#30DaysWild Day 30 – Boris and Betty

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_30When Boris and Betty tweeted the blurb of the first installment of their escapades about a week ago it seemed the perfect book to be introduced to as we neared the end of this year’s #30DaysWild:

BorisBetty“Boris and Betty are spending too much time on their favourite computer game, much to Mummy Bear’s dismay!

“But Mummy Bear has a plan to get her children back outside!

“With some friends popping up along the way, will these twin bears rediscover their love for the great outdoors, or will they be forever glued to their favourite computer game?”

Written by Lee Harris and illustrated by Jordan Brown, the minis were lucky enough for the author to send them a copy to see what they thought of the ursine pair’s excursion into “the world outside our door” and it arrived just in time for the end of the month-long challenge.

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I love the colour tone of the bold, simple illustrations and how Boris’s favourite toy rabbit, that he obviously can’t leave home without, soon spends more time in his mother’s paw than his.

A great importance is placed on rhythm and rhyme in developing early literacy skills but I also find that books written this way can immediately help the reader find an engaging voice for the story when sharing them aloud and, along with an occasional typesetting highlight, it works well in this instance too.

The author is a father of three who has years of bedtime reading experience and was inspired to write Boris and Betty after becoming “frustrated with the current trend of children spending most of their spare time with an electronic gadget in their hand”.  And it’s lovely to note that the twins don’t just find enjoyment in the countryside and active pursuits but also in finding friends to play with too as Daisy Deer and Henrietta Horse make cameo appearances.  (Who doesn’t love a little bit of alliteration too?!)

Fun with friends and camping, playgrounds and kites are definitely topics that meet with the approval of the minis – kite flying was even desperately requested on our last camping trip despite a distinct lack of wind.

“Today has been fab, with lots to explore.
This kite’s amazing – we want to see it soar!

The world is a wonderful, joyous place
We’ve learned to enjoy and start to embrace.”

But, whilst coaxing them outside away from screens isn’t too hard at the moment, I can see a time coming in the not too distant future where it will become more of an issue.  #30DaysWild has proved harder this year due to the demands of the school run which, due to the lack of local school places, sees us confined to the car for each trip as well as truncates our afternoons.  Fortunately Luke’s school has great grounds and takes part in The Daily Mile initiative and Willow’s nursery has lovely outdoor play areas and even animals that they can observe and help in looking after.  But it won’t be too many years before the classroom will swallow a significant part of their day and I don’t like that thought.

It will, however, give me plenty of reasons for keeping Boris and Betty as a staple part of our bedtime reading canon for years to come so we can ensure a yearning to head outdoors as much as possible during weekends and holidays.

And, whilst the bears realistically don’t give up their love for “tablets and gadgets galore” altogether, the tale’s closing couplet:

Now that the bears have begun to discover,
What future adventures will they uncover?

seems to suggest they might have further titles to add to it in the future too.

Find out more at www.borisandbetty.com

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#30DaysWild Day 16 – A stroll through the deep dark wood

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Last year we made a point of reading of Julia Donaldson’s The Snail and the Whale as part of our #30DaysWild activities, a title that never ceases to inspire wanderlust in me and remind me of how big and wide and varied and awesome our planet Earth is.  And it’s a lovely reminder of how even the miniest of us can make a difference.

GruffaloThis year we chose her much loved character The Gruffalo to read about as part of June’s challenge.  I like to think of it as a vegetarian polemic as, in the end, only nuts were harmed in the writing of the story but my children probably just like its forest setting, rhyming and fun repetitous narrative, meeting animals such as mouse, fox, owl, snake and the imaginative Gruffalo and that, whilst the miniest creature in this wood probably isn’t really the scariest, it can definitely be the smartest.

It also reminded me of when We all went on a Gruffalo hunt during last year’s 30 Days Wild too.  If you’re looking for some off the page fun with Julia Donaldson’s characters this year then take a look at the Forestry Commission to see if one of their Highway Rat forest trails is taking place in a woods near you and then click on over to Eva’s review Alice Holt Forest – The Highway Rat Activity Trail on Captain Bobcat to find out what’s in store for you if there is.

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#30DaysWild Day 5 – A Busy Day For Birds

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_05Have you been doing the Bookstart Bird Boogie this week?

The chosen book for this year’s National Bookstart Week (June 4th-10th) is A Busy Day for Birds by Lucy Cousins and we picked one up this morning at a Children’s Centre group.

ABusyDayForBirdsSimilar to last year’s Everybunny Dance, the title has proved a hit with the minis this evening as it is extremely enactable.

Shouting cock-a-doodle-doo, flapping their wings, hopping, swooping and wiggling their feathers along with the story, they copied the illustrations of woodpeckers, swans, parrots, starlings, flamingos, penguins, ostriches, peacocks, owls and more.

If you’re a friend of the feathered then you might like to know that the first Swift Awareness Week (June 16th-23rd) is coming up.

And, if it’s a feather-based fun day out you’re looking for, take a look at Kayleigh’s Hawk Conservancy Trust Review on her blog Candyfloss & Dreams which featured vultures, owls and secretary birds as well as hawks. 

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The destination for your imagination this July

Newark Book Festival 2018

NBF1The fantastical tales we read as children often stay very real within our imaginations but isn’t it fabulous when they sometimes take actual 3D form too?

PlaceCalledHomeNewark Book Festival 2018 (July 13th-15th) will see knights, bookworms, the Gruffalo, very, very, very long dogs and fat cats, aliens, gardeners and much more popping out of the pages of a book into storytimes, dramatic presentations and character appearances.  And you can even transform yourself into a literary character too and take part in the fancy dress competition.

LongDogInteraction is always key in any children’s event but there are also dedicated workshops to make sure your mini one’s own imagination takes centre stage including a fantasy writing workshop with Gareth Baker (recommended ages 8-12) and the chance to make a concertina stand-up book (all ages).  Author and illustrator Julia Patton will also be helping Newark Library launch the Summer Reading Challenge (age 4-11) encouraging young readers to keep celebrating their love of stories long after the weekend is over.

LittleRedReadingAnd it’s not surprising that at a book festival the love of reading itself becomes the subject of events.  Little Red Reading Hood by Lucy Rowland and Ben Mantle sounds a perfect title for little literary lovers and, for us older ones who still hold fairytales close BookwormLMto our hearts, Lucy Mangan’s Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading (among the many adults events on offer) will see the author and her interviewer Tina Bettison “take a trip down a rabbit hole and a visit to Narnia” as “she relives our best-loved books, their extraordinary creators and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives”.

Whether you’re cruising down the river on the Ship of Stories or exploring fairy trails in the Castle’s Enchanted Forest, Newark will be a very magical place for all literary lovers to visit in July.

Find out more at www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk and join in the conversation using #newarkbf.

Is it all about the journey rather than the destination for you?  Take a look at Mrs S of Otis & Us suggestions of 7 books and activities for kids to take on a road trip to ensure your mini ones’ imaginations are switched on from the very start of any visit.  

What the ladybird wore

World Book Day 2018

wbdlogoThe wintry weather experienced in the UK at the beginning of March threatened to make Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman the most popular costume for this year’s World Book Day celebrations.

However, the depth of the white stuff meant schools and nurseries were shut and the literary-inspired day postponed.

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My little ladybird in March 2017

Willow wasn’t attending her nursery on the day of their rescheduled Alice in Wonderland tea party although she’d previously helped to make some of the heart decorations.

Luke’s school saved their crumpets and hot chocolate for the following week too, highlighting the pleasure and importance of bedtime stories, but that meant he merely needed to don his pyjamas for the day rather than choose a costume even though I’d saved last year’s just in case.

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My little ladybird in March 2018

So it was left up to Faith on this occasion to fulfil mummy’s desire to dress up at least one of her children on a semi-regular basis.

And just look how much my little ladybird has grown!

On the verge of sitting independently, she still rocks a red and black outfit at any angle and I think Julia Donaldson’s rhyming tales will be a staple of storytimes in our house for many years to come.

But will I be able to find a ladybird costume in her size next year?

Escape into literary winter wonderlands

Whether as part of an advent calendar, included in a Christmas Eve box, a stocking filler or a main present, there’s no doubt that books make great Christmas presents – they even make the cut in the “four gift rule” of want, need, wear and read – so no wonder there are so many great titles to choose from.  Here Deborah Holland of Waterstones, Lincoln picks out a few of her favourites with a wintery theme to look out for if you’re buying for mini ones this year.

polarbearexplorersThe Polar Bear Explorers’ Club – Alex Bell (Faber & Faber, PB, £6.99)
This book is a brilliant fantastical adventure story with a stunning cover and illustrations by Tomislav Tomic.  On this expedition to the Icelands join Stella, Beanie, Ethan and Shay for a thrilling tale with snow pirates, carnivorous cabbages, unicorns, wolves and pygmy T-Rex to name a few!  This is Alex Bell’s first book for younger readers as she usually writes for young adults.  I’m very excited about what will come next.  If you were looking for that extra stocking filler for your own bookworm then this is a must.  Perfect for any child aged 9 years old onwards.  Chosen as November’s Book of the Month at Waterstones it’s not hard to see why.

invisiblechildThe Invisible Child & The Fir Tree – Tove Jansson (Sort of Books, HB, £4.99)
This book is available exclusively through Waterstones, Oxfam and the Moomin shop.  Two short stories in a beautiful hardback with gorgeous illustrations.  The Invisible Child is about someone finding their voice with the help of a simple Moomin recipe.  The Fir Tree is perfect for this time of year showing the Moomins unselfish take on Christmas.  My children love these stories and I love their message of respect and tolerance.  Perfect for ages 6 to 106 years old.  Aside from being a huge Moomin fan – 100% of the sale of this book will go to Oxfam’s projects empowering women and girls around the world.  A perfect gift.

WalkingWinterWonderlandWalking in a Winter Wonderland – Tim Hopgood (Oxford University Press, PB with CD, £8.99)
Tim Hopgood’s illustrations are amazing in this stylish picture book of Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith’s song Winter Wonderland.  Stunning pictures of wildlife to spot on each page and everything blanketed in snow.  A brilliant book to read to your young one over the festive season and an added bonus CD of Peggy Lee singing the song!  Festive spirit, nostalgia and a sing song too.  I dare it not to get you and your little one in the mood for Christmas.

ADotintheSnowA Dot in the Snow – Corrinne Averiss (Oxford University Press, PB, £6.99)
I read this out at a story time recently and though very simply told it really engage the young ones of 3 years onwards and is beautifully illustrated by a new talent – Fiona Woodcock.  Her sparkly snow is a particular winner in our household!  This is a tale of a polar bear cub, Miki and a girl who get separated from their mothers.  Miki sees a red dot in the snow and slowly gets bigger until Dot reveal herself a human girl.  This is a lovely story of friendship, a changing polar landscape and a heart-warming story to end a wintery day.

Need more suggestions?  See what Gill Hart from Lindum Books recommends here: Seasonal stories make perfect presents.

For more recommendations from the Lincoln bookseller pop into their store in High Street, Lincoln. 

Seasonal stories make perfect presents

Whether as part of an advent calendar, included in a Christmas Eve box, a stocking filler or a main present, there’s no doubt that books make great Christmas presents – they even make the cut in the “four gift rule” of want, need, wear and read – so no wonder there are so many great titles to choose from.  Here Gill Hart of Lindum Books picks out a few of her favourites with a seasonal theme to look out for if you’re buying for mini ones this year.

SnowSamUsherSnow – Sam Usher (Templar Publishing, HB, £5.99)
A charming little book all a-sparkle with snow!  The ground is covered in snow and one little boy can’t WAIT to get outside and play.  But his grandad is taking SO LONG to get ready.  When they finally leave the house, they have a very surprising adventure!  A beautiful mini hardback gift edition of Sam Usher’s bestseller.

AllTheWayHomeDebiGloriAll the Way Home – Debi Gliori (Bloomsbury, HB, £12.99)
Daddy Penguin has to look after the egg while Mummy is finding fish.  But he wanders away from the Dad Huddle and he and the egg are whisked up into the air by a gust of wind, landing in the Arctic.  Brave Daddy must find out where he is and how to get home.  But the Arctic creatures aren’t that friendly and he stumbles along in the cold, lost, until he bumps into a reindeer, who takes them to breakfast with the Special Air Navigation Transport Authority.  Can brave Daddy Penguin and his new little one get all the way home before Mummy returns?  If only penguins could fly…

SnowAngelLaurenStJohnThe Snow Angel – Lauren St John (Head of Zeus, HB, £10.99)
Lauren St John’s stunning Christmas classic is about forgotten children, the power of nature to heal us and a girl who will climb mountains in search of a place to call home.  Growing up in vibrant, crowded Nairobi, Makena has only one dream: to climb Mount Kenya like her hero, her mountain guide father.  But when her beautiful world is shattered, she finds that in the city’s dark places there are a thousand ways to fall, each more deadly than any crevasse.  In a world of strangers, does she dare trust Snow, whose ballet dreams are haunted by a past she’s still running from?  And is the sparkling fox friend or foe?  After a fresh start in the Scottish Highlands turns bad, Makena flees to the mountains.  But will they betray her or be the making of her?

FatherChristmasAndMeFather Christmas and Me – Matt Haig (Canongate, HB, £12.99)
It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas.  For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs everyday – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests.  Also it can get very, very cold.  But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive.  Before it’s too late…

OneChristmasWishOne Christmas Wish – Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury, HB, £14.99)
It’s Christmas Eve and Theo – left at home with a babysitter – sees an odd-looking star out of his window and decides to make a wish.  He wishes that he had some friends to keep him company.  Moments later the Christmas decorations begin to disentangle themselves from the tree behind him, ready to wreak a little havoc.  Written with generous helpings of warmth and humour, this is a story about treasuring the people and values that really matter at this time of year from master storyteller and bestselling children’s author Katherine Rundell.  Emily Sutton’s breathtaking illustrations perfectly capture the magic of Christmas in stunning detail.

For more recommendations from the Lincoln bookseller call 01522 262374 or pop into their store in Bailgate, Lincoln.