Book Review: A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates

If like me you get a bit bored with  reading A Night Before Christmas every night for the two months preceding Christmas then this is the book for you. A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates and illustrated by Sebastia Serra is a brilliant take on the classic poem. Not only does it have an element of humour it actually scans quite well.

We loved the illustrations which gave us plenty to talk about from multicoloured sea horses called salty, scurvy and sinbad etc right the way through to Sir Peggedy. There is also a brilliant Pirates Glossary at the back.

I find it quite hard to interest Boy in books and he is exceptionally picky about what he actually wants to read. I am delighted to report that this has already become a firm favourite in our household, I’m all for a bit of wit and if I can find a book which is seasonal yet delights then that’s even better.

I think this is one book that you NEED to buy for Christmas, its only £5.99 what a bargain! You can get it from www.thegmcgroup.com from September
Title: A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas
Author: Philip Yates, illustrated by Sebastia Serra
ISBN: 9781402790010
Price: £5.99
Publisher: Sterling

Review: This Book Totally Makes Stuff Grow; A Maggie & Rose Activity Book

We were sent a copy of This Book Totally Makes Stuff Grow to enjoy and enjoy it we did!

My children love to do stuff in the garden, I am often at a loss to know what to do with them in the garden. Once the seeds have been planted and a bit of carefully supervised weeding has taken place I always get a bit stuck and so the football comes out or the paints. This is so we can make enormous paintings outdoors which I always wonder what to do with…

Anyway this little book is full of ideas. I have to admit it’s slightly misleading as quite a few of them are indoor activities based on things which grow in the garden, rather than things to do outside which is what the cover illustration sort of implied to me . I loved the idea of making binoculars out of the cardboard from toilet rolls and the bug hotel was genius.

I think the beauty of this book is that all the ideas are in one place and you can use it as a stimulus for discussions on what activity to do. I like this concept, having purchased a couple of Eden Centre books on a similar sort of theme. Sometimes its hard for toddlers to grasp concepts verbally so I find that books like this really do help. Even a task as simple as growing a sunflower can be hard to explain without doing it and I have to admit that my little boy at least likes to know what he is about to do before he does it. That’s where this book comes in and why I think that at least for the pre-school years you may well find it a little gem…

Book Review; Maisy’s Show by Lucy Cousins


You really can’t go wrong with a book by Lucy Cousins and the Maisy series provides endless joy for my toddlers. We were excited to receive the latest book Maisy’s Show to review.

Maisy’s Show is one of the more interactive books, this has pull out tabs and at the end, a spectacular pop up scene. Unsurprisingly, my children really loved it. The story follows each of the Maisy characters as they prepare to put on a show. It’s simple and fun. Toddler Boy and Fifi loved pulling out the tabs, in particular Charlie Crocodile with his cartwheeling. We were all thrilled by the pop up scene at the end. It inspired us to make our own scene using a cardboard box and more paint. At the moment we have a work in progress and I think I may make some Christmas figures to add to it. A photo will follow!

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that this book is worth seeking out for your kids, I think you will enjoy it too as it’s quite inspirational in providing ideas for home made pop-ups. It’s a great addition to the bookshelf and gets a big thumbs up from us. You can get a copy here.

  • Publication details:
  • Format: Hardback
  • ISBN: 9781406323856
  • Published: 04 Oct 2010
  • Price: £12.99

Review; A Year in Brambly Hedge

Over the field and across the stream lives a community of mice in a place called Brambly Hedge. Reading the Brambly Hedge books shaped my childhood and I think, influenced me as a person. You see, it was definitely from them that I became inspired to look at the nature in our garden and read more about plants and animals. I loved the stories and had loads of the spin off merchandising. Well, would you believe it, Brambly Hedge is now thirty years old. To celebrate this Harper Collins have released a lovely box set of the four original stories. They sent me a copy and I have to be honest the children have had it read to them, I’ve not allowed their little fingers to sully my special books. Yet.

The books were written and illustrated by Jill Barklem in 1980, this box set contains Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Story and Winter Story. Each of the stories is complete in itself, and tells of the everyday life of the mice in each season. The wedding in the Summer Story is our favourite. One of the things that shines through these books is a flavour of the countryside

and rural life. I have found them really useful for discussing seasonality with the children; the Winter Story and it’s snow is proving a helpful preparation for what may come this winter!
I think its fair to say that most people my age loves Brambly Hedge, and it’s wonderful to be able to introduce my children to it. I remember reading the stories throughout my childhood and I really hope my children will enjoy them as much as I did. The stories are fantastic as they can form a brilliant springboard for all sorts of country craft activities. They are gentle, calm stories and the illustrations are wonderful. I remember feeling inspired as a child to go out and learn all about the different plants illustrated. The mice are dressed exquisitely. Sigh, I love it so much, I really do!
This is a wonderful box set, if you don’t own any Brambly Hedge go and buy it. Alternatively it would make a fabulous gift for Christmas. I’m off to acquire some of the other stories and I may even try to get some of the spin-off ceramics for Fifi.

Book Review; The Second Baby Survival Guide by Naia Edwards


The Second Baby Survival Guide
nicely fills a gap in the parenting book market, well one that I found anyhow. Having a second baby is both exciting, nerve-wracking and frightening all at the same time. I needed support, advice, information and it was quite hard to come by. On reflection that’s probably as people didn’t want to tell me quite how hard it is with two little ones but hey, sometimes its better to know!

Right from the blue stripe in the pregnancy test your whole world changes with baby number two. Within about twenty seconds tiredness hits you and the realisation that you cant have those lovely afternoon naps and pampering that you had during your first pregnancy. You just have to carry on. This attitude stays with you then for the rest of your life!

The Second Baby Survival Guide takes you through all these feelings, there’s all the things that you want from this book, like how to introduce your toddler to your new baby, how to deal with your sleep (and theirs) and vitally, how important it is to make time for yourself!

I enjoyed this book, it was a quick easy read and had lots of advice which I would give a second time mum to be. It’s not patronising or simplistic, it’s real life honest advice written in an easy to follow way. I wish I had thought to write it!