Animal stories – Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books sent along two great books from their Animal Stories collection which are stories of animals from all over the world so not only can you read a fascinating tale to your child at bedtime but these books allow you to expand and talk about the world we live in and other countries too. The first book is the first in the series.

the tortoises gift

The Tortoise’s gift

It’s a story originating from Zambia designed for early readers, it’s retold by Lari Don who is inspired by her love of myths, legends and fables – three areas that fascinate me too, beautifully illustrated by Melanie Williamson it’s a tale of famine, all the animals are starving and they need to wake up the wonderful tree because it can feed them even when there is no rain. The fiercest animal tries but returns from his arduous journey only to have forgotten the name, the strongest animal tries but meets the same fate, many others also try to save their fellows from famine but simply forget the name and the tortoise saves the day proving that once again the underdog can prove to be a winner. I love it and the girls always listen attentively to this story I think they’re quite pleased that all the big guys forgot and the little guy saves the day :)

never trust a tiger

Never Trust A Tiger

Another excellent story that originates from South Korea. It’s a simple story that shows how some people in life aren’t what you believe them to be. Smiles can be deceiving and in this story the tiger proves to be a nasty piece of work asking for help to be saved and then wanting to eat his saviour. The eat or not eat debate goes out to passing animals to pass justice on this delicate affair. Should the tiger be allowed to eat his saviour or not and the day is saved by a hare who proves to be extremely clever.

The girls love how the hare manages to outwit the tiger and it makes them giggle at his sorry fate.

I would thoroughly recommend these stories, they can be read as a bedtime story although longer than what we normally read still not too long.

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Disclosure: We were sent these books for the purpose of this review

The Kite Princess

The Kite PrincessNew year new book to read and the next book from Barefoot Books that I want to highlight is The Kite Princess written by Juliet Clare Bell, illustrated by Laura-Kate Chapman and narrated by Imelda Staunton.

If, like me you have mini princesses in your home then they will adore this beautifully illustrated book about a young girl who doesn’t want to sew and walk with books on her head to be a ‘proper’ princess like her parents insist. She wants to run and play and fly in the sky.

The story follows how, without disobeying her parents, she manages to follow her dream and shows them to look at life differently too.

My girls adore the colourful dresses in this book and the clever princess. They have also asked daddy for a kite!

We haven’t listened yet but the book does include a CD of the story narrated by Imelda Staunton, seeing as a recent addition to their bedroom is an old CD player that was kicking around, I might try leaving the CDs handy so they can listen and choose themsleves what they’d like to listen to.

The hardback version with CD costs £10.99 and the paperback plus CD costs £6.99. This book has definitely got my girls’ seal of approval

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of the book for the purpose of this review

The Gift by Carol Ann Duffy and Rob Ryan

I fell in love with Rob Ryan a couple of years ago when I saw the beautiful intricate work he produces and I am proud owner of one of his coffee cups thanks to a birthday present given to me last year, I treasure it and hate to see other people drinking out of it.

The Gift Carol Ann Duffy and Rob Ryan

I was flicking through the Barefoot Books catalogue and The Gift caught my eye. I recognised immediately the hand of Rob Ryan on the cover and reading the description I was even more intrigued.

The exceptional talents of Carol Ann Duffy and papercut artist Rob Ryan combine to present the story of a girl’s journey through life and the desires that shape it. With a kind of magic that is timeless, The Gift speaks to everyone who wonders about the mysteries that lie at the heart of the human experience.

The insert on the front cover reads ‘In a quiet town, of a sort not found these days, lives a beautiful young girl. One summer day, she visits the woods with her mother and father. While her parents prepare the picnic, she seeks out buttercups and daisies for a flower necklace. As she does so, a wish forms in her mind – and to her surprise, a silver-haired woman appears, ready to grant it.’

The story is of the girl’s journey through life and the desires that shape it and it speaks to everyone who wonders about the mystery of life.

The Gift by Barefoot Books (£12.99)  would be perfect for all ages, I love it so much that I will be keeping it for me but inviting the girls on to my knee so I can read it with them and help them understand the circle of life. The story touched somewhere deep in my soul and it’s one to refer back to time and time again when the going gets tough or when you need a little comfort that, as hard as life can be at times, it’s still worth it.

In my opinion this book would be perfect for any child who has suffered the loss of a family member as it clearly shows the circle of life and the continuity of life as we know it but in a gentle and captivating way.

Each page has beautiful pictures by Rob Ryan making the book a work of art to treasure and to be inspired by, it’s beautiful, add it to your Christmas list this year and share it with the children in a sit with me moment. You won’t regret it.

Winter reading for children – perfect stocking fillers

You can’t deny Christmas is on the way now can you? The TV is full of adverts one after the other with cries from the sofa ‘We want one of those mummy!’ regardless if they like the toy or not, these days publicity is so good every child watching feels they really do want one of those.

Luckily the good old phrase, ‘You’ll have to ask Father Christmas’ seems to work every time but this does build up anticipation. Anticipation of what they’re going to receive on Christmas morning.

One present my children will always find under the tree or in their stocking are books. In my opinion you can’t read enough books to children and the more you read the more you lead them into the wonderful world of imagination.

As Christmas approaches I enjoy reading the girls all our snow related titles and any story to do with the season or Santa works. Last year huge hits were Aliens love Panta Claus, Jingle all the way and Mr Christmas by Roger Hargreaves.

So when Egmont the publishers sent me through three books to review I was very excited because I love a new book just as much as the girls do

They are small books – Mr Men size and cost £2.99 each in fact one of the stories is a Mr Men book and they are excellent to put in a Christmas stocking or to be reading before Christmas.

Mr Men meet Father Christmas

All starts with Mrs Tiny making a wish to visit Father Christmas and as it’s that magical time of year when wishes do come true she sets off on a journey but as all things Mr Men it’s a crazy journey and includes lots of laughter. A very exciting journey to take part in and send little ones to sleep with a smile on their face.

Mr Men meet Father Christmas

The Last Snowball

This one can be read well on through the winter until spring time as it’s the story of when Big Bear wakes up from his deep winter sleep and is sad to discover he’s missed out on all the fun that snow can bring. Rosie and Raggles (from CBeeBies fame) do everything they can to recreate the winter fun for their friend. They try sledging and snow angels without much luck so they have to think a little harder to come up with some great fun for everyone.

the last snowball

Snowy Tracks

A must for all Thomas fans out there. The Island of Sodor is covered in thick snow and all the engines have been warned to be very careful only Gordon doesn’t listen and soon discovers snow is much more dangerous than it looks. Another title that can be read long after Christmas and bangs home the ‘must listen to your parents’ message which is always a bonus in my book

snowy tracks

Mission: Explore Food a different cookbook for kids

MIssion Explore FoodCalling all parents of fussy eaters here’s the children’s cook book you’ve been waiting for Mission:Explore Food.

Mission:Explore Food is an activity cookbook that challenges children to go cannibal, cook in acid, make chocolate poos (including nuts and sweetcorn), ask the Queen for a swan and work out the best way to slaughter a lamb. Mission:Explore Food has been created to tantalise children’s taste for adventure and tests their understanding not only of where their food is from, but also of where it goes once they’ve finished eating.

The book has been written collaboratively by a team of geography teachers, artists, therapists and explorers, they call their approach the ‘guerilla approach’ and the thinking behind the book is the belief that it’s really important that children have a good relationship with food, a big part of this is knowing how to pick, cook and eat food in a healthy way and also understanding where food comes from.

“A children’s book that asks them to question if the pig they are eating has ever seen the light of day, make scary soup and keep a poo diary might sound controversial, but it’s vitally important that children think about their relationship with food and have fun while doing it.

We all appreciate that children should know how to cook and eat well, but these are just two chapters in the story of our food. Unlike most children’s cookbooks that ignore the rest of the food cycle, Mission:Explore Food includes activities that encourage children to learn about growing, harvesting, waste and soil as well. An essential ingredient is appreciating that their/our choices effect people and places around the world too.” explains Daniel Raven-Ellison, one of the authors.

Mission: Explore Food is filled with recipes and activities to try in and outside the kitchen developed not by famous chefs and cooks, but guerrilla geographers who are on a mission to encourage children to explore their local area, forage for food and play outdoors.

MIssion Explore Food

Illustrated by award-winning artist Tom Morgan- Jones, each page includes a quirky mission to complete. Children who complete missions from the book can visit the Mission:Explore website to be rewarded with points and badges for their efforts.

MIssion Explore Food

Mission:Explore won the National Trust Outdoor Book of the Year award in 2012 and was runner-up for the Society of Authors Education Writer of the Year 2012. The series has also won accolades from Pink Stinks for its balanced portrayal of boys and girls from different backgrounds.

mission explore food

The Mission:Explore team are going on an expedition around the UK over the coming year, starting in autumn 2012. They will be touring in their Explorer Spaceship HQ (van) visiting schools, libraries, food festivals and more to complete missions and share a series of explorations from the book.

mission explore food

I’ve flicked through the book and I can see immediately how appealing it would be to children aged 8+. children who love to explore and want to be excited by the words they read, inspired and have a thirst for knowledge. I also think it’s perfect for both girls and boys as nothing leads this book to be placed in a male/female category.

mission explore food


Our school is holding a Harvest Festival on 11th October, children’s book week starts onOctober 1st and World Food Day on October 16th. So it seems very timely to bring this to your attention, although a little too old for my girls I’m putting it away for somebody’s (who shan’t be mentioned) Christmas present. Available on Amazon for for £17.99, or iBooks for £1.49 

Or for taster chapters check out  TES and the Guardian

Disclosure – I was sent this book to review and it’s good, kids will love it and hopefully love food even more