Lifestyle

Review – Writing Gloves from Literary Book Gifts

Review – Writing Gloves from Literary Book Gifts

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Spring has sprung and I’ve taken my reading and writing outdoors. 

Sitting outside, whether that’s a park, the back garden, or a quiet spot at my local nature reserve, allows me to focus. With no broadband, minimal noise and fewer opportunities for procrastination, outdoors really is a literary person’s best friend. 

And yet the weather isn’t always on our side. Cold hands are an unnecessary distraction, but until now, I haven’t found a pair of gloves which are designed with a pen in mind. 

That changed when Literary Book Gifts offered me a complimentary pair of writing gloves in exchange for review. 

The gloves are fingerless and made of a light material which makes it easy not only to grip a pen but to keep hold of it through a longer writing session. They are so soft and cosy that I was hardly aware that I was wearing them. Made up of 35% cashmere, it is no wonder they are such a delight to wear. 

Available in thirteen different colours, there is a shade for every writer and every season. 

Gifts for book lovers can be a bit predictable – bookmarks and tote bags are spilling off my shelves. These offer something different and fulfill a practical need. They also look super-cute when I’m out book shopping or heading out on a research trip with a notebook and pen. 

Get outdoors, get rid of those cold hands and get writing. 

 

Writing Gloves are available from Literary Book Gifts. The gloves in this feature were gifted in exchange for honest review. Opinions my own.

 

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Board Book · Uncategorized

Board Book Round-Up (March 2019)

Board Book Round-Up (March 2019)

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The ABC OF Musical Instruments by Ailie Busby

Join a cast of forest animals as they bang their drums, blow their oboes and party from A to Z. An alphabet book in a traditional format (A is for …, B is for …), what makes this especially beautiful is the use of pattern. The designs were inspired by Jane Austen’s garden, and by the lining of a coat thought to have belonged to her which is in the care of the Hampshire Cultural Trust. Pages alternate from a colour-blocked letter with a patterned background to a colour-blocked letter with a patterned background.

The book has a lovely vintage feel but is lively and appealing for young readers.

123 Tea Party by Ailie Busby

A little fox is setting out a tea party for his friends. How many cakes does he need? How many pots of tea. Count from one to ten and join little fox and his friends at the end as they celebrate with a tea party.

Plain block backgrounds allow the patterned numbers and details to stand out. As in The ABC Of Musical Instruments, the patterns were inspired by Jane Austen’s garden and at Chawton. This is a very pretty book. Fox is helped along the way by a flock of birds and everything about his tea service is totally Cath Kidston.

Early numeracy is important but teaching children the basics of afternoon tea is inspired.

 

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Say Hello To The Gruffalo. Based on the book by Julia Donaldson And Axel Scheffler.

A stroll in the wood. Off we go! Who is coming to say hello?

Join the famous mouse on a walk through the woods and meet the characters known and loved from the original picture book. This would make a gentle introduction to The Gruffalo for children too young for the original book. It is also a lovely rhyme.

The book has peek-through pages. Characters are first seen through round windows which then frame the mouse when the page is turned. This allows plenty of play and is a good big space to stick little fingers through.

A thoughtfully designed companion to a favourite book.

 

Gruffalo, What Can You Hear? Based on the book by Julia Donaldson And Axel Scheffler.

A hiss in the leaves, a hoot in the trees …

This lovely little book introduces words for sound, especially focusing on the animals featured in The Gruffalo. Three sentences extend over the course of the book, making it the perfect size to enjoy on the go.

The book clips on to the buggy with a strap, which can be dettached if the book is unclipped and given to a tiny child. The strap is made from stretchy elastic so the book can be pulled a little way around from where it is attached.

Give the gift of reading on the go, and introduce a small child to the Gruffalo.

 

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Pets by Jane Foster

Reptiles and birds. Big and small. Say hello to the animals most commonly adopted as companions.

With a word and a picture, this is the perfect vocabulary builder. Point at the pictures and follow the letters of the word until your little reader learns the words for our animal friends.

I adore the design, with bright, contrasting colours, subtle patterns on the pages with the words and funky retro-style animals which could be straight out of a 1960s picture book. Elder siblings might enjoy using this as a catalogue for drawing inspiration. This would be a lovely way to bring the bigger kids into a reading experience designed for the very young.

This is part of a series of books. Think first 1000 words split into bright, attractive volumes. Why wait until your child is old enough for paper pages when you can start with such beautiful and fun books?

 

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Who’s Hiding At The Seaside? and Who’s Hiding In The Woods? by Katherine McEwan

There are animals hiding everywhere. 

Take a trip to the seaside. Go for a stroll in the local woods. Who do you expect to find?

The answer is there are more animals out there than many of us realise. With an increasingly urbanised population, and dwindling knowledge of the natural world, it is important we introduce a love of the outdoors early so that the next generation grow up to love and protect the world.

Microhabitats are introduced, from a windy cliffside to a rock pool. Lift back the flaps to find out which animals inhabit each area. On the reverse side of the flaps are facts about the animals. As these are cardboard flaps, I would recommend these books to the oldest board book readers, although many of the parents I speak to on Twitter are absolute pros at keeping cardboard flaps safe (or letting them get damaged in the name of education. Also a good call.)

The illustrations pick out the different textures you would expect in each habit and capture the movement of leaves and grass blowing in the wind. A beautiful introduction to the outdoors.

 

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Hello, Mr Dinosaur! by Sam Boughton

Take a tour through the time of the dinosaurs. Just how big was a velociraptor? What did a triceratops eat? Learn some basic facts about each dinosaur until you too are a fully qualified dino-spotter.

With the dinosaurs illustrated from different angles and the textures of their bodies really thought out, this is one of the most attractive introductions to the subject which I have seen in a long time. I love the paint and crayon effect of the pictures and the way the landscape is shown alongside the animals. Many children are shown touring the prehistoric world, which makes the subject feel less remote than it can in books which show only the unknown.

The end pages fold out into a big dinosaur display which also acts as a memory test of the dinosaurs’ names. This will keep young enthusiasts busy and engaged.

The book has cardboard flaps and challenging facts and would be perfect for slightly older board book readers. This would be perfect for older children with small siblings – this was a specific group we catered to when I worked as a bookseller because some parents just didn’t want to buy paper books when they were in danger of being wrecked, but also wanted to keep their nursery aged children engaged.

An insightful and attractive introduction to a popular topic. Highly recommended.

 

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Ottie Elephant In The Town and Marley Bear At The Farm by Melissa Crowton

Where are the animals off to today? What do the hear? What kind of objects might they find? Take a trip out and about with an animal friend and explore the vocabulary relevant to different settings.

With felt flaps to lift and scrunch, mirrors for play time, textures to stroke, and hide and seek games in the pictures, these books are high on play value. They are bright and attractive with lots of primary colours and simple patterns.

Although the book follows the animal through one location, it could be opened on one page to play a game. This makes them great books for on the bus or train because they will keep your little reader distracted without it being a disappointment if the story can’t be finished.

 

Thanks to Nosy Crow Books, MacMillan Children’s Books UK, Templar Publishing and New Frontier Publishing UK for gifting the books in this feature. Opinions my own.

Blogmas 2018 · christmas · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Last Stop On The Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford

Review: Last Stop On The Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford

img_7520Mia wants to see Daddy this Christmas, but he works far away in the North Pole. When Mia goes to post a card, she finds a magic post box which takes her to the Reindeer Express and all the way to the North Pole. A story about family love – families together and families apart.

The themes make this a good read for children whose loved ones are away at Christmas -either on the day itself or during the build-up. The message gently reassures the reader that their loved ones think about them even when they can’t be together.

The design is so beautiful that reading the book is as magical as riding a reindeer to the North Pole. Peek through the post box, lift flaps and doors and peek through the papercut trees to the page beyond.

I love the colour-palette – the muted colours and geometric patterns produce an effect which is as cosy as a patchwork quilt. The scenes alternate between snowy mountains, Christmas street markets and snug interiors. There is a hygge-like vibe about the book which makes it an attractive read on dark winter nights. A map at the back adds to this with pictures of arctic animals, reindeer and warm campsites.

A lovely read for young children and a book which is so beautifully festive it would appeal to the young-at-heart. This is a real snuggle-up-and-share story with just enough magic to build excitement ahead of the big day itself.

 

Thanks to Little Tiger Press for my copy of Last Stop On The Reindeer Express. Opinions my own.

Blogmas 2018 · Board Book · christmas

Review: Where’s Santa Claus by Ingela P Arrhenius

Review: Where’s Santa Claus by Ingela P Arrhenius

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Where’s Mrs Polar Bear? Where’s Santa Claus? Lift the felt-flaps and find all of our festive friends. A hide-and-seek book perfect for sharing with the very tiniest of readers.

Christmas with a tiny baby must be hectic and wonderful. Everyone is enthusiastic to introduce the concept of Christmas, even when the child is too young to fully understand. This book would be a lovely starting-point – introduce the familiar festive characters while the tiny-tot enjoys the tactile flaps and engaging pictures. 

The felt flaps are a brilliant idea. They are attractive for tiny hints to stroke and grab at and are easier to lift than traditional cardboard flaps. Poking or pushing the flaps from almost any angle leads to movement. This would be a brilliant way of teaching babies and tiny-tots how to engage with lift-the-flap books.

The illustrations are bright and bold with lots of colour-blocking and geometric design. They will hold the attention of babies too young to take interest in detailed pictures. At the same time, they are attractive to have on the bookshelves. There is a series of similar books and they would look very cute together.

With its baby-proof flaps and shiny mirror, this is a great option for the youngest people on your shopping list.

 

Thanks to Nosy Crow books for my copy of Where’s Santa Claus? Opinions my own.

Blogmas 2018 · christmas · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: I’ll Love You Forever by Owen Hart and Sean Julian

Review: I’ll Love You Forever by Owen Hart and Sean Julian

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Though seasons may turn,

bringing sights new and strange,

My love is the one thing,

that won’t ever change.

A polar bear guides a cub out of the den and across the landscape, from winter to spring and through the first year of life. All along, adult bear reassures the cub of unending love.

A gentle rhyme to share with the very smallest children.

Reading is about so much more than language acquisition. It is a bonding time, and books like this give children the space to ask very big questions. Will you always love me? Even when I’m grown up? As adults, we take these things for granted but children need the space to ask these questions. 

Little bear gains confidence, exploring for himself and straying further from the adult but at the end of the book, the bears are cuddled back together. This gives the reader an important message – even when they spend time away from their loved ones, the bond is never broken.

The bears are not gendered or named as parent and child. This makes the book accessible to all sorts of family units. It would be a lovely book to gift to a new baby or to give to a child on the edge of a new milestone who is nervous about the changes.

This is also a lovely story for talking about seasons. Winter turns to spring, and then summer. Big polar bear introduces different features of the seasons – snowflakes, blossom, migratory birds and golden leaves indicate that the seasons are changing. The soft colour-pallette and gentle brush strokes match the tone of the rhyme. This is a safe landscape. A landscape ready to explore.

A warm and comforting narrative which will make a beautiful gift for small children. A must-have for any early bookshelf.

 

Thanks to Little Tiger Press for my copy of I’ll Love You Forever. Opinions my own.

 

Blogmas 2018 · christmas · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne

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Silent Night, holy night;

All is calm, all is bright …

Join in the traditional carol with this beautiful new edition. Angels fly over the stable and animals gather on the hillside as Mary and Joseph await the birth of their Son. Recall the earliest Christmas story and celebrate the magic of the nativity story.

 Silent Night is one of the best-known and best-loved Christmas carols of the past hundred years. It is also one which children learn at an early age, which makes it a lovely introduction to the nativity story. Whether you are a practising Christian or just exploring one of the best-known stories of all time, this edition captures the atmosphere of the nativity story.

The artwork is stunning. Black skies and white hills and buildings make the perfect backdrop for angels and animals and shepherds on the hills. The simple background means the eye is drawn to the characters and the activity of the story. There is very much a sense of the story happening on a hillside long, long ago – which of course is exactly where it begins.

The story follows Mary and Joseph from their arrival on a donkey to the moment where everyone gathers to pay respects to the baby. Jesus’s birth is marked by a stream of stars and an announcing angel. This would be a lovely book to read ahead of a nativity play.

An information section at the back tells us the history of the carol, from the moment it was composed in Austria in 1818 to the time it was sung by troops on all sides of the conflict in WW1. The folk-history of a beloved carol would be a lovely way to explore – without pushing any messages – the unity between European nations. 

A striking book which captures the magic and joy of the nativity and of the Silent Night carol. This deserves to become a staple for many libraries.

 

Thanks to Quarto Children’s Books for my copy of Silent Night. Opinions my own.

 

 

 

Blogmas 2018 · Non-Fiction

Review: Bestiary by Christopher Masters

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Exploring the collection of The British Museum, this book looks at objects relating to animals. From porcelain jugs to spear-throwers, jewelry to watercolor-paintings humans have included other animals in their art for centuries. 

Divided into five sections – wild animals, domestic animals, exotic, symbolic, and mythical creatures – the book uses the museum collection to explore the different relationships humans have held with the natural world over the centuries. One of my favourite things about the format is how it encourages readers to look at museums differently. It is easy to trail around a museum or to do a gallery, but museums were designed to preserve human knowledge. Entering with a question or a theme (‘What do we know about human relationships with animals?’) encourages us to get so much more from a visit. 

The introduction tells us how the relationship with animals has developed over time. I was particularly fascinated to learn about early societies where there was less distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ than there is in the modern day. It gave me a greater empathy with and understanding of societies which believed in spirt-animals. 

The book is beautiful, full of high-definition photographs, including many full-page pictures. If you left this book out on a coffee table or in a school book-corner it would be picked up and thumbed through. It has high ‘flickabilty’. Much of the pleasure is in thumbing through the pages to look at the images. 

Bestiary would make a lovely Christmas present – for fans of Newt Scamander, for museum-goers and for people who are insatiably curious. A beautiful look into the collection of The British Museum which encourages us to think deeper about museum collections. Brilliant. 

 

Thanks to Thames And Hudson for my copy of Bestiary. Opinions my own.