Category Archives: Books

Books: Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex!

Dinosaurs are showing no signs of falling out of fashion for my six year old son. On the contrary, he seems more obsessed than ever at the moment and why would I discourage that? He’s starting to read independently now and whilst he still needs some help with tricky words he’s never seen before, he does like to take himself off to bed each night with a dinosaur book. We were sent the new Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex to see what our junior paleontologist thought about it.

Books: Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex!

Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex is a 32 page hardback book. It’s a large sized book packed with dinosaur facts and includes genetically engineered, terror-inspiring dinosaurs from the Jurassic Park trilogy and Jurassic World, including new profiles for Tyrannosaurus rex, Indominus rex and Velociraptor, as well as other favourites from the original films.

Books: Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex!

Download the free Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex app (available from the App Store and Google Play). Then using the advanced Augmented Reality app, you can bring the book to life. Just scan the code on the pages of the book and you can walk a lifesize Jurassic Park dinosaur across your floor, photograph your friends with favourite dinosaurs or connect with another device in dual user mode to roam and explore. 

There’s lots of reading in small chunks which are the right length for our six year old. The book features the fictional island where Jurassic Park is set, with information about some of the main characters in the films. It’s an engaging combination of fact and fiction and ideal if you’re a fan of the films too. 

The book and app combination is an obvious winner. Bringing the dinosaurs to life and having them walk across your table is really good fun. Swatting off a plague of flying Pteranodon is also pretty funny; it helps if you’ve got a silly mum who will pretend to run away from them too.

Books: Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex!

Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex! costs £9.99 and the app is free to download. Together they are a lot of fun to play with and it is both interesting and educational. The book would make an excellent present for any junior dinosaur enthusiasts in your life.

Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex! is available in bookshops and on Amazon from 10th August 2017.

 
Note: We were sent the Jurassic World Special Edition book to review. All images and opinions are our own. This post contains an affiliate link.

Books: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Nature Guide Books

We are long time fans of the children’s story book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. It’s a lovely story with lots of scope for learning about and talking about nature and the outdoors. I confess I always feel a little bit sad for the bear at the end. He just looks like he wants to make friends. Poor bear, I’d be his friend.

This week we got our human paws on two new books inspired by the children’s classic; We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The books are both published on 6th April 2017 and are available from all good book shops.

Books: We're Going on a Bear Hunt - Nature Guide Books

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: My Adventure Field Guide (£6.99, Walker Books) is a fun field guide, it features some of the artwork from the animated Bear Hunt film which was shown over Christmas. This adventure field guide is packed with information and facts. It is ideal for young nature lovers (and their not quite so young parents).

The guide has a wealth of facts about plants and animals, bugs and birds, clouds, the night sky, the weather, and so much more. For both city and country kids there is so much to discover, from urban streets to the remotest forest. The guide is fact packed, but also has some recipes, science projects, and tips for how children can help protect the environment. 

Books: We're Going on a Bear Hunt - Nature Guide Books

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: My Explorer’s Journal (£8.99, Walker Books) is a brilliant interactive journal for young explorer’s to record, create and experience the natural world. This is a companion to We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: An Adventure Field Guide. It is the perfect place for young nature enthusiasts to record their outdoor experiences; the animals and plants they’ve seen, weather conditions, cloud formations and much, much more.

With lots of space to write or draw what they discover, as well as stick in leaves and flowers. The journal has suggestions for easy art and nature-inspired projects to complete, and invites you to explore the natural world around you. Be inspired by nature and create a keepsake journal of your outdoor adventures.

We spent some time looking through both the guide and the journal. We’re planning some nature walks over the Easter break and these will be perfect to explore as a family. 

Both books are beautifully illustrated, children and fans of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt will love them. I think they’re a great way to develop and encourage a love of nature and the world around us.

This post contains affiliate links.

We’re Going on A Bear Hunt – Christmas Eve TV

Each Christmas there’s something special on TV which we all make a point of watching together as a family. This year We’re Going on A Bear Hunt will be shown on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on Christmas Eve. If you miss the Christmas Eve premier, you can catch the repeat on Christmas Day at 5:25pm. 

This screen version of the much loved children’s book by Michael Rosen features the voices of Olivia Coleman, Mark Williams and Pam Ferris. The DVD of We’re Going on A Bear Hunt is scheduled for release on Monday 6th February. The DVD includes a pair of bear ears and some bonus DVD extras. You can watch a sneak preview of the Bear Hunt trailer here…

This beautiful hand-drawn animation is made by Lupus Films, the team behind festive favourites – The Snowman and The Snowdog. This adventurous story is sure to become another Christmas classic.

To celebrate the festive premier of this gorgeous animated story, Walker Books sent us some Bear Hunt goodies and a copy of the book. We’ve added We’re Going on A Bear Hunt to our festive reading collection. We are loving reading this adventurous and beautifully illustrated classic again, knowing we’ll be watching it on Christmas Eve.

Christmas TV: We're Going on A Bear Hunt on Christmas Eve

This beautiful bear to go with the book is made by Aurora. The cuddly bear is available from a range of retailers including Foyles, Waterstones and Amazon. Additionally for Bear Hunt fans, there’s an app which is available to download on iOS and Android devices for £2.99. You can splosh through the river, tiptoe through the cave search for crabs on the beach and even play with the friendly bear himself.

We’re Going on A Bear Hunt is an enchanting story of adventure, perseverance, optimism and a love of nature. We love reading this story at home and it’s a real modern classic which adults and children love in equal measure.

We’ll be watching it this Christmas Eve. Will you be watching too?

Stories for life – childhood books we love to read

In our house there are some things we do every day. We brush our teeth, go out to school, work or to the park, we talk and share food and we always, always read at least one book together.  I’m thinking about sharing “stories for life” with our children, and the kind of books that make great presents – not just Christmas presents either!

When the small boy was Christened, we asked our friends and family not to give presents, but if they did want to give a gift, to give the boy a copy of their favourite childhood book. This meant at the great age of six months my son had a reading library which was full of variety, and each book had a lovely back story attached to it. We hoped that this would cement a love of reading in him. He certainly loves a good story or three at bedtime.

For his Christening we got everything from Rupert Bear and Spot the Dog to a full set of Harry Potter books and of course a host of Roald Dahl classics.

Stories for life

I was the most avid of readers as I child, and over the years my love of reading hasn’t diminished, but the opportunity to curl up for a quiet hour with a good book has. This is something that makes me a little bit sad sometimes.

Looking back, I suppose my favourite book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, which is still a much loved classic today. Once I reached the age of 7 or 8 I fell in love with Roald Dahl books and read them all, even the slightly unsuitable ones (I’ve read his NSFW adult books too, but I was over 21). 

I’m not sure what books my son will look back with fondness on, but we’re reading a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine stories at the moment. Our bedtime reading is an eclectic mix of the Biff and Chip style books school sends home to read, non-fiction books about transportation, construction and geography (all subjects he loves) and fun books we read with him.

Stories for life

This week we were sent a selection of books to read or give away as gifts from Puffin Books. I think the books they’ve sent us would be absolutely ideal for the the small boy, but I don’t want to be greedy, so I think we will choose to keep just one of these stories for life for Christmas and give the others to other children who might enjoy reading them.

The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter is about a boy who gets a very hungry dinosaur for Christmas. His dinosaur eats everything in sight, including all of Christmas – but as we know, what goes in must come out! This sounds like exactly the sort of book my dinosaur obsessed boy would enjoy!

Max and Bird by Ed Vere is about a kitten called Max who meets bird and wants to eat him. But Max soon discovers that friends don’t eat each other, instead friends try and help each other, so that’s what they do. Max and Bird is on the New York Times Bestseller list and it’s a very sweet story about friendship.

The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin is a wonderful book to read if your child struggles to wind down for sleep and can really help them to drift off to the land of nod. The story is a wonderful tale about Ellen the Elephant who goes on a journey through a magical forest, meeting fantastic creatures along the way, eventually ending up in dreamland.

These are three really, really lovely books. I’d be very tempted to keep them all to share with my son, but this month we are doing a Reverse Advent calendar with our local Foodbank. I’m collecting some small gifts and books for them to distribute to families who have been referred to them this Christmas. I can’t actually think of a better recipient for these stories for life.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

Book Review: Transformers Robots in Disguise

It’s hard to believe, but I really am old enough to remember Transformers when they first came out in the 1980’s. My brother was a huge fan and probably managed to collect all of the figures (my nephew is lucky that my brother has saved them to pass onto the next generation). My five year old and his slightly older cousin are both Transformers mad and they’ve both got small collections of the new versions of the Transformers figures. To complement this, we got our hands on a copy of the new Transformers Robots in Disguise book from Carlton Books.

Transformers Robots in Disguise

The Transformers Robots in Disguise book is like no book I’ve ever encountered before. This hardback book helps Transformer fans to find out who’s who in the all-action world of Crown City and, and this is the very exciting bit, you can download an app which when used with the book brings the exciting world of these robots in disguise to life!

Transformers Robots in Disguise

You can bring your favourite Autobots and Decepticons to life with 3D augmented reality animations and interact with the robots on both smartphones and tablets. Although we found that the iPad was a bit big for the small boy to use effectively, but the iPhone was just right for his little hands.

You can interact with and customize your favourite Transformers including Bumblebee, Grimlock, Steeljaw and Optimus Prime. Plus there’s the facility to connect your device to a friend’s, and go head-to-head in a battle to see who is the ultimate winner, though we didn’t do this.

Transformers Robots in Disguise

The small boy loved the book and finding out more about the Transformers, though the real hit was being able to bring the Transformers to life in our living room. 

The app was free to download and alongside the book they have provided hours and hours of entertainment for the boy. I would say that this book and the app are a fantastic gift for Transformers fans. I think my five year old is probably at the lower end of the age range, as we’ve had to read the book and use the app together – but that just makes it more fun for us both I think.

The Transformers Robots in Disguise Book is just £9.99 and is published on 6th October 2016. For more information, or to order a copy visit the Carlton Books website.

Note: We were sent the Transformers: Robots in Disguise Book for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Book Review: Pirate Ship Sticker Book, Carlton Books

Being the mum of a five year old boy, I know there are several things in life which make him incredibly happy. Superheroes, Star Wars and Pirates are top of his list. Throw in some stickers and you know you’re onto a very good thing. When the new Pirate Ship Sticker Book from Carlton Books landed on our doormat, I suspected I’d have a very happy boy on my hands. 

The Pirate Ship Sticker Book is more than just a basic sticker book. It has 23 pages of pirate facts, information and scenes to sticker, as well as over 150 reusable stickers and 16 pages of pirate activities including colouring in. Plus a treasure map, spot the misfits and a design your own galleon activity. Within the pages of this book you can explore the Scurvy Dog pirate ship, which is home to Captain Skull and his rascally crew of salty sea-dogs!

Pirate Ship Sticker Book

There’s quite a lot of reading in this Pirate Ship Sticker Book, considering it’s a sticker book. We enjoyed reading it together at bedtime, sticking the stickers in the right places and talking about pirate life and what it must have been like to live on a pirate ship. 

Pirate Ship Sticker Book

The book is really colourfully illustrated by Maria Taylor, with lots of attention to detail. You really get the sense that pirate ships were fairly unpleasant and smelly places to be. We especially liked that you could really enhance the pirate scene with stickers and the small boy loved to see which sticker went where.

Pirate Ship Sticker Book

Written by Claire Sipi and Jim Pipe, the Pirate Ship Sticker Book is packed full of information about pirate life. Mostly these are in short paragraphs alongside accompanying illustrations. These made for really useful talking points, we’d read the text and then discuss what we’d read and what was going on in the picture.

Pirate Ship Sticker Book

We buy these kind of books a lot for the small boy, he enjoys sticker books and they’re good to take out when we go out for a meal or something. I think it’s a very well designed book, there’s lots to read, do and discuss. I know he has enjoyed reading it with me and doing the activities because he keeps bringing it to me at bedtime – always a good sign.

I feel like it’s given the boy a more in-depth understanding of pirates than previously. He still arrrrrrs and tries to get me to walk the plank, but now he’s talking more about day to day pirate life on the Scurvy Dog, which to me is the beginnings of an interest and understanding of history. 

There was nothing we didn’t like about the book. The small boy is nearly six and I would say that 5 is about the minimum age for this book, the reading is a little hard for him so we are reading it together. 

Other sticker books in the series include Doll’s House, Castle and Princess Palace. I’d like to see more, the Pirate Ship Sticker Book was fab.

The Pirate Ship Sticker Book is just £5.99 and is published on 6th October 2016. For more information, or to order a copy visit the Carlton Books website.

Note: We were sent the Pirate Ship Sticker Book for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: Miles Kelly Read and Play Dinosaur Set

Dinosaurs are still top of the most favourite things in the whole wide world list according to the small boy. He’s 5 and certainly knows his triceratops from his troodons and I’m keen to encourage this interest as much as I can. I may well have a future paleontologist on my hands here! We were sent the Read and Play Dinosaur Set from Miles Kelly to review and put to the paleontological test.

The Read and Play sets are designed for children aged 5+. There are two themed play sets currently available – Princess and Dinosaur. Each box contains a story book, an activity book, board games and a jigsaw puzzle. The dinosaur set also contained some paper 3D dinosaur models you can easily put together to role play a dino scene in the illustrated box. 

Read and Play Dinosaur

The box opens like a pizza box and everything can be packed back inside neatly. There are two side flaps which fold out with Ludo and Draught boards printed on with instructions on how to play. 

The small boy was first most interested in folding out the box to create the play scene and then together we made up the 3D models of the dinosaurs and he spent quite a long time playing with them like that – there was a lot of roaring going on! We loved the play scene, there was so much going on and lots for us to talk about, from the dinosaurs having a swim to the volcano erupting in the background.

Read and Play Dinosaur

Over the next few days we got the Read and Play Dinosaur box out and did something different with it each time. One day we’d read the story – Rex Gets a Scare, an engaging story about dinosaur friendship and how everyone is frightened of something. I know this will be a regular bedtime story for a while. 

On another day we spent some time doing some of the activities in the Dinosaur Puzzle and Colour book. There are lots of dinosaur themed activities, including a how to draw dinosaurs guide and counting games. It’s aimed at children aged 5+ so it’s all age appropriate and engaging.

Read and Play Dinosaur

It’s so well thought out and beautifully illustrated. If I had to find a fault it is that I’d like the dinosaurs and puzzle counters printed on slightly thicker, more robust card. I know that after a few weeks of playing with the dino models that they will start looking tatty and falling apart, which is a shame.

There are so many different aspects to this set that it would be the perfect thing to pack for a holiday or weekend break. It’s priced at £10 (reduced from £14.99) at the moment on the Miles Kelly website, and I think you get such a lot for your money with this Read and Play Dinosaur set. It’s RoarSome!

For more information about the Miles Kelly Read and Play Dinosaur Set visit the Miles Kelly website.

Note: We were sent the Miles Kelly Read and Play Dinosaur Set for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Days Out: Join the Stick Man Activity Trail

This summer, in 23 forests across England The Forestry Commission have set up Stick Man Activity Trails  for families to explore. The trails are based on Julia Donaldson’s beloved character and the Forestry Commission is aiming to help get kids outdoors and get moving this summer.

The Stick Man Trails have been on throughout the year at various locations up and down England, and this summer they’re encouraging little ones to get active by joining in with some fun activities, games and races. In some of the selected forests there will be special days where visitors can join in the fun and meet Stick Man himself, and some sites will have self-led arenas where visitors can use the sports equipment to host their own games.

Stick Man Activity Trail

Everyone who signs up on the website will be able to download a free Stick Man Games kit including fantastic games and activities that kids can do with sticks and includes top tips to help them become a sporting champion as well as cut-out medals and certificates. You can also invite all of family and friends along to join the party with the downloadable Stick Man themed invitations!

Join Stick Man on his quest to get back to his family tree and be reunited with his ‘Stick Lady Love’ and ‘Stick children three.’ The Stick Man activity trails lead children and families through the forests using activity points which allow them to live the epic adventures of Stick Man, whilst also learning about the importance of forests for people and wildlife alike.

Stick Man Activity Trail

We’ll be heading off to explore the Stick Man Activity Trail in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District this June. At Grizedale we’ll be following the trail, exploring the forest and taking part in the Stick man games and hoping to reunite Sitck Man with his stick family. Grizedale Forest will be hosting an arena with self-led games from 8-30 June 2016.

For more more information about the Stick Man Games, activity packs and trails are available from www.forestry.gov.uk/stickman.

Book Review: Churchill’s Cookbook

Since I received my very first Delia cookbook when I was a teenager I’ve been addicted to cookbooks. I have a particular fondness for cookbooks with a bit of history in them. I am by nature a fairly thrifty cook, so the household manuals and farmhouse cookbooks which have been handed down through my family are fascinating and incredibly precious to me. When I got my hands on a copy of Churchill’s Cookbook by Georgina Landemare, I knew I was in for an historical treat.

Published by the Imperial War Museum, Churchill’s Cookbook by Georgina Landemare is a 160 page snapshot of wartime dining for the upper classes. Georgina Landemare was cook to the Churchills throughout WW2 and was engaged by Churchill’s wife Clementine as she felt she would be able to make the best out of the rations available. Georgina Landemare was an accomplished but untrained cook who was heavily influenced by her husband Paul Landemare, a distinguished French Chef at the Ritz.

Churchill's Cookbook

The Churchill’s, although subject to the constraints of the ration book where in the lucky position of having a farm on their estate at Chartwell, giving them ready access to eggs, milk, cream, chicken, pork and most vegetables. Churchill’s Cookbook doesn’t tell the every day story of the struggles of working class ration book Britain. It is a fascinating read, with a chapter devoted to setting the scene, introducing Georgina and discussing the favourite foods of the household.

The book is divided into sections; soup, fish, eggs, poultry, meat, sauces, salads, vegetables, puddings, savouries, pastry, biscuits and cake. The 250+ recipes in the book are brief and simply written. I like old recipes because they tend to work with fewer ingredients and are generally (though not always) simpler. 

I decided to try out some of the recipes myself, I liked the look of these “Bachelor’s Buttons” and I thought my son would enjoy baking them with me too. I’ve never really had much success with biscuits for some reason, I always either over or under bake them, so I put these to the test.

Churchill's Cookbook

The recipe was very straight-forward and it only took me a few minutes to whip up a batch. The recipe didn’t say when to add the vanilla essence so I added it with the egg and it didn’t say to set aside some sugar to roll them in prior to baking. I suspect during wartime they wouldn’t have just used the whole 3oz in the mixture and then rolled them liberally in another ounce or so of sugar, but that’s what I did. 

I also didn’t know what a “medium” oven was, put popped them in my oven at 200º until they were starting to brown, this took around 10 minutes. My top tip would be to get them off the baking sheet very quickly whilst they’re piping hot, otherwise they stick. They were very delicious and as light as a feather. I’d definitely bake these again.

Churchill's Cookbook

I was a little surprised at the range of rich foodstuffs in this book, especially considering it was a wartime cookbook, but I suspect the Prime Minister and his household may have had access to more than just his ration.

This book might raise a few eyebrows, with Georgina’s recipes including Cervelles Conought (curried brains), but there are some delicious sounding and fairly frugal recipes I’ll be looking to try out over the coming months.

Winston Churchill was well-known for his hearty appetite and love of food. Churchill’s Cookbook gives a fascinating insight into what he ate during the Second World War, indeed, Georgina was told by the Prime Minister on VE night that he could not have managed through the war without her. Fascinating stuff.

Churchill’s Cookbook by Georgina Landemare is available from the Imperial War Museum shop and is priced at £10.

Days Out: Finding Fantastic Mr Fox at the Farm

This year Tatton Park in Cheshire have a full programme of events to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl. Being epic Roald Dahl fans, we hot footed it down to the farm at Tatton Park to see if we could find our friend, The Fantastic Mr Fox.

Fantastic Mr Fox

The farm is a short walk from the main car park at Tatton Park. I have some mobility problems, but it was a virtually flat walk on a good tarmac road and I found it fine, even  in the rain.

At the farm you pay to get in (£6 per adult and £4 per child) and you’re free to explore the farm. We had a good wander around and found cows, pigs and piglets, chickens, ducks, chicks, rabbits, orphan lambs, goats (lots of cheeky goats), horses and much more. There are a large number of permanent displays and things to do at the farm which make it good value to visit anyway. 

This year they’ve added a few fabulous features to fit in the Fantastic Mr Fox theme. When you enter the farm you’re given a map to help you explore and find Fantastic Mr Fox’s Den. Dotted in and around the farm are a few key features from the famous Roald Dahl story. Can you find Farmer Bunce’s Duck & Goose Shed? Farmer Bean’s Secret Cider Cellar or Farmer Boggis’s Kitchen? There’s also a craft room where you can shelter from the rain and design an invitation to Mr Fox’s scrumdiddlyumptous feast.

Fantastic Mr Fox

After you’ve explored the farm and (spoiler alert) failed to find the den, there’s only one more place to look, and that’s the Woodland Playground. The Woodland Playground is a great little spot to let the kids run wild. There’s a storytelling circle, an insect hotel, a den building corner and an adventure playground to explore and conquer. The small boy loved it and set to work building a den of his own. 

We managed to spot a fox’s tail hanging from a tree and following the signs found Fantastic Mr Fox’s Den. You could clamber inside and have a little sit down if you wanted, but the boy wasn’t keen, there was too much adventure going on elsewhere!

Fantastic Mr Fox

We had gone to Tatton Park wanting to explore a few of the Roald Dahl attractions, but we had far too much fun at the farm and didn’t have time to look at anything else – a treat we’ll save for another day.

To our shame we’d not read any of the Roald Dahl stories to the small boy (now aged 5), so we picked up a copy of Fantastic Mr Fox from the farm shop, took it home and began reading it together that night. We all loved it. It was nice to re-visit a story I’ve not read for *coughs* 30 years, and it was even nicer to read it to my boy who loved it as much as we did. 

The farm at Tatton Park is great, but it does have one failing – there’s no cafe so you can’t get a hot drink and have a sit down. You can buy crisps and biscuits etc from the farm shop, but it was a cold wet day and I was desperate for a hot mug of tea. So maybe take a flask if you’re just visiting the farm.

The small boy does enjoy a visit to the farm and this was even more special because we were looking for Fantastic Mr Fox. I think this is a marvellous addition and a real must for Roald Dahl fans. We are really looking forward to going back and exploring what else Tatton Park has to offer Roald Dahl fans this year.

For more information visit tattonpark.org.uk/RoaldDahl.