July/August Kids Reads

Before lockdown I was struggling to get Edith to stop reading at night. Miss Independent just wanted to get straight into bed and read to herself for a couple of hours. Now she is in a bit of a slump. She is more than happy to read to her sisters but very uninspired to read to herself. I wonder whether the whole lockdown situation has scared her off the whole idea of doing anything independently and this includes reading. The silver lining to this situation is that she now wants me to read to her again which I am loving.

  • Rapunzel by Bethan Woolvin.

Rapunzel is smart. She has great hair. And she does NOT need a prince.

I HAVE HIT A WALL. In the quest to raise daughters who could never be described as princesses, I have created MONSTERS. My daughters are independent, feisty and opinionated and maybe just for an hour I would like them to be quiet, introverted stamp collectors. (no disrespect to stamp collectors). 👧👧👧👧👧👶👧👧👧👧👧👧I have quite a few mum friends who don’t like their daughters to read fairy tales. They don’t want their girls to be exposed to princesses who want to fall in love and be rescued by a man. I on the other hand, pity the poor man who falls in love with my harridans. Today’s major melt down was as a result of me saying that they couldn’t watch their iPads at 4:30 in the morning. I AM DONE!!!!

Bethan Woolvin is a hit in our house. She says of her books ‘I’m inspired to create strong female characters in my fairytales, because I want to create female characters both boys and girls will want to read about. It shows children that females are worthy of being written about.’ Her female characters are never rescued by princes, they aren’t victims and they always emerge victorious. These are utterly empowering books (I just sometimes wish my girls weren’t so empowered). Incidentally, every time I write the hashtag raising girls, I mistype and write raising gits. Hmmmmmm.

With this book, I wanted to deliver to readers are braver, more resource full Rapunzel, who doesn’t need to be saved by a prince.

  • See Inside London. Usborne. Rob Lloyd Jones and Barry Ablett.

See inside London. Over the past 2000 years, London has survived fires, plagues and terrible areas to become one of the largest cities in the world. With amazing illustrations and revealing flaps to lift, this book tells the cities incredible story.

The legendary Usborne books. My kids have TONS and my sister and I had loads when we were kids. I remember giggling with my school friends about the erection pictures in Understanding The Facts of Life and the Usborne Book of Ballet was the bible for many a school project.

We love a lift the flap book in our house. I think they appeal to our nosy nature. The Usborne See Inside series means that we can be educated and nosy at the same time. See Inside London is Edie’s favourite and was very useful when she had to do her Year 2 Fire of London project. There is something really comforting that Usborne books will always be the go-to for a school project.

  • Busy Zoo by Ruth Redford.

There are so many animals to meet at the zoo. Penguins, elephants and giraffes too! Push, pull, turn and slide to bring the busy zoo to life!

And then she turned 1!!! I am proud and joyful to report that her favourite pressie was a book!! Busy Zoo published by @campbell_books. This is a great book for little fingers. Really sturdy with loads of push, pull and slides. Maisie loved the 🦒 page. Happy Birthday Mrs!

  • The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton.

When Joe, Beth and Frannie move to a new home, an Enchanted Wood is on their doorstep. And when they discover the Faraway Tree, that is the beginning of many magical adventures! Join them and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree. Will it be the Land of Birthdays, the Land of Toys, or even the Land of Ice and Snow with its magic snowman?

When Edie requested that we read The Faraway Tree books together I was pretty chuffed. I had an image of myself sat on the sofa with beautiful hair, perfect dress and glowy skin, Edie and Ceci either side of me, freshly scrubbed from the bath. All three of us laughing at the Saucepan Man and imagining the taste of Toffee Shocks. I am sad to say that the reality has been different. Revisiting my childhood favourite has been…a disappointment. Appealing to adults was never part of Blyton’s MO. She famously said ‘My work in books, films and talks lies almost wholly with children and I have very little time to give to grown ups’ as a result I doubt very much if she would care about my adult opinions of her books seeing as my childhood self and my current children love the books

What would Ms Blyton say about the fact the books have been snowflaked?? No more Dame Slap…she is now Dame Snap. Fanny is now Frannie….my 7 year old was baffled by this one….how many 7 year olds call it a fanny????!!! Of course the premise of the book is great and incredibly exciting however I am sorry to say that we found each chapter a little repetitive. I would say that the lesson of this situation is that you shouldn’t return to childhood favourites but that theory is utterly disproved by Edie’s love for Roald Dahl.

Thanks for reading and stay well.

Els

March Kids Reads

Well. I almost miss the halcyon days of Brexit dominating the news. Day 1 of the UK being in lockdown and I have just finished day 6 of homeschooling. My kids were off last week as Ceci had a cough. I honestly feel a little broken and completely overwhelmed by the task ahead. I look through this post and see that my last entry was all about going back to work and now I have no idea when that will be. It seems like the world has gone mad. Teachers, you have my unflinching respect. You are all amazing.

  • The Spy Who Loved School Dinners by Pamala Butchart. Illustrated by Thomas Flintham.
  • Reading age 6-8.

Izzy is really pleased to have been put in charge of the new girl at school. Mathilde is French, and Izzy and her friends can’t wait to show her the den and it’s moth, and to help her avoid school dinners (also known as poison). But Mathilde loves school dinners and even has seconds! And that’s when they know. Matilda is a spy and she has come to find out their secrets. They must stop her before it’s too late!!!

Like her mother, Edie is a sucker for packaging and this bright pink cover was a hit. This book won Best Story in the 2015 Blue Peter Book Awards. Edie lapped it up. She was overjoyed to discover that Izzy’s teacher was called Miss Jones which is the name of her current Year 2 teacher and she also has a friend called Maisie which is the name of Edie’s little sister. To be honest I think the colour of the cover and the coincidence of the names was enough to make Edie love the book….it seems that my daughter is easily pleased. As she got further into the story she kept telling me that is was so exciting and every chapter ended on a mountain. After probing this somewhat I discovered she means ‘cliff hanger.’ Edie also loved the fact that Mathilde is French so she loved impressing us with her knowledge of French vocab.

When I was finally allowed to read it myself, I was really impressed with how well Butchart captured the children’s voices:

Mrs Kidd always makes us eat stuff we don’t want to. And she’s always moaning at us. Things like “Take your coat off! Or you won’t get the benefit when you go outside!” (Which doesn’t make sense). Or: “Izzy were you born in a barn?” And to begin with I just said “I don’t know,” because I wasn’t sure. But then I checked with mum and I wasn’t.

This is a great option for KS1 who are confident readers. I have read reviews who say it is a little girly. I disagree. Although the cover is bright pink, there is nothing ‘girly’ in the storyline and Izzy’s friend Zach is great fun. We will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

  • Anisha Accidental Detective by Serena Patel. Illustrated by Emma McCann.
  • Reading age 6-8.


Help! My super dramatic Aunty Bindi is getting married tomorrow and she’s having a mega meltdown. But ssssh! I’ve just found a ransom note, push through the letterbox, saying Uncle Tony, Bindi’s husband to be, has been kidnapped, and will only be freed if the wedding is cancelled! I have to keep this a secret otherwise it’ll be panic central… I guess it’s up to me Anisha- Accidental Detective, to save the day.

This is the second book with a bright pink cover that Edie has read this month. She has decided that all bright pink books are brilliant….I fear she is going to be setting herself up for disappointment somewhere down the line but not this time!!!

In 2017, Reflecting Realities Survey concluded that only 1% of children’s books have BAME main characters, and that only one children’s book published that year was a comedy. Thanks to this book, children from Hindu families will find a character they can relate to. Anisha is brilliant. She is clever, witty, funny and great role model to girls. Edith is a 6 year old who just loves love and the fact that this book was about a wedding really appealed to her romantic mind!!!! She loved Aunty Bindi and all her face masks, makeup and beautiful clothes. Serena Patel adds footnotes to a lot of the pages to explain elements of Indian language, food and customs. We learnt the meaning of Bhagavan, Didi, Saath saath and also wedding customs like Mehndi. We also learned a lot about lobsters….do you know they wee out of their faces?!?!?!?!

The story zipped along and was a really good mystery. Patel created some brilliant secondary characters….Granny Jas is my fave! Emma McCann’s illustrations are really funny. We look forward to reading more in the series.

Thanks to a Usborne for the copy.

  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox. Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

‘But the next baby born was truly divine, a sweet little child who was mine, all mine.’ I’m not a particularly sentimental person but reading this to Maisie this morning made me a bit tearful. 😢😢😢😢 I am starting to think about going back to work so looking into childcare. I have been off the longest with Maisie and I’m due to go back in August which is obviously the WORST month with summer holidays. I know every parent feels torn about working and leaving their kids. 💔💔💔💔💔💔💔. I adore my job. I love the people and feel utterly privileged to get paid to stand on the most beautiful stage and sing for a living. It has to be said that it is a tough job when you have little ones. Endless school pick ups missed, endless bedtimes missed. At the moment I feel utterly torn about what is the right thing for my kids, husband and myself. I have missed singing so much the last few months but I know my children have massively benefitted from having a parent at home. Argh!!!!! 😢😢😢

I hope you are all staying safe.

Thanks for reading.

February Kids Reads

Hello all. Being a bit of a lazy bones this morning and writing this while sat in bed. Maisie in the next room asleep. I am listening to the wind giving our roof a battering. We are in the middle of roof angst as we seem to have rain pouring in!!!! 😳😳😳 We only got our loft extension done a couple of years ago and it’s clearly not fit for purpose!!!

So this month all three books are faves of my eldest daughter Edie, who is 6. Next month I will make sure I include some of Ceci’s faves.

  • The Nothing to see Here Hotel by Steven Butler. Illustrated by Steven Lenton.

Welcome to The Nothing to see Here Hotel for magical creatures, where weird is normal for Frankie Banister and his parents who run the hotel. When a messenger arrives announcing the imminent arrival of the goblin prince Grogbah, Frankie and his family rush into action to get ready for their important guest. But it soon becomes obvious that the Banister family are going to have their work cut out with the demanding prince and his never ending entourage, especially and it turns out the rude little prince is hiding a secret.…

The only downside of Edie having caught the reading bug is that she no longer wants me to read to her at night. She gets into bed with her torch and reads aloud to herself (and her poor sister) for a good hour every evening. I have to holler up the stairs every 15 mins to tell her to go to sleep….it’s true, we all turn into our parents. As a result, in order to write reviews for Edie-age books I have to read them myself. In all honesty this is quite good as it quickly ups my Goodreads total and it means Edes and I have a mini book club ourselves.

After finishing this book a couple of days ago, I went on Goodreads to update. I decided not to give it a star rating because it is written for kids and a middle aged woman is definitely not the target audience. Sadly, I saw a few low star ratings and negative reviews written by adults who felt the book was offensive because of the racial connotations. Indeed it’s true that Prince Grogbah wears a turban and has three goblin wives but do people really think that Steven Butler is trying to make a negative statement about people from the Middle East????I am loathe to succumb to this snowflake attitude where literally anything and everything offends someone somewhere. The bottom line is that this is a book written for children and it has to be reviewed as such. My 6 year old (and this 38 year old) loved it. The story is fast paced and hilarious with some brilliant characters. The Molar Sisters and Berol Dunch who is an old wrinkly mermaid who insists on wearing a tiny bikini top were our faves. If your kids love the film Hotel Transylvania, they will ADORE this book. Steven Lenton who we love thanks to his illustrations for Shifty Mcgifty has done a brilliant job. Nearly every page has a fabulous picture with tons of things to spot. Edith (and myself) will definitely be reading the rest of the series!

  • A Book of Bears by Katie Viggers.

Meet the bears! Learn all about the eight different their families, their likes, their homes and more. Who is the biggest and who is the smallest? Which one is the honey monster and which one has anti-slip feet? Fun facts combined with Katie Viggers’ charming illustrations make this the perfect introduction to bears around the world.

Hands down the nicest book I have bought in a really long time. Thanks @luggylibrary for the recommendation. Because of this book, what Edie doesn’t know about Spectacled 👓 bears ain’t worth knowing. 🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓This beautiful hard back book takes you through 8 bear families – Sloth🐻, Brown 🐻, Giant 🐼, American Black 🐻,

Spectacled 🐻, Polar 🐻, Asiatic Black 🐻 and the Sun 🐻. We learn about each family – how well they swim, climb and run and also if they hibernate. Katie Viggers’ illustrations are absolutely brilliant – beautiful but also funny. Edie particular enjoyed the Sloth Bear hair salon….apparently sloth bears have a lot of thick, black, shaggy hair around their faces…who knew?!? I love that there is enough humour to keep a 7 year old entertained but also enough factual content to engage older children. Anyway this is an absolutely beautiful book to buy as a pressie or add to your collection.

  • Meet the Twitches by Hayley Scott. Illustrated by Pippa Curnick.

Meet the Twitches, four tiny toy rabbits who live inside a Teacup House. 

They belong to a girl called Stevie and she loves playing with them. But guess what? These toy rabbits have a secret. They come alive when Stevie isn’t looking! 

Open up the Teacup House – and meet four little rabbit heroes with big ideas!

I had one of those soft-focus mum moments the other night when I found Edie (6) reading this book. I remember reading it to her a couple of years ago and now she is picking it up and reading it herself. I had a quick skim through to remind myself of what happened but the gist is that when Stevie moves house she is gifted a teacup-shaped dolls house with 4 little rabbit dolls. They come to life, get lost, need rescuing….you know the drill. Edie loves the illustrations. I think this book satisfies her need to read ‘big girls books’ but also appeals to her little girl head because it is full of colour illustrations. Hilariously when asked what she likes best she replied “the quality of the paper.” It’s nice paper to be fair….kinda glossy if you know what I mean. Edie loves the descriptions of Stevie’s outfits, and the detail of the teacup house. I remember loving the fact that Stevie’s mum is a single parent. Refreshing to read a book that isn’t about a mummy, daddy, son and daughter.

Anyway, if your 6 year old is in the market for a book with lovely paper, about little rabbits, cute outfits and fried egg jelly sweets, you should pick this up!!

Thanks for reading. X