Purchase power at the school book fair

The school book fair. In theory it should be awesome: kids’ books on sale to drum up cash for books for the school. What’s not to like?

Except, have you seen the books they’re peddling? I’ve given up poring over the catalogue that appears in Toby’s school bag during book fair time. I find it pretty depressing that the selection on offer is usually dominated by film/tv/video game tie-ins, One Direction annuals and overpriced themed sticker books.

I get it, I really do. They need to sell books to raise money for books so a commercial focus is necessary. But, I think we’re doing our kids a disservice by assuming that the only way to engage them in reading is to plaster Frozen over some bound glossy paper to pass it off as a book.  Continue reading


What we’re reading: Sir Gadabout by Martyn Beardsley

Sir GadaboutToby’s literacy theme at school is knights, myths and fairies so Sir Gadabout by Martyn Beardsley caught my eye at our local library. It seemed a good way to tie up what is happening at school with our activities at home.

I’ve never previously heard of the Sir Gadabout series, probably because the books were published when I was too old to care, and too young to have children in my life. After a little research, I discovered that they did inspire a kids’TV series that aired in the early 2000s, so I imagine they were really popular at one point. Continue reading

We’ve finished: Dino FC: the Great Kit Catastrophe

I had reservations about Keith Brumpton’s Dino FC series, after discovering it at our local library. Dinosaurs AND football. All seemed a bit gimmicky.

However, who this book is good for are kids who are just beginning to enjoy reading books themselves.

The story is both simple and captivating enough for early readers to enjoy. The addition of comic strip illustrations among the prose is a nice touch, and I can’t help thinking this series would make a great comic series.  Continue reading

What we’re reading: Dino FC: The Great Kit Catastrophe by Keith Brumpton

BOY READINGWe’d hit a bit of a lull in our reading so took to the library after Toby’s football training.

I was getting a bit fed up with Horrid Henry – as charmingly witty as the books are – so I was keen to try to encourage Toby to branch out and try something new.

We stumbled upon a series called Dino FC that I’d never heard of but as football is Toby’s number one passion at the moment I thought it might help draw him back into non-Horrid Henry books. Continue reading

Chinese whispers

It’s joyous hearing your lovely child come home with a half-remembered, half-correct, passed-down-by-many anecdote from the playground.

This week I was told a particularly amusing one during our Friday morning stroll through the park to breakfast club.

It went something like this (excuse the paraphrasing).

Toby: “When Carey was in Australia [Carey is the current best friend number one and used to live in Australia] he had a friend, and that friend had a brother. [So far, so very mundane].”

Me: “Uh-huh [still listening – just]

Toby: “Their mum [the friend and the brother’s  not Carey’s] went to China and you’re only allowed one baby in China so she got arrested for 10 years.”

Me: “Wow. Did they live in China?”

Toby: “No they just went there for a holiday.”

Me: “I’m not sure the one-baby rule applies to people just visiting.”

Toby:” [becoming indignant] It is true. Carey told me. They got arrested for 10 years.”

And if Carey told him who am I to argue but I hope for the sake of this family this was nothing more than a case of Chinese whispers!

Pulling out my teeth without anaesthetic might even be easier. . .

. . .than sitting with my son and helping him through his reading homework.


*blushes shamefully*

Yip, and for a mother who borderline brags about sharing her love of books with her willing son this is a pretty shocking confession.

Before Toby started school, the thing I most looked forward to was witnessing him develop as a reader and I fully envisaged being a crucial part of that journey. Continue reading

Moomin magic

Rainy Sunday afternoons are made for cinema trips so faced with windows smeared by the sort of Scottish driving rain that invites only madmen into the outdoors, we headed off in the car to see Home.

I find most mass-market kids’ movies to be high-octane affairs jam packed with comic set pieces, knowing adult in-jokes, and an explosion of visuals designed to over stimulate, all served up with a super loud soundtrack of contemporary pop. Oh, and there’s always a comedy dancing moment somewhere.

Home delivered all of the above and more but did so with a lot more warmth and heart than many of its rivals. But what excited me most about this otherwise average movie outing was the trailer for the new Moomins movie. I had no idea this was coming. How did I miss that one?  Continue reading