July Kids Reads

Well July has been a crazy month. Maisie was born on the 3rd….thankfully I didn’t have to wait until I was 41 weeks. I am so relieved that she is finally here. The past 38 weeks were full of anxiety that I would be told those fateful words again….’I’m sorry but it’s not good news.’ I think the pessimist in me was always preparing myself to hear those words so when Maisie was born I was quite shocked. Ceci and Edie are being brilliant big sisters. Very hands on….VERY!!πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. I have to say that I’m slightly daunted by 6 weeks of summer holidays with 3 kids buy hey ‘Go hard or go home.’

  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • Johanna Spyri died 7th July 1901.

I remember having a VHS tape with the Shirley Temple film of Heidi. It was black and white and I thought it was mega dull. I mean black and white?!?!? I would always press fast forward to get to The Sound of Music which was also recorded on the same tape.

I have bought a few of these Usborne books for Edie. She loves them. Lovely pictures, short chapters and a simplified story. Since becoming a big big sister she has taken to reading a story to Ceci and Maisie at night. Although this adds an extra 20 minutes to the bedtime routine it is not something I want to discourage….in fact I hid outside their bedroom with my glass of wine feeling pretty proud! πŸ₯°

  • Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs by Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto.

When Flinn discovers a pirate hiding in a cupboard, it’s all aboard, me hearties, for a real live pirate adventure! But there are some mean baddies on the loose……

Will fearless Flinn be able to captain the ship and defeat the Pirate Dinosaurs?

The other day I did a post about what I look for in a children’s book. If I’m going to read it every night I appreciate a good rhyme, fun illustrations and the opportunity to indulge my inner actress with some epic voices. My lovely friend sent me these 3 books which were adored by her children. My girls LOVE them! No rhymes but brilliant pics and my Cornish Captain Stubble voice is already worthy of an Oscar…..sorry to brag. πŸ΄β€β˜ οΈ πŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈπŸ΄β€β˜ οΈThese book are high-octane, swash buckling adventures so make sure you follow it with something suitably dull or the kids will never go to bed!!!

    Grandmas from Mars by Michelle Robinson. Illustrations by Fred Blunt.

Fred and Nell’s parents are off to a meeting. But first they tell Grandma, “Here’s what they’ll be eating. It’s school in the morning, they can’t be up late. So: homework, a bath – and in bed before eight.”

But, HANG ON, there’s something not quite right about Fred and Nell’s Grandma. In fact, she’s acting very strangely indeed. And is that a spare eyeball? A tail? A striped tongue? That’s not their grandma, it’s an ALIEN….RUUUUUUUUNNN!

Yesssssssssss! It rhymes, it’s pacy, it has opportunity for melodramatic voices and the illustrations are great. It’s a hit from the kids and more importantly from ME!!!! We love this book. Ceci (3) finds it just the right amount of scary and proudly told her Grandpa that her new favourite book is the ‘scariest thing in the world.’ It’s really not!

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great summer.

See you next month.

June Kids Reads

Hi all. Can’t believe we are almost in July!!!! We are currently having a bit of a heatwave in the UK and I am being typically English about it….I mean we complain when it’s cold AND when it’s hot. 🀣. No pleasing us Brits!

  • Richard Scarry born 5th June 1919.

When I was a child we had a second hand copy of What Do People Do All Day. It was hardback with a yellow cover and in my mind it was massive (it probably wasn’t, I was little). I remember on nights that I could sleep, this would be my go to book of choice. There was a story about a little bunny going to the hospital to have her tonsils taken out. After the op she had a big mound or strawberry ice cream to eat. I remember thinking that was the coolest thing ever.

A couple of years ago, I bought a pack of Scarry books to give out instead of party bags at Edie’s birthday. I still love looking at the books and spotting Lowly the Worm. My girls love them. The illustrations are brilliant and there is always something new to notice.

  • Kicking a Ball by Allan Ahlberg.
  • Allan Ahlberg born 5th June 1938.

For anyone who can’t see a ball without wanting to kick it, head it, shoot it, or boot it! ‘Not eating an ice-cream Or riding a bike No – kicking a ball Is what I like.’ ‘What I like best, yes, most of all in my whole life is . . . kicking a ball. A wonderful rhyming story to read aloud, Kicking A Ball will not disappoint fans of Allan Ahlberg. First written as a poem, the little boy in the story has been brought to life perfectly by artist Sebastien Braun. Every parent will be able to immediately relate to the simple joy felt by a boy simply kicking a ball, and how there is nothing else quite like it. The incomparable Allan Ahlberg takes us on a journey from childhood to fatherhood full of humour, warmth, friendship . . . and football.

Oh god this book!!!! Ok I am a bit of an emotional wreck at the moment. 3 weeks left of this pregnancy 🀰 and I am going through all those feelings of Will it be ok??? Will I turn into a grumpy monster??? Will my girls enjoy having a sister???😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍My husband Ozzie, is definitely a boys boy. Massively into football, cycling etc. I don’t think he ever would have imagined 3 daughters in his future. Thank god the dog is a boy!!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚The reaction to expecting out 3rd girl has been an interesting one….will you try again for a boy?? Poor Ozzie??? And my fave….are you disappointed?!?! 😱😱😱😱My dream has always been 3 girls. If we had had a boy that would have been totally brill but I am overjoyed and grateful for my daughters. I know Ozzie is the same. I think Edith’s infatuation with lipstick and being in love baffles him slightly but its all a learning curve right?! πŸ’–πŸ’™πŸ’–πŸ’™πŸ’–My mum bought this book when Edie was born…I think mainly for Ozzie. It’s about a boy who loves everything about the beautiful game. As he grows up he still loves ⚽️ and his love of football is passed down to his daughter. It’s a beautiful book and means a lot to our family. So happy birthday to Allan Ahlberg 5th June 1938. Thank you for your beautiful book which means so much to us. P.S. Ozzie’s fave Father’s Day moment yesterday??? Kicking a ball in the pouring rain with our Edie who was wearing a beautiful pink lipstick. πŸ’„πŸ’„πŸŽˆβš½οΈπŸŽˆβš½οΈ

  • The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.
  • Robert Munsch born 11th June 1945.

The Princess Elizabeth is slated to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps Ronald. In resourceful and humorous fashion, Elizabeth finds the dragon, outsmarts him, and rescues Ronald–who is less than pleased at her un-princess-like appearance. 

β€œRonald” said Elizabeth, β€œyour clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum. They didn’t get married after all.

πŸ€΄πŸ‘Έ πŸ‰πŸ€΄πŸ‘ΈπŸ‰πŸ€΄. Happy Birthday to the wonderful Robert Munsch born 11th June 1945. 🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈My mum read this wonderful book to my sister and I when we were little and it definitely stands the test of time. My girls love it. Munsch was preaching feminism long before the Spice Girls. If I could urge you to buy one book this month it would be this. I adore reading this to me kids although I have to repeat the last page about Ronald being a bum at least 6 times in each sitting. The girls think it’s hysterical.

    Stone Underpants by Rebecca Lisle. Illustrated by Richard Watson.

Pod lives in the Stone Age and finds that he often has a cold bottom! So he invents underpants! Unfortunately his choice of material is not always practical. Will he find something that is both warm and flexbile, so he can play with his friends? 

I have included these last two books because we have read them pretty much EVERY NIGHT. Do your kids ever get fixated on a book? This is a question I already know the answer to. YES. Not just books….films. I remember my youngest daughter going through a phase when she would quite happily watch Sing about 3 times a day….. I realise this doesn’t say much for my parenting….πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€£. I guess that is why Peppa Pig does so well. Kids seem to be happy to sit through the same episode, film or read the same book again and again. For the last month, Stone Underpants has been Ceci’s favourite. I now know it off by heart. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

  • Ceci just LOVES this book. Is it the mention of bottoms? Pants??? I have no idea. All I know is that right now I hate it (sorry Rebecca Lisle) but that is only because we read it every night. In fact last night I was so desperate for a night off I paid my husband Β£5 to read it to her. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ Anyway, if you have a 3 year old, buy it and know that you will be reciting it in your sleep.
    • Naughty Naughty Monster by Kaye Umansky.

    I’M A NAUGHTY NAUGHTY MONSTER! ARE YOU READY? HERE I COME! I AM HUNGRY FOR MY DINNER AND I WANT YOU IN MY TUM! The Naughty Naughty Monster is looking for for a tasty meal to fill his monstrous belly. He rampages through woodland, farm and town, scaring all of the happy little animals that he thinks could make a good snack, but he runs into a fairy who is NOT happy with him at all! Will Naughty Naughty Monster learn his lesson and change his naughty ways? Kaye Umansky has written over 130 books for children and her work ranges from picture books to novels. She is best known for the Pongwiffy series. Greg Abbott is a talented new illustrator. Naughty, Naughty Monster is his first picture book.

    Reading aloud with kids. As a parent what do you like to read to your children? Due to my kids obsessions with the same reading material, it’s always risky introducing them to a new book. If I know a book is going to be a good one I know we are going to have to read it EVERY night for the next few weeks. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ To keep me entertained I need 2 things…a good rhyme and the opportunity for some entertaining voices. Naughty Naughty Monster by Kaye Umansky definitely has both of these. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘I often find that with rhyming books there always seems to be one clunky page that doesn’t quite work…..not with this one. Ceci also loves the fact that she looks like the fairy. πŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈReally brilliant book. Edie (6) and Ceci (4) LOVE it….as does their mum…..even after the 21st consecutive read. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

    Thanks for reading. See you in July unless I have melted!

    Synopses taken from lovereading4kids and Goodreads.

    May Reads

    This month included Mental Health Awareness week which I found quite apt as I feel I have been struggling a bit. I am now 33 weeks pregnant and feel massive. We had a late loss last August and mentally this pregnancy has been tough. The fear and paranoia came back with a vengeance and I have been back on antidepressants for a few months now. I now have about 6 weeks left and I am struggling with all the normal things women struggle with in the last trimester. I know how lucky I am to have a baby on the way and I can’t wait to have her here but I am also at that funny stage of being scared of change……I am a cancerian through and through. I am someone who has to find something to worry about. I am scared how the new baby will affect my marriage and my children. I am also trying to do too much….this is pretty typical of me. I know repainting my house at 33 weeks pregnant is not one of my best ideas but I guess I want to feel I am in control of something when I feel currently like I am out of control.

    • Regeneration by Pat Barker. 4⭐️.
    • Pat Barker born 8th May 1943.

    Craiglockhart War Hospital, Scotland, 1917, and army psychiatrist William Rivers is treating shell-shocked soldiers. Under his care are the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, as well as mute Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper. Rivers’s job is to make the men in his charge healthy enough to fight. Yet the closer he gets to mending his patients’ minds the harder becomes every decision to send them back to the horrors of the front. Pat Barker’s Regeneration is the classic exploration of how the traumas of war brutalised a generation of young men.

    Oh my goodness what an amazing novel. Pat Barker did an incredible job researching instances and treatments of PTSD in WW1 soldiers. I have spoken to a lot of people who just choose to read non-fiction but who made an exception to read this brilliant trilogy.

    The novel begins with Sassoon’s Soldier’s Declaration:

    I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

    Sassoon wrote this letter which was printed in the press and read out in the House of Commons in 1917. Although an incredibly decorated and respected soldier, Sassoon was deeply disillusioned with the war- a feeling which probably began with the death of his friend David Cuthbert Thomas. Rather than face court martial, Sassoon was admitted to Craiglockhart hospital where he was treated for shell shock. It is here that he meets a young Wilfred Owen and they are treated by the psychiatrist WHR Rivers. All three of these characters were obviously real people but Barker has introduced many fictional characters to the novel and has weaved them in seamlessly.

    The perception of Shell Shock in the novel is particularly moving. The young men who went off to fight for our country had no idea of the horrors they would face. It was to be an adventure. No one would have been mentally prepared for the the conditions, loss of comrades and the fear they dealt with on a daily basis. Even if soldiers had been mentally prepared, treatment and perception of mental illness was still pretty primitive. Indeed the most brutal part of this novel is the electric shock treatment used to regain a soldier’s speech. I was particularly interested and saddened to read how parents reacted to diagnoses of Shell shock in their own sons:

    He’d get a damn sight more sympathy from me if he had a bullet up his arse.

    The idea of being trapped in your own thoughts and in-turn trapped in the hamster wheel of having to go back out to fight because it was expected of you is terrifying and brutal.

    ‘You agreed to serve, Siegfried. Nobody’s asking you to change your opinions, or even to keep quiet about them, but you agreed to serve, and if you want the respect of the kind of people you are trying to influencethe Bobbies and the Tommies – you’ve got to be seen to keep your word. They won’t understand if you turn around in the middle of the war and say “I’m sorry, I’ve changed my mind.” To them, that’s just bad form. They’ll say you’re not behaving like a gentleman- and that’s the worst think they can say about anybody.’

    I will definitely read the other two books in the trilogy and I urge anyone who loves well-researched novels to pick it up.

    • The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. 3⭐️.
    • Jon Ronson born 10th May 1967.

    What if society wasn’t fundamentally rational, but was motivated by insanity? This thought sets Jon Ronson on an utterly compelling adventure into the world of madness.

    Along the way, Jon meets psychopaths, those whose lives have been touched by madness and those whose job it is to diagnose it, including the influential psychologist who developed the Psychopath Test, from whom Jon learns the art of psychopath-spotting. A skill which seemingly reveals that madness could indeed be at the heart of everything . . .

    Combining Jon Ronson’s trademark humour, charm and investigative incision, The Psychopath Test is both entertaining and honest, unearthing dangerous truths and asking serious questions about how we define normality in a world where we are increasingly judged by our maddest edges.

    I wondered if sometimes the difference between a psychopath in Broadmoor and a psychopath on Wall Street was the luck of being born into a stable, rich family.

    This was a pretty quick read and I did enjoy it but it left me questioning…..

    1. On the back page Will Self said he ‘laughted like a loon.’ I am mortified to say that I don’t even think I cracked a wry smile!!!!! 😱😱😱😱 God I hate it when books say things like that and you spend the time wondering what is wrong with you!!! I feel like this when I pick up a classic…..so scared that I’m just not going to ‘get it’ and then feel stupid. Anyway I feel a little like the joke is on me and I am probably the only person in the world who wasn’t rolling in the aisles.

    2. So many of Ronson’s point were on the money. The fact that there is now a diagnosis for every slightly odd mental health tick is a little worrying. I don’t believe it’s helpful to put everything under a ‘syndrome.’ I mean kids being medicated for bi-polar????? This terrifies me. Extremes of emotion surely come hand in hand with young children. I believe ADD is very real and must be very hard to deal with as a parent but diagnosing a child with bi-polar is just terrifying.

    3. The Psychopath Test by Bob Hare is really interesting.

    These are the points Hare has used….

    Ronson makes the point that the difference between a psychopath in Broadmoor and a psychopath in Wall Street is luck, wealth and a stable family. This really got me thinking and is a really interesting point. The chapter when Ronson meets business man Al Dunlap who believes he has a lot of the ‘traits’ on the PCL-R checklist but views them all as positives in the business world is really thought provoking.

    Really interesting read and don’t be put off if you don’t laugh like a loon!

    • The Storyteller by Jodie Picoult. 4⭐️.
    • Jodie Picoult born 19th May 1966.

    After a tragic accident which left her deeply scarred, Sage Singer retreated into herself, allowing her guilt to govern her life. When she befriends kindly retired teacher Josef, it seems that life has finally offered her a chance of healing.

    But the gentle man Sage thinks she knows is in fact hiding a terrible secret. Josef was an SS officer during the Holocaust and now he wishes to die – and he wants Sage to help him.

    As Joseph begins to reveal his past to her, Sage is horrified. 

    Does this past give her the right to kill him?A compelling tale about the line between justice and mercy from the internationally bestselling author Jodi Picoult.

    Gillian Flynn and Jodie Picoult are my go to authors when I just want a rollicking good read. Nothing too complicated but a story that will keep me turning pages late into the night and I guess that’s what it’s all about no????? Reading a book that you can’t put down. Life is good when you have an enjoyable book on the go.

    Since we studied WW2 in school it has been a period in history I read a lot about. I guess I am utterly incredulous how the holocaust, something so horrific happened not that long ago. Since having a family of my own, I read the books and watch the documentaries and films with tears rolling down my cheeks. It’s not often a book makes me cry but this one did. The terror, the brutality that people lived through completely terrifies me and since having my daughters, when I read about children being killed, I see my own girls.

    I have to say that my heart sank a little when the love story started to develop. I am not a fan of a love story. I would never choose to read a romance and I often find romantic storylines entwined around the Holocaust in slightly bad taste. I am pleased to say that the love element didn’t ruin the book for me and it didn’t take over the novel.

    • Spring Fever by PG Wodehouse. 4🌟.

    When a man needs only two hundred pounds to marry his cook and buy a public house, one would expect his life to be trouble free, but the fifth Earl of Shortlands has to reckon with his haughty daughter, Lady Adela, and Mervyn Spink, his butler, who also happens to be his rival in love. Mike Cardinal offers to sort out the problem by pretending to be Stanwood Cobbold but his way is blocked by Spink and reformed burglar, Augustus Robb. Confused? Let P.G.Wodehouse untangle the complications in this light-hearted comedy which ends happily – for almost everyone.

    This was our book club read of the month. I have to say that I find picking books for this group pretty tricky. I try to pick 6 books each month and the group vote on which one they would like to read. There tends to be a mix of classic authors and more modern books. The group is mainly made up of young mums who want to get back into reading. A lot of these women have jobs and young kid so for the majority, a book that is easily accessible is the key. This is fine but it does make the conversation a little dry. I remember the best book club I ever did was 50 Shades of Grey. People (including myself) absolutely loathed it and as a result the chat was entertaining and hilarious. I find with my current group that time is precious so if they dislike a book, they give up and don’t come to the meeting…I completely respect this decision. However, it means the meeting is comprised of people who enjoyed what they read which often means that the conversation isn’t that exciting. Maybe I should just be happy that people are reading but sometimes I just want a strong opinion. Hey ho. Never happy I guess.

    So this was the June pick and 4/5 people who turned up ‘likedit. I have to agree. There isn’t much to dislike. I can’t say that it is a novel which will change my life but I found it enjoyable. The one lady who disliked it didn’t like the element of farce and thought the character were a little ridiculous. Again, I couldn’t really disagree. An easy, enjoyable, amusing read.

    This month started with a revelation. One night while wading through all the dross on Facebook, I came across a post about downloading audiobooks on a library app. Just Wow!!!! I downloaded Libby, put in my library card number and I have a world of ebooks and audiobooks at my fingertips. I am supporting my library and no longer paying for audible. Proper happy!!!

    My first listen was Lust by Roald Dahl. If you haven’t read and short stories by the genius that is Dahl, PLEASE DO! Dahl’s imagination blows my brain. He starts a story and you have no idea where it will go. The stories in this compilation all revolve around sex. I loved each one and found them app hilarious.

    The 4:50 From Paddington was a quick listen while I painted the bathroom. There is something so comforting about Agatha Christie isn’t there?!? You always know the baddie will be caught. Love it. Also lovely to hear the late June Whitfield playing Miss Marple.

    I haven’t yet finished Smut by Alan Bennett. Bennett also deserves a Birthday wave as he was born on 9th May 1934. Like Dahl, Bennett can do no wrong. I completely adore his writing and he makes me laugh so much. His characters are utterly brilliant and very believable. I went to boarding school in Settle, North Yorkshire which is where Bennett lives. He is one of my hero’s and I adored reading Talking Heads for my A Level set text. If you have never picked up Bennett please do. I promise you will be moved and amused in equal measure.

    Until next month. Thanks for reading.

    May kids reads

    So, mid-May and we are in the final countdown before little girl #3 comes along. Having lost a baby last August I am definitely ready for my baby to be here. I know how lucky I am but this pregnancy has been proper stressful. I am at that strange third trimester phase of being excited and also terrified of change. Typical cancerian, change is a little scary for me!!! 🀣😱. Next week we are off to Mousehole in Cornwall for our last holiday as a 4. Definitely the last time we can all fit comfortably in the car. I am completely ready to have some proper family time. Sandcastles, crab salads, ice cream and hopefully some good books.

    • The Railway Children by E Nesbit.
    • E Nesbit died 4th May 1924.

    β€˜β€œOh! My Daddy, my Daddy!” That scream went like a knife into the heart of everyone in the train, and people put their heads out of the window to see a tall pale man with thin lips set in a close line, and a little girl clinging to him with arms and legs, while his arms went tightly round her.’ β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚β€οΈπŸš‚

    Not a review but who doesn’t have fond memories of The Railway Children??? We used to have it on cassette and it was definitely one of my favourite. I also loved the film. Mr Perks has to be one of the best characters and I remember loving the part when the Old Gentleman sent the hamper when mother had influenza. Just beautiful.

    • Peter Pan by J M Barrie.
    • J M Barrie born 9th May 1860.

    ‘”Wendy,” Peter Pan continued in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist, “Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”‘🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    I wonder what Mr Barrie thinks of the legacy he left behind? I remember my dad taking me to see it at the cinema….it must have been re-released as this outing definitely didn’t happen in 1953. Following the Leader is a song that we probably sing everyday in my family!!!

    • Toto. The Dog Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo.
    • L Frank Baum born 15th May 1856.

    From master storyteller MICHAEL MORPURGO, and illustrated in stunning colour by the award-winning EMMA CHICHESTER CLARK, comes a surprising, charming and uplifting twist on The Wizard of Oz, told by a very special and unforgettable character: Dorothy’s pet dog, Toto. A perfect, collectible gift for all children (and children at heart).

    β€œI was there,” Papa Toto said, and those magic words sent shivers down my spine. It was going to be the Wizard story. β€œDorothy and me were both there.”
    We were all silent, snuggled up together, waiting, waiting.
    Then Papa Toto began…

    When a twister descends on their Kansas farm, Toto and his owner Dorothy hide in the house – only to be plucked into the air and whisked away!

    Coming down with a crash in the mysterious land of Oz, the pair meet a series of extraordinary characters: a scarecrow who believes he has no brains, a tin man without a heart, and a cowardly lion who may not be as cowardly as he thinks he is.

    But Toto and Dorothy are desperate to return home – after all, home is home, and home is best! So they set off with their new friends on a journey down the yellow brick road to find the only person who might be able to help them: the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

    But what they find might surprise them. And on the way, all of them will learn that what they think they are missing might have been there, all along…

    Beautifully illustrated throughout, this is an unforgettable telling of a classic story, and a must for every bookshelf.

    I was really happy to discover this book and it would be a perfect gift for a Wizard of Oz fan. Telling the tale from Toto’s point of view is a fab twist and Chichester Clark’s illustrations are beautiful and colourful. Unfortunately, Edie (6) was a little young to appreciate it….you know when you have to skip bits or use ridiculously exaggerated voices to hold their attention??? Yes, I felt that I had to do that a lot. Anyway, I think it would be brilliant to read aloud to a 7/8 year old. Lovely book.

    • The Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem.
    • Jill Barklem born 23rd May 1951.

    If I had to name a book or series that summed up my childhood it would be the Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem. When my sister and I were little we lived in a village outside of Market Harborough. My paternal grandparents lived in Carlisle so seeing them was a big treat. I remember when we woke up in the mornings we could get into their bed and Grandma would read to us. Grandpa who was a typical dour Scot would try to grab our legs under the covers….I remember always being a little scared of him. Coming from a family of boys he found the idea of granddaughters pretty terrifying. Not so my Grandma. I used to love her reading to me and Brambly Hedge was my favourite. I loved the idea of the mice having their whole world under our noses. The illustrations were absolutely wonderful – really detailed so there were always new things to spot. I think my favourite was Winter Story. This one really captured my imagination….the mice find a forgotten part of the house which is full of old toys and dressing up clothes….what child wouldn’t love this?!?!? My idea of heaven.

    The Well-Loved Tales from Ladybird are a massive hit in our house. I remember loving them as a child so every time I pass a second hand book shop I scour the shelves. Ceci completely adores The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids, The Three Little Pigs and also Rapunzel. Edie is more of an Elves and the Shoemaker kind of girl. I also remember having a lot of these stories on cassette….the accompanying music was always something by Beethoven….did anyone else have the same tapes???

    • The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside.

    Wherever Jenny goes, her worries follow her – in a big blue bag. They are with her all the time – at school, at home, when she is watching TV and even in the bathroom! Jenny decides they have to go, but who will help her get rid of them?

    A funny and reassuring look at dealing with worries and anxiety, to be used as a spring board into important conversations with your child.

    13th-19th May is Mental Health Awareness Week so I thought I should post a book that helps deal with anxiety in children. With the imminent arrival of our third daughter, I wanted to read a book which would prompt the girls to tell me their worries about the baby. Brownie points go to the emotional and hormonal mum but my girls weren’t interested. No worries apparently. πŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. So instead of pressing the issue, I read the book in bed with a nice cuppa. πŸ˜‚πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜‚The illustrations are lovely and it’s perfect for KS1 and 2 children who like me are worriers. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈI have had depression on and off since I was 16 years old. It is not something I am ashamed of. It’s something that makes me me along with a wobbly mummy tummy and small boobs. I used to feel guilty that I had no β€˜reason’ to be depressed but now I accept that it’s just down to chemistry. (I always hated chemistry at school so it’s probably karma🀣). I have taken Citalopram but am currently taking Sertraline for my depression. Both have worked well and I have always been able to come off them easily when I have wanted to – MYTH 1 BUSTED. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

    I am getting on well with Sertraline and still able to get emotional when my daughter sings songs from The Greatest Showman. Your drug of choice DOESN’T have to make you feel like an emotional desert – MYTH 2 BUSTED – If your medication isn’t working for you, try something else. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

    I think the important word in MHA Week is to be AWARE. Be pro-active about your mental health. No one should feel hopeless and like you are at the bottom of a dark well. No one should feel ashamed when they are struggling. Please ask for help. Go to a doctor or a counsellor. You have one life. Live it! Learn what keeps you sane. For me it’s books. I need the escape a book provides me, I need the feeling of achievement finishing a book gives me and most of all I need the solitude that reading provides. πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šπŸ˜€πŸ“šPlease don’t suffer in silence.

    Right that is all from me this month. I am currently writing this from our tiny cottage in Mousehole Cornwall. Ozzie has taken then girls rockpooling so I have about half an hour before they return overtired and probably with bleeding knees!!!!

    April Kids Reads

    Yay, the end of April. This is where I finally get off the hamster wheel and stop work. Baby not due for a few weeks so I am looking forward to cosy nights in and reading….not very rock and roll. I finished last week and had big plans of reading fab books with the girls. Disappointingly, we have read Stick Man EVERY night. Last night, I attempted a bit of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was going well and even provoked a few laughs. However, as soon as we got to a couple of pages with no pictures, the interest stopped. I find myself turning the pages dreading being faced with no pictures. Not to be discouraged I have decided to let them choose a book each night but also mummy gets a choice. Yes, it makes storytime longer but it also means that Stick Man is diluted a little. I would like to add that I do love Stick Man….just not EVERY night.

    • Hans Christian Anderson born 2nd April 1805.

    One of my favourite films as a child was Hans Christian Anderson with the great Danny Kaye. I remember feeling so, so sorry for the poor cobbler who seemed ostracised by parents in the village for being a storyteller. I found the film almost painful to watch, particularly the part where Anderson tells the story of the Ugly Duckling to the little boy who is bullied for having no hair. Writing this now, it’s strikes me as quite a strange choice for a 7/8 year old child to take to heart so much.

    Growing up, I remember thinking that Anderson was a cobbler who fell in love with a ballerina in Copenhagen. In fact, the real life of the author is nothing like my beloved Danny Kaye film.

    Anderson was the only child born to parents in Odense in Denmark in 1805. As a young child, he was sent to a poor school where he became an apprentice to a weaver. At the age of 14, he moved to Copenhagen. His beautiful soprano voice earned him entry into the Royal Danish Theatre where he had aspirations of becoming an actor. When his voice broke, he decided to dedicate himself to poetry and writing. Anderson’s initial fairytales were revisions of stories he had heard as a child. They were heavily influenced by Christianity and on initial publication, sold poorly. 1845 was a breakthrough year for Anderson as his fairytales were published in 4 different translations.

    So what of Anderson’s legacy?? Disney films, songs, paintings etc. Edie is currently obsessed with the Don Bluth film of Thumbelina and she really enjoys the original story. For those who love the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, the Anderson tale is much darker. No reggae singing crabs here. Instead we have tongues being cut out and the Mermaid feeling like daggers are cutting her legs when she walks. It’s dark guys. Needless to say, it satisfied Edie’s blood lust and is now her story of choice. 😱😱😱🀣🀣

    • I want my Tooth by Tony Ross.

    Major Event in the Andrews household!!! Edie finally lost her first of about 5 wobbly teeth. She was utterly overjoyed. I seem to remember being a little freaked out when it happened to me, but not Edie Mae, no, she views it as a coming of age rite of passage. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. We read this book to celebrate. Whatever lengths I go to, to introduce my children to new books, they always find returning to the likes of The Little Princess and Peppa really comforting. I also quite enjoy these books as I can work on my Julian Clary and Jane Horrocks impressions. Clary is seriously hard to get right however!

    • Nothing can frighten a bear by Elizabeth Dale.

    Daddy Bear insists that nothing can frighten a bear – but when there’s a noise in the night, Baby Bear isn’t convinced. The bears set out to make sure there aren’t any monsters but, as they vanish one by one, it looks like Daddy Bear might not be so brave after all!

    We took this book out of the library a couple of weeks ago and the children loved it so much that I had to buy a copy. Firstly I need to say that there is nothing scary about this book so don’t worry about bad dreams. The end is brilliant. The rhymes are great and each rhyme is concluded on the page turn so both Edie and Ceci enjoyed guessing the word. I thought maybe it would be a bit young for Edie (6) but I think she enjoys it more than her sister.

    Right next month there will be more books….promise!!!!! If not I will write a very in-depth discussion about Stick Man.

    Thanks for reading.

    March Beauty

    Hi all. 3 completely wicked products this month. None of them crazy money and all completely fab.

    • The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. Β£11.20.

    In my constant quest to look like I have had 8 hours sleep when in fact I have had 5, this stuff from The Ordinary is the business. 🀩🀩🀩πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€© It’s cheap, it works and it lasts yonks. As with all peels, don’t go crazy…once, twice a week and don’t follow it with your glycolic toner, retinol serum etc. I read a review on Amazon of a lady who used it every night…I’m convinced she looks like Anjelica Huston in The Witches….sans mask! πŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈA couple of words of warning…………………

    1. It tingles a little. Don’t be alarmed. Man up!

    2. When the peel is on it looks like you have smeared your face in the blood of vestal virgins. Maybe don’t apply when there is any danger that the postman will knock at the door. This is without a doubt a nighttime ritual when the blinds are down and you are alone. ⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️ Anyway, it works. In fact I just did the school run without make up. Am still wearing massive πŸ•Ά – it doesn’t eliminate eye bags but my skin is clearer, sun spots reduced and open pores….what pores???

    • Hask Purifying Deep Conditioner with charcoal and citrus oil.
    • Boots. Β£2.99.

    I have to admit that I am pretty good about maintaining my hair cut and colour. This shouldn’t really be a boast as since my amazing hairdresser has moved to Leeds, she hops on the megabus every 6 weeks (πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ🚍🚍🚍) and comes to London to do a handful of haircuts for clients. Brilliantly for me, this involves minimal effort. I can sit in my kitchen in my pjs, safe in the knowledge that my whole family are queuing up in a production line to get their hair done without leaving the comfort of our own home. Lazy, lazy, lazy. I actually live in fear for the day that will surely come when Elthia wakes up, wonders what the hell she is doing, decides not to board the megabus at 5 in the morning for a 6 hour journey and we never see her again. This day will happen and I will have stop being a lazy bitch and drag my family to a salon!

    So, as I say, my colour and cut are always pretty up to date. The condition of my hair is unfortunately crap!!! I received this hair mask in a beauty box and it’s brill. Bloody everything has charcoal in nowadays doesn’t it? I was a little concerned before opening that it would stain my blonde hair but as you can see, it doesn’t really have a colour. It smells really citrusy which I love and is absolutely fine to use on coloured hair. I particularly like the fact that’s it’s purifying so it removes all the product build-up (a lot of dry shampoo and hairspray) and leaves my hair feeling baby soft and with a new lease of life! You can buy this little packet of Joy for just Β£2.99 from Boots. My hair is chin length and the packet has lasted 3 washes which is great. Defo worth a try.

      Kate McIver Secret Weapon Serum. Β£34.99.

    Woohooo! Another beautiful product that works like a dream. Secret Weapon Serum by Kate McIver. 🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️In 2016, Kate was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Treatment left her skin dull and dry. Using her knowledge from her job in skin aesthetics, she decided to make a product that would give women their confidence back. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒThe Serum is oil based so it instantly feels hydrating and really pampering. It contains borage, rosehip and evening primrose which contain fatty acids to develop healthy skin. These 3 ingredients contain Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which encourages the production of collagen and elastin which fight wrinkles and encourage that β€˜well -rested-glow’ something I am always on the hunt for. All natural, no harsh chemicals and suitable for vegans. It’s honestly totally gorgeous and if your tired, dull, dehydrated skin needs a treat you should try it. πŸ’žπŸ’ž

    Anyway thanks for reading. See y’all next month .

    March kids reads

    I am writing this on my walk to the tube station. I have turned into one of those utterly annoying people who write on their phones whilst walking!!! God how vexing! I am ashamed of myself. The sun is shining and I’m not wearing a coat. Spring has definitely sprung. This is my last week of working in the day. From next week until the 13th April I just have shows at night. My last show is a matinee of the Merry Widow on the 13th and then I’m done! The baby isn’t due until the beginning of July but lumbering around being pregnant on stage is pretty rank so I decided to take the time off. One of the things I am most excited about is reading to my girls every night….that and a nightly bath!!!

    • Theodor Seuss Geisel. Born 2nd March 1904.

    Dr Seuss is a firm favourite in our house. I am surprised and a little ashamed to say that he is an author who passed me by when I was younger. This month, on my walks to the station, I decided to listen to some podcasts on the authors I’ve read and it turns out that Dr Seuss was a pretty interesting guy. Firstly, we are all saying his name wrong. Apparently the correct pronunciation is Zoice!!! This is totally the kind of stuff I love finding out. From now on, I shall be utterly smug when his name comes up in conversation.

    The Cat in the Hat is probably one of his most famous books and was published in 1957. Cat in the Hat was intended as a children’s primer with 225 words. His editor then bet him he couldn’t write a book with 50 words….Green Eggs and Ham was created

    I think the best podcast I listened to was called Stuff you Should Know. This is an American podcast and the hour was packed with tons of interesting information about Dr Seuss. In recent years the Read Across America project which has always backed Dr Seuss books decided to move away from promoting the author in favour of more racially diverse books. Apparently, last year, a library refused a gift of Dr Seuss books which were sent by Melania Trump. The library said that the books were “steeped in racist propaganda and harmful stereotypes.” Anne Nealy who is a Professor of Children’s Literature at Vanderbilt Universitu said “Theodor Geisel was a product of his time. We should not judge him by today’s standard but we must evaluate the books that we decide to share with children using today’s standards.” Is this political correctness gone a bit mad??? Whatever your views, I think Anne Nealy hits the nail on the head. As a mother who enjoys reading these books to her children, I would agree that they certainly aren’t racially diverse, however my kids and I enjoy them and they encourage my daughter to read.

    • A Stitch in Time by Penelope Lively.
    • Dame Penelope Lively born 17th March 1933.

    Maria is always getting lost in the secret world of her imagination…

    A ghostly mystery and winner of the Whitbread Award,republished in the Collins Modern Classics range.

    Maria likes to be alone with her thoughts. She talks to animals and objects, and generally prefers them to people. But whilst on holiday she begins to hear things that aren’t there – a swing creaking, a dog barking – and when she sees a Victorian embroidered picture, Maria feels a strange connection with the ten-year-old, Harriet, who stitched it.

    But what happened to her? As Maria becomes more lost in Harriet’s world, she grows convinced that something tragic occurred…

    Perfect for fans of ghostly mysteries like β€˜Tom’s Midnight Garden’.

    Last month I attempted to read Milly Molly Mandy to Edie. It was a complete and utter failure. My 5 year old city girl was underwhelmed with quaint country life. She couldn’t believe that Milly Molly Mandy spent her time picking blackberries and running errands. “The most boring book ever” I was told. This got me thinking about how literature has changed. Edie is too young to read A Stitch in Time….the back of the book says it’s recommended for 9 year olds. Having said that, I don’t think she would enjoy it when she gets to 9. I am embarrassed to say that me at 37 found it dull!!!! Looking at reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, the star rating seems high but nearly every review is written by an adult who remembers it from their youth.

    A Stitch in Time won the 1976 Children’s Whitbread Award so at the time it was obviously incredibly popular. Undoubtedly, the writing is lovely and the character of Maria is beautifully drawn. I particularly enjoyed Lively’s description of Maria’s parents who were obviously the dullest of the dull. My issue with the book is that nothing really happened. It is slow but I guess that is because in the 70s, the pace of life was slower. Nowadays, we are spoiled by the internet, social media etc. We are used to things happening immediately, at the touch of a button…..you can even turn your house lights on with your mobile phone! I guess we don’t have to work at things as much. This book made me think how much the Harry Potter phenomenon must have changed literature. I’m not saying I need magic and giants but I need SOMETHING and I know my children definitely do.

    • The Sheep Pig by Dick King Smith.
    • Dick King Smith born 27th March 1922.

    The Sheep-pig is one of Dick King-Smith’s most famous tales. It shot to further fame when the film adaptation, Babe, was released in 1995. 

    ‘Why can’t I learn to be a Sheep-Pig?’

    When Babe, the little orphaned piglet, is won at a fair by Farmer Hogget, he is adopted by Fly, the kind-hearted sheep-dog. Babe is determined to learn everything he can from Fly. He knows he can’t be a sheep-dog. But maybe, just maybe, he might be a sheep-pig.

    ‘An unexpectedly thrilling, funny charmer of a book’ – Guardian
    ‘Dick King-Smith is a huge favourite with children’ – Observer

    ***Winner of the Guardian Fiction Award***

    Dick King-Smith served in the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War, and afterwards spent twenty years as a farmer in Gloucestershire, the country of his birth. Many of his stories are inspired by his farming experiences. He wrote a great number of children’s books, including The Sheep-Pig (winner of the Guardian Award and filmed as Babe), Harry’s Mad, Noah’s Brother, The Queen’s Nose, Martin’s Mice, Ace, The Cuckoo Child and Harriet’s Hare(winner of the Children’s Book Award in 1995). In 2009 he was made an OBE for services to children’s literature. Dick King-Smith died in 2011 at the age of eighty-eight.

    Dick King Smith was born on the 27th March 1922 and The Sheep Pig was published in 1983. πŸ·πŸ‘πŸ·πŸ‘πŸ·πŸ‘πŸ·πŸ‘πŸ·πŸ‘πŸ·πŸ‘ Sadly, I didn’t read any of these books when I was a child so I am really enjoying it now. Edie (6) is also enjoying it although it has thrown up some interesting questions about where we get sausages from. Thankfully, Edie is not in anyway sentimental and sausages remain her food of choice so all is well. πŸ₯“πŸ₯©πŸ–πŸ₯©πŸ₯“πŸ–πŸ₯©πŸ₯“πŸ–πŸ₯©πŸ₯“πŸ–πŸ₯©πŸ₯“πŸ–

    On Saturday I was feeling particularly lazy and decided to put the film on for the girls. I was fully intending to doze all the way through it but I sat there enraged. Was it the the ludicrous Americanised view of English country life? No, I admit, I quite like the artificial American ideal of hazy sunsets, thatched cottages and picture prefect farms. No, what really got my goat (🐐) were the ridiculous amounts of American accents. If you are making a film based on a British book, set in Britain why not use English accents. Pregnant, hormonal, me???

    The Sheep Pig is a really fun book to read aloud and I feel the need to give myself a MASSIVE shout out as my voices are on point. If anyone is looking for someone who can do a great west-country farmer or a ewe with foot-rot then I’m your girl. πŸ™ŒπŸ‘πŸ™ŒπŸ‘πŸ™ŒπŸ‘πŸ™ŒπŸ‘πŸ™ŒπŸ‘πŸ™ŒπŸ‘πŸ™ŒπŸ‘πŸ™Œ. In conclusion, great book for for 6-8 year olds. It’s also worth mentioning that in this copy, there were enough illustrations to keep Edie well entertained.

    Anyway, have a great month.

    Thanks for reading.