Tag Archives: Freya

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.

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.


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.


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.


Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

We were recently sent a fun new book to review, Dear Zoo Spin and Say.

Dear Zoo has been staple reading in our house. Our copy is a supersize edition which adds an extra element of fun to this perfect lift the flap book.

In Dear Zoo Spin and Say the fun element are two spinners which can be used to help teach simple concepts, first words, numbers, different types of animals etc. “The sturdy pages are packed with everyone’s favourite animal friends from DEAR ZOO, as well as new wild animals and pets, and there’s a different question on every spread. How many? Who’s that animal? What colour? Simply spin the wheel, point and say!”

Freya was very keen on spinning the wheels, perhaps a little too enthusiastically at times, and she particularly enjoyed spotting the animals. Her vocabulary is growing daily and is always keen to spot things she recognises, spinning the wheel provided a fun alternative to the more traditional spotting books.

It was a fun book to share with Freya especially listening to her discover & sound out new words as well as her growing confidence in repeating her numbers.

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.

The Pirate House by Rebecca Patterson


I chose the book as its one that Freya has at nursery & it has now become a regular bedtime request. She is happy pouring over the pictures picking out the teddy, a cat and a variety of sealife.

It’s a story of a group of children who believe that Pirates live ‘in that house on the corner’


They create a whole mythology around this idea, my favourite being if you looked at the pirate washing you could turn into jelly fish.
When the door to the house finally opens however they are in for a disappointment, but the story ends with a clever little twist. As the children shout ‘nothing EVER happens on our street’ those with keen observation skills may think differently.

I have really enjoyed reading this story, especially the depiction of a group of children happily playing out on the street, stretching their imaginations in a place they are comfortable in. I absolutely love the colour palette & illustrations adding a real joy & vibrancy to the story.


Zoe and Beans by Chloe & Mick Inkpen

We were lucky enough to be sent a couple of Zoe and Beans books to review.

The first was Zoe and Beans Look at me! – one of a new series of board books.

Zoe & her friend Oscar are playing dressing up. The book is full of completely adorable, gorgeous scenes of two children having fun dressing up, as pirates, robots & more. The last spread is a real delight bringing a huge grin to my face.

Freya loves looking at the illustrations while insisting that Zoe & Oscar are actually Bryn & Freya. I find Zoe a fantastically funny & feisty character, characteristics she shares with Freya.

The next book we looked at was Zoe and Beans Hello Oscar.


In this story Zoe finds a guinea pig at the bottom of her garden, then another, then a tortoise followed by a menagerie of animals till eventually she meets their owner, Oscar.
Bryn’s only complaint was he didn’t want the story to end & I could understand why, having been introduced to Oscar we were keen to find out more about him & his animals.

As with other Zoe and Beans books we loved the illustrations & the humour in the story, the chameleon camaflouging as Zoe’s dress made us smile. Zoe’s independent spirit and her willingness to look after all these animals made this an enjoyable read. We look forward to more adventures from Zoe and Beans. (and hopefully Oscar)


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.

Pyjamas & Bedtime cuddles

Tonight’s bedtimes stories included

Little Mouse by Alison Murray A beautifully illustrated book with ‘little mouse’ keen to show just how unlike a mouse she is. Animal impressions are Freya’s speciality making this a perfect book for her to join in. An engaging and sweet read.

The Bear with Sticky Paws by Clara Vulliamy
A feisty Pearl meets her match when visited by a bear, ‘a small white tufty one’ bringing chaos & mess. A fun read with lots of opportunity for Freya to practice her favourite word ‘no’, ending with hugs & kisses. The best kind of bedtime story.