National Library Day

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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

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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.

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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

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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.
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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.
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Mortimer Keene by Tim Healy & Chris Mould

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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

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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.
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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)
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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.
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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.

Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes

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

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This is a cosy Alfie story about the lead up to Christmas & the magical day itself, shared with family and friends. As always his little sister, Annie Rose, is there to add some mischief to the story.

In Alfies christmas we get to see Alfie’s family and friends following festive tradition such as decorating the tree, wrapping presents & baking biscuits. For me the charm of the story is that many of these scenes could come straight out of one of our family photo albums.

The children always enjoy Alfie stories, Freya’s favourite part is seeing Alfie with his friends from nursery school, I think, like me, she enjoys the familiarity of the scenes illustrated in the book. Bryn on the other hand was keen to note how Alfie’s toy got a christmas stocking filled with gifts & opportunistically decided all his teddies should have a christmas stocking.

A story full of warmth & christmassy sentiment, perfect for this time of year.

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Britta Teckentrup

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

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This book is often referred to as ‘5 gold rings’ being the line everyone enjoys belting out when singing ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’.

It is a beautifully produced book, with its shiny cover, brightly coloured illustrations & cut outs. I particularly liked the illustrations of the little boy & girl guiding you through the carol.

Bryn really appreciated the different elements of the Twelve Days of Christmas peeking through the cut outs as you turn the pages, allowing him to sing his way through the book without having to flick back to pages to remember whether it was ‘swans swimming’ or ‘lords leaping’.

Lucky by David Mackintosh

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

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Two brothers start the day in utter excitement having been told by their Mum they’re having a surprise at dinner. They spend the day trying to guess what it could be working themselves into a frenzy and convincing themselves & others it is an exotic holiday to Hawaii.

When they discover what the surprise really is, the older brother is left embarrassed & disappointed. Luckily with the help of his family, especially his younger brother Leo, he is able to laugh about it. A wondrously funny & warm story that appealed to us all.

The children laughed at the ideas from the over excited brothers, like a swimming pool in the back yard they don’t have, and enjoyed the quirky & sometimes surreal illustrations, especially the two headed elephant. A keenly observed story with some close to home truths such as “grown-ups say things they don’t really mean” & holidays spent “watching TV and arguing” had me smiling and appreciating this delightful story.

Winnie’s Big Bad Robot by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul

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

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Winnie the Witch is always popular with Bryn & Freya; they enjoy her mad cap adventures and this book was no exception. Proud of her cardboard robot creation Winnie decides to turn it into a real robot. The real robot turns out to be a big bad robot and chaos ensues when he gets hold of Winnies magic wand.

The illustrations bring this story to life especially when the robot causes havoc turning ducks, frogs, Winnie’s house & even Winnie into robots. The transformation from one picture to the next is as magical as Winnie’s wand.

The mix of magic with familiar activities, such as going to the library, provides a comforting start before the roller coaster adventure begins. A great story to share with the children.

This book just ate my dog ! by Richard Byrne

Freya & I wrote this for the Guardian Children’s Books Family Reviews

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This book both surprised and delighted us. Bella takes her dog for a walk only to find it disappears off the page. The same fate awaits all who come to help and even Bella herself. Luckily this is the perfect opportunity for the reader to come to the rescue and Freya had great fun lending a helping hand.

This is an inventive book making use of the guttering to make the characters disappear then inviting the reader to give the book a good shake to get everyone out again. Freya was very pleased with herself when she shook the book and turned the page to see all the characters re-appear. I liked the cheeky nature of the book especially the ending.

A perfect smile inducing book.