Sunday, 25 October 2015

Massey's Wood, Simpsons, Harry Potter, Stephen Fry, Lego, Zelda, Ross O'Carroll Kelly

We took our boys up to Massey's Wood yesterday and to get through the twenty minute journey, these two brought Simpsons Comic Madness - which we have had for about six years and has been read about seven million times, and a huge Lego Book

We all needed a bit of
fresh air... 

and wrestling.

As always, no one felt like getting into the car and as always, 
it was lovely.

The other two boys brought

and Ross.

P.s. I've given up trying to get up earlier than the kids to have an uninterrupted cup of tea - it seems like they all have the same idea. However, this week my twelve year old put this

 on in the kitchen when he came down. Read by Stephen Fry, its wonderful. Even if you have read all the books and seen all the movies, even if you don't think you are a Harry Potter fan, its wonderful. It doesn't seem to be available to buy new at any reasonable price, but we got it from the library easily.

Sunday, 18 October 2015


Tiger are now selling origami paper (and Lidl had some last week!), so I got this book out of the library.
Like anything non-screeny, my kids will do it if I join in. And luckily, I find origami pleasant absorbing. And the end results are so pretty! I prefer it to Lego(I know, Lego is amazing, but I have many, many  years of building under my belt - I was ready for a change) and it comes a close second to drawing. And for mess it's great - there is (almost) none. We dug out Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes too - its got instructions in the back on how to make a crane and is such a lovely read.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Moonshot by Brian Floca

A few years ago we gave our train mad three year old nephew Locomotive for Christmas. It was the extra thing- a Playmobil pirate ship or something like that was the "main" present. I can remember him on the kitchen floor while his mother was checking on the turkey, engrossed in it. And numerous times since, his Dad has told us how much they all love the book. He liked the pirate ship but, like all "main"s, I don't think it lived up to the dreams we all have for them. Really, I'm over "main" presents. (apologies to all readers who find inverted commas used like that irritating. I don't mind it so much in print, but the fingers version does set my teeth on edge.)

So, I had always kept an eye out for more books by the same author. Brian Floca gets rave reviews everywhere and I have been dithering about Moonshot for a while. It was €18ish, (although it is now down €16ish!) so is definitely put away as a present for someone, but thankfully, it does look like it was worth it.

One of those picture books that has loads of information, so great for older kids too, this one explains how exactly the Americans got to the moon. Considering how many millions of moon themed books are out there for kids, I think this one is a must.

See any women? Nope, me neither. Oh well, it was 1969.

 This one is good for kids five to ten, and any read-aloud adult who loves really interesting non-fiction.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Joey Pigza, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B and Travels of Thelonious

Ever since I had my first son, there's been talk between mums about "labels" for kids. How it is wrong and causes unfair judgement and all sorts of other scary stuff.

Howandsoever, the only way to get extra help in our educational system is to get one. Dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, ASD and many more...they all entitle the child to specialised individual help with a qualified educator. It is no fun getting these labels(long family meetings with pyschologists, endless depressing lists to tick off, sitting in waiting rooms for hours with wriggly toddlers..) but boy, its worth it. One of my boys (label: language disorder) has had extra one to one help daily in school for the past seven years! His academic results have gone from well, well below average to high average and above.

Having said that, I have hated the label. But, maybe I shouldn't - in kids literature at the moment, they are everywhere.  Books whose main characters have named, claimed and tamed their tags. When I read the first few pages of  I Am Not Joey Pigza, I thought, oh God. ADHD, real, bloody headless chickens, they're not going to like this. But no, my ten year old loved it. He wants to read the rest of the series. My twelve year old was asking about it and I told him what ADHD was and he said "But is he ok, in the end?" and I had to say, "Well, he's ok all the time really. He's ok and has ADHD."

Its great, really, getting the labels out these so they aren't so labelly anymore. There's another one we havent read yet, that I might get for under the tree. Its The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B. (Room 13B is where there main character meets others who are also have obsessive compulsive disorder. )

In other news, Travels of Thelonious was inhaled by my graphic novel nuts the minute I got it home from the library. Its actually only half graphic novel, but at under €10, would be a good book to have at the ready for birthday boys from nine to twelve.

Friday, 2 October 2015

PERFECT book for non-reading, screen addict aged nine and over.

...and more importantly, the subtitle;
The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

The fabulous binding and endpapers and overall design of this book might not matter to your average screen addict, but it has to be mentioned. This book is a beauty.

Its a graphic novel about two real people, who almost invented the first computer.

They are;
Inventor Charles Babbage, and

Lord Byrons daughter Ada.

I've only had a quick look, long enough to know that it will be under our Christmas tree but will have to be labelled to my ten, twelve and fourteen year old's, as otherwise there will be killings. It was €18 euros, so way more than I would normally spend, (to be fair there are 320 pages) but I'm pretty sure it was worth it.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

A Dublin Fairytale by Nicola Colton

I got a lump in my throat when I took this book out of the envelope - it is BEAUTIFUL! And even though I had absolutely nothing to do with its production, I felt so proud. It's a stunning, Irish picture book. If I don't see it on the Late Late Toy Show this year, I will explode.

My kids are familiar with the landmarks of Paris (Adele and Simon), London, (A Walk in London), Boston(Make Way For Ducklings),  New York (Little Boy BrownThe Walk), Rome, (Dodsworth in Rome) and even Tokyo(Dodsworth in Tokyo). If we ever actually travel together to these cities, seeing them in real life will be extra special. But Dublin, their home, is probably not so well known. It's "town", where we go to watch the St Patrick's Day parade and have a shamrock shake, where we take them to Yamamori for lunch once every blue moon and where I disappear to on Sundays to meet my friends. 

Now though, we're going to do A Dublin Fairytale tour  - I mean its not so bad when a five year old asks if The Spire "is actually a real thing?", but when a ten year old says "and the Ha'penny Bridge? That's real too?", I feel ashamed. 

It will be quite a walk, our youngest will need his scooter, as Fiona covers a fair bit of ground. Fiona is our heroine. She needs to travel from her home to the Witches' Market and then to Granny's house, all by herself.

This journey takes her across St Stephens Green,

past Trinity College,

across the Ha'penny Bridge, 

and up Moore Street. 

The illustrations in this book are really wonderful.  Apart from their absolute loveliness, they're full of interesting details for kids to find and the colours are sublime. The paper is thick and expensive feeling and the endpapers (my computer does not recognise that word, no doubt I have it wrong) but anyways, look at them below. They're fabulous! We've read the book about five times now and I'm still finding more doorways, and pixies and wolves and ducks and magic. I love it, and more importantly, my kids do too. The youngest just enjoyed it the way a really good picture book is enjoyed, poring over the pages and giggling and predicting and his elder brothers were delighted (and amazed) to see Dublin, in a kids book.  Also, I should mention that its a good one too for beginning readers, there's plenty of word repetition and the font is on the bigger side.

 For boys and girls aged two to six.