Thursday, 27 April 2017

One Silver Summer: A modern fairytale for teens

One night last week I stayed up especially late to finish One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman. Now although this modern fairytale for teens is not the usual type of book I review, as it is aimed at children much older than my own, I felt that it really deserved a special mention. So as my five year old would say "here is the blurb..."

"After losing her mother, Sass is sent to live with an uncle she barely knows. Far from her native New York, the rocky Cornish shoreline seems an unlikely place to hide her grief. Yet when she stumbles across a silver horse in a sunlit meadow, Sass feels a surprising sense of peace... only to have it broken by a boy with a secret."

This is Rachel's fiction debut and it is very beautifully written. One Silver Summer is so much more than a simple "boy meets girl" story of first love. Sass's vulnerability and the overwhelming sense of loss that runs through the story, together with the air of secrecy between so many of the pivotal characters makes for a very intriguing read. The rugged landscape and wild Cornish weather echo the turmoil that is unfolding within the young couple's lives. Galloping horses, a ruined castle and just a touch of royalty all add to the romance. My teenage self would definitely have been swooning!

As the end of the story approaches the weather worsens and the drama intensifies. I became totally absorbed by the mystery surrounding the young couple and, not only did I find myself invested in Alex and Sass's relationship, but I was desperate to learn more about their extended families. The final mysterious revelations indicate that there may be more to come. I do hope so!  

One Silver Summer published by Old Barn Books is out on 25th May 2017 (RRP £6.99) and is recommended for readers age 11+.

*Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher, however all opinions are, as always, my own. This post contains an affiliate link.

Books to Beat the Bedtime Blues #BathBookBed

Sleep deprivation has to be one of the hardest things to deal with as a parent and, with three children of my own, it is safe to say I have endured plenty of sleepless nights over the past 5 years. When we have had a bad night, parenting the next day seems so much harder. In fact everything seems so much harder! My patience levels hit rock bottom and I end up on autopilot fuelled by tea and biscuits.

In my sleep deprived state I have been known to drive to the wrong place, to find my car keys and phone in the fridge and I have even discovered (half way through the day) that my clothes are on back to front AND inside out! A sleepless night also means grumpy, tantrum prone children and the morning school run becomes a battle of wills. So a good night's sleep not only benefits the whole family but also anyone else that is unfortunate enough to encounter us the next day! 

A post shared by Kate (Along Came Poppy) (@kate.eccles) on

Getting desperate?

Over the past few years there have been times that I have gone to somewhat desperate lengths to settle my little ones. I have rocked, sang and fed them to sleep. I have carefully transferred them to their cots and beds. I have loving held their hands through the cot bars and even slept next to their beds on the floor. My funniest bedtime memories are of covertly creeping out of their rooms on all fours whilst desperately trying to avoid the dreaded squeaky floor boards. There was also that time I climbed over the cot bars and actually sat inside with my eldest daughter. Simply ridiculous and, if you are wondering, no it didn't work!

Establishing a routine

The BookTrust has recently launched this year's Bath, Book, Bed campaign by publishing their simple steps to achieve a better night's sleep with guidance from, parenting expert, Jo Frost. You can read all about their Bath, Book, Bed routine here. Establishing a similar routine certainly helped my children know what to expect at bedtime and therefore settle more easily on a night. Here are our tried and tested tips for a successful bedtime:
  • Keep bedtime as calm as possible, everything you do should take the children one step closer to falling asleep. 
  • Dim the lights where possible and, if children require a light to fall asleep, use a nightlight. We also have blackout blinds in the children's rooms.
  • Choose a bedtime story that is good to snuggle up with. I try to keep our choices engaging yet not too exciting. You can find our recommendations below. I let each child choose a book and then we read them all together.
  • Try white noise if little ones still struggle to settle. I'm not sure whether this is controversial but it has worked wonders for us. When our youngest was a baby I noticed she liked the sound of the vacuum cleaner and hairdryer so we started to use a white noise app to help her drift off to sleep. Now she is a little older (almost 18 months) she has a Sleep Tight Puppy that we programme to play the noise of waves. The best part about this is she has learned to touch its tummy to restart the waves if she wakes in the night.
  • Finally, once you find a routine that works for you and your family, stick with it as consistency is key.

Now for the best bit, our favourite bedtime books. For those of you that regularly read our blog you will know that we love stories, all types of stories but at bedtime I have started to try and keep our choices to books that are as calming as possible. Here are some of our current bedtime favourites:

1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd 
2. Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
3. Pip and Posy The Bedtime Frog by Axel Scheffler
4. Goodnight Digger by Michelle Robinson and Nick East
5. The Last Book Before Bedtime by Nicola O'Byrne
6. The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark by Jill Tomlinson and Paul Howard

You can find many more bedtime book recommendations from the BookTrust here

Have you tried the #BathBookBed routine? 
What helps you get a better night's sleep? 
Please do share your bedtime tips 
and especially your favourite bedtime books in the comments below. 
We love to hear from you!

*Disclaimer: This post is part of the TOTS100 #bathbookbed blogger challenge in conjunction with The BookTrust. All opinions are, as always, my own.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

What's So Special About Dinosaurs?

Do you have little ones that love Dinosaurs? Then you may be interested in this fantastic series of non fiction books by Nicky Dee. Each book is packed full of information about a different dinosaur. The fun facts are presented in an engaging and accessible way with lots of exciting illustrations. There are currently 8 titles available: Megalosaurus, Diplodocus, Leaellynasaura, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Coelophysis, Ankylosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex. The layout of each book is exactly the same so you can easily compare the stats of the different dinos - everything from their height and weight, to just how they measured up when it came to speed, braininess and even scariness! Eek!

Last year we were lucky enough to visit the Natural History Museum in London as well as also the summer dinosaur exhibition at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Since then I have been keen to find interesting dinosaur books that are very reader (mummy) friendly. We received two books from this series to review and so we have been able to compare the huge, plant eating Diplodocus with the much lighter, quicker and scarier, meat eating Megalosaurus. 

Initially I thought The Mini Reviewers (5, 3 and 1) may find the images in these books a little frightening but, no, instead they loved them! They took great delight in placing the books side by side to compare the different dinosaurs as they looked at each page in turn. It is safe to say that the kids' thought the books were fantastic and even though they are a little young to fully appreciate all the information, I think they will learn more and more from this series as they get older. I am also pleased to tell you there is even assistance in pronouncing the dinosaurs' names making the books extremely reader (mummy) friendly so we can ALL enjoy our dino education together!

We have also signed up to the What's So Special Club which is completely free and you get sent regular fun activities, such as colouring sheets and puzzles, to compliment the books. To find out more about the series and the What's So Special Club click here.

*Disclaimer: We received What's So Special About Megalosaurus? and What's So Special About Diplodocus? for the purpose of review. All opinions are, as always, our own.