My typical working routine has changed enormously over the past year. Part of this is down to all the recent restrictions, but also because my youngest child left home in September and we started house renovations in February.
In the normal world, my days would include a mixture of working from home, travelling to schools and libraries to run workshops, and the occasional trip to London for meetings and socials.
But these days there are no journeys or jollies and all my visits have gone virtual. So here’s a flavour of how life has been for this author during the last 14 months.
My day starts around 7.15 with a cup of tea in bed from my lovely husband.
Ivy is a big fan of puzzles so when this neon book of ‘brain boosters’ came through the door she was very excited indeed!
It contains over 40 pages of fluorescent, nature-themed puzzles and there’s lots of variety to keep children engaged. Ivy’s personal favourites are the mazes and the ‘spot the difference’ pages but it also contains little maths problems, dot to dot pictures, word searches, pattern repetition puzzles, code-breaking, quizzes and colouring pages.
As well as being educational, it’s a great book to have at home to keep kids entertained when you need to focus on work or household tasks! Now that we’re able to get back out to cafes and restaurants again I have also been popping it into my bag as a boredom buster to play with at the table.
The book is aimed at children aged 6-9 but Ivy is 5 and she has really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it if you have a child who likes maths and logic (or if you’re trying to find a fun way for them to find it more enjoyable!).
Here is another great pick for Pride Month – The Pirate Mums by Jodie Lancet-Grant and Lydia Corry. It’s a swashbuckling adventure about pirates, the high seas and slightly embarrassing parents.
Billy’s family is a little bit different and sometimes this can be hard. He worries a lot about what his friends might think and sometimes just wishes his parents were a tad more ‘normal’. Why? Well his two mums have a penchant for all things piratey. They sing sea shanties all day long, they take their pet parrot for walks, they decorate the house with fishing nets and insist on using smelly old maps. They are SO EMBARRASSING!
When Billy’s teacher announces that the class will be going on a trip to the seaside and taking a boat ride, naturally his mums volunteer to help. The little boy is mortified because he knows his friends will make fun of their pirate-led fashion sense and their fondness for words like matey, scallywag and buccaneer.
With picture books I generally find the simplest ideas have the biggest impact, and ‘The Cat and the Rat and the Hat’ is an absolutely perfect example of this. It’s colourful, creative and uses short, sharp rhymes to great comic effect.
Cat is having a lovely snooze on his favourite mat when he sees a rat wearing a lovely big hat. The cat decides he definitely wants the hat so he chases the rat – but what happens when they encounter a bat wearing a fancy cravat? Who gets the hat? Who gets the cravat? Who will sit on the mat? Will it be Cat, Bat or Rat?
Honestly – even typing that made me laugh so you can imagine how much fun this story is to read aloud with little ones! Toddlers and pre-schoolers will love the rhythm and the cheeky, tongue-twisting humour – and if your child is in their Reception year at school (like Ivy) there’s an extra level of enjoyment to be had…
How does your Dad make you feel? With mine I always feel safe and I know he’ll invariably have a sensible solution to any problem I encounter. He has the correct tool for every possible job squirrelled away in his garage and his childlike sense of adventure makes him a big hit as a Grampi!
The little boy in this gorgeous picture book has a very similar father so it really resonated with me. We follow their adventures as they build a go-kart, a tree house, a planter box and a cardboard castle. We see them pretend to be superheroes, rock stars, mechanics and farmers. We watch as they go about their days together, secure in the knowledge that they have each other’s backs.
This was not the book I was planning on reviewing today. It’s not even a book I was planning to review this week or even this month as I didn’t know it existed until it dropped through my door about an hour ago and made me cry big, ugly, shoulder-shuddering tears. I’m choosing to write about it right now because i’m not sure i’ve ever responded to a picture book this strongly before, and I need to get all the words out before I forget how reading it through for the first time made me feel. I’m not sure I can do it justice – but here goes!
The last 18 months have been incredibly hard for everyone. There has been loss, loneliness, separation, sadness and hardship – but through it all there has been hope that better days are coming. At 5, Ivy is old enough to understand why so many restrictions have been placed on our lives but has still struggled with the fact that so many of the fun things have been stripped away for so long.
Charlie doesn’t like to make decisions. How can you choose between chocolate and vanilla ice cream when both are so delicious? How can you choose between spotty or stripy underpants when both look so fabulous?
Every single day Charlie finds himself overwhelmed by choices and he finds it really hard. He worries that he will make the wrong decision and what the consequences of that might be. What if he chooses sunglasses instead of an umbrella and then it rains? What if he keeps his light on at bedtime but then he can’t sleep?
All of Charlie’s worries come to a head when he is asked to choose a present for his birthday. Faced with such a momentous decision he panics, but fate intervenes when a flyer about rescue dogs land on his lap at the park. However when he gets to the centre he is greeted by dozens of adorable dogs and he can only take one home! The boy knows he will never be able to choose so he turns around and sadly walks away.
Have you read The Hugasaurus yet? It’s the latest story in the ‘DinoFeelings’ series from Rachel Bright and Chris Chatterton and we love it! Whereas book one – The Worrysaurus – focused on anxiety and worries, this one is all about the importance of kindness.
Little Hugasaurus is a very happy dinosaur. She’s off on her very first adventure away from home and she’s looking forward to having fun and making new friends. When she arrives at her destination she is greeted by a group of friendly dinos and after some short introductions they quickly get down to the serious business of playing and laughing. They skip and climb in the sunshine but eventually the inevitable happens…
Two of the dinosaurs start to squabble in the middle of a game of hide and seek and soon everyone is yelling and shouting. Insults are thrown, feet are stomped and backs are turned. Poor little Hugasaurus doesn’t know what to do. How can she stop all the unnecessary fighting and get everyone playing harmoniously again?
Hello Ian! Thank you so much for chatting to me about your debut book ‘Nen and the Lonely Fisherman.
Could you give us a little overview of what the book is about?
At its heart, Nen and the Lonely Fisherman is about hope and finding that someone special in your life. Nen spends his days exploring his underwater kingdom, but is lonely and wants more from his life. He ventures to the surface and meets a lonely, quiet fisherman who spends his days looking after the beaches. But Nen’s father, Pelagios, is furious that his son is spending so much time with a human – humans are destroying his precious oceans. So, he creates a terrifying sea storm and Ernest is thrown into the waves. Can Nen save him and can they convince Pelagios that two people from two very different worlds can be together?
June is Pride Month in the UK – the perfect time for the publication of Nen and the Lonely Fisherman, an LGBTQ+ reimagining of The Little Mermaid.
Nen the Merman loves his ocean home but deep down he knows that something is missing. He’s not quite sure what he’s looking for but he starts to explore the world above the waves, singing soulfully of the yearning he feels in his heart.
One day Nen’s song is heard by Ernest, a lonely fisherman, and suddenly everything clicks into place. The two quickly realise they have a very special connection and are filled with a sense of hope for the future.