Book Review: Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers

imaginary fredSometimes a book comes along which strikes a chord with you as an adult reading it and you spend some time thinking about the content. This is one of those books which doesn’t surprise me as Oliver Jeffers in particular tends to illustrate some really thought provoking stories.

One of the over-riding issues of childhood is the coming to terms and grappling with issues related to friendship and it’s something often covered in children’s picture books. My children have all had friendship issues of one sort or another and they all have their own special ‘best friends’ at the moment, but in the past it hasn’t always been like this. They have all had imaginary friends and its something which I hope they can use to fall back on if they ever do find themselves short of a friend.

Having an imaginary friend can help children deal with issues of loneliness, not belonging and also help them to feel empowered to do what they want to do, to buck the trends and to test themselves. I remember really clearly when my daughter had her imaginary friend and I think this really helped her deal with play ground politics and also her feelings of being left out at home when her brothers were playing together.

I thought I’d ask the children what they thought about imaginary friends and the book. Bear in mind they are only 7 and 4 but have a look at what they thought:

In the book the imaginary friends are in colour, but  they are not solid. The perfect way of depicting them. As the story goes along they begin to fade, which I think is a metaphor for how friends come and go; they fade in and out of life. This concept is a difficult one for children to grasp in real life so its great to find a book which can be used as a starting point to tackle this and the associated emotions.

I’d say that this is quite a long book for very little children. It’s best suited for slightly older children perhaps 6 +. This is a book to spend time over, to enjoy and take inspiration from (perhaps a whole school holidays worth of activities) or to read at bedtime over a week in small sections. It’s a lovely book, nicely presented, illustrated and would make a really nice gift for Christmas.

If you’d like to find out more then have a look at the website here.

Picture Book Party Blog Tour: Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy

peaceHave you read Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy? I bet you have as the book is (rather shockingly) celebrating its 30th Anniversary! If you haven’t read it (and its possible if in your mid forties as you would have been too old first time around) you’re in for a treat.

Five Minutes Peace is one of those classics which you’ll return to time and time again, perhaps even after the children have flown, as it will remind you of a moment in time. The one where you cant even go to the toilet without interuption, but i’m told these memories become fond ones, with distance.

For me, this book sums up everything about family life. I don’t think I have been able to identify quite so much with a picture book character as I can with Mrs Large. The poor woman cant even have a bath without interruption, just like me!

Five Minutes Peace is beautifully illustrated and brilliantly observed, it had us all laughing and talking about the things the children do to us parents.


Many thanks to @walkerbooksuk I can’t tell you how appreciated 5 mins peace is today!

A photo posted by Claire Thornton Walsh (@clairevictoriawalsh) on

To celebrate the anniversary of the book, Walker Books really kindly sent me a lovely hamper with some tea, chocolates and bath bombs. I think they were optimistically thinking I might get my own Five Minutes Peace; I managed about 3 minutes, then little Ned wanted me to help him to learn to ride his bike…

5 minutes peaceI think I might walk around using the book as a sign, the kids might get the message that way.

If you’d like to have a look at the blog tour visit the Picture Book Party Blog and find the other blogs. You can find out more about the book here.

Blog Book Tour: I Am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith Illustrated by Sav Akyuz

iambearI don’t think the children have had a book which is meant to be read as a rap before. They’ve had plenty based on songs: What Did the Fox Say and Octopus’s Garden spring to mind, but a rap was new to us. What a fabulous idea and another way of making books seem more accessible. Our youngest, little Ned was delighted and very excited to read!

The hero of our story is Bear who gets up to all sorts of mischief whilst dressed in a large purple bear suit. It really is genius rhyming:

I am Bear.

Am I am bare.

The suit I wear has purple hair.

We loved it and it comes as no surprise that the author is otherwise known as brilliant actor, rapper and comedian Doc Brown. This is not at all child friendly but his appearance on Russell Howard was incredibly amusing and I’d urge you to have a look when the kids are out of earshot.

Of course, something like this requires bright colourful illustrations and Sav Akyuz has done a fantastic job in making this even more accessible to its pre-school audience capturing perfectly the personality of Bear.

If you’d like to hear the rap then you can watch an animated music video by the creators for the book here:

Now, if you’re anything like our household then you will find yourself singing and reciting this rap at every quiet moment. We’ve had loads of fun doing this and creating funny moments. Including little impromptu ‘sheddings’ of clothes and much hilarity.

For half term we’ve had a real treat with some doughnuts which are Bear’s favourites. Eddie thought it was hilarious to be Bear in the doughnut shop and ‘trick’ us all having enjoyed eating them.


Bear is basically all the cheeky and frankly lovely and endearing childhood moments of naughtiness all rolled into one.

Take a little look at the website for the book:

If you want a book with a bit of character and flair, one that appeals to your own little individuals, then this is perfect. The book grows on you even more each time you read it. I think i’m going to associate it with little Ned’s childhood forever!

You can find all the information about it here.

Over on Walker Book’s Picture Book Party blog there is a chance to win a fab goody bag including some doughnuts (Bear’s favourite), the book, a poster and some stickers. Make sure you check it out here.