Category Archives: My Recommendations

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.

More for Under 5s

This week I thought I’d talk about a great little game called Two by Two. It’s an orchard game and I have to say they do seem to produce fantastic games. I’m sure many of you would be familiar with the supermarket game? (You turn a card over and check it against your shopping list and if there is a match you put it in your trolley. Another great one for under and over 5s).

This game is a ‘memory’ style game. You have to find pairs of animals and post them into the ark.

If you are us you also sing, ‘the [rhinos] went in 2 by 2, hoorah, hoorah’ twice as they make their way to the ark.

The thing I like about this game is because you ‘post’ your pairs as soon as you have them it is all about celebrating the finding and posting and there is no real winner at the end. This makes it a sweet game to play with little ones because they can all sing and if you are feeling especially benevolent you can give them your pairs to post if they aren’t having much joy finding their own.

We’ve lost some animals along the way but we don’t mind odd partnerships in our game.

Next bonus is that it is small and compact to store – not necessary I realise but for me something I appreciate. And at the end of the game it is all packed up and you put the ark in the box. Sweet!

 I have been doing some posts about games we enjoy in case you need inspiration. These aren’t sponsored.

In Which I Speak of Christmas

As you know this year I have wanted to stretch and grow myself as a mama and although I am a great believer that really we don’t need a lot of fancy stuff I also really want to know about decent ideas/books/games…. that people (real people not plastic people with fake smiles and children who they just met that day on set!) have actually tried.

I am one of those mama’s that doesn’t really buy my kids a lot of stuff – frequently we get them quite small gifts for birthdays and Christmases….however, I do tend to part with money more easily when it comes to books and games. As I see it both of these are the gifts that go on giving – they can be shared and re-shared year after year.

I also know that in the pre-school years I have been a little lost sometimes and really keen to know about worthwhile stuff especially books around the right level and games they can actually play and understand.

So, coming up to Christmas I thought I might do some preschooler recommendations for games and books and anything else that comes to mind in case you might find it worthwhile too. (I find it isn’t long before I have grandparents and aunts and uncles asking for recommendations and I love having something in mind).

Please note this is my idea it is not a series of sponsored posts (not to say I’d mind being sent wonderful quality products to try – are you listening toy and book companies???) it’s just one mama who is passionate about helping other mama’s and families find fun things to share together that aren’t iPhone apps, DVDs, TV programmes or computer games. (Not that these are bad there are just probably lots of great places to find those recommendations – and I am not that place).

First up for the ‘my recommendations’ would be My First Guess Who. The original Guess Who is a fantastic game for developing language however for littlies it’s too confusing -which card do they put down, what questions to ask….

My First Guess Who is easier than the traditional game this one uses plastic faces which you add to as you ask each question. If your child doesn’t have the vocab yet they can hold up the piece they want to ask about. As the game progresses you each build a face and then at the end the whole ‘board’ flips around so you can check they are the same.

Bounce and I have laughed and laughed playing this game together. Flip was given it for a birthday a couple of years ago and it has certainly been worth it for us. Each game doesn’t take very long either so you can play a quick one or have a few rounds.

Definitely one I think would suit children from 3 up and possibly younger depending on their vocab and concentration etc.

I made a clear plastic pouch that closes with velcro for ours because it has small parts! Games with small parts do my head in!! But this does seem to keep it all in order.

Are you keen for more recommendations from our cupboards?

What game gets the most use in your house?

Do you find it hard to find great games for your pre-schoolers?