Friday, 28 November 2014

The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins and Animalium by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott. AMAZING Animal Books for ages seven to adult.

I haven't had an in depth look at these books - they are hidden upstairs and I can't risk taking them out often. However, I have combed the reviews over past few weeks and am very, very happy with both of them. They're big and not the cheapest (although Animalium was only £11 on Amazon for some crazy reason. The Animal Book was just under €19.) I see my nine and eleven year old's with these two tomes, sitting up in bed relaxing on extra pillows nicked from my bed, whiling away the hours in January.

(I know The Animal Book looks small here - its not - its a big, glossy annual sized hardcover - its just that Animalium is enormous. I LOVE oversized books.)

Steven Jenkins animal books are very popular - we've given Actual Size as a birthday present a few times. His beautiful, collagey illustrations and accurate and interesting animal facts are the reason his books sell so well and probably the reason for this production of this tome. Its easy to read and fascinating and lovely. Did you know lobsters can live for one hundred years? I didn't.

Animalium is laid out in sections - like rooms in a museum, each featuring a different "branch in the tree of life." AMAZING illustrations, well written and massive, this book should have cost at the very least €30. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Books for kids age seven and up who don't like pretty stuff

One glance at the Amazon look-inside thingy for Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich was all it took to prompt me to immediately order this. It can go in my four/nine/eleven year old's stocking. Funny, great rhyming verses with wierd and wonderful illustrations. All on the topic of monsters, ghouls and that kind of thing. Always popular in our house.

And then theres Poo

This isn't a toilet training book or a book that thinks its funny just to say "Poo". Written by Nicola Davies - a Zooologist - it explains, among other things, how much we can learn about animal from their waste. (ok, their poo.)
Its still humorous, but also interesting! And has pretty nice illustrations. I have Danzel at Silver Shoes and Rabbit Holes to thank for pointing me in Nicola Davies' direction - her books are great!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Books for kids of ten and up who don't really want books for Christmas

I  haven't read any of these but they will be on my eldest sons bedside table after Christmas. He is thirteen so I am loath to say they are his reading level - listen, he can read harder stuff but unless his teacher tells him to, he will  not. Given the choice of something worthy that might take a bit of effort and his beloved computer, I know what he'll choose.
So these are, I think, easy and funny and enjoyable to read. Which in fairness, is what reading should be.

On the left is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I've read the first few pages and its great. I know he'll read it. Then up on top is The Twenty One Balloons about which I will probably have to say, give it two chapters and then decide. But its short - and I'm pretty sure he'll like it. And then on the right is The True Meaning of Smekday which is going to soon be a movie - by Dreamworks, I think. Its written in the form of an essay by an American schoolgirl about a time when aliens came down to earth and took over. She makes friends with one called J-Lo. Again I haven't read this - all I know is from reviews, but it seems well written, daft and very funny. 

They all have some illustrations - making the whole experience a little bit more Wimpy Kidish for any reluctant readers.

Here's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,

And The Twenty One Balloons,

And The True Meaning of Smekday.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Astrid Lindgren and Ikea

When a Christmas Ikea catalogue came through my letterbox the other day, I picked it up piously thinking that it was far too early to think about decorating the house. After a quick browse on my way to the recycle bin though, I wanted to jump in the car and head for Finglas and buy...well I'm not sure what but get everything in my power to make my house look Swedish/Christmassy. My four year old decided it was his favourite "book" ever and after "reading" it many times, I dug Christmas in Noisy Village out from the back of my wardrobe(where it was really supposed to stay till December). We noticed quite a few similarities.

It is SUCH a lovely book, just perfect for four to six year olds.
Six children live in three farms in Noisy Village.

At Christmas, they bake ginger biscuits.

and celebrate with their families,

and each other.

They do a lot more too- gathering firewood, singing carols, decorating the tree - all wonderfully depicted in Ilon Wiklands illustrations. Its a book well worth getting - bearing in mind you will probably end up making ginger biscuits and making a trip to Ikea as a result.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

really nice boys clothes

I have four boys - and when they were born, as well as congratulations - I was also offered condolences. Oh no - another one!... You poor thing!... You won't get to go shopping!... among other nonsensical, silly notions. I could understand up to a point - I was indeed, during every pregnancy, eyeing up the beautiful little girls clothes available. However, that too was nonsense. For a start, boys are perfect and four boys even more so and for seconds - there are plenty of nice clothes for them out there. Sometimes you do have to look a bit harder, but they're there. I don't mean the skinny jeans and trendy scarves and fitted cardigans - I means soft, comfortable boys clothes in lovely colours that they voluntarily put on in the mornings.
I'll start with pyjamas -
I got these from Vaenait Baby who sell through They cost €8 to €10 per pair and come in a multitude of colours and patterns. 

They're posted from South Korea and I'd bet my bottom dollar they're made in a Gap or Old Navy factory - the shape is exactly the same - but with different labels. And a different price. Great quality, they wash well and the sizing is pretty small. My tall four year old wears age 8-9. (They are big on him - I could have gone down a size.)

Next is Boden, a saviour for mothers of boys, especially families of boys as everything lasts well and can be handed down from boy to boy.

Boden tops, pyjamas, and tracksuit bottoms are staples here. There's regular discounts but going online just after Christmas works well for me. Long sleeved t-shirty tops like those above are always well reduced.

I learnt about the Mango Outlet site on All Worn Out. Thery have great deals for kids and adults. I scored these shirts. Soft and lovely and sort of jackety with those patch pockets on the front, I love them. And more importantly, they are being worn.

Lastly, underpants. I ordered a set from Gap once for my youngest, really just to get up to €50 so I could get the free shipping, and I was a convert. They are softest, cosiest, best quality around. And there's 30% off everything in Gap at the moment (until Monday night)with a Grazia magazine code. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Let's Make Some Great Art by Marion Deuchars

We have three copies of Let's Make Some Great Art. Found under the Christmas tree a few years ago, they were used for a while and then forgotten. And now found again. They're huge telephone directory size colouring books, made of paper that works great with crayons - and good for any age as long as they are interested in picking up a pencil. There's a lot more than colouring between the covers too - explanations about different styles of art, examples, bits about artists and clever and easy hints on drawing certain things. When my four year old comes home from playschool, full of beans and expecting my undivided attention - this books comes in very handy. It means I don't have to think at all. We can sit side by side and just see whats to do on the next page. Of course he is a bit young to follow the instructions and a lot of the pages are already done by his brothers, but that doesn't matter at all. I can see these books hanging around the house for a few more years - we'll get to all the pages eventually.

 Draw what this man is dreaming about.

 Make a turkey from a handprint.


 Draw what you can see through the keyhole.

What is he scared to look at?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

This morning in our house..(Winnie the Pooh read by Alan Bennett and Grazia)

My nine year old is upstairs pretending to be sick and listening to this.

It's narrated by Alan Bennett and really very good. (I'd say its better for older kids - seven and up, as unlike the Pooh movies it is funny in a dry, not cute way.)

And I am downstairs, pretending to be cleaning up and reading this.