Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review of The Bush Book Club

I definitely have a soft spot for books about books and The Bush Book Club by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Ben Wood does not disappoint.

Little Bilby doesn't like reading as much as the other bush animals. He can't seem to sit still long enough to read. The bush animals all enjoy sharing their favourite books at the Bush Book Club, and one day Bilby decides to sneak in and watch, but he is so bored he falls asleep. When he wakes, he finds himself in the dark, locked in the clubhouse and all alone. What is a little Bilby to do in a room full of books? Build book houses, of course! Finally, he gives in and starts reading and he finds the perfect book for him! He loves the book so much he can't wait to share it with his friends at the book club.

As soon as I saw the cover of this book I knew I would love it. First impressions are certainly important and I admit it, I judge books by their covers and this cover is adorable!  Then I opened the book and I swooned again over these divine endpapers:

Make sure you visit Ben's website to get a sneak peek at how the illustrations for the characters evolved and also how he designed the location for the story.

Book Details:
Author: Margaret Wild
Illustrator: Ben Wood
Publisher: Omnibus Books
Publication Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781742990149
RRP: $24.99

After reading this book it made me think of a recent article I read about finding that one magic book by Australian Children's Laureate, Jackie French. Finding the book that turns a non-reader into a reader can be hard, but once you do, that's when the magic happens! Jackie has some wonderful tips for helping kids find their magic book.

Did your children have a magic book? Can you remember your own magic book?

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bedtime Story Photo Series - Week 3

Welcome to another week of awesome bedtime stories. Each night (except Sunday) I share one of the many, many fabulous picture books we read at bedtime via Instagram and this is a recap of what we read last week. You can read more about the series here.

Zoe and Beans - Hello Oscar!

Hello Oscar! by Chole and Mick Ingpen is part of the Zoe and Beans series and it is such an adorable story. Zoe and her dog Beans discover some very interesting animals at the bottom of their garden, including a talking parrot who seems to be only able to say "Hello Oscar!" It doesn't take long for Zoe and Beans to find the owner of all these pets, their new neighbour, Oscar. I love that Zoe went to Google what a Chameleon eats. The illustrations are just darling! Emily loves this book at the moment because it features two Guinea pigs. Her Nonna's has Guinea pigs and they have just had babies! So you can imagine just how much we love guinea pigs right now.

All Monkeys Love Bananas

All Monkeys Loves Bananas by Sean E. Avery was a fun book with stunning illustrations. All monkeys love banana for breakfast, lunch and dinner! That is except you Lou McGrew, who doesn't like them anymore. What will he eat? He meets up with his little rabbit friend who has decided she doesn't like carrots any more. They come up with the wonderful plan to try each other's food, which interesting results. After reading the book, Emily spent a lot of time stroking the flocked monkeys on the front cover.

Best Balloon Ride Ever!

I wish I had discovered Best Balloon Ride Ever by Richard Scarry a few weeks ago when we went to the Balloon Extravaganza - better late than never I guess. Huckle and Lowly are admiring Rudolf's hot air balloon when it accidentally starts to float away with them in it. They don't know how to get down but thankfully three fisherman come to their rescue. A fun story with Scarry's iconic illustrations, full of wonderful detail to explore. We are BIG fans of Busytown!

Boom Bah!

Boom Bah! by Phil Cummings and illustrated by Nina Rycroft would have to be one of my favourite rhyming books to read aloud. The words just roll off the tongue and the illustrations are divine! 

Fluff the Farting Fish

Emily requested a chapter book for bedtime because she "needs to learn her words"? Who am I to argue? Fluff the Farting Fish by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Tony Ross was ideal. It was short enough to read in one sitting and had plenty of fun illustrations. The fact that it was about a fish who was able to communicate through farting certainly helped. This book would be ideal for new independent readers too.


We are peas - Alphabet peas! We work and play in the ABCs

This would have to be one of the best alphabet books I've seen lately. Original, funny and the rhyming text makes it lovely to read aloud too. 

If you would like to keep up to date with our Bedtime Story Photo Series, follow Honey Bee Books on Facebook and Instagram.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: We're Going on an Egg Hunt and Decorating Eggs

We are going on an egg hunt
We're going to find the biggest one!
I can't wait.
Chocolate for you and me!

With Easter just around the corner we have started reading some Easter inspired stories. 
This week we read We're Going on an Egg Hunt by Laine Mitchell and illustrated by Louis Shea. One of our favourite Easter traditions is a chocolate Easter Egg hunt and in this book we join five little animal friends on their egg hunting adventure.

With it's catchy rhyming text, We're going on an Egg Hunt is a fun reinvention of the much love We're Going on a Bear Hunt, with an Easter twist.

Louis Shea's illustrations are funny, full of bright colour and the little animals are very adorable. The foil covered eggs on the endpapers are just fabulous and my kids loved trying to find the Easter Bunny hiding on each double page spread.

Accompanying the book is CD with the song version of the book, sung by the fabulous Jay Laga'aia. This was the part the kids loved the most. James has his own CD player in his room and I will often wander upstairs and find them singing along to the CD and hopping around the room. Always a good sign.

Book Details:
Author: Laine Mitchell
Illustrator: Louis Shea
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Publication Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781743620410
RRP: $19.99

I really wanted to do an egg hunt outside with this kids after reading this book, but unfortunately It has been a very wet week here in Canberra, so I had to rethink the plan a little. We decided to decoupage eggs, using crepe paper and foam eggs, which was an ideal indoor activity.

All you need is:

  • foam eggs (most craft and dollar stores have them at the moment)
  • small squares of crepe paper. We used shredded crepe paper I got from a craft store
  • PVA glue (or Mod Podge if you have some)
  • Glitter

All you have to do is glue the paper squares on the the foam egg. We painted the glue over the top of the crepe paper too, which, once dry acts as a sealer too. We then rolled the eggs in glitter to make them look all sparkly and fabulous. The we left them to dry.

Just a warning, this is quite a messy craft, which makes it even more fun for the kids. We managed to get covered in glue and crepe paper!

Once they were dry I hid them around our the lounge room for our very own egg hunt.

After all the fun of the hunt, they make a lovely display for our bunny basket.

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bedtime Story Photos - Week 2

Our bedtime routine always includes a story (or ten!), even when we are on holidays! We all get to choose at least one book each. There are lots of books on regular rotation, with some being read every night and sometimes the kids will surprise with a more random choice. I always like to slip in something a little different, or at least a book we haven't read for a while. We all try to fit onto my daughter's bed and we read together and chat about the books. Honestly, it's my favourite part of the day.

It has been another week of awesome bedtime stories and here is a recap of what we've been reading. You can find out more information about our Bedtime Story Photo Series here.


Stuck by Oliver Jeffers is a hilarious story. Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree and he tries everything he can think of to get it down. He is one determined and very inventive kid. I certainly felt sorry for that poor unsuspecting whale, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

We had our own version of Stuck on the day we read this book. James and my husband were playing soccer and as always the ball ended up in tree! It was a little easier to get the ball down that Floyd's kite!

Goodnight, Mice!

Goodnight, Mice! by Frances Watts and Judy Watson is a firm favourite in our house. The four little mice are sleepy and yawning, that is until Mum and Dad say that it's time for bed! Always lots of fun watching the antics of these little mice as they get ready for bed. The illustrations by Judy Watson are simply divine!

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Meerkat*

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Meerkat by P. Crumble and Louis Shea is a new book in the Old Lady series. What is it about these books? My kids think they are absolutely hilarious! The old lady is at it again and this time she is swelling as many animals as she can find at the Zoo, from a meerkat to a poor unsuspecting hippo! 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This was an obvious choice for our bedtime story on Thursday as this wonderful classic by Eric Carle celebrated 45 years in print! 

Grug Learns To Dance

On Friday we went on a camping adventure so the kids had to choose "little" books to pack in their suitcase. Grug Learns to Dance by Ted Prior came camping with us. I have such a soft spot for Grug, as it was the first book I borrowed from the library when I was a kid. I still remember the excitement of borrowing my first book.

There is A Bird on Your Head!

You could hear the laughter coming from our tent as we read There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems. We are huge Elephant and Piggie fans, thanks to one of our wonderful local librarians. Poor Gerald has a bird on his head, then two birds, then a nest and finally some baby birds too and he is not happy about it! James says he is like Gerald because he wears glasses too and that makes Emily like Piggie because he is pink and that's her favourite colour. There was a whole discussion about this on the way home from our camping trip yesterday. I love our interesting and sometimes bizarre conversations that are inspired by the books we read.

Don't forget to follow Honey Bee Books on Facebook and Instagram so you can follow along with our Bedtime Story Photo Series.

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

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Review: Happy Baby Board Book Series

Board books are definitely an essential part of any baby's book collection. 

Babies and toddlers love board books. Learning to hold a book, turn pages and 'read' the pictures are all important skills to develop on a baby's journey to becoming a reader. Board books are a wonderful way to kick start your baby's love of reading. They are perfect for little hands to hold and they can withstand a fair bit of rough treatment (even a little bit of chewing every now and then). They make an ideal sensory experience.

The Happy Baby series includes four board books, Bedtime, Mealtime, Bathtime and Playtime and are full of bright, colourful photographs of common everyday objects. They also include lots of images of baby faces. Babies love looking at faces and images of other babies, I know mine certainly did.

Both of my children really enjoyed this type of board book when they were babies. At first they loved looking at the different pictures, and connecting the words to those pictures. As they got a little older there was lots of pointing and "where's the...?" type activities. Once they started talking they loved practising saying the words for the pictures I pointed to, helping to develop their vocabulary too.

Book Details:
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Publication Date: February 2014
RRP: $4.99 each

Disclosure: I was provided with a review copy of this book series by the publisher. I was not obligated to review them and my opinions are, as always, my own.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Introducing our Bedtime Story Photo Series

"So many books, so little time" - Frank Zappa
We read so many beautiful picture books but it is often hard to share them all with you here, even though I really, really want to. A full review and crafty activities matched to the story is not always possible but that does not mean the book is not worthy of sharing. So I have been thinking about how I can share these amazing books with you on a regular basis. 

So after a bit of thinking, I came up with taking a photo each night of one of the many books we read at bedtime that evening and share it via Instagram and Facebook with a very brief review or any observations we might have had after reading it. So the Bedtime Story Photo Series was born! I know it's nothing ground breaking but it will certainly help me to share more wonderful picture books with you.

I thought I would then give a weekly recap of our bedtime reading adventures here on the blog. There is no rhyme or reason to our book selections either, by the way. Both James and Emily choose a book (or ten) to read and I usually choose one too, so it's really what we are in the mood for.

Here is a snapshot of the books we read at bedtime last week:

The Boy and the Toy

The Boy and his Toy by Sonia Hartnett and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo is a delightful story about friendship. One day a man invents the best toy in the world and he gives it to his son. As time goes by, the boy begins to wonder if it really is the best toy in the world after all. This story is full of funny moments and the illustrations are just sublime!

This paperback edition was published by Penguin Australia in February 2014.

Penguin in Love

Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon is such a cute book. Penguin is looking for love and soon finds himself on a mysterious adventure with his soulmate. These two yarn bombing little penguins are just so adorable. Love and knitting, what a perfect combination for a picture book. 

This paperback edition was published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in January 2014.

Barry the Fish with Fingers

Barry the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra is as the title suggest, about a fish who indeed has fingers. Barry shows all the other fish what he can do with fingers, like finger paint, knit and even tickle. Soon all the fish want fingers too. This is a lovely book to help discuss jealousy and the colourful illustrations will definitely appeal to younger readers. My kids have never eaten fish fingers, so they didn't really get the whole fish finger reference but they still thought it was a fun story.

Dinosaur Farm*

Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon is perfect for all those little dino lovers out there. It's hard work being a farmer, especially when you have a dinosaur farm. This is such a funny story and the illustrations had us in fits of giggles. I certainly wouldn't want to have to clean up after all those Dinosaurs! 

This paperback book was published by Koala Books in December 2013.

If you would like to follow along and see what we have been reading, don't forget to like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram

So what do you think? Is this something you would be interested in seeing as a regular series on Instagram and the blog? I would love to hear your thoughts.

We are linking up to It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Check out some of the wonderful books people have been reading this week. 

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

Friday, March 14, 2014

Paper Plate Hot Air Balloons

Our house is still buzzing about the wonderful Canberra Balloon Spectacular that we went to see last weekend. It is truly a fabulous event and it inspired us to create our own hot air balloons (crafty versions at least)

We made ours from the ever versatile, paper plate! 

What you will need:
  • Paper plate
  • Plastic cup
  • 2 lengths of string
  • sticky tape
  • decorations for the balloon - we used washi tape, stickers, foam shapes, scraps of fabric and feathers (whatever Emily could find really)
  • fishing line (optional, if you wish to hang your balloons up, like we did)

All you need to do is decorate your paper plate however you wish, using the decorations you have chosen. Then attach the string to opposite edges of the paper plate with sticky tape, then attach the other end of the string to your plastic cup to create the balloon's basket. Voila! You have yourself a super easy and utterly fabulous hot air balloon. We hung ours in Emily's bedroom, using fishing line so it looks like they are floating.

Here is a closer look at the Emily's creative decorations for her hot air balloon. It's definitely a great use of texture. I simply adore her creativity. 

I used Washi tape to decorate my balloon and used every colour and pattern I had! The brighter the better I say! 

Of course a hot air balloon needs passengers, so we found a few little friends to go for a ride.

I love how they turned out. So bright and colourful and they have made a wonderful addition to Emily's room. She loved looking at them float in her room tonight as we read our stories before bed.

Have you ever had a ride in a hot air balloon? 
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