All posts filed under: picture books

Mog's Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr | edge of evening

We love: Christmas 2015

It’s that time of the year when life starts clipping along at an alarming rate. We enjoyed the Pip-Pop’s ‘big 3’ weekend & have now reached a hitherto unknown shore in our parenting lives: for the first time, our three-year-old is also our youngest. We’re beyond nappies and now, after the grand dismantling that took place on Sunday, beyond cots too. So, birthday over, it’s now all about Christmas. And I mean all about Christmas. The school Christmas Fair (the one I once took a two-day-old baby to!) is tomorrow. One child is singing at the Christmas market by the Cathedral this lunchtime. Another is practising his songs at pre-school for a slot at a nearby village church’s Christmas Fair next week. The school Christmas plays are next week. An innkeeper’s costume has been sourced from the lovely lady at the charity shop who spends all year turning old curtains into bespoke nativity costumes. The child who auditioned for a ‘big’ part and came home in tears because she’s Donkey number 3 has been consoled and is ready to make donkey ears over …

We love: Little You

  Last Thursday, the Pip-Pop & I were lucky enough to meet Kerry Clare & her delightful family. We spent the day in Windsor, arriving just in time to catch changing the guard, which left Popsy screwing his eyes tight shut & saying soldiers not nice. But, aside from the soldiers, everything was very nice: wandering, chatting, eating, and whiling away three hours as if they were thirty minutes. Obviously I was excited to meet Kerry and Stuart and their daughters, but I was also excited to have the chance to eat with them. Having followed their travels online, they looked like a family who know how to find a good meal. And I was right: if you ever get the chance to eat with these guys I suggest you grab it. We had a delicious lunch in Bel & the Dragon (at the very exciting chalkboard table), followed by New Forest ice creams in the sunshine. And the nicest thing of all was how very normal it felt to be hanging out with them. We also …

We love(d): I am a Bunny

“I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree.” My mum has been clearing out her loft. When we visited at half-term there were two towering piles of boxes in her garage: one pile for me, one for my brother. There were boxes of dolls frosted with a white bloom of mould. Rachel, my favourite, who came with me every day of my first year at school went straight into the bin with the others. (My teacher, Mrs Wheeler, used to give Rachel her own copy of the letters home. This was the same year that I tried to run away from school every day. I can still remember the caretaker chasing after me.) I didn’t even look at my primary school exercise books & paintings before I put them into the recycling. A useful lesson here: my children will not be grateful if I save these things for them for the next thirty years. And then, three crumbling boxes of mildewed books. The books came home with me. My …

We love: Lunchtime

When the Tesco’s guy arrived yesterday evening, a full two minutes after the end of our one-hour delivery slot, all three of my children fell upon him like they hadn’t eaten for months. Though, in fact, a neighbour’s daughter and her friends had knocked on our door selling cupcakes for charity not ten minutes earlier & a trail of crumbs led from the hall to the living room rug. The Pip-Pop helped me to unpack the shopping (‘Oh, more noodle, Mumma. More noodle ‘gain, Mumma.’), T returned to the story she was writing (500 Words), & the Moose lay down on the sofa and watched TV in his after-school pose of total exhaustion. Of course, when I called them to the table to eat their rather late tea no-one would come. Lunchtime is the sweet tale of a little girl who is too busy drawing to stop for lunch. When her mum gets cross & sends her to the table she’s joined by the bear, wolf and crocodile from her pictures. Will they eat her …

Judith Kerr: ‘You have to make a plan for the day’

“Radio Times: You’re 91. What’s the secret to a long and successful working life? Judith Kerr: You have to make a plan for the day. I get started at 10.30am. At lunchtime, I have a Martini Rosso on ice which keeps me awake in the afternoon. In the evening, I go for an hour’s walk along the Thames. It helps me to think. When I get home, I have a whisky. I’ve done more work since Tom [Judith’s husband, Quatermass screenwriter Thomas Nigel Kneale] died eight years ago than I did before because otherwise there’s this emptiness.” We read a fair number of Mog stories round here, and I keep thinking that T must nearly be ready for When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (which the Radio Times reveals might be adapted by the BBC), so I was really excited to see this year’s Christmas Radio Times cover. But then, just as my brother & I used to as children, T disappeared with it & spent many happy hours poring over the Christmas TV listings. She …

We love: This Little Baby

I don’t know how many copies of This Little Baby we’ve got through in seven years as parents. I found three copies in various book baskets around the house this morning & I know that I’ve had to recycle at least one copy due to an over-enthusiastic reader who decided to literally gobble it up. My love for it is unashamed nostalgia. Each of my children has adored its simple rhymes, its black and white photos of babies, and its surprise mirror ending. An ending, I might add, that I’ve often had to change to ‘these are the babies I love the very best’ as children lean over the book for a glimpse of themselves in the mirror. (For complete accuracy, I also add my own enthusiastic ‘waa, waa, waaaa!’ to the page with the baby who makes lots of noise.) It’s a book that has stayed the course from the very earliest days of our parenthood. A book that I know by heart & probably always will. Reading it in his cot last week …

We love: giving special | Part II: colouring & activity books

After last week’s round-up of gift books, here’s a little collection of colouring & activity books that would be perfect for Christmas giving. I love a good colouring book. One that encourages exploration & creativity, but gives confidence and structure — a starting point for little hands & minds to build on. Paper & crayons are great, but sometimes it’s lovely to have something special to work on, and, as a parent, having a colouring book up your sleeve (metaphorically at least) can save the day on rainy days, snuffly days, or don’t-know-what-to-do-days. Here are a few of our favourites. 1.  The Scribble Book by Hervé Tullet. Big, beautiful & fun for even the youngest of artists. This would be my choice for those around 2/3 years+. Tullet is also the author of some fantastically fun interactive (in a low-tech way!) board books like Press Here and The Game of Finger Worms which are also great for younger children. 2. The Colouring Book by Hervé Tulle. What are the right colours for happy people? For sad …

We love: giving special | Part I: gift books

A little round-up of some of the books we love the most that would be perfect for giving this Christmas. By ‘gift books’, I mean the kind of thing you might give as a special present: Christmas, birthday, naming day or some other ‘mark-it-properly’ type occasion. Though, let’s face it, who here needs a special reason to give a book? I hesitated about offering any ideas because I’m pretty sure that many of these will already be on the shelf of any book-loving child. So, here’s the deal: let me know what special books you recommend for giving. I’d love to know what the hits are in your home. These are the tried & tested successes in ours. 1. Lavender’s Blue, compiled by Kathleen Lines & illustrated by Harold Jones. All the nursery rhymes you know and all those you have half-forgotten in one beautiful book. First published in 1954, this is the 50th anniversary facsimile edition. We bought T hers for her second birthday & it’s still a favourite five years later. This would …

We love: Jack and the Flumflum Tree & The Paper Dolls

You can’t catch us. Oh no no no! We’re holding hands and we won’t let go. We’re Ticky and Tacky and Jackie the Backie And Jim with two noses and Jo with the bow! from ‘The Paper Dolls’ by Julia Donaldson I know you don’t need me to tell you about Julia Donaldson. But this week is all about keeping things simple. Calm thoughts, calm words, even if there are two boys thundering round and round me shrieking with laughter. That’s the intention anyway. (I realised, hours later, that the tea I threw into the supermarket trolley this morning is called ‘Zen Again’. I am a marketing person’s dream.) I’m trying to fit in lots of snuggling and reading with my boys before the summer holidays start and my attention is divided into three. (Or three million, depending how you look at it.) So, here they are: two instant Julia Donaldson hits from last week’s library trip. I have a mixed history with Julia Donaldson. There are many of her books that I could read …

Seven, four, seventeen months

The Biscuit will be seven this week. Once she was only seven weeks. Let’s call her T to celebrate. Seven feels a big deal. Other years have passed with me thinking more of myself. A year, two years, five years ago today we still weren’t parents. I was five, seven, ten days overdue. I remember the feeling of being poised in free-fall, falling and yet not falling; and how, as the days went by, I felt less and less sure we would ever land. But this year, this year I think less about that. We have been parents forever, and it feels like her birthday is finally all about her. She rolls her eyes at me. She tears out of school, just like Bella in Dogger. She reads until late in the evening, and then again when she wakes. She keeps a diary full of exclamation marks and cryptic remarks about how much fun she and her friends had at break-time. She still skips along when she’s happy. She is, in all essential ways, just …