Blue & Other Colours: With Henri Matisse & An Art Project {Book Review}

Over the summer, Phaidon sent us a book to review. I kept looking at it with an idea in mind, but being summer, we were just so busy, we never got round to it. Well, rather than heading to the paddling pool after our regular Tuesday (brrrr) we came home, so I decided it was high time to turn our Blue & Other Colours book into a Matisse themed artwork.

Blue & Other Colours “takes children through Matisse’s colour palette, one artwork per page, beginning with blue and returning to it as a familiar refrain throughout. The variance of shapes, depth, and scale will keep readers engaged, while the text enriches the reading experience with relatable and humorous commentary.”Read more: Blue & Other Colours: With Henri Matisse & An Art Project {Book Review}

Being Enterprising & Learning Entrepreneurship With Clever Tykes Books

I grew up in South Africa where we had little to no social welfare system. As a result we were known as a very entrepreneurial people. You’ve never seen anyone with a bag of maize, a giant pot and some polystyrene plates till you’ve a South African turning a profit on the side of the road!

Teaching children to be entrepreneurial and enterprising is equipping them with a skill that will stand them in good stead for their whole lives.Clever Tykes Read more: Being Enterprising & Learning Entrepreneurship With Clever Tykes Books

New! Clangers Magazine {Review}

We’re regular magazine junkies here these days, with each of the kids having their own subscriptions to magazines we’ve reviewed over the last few months. The latest we’re reviewing is Clangers Magazine from Immediate Media. Clangers Magazine is based on the Clangers show on Cbeebies.

Clangers Magazine is aimed at helping children discover, wonder, play and explore. It’s full of things to read, make, do, and colour. It has activities like mazes and puzzles to find who belongs to what object. There are dozens of stickers with pages to stick them in. There are two picture stories in each magazine, and regular features like ‘I spy in space’. Clangers Magazine

The new magazine launches today with six issues per year which you can subscribe to or pick up at your local newsagents.Read more: New! Clangers Magazine {Review}

A Visit To London For Thomas The Tank Engine {Book Review}

We were sent the new A Visit To London For Thomas The Tank Engine is the latest Thomas the Tank Engine Book published to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday next week. We like Thomas, but my girls aren’t in love with him as some kids might be, and we are also not overly big Royalists (is that a thing?),  but we absolutely loved this book.A Visit To London for Thomas the Tank Engine

We live on the Isle of Wight, and Sodor is an island from which a ferry needs to be taken to the mainland, just as it is from our Island, which really resonated with my children. Thomas chugs along to Greenwich – where we used to live – and sees things that are very familiar to us, like the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory.Read more: A Visit To London For Thomas The Tank Engine {Book Review}

This Is Not A Book – Book Review

We love books, and while they don’t rock the blogging world, they’re great fun for the kids and they keep our house overflowing with books shelves stocked. The most recent book in our collection is being released for sale today, and it’s called This Is Not A Book.

It really isn’t, by the definition of a book. I mean, it doesn’t have a story, or words, for that matter, but it has pages and it’s bound on one side, so you know… it is a book.

Anyway.

This Is Not A Book is probably the most unique book concept I’ve seen in a while. It has 32-pages but each image is a double page spread. There’s a picture of a monster, a piano, a laptop, butterfly, fridge, tent and so on, but the nature of it lends itself to interaction. It turns the book into a toy, which is rather awesome.

This Is Not A Book Laptop

For example, give the children the book, and they immediately start tapping on the ‘laptop’ page, ‘working like Mommy!’.

Turn a few pages to the piano, and they’re banging out a tune. The butterfly went flitting around the room, the monster almost ate Aviya up in one huge gulp, the fridge turned into an (online!) restaurant order. My favourite page is the tent. Turn the book into a triangle shape, and you’re inside a tent.

This is not a book review pianoThis is not a book review piano

I think that’s what “author” (illustrator? is it an author for a book with no words?) Jean Jullien was going for. He says about the book, “This Is Not A Book is a toy with many pages! Playfulness is something that I hold very dear as it encourages us to experiment and challenge our surroundings. This Is Not A Book is an invitation to do just that

It so is that!

There’s just one thing about the book that bothers me. The tightrope walker. If you’re looking down on a tightrope walker, you’re not going to see the clouds. If you’re looking up at him, he’s not going to be hanging upside down. See?

This is not a book

But the children love this book. It’s meant to be for 2 – 4 year olds, but even my 6 year old is crazy about it.

This Is Not A Book is available today for £6.95 on Amazon.

How To Be A Cowboy – Book Review

How To Be A Cowboy* by Alice V Lickens is a really sweet little book that will teach little ranchers everything they need to know about being a cowboy.

“Includes hours of fun with stickers, a talk-like-a-cowboy guide, a pop-out paper doll, maps to follow the journey north and a guide on how to design your own cowboy boots.  Discover everything there is to know about being a cowboy from how to wrangle cattle to picking your horse, from choosing your hat to cooking up a feast at a fireside”

How to be a cowboyWhat we loved about How To Be A Cowboy

There’s a lot of interactive activities, some bits to read, some bits to do, stickers on how to dress, how to brand cattle, how to talk like a cowboy and even how to find your way home following the stars. There isn’t too much reading, but lots of stuff to do, choose and talk about. The sticker page has beautifully done stickers on it, and the press out pages have clothes you can ‘dress’ the press out cowboy in too. Even the recipe pages are pull out pages, which just makes them unusual and different. It’s great, though I won’t personally be trying the sock coffee.

This isn’t a story book, but an activity book. It would suit anyone who likes the wild west, role play, cowboys or just doing activity books.I think I’ll be giving a copy to a little boy for his 6th birthday next weekend! (Along with some fancy dress).How to be a cowboy inside

What we don’t love about How To Be A Cowboy

There wasn’t anything about the book itself that we didn’t like, though for me I found the change in tenses a little off-putting at times. It’s not a problem, because it’s not written as a story, but for example “Cowboys HAD bad breath and never BRUSH their teeth”. Argh. I’m guessing most people don’t quite have the same reaction though. The kids certainly didn’t notice it.How to be a Cowboy Press Out

Where can I find How To Be A Cowboy?

Published by Pavilion books, How To Be A Cowboy has an RRP of £9.99, which is currently it’s price on Amazon, or it’s at The Book People for £7.99 (at time of publishing). This version was only published in November last year, so it’s fairly new – there’s an older version around too, but I can’t say how it compares.

Amy And The Feelings Basket Series – Book Reviews

I’ve mentioned Amy and the Feelings Basket before, specifically The New Arrival, about the arrival of a new baby, but there are actually more Amy and the Feelings Basket books in the series. We have The New Arrival, Dad’s Leaving, Brave Beats the Bullies and Starting School.

Amy and the Feelings Basket is a series by Debbie Kinghorn, an NLP Child Therapist and Learning Practitioner, illustrated by Louise Grundy and Sofie D.

This series of books, predominantly aimed at ages 4 – 8, includes stories with emotive topics and encourage children and parents to explore these difficult topics together.

Feeling Basket Inside

The Magic Basket, the first book, opens with Amy crying on her bed because she doesn’t want to become a big sister. Her mother brings her a piece of cloth, which opens up into a blue magic basket. Amy puts her hand in the basket, and out comes Curious -a personified feeling who guides her through how to explore what she’s feeling. Being curious, Curious asks her what she was doing when her mother came in, and next thing you know, another feeling – Sad – comes into play. Curious and Sad help explore her feelings of worry about why her parents want another child, and help her realise that maybe they’re not trying to replace her, but ‘add to’ her. It’s quite a lovely message.

The New Arrival happens a few months later, obviously when the new baby enters the story and Amy learns to be a loving big sister with the help of

In Starting School*, Amy deals with the prospect of starting a new school.  Confused and Confident help her prepare for the big day, and everything works out.

Brave Beats the Bullies is self explanatory, as Amy Thorpe is bullied at school and how she stands up to the bullies, and while it may not deter their behaviour, she adapts how it affects her.

Dad’s Leaving is kind of sad – specially in light of my own recent separation, but it does deal with the topic of dad leaving very well. This story introduces Finn, Amy’s neighbour, whose parents are splitting up. Finn deals with feelings of confusion, rejection and curiosity in this book, which helps him come to terms with the changes in his family.Read more: Amy And The Feelings Basket Series – Book Reviews

My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book – Book Review

If there’s one thing that was going to be an indisputable winner in this house, it was always going to be My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book*, which we received as part of our Parragon Book Buddies mail this week.My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book

What we love about My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book

Well, where to start! My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book gives you 128 pages of fairy tale themed activities. The book is shaped (rather than just a square book) which always adds a fun element, for whatever reason, and is as you would expect, full of colourful illustrations. while it’s clearly a fairy tale book, it doesn’t feel overly girlified, meaning it’s not sickly pink. It stood out to me that the background of the cover is blue, which I really liked, subtle though it is.

The book is divided into four chapters – The Three Little Pigs, The Princess and the Pea, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. Essentially this means that the activities, games, searches, mazes, colouring, counting games, drawing activities and more are all themed along the story. Each page contains a line of the story, and there’s an activity for each page. Each story has similar activities, but they are themed on the different stories, so it doesn’t feel terribly repetitive. Added to which you’re unlikely to do the whole book in one sitting, so that’s not a problem at all. Noticeable in this book was the absence of stickers, which seem to be a staple of all activity books, but the children didn’t miss them and I didn’t miss peeling them off the living room floor.

This book would be great for cold and rainy evenings, or great if you’re headed somewhere on a road trip this half term. Or in fact just as a screen break during what promises to be a rainy half term! It’s sure to be a winner with fans of fairy tales, and will provide a good few hours of entertainment.

My Giant Fairy Tale Activity BookWhat we don’t love about My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book

Honestly, looking for something to dislike in this activity book would be being pedantic. There’s nothing in it that was offensive or not to like. Except maybe Hansel and Gretel’s candy house. It made me want to lick the icing off a cupcake. Bad Hansel and Gretel.

Where can I find My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book?

Published in December 2015 by Pavilion books, My Giant Fairy Tale Activity Book has an RRP of £9.99, and is available at that price from Amazon. The Book Depository has it for £4.71 delivered.

Fire Station Activity Book and Playset {Book Review}

The most recent delivery from Parragon for our Book Buddies review is the Fire Station Activity Book and Playset. It arrived a few days before Christmas, and since we were a gift down we wrapped it up and popped it under the Christmas tree for Aviya (3 year old). On Christmas morning, when she opened it, she did look particularly underwhelmed, but then she’s never been particularly into fire stations.  When we actually opened it up, however, she loved it.

Fire Station  Activity Book and Playset

In the box there is a 32- page A5 sized activity book with puzzles, with a lot of ‘count to 3,4,5’ type activities. It’s a lovely little booklet, with full colours and bold pictures and everything that appeals to a toddler.

Along with that however, were three (or four, I can’t remember now) sheets of press out card cutouts that when built together, form a fire truck, a fire station, a bunch of fire men (and women), a fire house dog, a tree with a cat up it, and a fire hydrant.Read more: Fire Station Activity Book and Playset {Book Review}

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Michael Foreman – Book Review

Pavilion have released a new version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by Michael Foreman.

Alice's Adventures in WonderlandThe traditional story in this new version of Alice in Wonderland is the same story we all know and love, as Alice falls down the rabbit hole, making her life ‘curiouser and curiouser’. The story has all the well loved characters, including the mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat, but Foreman has put his very own spin on it, as an artist is wont to do.

As compared to the bold and bright pretend world of a cartoon Alice in Wonderland this version is slightly darker in it’s rendering of Alice, but at the back of the book the illustrator explains his reasoning for this – he uses a picture of the actual child that inspired Alice, a girl called Alice Pleasance Liddell as the starting point for his Alice, which I think is unique and such an amazing way to pay respect to a literary character and the author.

Another thing I don’t think I’ve seen before is that the illustrator makes the real world sepia-toned, while Wonderland is in full colour.Read more: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Michael Foreman – Book Review