Tag Archives: bryn

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Britta Teckentrup

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


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’.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat by Coral Rumble illustrated by Charlotte Cooke

One of the many things I like about twitter is making new discoveries, so was delighted when I was offered a chance to review this picture book & in turn discover such a treasure.


The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat is a mother & daughter collaboration, telling the story of two young children at play armed with a cardboard box & a healthy dose of imagination. As they set sail they see a host of well dressed sealife, pirates, a puffin & a naughty seagull all gloriously illustrated.

I was captured by the first spread in this book of both the children in their homemade boat reminding me of the fun my kids have. While a short read its one both children have asked for again & again. With so much detail & humour in the illustration there’s plenty for us to pour over, to spot & chuckle at.

A sweet little read perfect for sharing at bedtime.


Hilda and the Midnight Giant by Luke Pearson

This is I review Bryn & I wrote for the Guardian Family reviews

Whenever I ask Bryn about this book his eyes get bigger and become shiny with excitement as he races to tell me all about Hilda, the little people and his favourites – the giants.
Hilda and the Midnight Giant is a stunning graphic novel, featuring a feisty blue haired heroine and a variety of strange wondrous creatures. Tiny elves are trying to evict Hilda and her mum from their home; it’s up to Hilda to try and make peace with them. In the meantime Hilda also befriends a giant who is all alone looking for his mate. The humour of the extreme worlds of miniature and gigantic is cleverly woven into an thrilling adventure.
Both Bryn and I both really enjoyed this book which works on lots of different levels. While he found it tricky at times to know which section of the page I was reading he loved there were so many amazing pictures to look at. He was also very taken with end pages which show a range of different giants, inspiring him to draw his own.


Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins

This is a review Bryn & I wrote for the Guardian Family Reviews

Each time we read this book it is accompanied with deafening shouts of “peck, peck” with brief pauses for giggles.

Daddy woodpecker teaches little woodpecker the important art of pecking a hole and armed with this new skill the little woodpecker sets out to practise. The woodpecker finds himself in a house with a huge variety of items to bore holes through. I had thought it was for a younger audience owing to its simple story and very familiar illustrative style, but both Bryn & Freya have enjoyed this. They loved the die cut holes, which provide the opportunity to join in with the enthusiastic pecking.

The joy & enthusiasm of the little woodpecker is delightful, reminding me of those magical moments when one of the children learns something new and, like the woodpecker, is keen to continually test the new skill. A truly fabulous family read.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty illustrated by David Roberts

Rosie Revere, Engineer is a lovely book for so many reasons it’s difficult to know where to start.

Told in rhyming couplets this is a story about a shy girl with a head full of amazing ideas. After a knock to her confidence it’s her Great-Great-Aunt Rose who teaches her an important lesson & helps rebuild her confidence.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book & since it landed in our house it has become a new favourite for myself & the children. I love the strong messages in this book about determination, perseverance, self belief. The message about celebrating failure however is the one that hit home, Bryn often sets himself high standards which he doesn’t reach and finds frustrating, but having read Rosie Revere we now know we just need laughs & hugs from a Great-Great-Aunt Rose to help put things back into perspective and not quit.

The celebration of women in the book is another joy with its clear homage to Rosie the Riveter & the acknowledgement of great women who have contributed to aircraft engineering. Coincidentally Bryn currently has a book from the library about the worlds greatest inventions & discovery however very few women are listed so it was nice to have this book to help balance things out.

The illustrations are also magnificent adding a real sense of style, quirkiness & humour. I was also pleased to see a more multicultural mix to the children in Rosie’s class and the last spread of the book is the picture I hope is happening across all school classrooms, the opportunity to have fun, learn, explore and create.


Learning to Read

Looking back on Bryns first year at school one of the highlights for me was seeing his reading develop.

By the end of the year his reading was good enough to take part in the Summer Reading challenge at the library & read the 6 books all by himself, which he then enjoyed telling the staff at the library all about before collecting his smelly stickers & other goodies.


We’ve been very lucky in the sense that it feels as if Bryn is a natural reader. His love of books combined with his great memory seemed to have helped him master reading without too many difficulties.

He was given one reading book from school each week, not fantastic storybooks but the ones which helped him practice digraphs, ‘tricky words’ & some punctuation. Alongside this he picked books from the library, continued having stories read to him & would practice his reading with picture books.I remember one morning when he read us a Meg & Mog story all by himself, we were pretty amazed.

When reading picture books to Bryn he was always keen to pick out additional sound effects or text in speech bubbles to read to us.

The books he seemed to enjoy most from the school reading books were the non fiction ones. I was a happy librarian the day he asked me to explain the contents & index page. With the non fiction books he enjoyed the ability to take control & select the pages that interested him.

He galloped through whatever reading scheme they followed at school & the his proudest day was when he was allowed to move onto Turquoise level books.

Since then there has been no stopping him. He reads anything he sees in the street, is willing to have a go with most books ranging from picture books to chapter books & so far is really enjoying reading, long may it last.


My Zoo (Make Your Own Model Series) by Ellen Giggenbach


We had a fun afternoon with this fabulous model book, containing beautiful stylish paper press outs which were easy to fold into a fantastic little zoo.

This was a great high quality craft activity which kept Bryn amused for a couple of hours. A big bonus for me was he was able to do this with little intervention from me and there were also no added extras such as glue, scissors etc for me to track down.

Bryn also appreciated the high quality commenting on the small details such as the elephant ears sticking out & there being a joey in the kangaroos pouch.
In fact he continued to shout out things he liked about the Zoo throughout making it, ‘the patterns are very good’ ‘the animals are very cute’. He was really proud of what he’d created & was looking forward to giving out tickets to his zoo. He’s already got plans to make a bigger base with a road for the zoo bus. I think there’s more life in this zoo than just the building.

The book wasn’t quite so suitable for his more boisterous 2 year old sister who found it difficult not to tear & bend the pieces, so quickly moved onto playing with the more industructable playdoh. It was however perfect for Bryn who is naturally more careful & particular when it comes to crafts.

A well designed & thoughtful gem of an activity book.

How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Kate Hindley


This is a book which I can’t help but read with a big beaming smile. It’s only been in our possession a few days but is already one of my personal favourites.

It is a fabulously funny how to manual about washing a mammoth (although swap mammoth with a small child & it’s not to dissimilar to bath times in our house). A determined & very well prepared little girl provides an excellent step by step guide on how to accomplish the fiendishly difficult task of washing a mammoth providing an excellent dose of humour to bathtimes.

The perceptive & witty illustrations are wonderful, bringing warmth, humour & style to this great little story. The children especially liked the range of hairstyles a mammoth could model while the look on the mammoths face when soap gets in his eyes is the one I dread every kids’ bath time, providing me with that split second warming before the screams start.


Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett


Little mouse is back armed with a little paint set & ready to battle his fears. Wielding his paintbrush he cleverly vandalises the book covering the lions sharp claws with boxing gloves, tying up the crabs claws etc. generally making all the animals a lot less scary. One of the animals however receives a slightly different treatment but I won’t spoil the surprise.


This is a beautifully constructed book with plenty of flaps & pull outs bursting with humour & creativity.

Bryn found the book very funny & enjoyed looking at all the changes Little Mouse has made, only after he’d come to terms with the fact that Little Mouse had not only written in a book but also cut up some pages. He was fascinated with how little mouse had transformed the book & especially liked the page where he got to swat the wasp.

Disclaimer: I received this 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.

Bryn’s Den

Am sure it’s not escaped your notice that we have a lot of books, as well as a regular healthy stash from the local library I also have a large shopping habit.

Book storage especially for picture books is something I am always on the look out for so was pleased when I got the chance to buy some ex-library journal shelves.

The shelves then became a start to a much larger project, Bryn’s den. Bryn & his dad worked on turning some storage space in his room into his own little den, providing an escape from his sister (not possible), a place to read, a place to play or even to house his own dinosaur museum. The shelves were then added to the door to his new den.

Once Owen had boxed up the pipes, added a few shelves, put in the lights & added the flooring then the real work started the painting (my contribution)

This project spanned a number of months during which Bryn went through an array of ideas of how we would decorate, he eventually decided on ‘sealife’. While Owen painted the walls blue, Bryn & I planned what sea creatures we wanted to paint. I convinced Bryn to add a couple of seamonkeys, having spotted a ‘How to draw Seamonkeys’ guide on Sarah McIntrye’s blog. (Seamonkeys feature in her recent collaboration with Philip Reeve ‘Oliver & the Seawigs‘ which looks like an amazing read)

Bryn drew some of his creations onto the wall which I then went over with paint. I also took inspiration from a favourite bedtime read, Clara Vulliamy’s Martha & Bunny Brothers I Heart Bedtime, by using a fishy font from the book to add a ‘Bryn’s Aquaruim’ sign.

Bryn now has his own little space, perfect for checking out the glow in the dark double page spread from his favourite Octonaut book.