Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book Launch: Tottie and Dot by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

What a beautiful sunny day for Father's Day here in Canberra. After spoiling Dad with wonderful handmade presents and sharing a yummy breakfast, we went to a book launch!

Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling had joined forces again to create the utterly adorable picture book Tottie and Dot. Today Tania launched Tottie and Dot at Dymocks, Canberra Centre and we went along to enjoy the fun.

Book launch of Tottie and Dot by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

Up until today I had not shared the book with James and Emily (even though I was very tempted). Knowing that we were going to the book launch I wanted them to hear the story for the first time from the author herself. I wanted it to be a totally new experience for them. I wanted them to be able to connect the story with the person who created it. To help them to understand that there are wonderful people who work very hard to create these books for us to enjoy.

Book launch of Tottie and Dot by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

When Emily saw the book today for the first time and she spied the adorable Tottie and Dot on the front cover, it was love at first sight! "Look Mum, she has pink hair! I have red hair but one day my hair might get pink!" She wouldn't let the book out of her sight!

Tania McCartney - author of Tottie and Dot

Then it was storytime! Before Tania could begin, there was a special guest appearance by Dot herself!

Tottie and Dot Book Launch

Don't you just love those glasses? 

Tania McCartney reading Tottie and Dot

James loves book launches, especially Tania's ones. We have attended a few of Tania's launches now and she always does such an amazing job. Not only is the story engaging and fun, she always takes time to chat with the children. Then there's the fabulous decorations and the super fun activities too! 

The kids were very excited about the marshmallows they got to take home to make their own Marshmallow Tea, which also included a recipe card for how to make it. I may need to get some more marshmallows to actually make the tea, because ours didn't quite make it home.

And there was even a lemon drop tree, just like the one Dot planted in her yard!

The children also got to make their own butterfly strings.

Making butterfly strings at the Tottie and Dot Book Launch

Butterflies and glue, made for one very happy little girl. She would have been happy to stay here all day making butterfly strings. When we got home she decided to hang her string up on her dolls house, which has now become Dot's house!

There were also word searches and colouring in to keep the kids happily occupied. The word search was definitely more James' style. You can find copies of the colouring in and other fun stuff on the Tottie and Dot website.

Tania McCartney signing our copy of Tottie and Dot

Thank you for signing our book Tania! What a wonderful way to spend the morning, surrounded by books and book loving people!

Little black cat from Tottie and Dot by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

How could I resist sharing a photo of this adorable little cat with his umbrella. Too cute for words.

You can see more photos from the book launch over on Tania's blog and you can read a variety of reviews from today's Book Blast.

Book Details:
Author: Tania McCartney
Illustrator: Tina Snerling
Publisher: Exisle Publishing under the EK Books imprint
Publication Date: September 2014
ISBN: 9781921966491
RRP: $24.99

You might also like to see the other book launch we attended last year for Tania McCartney's Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo

Tania McCartney at the book launch for Riley and the Jumpy Kangaroo

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Week Parade Costume: The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty

Book Week Parade Costume: The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty

Book Week is definitely our favourite time of year. A whole week of celebrating children's books (as if we needed an excuse). The highlight of the week for me has always been the school Book Week Parade, where all the students get dressed up as their favourite book characters. I still have fond memories of taking part in these parades when I was a kid.

This year there was certainly no question about which book character James was going to be dressing up as for his Book Week parade. I knew what his answer would be, even before I asked him. Mr Qwerty of course! The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty by Karla Strambini has been a firm favourite for James this year and you can read is own review of this book over at Kids Book Review.

Like Mr Qwerty, James often keeps his ideas under his hat. He is a bright kid with lots of wonderful ideas but he often doesn't have the confidence to share them (especially in the classroom environment). Similar to Mr Qwerty, he worries about what others might think or even if he might be wrong. So this year we have been working on building his confidence in sharing ideas in class and we regularly refer to Mr Qwerty and the benefit of letting his ideas out from under his hat.

So here is James as The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty:

The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty costume for Book Week

I found a plastic bowler hat at a party supply shop for $3. I copied the light bulbs and light bulb creatures from the book cover and stuck them on the hat. We found a black coat and red tie from a thrift shop for less than $5 and they will make great additions to the dress up box later on. He already had a white shirt with a collar. 

Of course a he also needed a pencil and notepad to jot down all his wonderful ideas, so I attached another lightbulb picture onto a pencil with black tape.

The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty costume for book week

This was a super easy costume to pull together with no sewing required!!!! I think he looked pretty fabulous and he loved his costume. I am not sure he is ever going to take that hat off!

Did you or your child take part in a Book Week Parade this year? What character did they go as?

You may also be interested in our other book character costumes from previous years:

James from James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Wilfred from This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Fairy Craft Birthday Party

I am going to stray from the bookish posts today to share a little snapshot of the party we hosted for Emily's fourth birthday over the weekend. She chose a Fairy Dance Party theme! 

Since we have had a very busy few months with moving house, I kept the party fairly low key, minimal cooking, a simple craft activity and lots of dancing! 

Fairy Wings

All little fairies need wings! So with some gorgeous rainbow wings on, Emily was ready for the party! 

The main planned activity for the party was decorating fairy houses (or gnome homes). I found some awesome little mdf bird houses and with lots of sparkly paints, feathers, plastic gems and stickers they would make perfect homes for little fairies.

MDF bird houses ready to be turned into fairy houses

All the kids had a wonderful time decorating the houses. James decided that his would be a dragon den and proceeded to paint his all black. This simple craft activity kept the kids busy for a lot longer than I expected, which was great and many of them would return to the craft table to add more detail to their houses throughout the party.

decorating the fairy houses

Here are some of the stunning fairy houses that the kids made at the party. I am sure the fairies will love the bling house as much as we did! 

Fairy houses

After creating the magnificent fairy houses we spent the rest of the afternoon dancing to Emily's favourite songs (basically the Frozen soundtrack on repeat!), eating and jumping on the trampoline. 

One of the things I love about my beautiful daughter is she knows exactly what she wants! She helped choose all the foods for the party, including the cake! She chose fairy bread (of course), strawberries, perhaps too many lollies and a sausage sizzle for lunch. When it came to the birthday cake, there was only one option and that was cupcakes, with pink icing and fairy sprinkles! Can I just say, hooray! No complex cake decorating, no stress, no late night panic trying to make the cake look presentable. Just slap on some icing and cover any imperfections with sprinkles. Sounds perfect to me!

We found this adorable little fairy to go with the cupcakes at Cockington Green Gardens, of all places. They have an amazing range of fairy figurines in the Rose Room, which also features some pretty spectacular dolls house items too.

Pink decorations for the fairy party

We were certainly blessed with some a beautiful winter weather for the party. Check out that magnificent blue sky! It meant that we could do our crafting outside (no indoor mess!) and the kids could do lots of running around in the backyard to burn off some of the ridiculous amount of sugar they consumed!

It was definitely a fun party and I think all the kids had a good time. Although I was asked by one of the older kids why there were no party games. Emily certainly had a wonderful time. It was so nice to see her being so confident and interacting with all the guests, including the adults, which is rare for her! My little girl is growing up.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Picture Book Review: 10 Clumsy Emus by Ed Allen

Cover of 10 Clumsy Emus by Ed Allen and illustrated by Wendy Binks

We are very fond of Ed Allen's funny counting book series that rhyme along to the popular song Ten Green Bottles and he is releasing a new book in the series in August called 10 Clumsy Emus and it's illustrated by Wendy Binks.

The Emus are busy having lots of fun, playing basketball, making mud pies, visiting the zoo and even cleaning their room! The emus are unfortunately a little bit clumsy and end up in all sorts of sticky situations.

Four clumsy emus tidying their room.
Four clumsy emus tidying their room.
And if one clumsy emu should sneak away too soon,
There'll be three clumsy emus tidying their room.

Sneak peek inside Ten Clumsy Emus by Ed Allen and illustrated by Wendy Binks

This is my favourite page because it reminds me of my two kids whenever I mention the need to clean their room (or any cleaning at all for that matter) they always seem to sneak away too.

Like the other books in the series, this is enjoyable to read/sing aloud. The vibrant illustrations by Wendy Binks are very funny, with the emus' long necks, big eyes and hilarious 'hair' styles. My kids always enjoy trying to find the hidden number on every page, which is also great for number recognition. 

Book Details:
Author: Ed Allen
Illustrator: Wendy Binks
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Publication Date: August 2014
ISBN: 9781742836393
RRP: $9.99

After reading the book today, Emily really wanted to make an emu. We had already tried making paper plate emus, so I thought we could try something different. Using feathers came to mind, but I still haven't managed to unpack the craft boxes since moving house so we had to be a little more inventive.

One thing we have in abundance at the moment is butchers paper, which we used for packing during the move and I managed to find some googly eyes. We scrunched up small amounts of the paper for the body and drew on the legs and head. 

This is the end result:

Easy kid's emu craft using scrunched up paper for the bodyEasy kid's emu craft using scrunched up paper for the body

Easy kid's emu craft using scrunched up paper for the body

I guess they sort of look like emus. When the urge to create takes hold, you just need to use your imagination and whatever you can find that might be useful.

You may also like our other reviews and craft ideas for this series, just click on the image to view them:

10 Hooting Owls by Ed Allen   10 Funny Sheep by Ed Allen

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of this book by the publisher. My opinions are, as always, my own

Friday, June 27, 2014

Picture Book Review: Boa's Bad Birthday by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

Cover of Boa's Bad Birthday by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

Emily turned four this week, so as you can imagine our week has been heavily focused on birthdays. After celebrating her birthday, we also spent the remainder of the week celebrating the birthdays of all her dolls and teddies too. There were lots of pretend parties with random items wrapped in paper for presents. She certainly knows how to draw out the celebrations. 

With birthdays on our mind, Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross' picture book Boa's Bad Birthday was certainly a perfect fit for us this week. Here is our review:

Boa is having the worst birthday ever! His friends really have not put much thought into the presents they give him. A piano he can't play because he has no fingers, sunglasses he can't wear because he has no ears and honestly, what is he going to do with a hair brush? Poor Boa tries to remain polite when receiving the gifts from his friend, even if they are completely inappropriate.  Just when you think it can't get any worse, Dung Beetle arrives!

We have all been on the receiving end of a poorly thought out present (and perhaps I may have been responsible for giving some too). This is a very funny story which also shares some important reminders, like remaining gracious, grateful and polite, even when receiving rubbish gifts. It also provides a valuable lesson that if a gift, at first, appears to stink, it may just surprise you and end up being the best present ever! 

I think the moral of this story is an important one for children to learn, however, I don't think it necessarily needed to be spelled out so obviously at the end. I personally think most kids could pick up on the lesson from the subtlety of the story without it being pointed out.

Tony Ross' iconic illustrations are funny and I just adore the facial expression on poor Boa. 

This is a lovely birthday story that both my children enjoyed and was fun to read aloud too.

Book Details:
Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Koala Books
Publication Date: June 2014
ISBN: 9781742760957
RRP: $14.99

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a gift that you originally thought was rubbish?

Disclosure: I was given a review copy of this book by the publisher. My opinions, as always, are my own.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review of My Child magazine

It's not often I get time to myself to read a magazine, but after a particularly busy week, my wonderful husband took the kids out for a walk so I could have some quiet time. I made lovely cup of tea and sat down to read My Child magazine.

My Child Magazine

This month sees the magazine move from a quarterly print layout to a mothley digital format that is free! Yes, you read that right, it's FREE! Here is my review of the new digital format of the magazine:

My Child is a parenting magazine that covers topics for pregnancy and birth as well as parenting information for babies through to big kids. It is full of interesting and well written articles that are relevant for young families and provides a useful parenting resource. With a variety of thought provoking articles, hints and tips, as well as recommendations for brands and products for mum's to be, parents and children. More importantly, it also includes some reviews for children's books (and you know how I love children's books!)

One particular article in the June issue that really resonated with me was Party On!  It discusses the pressure that parents are putting on themselves to have a "social media worthy" birthday party for their children. With the ever increasing popularity of Pinterest, children's parties are becoming more and more elaborate. I am currently planning Emily's fourth birthday party and this article is a great reminder to enjoy the moment with your child and embrace a more simple and eco friendly party, all while still having lots of fun.

June Issue of My Child Magazine

Another reason why I love this magazine is that it is a small independent publication that is run by a work from home mum, Lise Taylor.  While Lise still needed to work after the birth of her son, she wanted to be available as much as possible during those all important early years. So, with the support of her husband and drawing on over 20 years experience in the magazine publishing industry, Lise set about creating her own parenting magazine from her own home. As a mum who also works from home (usually at night after the kids are asleep) it is inspirational for me to see what Lise has achieved.

I really like the new digital format. It is well laid out and I found it easy to read on my iPad.  Although I am still fond of print magazines, we will be moving house soon, so a digital magazine is one less thing I will have to pack!

You can subscribe to My Child and enjoy this magazine each month. The July issue will be out later this week, so why not check it out?

My Child Magazine
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