April 2018

Unplugged By Steve Antony

UnpluggedThis fantastic book will be a useful tool for any parent whose child loves screen time a little bit too much.

Blip is a little robot who loves to play on her computer all day long. She uses it to learn new things, to see faraway lands, to listen to music and to challenge herself with puzzles and games. But then one day there’s a power cut and she trips over her wire, tumbles out of her house and down a hill and ends up drifting down a river in to a forest.

This is unknown territory for Blip – she is outside and unplugged! What will happen to her and what will she learn in the great outdoors?

The imagery in this book is beautiful and I love the way the pictures move from monochrome and ‘blocky’ when Blip is on her computer to bright colours and soft lines when she is outside. Blip herself is adorable and Ivy thinks she’s super cute!

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With My Mummy By James Brown & Cally Johnson-Isaacs

With My MummyThis is a really cute book which captures the essence of the mother-child relationship really well. It takes you through a regular day from the point of view of the child and shows all the ways in which mummy makes their day special – whether it’s carrying them home from the shops because their legs are tired, fixing a favourite toy or splashing in the bath.

Each page features a different animal family and the beautiful illustrations really draw you in and help create a lovely warm setting for the story. Our favourites are the foxes in the park and the grumpy little elephant waiting for his dinner.

Lots of the activities are ones which many mums may not look forward to doing with their child in tow, for example doing the supermarket shop, but the child’s narrative is a nice way of reminding us of something important. No matter how badly we may sometimes think we’re doing at this difficult job called parenting, our children always think we’re the best! 

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Shannon Reed, Owner, Mockingbird Makes

Mocking Bird Makes

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family

My name is Shannon Reed and I’m a mum to two boys (7 and 11) and wife to one husband. We have lived in East Dulwich in South London for around 15 years but I’m originally from New Zealand. I used to be an innovation consultant, helping organisations generate breakthrough ideas and turn them into reality. Now I run Mockingbird Makes for bespoke knitted, crocheted and embroidered handcrafts – and here I am still facilitating peoples creativity!

What are your sons’ favourite books?

One of my children’s favourite books was the Usborne Little Children’s Music book by Fiona Watt. It’s a sound book and despite the fact it’s been broken for 3 years from so much use, I can still hear the music in my head. It would be played over and over again for hours – best babysitter ever!

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Words And Your Heart By Kate Jane Neal

Words And Your HeartAt first glance this book looks like it’s going to be soppy and ‘girly’ but do not be fooled. It teaches a really important lesson and should not be overlooked because of the abundance of hearts on the cover!

The beautifully illustrated text talks about our words and the impact they have. Words are great for chatting with your friends and describing things you’ve seen and explaining how you feel but sometimes words can hurt. They can make you cry and affect how people feel in their hearts.

Because of this we need to understand that our words have power and we should use that power for good. Your words can cheer someone up if they are feeling sad, lift someone up when they don’t feel strong or help someone keep going when they are ready to give up.

If you use your words to help other people then you can help make the world a better place.

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Calm-Down Time By Elizabeth Verdick & Marieka Heinlen

Calm-Down TimeA few weeks ago one of our Instagram followers asked for my help with finding a book which could help her daughter learn to handle her emotions. Toddlers often have tantrums because they struggle to express their feelings in words so she was looking for a tool that would help mitigate this.

We’re only just getting in to the tantrum stage with Ivy so this wasn’t an area I had properly researched but I had heard good things about this book by Elizabeth Verdick. Wary of recommending something I hadn’t actually read, I ordered a copy and I am extremely glad that I did. This little board book has proven itself to be very effective!

It explains the emotions your toddler might be feeling in very simple terms and then gives a little mantra to help them calm down which is repeated throughout the book. It also offers up suggestions about how they can make themselves feel better, like asking for a cuddle, talking about how they feel, or simply finding a quiet place to play or sing by themselves.

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Iris And Isaac By Catherine Rayner

Iris And IsaacIris and Isaac are beautiful polar bears and they are best friends. However their inability to share causes them to have  a little falling out. Iris makes a snow nest which is a bit too small for both of them to snuggle up in. They each try to squish their big bottoms in, trying to get a bigger space for themselves but they end up destroying the whole nest and walking away from each other in a huff.

However they soon discover that life can be pretty sad without someone to share it with. When Iris spots a flock of snowy white ducks in flight she wishes she could tell Isaac about it – and Isaac spots the northern lights he wishes Iris was there to share the moment with him.

Can these lovely bears learn to share so they can be friends again?

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She’s Not Good For A Girl, She’s Just Good! By Suzanne Hemming & Jacquie Hughes

She's Not Good For A Girl, She's Just Good!The star of this story is a little girl called Florence who shows promise at all things sporty from a very young age. Spotting her potential, her father nurtures her abilities and together they have lots of fun practising running and throwing.

However when Florence starts school she is immediately faced with prejudice. A little boy called Frank tells her that girls are rubbish at sport and that boys are better and stronger. He tells everyone that it must be true because this is what his dad says.

Enraged, Florence challenges Frank to a race after school. Can Florence prove that boys and girls are equal or will Frank’s outdated opinions win the day?

This is an empowering book about gender equality with something for both girls and boys to enjoy. The intelligent rhyme is coupled with gorgeous illustrations (by Jacquie Hughes)and the message is one that I wish we saw more of in children’s literature today. Girls are strong enough and smart enough to look after themselves!

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Ivy’s Guest Book: Julie Waite, Marketing Consultant

Julie Waite MarketingTell us a little bit about yourself and your family

Hi, I’m Julie and I’m mum to two gorgeous girls aged 6 and 4. We live in South Yorkshire in a village on the edge of the Pennines, from where I run my marketing and copywriting business.

Which book do you most like reading to them and why?

A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a fantastic book to read to young children. It’s about a little old lady who grumbled that her house was too small, she then met a wise old man who tells her to take in an assortment of animals, culminating in total chaos, as you might imagine. At the end of the book he tells her to “Take them all out” and then she realises that her house was fine as it was.

I believe the story is based on an old folk tale or fable and it certainly carries a good message – be grateful for what you have, it is enough. However, it presents this message in a funny and subtle way, which my girls find very entertaining. They love to join in with key lines that are repeated throughout, often putting on a silly voice for the old lady “My house is a squash and a squeeze”.

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The Ugly Five By Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

The Ugly FiveAlmost everyone has heard of the Big Five – the largest and most dangerous animals in Africa – but what about the Ugly Five? Julia Donaldson shines the spotlight on this lesser known group in this heartwarming story.

The lappet-faced vulture, the spotted hyena, the wildebeest, the marabou stork and the warthog are not going to win any prizes for their beauty. With their gnarled faces, distinctive odours and questionable table manners, they repel the other animals they meet.

However as they wander the savannah they meet a group who think they are the kindest and most beautiful animals in the world – their babies! Their little ones gather together and highlight all the reasons they think their mummies and daddies are wonderful and it really is quite lovely I may have shed a little tear the first time I read it…

This is a fantastic story which reminds parents and children alike that even at your worst, you are somebody’s whole world and to them you will always be beautiful.

Buy it now:

Rhyming Stories: Pip The Dog & Freddy The Frog By Axel Scheffler

Rhyming StoriesThis brightly coloured little board book is perfect for babies and toddlers alike as it features a really strong rhyme and an array of really cute animal characters.

There are two separate short stories in this one, each one about an animal who loves being noisy.

The first is about Pip the Dog, who loves to bark all the time. He’s at his happiest when playing chase and woof-woof in the park but also enjoys scaring the local cats and even the postman with his loud bark!

The second story is about Freddy the Frog, who loves to croak all day long and catch flies with his long tongue. He likes to play bounce in the pond with his friends but he’s also partial to a little nap on a lily pad.

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