Ivy’s Guest Book: Jess, Social Media Manager & Blogger at abouttheseboys.co.uk

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

Hi, I’m Jess and I live in Tonbridge, Kent with my lovely husband and our four sons Gabriel (8), Flynn (7), Theo (5) and Jude (2).  I work as a social media manager and when the boys aren’t keeping me busy I blog about family life with my boys at abouttheseboys.co.uk.

What are your sons’ favourite books?

Books are a huge part of our lives and we have them everywhere!  Gabriel and Flynn have grown out of picture books so I’m spending as much time as possible reading them to Theo and Jude, as I know how quickly this special time will go.

At the moment Jude’s favourite book is Supertato by Sue Hendra.  He was given it by his Auntie on his second birthday in February, and we’ve been reading it nearly every days since!  Jude loves his food so is very appreciative of the bright, playful storyline and illustrations – he has a lot of fun pointing out all the veggies and freezer foods.  And thanks to Supertato, Jude is obsessed with peas and potatoes!

Which book do you most like reading to them?

I love reading Oliver Jeffers’ books to the boys because his stories are so simple and heartfelt, and his illustrations just gorgeous.  “Here we Are” is very special and makes me emotional to read – it talks about how incredible Earth is and what it means to be a human on this planet.  Its message is as beautiful as the images.   And it appeals to all my boys on different levels – Jude loves the pictures and his big brothers love reading it too.  It really is a book that we’ll treasure as a family for many years to come.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

It would have to be the classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  I remember my mum reading it to me at bedtime when I was very little and it’s been a real joy seeing my boys fall in love with the story too. It’s such a wonderfully simple concept and really captures little ones’ imaginations.  Jude has a copy of The Hungry Caterpillar’s Birthday Party and gets very excited when he sees the birthday cake!

Who is your favourite illustrator?

It has to be Axel Scheffler – his stories are all over our house – from Jude’s noisy bath time books and Flip Flap Safari to most of his stories with Julia Donaldson.  His illustrations make the boys laugh and make looking at his stories a pleasure to read.

Last year we were lucky enough to attend a talk with Axel Scheffler as part of Sevenoaks Literary Festival.  Axel read from some of Julia Donaldson’s books, drew her most popular characters and talked us through his creative process. And at the end he signed books for all the children – I had taken four books along and he was kind enough to write a message to each of the boys and draw them their own book character.   Jude has his own Gruffalo illustration!  I’m looking after the books until the boys are older.

Last month we had the pleasure of meeting David Litchfield at woodlandsfestival.co.uk and discovered all his wonderful stories.  We are enjoying reading ‘The Bear and The Piano’ at the moment.

What do you look for when shopping for a new book for your child?

A great book will create magical memories for children to remember for a lifetime, and I don’t think there’s anything more special than sitting down together with a good book.  We are spoilt for choice nowadays – there are so many wonderful titles out there.

I try to choose picture books that have a moral or teach the boys about others outside their little worlds.  And with four boys, I’m very conscious about showing them healthy male and female role models – I want them knowing that boys can be sensitive and nurturing (not just superheroes!) and that girls are also adventurous and fearless.  Even with picture books it’s important to get this right.  We love Julia Donaldson’s Zog and The Smartest Giant in Town for this reason.

 

Jess’s blog All about the Boys can be found at facebook.com/abouttheseboys, instagram.com/abouttheseboys and twitter.com/abouttheseboys

Her website is abouttheseboys.co.uk

 

Can I Kick It?/Girls Just Want To Have Fun/ABC/Perfect Day/Race For The Prize by Pop Reads Publishing

Every now and again a book pops through our letterbox which completely takes us by surprise. It doesn’t happen often, but when Pop Reads Publishing sent us a little parcel of their titles it completely changed our whole morning. When the post arrived we were quietly having breakfast in our PJs but within 10 minutes of opening this set of books we were having a mini disco in the kitchen and introducing Ivy to a host of new songs. Why? Because Pop Reads have created beautifully illustrated lyric books for kids!

The parcel contained 5 titles but Ivy’s immediate favourite was ‘Can I Kick It?’, a 1989 song from American Hip Hop collective A Tribe Called Quest. I part read/part sang the words to her and she loved the trippy, graffiti-style illustrations which ran alongside.

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You’re My Little Cuddle Bug by Nicola Edwards & Natalie Marshall

This adorable board book is perfect for a snuggly read before bed. The chunky pages are designed for very small children but Ivy is three and a half and still loves it!

The gentle rhyme celebrates the special bond between parent and child, as we see ladybirds, bumblebees, caterpillars and butterflies cuddle up with their nearest and dearest. I love the choice of language used to describe how the baby bugs make the parent feel.  We have even adopted the phrase ‘You tickly pickle’ because Ivy thought it was hilarious!

The pages feature cutouts and raised sections to keep little hands busy and the durable format should foil even the most determined book chewers!

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Whiffy Wilson: The Wolf Who Wouldn’t Go To School by Caryl Hart & Leonie Lord

Whiffy Wilson is a little wolf who refuses to go to school. He doesn’t want to sit in a boring old classroom and learn his ABCs. He’d much rather stay at home and watch TV because that’s much more fun! This may sound a little naughty but Whiffy isn’t really a bad little wolf. Deep down he’s scared of going to school because he doesn’t know what to expect and he’s worried about getting things wrong.

This all changes when he pops next door one day and asks his friend to come and play. She’s in the middle of getting ready for school and insists that Whiffy comes along too. She drags him in to class and shows him the ropes – and soon Whiffy finds himself having fun. He paints pictures, makes biscuits, plays football and even gets a gold star from the teacher for making a flying car.

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Katie Ryde, Director, And Other Memories

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

Hi, I’m Katie, soon to be a Mummy of two, but currently loving life with our 2 year old Theo, and our other ‘child’, a lovely rescue dog called Anna. I live in Emsworth, Hampshire, having recently relocated from London – a decision that has been amazing as we all love being by the sea. When I’m not parenting I’m kept busy running And Other Memories, an album design company.

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Sneaky Beak by Tracey Corderoy & Tony Neal

Usually I like to have a book in the house for at least 2 weeks before I sit down and review it. This ensures that we’ve read it multiple times and that I have had ample opportunity to observe how Ivy feels about a story. However I am breaking with tradition with this one as she is totally in love. We only received this book yesterday afternoon but we’re already well in to double figures on the number of times it’s been read!

Bear and Hamster are the best of friends. They are very happy living together in their little house, but every time they turn on the TV they are subjected to very loud adverts from an extremely persuasive salesbird called Sneaky Beak. They laugh at the ads together but in bed at night Bear finds himself wondering if perhaps he is missing out. As he feels a bed spring ping beneath him, he thinks that maybe he might need Sneaky Beak’s help.

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I Love My Teacher by Giles Andreae & Emma Dodd

If your little one is starting school or nursery in September then you will no doubt be on the look out for books which will help ease the transition. This lovely story from Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd is perfect for calming any first day nerves which they may have.

The main character loves his teacher and is very excited to lead you through all of the things you can expect from your first day at school. We see him arrive, greet his teacher and cheerily say goodbye to his Mummy. He hangs up his coat on a peg with his name on it, finds his friends and then shows you all the cool things you get to do in the classroom, like learning letters and numbers, doing show and tell, painting singing and story time. His beloved teacher features throughout – guiding, helping and praising the children in her care.

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Hannah Brooke, Founder, Hannah Brooke Photography

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

I’m Hannah, Wife, Mummy, Photographer and HR person! I live in Wetherby, Yorkshire and I absolutely love the fact that I’m close to the countryside but not too far away from the city! I have two lovely children – Thomas is 5 and Ellie is 3….and a Labrador called Lottie, aka my 3rd child!

What are your children’s favourite books?

Thomas absolutely loves Superworm by Julia Donaldson – he’s completely fascinated by all things wildlife and creepy crawly stuff at the moment. Ellie loves fairy tales and her favourite story is Goldilocks and the 3 bears as it features a cheeky little, curly blonde haired girl, just like her!

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Patch, The Dog Who Ate Everything by Liz Poulain

Patch the dog loves to eat, but her tastes are a little unconventional. Socks, soap, letters, rugs, wellies, baskets – she chows down on anything she can get her paws on and her poor family doesn’t know what to do. How can they stop Patch from eating all their belongings?

After one particular eating spree they decide to pop her in the garden for a run around but instead Patch just nibbles on the plants, a bucket and even the washing line!

Exasperated, they ask a local farmer for some help and discover that perhaps what Patch needs is a friend. But will this help or hinder the situation?

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Amanda Overend, Founder, Books & Pieces

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

I’m Amanda and I live in Leicestershire with my husband and three boys, ages 4, 6 and 8. I run independent online bookstore Books & Pieces which specialises in brilliant value books and gifts for 0-6 year olds.

I’ve always been a big fan of books, and I love to read in my spare time, so I’m really delighted to be sharing my love of books and helping other families find books and activities to enjoy together through my online store and community.

And I love that my boys share my passion for books and reading – it’s something nursery workers and teachers have always commented on right from being babies, and I hope they continue to love books just as much into adulthood.

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