The Importance of a Smile - The Bear Who Stared

If there's one way to bribe BookBairn into reviewing your book first, it's by sending her ...

If there's one way to bribe BookBairn into reviewing your book first, it's by sending her chocolate in the post along with her book (see the video below). She was more than delighted to get a little chocolate bear with her copy of 'The Bear Who Stared' by Duncan Beedie. But in all seriousness this one probably jumped to the top of the list because I was able to read it with her straight away as she munched on the chocolate (there are not many times she chooses to sit still during the day: when eating, watching TV or reading but best chances are when you combine two of those listed, and lets face it you can't read and watch TV at the same time!). And because we were able to read this one as soon as it arrived (which isn't true for all our book post) it has really captured her imagination!


'The Bear Who Stared' tells the story of a bear who likes to stare at the other creatures in the forest. He stares at the ladybirds as they eat their breakfast, he stares at the bird as she feeds her babies, and, rather unwisely, he pokes his nose in a badger's sett and stares. But the other animals don't like all this staring. Before long, Bear finds himself sitting by the pond and pondering all the other animals reactions to his staring. He was just curious but too shy to say anything. And along hops a frog who can sympathise with Bear and his staring. When you have big goggly frog eyes it's hard not to stare! Bear stares into the murky green pond to see another bear staring back at him. And that bear's mouth turned into a smile. Frog tells Bear that when he doesn't know what to say, just smile! So Bear returns to the forest to see the ladybirds, birds and badgers again but this time he is armed with a smile. And, of course, Bear makes lots of new friends! But none quite as perfect a match as the green wobbly pond-bear!

I love the message of this story. Learning to make friends can be hard, and knowing what to say can be nerve-wracking. (Whether you are an adult or a child!) But being armed with a great smile really can break the ice. And what a great thing to teach little ones. BookBairn has certainly learned to charm grown-ups with her smile. She flashes her pearly-whites whenever she can, especially if I'm trying to encourage her to say "hello" or "goodbye" but she's feeling shy and keeps quiet - she will usually give a grin instead!

The illustrations are, without a doubt, the bit that BookBairn loves the most. First I should point out that the bear is orange, her favourite colour, and so instantly appeals. She is also a huge fan of the frog and likes to turn the pages to find him.

The illustrations are simple allowing the main characters to stand out. I really like books that don't over-detail the background as they allow younger children to focus on the real story-telling action rather than being distracted by other extra details. Also, you can read the emotion on the characters' faces with ease. You don't need to read the words to see how they are feeling: another element that supports younger readers in understanding the story. That's not to say it wouldn't also appeal to early school-aged children as there is lots to discuss. Our only criticism is that I feel the book is a little too long for BookBairn, we've only managed to read it cover to cover a few times as we get near the end and she wants to go back to the beginning or back to her favourite page with the frog.

This would make a wonderful gift for children who are struggling with shyness, or are about to go into a new situation like starting nursery or school, or if like BookBairn you are a fan or green goggly-eyed frogs or orange bears!

This book will certainly bring a smile to your face! And if in doubt, enjoy reading it with a chocolate bear - that did the trick with BookBairn!

Happy reading and lots of smiles,
Mummy and BookBairn x


*DISCLAIMER* We were sent this copy of 'The Bear Who Stared' by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. They also tried to bribe us with chocolate! But the words and opinions are our own - it takes more than chocolate to bribe us!
*This post contains Affliate links.




Book Giving Day Treasure Hunt

Yesterday was such a brilliant day! Not because Daddy BookBairn bought red roses (he didn't by...

Yesterday was such a brilliant day! Not because Daddy BookBairn bought red roses (he didn't by the way), or we had a romantic meal for two (nope didn't do that either) or because of the beautiful diamonds I was given (don't be silly!). It's simply because BookBairn, Papa BookBairn and I went on a marvelous tour of all the local play places and hid books for others to find in our Book Giving Day treasure hunt.

BookBairn and I popped out early to the local soft play and stashed a few books in the ball pool and on the slides for little ones to find (Mummy also had a hot cup of tea whilst little miss had a quick play) and we rushed home to meet Papa who was taxi driver and swing pusher for the day. (As I'm now seven months pregnant we decided it made the most sense to go from park to park in the car so I wasn't completely exhausted by the end.) First we headed to the duck pond and park and fed the ducks, played on the swings and hid a pile of books. Next, we headed to the 'big park' and played on the slide, had another go at the swings and hid a dozen books all over from the bandstand to the roundabout to the slides. Here we bumped into a couple of book hunters who were delighted with their finds and I felt like Santa Claus! Thanks for saying hello - it was lovely to see your smiley faces. And finally, we stopped at one of the little parks in a local housing estate and had another play and hid some more books.

I was exhausted! And so was BookBairn who had a long nap afterwards! But the fun didn't stop there! We then got lots of notifications on social media about people who had found our books. And these made me smile so much! So many happy children and grateful parents. I really felt wonderful and am so glad you enjoyed the day. I was thrilled to see that some people had even come prepared and had left a book behind where they had picked theirs up. You can see them all on our Facebook Page. And although it was disappointing for a few people who said they hadn't got to a park in time to find anything I was so relieved to see that there weren't any left out over night and the hunt had been a success.

Thank you so much to everyone who took part: donating books, hunting for them and hiding extras. I hope I can do something similar in future, though for the moment I'm concentrating on resting up and taking care of BookBump! I have an idea in mind though... perhaps for just after the summer/whenever I actually get some sleep!

A special thank you to Papa BookBairn who made sure I could get to all the parks with ease and who kept BookBairn happy and flying high in the swings whilst I hid books, took photos and posted on social media. I couldn't have done it without you! (Though I reckon you had as much fun playing with BookBairn as I had!)

Thanks everyone for all your support!
Happy Book Giving Day,
Mummy and BookBairn xx









Big Bundle of Little Activities

If you follow us on social media, you may have gathered that one of my New Year's Resolutions...


If you follow us on social media, you may have gathered that one of my New Year's Resolutions was to be a more creative and crafty mama! Entertaining little ones is not easy and it's made all the more challenging when you are 30 weeks pregnant and find it difficult to muster the energy to do all the busy things that you used to do. But fortunately the wonderful online world of mamas have inspired me, along with some marvellous books! (Of course!)

So here are a few sources of my 'inspiration' for some of the crafty activities we've been getting up to!

KidArtLit

Two of my favourite insta-mamas have started an instagram community using the hashtag #kidartlit with a weekly theme posted by their guest collaborator. You know me, linking books and activities would obviously appeal to me! But what a great bunch of creative people are already taking part after just under a month. So far we have been crafty with penguins, Chinese New Year, snow and my favourite has been the 'STEAM' challenge (Science, Teachnology. Engineering, Art and Mathematics based activities). There is also a fabulous website where you can sign up to access their 'free resource library' which is an online magazine packed full of creative ideas. Check it out here: https://www.kidartlit.com/ This has probably been my main weekly 'kick in the butt' to get an activity going with BookBairn and I'm so glad it has moved me out of my comfort zone and got me motivated!

The Big Book of 100 Little Activities by Laura Minter and Tia Williams

Last year the bloggers 'Little Button Diaries' launched a wonderfully inspiring book packed full with great activities for pre-school aged children. Divided into sections varying from 'nature lovers' to 'little laboratory' and 'rainy day' to 'paint and print', there are 100 activities to keep fickle and easily distracted toddlers and kids busy. You are truly spoilt for choice with projects from simple pipe-cleaner crowns to more complicated cardboard tube marble drops, there is something for every sort of kid and every sort of parent (you will notice I avoid the messy activities - BookBairn doesn't like messy hands lucky for me!). If, like me, you are looking for inspiration this is a great place to start!

Gruffalo Crumble and other recipes: The Gruffalo Cookbook

BookBairn loves to bake! And what could be more fun than baking Gruffalo recipes? This is a fun book for any Gruffalo fans out there with 24 recipes from the deep dark wood. We have tried several of the recipes but the 'Purple Prickle Pancakes' were the most fun! Simple enough for kids to join in, and with fun-looking results, the recipes would be great for getting kids to try new foods. We highly recommend trying some of these out.

Image taken from the
Oh Creative Day website.

Oh Creative Day

Shannon is the most creative mama I've come across. Her activities are always achievable and blog and Instagram feeds. She has two kids and one more on the way, so like me she has been keeping her little ones busy by crafting and making at home when she doesn't have the energy to pack everyone up and out for the day. Just love her ideas, my favourite recent post of hers is 'Creative Ways to Entertain Kids (When Your A Billion Weeks Pregnant)' - it's like she was writing it just for me!
realistic and when something goes wrong she's happy to share that too - how many of us have had a 'brilliant' idea for an activity with our kids that ends up with a huge mess everywhere? Well, Shannon sometimes does and she shares them too! Based in Australia, I'm envious of the sunlit photographs on her

Pinterest

I have always loved pinterest but I often pin things and never actually make an effort to do them! Scrap that! Now I'm going to try them out. Follow my boards here to see what I fancy trying next!

I hope that helps and has inspired some of you to get crafty with your kids. Who knows how long I will manage as I get rounder and rounder and begin to resemble a Weeble Wobblen and goodness knows where I will muster the energy with a newborn but I have promised myself I will continue to try. And if in doubt I'll get the sticker books out. Because sometimes simple is just as fun!

Happy Crafting, 
Mummy and BookBairn x



*This post contains Affliate Links


*DISCLAIMER* We were sent copies of The Big Book of 100 Little Activities and Gruffalo Crumble in exchange for an honest review. Words and opinions are as always our own.


Favourites Shelf - February 2017

My goodness me, can you believe it's February already? Time seems to just be flying in alread...


My goodness me, can you believe it's February already? Time seems to just be flying in already and for us that means the countdown is on until BookBairn's second birthday in March and until our new baby arrives in April. Lots happening in the BookBairn household so I hope you won't mind if things are a little quiet for a while. I do have a treat lined up for you all but it's a work in progress so I'm not going to say much more.

Hopefully even during the busy months I will still have time to share our five favourite reads from our 'Favourites Shelves' which I try to change regularly! We are going to redecorate BookBairn's room in the coming months as she will be sharing with her little brother when he is old enough to go into his room and the current version of these shelves might be under threat! But I will insist to Daddy that they stay in some form or another. (Maybe I'll even manage to extend them?) Here are BookBairn's top five bedtime reads of the moment....

The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas

BookBairn absolutely adores this story and we have read it every day for the last month or so. It introduces the idea that our emotions are linked to colours in the most beautiful pop-up artwork for little ones. It has been really great for helping BookBairn start to talk about her feelings as well as reinforcing her colour vocabulary. We've now read this one so often she can recite parts of it herself. To read our full review of this one click here.

Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda

Despite not having had much snow this winter, BookBairn loves this story. It is an interactive book where little ones have to do as the book tells them to make the snow fall, make bunny slide downhill and dodge the holes. BookBairn really enjoys seeing the reactions when she turns the page to see her actions have made something happen in the story. This is a great read for little ones and has been perfect re-reading for over winter! 

I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt

If you're looking for a book that will appeal to toddlers, young readers and adults alike then look no further than this hilarious counting book! BookBairn loves counting the worms in the story and she loves the bright fluorescent pages - they literally make her face light up! Older readers and adults will enjoy the laugh out loud humour in the story - flying unicorns, space adventures and half worms. And an illustrator who admits he can only draw worms. Such a brilliant book. Our review of this one has been one of the most-read on our blog so far this year, read it here.

Funny Bunnies: Up and Down by David Melling

This is one of my favourite books to read with BookBairn as she can now recite almost all of the pages: for each page I say "funny bunnies..." and she completes the sentence. I'm amazed at her ability to remember part of the stories and recite them, even after gaps between reads. This one also makes us laugh at the "silly bunnies" and the illustrations have lots of chat about. If you don't have any David Melling stories in your collection I can highly recommend these for younger readers. And I'm looking forward to BookBairn growing into the Hugless Douglas stories as she gets older too!

Brrr Brrr! by Sebastien Braun

In a previous blog post I'm sure I have explained that BookBairn is more than a little fascinated by penguins and orcas. I blame David Attenborough - no seriously I do - she loves Frozen Planet! This book is perfect for her as she discovers arctic animals hidden under each flap and makes silly noises as she reads. It's great fun to read and we highly recommend adding any of the books from the 'Can You Say it Too?' series to your bedtime books. Our review of the whole series is available here.

Hope you've enjoyed reading about our favourite books of the moment. I'll try and keep this updated even in the birthday/newborn chaos over the next coming months but you can always see our latest 'favourites shelf' on our social media feeds (linked in the header at the top of the pages). 

What are your favourite reads at the moment? 

Happy reading, Mummy and BookBairn x

*Some of these books were sent to us by publishers from review and others are ones that we have borrowed from the library or purchased ourselves. These are our geniune re-reads so all opinions are our own.

*This post contains Affiliate links.




KidLit Picks January Round-Up

Being able to relate to the characters in a book is such a vital piece of enjoying it. It is thro...


Being able to relate to the characters in a book is such a vital piece of enjoying it. It is through these characters that we find the courage and strength to be who we truly are. Trials and tribulations are at the heart of every story, and the way that characters triumph over them can be the essence of what readers are searching for in their own lives. It's no coincidence then that so many characters can feel lost, alone, and full of doubt. The uncertainty that haunts the beginning of a book, though, can be washed away by the end, leaving behind a sense of hope and fortitude that we, as readers, need from time to time. It is this self-confidence that we hope to instill in the young readers who glance into unknown pages and hopefully are able to see themselves reflected back.

During January, @kidlitpicks shared books we could see ourselves and others in, and we're excited to share our round-up for the month. A special shout-out to Wendy from Homegrown Reader for the theme!

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion, by Alex T. Smith
“Though she’s little, her inner strength and smarts make Little Red more powerful than brawn, mightier than a lion’s ROAR!” -- Summer from @readingisourthing

 

Rulers of the Playground, by ​​Joseph Kuefler

“Regardless of physical differences or emotional differences, there's a wide range of touchpoints in this book for readers to connect to." -- Mel from @spiky_penelope


Also an Octopus, by Maggie Tokuda Hall and Benji Davies
“When it comes to finding yourself in a book, no element does that as well as space - space for imagination, play, re-creation, or projection.” -- Katie from @afriendlyaffair


The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
"If you want your lion to be purple with flames for hair, rock on! Be yourself and let your artist side blossom." -- Leah from @astoryaday


My Color Is Rainbow, by Agnes Hsu and Yuliya Gwilym

“In the end, the little white arch learns that it doesn’t need to be defined by one characteristic alone, but that what makes it so beautiful is that it has a little bit of each color.” -- Clarissa from @book.nerd.mommy


When I'm a Mummy Like You!, by David O'Connell and Francesca Gambatesa

“I hope BookBairn and I have adventures like these two. And I hope she thinks I'm the best mummy she could have!” --  Kim from @bookbairn


A Year Full of Stories: 52 Folktales and Legends From Around the Worldby Angela McAllister and Christopher Corr
“With 52 stories, divided by month, this artistic collection is both a visual delight and a chance to relish conversation and story telling together. Certainly one I wouldn't hesitate giving as a gift.” -- Miranda from @bookbloom



Samson the Mighty Flea, by Angela McAllister and Nathan Reed

"It also has a great message about perception, ambition, and finding happiness where you are.” -- Megan from @chickadee.lit


Rosie Sprout's Time to Shine, by Allison Wortche and Patrice Barton 

“Rosie learns that there is never a wrong time to do the right thing!” -- Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore


A Child of Books, by Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers
"A Child of Books is one of those gorgeous, lyrical works that you will want to open and read again and again- one that resonates deeply and viscerally." -- Lauren from @happily.ever.elephants


Lola Gets a Cat, by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw 
“Not only can my kids see themselves in this book, but I can see myself and my husband in Lola's parents.” -- Charnaie from @hereweeread


Odd Dog Out, by Rob Biddulph
"Odd Dog Out and stories like it are not only messages for those who feel lost and alone. It is also a message for those around them, spreading the word about empathy, love, and acceptance." -- Wendy from @homegrownreader


Fang Fang's Chinese New Year, by Sually Rippin
“Growing up between the Chinese and Australian cultures, I absolutely shared Fang Fang's self-consciousness about being different. But to all the little Fang Fangs out there, I hope you find yourself surrounded by good people and books that encourage you to embrace and celebrate what makes you unique.” -- Shannon from @ohcreativeday


In February, @kidlitpicks is focusing on books about love and kindness. It couldn't be a more perfect time for us to take a moment to celebrate love and kindness through books! We can ALWAYS use a little more love and kindness and a reminder through books, for kids and adults, never fails. The world is a crazy place and we have an opportunity to teach our kids to love and be kind. To look for opportunities to reach beyond themselves and show someone else they care. February seems like the perfect month for us to be reminded of these beautiful ideas! Tag your favorites with #loveandkindnessbooks and #kidlitpicks

Love and kindness, Mummy and BookBairn xx