September Kids Reads

Well it is now the end of September and I feel like I have finally got some time to spend with Maisie. Edie went back to school on the 2nd and Ceci started nursery on the 19th. Today was my first empty day to spend time with my baby. Due to the fact that Maisie was born just 2 weeks before the summer holidays, I really haven’t spent any time with just her. Today was the first day that I just sat in bed and let her fall asleep on me without having to divide my time between my other children. It was so precious and for a good hour I just looked at her!!!! πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈI feel very lucky.

  • Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.
  • Joan Aiken born 4th September 1924.

Rescued from a late night hit-and-run by kind-hearted Mr Jones, Mortimer the raven quickly becomes a rather unusual family pet, with a VERY large appetite. Though Mrs Jones has misgivings, particularly after Mortimer’s night-time activities in the fridge, daughter Arabel falls in love at first sight. But when Mortimer vanished along with a priceless diamond brooch and a criminal squirrel, poor Arabel fears he may have bitten off more than he can chew.

My husband doesn’t understand the concept of blogging or Instagram. He has become a bit social media phobic and is of the view that people become a bit mad and obsessed. The fact that I left my copy of Arabel’s Raven in the fridge after taking the above picture didn’t do much to convince him I wasn’t a little bonkers. πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

I remember reading The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and A Necklace of Raindrops as a child but Arabel’s Raven must have passed me by. Written in 1972 with brilliant illustrations by Quentin Blake. I started reading this to Edie last week but she got bored a bit too quickly. She enjoyed fridge-loving, staircase-eating Mortimer and the evil squirrel but wanted to see more of Arabel who is a little passive in this book. 🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿🐿

  • Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl.
  • Roald Dahl born on 13th September 1916.

Boggis is an enormously fat chicken farmer who only eats boiled chicken smothered in fat.

Bunce is a duck and goose farmer whose dinner gives him a beastly temper.

Bean is a turkey and apple farmer who only drink gallons of strong cider.

Mr Fox is so clever that every evening he creeps down into the valley and help himself to food from the farms.

Now the farmers have hatched a plan to bang bang bang shoot Mr Fox dead but just when they think Mr Fox can’t possibly escape, he makes a fantastic plan of his own…

I couldn’t let September pass without a mention for the great Roald Dahl. It seems particularly pertinent today as Ozzie won Matilda tickets in the lottery and he is taking Edie tonight….yes on a school night. Bad mum alert. I fear I will be reaping the rewards for this late night for a while!!!!πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ˜± Incidentally if you are London based and it’s relatively easy to get to the theatre it is totally worth putting your name down for the lottery. We also won front row seats to Hamilton a few months ago!!!

As a total book geek it has been completely wonderful re-reading some of my childhood favourites with Edie and Ceci. I am definitely guilty of being a little over enthusiastic and making a few book related mistakes. The Naughtiest Girl in the School was one such error. I am sorry to say I gave up after chapter 1….I had to stop every few seconds to explain words like ‘beastly’ and ‘governess.’ Roald Dahl is an author I was desperate to introduce Edie to. George’s Marvellous Medicine and The Magic Finger have been hits but nothing has come close to Edie’s love of Fantastic Mr Fox. Although the story is obviously brill I think it’s a hit with little ones because it’s fast paced, has short chapters and the pictures in the colour edition are brilliant. Edie basically needs a picture every page to keep her interested!!! For my kids, a short chapter is pretty much vital….each chapter in this book ends on a bit of an Eastenders-esque cliff hanger and they are short enough that if storytime isn’t going particularly well, it is easy to abort!!

  • The Usborne Book of Drawing, Doodling and Colouring Fashion.
  • Okay so this isn’t a story book but it is definitely worth a shout out as it kept my kids occupied during many a rainy day on our glamping holiday. This was recommended by a dad on Instagram. I love Instagram for book recommendations….particularly kids books. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this colouring book and what I particularly like is there is the opportunity for kids to develop their own creativity by creating their own designs. Edie was totally immersed as was Ceci who created some very Hannibal Lecteresque looking designs.
  • A story about a lion and a duck- and having the courage to be yourself.

    Where do you get your book suggestions? For children’s books I rely on the library. We go once a week and take out the maximum amount of books. Anything we really love, I tend to buy for the kids…..books are definitely what I spend my money on. I have cupboards and drawers full of them.

    How to be a Lion has been a huge hit. My husband did storytime last night while I went for a run. When I got back, he wouldn’t shut up about the ‘incredibly empowering’ book he had just discovered. . As a non reader, the only books he picks up are the kids ones at story time so it’s important to get him some top material.πŸ˜ŠπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈA fab message to little ones just starting school…be true to yourself, be kind and stand by your friends. Ed Vere handles the subject of bullying in a really empowering way and it’s defo one of the best kids books we have read in a while. A big high five to all the Leonards who feel a little bit different but have the courage to stick to their guns. πŸ’ͺ 🦁 πŸ¦†

    August Reads

    August has been a slow month. The Summer holidays have felt loooooong. I am writing this during the last week of the school holidays. We are on holiday in beautiful Wales. We spent 2 nights in the Celtic Manor. This hotel reminded me of something you would find in the US. Absolutely massive hotel. I don’t think I have ever stayed anywhere with an underground car park and endless escalators. There was lots of stuff for kids to do and eating in the bar in the evening was fab as there were tons of kids so I didn’t feel self conscious being there with a crying baby. The downside was that we were staying in the Manor House which is part of the hotel but the other end….it’s a bit like the Celtic Manor’s poor relation. No escalators in this part of the hotel. Ozzie got proper annoyed with carrying the buggy. We also had a really dark and dingy room. Having a shower was like being at the bottom of a well.

    We then spent 3 nights at a glamping site called Wild Wellingtons. This site is just beautifully done. It’s pretty small – 2 pods sleeping about 5, a shepherd hut sleeping 4, a communal kitchen, 2 beautiful bathrooms, fire pit and a great play area. We were in the shepherd’s hut which had 2 bedroom and the most comfy beds. Edie and Ceci had the most wonderful time running all over the place doing what kids do. Tom and Sinead the owners were fab. I was amazed to learn that Tom pretty much built the place by himself. Sinead added tons of brilliant touches – egg boxes for the kids to collect bugs, a beautiful welcome pack, activities for the kids.

    We are now staying at a brilliant place called Clydey Cottages. I can’t recommend it enough if you have young kids. Accommodation is lovely and cosy. All cottages have wood burners. Warm pool, play room and soft play for kids. Big DVD library, tons of baby equipment. I feel relaxed and I even finished a book this morning!!!

    • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. 5⭐️.

    Yegondo, Korea 1911. A club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then a Christian minister offers a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.

    Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country where she has no friends and no home. Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story.

    I am a pretty fast reader. I love nothing better than going to bed at the same time as the kids and reading for hrs! Beds are for books not sex!πŸ€£πŸ“šAnyway since the summer holidays started and Maisie was born my bed is just for sleep…and not much of it. 🀬. It has taken me a full month to get through Pachinko πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ. For me to enjoy a book I usually have to get through the first 60 pages in one go so I get hooked. It took me about 5 days to get through the first 60 pages of this book just due to lack of time and absolute exhaustion. That being said this is a 5⭐️ read for me. I have lived with 4 generations of this Korean family for a month now and i feel a little bereft now it’s finished. In many ways this was a quiet book – no major action sequences. It was just a beautiful book about family and how the decisions you make affect future generations. Anyway if you love a family saga pls read this book. I adored it!

    • Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. 5⭐️.
    • Kamila Shamsie born 13th August 1973.

    For as long as they can remember, siblings Isma, Aneeka and Parvaiz have had nothing but each other. But darker, stronger forces will divide Parvaiz from his sisters and drive him to the other side of the world, as he sets out to fulfil the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.

    Wow this book. Just wow!!! It’s been a long time since I have found a book so sad, distressing and moving.

    On 18th September 2004, Liverpudlian man Kenneth Bigley was kidnapped by an Islamic extremist group. The group said they would release Bigley and his two colleagues in 48 hours if coalition forces released their Iraqi women prisoners. Bigley’s colleagues were killed when the deadline expired. Ken Bigley was beheaded two weeks later. I remember Mr Bigley’s exhausted and terrified face on the front pages of all the papers. Each morning I woke up hoping that our Government had managed to intervene and save that poor, innocent man. On the 22nd September, the captors released a video of Ken Bigley begging for his life. Despite all efforts to save him, Ken Bigley was beheaded on 7th October.

    Shamsie’s Home Fire won the a Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2018. I can honestly say it has been a long time since a book has moved me like this. This is a hard and uncomfortable read but Shamsie handles the subject matter with great sensitivity. Shamsie based the novel on on Sophocles’s play Antigone. Not having studied classics I rushed to Wikipedia….god it’s confusing so I shall save you from my opinions about Sophocles. I did manage to work out that Antigone is represented by Aneeka. Aneeka’s twin has followed in his father’s footsteps and joined ISIS, working in their media unit. Incidentally it’s the media unit that would have been responsible for filming the execution of Ken Bigley. When Parvaiz decides he wants to come back to the UK, Aneeka begins a relationship with Eammon, the son of the Muslim born Home Secretary:

    β€œI wanted Eamonn to want to do anything for me before I asked him to do something for my brother. Why shouldn’t I admit it? What would you stop at to help the people you love most?”

    This is a a relatively short book that packs an almighty punch. The first 30 pages were a little slow but after that I couldn’t put it down. I knew a story about a Jihadi terrorist was unlikely to end happily but I was unprepared for just how upsetting and moving the book would become and I know this novel will stay with me for a very long time. A book about faith, lack of faith, devotion, love and family. A brilliant read.

    • Caitlin Doughty born 19th August 1984.

    As a practicing mortician, Caitlin Doughty has long been fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies. In From Here to Eternity she sets out in search of cultures unburdened by such fears. With curiosity and morbid humour, Doughty introduces us to inspiring death-care innovators, participates in powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in the West and explores new spaces for mourning-including a futuristic glowing -Buddha columbarium in Japan, a candlelit Mexican cemetery, and America’s only open-air pyre. In doing so she expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with ‘dignity’ and reveals unexpected possibilities for our own death rituals.

    My husband’s nan died at the beginning of July. She was 96, so had had a good life. She left behind her 3 daughters, 7 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. Luckily, she didn’t suffer a long and horrible illness. She slipped away in her sleep surrounded by her family.

    The funeral was about a month after nan died. Driving back to London afterwards, my husband and I were feeling reflective. I haven’t been to many funerals and thankfully, I haven’t lost many loved ones, so death isn’t something I think about particularly. I’m not scared by it, more intrigued. It’s something I know I will have to confront…my parents and my own. I only hope that when death comes it will be like Nan’s and those I love, including myself will just slip away.

    Last week, sitting in the funeral car, following the hearse at 19 mph, watching dog walkers and postmen remove their hats out of respect, I started to think what I would want, or rather, what kind of sanitised-death-spectacle I want my family and friends to attend. My husband decided he wants to be thrown into the sea and then for everyone to go to the pub and I see his point. I definitely don’t want the sombre funeral home send off – coffin disappearing behind little velvet curtains, undertakers (who I’m sure are lovely but people I have never met) loading my coffin into a slowly moving car. The whole spectacle of a funeral is quite scary. I don’t mean the nice readings, I mean the bare bones (pun intended), the logistics.

    Where I live in SW London, there is a funeral home in between a Tesco Express and a Costa Coffee. There is no secret back entrance for bodies to be unloaded or loaded. We pass said funeral home on our way to nursery in the morning. We often have to wait while a coffin is loaded into a hearse. It obviously prompts lots of questions from my daughters. The coffin gets loaded and then people continue their day….taking kids to nursery, picking up milk and bread or buying a latte. It often strikes me weird – a life gone while we continue on. But that is what happens isn’t it?

    This gets me onto Caitlin. If you haven’t heard of Caitlin Doughty she is a mortician, blogger, YouTube star and author. I read Smoke Gets In Your Eyes after it was recommended on the brilliant What Should I Read Next podcast. I loved it and have since suggested it to lots of friends. Doughty advocates death acceptance. She encourages us to accept death as something that will happen to all of us. She describes Westerners as ‘death phobic’ and suffering from ‘death anxiety.’ On reading From Here To Eternity it is clear that we are far from embracing death as readily as other cultures. I am happy that nan got the funeral she wanted….I’m not sure as a culture we are ready to live with our corpses like in Indonesia but it was definitely an illuminating read and provided food for thought!

    Thanks for reading this month!!!

    August beauty

    Hi all. Pamper wise this month has been a bit lacklustre. No lying in the bath with a face mask and a chilled glass of white. More like trowelling on concealer to hide my eye bags and more often than not realising I have forgotten to put deodorant on. I also stink of breastmilk which in all honesty is a smell that makes me heave. Anyway, the only way is up from here!!!

    • Midnight Recovery Concentrate. Kiehls. Β£38.00.

    Oh sleep how I miss you!!! Last night Ozzie and I had high expectations for a stay at home date night. He was going to cook and we were going to watch a film. πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ By 5 pm he had been puked on by Maisie and I had been pooed on. We were in pjs before the kids. πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺAt 4:30 we sat down for a romantic meal with the children… nuggets and beans. #winningatlife. I did manage a bath thank god and a tankard of wine. 🍷🍷🍷🍷So my prerequisite for a pampering product is that it has to smell lush. If it’s an oil it’s a bonus. This midnight recovery ticks both boxes. Smells of lavender which instantly calms me down. If you are an oil virgin give it a whirl…it’s quite light so you don’t go to sleep feeling like a chip and you wake up to glowy, clear skin. Lush.

    • Fushi Really Good Hair Oil. Β£18.00.

    I rant about my hair a lot on this blog. First world problems and all but it is a tough gig having dyed blonde hair. The reason it’s tough is mainly down to my laziness. The whole point of these beauty blogs is to highlight products that work for people who haven’t got time or money to waste on products that, well, don’t. Although being blonde isn’t a product, obvs, for me it just doesn’t work. This month I had a massive hair disaster. I decided that now was the time to go darker. Not mega dark but dark enough that when the roots come through children at the park don’t ask me why I dye the top of my hair darker than the middle and bottom.

    Although pregnancy has left me with 3 incredible daughters, it has also left me with hair that knows it’s own mind and will not be told how to behave (slightly like my daughters actually). A few months ago the wonderful Elthia (my hairdresser) noticed a black streak in my hair – just like I had slipped with the mascara wand. I hadn’t….it must have been those crazy pregnancy hormones. So, 3 weeks ago Elthia turned up ready to get my hair back to basics. We agreed on lightish brown with some honey streaks. All was going well until after the toner was applied. On removal of the towel my hair was grey!!! Proper granny grey. πŸ‘΅πŸ»! Elthia and I both started to perspire. We decided to warm it up a bit and take out the ashy colour. The result….ginger. Proper Geri Halliwell ginger. We decided not to put my hair through anymore that day so I have invested in some of those massive hair bands to cover a lot of the damage. I have to say it has faded and I am now quite used to it. I couldn’t really tell you what colour it is now…a pinkish, reddish, blonde but I don’t have roots which is a bonus!

    As a result of the hair carnage I have been deep conditioning like a loon. A loon I tell you! So I received this Really Good Hair Oil to review. Firstly I would like to say as soon as a company choose to name their product ‘Really Good’ I think you are onto a bit of a losing streak. For me, I would name this product Pretty Mediocre Hair Oil. I mean it was ok, but just ok. To be honest I couldn’t be arsed with the faff of putting it on and then getting a steaming towel to put on my head for 30 mins. I don’t have 30 mins to sit with towels on my head.

    Nope, for me nowt has compared to this brilliant product which L’Oreal need to rename as Proper Mega Deep Conditioning Masque.

    If you haven’t tried it….DO! NOW!

    • Olay Deep Hydrating Eye Gel. Β£18.00
  • I have to say that out of all beauty products, I struggle to get excited by eye cream. Wrongly, the lazy tart in me relies on my facial moisturiser to keep my eye bags hydrated. I also believe that dark circles are often genetic or caused by being utterly knackered so unless I change my genes or get rid of my 3 kids I have to embrace my exhausted eyes.
  • This eye gel has made me a convert. It contains hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate, cucumber extract to soothe, and witch hazel to combat puffiness. It is gorgeous straight out of the fridge for an instant cooling effect and it is absorbed really quickly. You only need a little bit so the pot lasts ages. Brilliant.
  • Thanks for reading.

    August Kids Reads

    Hi all. I hope you have had a good summer….I can’t believe it is nearly over. Next thing we know it will be Christmas….hasn’t this year just flown by???? So this time last month I was pretty intimidated by the prospect of a summer looking after a 6 yr old, a 3 yr old and a newborn. Well I am proud to say I survived relatively unscathed. My days were sponsored by berocca in the morning and a glass of wine at night and then bed fit me at 8pm. Book wise, August has been poor and for this I apologise. I am sad to say that after a day of fun-filled activities with 3 kids, I have fallen asleep before story time on numerous nights or if not asleep, I am feeding the baby so have plonked the other two in front of the TV. I am hoping September will be an improvement.

    • Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam. The Diamond Chase by Tracey Corderoy.

    There are diamonds galore at the grand ball and detective dogs Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are cooking on the job when disaster strikes!

    Somebody’s swiped Lady Kate’s Tiara! But who can it be? And can the doggy duo catch the thief before he scarpers?

    My girls and I love this series. Good pictures and brilliant rhymes. Always a moral in the story and always encourages the conversation about apologies helping to make things right. Ceci, 3 is definitely not a fan of the wordsorry.’

    My girls love a search in a book and it becomes pretty competitive to find the little πŸ•·. As a mum I am happy as there are lots of opportunities to practice my acting skills and work on my accents. πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

    • The Great Fairytale Search by Chuck Whelon.

    A truly magical search book brimming with enchanting scenes from kids’ favourite fairytales. Children can find Cinderella’s glass slipper, seven little lamps in the cottage of the seven dwarves and even the Big Bad Wolf hiding in the forest.

    • Spot the dinosaur on the Island by Stella Maidment.

    From spiky stegosauruses to speedy velociraptors, there is so much to see on Dinosaur Island!

    With a hidden baby T.Rex to find in every scene and fun facts to discover throughout, step inside for hours of entertainment.

    • Where’s the Mermaid by Chuck Whelon.

    Join Meria and her friends on their exciting adventure around the world.

    Explore 16 amazing locations -from the Mer- Kingdom deep under the waves, to a paradise island, the frozen Arctic, a hectic circus and a scary sushi bar.

    I thought I would curb my jealousy of those who are jetting away to sunnier climes and feature some books that could while away some holiday hours or times on the plane. ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️My kids love a book with a search. I give them each about 5 things to look for and it keeps them quiet for at least 5 mins until they try to get super competitive with eachother. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ Ceci 3, loves the dinosaur and fairytale book. πŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ¦–πŸ¦•πŸ§šπŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ¦•πŸ¦–πŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§šπŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ¦•πŸ¦–πŸ§šπŸ»β€β™€οΈEdie 6, loves a bit of πŸ§œπŸΌβ€β™€οΈ action. All 3 are massive hits and give me enough time to drink a hot cuppa or a chilled glass of white.

    • The Queen’s Orangutan by David Walliams.
    • David Walliams born 20th August 1971.

    Written exclusively for Comic Relief 2015 by David Walliams. From Number One bestselling picture book duo, David Walliams and Tony Ross, comes this spectacularly funny story for children of 3 and up.

    A bored queen.

    A birthday wish.

    An outrageous orang-utan.

    Everything’s about to go bananas!

    Written by David Walliams as an exclusive children’s picture book especially for Comic Relief – David will be giving all of his proceeds from the book to the charity. The illustrator, Tony Ross, will waive his royalties and HarperCollins UK will also donate all profits from the publishing of the book – at least Β£3 from each copy sold will go to Comic Relief.

    The Queen’s Orangutan is our book du jour at the moment. This basically means that I read it to my kids every night.πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’ Usually reading the same book EVERY night makes me want to kill someone but I honestly find it impossible to have murderous thoughts about the wonderful Walliams. This book is a really fun read with tons of opportunity to work on your royal voices!!🀣Illustrations by Tony Ross are brilliant as always and pokes fun at the royals…Prince Phillip is a little red-nosed and looks like he enjoys the occasional bevy. 🀣. As you can see from the pic, Cill thinks it’s hilarious…or it could be the fact that Maisie had just filled her nappy!

    Thanks for reading all. It is now 18:25 so I am going to get ready for bed!!πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

    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.