Woozy the Wizard, A Broom to Go Zoom by Elli Woollard and Al Murphy

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


When Woozy the Wizard needs to replace his broom he finds a ‘shiny new shop’ selling hoovers that zoom. However, when he gets home he finds its a flat pack hoover and looks to his friends for help and finds that sometimes shiny new things don’t always live up to their promise.

This is a great story to read out loud because of its funny rhyming verse. The silly story, fabulous rhymes & bright illustrations also make it perfect for new readers. Within minutes of reading the book aloud Bryn had sneaked off to read it himself. Freya found Woozy’s pet pig hilarious & enjoyed looking at the illustrations in the book.

This is a wonderfully bright & quirky book in tone, language & pictures. I really enjoyed the zany humour in both the text & pictures and we were all left wanting to hear more Woozy Wizard stories

Doctor Molly’s Medicine Case by Miriam Moss and Deborah Allwright

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


Dr Molly’s Medicine Case is not only a fun read but also sparked an afternoon of imaginative play. Freya was really excited about this book with its beautiful illustrations, flaps,pockets & pull out pieces (which, after many readings, we still haven’t managed to loose). 

Freya loves pulling out the pieces from Molly’s bag & helping the animals feel better, whether its checking the polar bear’s temperature or putting cream on a sore crocs tail. As with Mary Poppins, whatever Molly needs to help her friends is somewhere in her bag, including a few spoonfuls honey (in this case). The book ends with some extra special treats from the bag for Molly & her friends.

This is a lovely book and the flaps & little play pieces are well judged. On the first reading, rather than being distracted by the flaps & rushing to open them Freya was absorbed in the story and waited to open the flaps at the relevant points in the narrative. It was also fun to see her rush off and invent ailments for us all so she could play doctors. 

What’s Your Favourite Animal? By Eric Carle and Friends

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


This book aims to inspire children ‘to create favourite animals drawings & stories of their very own’ which is exactly what Bryn did.

This is a sumptuous book in which 14 picture book artists draw their favourite animals accompanied with some text. As soon as we finished reading the book Bryn was keen to draw one of his favourite animals, the Axolotl a fish that walks.

Bryn recognised a few of the illustrators from their pictures such as Lucy Cousins, Jon Klassen with the most recognisable being Eric Carle. His favourite however was a guest appearance from Bad Kitty in Nick Bruel’s illustrations.

I thought the book was a great showcase for some amazing picture book artists and we are looking forward to discovering their books. It also provided a simple activity for Bryn who found the it a great source of inspiration.



The Clockwork Dragon by Jonathan Emmett and Elys Dolan

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


An exciting tale of a boy & girl outwitting the ‘ferocious, man-eating dragon’, Flamethrottle. Max is able to put his inventive plans into action by teaming up with Lizzie from the armourer’s workshop to create a formidable adversary. With two dragon obsessed children this book was an instant hit & they were both captivated by the tale.

It was good to have a story featuring a boy & girl working together – a positive role model for my two. The highlights of the book, however, were the illustrations brimming with humour, including dragon graffiti. The slow reveal of the titular clockwork dragon added great excitement to the story and like everyone else in the town, we too wanted a little clockwork dragon of our own.

Guardian How To Draw Series

We enjoy the How To Draw Series in the Guardian & below are the attempts of a 3yr old, a 7yr old & someone much much much older.
How to draw a puffin by Thomas Docherty


How to draw… a monster in underpants! By Ben Cort

How to make… a paper dragon by Lydia Monks

How to draw… a viking by Cressida Cowell

How to draw… a silly unicorn by Sarah McIntyre

How to draw… something wickedly weird by Chris Mould

How to draw… a love monster! By Rachel Bright

How to draw… a footballer by Dave Cousins

How to draw… a mouse by Petr Horacek

How to draw… a knight by Alex T Smith

National Library Day

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

Here are this years library highlights;

Borrowed 526 books

As always we are very grateful for the family activities the library organises & in particular the Sunday afternoon Book Magic sessions. They are always a hit with the children who love listening to stories followed by a craft activity.

It was another successful summer reading challenge for Bryn who zipped through 6 books & enjoyed collecting the goodies supplied. This year there was a medal ceremony at the library & was heartwarming seeing so many children proudly waiting for their medals.

Seeing Bryn get caught up in series of books was a real delight. He discovered the How to Train Your dragons series by Cressida Cowell and worked his way through the series using the library reservation system. There were times however when he had to wait a little while for the next book but he was happy to re-read the books while waiting.

He is also making much more use of non fiction section to get to books about the topics he is working on at school. The whole family is a lot more knowledgable about Space, planets & stars then we were before.

Recently Bryn was issued with a new library card at school as part of the excellent library card for every child scheme.

I became addicted to the Agatha Raisin books by M.C Beaton this year. The library was able to feed this addiction even when I was away from home via their ebook service.

I was also smitten with Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell’s The Sleeper & the Spindle, so much so we now have our own copy in order that I could return the library copy.

This year I have been very impressed with the children’s picture book stock. We have borrowed some real gems and has been a great source for new discoveries for my list of Libraries & Librarians in picture books

A photo of a recent haul of books from the library


I have also been taking the opportunity the library provides of recommending books for the collection and was pleased to see the addition of the fab Hilda series by Luke Pearson.

We also supported Library A-Z (do checkout this great project) project and received a beautifully illustrated book highlighting all the wonderful work libraries do & the services they offer. A great celebration of libraries.


Depressingly there are continued cuts across the national public library service which I think makes for a poorer society. While we still have a library service we shall continue our weekly trips helping us grow, learn & expand our horizons.

Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light

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


Louise is an artist and consumed by her passion she strives to create her masterpiece. Brimming with enthusiasm and pride she covers the house with her art. Following in her footsteps is her little brother, keen to be just like his big sister. By the end of the book we understand why “Louise Loves Art”

This is a sweet & fun story. While Louise takes centre stage its her brothers antics unfolding behind her which raised lots of smiles. For Freya, however, it was the cat in the story which provided the most chuckles, especially when she spotted it joining in with drawing.

We enjoyed this book which celebrates a couple of our favourite things too, drawing & siblings.

Rainbow Magic Books

This weekend saw the plague of the Rainbow Magic fairy books hit the house. Freya spotted the books on a trip to the library on Friday & instantly grabbed a couple to take home. She cradled them all the way home & they stayed by her side the whole day.

We read her a couple of the books & while I am none to keen on the goblins ‘boys’ being naughty while the fairies ‘girls’ being nice (based on the few we’ve read) and the formulaic nature of the series she is really enjoying them.

So on Saturday we went & borrowed a few more. Bryn keen to join in the craze borrowed a couple to read too.

Both are enjoying the books at the moment & I guess its good to have some variety. I may however have to re-introduce some Pippi Longstocking for some balance & for my sanity.

Mortimer Keene by Tim Healy & Chris Mould

We have been enjoying this series of books, they are great for new readers with fabulous illustrations, rhyming text & plenty of humour. The stories are short but there are also extras like a glossary, diagrams of Mortimer Keene’s inventions etc which Bryn enjoys.

Bryn gives Alien Abduction 4 & 1/2 stars in his review


New Year reading

We have begun the new year continuing to read christmas stories. Freya’s firm favourites include two Shirley Hughes stories, Alfie’s Christmas (our review) & Angel Mae. Like Alfie’s Christmas Angel Mae is filled with the familiar, the added bonus is singing along to Away in a Manager.

Another favourite is the Fairy Tale Hairdresser & Father Christmas by Abie Longstaff & Lauren Beard.
We discovered these books having won a copy of Fairy Tale Hairdresser & Snow White from the publisher. I had been wary about this series owing to all the pink & glitter, but reading this blog post over on Playing By The Book – Do you avoid “Pink” books? - made me keen to try them and they have proved to be a big hit.

I found the books fun to read & liked spotting restyled fairy tale characters in the pictures. I was particularly impressed to see a sari wearing indian fairy in the story with Sleeping Beauty (yes we are steadily collecting the whole series)

As with the other books Kittie the true heroine of the stories displays her kindness, bravery and intelligence in coming to the rescue when the Snow Queen steals the christmas presents. With Father Christmas, elves, reindeers & even Jack Frost there are plenty of familiar festive characters to add sparkle & christmas magic.
Whenever I read this story Freya is keen to join in and insists we take turns reading each double spread. Previously she has read short stories such as Pip and Posy out loud, using the pictures to tell me whats happening. With this story she is memorising the text & keen to get it all right.

– Freya telling part of the story.