National Library Day 2016


It’s National Library day and I have blogged previously here & here exactly how important libraries are to me and my family.

Here are our library highlights of the year:

This was Freya’s first year to try the summer reading challenge & she loved it, getting the stickers and having a chart just like her big brother was great fun.  

Freya’s current favourite library read is the Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywelt & Oliver Jeffers and is one she is struggling to return. She is also a fan of the Rainbow Magic Fairy series and I am very glad the library is able to support this habit.

The library’s regular code club is a highlight of Bryns week, an uninterupted hour on the computer with a new scratch project each week, what’s not to like. He has also joined the children’s book group & looking forward to today’s Harry Potter themed event.

My 2015 new years resolution was  to read more graphic novels so was happy to discover a few new favourites in the library collection including El Deafo by Cece Bell. 

The ebook service is proving to be invaluable especially when we are away for the weekend & I have forgotten to pack bedtime stories. 

Over the summer my nieces recomended the Ascendance Trilogy, having discovered the first one as an ebook I recommended the library purchase books 2&3. A speedy response meant I was able to race through this exciting trilogy, perfect holiday read.

Having only just discovered the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch we were really pleased the library had the whole back catalogue, we are now caught up & waiting for the next one.

At Christmas cookery books from the library proved an inspiration for Bryn who cooked macarons (with a little help from his Dad) as a Christmas present for me.

We are very grateful for our library service and would be lost without it.

photo of books 

You Are An Artist by Marta Altes

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews

You Are An Artist by Marta Altes is a jam packed activity book which has kept me and Freya amused for days.

It is based on the picture book I Am An Artist and we are fortunate enough to have the “artist” be our guide in the book helping us to think creatively.

Activities in the book include drawing a self portrait, creating patterns, using shapes to make pictures, turning scribbles into pictures etc.

Initially I was worried that these might be too challenging but actually Freya really enjoyed the variety. It was great to see her confidence grow as she tried out new things. The hundreds of stickers in the book were a great way to help finish some of the activities when we started to run out of steam.

One of our favourite spreads was filling in a picture of a cat with patterns, lots of fun to do together & feel proud of our efforts.

A fun and inspirational activity book.

Book-O-Masks by Donald Lemke & Bob Lentz

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews 

  This book makes a fabulous addition to the dressing up box. A brilliantly designed wearable book with each double page spread offering a new mask, such as super hero, wrestler, ninja etc.

There were peals of laughter from the kids as they tried out the different masks. They also spotted that there were others in the series, Book-o-Beards, Book-o-Hats & Book-o-teeth which they were keen to try out. The Superhero mask was a favourite with the children & provided plenty of fun photo opportunities.

A fun novelty book which we all enjoyed playing with.

A Tower of Giraffes:Animal Bunches by Anna Wright

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews 

We received this book just as Freya was learning the collective nouns for different animals at pre-school so was very timely. Aware of common terms such as swarm of bees & litter of kittens we had fun discovering some more obscure ones such as mischief of mice & ostentaion of peacocks.

The highlight of the book for us however was the striking illustrations. We loved how some of the animals were a mixture of drawing & collage. My favourite spread was the flock of sheep with patterned wool for bodies with the odd bit of unravelled yarn. We were so inspired by the pictures the children created their own groups of animals.

An interesting,stylish & inspiring book that captivated us all.


Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews 


This book is based on an exhibition, ‘Tell Me A Picture’ curated by Quentin Blake when appointed Children’s Laureate in 1999. The pages are filled with pictures by illustrators, modern painters & some of the old master paintings from the national gallery. Each picture in the exhibition has been chosen as it has some kind of story in it.

The drawings of children chatting and asking questions on the page facing the picture helped encourage Bryn to explore & talk about the pictures. He enjoyed discovering pictures where he recognised a character like Hunuman or St George or ones with lots of detail to study. There are also useful pages at the back providing a brief description of each picture & details of where you can find it.

I also found having only the prompts & name of artist on the page great for focusing on the picture & enjoying the art.

A great art book for children perfectly pitched to engage, enthuse & inspire.

Picturebook makes

Here are some of daughters creations inspired by books we’ve read;

The Princess and the Wizard by Julia Donaldson illustrated by Lydia Monks 


Old Bear’s The All-Together Painting by Jane Hissey


One More Sheep by Mij Kelly & Russell Ayto


Jampires by Sarah McIntyre & David O’Connell

Please Mr Panda by Steve Antony 


(Jampires by me)

A Tower of Giraffes by Anna Wright


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


Those Magnificent Sheep in their Flying Machine

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews

Freya described this book as ‘a bit sheep-y’ as eight ‘magnificent’ sheep take centre stage in this funny story.

This rhyming tale of the sheep and their adventures across the world, having accidentally taken off in an aeroplane, is great fun to read out aloud. The stylish, humorous & detailed illustrations bring the story to life especially the characters of the sheep. Freya was keen to spot & name each sheep on each page and with names like Eunice & Mabs they fit perfectly with the Edwardian style setting for this tale.

On their journey the sheep take in some common tourist attractions. One of Freya’s favourite spread includes an ‘old maharajah’ which appeals to her dark humour when at the bottom of the page he is seen waving a cleaver saying ‘mutton curry’. Luckily at the end of the story all the sheep return to their quiet life in the hillside munching the grass.

Even after numerous re-readings this book never fails to delight, induce a chuckle and in my case leave me with an ear worm of the theme song from the movie “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines”

Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews 
Its very easy to fall in love with Louie however smelly. This adorable mutt starts the story smelling of roses & apple blossom something which he is not very happy about. With the help of an old boot, stinky bins & some sticky sludge Louie gets back the smell he wants, but will he get to keep it?
I really enjoyed reading this book to the children and Freya especially liked spotting all the different animals Louie encounters. The wonderful illustrations help bring the outdoors inside by evoking not just the beauty of nature but even its smell. With each turn of the page the colour of Louie’s coat gets darker & darker as he gets gradually smellier & smellier.