turtles'; she was fascinated by the sea lions in their outdoor enclosure, especially as they came right up to where we stood to say hello; she liked seeing the snakes; she enjoyed crawling through the little tunnel and popping up to find a tank full of Nemos and Dorys and seahorses! (She loved the penguins but I'm saving them for another post!) And of course we visited the shop and Papa wanted to buy her something. Now, we were all worried she would want one of those ridiculously overpriced giant cuddly toys and Papa would be spending a fortune. But instead she chose two very small plastic clownfish toys at 40p each! A great day out!

That was until the next day she literally lost Nemo on our walk home from yoga. Half way home she said "mummy, dropped Nemo" and of course, I trailed all the way back to the yoga studio scouring the pavements for the tiny fish! We couldn't find him. She declared, "Nemo lost. Very sad." I was disappointed for her but at least she learned a valuable lesson. Well, we popped out to the library that afternoon, walking along the same road and you'll surely have guessed... we found teeny tiny Nemo!

A fantastic book that encourages little ones to hunt under the sea for some of their favourite creatures - a starfish, a jellyfish and a clownfish! But it's a bit more meaningful than that. 'Where's Starfish?' by Barroux is a wonderful wordless picture book about the effects of pollution on our oceans. Sounds pretty hard-hitting for little ones but this book is pitched so perfectly!
As children turn the pages, Starfish, Clownfish and Jellyfish all become harder to spot due to the ever-growing amount of rubbish being dumped in the ocean. The first pages feature mainly other beautifully vibrant coloured fish amongst which our little sea creatures are hiding, but then as more and more rubbish appears more and more fish disappear until there is only our three heroes, a whale and a mountain of rubbish. Finally, whale takes action and pushes all the rubbish back to the shoreline and on to the beach, refusing to tolerate the trash any longer! I was skeptical as to how powerful this book could be without any words, and yet somehow it is even more powerful! And BookBairn enjoys the story even without the consistency of reading sentences aloud. We talk about the pictures and to be honest a lot of her understanding of stories still comes from the illustrations anyway. This book is delightfully colourful and Barroux's illustrations do huge justice to an important message!

On the final page of the book Barroux states that he was inspired to create this book after seeing a plastic bag on the beach that looked like a jellyfish prompting him to write a book about the threat of pollution to our waterways and oceans. He says "we must protect these important underwater kingdoms for the creatures that live in them, and everyone needs to remember to take litter home and put it in the bin!" Taking this message to heart, I love that the edition of the book that we have has been printed on forest friendly paper showing that the publisher values Barroux's environmental message too!

Barroux has created a series of similar books with big themes for little readers and I intend to collect them all. I recently bought 'Welcome', the story of some polar bears seeking asylum after their iceberg has melted, and have 'Where's Elephant?', a story about deforestation, at the top of my to-buy list! And honestly, I can't wait for more.

Hope you have as much luck Finding Nemo!
Mummy and BookBairn x

Click on the images above to find these books on 
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