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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.


Mabel and Me by Mark Sperring and Sarah Warbuton

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

A funny story of friendship puzzling on why Mabel and Me are ‘bestest bestest friends’.

There is much to find funny in this book. Me, the mouse, bristles at perceived insults to Mabel. However, it isn’t Mabel that the famous photographer is referring to as a “strange little creature thing”. Bryn worked out the case of mistaken identity early & enjoyed being in on the joke throughout the story.

I loved the rhythm & word play in the book with lovely phrases like ‘a stroll down a strolly street’ & malapropisms such as ‘mind your mannerisms’ The illustrations & typography also carried the wonderful humour of the story.

This is a beautifully crafted book where both the language and illustrations conspire to present a fantastically funny story.

Oh Dear Geoffrey by Gemma O’Neil

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

The star of the book is a beautiful but clumsy giraffe Geoffrey, trying to make friends. Bryn declared this a nice story as after a few disappointing attempts Geoffrey finally does find some friends.

He in fact found ‘MORE friends then he can count!” which is Bryns favourite page as he gets to the demonstrate his counting skills.

Freya is a little young to appreciate the message of friendship in this book but it did appeal to her love of slapstick and the spreads showing Geoffrey having slipped, bumped, crashed or splashed were of great delight.

The pictures in the book are beautifully vibrant a perfect match to the characters & language of the story

Pandamonium at Peek Zoo by Kevin Waldron


Pandamonium at Peek Zoo brings the return of the fabulous Mr Peek and his son Jimmy. Mr Peek plans an animal parade to celebrate the arrival of a new baby panda. The preparations however are not plain sailing, with Mr Peek being the main obstacle.

Like Mr Peek I too have been daydreaming about organising a parade in honour of this fantastic book (although not in such stylish pyjamas)

The head of the parade would be Mr Peek, a fantastic character. He brings an enormous amount of humour to the story as in his oblivious state he generates chaos.

Followed closely behind by Jimmy the true hero of the story fixing Mr Peeks mistakes & avoiding “pandamonium”

The adorable baby panda Lulu adds cuteness to the parade


At the rear of the parade we have the charming language in the story with beautifully quaint phrases such as “Tickety Boo” & “apple pie order”. Bryn loved these phrases & was even inspired to create his own for one of the many disasters in the story which he described as “apple crumble”

Adding fireworks to the parade are the stylish illustrations containing key plot developments helping pace the story. Bryn eagerly poured over the illustrations keen to point out what was about to happen next, being actively part of the storytelling.

The much talked about Mr Whiskerwitz pads in front of the big finale, the endpapers which contains hints of another possible Mr Peek story (or perhaps it’s just my wishful thinking)


This is a fantastically funny story, a beautifully crafted book & thoroughly enjoyed by all the family.

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.

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.

Welcome to your AWESOME ROBOT by Viviane Schwarz

I had read a number of excellent reviews of this book but was keen to hold a copy in my hand & once I did there was no way I was leaving it on the shelf. (It really is an irresistible book, perfect size, colours, illustration, feel,… the list goes on)

A truly awesome ‘how to guide’ with stylish illustration, humour, the right amount of advice & top tips to set you on your way to create an ‘Awesome Robot’

Bryn was instantly attracted to the book, he was even able to read some of the pages himself which was great to see. The book provided lots of inspiration & he was brimming with ideas of the type of robot he wanted to make.

One of my favourite pages of the book is the ‘workshop rules’ especially the advice ‘it is every engineer’s right to do things badly while working them out!’.

A perfect craft book, in not only providing steps to follow but also helping create the right space and atmosphere for some inspired robot building, as these photos prove.




A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy

Freya is a big fan of roaring like a lion so was pleased when I came across the book ‘A Lion in the Meadow’ by Magaret Mahy.

This is such a joyful story, where make believe comes true. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of stories & as the Lion says ‘some stories are true and some aren’t’.

The pictures are charming and natural, depicting a very cosy home & beautiful countryside for the boy to run around making the picture of the roaring lion & big dragon more fierce in contrast. Both Bryn & Freya really enjoy listening to this story while Freya also likes spotting the characters in the beginning & end papers.

Ancient Egypt: Tales of Gods and Pharaohs

This is sumptuous book with its large format, some double page spreads and nine fantastic stories of Egyptian Pharos & gods. The stories are retold in comic strip format which I thought worked really well and echoed the feeling of hieroglyphics.

I wasn’t familiar with these Egyptian stories so I’m not sure whether the retellings do them justice, but the comic strip format certainly made the action & adventure of the tales more accessible for Bryn. While I found some of the tales a little gruesome, Bryn was very keen to hear more and happy to explore all the detail within the panels. His favourite page was the double page spread of the ‘red hippopotamus’ in the tale of Horus the Avenger. This break from the comic strip panel to one large picture created impact & added to the drama of the story.

Underneath the stories runs a single comic strip providing an historic commentary from a cat. This includes details on mummification and an alphabet of hieroglyphics. We enjoyed using the latter to write out our names.

A really enjoyable book providing an engaging introduction to Egyptian mythology and history.

King of Space by Jonny Duddle

A little boy with big plans, space ships, dung blasters, floating space cows, robots & tasty sounding ‘Choco-goo’ , this book has it all.

The King of Space tells the tale of Rex, ‘Rex might look little, but he has big plans that will take him to the furthest reaches of space.’ With his army of ‘warbots’ Rex is on a mission to become King of Space.

I love the cinematic nature of this book with its rich illustrations & a stunning four page spread. I also loved the character of Rex, his aspiration, determination & his awkwardness around Princess Kooki. The highlight however for me was Rex’s mum saving the day, as my boy is quickly growing up (starting to read & write by himself) it’s nice to have a reminder that Mum’s still here to help.

Bryn tells me he loves this book especially the pictures & his favourite page is when Rex has been given lines as a punishment at school, as usual Rex is not doing as he’s told. After only a few readings he has pretty much memorised the story & is enjoying retelling it to us with his sister taking on the role of a Moog. Now we just need to find some wall space for the glossy ‘warbot’ poster that comes with the book.


Disclosure: We received our copy of ‘King of Space’ from the publisher for review. Our opinions are our own.