Blog Tour | Fred and Woody's Fantastic world

What's down there? - a book about girl bodies for curious kids, and That's my Willy - a book about boy bodies for curious kids by Alex Waldron, published by Ruby Tuesday books.

Alex Waldron writes about Fred, Woody, their cousin Stevie and Big Nan whose advice is invaluable, in these ground-breaking and informative new picture books for young children that encourage parents to talk honestly and factually about normal stuff that's sometimes difficult to put into words.

What I read | September / October 2019

My bi-monthly round-up of all the books I read, reviewed, borrowed from the library, read to the children or just like the look of...!

The Terribly Friendly Fox (Simon and Schuster) - a tale of a goody (or a baddy?) Read it to find out.

The Overstory by Richard Powers (from the library) - novel about nine individuals with a common thread - trees play a large part in their lives.  Lets all look after trees, and do our bit to spread the word about global heating and the climate emergency.

Blog Tour | The ultimate survival guide to Monsters under the bed

The Ultimate Survival Guide to monsters under the bed by Mitch Frost and Daron Parton.

Blog Tour | Danny's Dream

Danny's Dream by Ian Parker and Victor Margiotta

A heart-warming story of "dreams coming true, although sometimes in the most unexpected ways", the story written by Victor Margiotta, and beautifully illustrated by Ian Parker, who paints with his mouth as he is unable to use his hands.  The advised age range is 3-8 but I'd probably start a little older having read it, and recommend it for age 5 and up, key stage 1 - it would be a lovely text to form a discussion about inclusivity and playground friendships, but we don't always need a topic or a theme to share stories, and this is a lovely story for anytime.

What I read | July / August 2019

A pictorial look at everything I read and reviewed in the past couple of months.

Roald Dahl's Colours, illustrated by Quentin Blake (penguin Random House) - beautiful board books for tiny hands

And the abc one too

Peppa's Muddy Festival (Ladybird Books) - with flaps, tents, bunting and of course, mud.

Iced Out by CK Smouha and illustrated by Isabella Bunnell - lovely story and beautiful illustrations

Who's going to bed by Abie Longstaff and Eve Coy - the baby isn't going to bed, not until he's had a bit of an adventure...

I am Malala, the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lane - starting well before the shooting, we learn about Malala and her family in the years leading up to this and the struggle to secure girls' education in Pakistan.

To the Moon (Ladybird Books) - flaps, lift-up and pull-out pieces combined into a sturdy board book all about the Moon.

And In the City (Ladybird books) - more flaps, lift-ups and pull-out pieces, lots to discover and talk about.

Baby Touch Animals (Ladybird Books) - a touch and feel board book for the youngest book-lovers

And Baby Touch Playbook - more touch and feel pages for exploration and discovery

Ten Minutes to Bed - The Little Mermaid by Rhiannon Fielding and Chris Chatterton (Ladybird Books) - a lovely bedtime story

Notes on a nervous Planet by Matt Haig - chatty and informative look at the modern world and how to be mindful within a fast-paced and fact-packed life.

The Inner Child - a book for kids about what it's like to be an adult -  I liked the original idea of this one - every page illustrating a different adult and their inner child.

The Tap-dancing pigeon of Covent Garden by Serena Hassan and illustrated by Jon Davis - quirky illustrations wonderfully highlighting the pigeon's expressions, and a lovely tale of survival in the big city.

The Story of the little mole who knew it  was none of his business by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch - all the Mole's animal friends and their variously shaped poo!

The Board Game family by Ellie Dix - one of the parents, ideas for encouraging essential family connections in a world of social media and video games.  Full of ideas and explanations.  A worthwhile project.

What I read | May / June 2019

A pictorial look at all the books I read or reviewed over the past couple of months.

A Million Dots by Sven Volker from Cicada Books - doubling the dots on each page within the illustrations, ingenius and mind-boggling.

Garbage Dog by Eleni Kalorkoti and Robbie Wilkinson (Little Gestalten) - the gorgeous tale of the stray dog.

Gregory the Great Green Frog by Jen Cooper and Kathryn Cooper - he's just too noisy.

The Boy with the Big Blue Glasses by Susanne Gervay and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall - and how his self-confidence develops with the help of some friends

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species retold and illustrated by Sabina Radeva - a beautiful re-telling of the work of Darwin from a scientist turned illustrator.

Storytime by Georgie Adams and Magda Brol - reminds me of the bedtime story books we had when I was little.

Grandpa's Noises by Gareth St John Thomas and Colin Rowe - yes, he does make several different and interesting noises.

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris - from the library - beautiful picture stories representing forgotten words that we must remember to teach our children.

Here we are by Oliver Jeffers - from the library - a guide to living on planet earth for the author's new baby son, and all new human babies - look after it, it's all we've got.

A Story Cafe | Rosie Revere Engineer

This week at our Story Cafe we read Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. 

Image result for rosie revere engineer

We start by singing the listening song - tune of Frere Jacque "Eyes are watching, ears are listening, lips are closed, hands are still, feet are very quiet, you should really try it, listening well, listening well."  

Then we read Rosie Revere Engineer.  I have a small suitcase and I start by asking the children what they think might be in an engineer's tool case.  I have a hammer, a spanner, a tape measure, a pencil, a screwdriver, some nuts and bolts, and an apple.

A Story Cafe | Yoga Stories

This week our story cafe was all about Yoga and Mindfulness.  Twelve families and their children came along, to join in with the fun.

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We start by singing the listening song - tune of Frere Jacque "Eyes are watching, ears are listening, lips are closed, hands are still, feet are very quiet, you should really try it, listening well, listening well."  We take off our shoes and socks so we can feel the earth beneath our feet and help us to balance.

Then we have a little introduction to yoga and mindfulness - what is it and why?  Here's what we learnt -

A Story Cafe | Jack Frost

Today's story - Jack Frost by Kazuna Kohara.  It's been very cold and frosty here lately, so this time we are looking at a frosty, white, snowy story of friendship, cold weather, and warming up to new growth in Spring.

A Story Cafe | Goat goes to playgroup

Today's story - Goat goes to Playgroup by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt.  A lovely rhyming story about all the things that Goat and his friends get up to at their new playgroup.

Save Rang-tan

This is a really important post, with a really important message.  Recently, we've been researching ethical and sustainable products for the home and for eating.  One of the big things we realised is that there is palm oil in so many things.  And palm oil is grown in countries where Orangutans live.  And in many of these places the rain forest home of the Orangutans is being destroyed to make way for huge palm oil plantations.  

So Greenpeace are campaigning to protect these important habitats for the orangutans as well as the indigenous people who live there too.  They've produced a video and a picture book for children and adults to share to explain in lovely rhyming text from the viewpoint of the baby orangutan, Rang-tan, how his home is being burnt down and his mother taken away to make palm oil for our food and shampoo.  "There's a Rang-tan in my bedroom" is a beautifully illustrated book, with an introduction by Dame Emma Thompson.  And there's a wonderful animated video of the story too.  

Did you know there's palm oil in the spread we put on our bread, lipstick, pizza dough, instant noodles, shampoo, ice cream, detergents, chocolate, cookies and biscuits, soap and bread and that's just for starters (from worldwildlife.org).

And it comes from the palm oil trees that are being planted in great rows in great plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia (85% of the world's palm oil produced and exported from here) as well as parts of Africa, Asia and South America.

The above pictures are all detail of the illustrations in the book, I think highlighting them like this is a powerful way of getting the message out there..

A long, long time ago, I went on a big trip to Indonesia and Malaysia and I visited the jungle rain forest where the orangutans live.  This was 1993, and we drove on a bus past huge palm oil plantations in Malaysia even then.  And now, more and more tracts of orangutan home are being destroyed to plant palm oil trees.  In Sumatra we visited the orangutan sanctuary where they were rehabilitating rescued orangutans for reintroduction into the wild.  But now there's less and less wild for them to go.  Here are some of my pics from 1993...

We can all help to save the orangutan.  We can look at what we are buying and check if there is palm oil in it. We can try to replace products with those with no palm oil.  This is hard, but we must try.  We can support the Greenpeace campaign by signing their petition.  We can check out the supermarket Iceland who have promised to remove palm oil from all own brand foods by the end of 2018 - ambitious but what an example to set to the other retailers.  We can share this post.  We can check out the Rang-tan book and video - links below) and explain to the children why this is so important.  We can get ourselves informed (it's not that hard nowadays being online).  And for a really powerful documentary that partly covers why this is so important, check out Chris Packham's journey to Sumatra (link below).

Please help to...

And will you promise to do this...

Brilliant Links

Greenpeace campaign here where you can sign the petition and watch the Rang-tan film.

Iceland campaign here

World wildlife fund info on palm oil here

Chris Packham's In search  of the lost girl here

Check out and share #SaveRangtan #StopDirtyPalmOil on social media

To order the book, email Greenpeace here - Supporter.uk@greenpeace.org - there are limited supplies though and there's only a charge to cover postage.

Share the link to Rang-tan's story on your social media - https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/rang-tan-video

Greenpeace’s main objective is to share the story far and wide - the more people we can get talking about deforestation, palm oil and orangutans, the more chance we have of stopping rainforest destruction for good.

A Story Cafe | Phonics Special

Today's story - Chocolate moose for Greedy Goose by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharrat.  And Don't put your finger in the jelly Nelly by Nick Sharratt.  We are doing a phonics special Story Cafe today as lots f the children are off the school in September.  So this workshop is all about building skills for early reading (not encouraging parents to reach their children to read, but to help them encourage the skills they will need to be able to read when they are ready)

We read Chocolate Moose for Greedy Goose and Don't put your finger in the jelly Nelly, which highlight rhyming and alliteration.

And we tell the story of Peppa Pig is going to the Zoo,What does she see as she passes through.  My animals are all hidden in a bag and I make the sound, while the children guess which animal Peppa has seen at the zoo.

A Story Cafe | The Little Red Hen

Today's story - The Little Red Hen. It's a traditional tale which has been adapted many times. We read the ladybird board book version which is about a hen and her friends the cat, the rat and the pig.

I also found an old ladybird edition on my shelf

and this lovely book by Lucy Cousins with eight traditional tales including The Little Red Hen