Christmas Books

One of my favourite times of the year is early December when the Christmas books come out of the loft. A couple of fabulous additions to the pile this year include, The Princess and the Christmas Rescue by Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton and The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig & Chris Mould.

This gorgeous rhyming picture book was an instant hit, not only because of the fabulous illustrations, the fun rhymes,the charming story featuring festive favourites; Santa, Elves, Reindeer & the important decorative ribbon but mainly because of the main character Princess Eliza. The princess is an intelligent and kind inventor who’s wonderful creations help save the day. Reading this with Freya, an aspiring inventor, was a joy. The only downside was the last minute addition of a workshop to Freya’s christmas list.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas is from the duo who created one of my top books of 2015, A Boy Called Christmas. It was great to see some familiar characters again but also meet a host of new favourites including the heroine Amelia. Set during the victorian era this is another exciting tale full of christmas spirit, hope & warmth. The story begins with trouble brewing in both London & Elfhelm but when nearly all hope is lost the magic  of Christmas is rediscovered through courage & honesty. Sharing these books is fast becoming a new christmas tradition in our house & the perfect illustrations are now the only way I picture chrismas.

Hilda and The Stone Forest by Luke Pearson

We are so pleased to see Hilda back in a new adventure, Hilda and The Stone Forest. The Hilda graphic novel series is a firm favourite amongst the young & old in this house. We’ve enjoyed her adventures in the country & her move to the city, meeting a host of fantastical creatures along the way. In even more exciting news Hilda will soon be on screen with an upcoming cartoon series for Netflix.

Of all the Hilda books I am especially fond of this one because Hilda’s mother gets to be part of the adventure. Both mother & daughter (& not forgetting Hilda’s faithful pet Twig) demonstrate courage & determination when they find themselves lost in the land of trolls. After a narrow escape they find their way home. However the story ends on a huge cliffhanger leaving us desperately waiting for the next Hilda instalment.

With the help of the fabulous Hilda toy, we created our own Hilda fan-fiction to help pass the time while we wait for the next book.

Thanks to the publisher, Flying Eye Books, for the review copy.

Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam The Spooky School

Recently we’ve been reading Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam: The Spooky School by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton. 

This is a collection of 3 stories featuring ‘everyone’s favourite robber-dogs-turned-bakers’, Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam. Like the picture books they are full of adventure, funny puns & fab illustrations. 

The first story is a perfect halloween read involving a spooky ghost. The second, our favourite, features an ingenious weather device & a dastardly, villainous yet hilarious, red panda called Red Rocket (fingers-crossed he will return in future stories). In the final story the duo are on the tail of a gang of thieving racoons providing an opportunity for a fantastic undercover disguise. 

While reading the stories the kitchen inspired gadgets the duo used to help crack the mysteries captured the kids imagination. They were soon equipped with their own gadgets; a jam (sp)ray gun, a swiss army muffin, insta-jam-splat toast, an evidence  analysis whirrer and a freeze ray for instant ‘Hats Away’ slides.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

Michelle Robinson Books

Over the summer I was lucky enough to win all of Michelle Robinson’s picture books to date, what a wonderful haul. 

My intention was to donate them all to the local school so they get to experience the magic of her books. The majority did get to the school but when I realised Michelle was willing to sign them I had to pick out 4 for the family.
Over Michelle’s many fantastic picture books her marvellous writing has been teamed up with glorious illustrators including Kate Hindley, David Roberts, Jim Field,… the list goes on. These great pairings have led to some amazing creations so picking 4 was pretty tough.

The first book I chose (for me) was How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth, illustrated by Kate Hindley. Many of Michelle’s books are fantastically funny whether its the witty writing, farcical situations or just plain ridiculous scenarios and this is one of my favourites.

For O I choose Odd Sock, illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown, as an old romantic I couldn’t resist a tale, told in rhyme, of 2 socks destined to be together whatever life throws at them.

For B I chose Michelle’s latest book The Forgetful Knight illustrated by Fred Blunt. B was keen to read this to us but found himself overcome by fits of giggles at the turn of each page. 

For F I chose A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting illustrated by David Roberts which appealed to her dark sense of humour.

Whether its a soothing bedtime read, a heartwarming read or a rib-tickling read that you’re looking for I guarantee you’ll find something to suit from Michelle’s books. Don’t forget to check her out next time you are in a library or bookshop.

Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

On a day celebrating Ada Lovelace it seems apt to talk about the new young scientist on the block. From the talented duo who brought us Iggy Peck & Rosie Revere we now have a new inspirational character: Ada Twist.

Written in verse the story introduces us to a young Ada Twist who, once she starts speaking, is a bundle of questions. Driven by curiosity, her questioning nature has her investigating everything. Luckily she has a supportive & understanding family who are on hand to help her become a ‘great scientist’.

This book is a joy to share with the kids. Their favourite spread is the page of questioning words, which I have no doubt will be echoing around this house. It’s always lovely to share a book with an inspirational character, somebody the children can identify with & introduce them to the importance of asking questions.  

Thanks to the publisher for sending us a copy of this marvellous book. 

Illustrated Library

Libraries and librarians in picture books 

Mango & Bambang. Tiny Tapir Trouble by Polly Faber & Clara Vulliamy

This is book 3 of one of my most favourite book series. The books are beautifully written & illustrated. They are filled with fun heartwarming adventures & a charming friendship between tapir & girl, perfect for new readers. In this book  Mango visits the library.

Max & Bird by Ed Vere

Max is back & in this adventure he & bird have plans to learn how to fly, where better to look for help then in the library.

The New Libearian by Alison Donald & Alex Willmore

The children, ready for storytime, cant find their librarian but luckily they discover a liBEARian instead.

Reading Landmark

Yesterday F picked up a book & read independently without any prompting. Although shes been reading school books for a while & completed the summer reading challenge they are always read with us & at our request. 

She loves having stories read to her & happily flicks through her favourite  books telling herself the stories. She is also keen on writing her own stories with pictures. 

Its nice to see another reader in the house. (Hoping our bookshelves can cope)

The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies

One of our favourite picture books is the Storm Whale about a boy called Noi who rescues a baby whale. When we heard Noi was back we were very pleased to get a review copy from the publisher as we had all been hoping to meet these characters again. Like the first book we were completely charmed & happy to be back in their beautiful little world.

In the Storm Whale in Winter Noi sets out on a snowy winters night determined to find his father & luckily finds some help along the way. This is another truly heartwarming tale of friendship & family. 

As with the Storm Whale we were completely smitten with this book. On the first reading the children were captivated & ran a gamut of emotions alongside Noi eagerly chasing the happy ending. On subsequent readings we have been able to ponder over the beautiful illustrations, especially the snowy scenes in readiness for the winter.
A stunning picture book & perfect cosy bedtime read. 

Fairytale Hairdresser & the Princess & the Pea

Fairytale hairdresser & the Princess & the Pea by Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard
Thanks to Penguin for the review copy.

The latest book in one of F’s favourite book series is Fairytale Hairdresser & the Princess & the Pea (out today). As with the others in this charming series it has been a complete hit with F. It contains all her favourite elements, familiar fairy tale characters, fabulous make overs, Kittie saving the day & a happily ever after.

In this story Kittie befriends Princess Penelope, a talented chef, and helps her find a job at the local food festival. One of my favourite things about these books is that Kittie is a great role model in showing how to be a good friend & resolving problems quickly.

In this retelling of the Princess & the Pea we get to meet a wicked witch, plenty of food themed outfits as well as hearing sensible words from Prince when his Mum tells him Penelope passed the pea test.  

This book is a fun read but be warned the numerous food references can make you peckish so have snacks at the ready.

Inspired by Kitties food based make overs the children created their own versions.


Friday night dinner