BookBairn's Christmas Gift Guide - Babies

Around this time of year lots of people start asking about books that make good Christmas presents. And of course, all the books that we ...

Around this time of year lots of people start asking about books that make good Christmas presents. And of course, all the books that we share on the blog would make good Christmas gifts because we only share books we actual read and love (that's our quality-guarantee right there). But I thought I would try to give you a few starting ideas in a couple of posts (depending on age range). It was quite difficult to narrow it down so I've tried to choose five from each age-range that I think will appeal to a variety of different readers and I've tried to choose slightly lesser-known titles so that you don't risk giving a duplicate (this is probably the reason so few people risk buying BookBairn books!). I've also avoided any Christmas titles as I tend not to give these as gifts myself as they have a short shelf-life until the following year. I hope you see something you like!

Really Decent Handy Books - Philip Dauncey & Stephen Barker

We had a set of these really decent handy books for BookBairn and they were amongst the first books she ever really played with (you can read a very old review of them here). The original series we had for BookBairn went missing along with a whole bag of new baby toys and books during a manic nesting and clear out phase just before The Wee Page Turner was born. Fortunately I had this collection stashed away from last year's Christmas sales and I'll be wrapping it up for The Wee Page Turner. Whilst I've not opened these yet I'm sure they are brilliant as the previous books were some of the best we ever had. This series is perfect for encouraging young children to play with books and read by themselves. The cut-out handle is perfect for grabbing and the way the books open out flat make them easy to hold and see the full illustration across the pages. Bright and colourful they are perfect first books for babies to explore! 
(I don't normally show preference to any particular retailer but just to note these books were a lot cheaper on the Book People than they were on Amazon.)

Little Feminist Box Set - Emily Kleinman & Lydia Ortiz

This is a great little box set for those looking to raise mighty girls or brilliant boys who have respect for mighty girls! This little board book set features colourful illustrated portraits of real women who have made a historical impact on the world. They are a great way to introduce little ones to these important people in history with illustrations that are fun and bright but also representative of their real life counterparts. These are mini board books so are great for the littlest readers and The Wee Page Turner enjoys playing with these ones since he has been able to sit up! As the box states: "Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them." A great gift for girls and boys!

Animals - Britta Teckentrup

When you're giving a gift you want might want it to be beautifully stylish as well as great fun for little ones, and this new series of books for babies by the incredibly talented artist, Britta Teckentrup, ticks all the boxes. Packed full of high contrast colours and different animals this will really appeal to the littlest reader in a home. Perfect for stimulating discussion, you can chat about the pictures, which is so valuable to little ears. Babies will love the pop of colour and uncluttered design as well as the smaller size that are perfect for little hands to grasp. The whole series would make a lovely Christmas gift. (Our full review of the series is on the blog here.)

Blocks - Irene Dickson

Telling the story of two children learning to share this book is great for siblings! Featuring primarily red and blue colours against a plain white background this book is great for engaging little readers with the key elements of the story. BookBairn loves this as much as her little brother so it's appeal goes further than just babies. It has a great little cliffhanger that BookBairn is just beginning to understand and she gives me a cheeky grin at the end every time. My only reservation about recommending this one is that it's a slightly oversized board book so it is very heavy which means that it isn't great for babies to read by themselves. However, that just means babies need their parents to cuddle up with them to share this adorable story! Or maybe even bigger siblings? This would be perfect for an older sibling to give to a younger one!

Baby's First Playbook: Peepo - Jo Lodge

One of our favourite author/illustrator/paper engineers is the incredible Jo Lodge and this book is such a brilliant example of her work! Not really a story book, more a first word and exploration book, the characters are incredibly appealing with their cute and funny expressions and clear lines complimented by bold colours, which are perfectly designed to engage little ones as their eyesight develops. The thick and sturdy tabs reveals illustrations of babies in Jo's distinctive style that appeals to little readers that are set in frames of high contrast patterns and shapes. And just to top it off, there's a mirror on the final page that babies can spend hours exploring and adoring their own little faces. It really is a magic book for babies and will keep them busy for hours. (BookBairn enjoyed the first in the series long beyond babyhood, you can read our review of it here!)

I hope you have found something appealing in this little bundle for babies. Please keep a look-out for my next list of recommendations for toddlers which should be up later this week. 

And if you want any specific recommendations please feel free to get in touch! All our social media links are in the header at the top of the blog - or you can just search 'bookbairn' to find us!

Happy Christmas Shopping,
Mummy and the elves xx

Disclaimer: these are all my choices. Some were sent from publishers but they were not sent in connection with this post. Their inclusion here is my choice. Because I really do think they are great.


Picture Books for Grown Ups

You all know that I love a picture book. I have a whole blog you can scroll through for evidence! But some picture books I have read recen...

You all know that I love a picture book. I have a whole blog you can scroll through for evidence! But some picture books I have read recently really appeal to me as an adult. Not just a parent reading to a child. But there's a little something extra in them that makes them appeal to me. They are still a great read for children but there's added parent-appeal so I thought I'd collate a special blog post on picture books for grown ups. (I wrote a similar guest post in the past which you can find here.)

Franklin's Flying Bookshop - Jen Campbell & Katie Hartnett

What would you do if you came across a dragon in the street? I reckon I'd be a bit frightened and probably run off like many of the characters in the book. But not firey-haired Luna. She befriends Franklin, the dragon, only to learn that he is an avid-reader. Just like her. And together they set off on an adventure to create a 'flying bookshop' between Franklin's wings. And together they conquer the fears of the many and prove that you can't judge a book by it's cover, and neither a dragon by it's ability to breathe fire. This is a magical story that both grown ups and children will adore. With fairytale quality and lyrical text, you can't help but get swept up in this story. Luna and Franklin are characters that will enter your hearts! And the illustrations are equally beautiful. This, quite frankly, is the perfect book for me. It's enchanting story, magical illustrations and it's about friendship and books.
(Also if you hunt carefully in bookshops, primarily independent bookshops, and you find Franklin, you get a free goody bag. Check out the hashtag #findfranklin on Twitter to find out more. Needless to say I took BookBairn on a hunt and we were delighted with our goodies!)

Mary Poppins Up, Up and Away - Helene Druvert

This is a beautifully crafted homage to the much-loved character of Mary Poppins that will enchant and mystify as much as the lady herself. Each page is designed to capture on the significant moments from the series of books with delightful drawings accompanied by intricate and captivating lasercuts. Mary Poppins drops into Cherry Tree Lane of visit Jane and Michael Banks to share yet more adventures and explore London's great sites. It is as much an homage to the city as it is to the stories of Mary Poppins and the Banks children. Entirely in black, white and grey, with short snippets of rhyming couplets to enhance the storytelling, this book will delight fans of the series! 
Also, to Santa: Helene Druvert has a second book - 'Paris Up, Up and Away' if you would like to pop one in my stocking it would be wonderful!

The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse - Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

When I first read this book I couldn't quite believe that this dark and macabre and hilarious tale was a picture book! I decided not to buy it for BookBairn because I felt she was too little to get the subtleties of the story of a mouse and a duck who are swallowed by a wolf. And how they make themselves a happy little home within the stomach of the wolf. And they host dinner parties and dancing. But then a hunter appears to threaten them all. And I won't spoil the ending but it's absolutely perfect. And not what you would expect from a children's book. This story made me laugh and laugh. So I went back to buy it for myself. The illustrations are typical of Jon Klassen - beautiful, detailed, dark and hilarious - and bring to life the text which is quite simply delicious reading. I adore this tale. Another book with fairy-tale qualities that made it irresistible to me. But I won't be reading it to BookBairn until she is a little older.

The Fir Tree (Hans Christian Andersen), The Nutcracker (ETE Hoffmann), The Snow Queen (Hans Christian Andersen) - Sanna Annukka

Now this series of books really do make great Christmas gifts. Last year, Daddy BookBairn gave me two and I kindly picked up the latest one (The Nutcracker) for him to give me this year. These really are designed with adults in mind, and are far more text-heavy than your typical picture book but they are also beautifully illustrated. They all retell the traditional stories that you may be familiar with and are accompanied by the spectacular graphic designs of Sanna Annukka. They really bring to life the magic of the original stories. 

Under the Love Umbrella - Davina Bell & Allison Colpoys

This book is quite simply a celebration of the joy and comfort that love can bring. And of course that's not simple feat to achieve in a short picture book. And yet this book does all that and more. It captures the everlasting, all-reaching, breadth and depth of love. For children knowing that they are loved no matter where they are, what they do helps them to grow and learn to be independent. And for parents that's one of the most important things that you want for your child: for them to know that you will always love them. Always and everywhere. Not only does this book help parents share this message and children believe it, it is a beautiful book. Each word chosen so carefully. And each brushstroke, colour choice has been given equal consideration. Of the books I've included here this is definitely one that I can share with BookBairn but I share it with her as much for myself. Because this is a picture book for grown ups too!

I hope you enjoyed reading about these books that might appeal to you more than your usual picture book bedtime stories. If you are looking for a book that you won't mind reading over and over again, that will appeal to you, as the reader, then I hope you have found something here to make repeat reading more interesting. And if you know a grown-up picture book fan I hope you might have found a book for their stocking.

Happy reading,
Mummy - self-confessed picture book fanatic and proud of it. 
After all picture books are for grown ups too! x

Disclaimer: I requested some of the books from the publisher for review and were kindly sent copies. The rest I bought myself because I couldn't resist them.

Mummy and BookBairn Book Group - Plumdog

It's been a long time since I put together a Mummy and BookBairn Book Group post - mostly because I've not been reading rather th...

It's been a long time since I put together a Mummy and BookBairn Book Group post - mostly because I've not been reading rather than BookBairn not reading. But I'm keen to get back to enjoying reading for myself now that I have enough energy to read past my bedtime.

I've long-admired Emma Chichester Clark's artwork (and really want 'Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo with her illustrations - please Santa?!) and decided to pick up 'Plumdog' to get myself back into stories without it being too much text-heavy (eye-close-inducing). And I was thrilled when I spotted 'Love is My Favourite Thing' in the children's section of the library. Plumdog as the star of a picture book! I was sold.

My 'Plumdog' graphic novel is a year in the life of Plumdog and it is packed full of cuteness and humour. Told from Plumdog's perspective it's clear that Emma knows her pooch well. The illustrations are completely irresistible and great fun to pour over whilst enjoying the snippets of text. I loved this! (Though probably best kept for dog-lovers!)

'Love is My Favourite Thing' is a sweet tale about all the things that Plumdog loves, even if her owner (Emma) isn't quite so fond of them. She loves treats, her bed, walks in the park. She loves her mummy and daddy. And overall she loves being loved, loving others and just love. But she also loves diving into the river and pinching ice cream which gets Plumdog into big trouble. She gets sent to her room in the dark. She asks her owners"do you still love me?" and of course they do!! Something that I'm sure lots of children worry that when they are in trouble their parents have stopped loving them. And of course this isn't true. So this is a lovely story for addressing naughtiness, forgiveness and the enduring nature of family love. The illustrations are equally as adorable as in the graphic novel!

We have fallen in love with Plumdog! And we agree love is definitely our favourite thing too! These books would make a great Christmas present as a pair or individually for anyone who has a fluffy friend that they adore. Plumdog will certainly capture your heart!

We have two other paired books to read at the moment so keep an eye out for those and if you have any good recommendations it would be great to hear from you!

Happy reading,
Mummy and BookBairn xx

Spotting, Matching and Reading

I'm just crazy about Britta Teckentrup's fabulous artwork (her book Bee featured in my last post on My Top Five Favourite Picture...

I'm just crazy about Britta Teckentrup's fabulous artwork (her book Bee featured in my last post on My Top Five Favourite Picture Books). Her artwork takes picture book illustration to a whole other level into irresitible pieces of art that I just want to frame.

And I'm delighted that there's a new series of books that introduces these stylish illustrations to the littlest reader in our house. BookBairn has several of her spotting books and we enjoy looking over the illustrations to find the odd one out, or the matching pair. But for a long time she was too young to join in. But now there's a new series for little tots.

I'm not saying The Wee Page Turner can spot the odd one out in the 'Opposites' book or match the mother and baby in 'Animals' yet. Yet (in a blink of an eye he'll be all grown up and able to do this with ease). But he already really appreciates the high contrast colours and different images. We can sit and talk about the pictures, something so valuable to little ears, who pick up everything. And BookBairn can read these to him and help him find the matches.

These would make a very stylish new baby gift and as little hands learn to grasp the pages they will love the pop of colour and uncluttered design. Artistic, simple, clever. Love them.

*There are also four others in the series - 'Animal Spots and Stripes', 'Animal 123', 'Colours' and 'First Words' which are no doubt excellent too.

Happy spotting, matching and reading,
Mummy and The Wee Page Turner xx

*Disclaimer: These books were sent to us by the publisher and we were truly delighted to receive them. Words and opinions are our own.

My Top Five Picture Books

A while ago I did a little introductions post on Instagram to say hello to any new followers we have (approaching 5000 - wouldn't it b...

A while ago I did a little introductions post on Instagram to say hello to any new followers we have (approaching 5000 - wouldn't it be amazing to get to that huge number by the end of the year? So please follow! Ta!) and I asked if anyone had anything they wanted to know about me, us, books...

A post shared by BookBairn and Mummy (Kim) (@bookbairn) on

And the ever so lovely Cara from @raising.kinley  asked me to share my top five picture books of all time. And I clarified they were to be mine, not BookBairns. Well, lovely readers, you can imagine this has taken a lot of pondering (and I needed time to write the post) so it's been over a month but I have narrowed it down. When I thought about it, I realised that I had three instant choices (so it would probably be fairer to say I have three top books) and I thought long and hard about the additional two spots. So I've categorised them as my honourable mentions and my top three, from which I cannot choose a favourite. Here goes:

Honourable Mentions

Bee by Britta Teckentrup and Patricia Hegarty

I love the illustrations in this fabulous book, in fact I love almost everything illustrated by Britta Teckentrup. I could pour over these pages for hours. Literally hours. They are packed full of beauty. And the poetry of the story about the humble bee elevating it to such a high status is absolutely captivating. I have always had a fond spot for the humble bumblebee after my parents have been calling me "bumblebee" or just "bumble" for years and this book shows they are worth of poetry and art. And that makes it just a bit special for me.

Spot by Eric Hill

"Spot! Spot! Lovable Spot! He's soft and cuddly and he smiles a lot. If there ever was a pup to cheer you up it's Spot. Spot! Spot!" Perhaps an odd choice amongst some of the more artistic and complex picture books I have chosen for this list. But Spot was part of my childhood - my brother's favourite - and I remember him fondly. We had Spot books, Spot soft-toys and Spot card games. I remember playing 'Happy Families' with oversized cards. I remember that tattered and much-loved and dragged-along toy. I remember reading the stories. And now I love reading him with BookBairn. Simple, fun and easy (and not too long when I need bedtime to commence).

Top 3

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

I have loved this book long before BookBairn was born. And it was one of the first books that I ever bought for her when she was merely a bump in my tummy. It tells the story of a little boy so filled with wonder about the stars that he decides to try and catch one. And I can't quite say why I find this so enchanting, perhaps it's because I'm fascinated by the world beyond ours, by the stars and the universe so expansive and miraculous that I can relate to feeling small and simply wanted to hold a little bit of that magic in my hand. Oliver Jeffers is also one of my favourite artists. I love the simple style of his drawings that are on second glance far more complex than you may have initially realised. There's a little bit of magic in this story. And the ending is absolutely charming.

Nibbles the Book Monster by Emma Yarlett

I chose this one partly because it is BookBairn's favourite and she just loves reading it and I just love reading it with her. This is an ingenious story about a little monster who can't help but nibble his way through books. With layers of illustrations I'm still finding new things hidden even after the many many reads. It really is a brilliant book. But I think I probably knew instantly I would choose this one because of the way it makes me feel. When I read this one with BookBairn and see her little face light up at the joy of the story, the magic of the illustration I can see these are the moments that are turning her into a reader. And that fills me with joy. And that joy makes me love this book.

Me by Emma Dodd

I mention this book on here all the time as one of the loveliest stories that I have ever read. I just adore it. The first hundred times we read it, it filled my eyes with tears. And the next hundred filled my with warmth. And for the next hundred I will hold my rapidly growing little ones even closer. And I will keep this book forever. The world is so big, and moments curled up together so small, it's just perfect poetry for parents to read with children. And I adore the little penguin illustration. He's irresistible. This is the book I wish I had written. And I will cherish it always.

So there you have them! My top five picture books. It was a real challenge and I really did think long and hard about it. But I did finally choose. I wonder if, when I look back, I would choose the same again? Or will future experiences, such as BookBairn reading for the first time, change my mind. Or will my taste in books change? Or will some as-yet-unwritten picture book blow these others out of the water? Perhaps a book of my own? Who knows?

Could you choose just five favourite picture books? I set all my blogging friends a challenge to write a post sharing only five! And if you're not a blogger I'd love to hear from you in the comments below (or on our social media) with your favourites.

Happy Reading,
Mummy x


KidLit Picks October Round Up - Halloween

Broomsticks, jack-o’-lanterns, haunted houses, tricks and treats, ghostly games, neighbourhood parties, skeletons, Frankenstein, candy c...

Broomsticks, jack-o’-lanterns, haunted houses, tricks and treats, ghostly games, neighbourhood parties, skeletons, Frankenstein, candy corn… the list goes on. All things fun and fearsome come out at Halloween. There are children who countdown the days until that frightfully fantastic night when they get to dress up as anything imaginable, hang out with family and friends, and eat bucketloads of candy. The build-up adds to the excitement—carving pumpkins, decorating your home with scary spiders, tombstones and fake zombie arms, picking out your costume, baking apple pies, watching spooky movies and reading Halloween stories.

Throughout October, @kidlitpicks shared standout Halloween-themed books for your children to enjoy. These are sure to delight kids eager for the festivities to start and ease the fears of others that may be a little anxious about the hair-raising holiday. Books are good like that. We hope that you too will dust the cobwebs off your favourite Halloween stories, those scary and those not so scary, and join us! Thanks to Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore for our spooky scary theme!

Bonaparte Falls Aparte, by Margery Cuyler and Will Berry
“Bonaparte Falls Apart, by Margery Cuyler and Will Terry, is a tender story with considered and playful words, one that kids will love because of its relatable subject matter, fun, spooky characters, humorous mishaps, and the sweetest resolve.” — Summer from @readingisourthing

Maurice the Unbeastly, by ​​Amy Dixon and Karl James Mountford
“Halloween means scary beasts, ghoulish hijinks, and . . . strange eating habits?" — Mel from @spiky_penelope

Spells, Baby Jesus, by Emily "Gribbitt" Gravett
"This book can be used as a seasonal book or a book on fairy tales. Leah from @astoryaday

Huge Makes a Change, by Scott Emmons and Mauro Gatti
“This is a beautifully designed book and a sweet story all about the world’s cutest little vampire and his adventure discovering fruits and vegetables.” — Clarissa from @book.nerd.mommy

Trick or Treat!, by Sarah Vince and Hayley Down
“It's ingenious and so much fun to read!” —  Kim from @bookbairn

One Spooky Night: A Halloween Adventure, by Kate Stone
“This festive read is perfect for preschoolers.” — Miranda from @bookbloom

Emu's Halloween, by Anne Mangan and David Cornish
“Emu's Halloween puts an Aussie spin on Halloween celebrations.”  Carissa from @bookskidslove_

Monster Needs a Costume, by Paul Czajak and Wendy Grieb 
“Monster needs to find a Halloween costume!”  Arielle from @childrensbooksgalore

Fright Club, by Ethan Long
This is a fun Halloween read with delightfully spooky illustrations that had my boys laughing throughout.” — Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

A Monster Alphabet: The ABCs of Screams!, by Gillia M Olson
From “A” for Afraid to “Z” for Zombies my little guys where howling in delight!” — Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

Goldfish Ghost, by Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown
“This not-so-scary ghost story is perfect for kids who are spooked by the usual Halloween characters and also reminds us that we all need kindness, companionship and a place to call home.”  Rossa from @curiouslittlepeople

Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream, by Monica Brown and Angela Dominguez
“Can Lola learn from her mistake and still have a Happy Halloween?” — Charnaie from @hereweeread

Fantastically Great Women who Changed the World, by Joy Keller and Misa Saburi
“A perfect not-so-spooky tale for monster lovers, truck lovers, and those that just need a good bedtime story.” — Heather from @kidlitbookbits

No Such Thing, by Ella Bailey
“Hopefully your kids will have as much fun as mine did finding all the mischievous ghosts in this not-so-spooky book.” — Anna from @kidlitcrafts

First Day at Skeleton School, by Sam Lloyd
“What a great book to read for Halloween.” — Mel from

November is the month for counting up and counting down. Our theme, chosen and introduced by Kim @bookbairn (it's me!!!), is Counting and Numbers. 

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

We are fast-approaching the season of the countdown. Children are getting more and more excited counting down the days, lighting candles, opening advent calendars of all shapes and sizes – we will be having a book-a-day for our advent season. Parents are getting more and more frantic to get organised as the days disappear. It’s the time of year that everyone practises counting.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…

A study several years ago by researchers from the Institute of Education in London found that children who receive bedtime stories from their parents as infants perform better in vocabulary and spelling but also in maths. Reading supports numeracy. Books are full of numbers and images for counting.

Next month the @kidlitpicks team will be sharing books about counting up and counting down. Join in by tagging your favourite Counting and Number books with #kidlitpicks_numbers

Happy Reading,
Mummy, BookBairn and The Wee Page Turner xx