November 2020

The Most-Loved Bear
by Sam McBratney & Sam Usher

Do you ever read a book to your child and find that the emotion in the story catches you by surprise? The first time I read ‘The Most-Loved Bear’ I found myself struggling to hold back the tears as it really struck a chord with me. It’s absolutely beautiful!

A long time ago a little girl called Mary Rose buys a bear for sixpence from her local toyshop. She names him Growly Bear because he makes a little growling noise when you tip him upside down. Her Mother embroiders the letters ‘G’ and ‘B’ on to his paws and together the little girl and her much-loved bear have many adventures. Until one day she leaves him on a train…

Growly Bear ends up in the Lost Property Office and when he isn’t claimed he is sold to a little boy called Ronnie who loves him just as much as Mary Rose did. They play together for many years until the boy is too old for toys. The bear is donated to a second-hand shop to make room for Ronnie’s new hobbies.

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Monster Christmas
by Giles Andreae & Nikki Dyson

It’s early December and Santa is feeling tired. Lifting heavy sacks of toys every year has taken its toll on his back and his knees so he thinks it may be time to retire. He carefully writes out a job ad for someone special to take over his role and throws it on to his magical fire.

At the exact moment the parchment hits the flames, someone else is making a big decision on the other side of the world. A little Monster from Monster Land is telling his parents that it’s time for him to see the world and try to do some good. As he talks, Santa’s letter drifts in to view and the Monster realises that this is the perfect opportunity for him to spread his wings.

In the North Pole Santa puts the monster through some rigorous training and soon he is ready to go out and spread some Christmas joy. Monster Christmas is about to be unleashed on the world! He’s very excited but his first appearance at a Grotto doesn’t quite go as planned. The children and parents take one look at his green fur and run away screaming.

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Bright Sparks Flash Cards
by Button Books & Dominika Lipniewska

We’re over half way through Ivy’s first term in Reception and the homework has started to arrive thick and fast! After a busy day at school she’s not always a fan of sitting down and getting it done so I have been trying to make it as fun as possible for her.

Earlier this year we were gifted two boxes of flash cards by Button Books – one set is for the alphabet and the other is for three-letter words. Each box contains 50+ sturdy, laminated cards, each illustrated with super cute designs by Polish illustrator and designer Dominika Lipniewska.

There are two types of card in the Alphabet box. There are 26 which each feature just a letter, with upper case on one side and lower case on the other. The remaining cards have upper case, lower case and a familar word on one side and a picture of the word on the other side.

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The Christmas Next Door by T.A. Creaser, Samuel Langley-Swain & Christine Cuddihy

The majority of Christmas books focus solely on the good things about the day – family, food, presents – but as parents we know it can actually be quite stressful. There’s so much to think about and for many people Christmas can be tinged with sadness because of an empty chair at the table or the financial strain. 2020 has been awful in so many ways so these issues will no doubt be exacerbated this year.

This is why i’m glad we discovered ‘The Christmas Next Door’. It celebrates the joy of the festive season whilst acknowledging that sometimes things don’t quite go to plan!

When Grandad arrives to spend Christmas with his family everyone is very excited, but he has a few challenges to overcome before the big day arrives. Autistic Lily is anxious about being in the school play, Max is stressed about visiting Santa’s Grotto because he thinks he might be on the naughty list and Mum and Dad are running around trying to get everything prepared.

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A Superhero Like You
by Dr. Ranj Singh & Liam Darcy

When little Lily declares that she wants to be a Superhero her Mum presumes she wants to dress up in tights and a cloak – but how wrong she is!

Lily doesn’t want to be a *silly* Superhero, she wants to be a real Superhero. So who are the real Superheroes that she looks up to? They are the key workers who help to make the world a better place.

She could be a doctor, a firefighter, a teacher or a carer. Perhaps she’ll fly an air ambulance or drive a recycling truck. Or maybe she’ll be a vet or a scientist.  There are so many Superhero jobs that the possibilities are endless! Each page delves in to these different roles and shows children what the jobs involve and the impact that they have.

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THAT Christmas
by Richard Curtis & Rebecca Cobb

In a little village on the East Coast of England live five families whose lives are inextricably linked. Their children have known each other since birth and they share in each others joys and sorrows. They take group holidays in the summer and every winter they celebrate Christmas together in a big barn.

The children love their Christmas traditions. They open presents, eat turkey, go for a walk, visit the neighbours and watch Christmas TV. It’s the same every year. Well, it was until THAT Christmas.

THAT Christmas an unlikely turn of events resulted in the children being left home alone, and naturally mayhen ensued!

We watch as they replicate all of their traditions in their own child-like way. Presents are ripped open and swapped, hotdogs and cakes are consumed under the dining room table, the dirty dishes are sprayed with a hose in the garden and their visit to the neighbours turns in to a raucous dance party in their pyjamas!

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The Magical Yet by Angela DiTerlizzi & Lorena Alvarez

Helping kids develop a growth mindset is both tricky and vitally important. They need to learn the power of persistance but their big emotions mean that they are easily frustrated when they don’t get something right the first time.

Recently i’ve received lots of requests from parents for books which tackle this topic, probably because we’ve all been doing a bit more homeschooling than we expected in 2020! The one which I recommend most frequently is this one – The Magical Yet.

Written in beautifully tight rhyme, the story is about a little girl who is learning to ride her shiny new bike. When she struggles to pedal and steer the bike ends up on the ground and she refuses to try again.

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The Night the Reindeer Saved Christmas
by Raj Kaur Khaira & Kasia Nowowiejska

Yesterday I dug out all our Christmas books and added them to the towering pile of new titles sitting on my desk. We have so many lovely ones but as I flicked through them one thing was immediately obvious – an almost total lack of diversity. It seems that white boys have a monopoly on saving Christmas, white girls are all about the gifts, and black and brown people barely feature at all.

So I’m kicking off my Christmas books with this little gem which we have only recently discovered. It features an Indian Santa and a Black Mrs Claus and the story highlights the fact that the reindeer are all female!

It’s December 23rd and Mr Claus is 100% prepared for Christmas. Hooray! But naturally, this doesn’t last long and his peace is shattered when a fault is discovered with the rockets on his sleigh. With no way to deliver the presents it looks like Christmas will have to be cancelled!

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Lambies in Jammies
by Bea Shepherd & Sharon Harmer

What could be more relaxing than counting sheep? This little board book teaches children the numbers 1-10 and introduces them to a calming way of settling down to sleep.

Every adorable page features little sleepy lambs, each wearing different nightwear. There are lambs in pyjamas and lambs in nightgowns. There are lambs slumbering on haystacks and lambs snoozing in hammocks. There are even lambs being sung to sleep by puppies!

Ivy enjoys counting the animals and exploring all the details on the tiny pyjamas. There’s an array of different styles and she loves to pick out her favourites. She also likes trying to spot the sneaky little sheep who still have their eyes open when they should be asleep.

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Little Folk Nursery Rhymes: Colouring Book
by Cat Bateman & Michelle Poultney

It’s World Nursery Rhymes Week so this evening i’m sharing something slightly different –  a fabulous colouring book which we recently bought from the lovely Cat Bateman who runs Little Folk Nursery Rhymes.

If you have a child under 5 and you haven’t yet discovered Cat then you are most definitely missing out! Armed with her guitar and an amazing repertoire of rhymes she is a fantastic entertainer and kids adore her. She runs music classes in South London but she can be enjoyed by everyone as she has an album and a fabulous YouTube channel – plus she does online parties!

This gorgeous colouring book features characters from 11 popular nursery rhymes, all beautifully drawn by artist and jewellery designer Michelle Poultney. The pictures are adorable and it’s printed on thick, high-quality paper so there’s no seepage through the pages if your child is a bit heavy-handed with their felt tip pens (something which is a bugbear of mine with most colouring books!). The pages also have perforated edges so you can neatly extract your child’s artwork without having to rip or cut.

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