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.

Poppy Pickle by Emma Yarlett

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

  
From the first reading I was completely bowled over by this book. A blast of sunshiny goodness brimming with gorgeous witty illustrations, well designed page layouts, a fabulously funny story and a larger than life heroine bursting from the pages with her joyous imagination.

Poppy Pickle is a little girl with a big imagination living with her ordinary family. When sent upstairs to tidy her room she discovers her imagination comes to life with a ‘pop’ and soon she is surrounded by lots of funny creatures including a monocle wearing mammoth, a crablo picasso and a hungry crocodile. It turns out letting your imagination run away with you can lead to trouble. With a hungry crocodile & two angry parents to cope with will Poppy have a happy ending?

While Freya was a little worried about Poppy’s parents reaction to the chaos her imagination caused Bryn couldn’t stop laughing at Poppy’s imaginative creatures. A book we will enjoying reading again & again.

Space Dog by Mini Grey

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

  
“We love it!” sums up Freya.

This intergalactic adventure in which Space Dog not only rescues the inhabitants of Cornflake 5 & Bottleopolis but also discovers how ‘sworn enemies’ Astrocats and Moustronauts can become ‘sworn friends’. A heartwarming romp in a fantastically zany world expertly crafted by Mini Grey.

The children were very taken with Dairy Quadrant map at the front of the book and use it for their own adventures. Like Space Dog they wanted to explore & rush to the aid of anyone needing help.

With every reading theres a new reference or joke to discover for both me and the children. A treat of a picture book for the whole family.

We also followed Mini Grey’s excellent advice on How To Draw Space Dog. I will leave you to guess the artists of the pictures below.

   
   

You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus 

We wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews
  
You Can’t Take an Elephant on a Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck & David Tazzyman is a funny picture book where we see all sorts of animals riding unsuitable vehicles from an elephant on a bus, tiger on a train, pig on a skateboard to a hippo in a hot air balloon.

Just seeing the cover has Freya in stitches & she happily joins in pointing out the ludicrousness of each animal & their chosen vehicle. The animals need not despair as the last spread provides the perfect mode of transport for them as well as inducing huge grins for us.

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

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

  
Bryn described this as a book about rules & consequences. He felt the pictures were a funny way of describing the consequences.

With its sparse text & sometimes surreal pictures I wasn’t sure how the children would react but they were intrigued & transfixed. We read the book a few times & with each reading we found more things to talk about and to spot. I enjoyed seeing their reactions to the pictures and it was noticeable that they both became quiet & sombre when the pictures were darker in tone.

Looking at the illustrations Bryn was intrigued by the difference in scale with the depictions of large animals & food. Freya however was more interested in the pictures of the two children.

We enjoyed Rules of Summer, being introduced to something different and challenging was a great treat.

Abracazebra by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty

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

  
I liked this book because not only is it a great read aloud story with rhyming text & beautiful illustrations but it also has an important message about jealousy, fear and diversity. Freya loved this book because it features ‘Abracazebra’, a zebra doing magic tricks.
In a town called Yawnalot nothing much happens, and what passes as entertainment is visiting Goat on his boat. This all changes when Abracazebra arrives – a fabulous magician who brings colour, fun & stripes to the town. Jealous of the attention the new magician is getting, Goat decides ‘stripes are bad’, and it is only after Abracazebra has been driven away that Goat realises what they have lost and sets to work to get her back.
The rhyme helps the story be told at a good pace and there illustrations provide humour and warmth to create this great story.

Sir Lilypad by Anna Kemp & Sara Oglive

  We were very pleased to receive a review copy of Sir Lilypad, a tall tale of a small frog, from the publisher. We had high expectations of this new story from the talented duo that created The Worst Princess and we werent disappointed.

This is a fun tale of a teeny-tiny hero with big dreams who, with the help of two familiar characters, finds a happy ending.

We all fell in love with the brave and adventurous Sir LilyPad. His quest to become a hero finds him confronting an ogre, peeking under a witches hat and finally spotting a princess to rescue. Bryn & Freya would argue over who got to be Sir Lilypad when acting out the story. Swords (the cardboard variety) in hand they too were keen on defeating villains with a poke to the bottom. 

With it vibrant illustrations, witty rhymes and aspirations to dream big this is a glorious book to share with the children.

   

 Disclaimer: I received these book from the publisher. I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

It was about a year ago when Owen came home one evening having heard about this great cartoon for kids, Avatar. Having checked out the first episode & deeming it suitable viewing (although as the series progresses the level of violence was not so ideal) we settled down to daily episodes as a family (Netflix currently has all 3 series).

Its been a big hit in this household having finished it all the kids are now rewatching favourite episodes. Full of adventure, laughs, and plenty of battles this is a hugely entertaining cartoon series.

  

When not watching it the kids are generally playing games based around the cartoon. Who needs Elsa with her snowflakes when you have the kick-ass Katara doing her waterbending. We also have a few of the comic books which pick up the story after the cartoon finishes. Both kids love pouring over these comics.

   

 

I also painted some avatar nesting dolls, see this – avatar nesting dolls vine

I guess the only thing left to do is get our hands on the sequel – Legend of Korra.

Phoenixfest

We had a fantastic time yesterday at the #phoenixfest. Two of our favourite things, the amazing Story Museum & the fabulous Phoenix comic, collided creating an fun filled, inspiring and relaxing day. Look at all the things on offer. 

There was a great atmosphere during the day. It was even fun standing in line waiting to meet some of the comic book creators and listening to the excited chatter amongst the kids about favourite comics & their creations. (I also learnt of an extra puzzle in the Von Doogan puzzle book). Everyone we met was so friendly and taking the time to chat to Bryn & sign his poster.

  

We started the day up in Story Telling room with the gigantic bed. As on our previous visits to the Story Museum we love the magic they create and the kids loved choosing a dressing gown before entering the room. John Dickinson (writer of the Red Jack story and lots more) was reading some of his fantastical stories & this was Freya’s favourite part of the day. She enjoyed it so much she went back again later on in the day. 

  

Bryn went to a workshop by the creator of everyones favourite villain, Evil Emperor Penguin, Laura Ellen Anderson. He went in looking a little anxious & came our proudly showing his new villainous creation, Sir Dragon-Mare & his Raven Hunter minions, and humming the EEP theme tune.  

 

His current dragon obsession led to a request for a dragon drawing from the genius Etherington Brothers   

  

My highlight was finally getting to go inside the room with the antique printing presses (previously I’ve just peered in through the window like a kid outside a sweet shop). While Owen & Freya had a go at using one of the printing presses I enjoyed soaking in all the printing wonder.

  

  

Another highlight was meeting Paul Duffield who’s book is a lovely addition to our growing comic book collection.

 

 

The day ended with Bryn getting involved some secret shenanigans which involved racing around the museum finding clues, drawing pictures & solving a tricky Von Doogan puzzle to finally become part of the Phoenix Emergency Response Team. What happened after these two entered the room is ‘Top Secret’….I cant say anymore…

  

We all had so much fun & came home feeling a 100% more creative ready to make our own comics.

Thanks to all the organisers & comic book heroes.