Monday, 15 April 2019

Review: Maverick Early Readers

Are your kids in the 'book band' stage of childhood? Boy, was I glad when that stage ended with Girl Child. As much as I have a fondness for Biff, Chip and Kipper I think we can all agree that early reader books aren't always the most inspiring children's literature you'll ever read. It's understandable really, I imagine to qualify for a particular book band the author has to work to fairly rigid rules which isn't exactly conducive to creativity.

However, I recently received a set of 10 early reader books from Maverick Children's Books and was pleasantly surprised by them. Unlike many of the offerings that have come home via a book bag in the last three years, these stories are funny, quirky and a joy to behold.



What struck me immediately about these books, which cover book bands purple, white and gold, was the variety of themes contained within them. A lot of early reader sets follow the same characters or fit into a similar genre. However, in this set the books are all self-contained and cover different topics and genres, from a ballet story to detective fiction and several funny stories too. Each book is like a taster of a different genre, which is great for discovering what your little one is into.

I won't go through every book as that would make for a very long post, but I think my favourite one is 'The Time Train'. I love a bit of time travel and thought this story was really clever, exploring different eras in a humorous way. I also enjoyed the reinvention of the Cinderella story in 'The Coach, The Shoes and The Football' and the funny antics of the 'Chicken Knitters'.

All of the books include the bright, bold and witty illustrations that are a hallmark of Maverick's style, and that complement each story beautifully. Obviously the illustrations are smaller and therefore simpler than in picture books but they are still packed with character and detail to keep the reader interested and engaged with the story.

Despite having moved on from reading schemes a few months ago Girl Child was still happy to read through these books which surprised me as she's usually quite resistant to reading anything she thinks she's too old for. We even had to tell her to stop reading them because it was mealtime!! It'll be a while before Preschooler is ready for these obviously but I'm definitely going to put them away for when he's older to liven his reading material up!

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with these books by the publisher for this review but my words and opinions are all my own.

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum and Kids Love To Read #KLTR hosted by Laura's Lovely Blog, Acorn Books and BookBairn.


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Saturday, 13 April 2019

Things We've Done To Be Greener In ... March

I started this monthly green living series almost a whole year ago, looking back on last April. So this post completes the set! I had hoped to go out with a bang, with some really big and impressive green acts, but as I mentioned in my last post, March was a tricky month. But actually, this series was always meant to be about the little things we can all do to be greener, so perhaps it's fitting that my eco-achievements this month have been rather modest!




So here we go. Last month we ...

Popped our own corn


OK, this is actually something we started before March, but it definitely became handy in March when Preschooler developed a popcorn obsession. We used to get those bags that you put in your microwave to make popcorn but the amount of packaging is ridiculous! Once again, our local zero waste shop came to our rescue as they sell popping corn. So now we can put some in a microwaveable (lidded!) container with a knob of butter, whack it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and voila - fresh, warm popcorn with hardly any waste! I can't say zero waste because I've still not got the knack perfectly and end up with some burnt bits and unpopped kernels, but definitely better than the supermarket alternative!

Made hankies out of scrap


I don't know about you, but what with the cold weather and the pollen we got through a lot of tissues in our house last month! So I decided to do something I've been meaning to do for ages - start making handkerchiefs. I used a school dress that Girl Child tore last year, thinking that she might like handkerchiefs that matched her uniform and that the gingham pattern would make it easier for me to cut straight! I've only managed one so far and it was pretty tiny so I need to work on my sizing, but it was fine for Girl Child to use when she's just generally snotty. I'm hoping once I've practised more with the gingham I'll be able to make more out of other old cotton clothes that are torn or too stained to wear.



Took part in Earth Hour


This felt like quite a fitting way to round off my year of green. On 30th March at 8.30pm people around the world marked Earth Hour, an hour when people are encouraged to switch off their lights. It's a symbolic gesture - one hour without the big light on is hardly going to make much difference to the environment - but one intended to get people thinking about their energy use. We didn't do anything fancy; we were five minutes late starting because Preschooler was being a monkey at bedtime, and then having not been organised enough to dig out candles we just had an early night! But it did make me think that maybe if we went to bed half an hour earlier once a week, it would reduce our electricity use and we'd be more rested too. I'm hoping to keep up with this through the year.


So that's it, the last post in this series! It's not the end of my eco-living efforts (in fact in the last few days I've found other things to do to be greener) but now I can do things in my own time and hopefully stick at them when I'm not having to find new stuff to do. I hope these posts have helped at least a few people to see that being greener doesn't have to be hard, even the tiniest changes make a difference!

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Four Pictures Of Gratitude

So back at the beginning of February I posted about taking part in the Lovely Gratitude 2019 challenge on Laura's Lovely Blog. I managed January's challenge but February's - to go 24 hours without complaining - just proved impossible for me! Let's not dwell on what that says about me, shall we?



Last month's challenge was, on the face of it, far more achievable - posting a picture each week of something I'm grateful for. What I hadn't reckoned on was that March was going to be a difficult month for me, for reasons I won't go into here. It was really hard to stay positive enough to take photos of the nicer bits. But the challenge forced me to remember the positives which did help my mental state a little.



My first photo was of Preschooler, whose birthday was at the beginning of the month. I'm grateful that I've been able to spend three years hanging out with him, although it can be intense being mum almost all the time I know I'll miss this time with him when he starts school next year so I'm treasuring it while I can.



My second photo was of a box of books I won in a World Book Day competition run by Bloomsbury Kids. There are books of various age ranges in there meaning I could give both kids some new ones straight away and hold some back for when they're older. I'm grateful not only for these books, but for books in general, and the enjoyment they bring to all of us.



Staying on a bookish theme, my birthday was mid-month so I used some of my birthday money to buy myself this top I've had my eye on for a while from Mama Feels Good. I'm grateful that I had some spare money to treat myself and cheer myself up in an otherwise tough week.



Finally, Girl Child made me this lovely card for Mother's Day and reminded me of just how sweet and loving she can be. I am grateful for her, the child who made me a mother. She challenges me a lot, often more than I feel I can cope with, but she's capable of such kindness, humour and amazing achievements and I love her for that.

I'm really glad I stuck with the challenge this month, because it wasn't an easy month and having to find a positive point in every week helped me to remember that things weren't all bad. This month's challenge looks tough again but I'm going to give it a shot - although I have to admit it's not going well so far!