August has been a month of big milestones for our household! BookBairn started school nursery (I think it's the equivalent of pre-sc...

Little Loves - August

Friday, August 31, 2018 BookBairn 4 Comments

August has been a month of big milestones for our household! BookBairn started school nursery (I think it's the equivalent of pre-school in the US) and has settled in really well. I told you all about how we had been planning and preparing for nursery in a recent blog post but it seems to have paid off. She is loving it! She goes in happily everyday with a huge smile on her face and I think the daily routine is really suiting her. She has a best friend that she talks non-stop about and she is really settled. I'm so pleased because she doesn't always handle transitions well and I was anxious about how it would go but apparently I needn't have worried too much. The biggest milestone is that The Wee Page Turner is now walking. He has refused to hold our hands or be supported in his journey to taking his first steps prefering to cruise along furniture or use his push walker toy so when he took his first steps all by himself I couldn't have been prouder. Our fiercly independent little boy is now even more independent and enjoys getting into everything! For us grown ups, we have been kept busy with bathroom renovations that became more complicated due to a longstanding leak and living in a house that was built over 250 years ago but our builders have been great and we are almost there. I feel like juggling all these things have meant that I had to step back from blogging for a while to keep my house and life in order but hopefully I should find a little more time next month. That's the plan anyway! Here's an update of all the things we have been loving this month. Without further ado, our little loves...

I have mentioned before how much BookBairn loves the Go Jetters in a past little loves blog post and because of this mini fandom she has also got quite a good knowledge of world landmarks. She loves spotting them in other books, and on TV shows and sometimes compares things in our little town with world landmarks (the church tower is like Big Ben according to her). So I picked up a little landmark matching game from Aldi and we can now recognise even more. So in a little bit of book serendipity, we were delighted when Wonders of the World by Isabel Otter and Margaux Carpentier landed on our doormat! This is one that BookBairn has really loved exploring, even though the facts are aimed at slightly older children. She enjoys lifting the flaps, turning the wheels, the pop-up elements as well as pointing to and naming her favourite landmarks. Such a brilliant interactive tour of some of her favourite sights on Earth. And the colour palette is genius!

The Wee Page Turner is still obsessed with The Queen's Hat by Steve Antony but as I mentioned that before, I thought I would mention the other series of books that occasionally get a look-in and that's the Tales from Acorn Wood books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. He loves lifting the flaps and the rhyming story captures his attention just long enough for him to enjoy two or three bedtime stories! These are such great starter stories for children who need a little something to keep their fingers busy whilst the story unfolds. The rhyming prose is expertly done by Julia Donaldson, as always and the illustrations are bright clear and fun by Axel Scheffler, as always! They make great baby gifts and with several to choose from you can't go wrong!

I have read a lot of kid lit and middle grade books this month as I had so many stacking up on my shelves that I hadn't read so I thought back-to-school time would be a great time to read them. So I started reading them on 15th August when BookBairn started nursery (and out local schools went back) and will be reading them for a whole month! And what fun I've had! These books are so creative, intelligent and pacey so they make great reads. I have particularly enjoyed the Beetle Boy series by MG Leonard and am in awe of whole all the elements were so expertly woven together. But my favourite of the month has to be A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan. I love the way she crafted the story cleverly playing on concepts such as rose-tinted glasses and a Stepford Wife scenario as well as creating main characters who were fascinating to read about. The way she played with the ideas of perfectionism whilst creating characters who were obviously flawed was a very clever commentary of humanity. This is one of the most clever books I've read and I think it's even more ingenious because it's aimed at young readers.

For more of our favourite reads you might want to check out our Favourites Shelf blog post.

We haven't watched a whole lot this month really as our new nursery routine means that we have been cutting back on screen time. We tend to watch TV whilst having breakfast in the morning (meaning that I can safely run around the house getting some things done whilst the kids are entertained) and then sometimes watch an episode of something before nap or quiet time. BookBairn usually plays on her iPad for a little while after she gets up from her quiet time whilst her little brother still naps. Once or twice a week the kids have a "telly tea" where they get to watch a film or something whilst they have their dinner in the living room (this requires a mess free dinner so not on bolognese night!). They both have a few episodes of TV after bathtime and before bed. I feel like we have been cutting back but it still sounds like an awful lot when I type it out here. I'd be interested to hear how you manage screen time at home!

This month the weather has certainly changed and whilst at the start of the month we were in shorts, t-shirts and summer dresses we are now back to long-sleeves and light-weight jumpers. Looking back on photos from the month apparently we have been wearing lots of stripes! I clearly have a thing for stripes at the moment!!

One of the things we have been playing this month is 'penguin hunters'. A local hospice charity has been fundraising by creating giant penguins and placing them all around Dundee (and slightly further afield) which isn't too far for us so we bought a copy of the sticker book and downloaded the app and have been searching for penguins all around! BookBairh has really delighted in this and we still have lots more to find (so far we have checked off 36/80) before they march to auction at the end of September. We also discovered a really cool park in the process that had lots of fun play equipment for all ages and we will definitely be back to visit even after the penguins are gone.

I wanted to try and do more meaningful activities with BookBairn after she comes home from nursery whilst The Wee Page Turner is napping to give her some quality one-to-one time and the most exciting so far has been making magic potions. Inspired by many of the brilliant accounts I follow on Instagram, we picked up some vinegar, food colouring and bicarbonate of soda to create chemical reactions that would mystify and amaze! BookBairn loved this and spent lots of time playing with them - even becoming confident enough to set up her own ingredients. Next time I'm going to add sequins to the mix! If you haven't tried this it's great fun!

One of the events that I went to at the Edinburgh Books Festival was 'Picture Books: Introducing Art' which focused on a discussion about the impact of picture books, and their illustrations, in developing children's visual literacy and ability to appreciate art. It was really interesting! And something I want to talk about in a separate blog post but I was fascinated by the idea that we should try to choose books with a variety of illustrative approaches so that children would have a rich diet of images to fill gaps in their visual knowledge and to help them develop their personal taste! It's certainly been food for thought for me.

I couldn't talk about August without mentioning the Edinburgh Book Festival. We have visited several times this month for various events and to meet various authors and illustrators! I just love getting the chance to interact with all those book geniuses and to show them how much we appreciate their work. I also love to get books signed for the kids, which I have written about in a blog post coming up next week!

It's certainly been an exciting month for us!
I hope September is a bit quieter but somehow I doubt it will be!
Hope you've had a lovely month.
Mummy and the bairns xx

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat


One of the things I have become interested in is supporting children to develop their mindfulness and become more in tune with their fee...

Golden Sparkles: An Introduction to Mindfulness

Monday, August 27, 2018 BookBairn 8 Comments

One of the things I have become interested in is supporting children to develop their mindfulness and become more in tune with their feelings and emotions. After having children, my "me time" has become very precious so I want to use it wisely and have begun to take a small amount of time during each day to sit and do nothing, to be mindful, to stop and be aware of how I am feeling. Not meditating in any sort of structured sense or using any sort of app or programme but just literally stopping for a few moments a day to do nothing. And I think it's really helping me to be calm. And helping me to take time to understand how I'm feeling and why I might be feeling certain ways. I think as parents (or just simply as humans) we juggle lots of things in our heads and our hearts so it's good to take some time out from that!

And, as I say, doing this has made me more conscious of how I can help my children and my future classes to learn about being mindful. When I read the introductory pages to this new picture book this phrase really struck a chord with me:

"We don't know how mindfulness might change the trajectory of development in children who start practicing it at a young age but the potential is immense."

Wow! The potential is immense. We know from studies that mindfulness techniques are greatly beneficial for youth and adults but what we are yet to discover is how incredible it could be for little ones.

So we are adding to our collection of Mindfulness and Meditation books, with this beautiful title Golden Sparkles: An Introduction to Mindfulness by Catarina R. Peterson and Mateya Arkova. Written in flowing rhyming prose, this book will help prepare children for a journey to discovering their own mindfulness in a way that they can understand. I love the simple analogy of having golden sparkles inside yourself that will help to tune in to how you are feeling. The lyrical story floats along, sharing with children the ways in which they can feel their golden sparkles whilst also celebrating their uniqueness. It shares how children can find their sparkles when they are feeling happy or sad with a simple breath. It helps them feel in control of how they navigate their world.

The illustrations are subtly soft and share children tuning in to their golden sparkles and practicing mindfulness. They show children of all different ages, colours and backgrounds enjoying the benefits of mindfulness in all different places. With a dreamlike quality, alongside the lilting text when read aloud softly, the illustrations transport you to a world of calm and peace. 

The book also has accompanying mindfulness activity suggestions that grown ups and children are encouraged to do together, making the golden sparkles of the story really leap off the page and into your hearts too. But ultimately this book is a beautiful introduction into not being afraid to listen to the feelings inside. And that's an immensely powerful message we can give to our children.

This book is aimed at children aged 5-10 but BookBairn, at only 3, loves listening to the story and enjoys the illustrations so, although she might not quite be able to participate in the activities, she is still absorbing a calm and happy storytime and some of the message will undoubtedly seep through. It's also a lovely calming bedtime story!

Thanks for taking the time to read this, 
Now take five minutes for yourself to find your golden sparkles.
Mummy and BookBairn xx

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author for review and this blog post was sponsored by the author. You can find the author's webpage here:

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There are some books that, when I read them, I just think we need a copy of this in every classroom ! So I thought I'd share a short...

Books Every Classroom Should Have

Monday, August 13, 2018 BookBairn 2 Comments

There are some books that, when I read them, I just think we need a copy of this in every classroom! So I thought I'd share a short (as short as I could make it because we all know school budgets are super tight in the current climate) list of brand new releases that I think every classroom should have! This list of books is aimed at primary school classrooms and one lucky classroom teacher in the UK could win copies of my top three!

Under the Same Sky by Britta Teckentrup

We all live under the same sky and we experience many of the same hopes and dreams and emotions wherever we are. We feel the same love. We face the same storms. In this beautiful lyrical text, Britta Teckentrup celebrates and cherishes all that we have and share. Despite different colours, environments and experiences as depicted in her stunning illustrations of animal families all around the world. This is a magical story that will help you feel close as you read together and should help your class develop their empathy skills. It's a beautiful message about community, togetherness and empathy.

Feelings by Libby Walden & Richard Jones

This is a stunning exploration into emotional literacy for young children. Full to the brim of delightful illustrations and with a brilliant use of colour, this book is a beautifully poetic look into a wide range of emotions ranging from ‘happy’ to ‘angry’ to ‘alone’ and ‘calm’. Centering on a little boy wearing a blue coat and a red hat, who, in fact, is only illustrated on the final page with a die-cut out showing him experiencing emotions on each page, stands still and firm as the background illustrations change around him to represent his changing feelings. Each beautiful illustration is accompanied by an enchanting poetic couplet introducing children to how that emotion might feel inside you. It is truly magical to read and will help your class explore a variety of emotions extending the emotional vocabulary of younger readers as well as creating the opportunity for discussions with older ones. 

Everybody's Welcome by Patricia Hegarty & Greg Abbott

This story promotes the ideals of refuge, inclusivity and friendship at a level even the littlest readers will understand. Mouse is building a house in the middle of the wood. When Frog's pond dries up and he has no where to live, Mouse suggests that they build a home together:

"Everybody's welcome,
no matter who they are, 
Wherever they may come from,
whether near or far."

Accompanied by beautiful illustrations that children will love to pore over, spotting all her favourite creatures, this magical book really teaches readers about acceptance, generosity and to empathise with others. Whilst the characters may appeal to the youngest pupils, older classes will learn a lot from unpicking the story to find the message hidden within!

And two more books that are ideal for the very youngest classes ideal for nursery and early years pupils.

The Worry Box by Suzanne Chiew & Sean Julian

Recent research by mental health charity Place2Be revealed that almost two thirds of children worry "all the time" so it's become even more important that we find tools to encourage children to open up and share their feelings and worries. This new title stars Murray Bear who has a lot of worries. So many, in fact, that it's stopping him from exploring and going on adventures with his friends. With the help of his sister, Milly, Murray makes a special box to keep all his worries in and sets out to explore, adventure and make new friends. With soft illustrations and adorable characters that children will relate to, this is a brilliant story to encourage children to talk about their worries and fears. A much-needed book for classroom and school libraries!

Mind Your Manners by Nicola Edwards & Feronia Parker-Thomas

Welcome to the jungle! Or so many teachers might feel with a new class of monkeys to teach and enjoy over the next year. This is a perfect back-to-school first day of term book. It's full of misbehaving animals who need to learn some manners. With quirky and memorable rhymes alongside adorable animal illustrations, children will enjoy this fun introduction to manners and the importance of being polite! The illustrations are packed full of humour which makes the lesson light-hearted and enjoyable for readers. One of the best things to establish in your class is how to treat one and other with respect, kindness and good manners and this book is just perfect for that!

So there you are! Some great books to get your class engaged in quality storytime as well as opening up discussions of wider issues or supporting children develop their own empathy and emotional literacy skills. 

And the good news... we've got copies of Everybody's Welcome, Feelings and Under the Same Sky to giveaway to any classroom teacher in the UK!* Pop over to my Twitter or Instagram pages (you'll find us under the username BookBairn or you can click the social media icons at the top of this page) to find out how to enter.

Good luck in the new school year! 
Kim (teacher at large!)

*I was sent these three books by the publisher to celebrate their paperback release but as I already had hardback copies I wanted to give them to a classroom of kids to enjoy them. 

DISCLAIMER I was sent all these books free for review by the publishers. Words and opinions are my own. And I specifically chose these five because I really think they are the best. We get sent a lot of books and there are many that could have made the list but I wanted to keep it to the essentials so they are specifically selected because I think they are the best.


Are there any kids out there who don't love a dinosaur story? We seem to borrow endless numbers from the library and each one is di...

Dinosaur Adventures Blog Tour

Thursday, August 09, 2018 BookBairn 2 Comments

Are there any kids out there who don't love a dinosaur story? We seem to borrow endless numbers from the library and each one is different from the last! So when a new story comes along it has to roar pretty loud and stop it's dino-feet to be noticed. And this new series, from Miles Kelly Publishing, 'Dinosaur Adventures' by Fran Bromage with a variety of illustrators had certainly roared loud enough to get BookBairn's attention. With four in the series and each on focussed on a different dinosaur - T-Rex, Diplodocus, Velociraptor and Ankylosaurus - there's a dino friend for everyone.

As part of the Dinosaur Adventures Blog Tour - we have been sent the 'Ankylosaurus' book but if you want to check out your kids favourite dinosaur, you can check out the other blogs on the tour, which I have linked at the bottom.

'Dinosaur Adventures: Ankylosaurus' by Fran Bromage and illustrated by Tom Heard tells the story of Archie the Ankylosaurus who has a huge club at the end of his tail. Archie is a very tough-looking dinosaur but he has a really soft core making him super shy. But he's also very clumsy, which is pretty tricky when you have a huge club at the end of your tail, especially when it seems to do the exact opposite of what he wanted it to do! He destroys things just by walking past them. He knocks out and trips up his dinosaur friends and spends a lot of his time saying sorry. And the other dinosaurs, quite frankly are fed up of getting tripped up by Archie's club. So he often gets left out of games and is left watching as the other dinosaurs as they play. During a game of hide-and-seek, Archie spots a T-Rex heading right their way, and warning all his dino-friends they head for the cave where all his friends were hiding and just as they get to the cave a volcano starts to erupt. As the sky fills with smoke and the fiery balls of lava shot into the air, there is a huge rockfall and Archie hasn't reached the cave.With his friends trapped inside the cave, and a T-Rex on his tail, what can Archie do? Use his club of course!

A lovely story about self-pride and overcoming obstacles, it's a great one to read aloud to little readers. The dinosaurs are adorably brought to life in a variety of colours, your little one will want to join the gang! And if you check out our social media you'll see that we have three whole sets of four books to give away!

We were also lucky enough to get to ask some questions to the illustrator as part of the blog tour as well as get an exclusive how to drawing guide of Archie and some printable colouring in sheets!

So first our questions:

Mummy's Questions:

How did you find illustrating the dinosaurs? With so much speculation and research as to what they actually looked like were you tempted to give them feathers?

I’ve had so much fun illustrating dinosaurs for this book! At first, it took some time to capture each dinosaurs’ characteristics and their were numerous versions before I decided upon my final character designs. I was never really tempted to add feathers, this I believe was partly due to reflecting on the illustrations within my own dinosaur books as a child.

In BookBairn’s room we have a ‘Favourites Shelf’ of her favourite stories, which picture books would you  have on your Favourites Shelf at the moment?

Far too many to name them all! I’ve recently enjoyed Quick, Barney, Run! by Pip Jones and Laura Hughes and some of my favourites include The Bear and the Piano, (David Litchfield) and The Lost Thing, (Shaun Tan).

I’m sure there illustrators who have inspired you, can you tell us a few that you like the most?

Oliver Jeffers, Yasmeen Ismail, Chris Riddell, and Benji Davies.

If you could choose any book to create new illustrations for, which would you choose?

What a difficult question to answer! I think it would be Matilda by Roald Dahl, a book I’ve read countless times and the characters would be good fun to illustrate!

BookBairn's questions: 

"My favourite dinosaur is a triceratops. Which dinosaur do you like best?"

My favourite dinosaur is a T-Rex they are huuuge!

“Orange is my colour. What’s your best colour?”

My best colour is blue after the greatest football team in the world – Birmingham City!

“I like a lion best. What’s your favourite animal?”

My favourite animal is a dog, after my pet Labrador – Buster.

“I like to draw shapes just now. What are you drawing?”

I’m currently drawing pirates, ships and lots of treasure!

And here is the awesome drawing guide some you can create your very own Archie:

BookBairn isn't really at the drawing stage yet - though she can do a very good impressionist style picture of me (where all my limbs come out of my head!). But we had so much fun using the colouring-in sheets. I coloured Archie and she coloured two of the other characters from the story and she concentrated really well on the task. She was pretty determind to choose her own colours for the characters and not just copy them. She chatted away as we worked side by side and I'm definitely going to do more side by side colouring and artwork with her. If you would like to get your hands on your own colouring sheets to match the characters in the story simply click on the images below to find them.

And just one last goodie for you today! We are giving away three gift bags - each with the four Dinosaur Adventures book, a colouring book and a puzzle as well as this irresistible dino bag! So pop over to any of our social media - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we will be giving away one bag on each platform! 

To find out more about the series check out the rest of the blog tour below or pop over to Miles Kelly Publishing. There are so many great goodies as part of the blog tour so well worth checking out the other bloggers social media accounts for more freebies and giveaways!

What an exciting blog tour this has been!

Happy reading, drawing, colouring, winning and dino-stomping!!
Kim and BookBairn xx

DISCLAIMER We were sent our copy of Ankylosaurus and have been promised a goodie bag of our own in exchange for taking part in the blog tour. As well as being provided with the goodie bags to give to you! Words and opinions are our own.

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Every once and a while, amongst the towers of books we collect, there is a book that really stands out as beautiful and poignant as well a...

The Garden of Hope Blog Tour

Tuesday, August 07, 2018 BookBairn 4 Comments

Every once and a while, amongst the towers of books we collect, there is a book that really stands out as beautiful and poignant as well as being a lovely story to read. Often these sorts of books appeal to me as much as they do to the bairns showing the great power of fabulous storytelling. The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter and Kate Rewse is just such a picture book and we are delighted to take part in the blog tour this week.

This book really is an incredibly powerful picture book with a simple message of hope. After Maya has lost her mum, (though it's not made clear whether her mum has left or passed away allowing for the interpretation of the reader), she struggles with worries and anxiety finding the gap in her life to be a gaping black hole of confusion, anger, grief and heartache. Fortunately for Maya she has a wonderfully supportive father who understands and tries to help her find ways to cope with her emotions (despite his own obvious grief and sadness).

Her dad tells her a story about how her mum planted seeds in the garden when she was worried and as she watched them grow her worries faded. So Maya sets out to reclaim the garden from the weeds and plant seeds of hope of her own. The garden is very overgrown and it takes huge amounts of dedication from Maya, with the help of her father, to clear the weeds, plant the seeds and to lovingly care for the garden as it grows. By the end of the story, Maya's garden is beautiful and has attracted bees, butterflies, ladybirds, hedgehogs and rabbits (amongst others). Maya had transformed the garden into a place of beauty, budding with life. And her mum (and dad) had been right. As Maya planted the seeds she had forgotten her worries and provided something she needed most: hope. 

This is such an enchanting tale that deals with subjects of loss (or absenteeism) and anxiety. With incredibly beautiful illustrations of a garden blooming back to life this is a truly beautiful book. The illustrations in this book are beautifully soft and subtle and show the small changes in the garden, and in Maya, over the passage of time. The incredible blooming of the garden is spectacularly captured and it has given us inspiration to plant a garden of our own.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

In the last year we have been spending lots and lots more time in our garden, and that's thanks, in part, to a legacy left to me by my grandfather when he passed away last year. He spent a lot of time and took a lot of pride in his garden and I felt it fitting that we use some of my inheritance to revamp our garden to make it more family friendly. We bought our house from an older couple who had put a rockery and a large trellis in the middle of the lawn, both of which were potential dangers for the kids as well as a very uneven patio and three large sheds. So, with the help of some brilliant landscapers, we had the sheds all moved and painted, the rockery and trellis removed, a deck put in place of the patio and a large piece of play equipment installed on a patch of artificial grass (we still have lots of actual grass but we felt it was easier to maintain for the play equipment). So all that remains is for me to get some green fingers and get to grips with the plants in the garden. 

I find gardening quite daunting as I don't know very much at all! But with the help of Papa BookBairn we planted some seeds together and BookBairn now has her own little patch! As well as some sunflowers which are almost as tall as her. We planted the seeds back in May as well as planting out some small bedding plants (BookBairn and her Papa did most of the work because I had my arm in a sling still) as well as the sunflower seeds. And BookBairn has loved seeing her garden grow. Every time we go out to the garden she wants to check and water her plants as well as see how tall her sunflowers are growing. The excitement of watching things grow has really brought her a lot of joy! 

But you don't need much space for your kids to enjoy the excitement of watching their own garden grow. The first thing we planted together were cress seeds as I knew they would grow quickly so BookBairn would see results when she was feeling impatient for her other plants to grow. But actually I was surprised by how patient she has been, most days she says "my sunflowers are growing tall but they still don't have flowers yet" - it's like she checks in with them daily but already understands that they need more time. 

And like Maya's garden, our garden has attracted lots of fascinating wildlife. BookBairn loves seeing all the wildlife, in particular bees and butterflies, who visit the garden.  We have a huge lavender patch which, daily, is covered in dozens of bees and butterflies! We also have bird feeders and she enjoys looking for the garden birds, comparing them with a bird book that we have. We also have a rabbit, though I can't claim it's true wildlife as he lives in a hutch on our patio and is loved dearly! 

Growing a garden with children is a wonderful experience and, even for those who are not very green-fingered like me, you will find it's not as hard as you think. And maybe if you plant your worries along with the seeds, you too will find that your stresses and anxieties become replaced with hope.

Happy reading and planting,
Mummy and BookBairn

To check out more of the blog tour for this book you can follow #TheGardenofHope on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book free for review purposes and was asked to join the blog tour after having enjoyed the book. Words and opinions are, always my own.