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

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Our favourite picture books about dinosaurs

Our Favourite Picture Books About Dinosaurs

We have a bad case of Dino Fever in our house at the moment. Last weekend we went on a torch-lit tour of the National Dinosaur Museum here in Canberra as part of the Visit Canberra Human Brochure. When I asked James what he thought of the experience he said it was "Totally Awesome" and his favourite part was "every single dinosaur!" Big praise indeed. 

Since you know how much I love to match beautiful books to our real life adventures, here are some of our favourite picture books about dinosaurs.

I'm A Dirty Dinosaur

Cover of I'm a Dirty Dinosaur

I'm A Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian and Ann James is a wonderful picture book about a cheeky little dinosaur who loves to splash, stomp and slide in the mud. Simple and brightly coloured illustrations matched with the fabulous rhyming language makes this an ideal book for any young dinosaur fans. 

My Dinosaur Dad

Cover of My Dinosaur Dad by Ruth Paul

There are all sorts of dinosaur dads out there, some spiky, some knobbly, some racing, some sliding but only one that's the best! The rhyming text in My Dinosaur Dad is beautiful and includes so many wonderfully funny ways to describe their dads. The illustrations are bright and colourful and totally adorable. Full of lovely little details and really funny too. 

Dinosaur Roar!
Cover of Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Strickland

Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Strickland is a wonderful book full of dinosaur opposites. With brightly coloured dinosaur illustrations and a wonderful use of rhyming language, this book is fun and a little bit cheeky. 
Dinosaur fat, dinosaur tiny,
dinosaur clean and dinosaur slimy.
Such a fun way for a little dinosaur fan to learn about opposites.


Cover of Rawr! by Todd H Doodler

Rawr! by Todd H. Doodler is an adorable picture book about fitting in. Rawr! means hello in Dinosaur, but it appears that not everyone knows this. Despite Rex being a very polite and helpful dinosaur, he has trouble fitting in. He may be big and loud but he is just trying to say hello.  The vibrant illustrations will definitely appeal to younger readers (ages 1- 5 years) and the soft padded dinosaur on the front cover was also a big hit with us.

Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs

Cover of Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs by Kel Richards

Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs by Kel Richards and illustrated by Glen Singleton is a fabulous nonfiction picture book full of fun dinosaur facts. From the biggest dinosaur to the smallest, the fastest to the slowest, this book has loads of information any young dinosaur enthusiast. Glen Singleton's illustrations are hilarious. 

Dinosaur Farm

Cover of Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon

It's hard work being a farmer and even harder when you have a dinosaur farm! Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston-Gannon is such a funny story with hilarious illustrations that had us in fits of giggles. I certainly wouldn't want to clean up after all those dinosaurs! 


Cover of Gigantosaurus by Johnny Duddle

Gigantosaurus by Jonny Duddle is one of our favourite dinosaur books. The rhyming language makes this a fabulous book to read aloud. It is full of lots of different dinosaurs and the illustrations are amazing! All the Dinosaur mums warn their dino kids about the scary Gigantosaurus. Little Bonehead is the lookout for the group and the traditional boy calls wolf (or should I say Dino cries Gigantosaurus) story follows. 

I know there are so many more fabulous dinosaur picture books out there but these are some of our personal favourites. What would you add to the list?

If you enjoyed this post, keep updated via social media or our monthly newsletter.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Review of Karana and a Paper Plate Emu

Karana: The story of Father Emu

Karana: The Story of the Father Emu by Uncle Joe Kirk with Greer Casey and illustrated by Sandi Harrold is a beautiful Australian Indigenous story about a father emu and the love he has for his chicks. He patiently waits a month on the nest for his eggs to hatch and when they do, he teaches his young chicks all they need to know to survive in the Australian bush.

These are my chicks. I love them a lot...
I will stay with them, no matter what!

This is a touching story exploring the important role of fathers in guiding their children and teaching them important life lessons as they journey towards adulthood. The lovely rhyming language make this book a pleasure to read aloud. An ideal book for Dads to read aloud to their children and would make a lovely Father's Day gift too.

Sandi's illustrations are playful and the rich earthy tones beautifully depict the Australian bush and the animals that live there. The little chicks are adorable with their big eyes.

Uncle Joe Kirk is a Wakka Wakka elder who is passionate about sharing his stories with future generations and educating children about Australian Aboriginal culture. The emu plays a significant part in the Wakka Wakka culture and symbolises a father figure who nurtures the whole family. 

Book Details:
Author: Uncle Joe Kirk with Greer Casey and Sandi Harrold
Illustrator: Sandi Harrold
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Publication Date: May 2014
ISBN: 9781743623138
RRP: $15.99

Paper plate emu

After reading Karana we made own paper plate emu. This was a lovely quick craft which didn't need much preparation. After rummaging through our useful box and I found:
  • a paper plate
  • brown crepe paper
  • black card
  • a googley eye
  • scissors
  • glue
All I did to set up this craft activity was cut the paper plate in half. You could cut a straight line if you wish but I cut little rounded shapes to give it a more feathery look.  From the left over piece of paper plate I fashioned a head too (sort of a circle with a pointy bit for the beak - all very technical of course). Then the kids set to work decorating the body and head by gluing on cut up pieces of the crepe paper. We then cut out three long lengths of black card for legs and neck, then attached them to the body and head. It's as simple as that.

We recently went to the National Zoo and Aquarium here in Canberra and we met a very friendly emu up close and personal. Isn't it a magnificent creature? I do love being able to match a picture book to our real life experiences.

An Emu

We are linking up to #kidsbookaweek hosted by Damson Lane. Why not drop by and check out some other awesome children's books.

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

Friday, May 9, 2014

Two New Picture Books that Celebrate Mums

I have had a lot of time at home with my son James over the past two weeks, as he has not been well. It was lovely to spend a little one-on-one time with him and he helped me review two lovely new picture books that celebrate Mums from Scholastic. 

Mummy, You're Special To Me

Mummy, You're Special To Me by Laine Mitchell and illustrated by Kim Fleming celebrates how special and unique our mums are and some of the many reasons why we love them.

My mummy loves flowers.
She plants them in rows.
Mummy waters them daily
And watches them grow. 
Mummy, you're special to me.

Follow along with little giraffe's journey to discover all the wonderful things that make mums special to their children. The watercolour illustrations are lovely and feature sweet little baby animals and their mums. James and I had fun finding the little giraffe on every double page spread and we both loved when the little giraffe went scuba diving underwater. 

James gave this a thumbs up saying:
I liked the writing because some bits of the writing are different colours. I like the monkey picture because the little monkey drops some paint and it's going to fall on the mum's head. 

Book Details:
Author: Laine Mitchell
Illustrator: Kim Fleming
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Publication Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9781742839813
RRP: $16.99

How I Love You

We all have our own special little ways of showing our children just how much we love them. How I Love You by Anna Pignataro celebrates those little ways that children show their mums just how much they love them. Little Koala likes to hug his mum, Little Platypus kisses his mum and Wobbly Little Wombat likes to give his mum cuddles. 

This beautiful picture book is full of beautiful watercolour and pencil illustrations of australian animals. The little sooty owl is just too adorable for words. 

Here's what James had to say: 
It was good. I liked the pictures. It is about baby animals and how they show their mums they love them.

Author/Illustrator: Anna Pignataro
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: March 2014
ISBN: 9781742838182
RRP: $16.99

Both of these books are lovely stories for Mums to read aloud with their children or they would make special gifts for new mums.

You might also like these two special gift ideas for Mums:


Happy Mother's Day!

Disclosure: I was provided with review copies of these books from the publisher. My opinions are, as always, my own.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Washi Tape Mother's Day Cards

I have a confession to make, I am addicted to Washi tape! There is something about the beautiful colours and pretty patterns that makes me want more, more more! Now it looks like my daughter has caught my addiction too. She is always asking to use "Mummy's pretty sticky tape".

Knowing how much Emily loves to create with washi tape I laid out a little invitation to create for her over the weekend. She was delighted and worked intently on her special creation. 

All you need is a blank card, some wash tape and some scissors! I found some lovely cards at my local dollar shop. They have all different colours, but I think white card looks best for this project, as it doesn't detract from the fabulous colours of the washi tape.

Once she was finished decorating the card she wrote a lovely message in it.

James also made a card using Washi tape, but his was a little different. After finding some inspiration via Pinterest, he decided to use the tape to decorate a paper silhouette to then attach to the card. He chose a Shark! A perfect shape for a Mother's Day card don't you think?

I cut out a shark shape and James decorated it with tape. I then helped him trim the tape to the outline of the shark. Once trimmed he glued it to the card.

I love his colour choices. It just seems to work. I always agonise over colours and patterns. I definitely need to be braver about colour choice, like my kids are.  I like that he also chose to do a repeating pattern with the tape too. These fabulous cards will be added to our Photo Frames as Mother's Day gifts for their grandmothers.

As I said, earlier, I love creating with Washi tape too, so while the kids were busy making their cards, I was able to do some creating too. Using the same technique as James, I decorated a Moose silhouette with tape and then framed it, ready to display in James' room.

Do you like creating with Washi tape? What is your favourite way to use the tape?

We are entering these Washi tape creations in the Canberra Creatives April Washi Challenge You can check out other entries or even join in by using #ccwashichallenge.

If you're looking for more Washi inspiration, follow my Washi Washi board on Pinterest

I am also linking up to FYBF hosted by With Some Grace.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mother's Day Gift Idea: Photo Frames Decorated With Damaged Picture Books

Last week Canberra Creatives ran their first School Holiday Program and I helped out by showing the kids how to decorate a photo frame using damaged picture books! I had a wonderful time and can't wait until next the next school holiday program.

With Mother's Day just around the corner, a decorated photo frame would be a great gift idea for Mum. I found some wonderful papier mache photo frames that were perfect for this project and, of course, I had a huge pile of damaged picture books, full of fabulous pictures ideal for decorating!

Here's what you will need:
  • Photo frames. I used papier mache frames but you could use up-cycled wooden frames too.
  • Damaged books (both chapter books and picture books)
  • PVA glue
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint Brush
  • Scissors
Using text pages, cut them to size to cover the entire outside of the frame. Use the PVA glue to attach the paper to the frame. One of the participants in the Holiday Program tore the pages, rather than cutting them, which gave a lovely textured effect.

Now for the fun part, finding images from the damaged picture books that will fit onto the frame. Books with small pictures are ideal for this project, as you don't have much space on the frame. You could use images from the same book, or mix it up with different images from different books. 

Once you are happy with your picture selections and arrangement on the frame, glue them on with the PVA glue. Then all you need to do is seal the images.  I used a a thick layer of Mod Podge, with a lovely glossy finish. 

Once the Mod Podge is dry, find a lovely photo (or drawing) and you have a perfect gift for Mum on Mother's Day!

While this craft is ideal for older kids, it is also fun for younger kids to do too, with a little help. Emily is 3 years old and had lots of fun decorating her own frame, she just needed a little assistance with cutting out the pictures, but certainly no help necessary with all the gluing! I wish I took photos of Emily's finished frame but she decided to give her frame to my Mum who came to stay for a little holiday.
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