Today is International Friendship Day and one of the things that I treasure most in my life is my friendships. I'm lucky that my clos...

Touring Picture Book: The Girls & Planning the Perfect Playdate

Monday, July 30, 2018 BookBairn 7 Comments

Today is International Friendship Day and one of the things that I treasure most in my life is my friendships. I'm lucky that my closest friends are also my longest-loved friends having known most of them since my school days.* We have the loveliest group - sometimes known as the cherubs and otherwise known as the mad squad depending on the way the mood takes us and these girls, for they will always be my girls despite the fact that they have grown up into incredible (and I mean incredible women), are everything to me. They helped me learn to ride my bike, sat beside me in school as I learned to spell, stood up for me when someone tried to make me feel small, pushed back for me, made me laugh (and laugh and laugh), taught me to do my make up, danced with me, held my hand when my heart was betrayed and broken, stood at my side as I got married, were the first to visit my children when they were born, taught me how to and encouraged me to fly. I may not see them as often anymore but they know me better than I know myself because they have been there the whole time.

And when I read this new picture book 'The Girls' by Lauren Ace and Jenny Lovelie for the first time, my eyes welled with tears because it really captures my experience of friendship. It tells the beautiful story of four girls who "were are different as they were they same" and how they were best friends. It shows them developing their own personalities, interests, characters but how they also stuck together through thick and thin. How they celebrate each other's successes, and support each other when things go wrong. And as they grow older, this story follows them from childhood to adulthood, they change and grow but their friendship remains steadfast.

"Together and apart, the girls went on becoming who they were going to be."

The careful wording and thoughtful illustrations in this book are absolutely heart-warming. They show girls, who become women, from different backgrounds, with different interests, with different challenges and successes but who stick together through it all. Because love binds us, holds us together. The illustrations are so touching and they really show the spice and variety of life! I really cannot speak highly enough of this story.

And as part of the Touring Picture Book Club (with three wonderful like-minded bookish mum friends) I thought I would look at one way we can help our children to forge friendships to last a lifetime: playdates. So here are my tips for how to organise the perfect playdate!

Planning the Perfect Playdate


Make sure that the playdate takes place at someone else's house. You do not want the chaos of several little kids running around your house if at all possible. Suggest to meet up at the park or softplay or anywhere but your house. Pray that the weather is good so that you can host in the garden. Ok, eventually you are going to have to have them come into your house. (But try and keep this to a minimum!)
Embrace soft play - it's way better than hosting!

Accept the Mess

So you haven't managed to avoid hosting the playdate at your house: great! Don't bother hoovering the house before anyone arrives as your carpet will be covered in crumbs, Peppa Pig characters and duplo within about two seconds flat! Shut off the doors to any rooms you don't want the kids inside - always your bedroom (and we do the study too because of computer equipment, and bookshelves: I can't be dealing with that stress). Hide any toys that are precious - because inevitably those are the ones that get broken. And remember that your kid might be house-trained, as will you friends kid, but they go all feral when they are together - keep drawing materials strictly supervised!


Prepare snacks. Lay out bowls of crisps, and biscuits and obligatory carrot and cucumber sticks and fruit which no one will eat. Apologise that you aren't serving juice (carpet stains!). Make tea and coffee for grown ups and have cake hidden out of kids sight and reach for grown ups!


In my experience, the kids just love the novelty of having someone else to play, or someone else's toys to play with but it's always useful to have one or two activities up your sleeve for calming them down or diffusing a fight over a toy. I rely upon Little Brian paint sticks as kids can draw all over the windows with them (which totally makes you seem like the coolest parent ever) and they wash off really easily. Or playdoh. And we have a few little friends who really love to play board games so we keep these and some jigsaws handy too. (Though these take a lot more patience and turn-taking skills so best played before you reach the overtired stage of the playdate).

Conversations with Grown Ups

These will happen in broken sentences as you get interrupted every two minutes by an excited child who can't believe their luck that their friend is here. Or a toy needing opened/new batteries/repaired. Or a trip to the toilet. Or to mop up spilled juice. Or to engage with the children. Or to break up a disagreement. Congratulate each other when they leave that you managed to have two and a half conversations that were only interrupted every three minutes instead of every two like last time.

The Aftermath

They have gone home. Breathe a huge sigh of relief. Look at the chaos around you. Wish you hadn't said "don't worry about tidying up, it will only take five minutes". Reassess - it's going to take 20 minutes. Plonk children in front of TV/iPad and put on whatever keeps them still for more than a minute. Commence tidying up. It really did only take five minutes. Have a cup of tea. And breath another sigh of relief because next time it's someone else's turn!

Not sure if he's helping or making more mess.

There is no such thing as the perfect playdate. It doesn't exist. The only playdates are the ones that we survive. But, all joking aside, you will cherish watching your child learn to play and make their own friendships. And you will cherish the opportunity to chat with another exhausted parent who feels the same guilt over the littlest things. You need the playdate too.

Check out the other activities happening across the Touring Picture Book Club and pop over to Along Came Poppy's Twitter to be in with a chance of winning a copy of this awesome book!

Along Came Poppy - Exploring Friendship

And look out for our next touring picture book - "How to Be a Lion" by Ed Vere.

And if you've popped over from one of the other fabulous blogs - hello! And our regular readers - hello to you too!

Happy Reading and Playdates,
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. Words and opinions are each of our own. 

*If you are one of my mum-friends I hold you incredibly dearly too despite the fact I've only known you since I had BookBairn three and a half years ago - you know more about me (and my birth stories in the goriest detail) than just about anyone else. Without you I'm not sure I would have survived this parenting malarky!

Read With Me


So tonight's Lit Chat question comes from the 'Everything I Never Told You' card, as voted for on Instagram Stories. I'...

Lit Chat #3

Sunday, July 29, 2018 BookBairn 2 Comments

So tonight's Lit Chat question comes from the 'Everything I Never Told You' card, as voted for on Instagram Stories. I'm interested in seeing your responses as I'm sure there will be loads of great ones. But without any further ado, let's get lit chatting...

Do you have a favourite book title? What do you like about it?

This is a tricky one as titles are so varied from book to book and sometimes they can tell you a great deal about a story whilst other times they simply hint to a small part of the book. So here are some of my favourites:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - a lengthy but memorable one and I found it incredibly intriguing! What is a potato peel pie? A question the main character asks in the book!

It Only Happens in the Movies - this made me laugh as I love the idea that a book is challenging that real life is not nearly as dramatic as fictional ones.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - I actually wasn't a fan of this book but I bought it purely because I loved the title!

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly - I was totally drawn to this title and in an Animal Farm sort of way it was a fascinating read.

Clearly I like a long title!

Do you have any favourite quotes from books you've read? What makes them stand out to you?

I think one that I share with a lot of people is this one from The Twits by Roald Dahl (I know my friend Ally loves this one!):

“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
-The Twits

I think this quote really appeals to me because it's the sort of message we all need reminded of sometimes. And it's all about seeing the beauty in ourselves and others by thinking about our actions and not just our physical appearance.

I'm not actually one for collecting quotes from books so this is the only one that springs to mind!

What do you think? Please share your opinions in the comments below - or I'll link to the Instagram discussion too!

Happy Lit Chat!


A few people have recently asked me for recommendations for books to read with your child when they are soon to become an older sibling. ...

Books for Siblings about Welcoming a New Baby

Thursday, July 26, 2018 BookBairn 3 Comments

A few people have recently asked me for recommendations for books to read with your child when they are soon to become an older sibling. Whilst it seems like The Wee Page Turner has always been a part of our family, before he was born we spent lots and lots of time reading stories with BookBairn about what a new baby would entail and what being a big sister meant.

Before I share some of our favourites - I would recommend asking your library what books they have, or can request from other libraries as you won't need the books for too long (though some of these have become our favourites). It also allows you to borrow lots and test them out before buying the ones that appeal most to your family.

Also I've separated out books for with big sister and big brother characters so that, if you choose, you can get the appropriate one for your little one. But honestly, we read books with both boy and girl siblings and I think they are all valuable. Without further ado...

There's a House Inside my Mummy by Giles Andreae & Vanessa Cabban

This is a great rhyming story about a Mummy's tummy growing. It explains to children at a level they can understand that the baby is growing inside mummy's tummy and that's why her tummy is growing bigger and bigger. It also touches upon the fact that the mummy is more tired and sometimes she craves funny foods. It shows the developing relationship between a little boy and the bump. And on the final page it shows the whole family sitting together cuddling a new baby. This is a great book for sharing and explaining why mummy's tummy is growing and starts to build a bond between sibling and bump. The rhyming prose is a great read-aloud and the illustrations are soft and comforting. A lovely one if your child has lots of questions about mummy's bump.

What's Inside Your Tummy, Mummy? by Sam Lloyd

BookBairn just adored this hilarious lift-the-flap book about what's inside Mummy's tummy! It's such a simple book - on the first page Mummy tells the little boy that she is really excited about the surprise inside her tummy and on each subsequent page the Mummy's tummy gets a little bit bigger as happens in real life! Each page also has a lift-the-flap over the Mummy's tummy and the little boy guesses an animal that might be inside his mum's ever-growing tummy. It starts small with a flea, gradually getting bigger and bigger from chimpanzee to a horse until finally he thinks it's so big (almost a whole page spread) that he thinks it's a dinosaur! On the final page the mummy reveals the real secret inside her tummy - a new baby! It's a brilliant pop-up double-page spread that has the mummy shouting "yippee!!" The illustrations in this book are typical of Sam Lloyd, if you have read his Boris books you will know that he favours simple cartoon characters with bright bold colours against simple backgrounds allowing the characters to really shine! My full thoughts on this one are linked here.

Waiting for Baby by Rachel Fuller

This is another great one for helping to explain the excitement around Mummy's growing tummy. It shows a child reading stories about a new baby, feeling the baby move, sharing old clothes and picking out new ones, buying toys, visiting the doctor, painting the baby's room and waving mummy off to the hospital. With very limited text but lots of detailed illustrations, this is a super book to share and discuss all the exciting things around the new baby. It's also one of the few, that I've seen, that show mummy going to the hospital, which was the bit that BookBairn found the most tricky as I'd never really been away from her and we probably didn't prepare her enough for that. The illustrations in this book are full of smiles and excitement! There is also a follow up called 'My New Baby' which shares all the things that life with a new baby will be like.

Snuggle the Baby  by Sara Gillingham

'Snuggle the Baby' is truly a perfect book for little ones to introduce the idea of looking after a newborn. Completely interactive, the readers have to help play with and look after the baby in the story. Firstly, it says "babies love to play" and you have to tickle the baby's tummy, which BookBairn just loves doing. She even makes a little giggle noise for the baby when she tickles the baby's tummy. The next page shows babies playing and you have to move the baby's arms up to make him stretch. One of BookBairn's favourite parts of the book is to take the board bottle out of the page and feed the baby it's milk. For mothers planning to breastfeed, this is mentioned in the text but obviously would be hard to make interactive so a pretend bottle is the interactive part here. Then you have to help change the baby's nappy and swaddle a page-size cut-out baby. You can lift the baby out and tuck it under a blanket on the final page and sing a lullaby to help them fall asleep (if only it was that easy!). The predominant colours in the book area bright peachy-orange and a pastel turquoise making the illustrations quite striking on the eye! Though the main and interactive baby in the book is white with dark hair (as BookBairn's brother is likely to be) the other babies in the illustrations are of a variety of ethnicites and colourings which make it appealing to all families.This book is still a popular choice in our house and BookBairn just loves looking after baby. Our original review of this one can be found here.

Let's Care for Baby by Geraldine Krasinski & Amy Blay

What a great little hands-on this book is! You can put the baby's socks on, and cut it's nails, brush its hair and wash it's face, check it's temperature and change it's nappy, get it dressed, clean, fill and feed the baby it's bottle, find it's favourite toy, put it in it's sleep-bag and give it it's dummy. The baby is gender-neutral making it perfect for new siblings and siblings-to-be, especially where parents' haven't found out the gender. The illustrations are also scattered with a few keys words and phrases or instructions but it's more of a book to play with and discover than to read. This is a perfect books for encouraging hands-on learning and helping children develop a sense of responsibility for younger siblings. BookBairn has had so much fun with this one. She loves that it has a handle and can easily take it from room to room. She loves playing with the baby and putting it's dummy in - something that she is now getting good at in real life too. But her favourite part is definitely giving the baby it's bottle. Even now that our baby is over a year old she still enjoys playing with this book. You can find our original review of this one here and there's a little video of some of the moving parts so you can see it in action.

We Just Had a Baby by Stephen Krensky & Amelie Graux

A wonderful story about what happens once the baby has arrived. This is a great, and beautifully illustrated, take on what it is like for an older sibling who is baffled by why everyone coos over the littlest things that the baby does and yet nobody notices him doing these things. And why a baby wears a nappy when he can use the toilet. And why a baby only has milk but he can have pizza and ice cream. But it also shows his growing fondness for his little sister - how he plays peekaboo with her, and shows her how to splash in the bath. But my favourite part is at the end of the book when he says "I'm glad the baby keeps trying new things. I hope she grows up soon. I have BIG plans for us." I think this book captures well what it is like to be an older sibling to baby: to begin with it's a bit dull because they don't do much, and they when the do it's mostly play lead by the older sibling, like peekaboo but the exciting part of having a baby is without a doubt the plans you can make for when they are big enough to be your best friend! The illustrations in this book are full of subtle humour and I think it would be a great read for slightly older siblings too!

That's Actually My Blanket, Baby! by Angie Morgan & Kate Alizadeh

We all have a favourite toy or blanket as a child and, if you follow us you will know that BookBairn has a lion called Louis who goes everywhere. And, as much as she adores her brother there is no chance she would share Louis with him. So we went on a special trip, before The Wee Page Turner was born to buy him his own favourite snuggly toy: she picked an elephant named Hugo. So now whenever we go anywhere I have to check and make sure that we have both Louis and Hugo too. And that's exactly what this story is about. A little girl who has a blanket that goes everywhere. And a new baby who quite likes his big sister's blanket more than his own. So she shows him how to make his blanket messy, and smelly and loved, just like hers. It's a lovely tale about sibling bonding and friendship that is so beautifully illustrated you will have lots of fun reading this one!

The Wee Page Turner stealing BookBairn's blanket.

His Royal Tinyness by Sally Lloyd Jones & David Roberts

Once upon a time there was a Happy Family. Until one day, His Royal Highness, King Baby was born. King Baby becomes the center of attention. And his kind-hearted big sister (with her long flowing wondrous golden hair) feels a bit put out by all this fuss. What can the poor innocent princess do? In her efforts to scare this monster baby off, the princess soon discovers that he beholds her with complete adoration (the way only a younger sibling can) and they live happily ever after. This is a hilarious story about all the fuss and furore around a new baby seen through the eyes of their older sibling! Laugh out loud funny with illustrations to match!

Books for Big Sisters

Little Big Girl by Claire Keane

This book tells the story of a little girl, Matisse, who is very little in such a big world: she brushes her little teeth, puts on her little shoes and climbs into her little car seat going on big adventures across her big city! Sometimes she even needs a big nap after all her adventures (lucky for Matisse's Mummy, huh?). And then her little brother comes along and the little girl is suddenly not so little anymore. She is the big girl. He has the little fingers and the little toes and he yawns little yawns. And it shares lots of beautiful images of the children playing and growing together. The illustrations in this book differ greatly from the sorts of illustrations I usually appreciate in picture books. Instead of the bright and bold colours I normally praise, this book has a soft pastel coloured watercolour finish. With a colour palette limited to pale yellows pinks, turquoises and orange, Claire has created gentle illustrations which perfectly match the feel of her story. You can read my full review of this one here.

My Sister is Bigger Than Me by Kate Maryon & Lisa Stubbs

This is a wonderful celebration of the play between two siblings. The older sibling is the bossy boots who leads the play and picks all the games and best roles, and the younger sibling just has to follow along. Or does she? This is a story about friendship, and finding (and fighting for) your place. I love the friendship between the two sisters and it's so brilliantly illustrated you will want to jump into the book to join in their fun and games. I look forward to seeing my two play together like this!

I Am a Big Sister by Caroline Jayne Church
Big Sisters are the Best by Fran Manushkin

There are lots of books like this on the market, and I'll be honest they are all much of a muchness. They show an older sister meeting and helping to look after and play with a new sibling. Showing that when a family grows so does the amount of love and that there is plenty for everyone. Soft and sweet illustrations to match! These books don't particularly excite me but they do serve a purpose for sharing with your little ones that there is plenty of love to go around. My recommendation is to borrow some books like these from your library as, for us, they haven't stood the test of time.

Books for Big Brothers

I Am a Big Brother by Caroline Jayne Church
Big Brothers are the Best by Fran Manushkin

As I mentioned before, there are lots of similar books like this on the market and they are honestly so useful. But in my opinion they are ones that are better to borrow than invest in as they are time-limited for preparing your little one for the new baby but probably won't be re-read over and over again like some of the other one's I'm recommending.

Charlie and Lola series by Lauren Child

These stories all revolve around the relationship between brother and sister - they are basically amusing takes on everyday life of small kids in the context of a warm and amusing sibling relationship. And the illustrations are adorable. Perfect for showing big brothers how to lead the way!

Lauren Child also wrote and illustrated this book which is solely about having a new sibling. And doesn't it look fabulous?

All at Sea by Gerry Byrne & Faye Hanson

It’s difficult coming to terms with a new sibling, babies turn our lives upside down and older siblings have to learn to share. Not just toys but parents' time and attention. In All At Sea, Liam gets a new baby brother and a set of toy hippos all in one day! And the baby hippo keeps going missing - eaten by a crocodile, trampled by an elephant and takes a swim in the toilet. All of which give him nightmares. But only when he accepts the baby hippo into the hippo family do his bad dreams stop. A very sensitive story about the arrival of a new baby. Written by a child development expert and illustrated by the ever so talented Faye Hanson this is a great book for older children who are expecting a new sibling. There are lots of great books for very tiny tots but this one is the first I have seen that would suit older children too! 

Little Frog's Tadpole Trouble by Tatyana Feeney

There's no guidebook for no longer being the center of attention. But this is a great book about little frog who is about to become the big brother to thousands of tadpoles! This book outlines just a few of the new responsibilities and shares some of the changes that a big brother will have to face. Just be glad you're not having thousands of babies!

For Older Children

The New Baby by Lie Dirkx

This is such a fun activity book for slightly older children where you can design baby grows, and discuss baby names as well as learn about the baby as it grows month by month. With images about what happens when the baby is born as well as lists for what you will pack in a hospital bag this book has is covered. And as it's an activity book it's great for starting discussions as you do the activities together. Beautifully designed and illustrated.

9 months by Courtney Adamo, Esther van de Paal & Lizzy Stewart

This is a much more anatomical guide for much older children (and grown ups alike) that is beautifully illustrated. Packed full of facts and information you will know about each new development and change as the pregnancy progresses. The illustrations to accompany the text are definitely aimed at older children too - being less cutesy and more mature than many of the others. This is perfect for children aged 7+ who are expecting a new sibling.

One for Parents & the New Baby

Welcome by Mo Willems

This is a laugh out loud manual for babies about what to expect from their first few years and we love it! Beside a full page mirror there is the statement "our research indicates this is you." Packed full of similar dry humour stating the many activities that babies will enjoy: sleeping, waking, eating, burping, pooping and more pooping. Accompanied by images similar to road or warning signs that celebrate high contrast colours which are perfect for a newborn and young baby's eyesight, this is a great book to share with your tiny tot as it the images will appeal to them whilst the humour appeals to you! My favourite part has to be the page pictured below:

"If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to: call or flail about or scream like a banshee."

This really is the perfect baby gift for new parents and baby alike.

And we have a copy to giveaway - check out our social media pages linked at the top of the page or search for BookBairn on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. (Competition will close on 2.8.18).

We also had this great little countdown chart for when the baby was to arrive (shame he was eight days late, but nevermind!) which helped to build the excitement and prepare for the new baby.

I hope you have found this list of recommendations for books for big siblings helpful!

Good luck on introducing your new baby to the family!
And to surviving more sleepless nights!
Kim and the bairns xx

Read With Me


So tonight's Lit Chat question comes from the 'Matilda' card, as voted for on Instagram, which I just knew you would choose...

Lit Chat #2

Sunday, July 22, 2018 BookBairn 4 Comments

So tonight's Lit Chat question comes from the 'Matilda' card, as voted for on Instagram, which I just knew you would choose because it was the first card that I picked out as well! But without any further ado, let's get lit chatting...

Was reading something you enjoyed as a child? What was your favourite book?

I absolutely adored reading as a child! My mum is a librarian and I cannot remember a time when I wasn't surrounded by books. I remember reading books with my mum curled up in bed together. It's hard to say what my favourite book was as at different moments in my childhood different books meant different things to me. My favourite book to read with my mum was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I loved the magical world of Narnia. I loved getting so immersed in a story. And I loved the character of Aslan deeply. But it was also about the reading experience of my mum sharing a story that she loved too. My favourite book we read at school was Charlotte's Web and I loved all the project work that we did surrounding it. I got so so caught up in the plight of the characters and their strong friendships that this story really stuck with me. And my favourite book that I read to myself was The Lottie Project by Jacqueline Wilson. I loved this story so much - I became fascinated by Victorian times, I tried to imagine my life as the character and I starting trying to write my own version of the story. But so many favourites!

Have you read it again as an adult? Is it still your favourite?

I have read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe again this year and I loved it! But it's probably not my favourite anymore. I read The Lottie Project at least a dozen times when I was younger and I don't see myself reading it again. But Charlotte's Web is still my favourite. I read it with my class when I was pregnant with BookBairn and they loved it. And I named BookBairn after that little spider. I can't see a book taking a bigger place in my heart than that one!

What do you think? Please share your opinions in the comments below - or I'll link to the Instagram discussion too!

Happy Lit Chat!

Read With Me


So tonight's Lit Chat question comes from the 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' card, as voted for on Instagram so, without any ...

Lit Chat #1

Sunday, July 15, 2018 BookBairn 4 Comments

So tonight's Lit Chat question comes from the 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' card, as voted for on Instagram so, without any further ado, let's get lit chatting...

What is you favourite movie adaptation or television series on a book? What made it a good adaptation?

I think for this I have two favourite movie adaptations! I loved 'The Secret Life of Bees' by Sue Monk Kidd, and it's probably one of the first books of adult literature that I read and really loved and when I saw the film at the cinema I couldn't believe how much the film was like the way I had envisaged the book. The characters and setting were exactly as I pictured. Some time had lapsed between reading and watching so I can't remember if all the nuances and details were the same as the book but I was really impressed with it as capturing the story as I remembered it!

And a more recent one is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which I deliberately re-read in the week before going to see the film at the cinema. The book is truly wonderful and had me laughing out loud and weeping in equal measure. As did the film. There were some variations from the book, which is understandable due to the time constraints, but I thought it was a particularly good adaption especially when you consider that the whole book is written in letter format. The acting was brilliant, the scenery breath-taking and the whole experience left me feeling uplifted. I can't wait to watch it again!

What is your least favourite movie or television series based on a book? What didn't you like about it?

Now this is a tougher question and I had to think about it and I think I'm going to choose a film that I do really like but also really disappointed me. I chose to study 'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris for my English literature study in high school and became fully entranced in the world. So much so that when my mum returned from a work trip with a cuddly bunny rabbit (no I was not too old for cuddly toys and I'm still not!) I called it Pantoufle after the little girl's imaginary rabbit. I had written paragraphs about the symbolism in this book and Pantoufle played a huge part in that. And, no, Pantoufle isn't cut from the film - he's replaced with a kangaroo. Completely destroying all the symbolism of the character, and sort of breaking my heart a little. So although I enjoy this film, I despair at this poor casting choice!

What do you think? Please share your opinions in the comments below - or I'll link to the Instagram discussion too!

Happy Lit Chat!