Category Archives: Books

We Recommend – More Wonderful Books for Your Shelves

Thanks so much for the lovely feedback you’ve given me on the recommendations we’ve made so far.

Today I wanted to talk about 3 books that I think are great for different reasons.



Bear Hunt by Anthony Browne

For me so much of a picture book is in the illustrations and the ways in which they interact with the text. Anthony Browne is such a master of this kind of story telling. His illustrations often speak louder than the text. Many of his books are for older readers but Bear Hunt is one I have bought for a 2-year-old, given to Bounce for his 4th birthday and one Flip (6) loves as well.

The message of the story is certainly that the pen is mightier than the sword or perhaps the pencil is mightier than the gun. Bear is being hunted but in each encounter he draws a solution to the problem. Flip can read this book alone – such is the simplicity of the text and they both really love the bear’s ability to thwart the hunters at every turn. As well as this the background illustrations give all sorts of fabulous moments of entertainment as well – can you spot the flower made out of lips?? For children who love art and illustrations this book would be a winner every time and simple enough to enjoy with the very small.

Jack and the Flum, Flum Tree by Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson is the author of The Gruffalo and many others but this one appeals to me a lot more than  those. This was a chance buy with a voucher we received and the boys adore it. The illustrator is different from her other books and has a lighter touch and uses colour in a way that really appeals to me. Jack sets off on a quest to find the fruit of a the flum, flum tree to save his granny from the moozles (purple spots). Before he leaves granny gives him a patchwork sack (see why I picked it up??) filled with all sorts of odd objects. As the adventure unfolds it is granny’s sack that saves the day over and over. Both my boys love it and Bounce can do a really good job of recalling the items in the sack and what they were used for – which to me demonstrates the level of engagement with the story.

Belle, The Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud

I picked this book up in Melbourne at a book sale. Gee’s Bend is an area in America famous for its quilting and so I picked it up more for me than the boys. (I haven’t read it to them yet). The story details a small boy asking an older woman why she is allowing the Donkey to eat all the collared greens it likes without shooing it away. The old woman responds that the donkey is a hero to her. As the story unfolds it transpires that at the urging of Martin Luther King Jnr the residents of Gee’s Bend had taken the ferry to register to vote but then the ferry is ‘cancelled’ on voting day and the donkey takes them the long journey to make their voices heard. This same donkey (and not a mighty war-horse/ stallion) and those same ‘ordinary quilts of the people’ in the end were given the honor of transporting the assassinated King to his final resting place. I can’t even talk about this book without getting really emotional – the story of hope and triumph and the use of the ordinary and undervalued (as donkeys and quilts were then) elevated and recognised as important and valued…. a beautiful book for an older child, giving a beautiful and gentle glimpse into a sad and terrible and hopeful part of history.

I hope that these might introduce you to some new favourites or remind you of some old ones. Do let me know if you would like any other kind of recommendations (for older chn, boys, girls…)

*** these posts are not sponsored*** links are only provided for your convenience I make no commission from them (not that I would mind if I did :o) ** the first 2 titles should be easy to locate at your local bookseller also.

If you love books you might also like my November giveaway here.


November Giveaway

Before November disappears entirely I want to make good on my monthly giveaway promise. I have so enjoyed doing these monthly giveaways. I recognise that generosity does not come naturally to me and so I have loved creating intentional opportunities (even if they are small!) to make it a habit.

Every December 1st I give my boys a book about Christmas so that over time we will gather up a large stash of them to read together during December on our lead up to Christmas. A while ago a friend recommended this book to me, I subsequently found a copy second-hand and then I found another one on TradeMe and because I liked it so much I bought the second one so I could give one away!

This book is about a little boy who lives in a caravan park and wants to enter the competition that the council is running for people to decorate their houses for Christmas. Being of meagre means he uses what he has and waits with great anticipation for the judges to come and visit his house (and they don’t)…. what could be such a sad story is in fact a beautiful and uplifting tale. I won’t spoil the ending but I think this is a story anyone could love and enjoy.

It’s also a New Zealand book which makes me very happy. There are so many great children’s books and I’m always thrilled to find New Zealand ones to add to the collection.

Currently it is unavailable on Fishpond, Book Depository, Trade Me and Amazon doesn’t appear to have it at all – so this could be your big chance!! :o)

If you would like to enter to win a second-hand (I know people have mixed feelings about 2nd hand and that’s okay just want you to know so you are informed!!) copy of this book, leave me a comment. Tell me a children’s book you love or a Christmas tradition you have.

I’ll draw the winner on Nov 25th so hopefully I have time to get it to your family before Dec 1st so you can read it during the Christmas build up too.

Because I love the journeys and friendships blogging creates if you want to enter and you follow my blog (any old way) then remind me in your comment and I will enter you twice.

Have a wonderful day

Miriam x

We Recommend for Under 5s

I am a great lover of books and today I thought I’d profile a couple that would make a great addition to a little person’s bookshelves.

One of the things I’m sure you already know is how quickly a much-loved title can become much loathed – not by them, never fear – by you. I always remember when Flip was small reading him a book and loving it and thinking ‘I will never tire of reading this’. But oh I did.

When you have read a book more than 10 times in one day you start to fantasize about hiding the book away for good, or at least a month. See how parenting changes the way you think and the kind of things you long for??

Today I’ll give you 5 reads that have been adored at our place – I couldn’t call them a top 5 we have so many more than 5 we couldn’t pick but these are five for now I would recommend.

1. Where is the Green Sheep – by Mem Fox. A gorgeous book that uses simple descriptors ‘Red Sheep, Bed Sheep, Near Sheep etc while engaging the delight of looking for the green sheep. Sweet illustrations and a delightful story.

2. Who Sank the Boat – by Pamela Allen – this story once it has been read a couple of times causes great delight as the child gives you the answer all the way through the book. A funny tale about a group of animals taking the boat out for a row in the bay.

3. Rosie’s Walk – by Pat Hutchins. I have my own very fond memories of this book and in fact it was the first one I got whilst pregnant with Flip. The illustrations are fantastic – highly stylised 70s pictures and they tell half the story as a cunning fox tries to catch Rosie the hen while she is out on her walk. Each illustration shows the mishaps he gets into while Rosie walks on oblivious to his efforts.

4. Dear Zoo – by Rod Campbell – this is a simple lift the flap adventure that brings great delight to children as they guess and learn the names of different animals the zoo sends and why they wouldn’t make great pets.


5. Giraffes Can’t Dance – by Giles Andreae –  This book is one of those classic stories that teaches the lesson of being true to dancing to our own beat. As the giraffe in the story says, ‘We all can dance when we find music that we love’. A well written rhyme scheme and an engaging and endearing tale with all the best jungle animals showing us their moves.

Over the last few Mondays we’ve been profiling some of our favourite finds for under 5s in the hopes of helping out when you are asked for Christmas present recommendations from the relatives.

Which books are well-loved enough to have breakfast stains on them in your house?

I will definitely profile some more book choices later as well. Perhaps one featuring some NZ authors?

B.M.W.B#39 – ‘They Used to Read’

The title for this post comes from a poem in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Over the last few weeks I have been making a really conscious effort in the afternoons to make myself available for ‘unlimited’ reading time.(after homework and before dinner). We get the homework done and the hungry hippos fed and then I say ‘let’s read‘.

I love trying to get in before my boys so that they don’t feel like I am saying yes to having fun with them after they have worn me down, rather I suggest it – hopefully sending the message ‘I’m keen to spend time with you, I enjoy it, you matter.‘ Because that is what I feel in my heart, it really is, just sometimes the urgent things are shouting so loudly I don’t hear my heart whispering it to me.

I never regret this kind of extra time. Never. My boys go to bed quite early and I have time almost every night to do all those ‘important’ things (like folding washing and reading blogs!!!) so I try to remind myself that this time is never wasted.

I don’t always get it right but in the last couple of weeks we have started and finished James and the Giant Peach and we are nearly finished Danny the Champion of the World. Flip has adored them both and Bounce really enjoyed James which surprised me. He listened so intently and could do a great job of retelling to Daddy.

The Atlas is so on board with reading to the boys too. As well as being wonderful time together reading aloud to children is so good for their imagination and their love of language. And I hope it fills their lives and memories with the gentle sound of our voices – words and images tumbling together intertwined with a familiar voice communicating love and igniting inspiration with each word.

I finish with this wonderful comment Ange left on my blog yesterday – sums it up perfectly really!

I always buy books, and will always ask for books for my boys. Plastic holds their attention for a moment in time, but books hold their imagination for ever.

This year I am making more of a conscious effort to have quality moments with my boys. B.M.W.B (becoming the mama I want to be)  is my way of recording and hopefully inspiring other mama’s too. Please inspire me with the little moments you are snatching with your little people OR with ideas I could do with mine. If you have blogged about it please leave a comment so we can all visit and encourage each other. 

Simple. Achievable. Intentional: becoming the mama I want to be.

For other ways I’ve been working on becoming the mama I want to be you can go here

B.M.W.B #34 – The Mystery Book Game

Sometimes I make up games just for fun. Simple things to do with my boys that create a happy atmosphere is my main hope from an activity.

This week I filled a drawstring bag with bits and pieces and in the afternoon we took turns pulling an item out. Whoever pulled out the item had to think of a story/book that related to the item (in their mind no hard and fast rules here). Then they found the book and we read it together.

It was great to stop and create anticipation and mystery around reading a big stack of books together.

The boys absolutely loved it and were very encouraging to each other about whatever they picked.

Some of my happiest memories involve listening to stories.

What is your favourite all-time picture book?

This year I am making more of a conscious effort to have quality moments with my boys. B.M.W.B (becoming the mama I want to be)  is my way of recording and hopefully inspiring other mama’s too. Please inspire me with the little moments you are snatching with your little people OR with ideas I could do with mine. If you have blogged about it please leave a comment so we can all visit and encourage each other. 
Simple. Achievable. Intentional: becoming the mama I want to be.

B.M.W.B #10 ‘Love You, Love You’

This week I invented a new song with Bounce I sing ‘Love You, Love You and now I’m going to…..‘ and fill in the gap (tickle your tummy, stroke your hair, pat your back, touch your nose…)

He adores it. He is a boy who loves touch and words so this activity suits him perfectly.

My other B.M.W.B thing at the moment is to say yes to reading a story in the classroom to Flip before we go in the mornings. I have no other urgent thing to get to and he loves it….. along with the others.

Now I sit on a bean bag in the middle of the mat and I end up with 3-8 little people sitting there too. Books are so magic and so special and I adore how much they engage with little people.

Although it’s easy to hurry past it in the busyness of life there is something so bonding about slowing down, ignoring the phone and cherishing a book together. In reality it probably only takes 5 minutes of your day but I would challenge you to find a more therapeutic 5 minutes to share with your wee one.

And sharing childhood favourites together? Seeing them light up with same joy you had?? Priceless.

This year I am making more of a conscious effort to have quality moments with my boys. B.M.W.B (becoming the mama I want to be)  is my way of recording and hopefully inspiring other mama’s too. Please inspire me with the little moments you are snatching with your little people OR with ideas I could do with mine. If you have blogged about it please leave a comment so we can all visit and encourage each other.

Simple. Achievable. Intentional: becoming the mama I want to be.

What is your favourite book to read together?

Confrontation and Encouragement

I must confess I got this book out of the library hesitantly – the unspoken thought of losing one of my babies is enough to make me cry without the harsh truth of reading the reality of another mother’s journey.

The book – ‘Hannah’s Gift – Lessons from a Life Fully Lived‘ by Maria Housden – is however, exquisite.

It details the lessons and the journey of her experience losing her daughter Hannah to cancer at 3 years old.

I cried (of course) but the book was so beautiful, so poignant and didn’t cause a moment of gripping fear about my own babies. It was an amazing mix of real raw grief and true, experienced-life full and beautiful.

The sections – Truth, Joy, Faith, Compassion and Wonder – are profound and moving. I consumed this book in an afternoon but I know I will be processing its lessons for some time.

Here are a couple of my absolute favourite quotes from the book

Joy is the magic and stillness that stand on the threshold of every moment, the experience of giving and living fully, without expecting anything in return. Because joy knows no rules, it isn’t afraid to be imperfect, and it can surprise us even in the darkest places.

It was the quality of presence and attention that I brought to what I was doing, not the activity itself, that made it what it was.

Hannah taught me that there is a death more painful than the one that took her body from this world: a soul suffocated by fear leaves too many joys unlived.

Even if you aren’t a parent or you have never lived the loss of a precious person in your life I think this book will move you, encourage you and make you delight in the really aware of the great gift that life is. It also enforces my desire to be a more intentional and delighted Mama.

Let Silence Speak

While we were on holiday I read 8 books in 2 weeks (this is why I hardly read during the year once I start a book I don’t want to put it down until I’m finished!).

Over the next couple of weeks I want to talk about a few of them.

Listening Below the Noise A Meditation on the Practice of Silence by Anne D LeClaire

I’m naturally a chatterbox. I tend to be the whole conversation at times and I make the lofty promise ‘Never an uncomfortable silence when I am in the room!’ So reading a book like this always feels a bit scary to me. I mean I know I should be quiet more but I have such a lot of good things to share with the world. (arrogance anyone??)

But I loved this book. It felt like a therapy and sometimes it even stung a little – like when the author challenges that sometimes we fill up the day with noise because we are afraid of what we might have to deal with in the silence. And that we think others need our wonderful wisdom instead of just needing someone to listen (boy I find that hard!).

Anne herself has for the past 9 years kept every second Monday as a day of silence and it has transformed her life.

As part of slowing myself down this year and listening to the voice of heaven I want to carve out some times of silence for myself.

This book is incredibly easy to read, a little like a diary in some ways. If you feel life is clanging too loudly and rushing too fast I would so suggest you take the time to read this book. Especially if you feel you have no time to enjoy life as it races past you.

Summer Reading

What’s a holiday without a little reading?

Or a stack

and another very special read which will be my first ever proper e-book read

What’s on your bedside cabinet this summer?

Book Of the Month – July

This month I read ‘Better Off’ by Eric Brende

I SO enjoyed this book. The book is a social/technology experiment that the author tried on himself and his new wife as they attempted to live without any technology for 18 months.

The author was doing a degree in the impacts of technology on our lives and the way that the things we have in our lives that are so touted to make life easier and more convenient/relaxing/enjoyable can actually be doing the very opposite.

In order to try this out they lived in a community somewhere in the United States (location deliberately not shared by the author) that is considered extreme even by the Amish in terms of its stance on technology.

I found this book compelling to read it is challenging in terms of the impact no technology had on their lives – more leisure time, the manner in which relationships and community develops and the skills that are required. Brende says in the book our attitudes about people who live in these communities or in places in the world without technology is that the people will be unskilled labourers forced into a life of hard physical work. His experience was very much the opposite.

This book is gentle in its encouragement and attitude. There is no feeling of pious condemnation on those who use technology but it definitely challenged me about our cultural life values and how much we work and are enslaved by debt, money and the inability to provide our own needs without technology, mass-production, convenience stores….

In all this though it made me feel hopeful and excited about what we can do for ourselves when we exercise conscious choice about HOW we live in all areas of our lives.

The book is very easy – diary like – to read and I would thoroughly recommend it. I got my copy out  from the local library. Regardless of how you feel about the need for technology or otherwise it is a great glimpse into the lives and lifestyles of those who deliberately choose to live without it.