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Book review : The Teeny-Weeny Walking Stick

The Teeny Weeny Walking Stick by Karen Hodgson, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert (Hogs Back Books)  is a lovely, gentle book that Milo and I have very much enjoyed reading together. It’s rare I think, though please do comment and let me know of any, to find a book about little people and magic fairies with a little boy as the central protagonist so it’s been great to share this together.

Edward is a little boy who believes in fairies, elves and little people and when he finds what he thinks is a teeny-weeny walking stick in his garden he runs straight to his big sister to show her. Unfortunately, being older and busy with her homework she is not so convinced. She wants Edward to bring her some better proof.

Edward makes many trips into the garden to find proof (and to try and tear his sister’s attention away from her homework), coming back with an assortment of different items including fairy wings and fluffy slippers but his big sister has a rational answer for everything he brings her (sycamore tree seed, catkins). His finds all go on his special shelf in his bedroom. I won’t tell you what happens at the end of the book but needless to say, it doesn’t disappoint if you want both children to end up believing!

The illustrations are truly endearing as magic in the form of fairy folk, toadstool, mushroom houses and tree houses are present in every image but are not seen by either children. I always believed fairy folk were there. I just couldn’t see them, or it was the wrong time of day for them to come out!

This image is lovely  with its tiny little steps and doors carved into trees. These delight me still as an adult as much as they would have done as a child. Completely enchanting.

If you’re looking for some real-life inspiration, I’ve spent a lot of time recently, drooling over the pictures on the Green Renaissance Facebook Page. If you’re on Facebook, check out their photo albums, but be prepared not to be able to move away from your computer screen for a little while. There are some quite breathtaking images, and lots of gnarly trees and beautiful forests where fairies and elves are bound to live.

(I received our copy of The Teeny Weeny Walking Stick from Hogs Back Books but all views and thoughts are of course mine and Milo’s very own!)

One Kiss, One Hug!

I know it’s the end of Valentine’s Day, but I wanted to get this review up as One Kiss One Hug by Jason Chapman (Random House) is an ideal book to share with a little one on such a day.

One Kiss, One Hug! tells the story of a baby bear called Ben who can’t go to sleep. He tries many different things, covers on, covers off, counting salmon, but he just cannot fall asleep. Maybe he can though if he just calls his mum and dad for one more kiss and hug.

Tonight wasn’t the first time Milo and I shared this book, we read it a few weeks ago with some trepidation. Milo’s never been the best of sleepers and is incredible at procrastinating at bedtime. He can drive us potty with his reasons as to why we should come back up and into his room, the sneakiest yet being “Mummy, Beru bear has fallen out of bed and because it’s bedtime I’m not allowed out of bed, I can’t get him. Come up please.” Honestly. So I had a feeling that this book might give him a whole new angle for him to work with to keep me in his bedroom after light’s out.

I wasn’t wrong! But this is a sweet book that shows the problems of getting a little one into bed from all perspectives. We see Ben struggling and trying on his own to snuggle down and drift off (it’s easy sometimes to forget that they’re not staying awake on purpose!). We also see his poor parents just as they are sitting down to tea, or to eat honey and vanilla ice-cream (yum), or trying to relax with a book having to get up, head upstairs for that one last kiss and hug! Something that we can easily relate to!

Milo loves this story. He points at the mummy and daddy bear and says “they are not very happy with Ben, are they? They want to eat their dinner.” (It astonishes me that he can feel sympathy for the parent bears and not for us when we are trying to get to our dinner!) And while after the first reading (and oddly again this evening), I have had a cheeky call of “one kiss, one hug” at bedtime just as I’ve hit the bottom step, it has also led to a really nice little routine. After the lights have been turned off Milo and I give each other one kiss and one hug, then one more kiss and one more cuddle (cuddle is Milo’s preferred word for hug!). It’s a lovely book and although the end of the book might be a bit tricky to get over if you have only one child (Ben’s baby sister wakes, but he gives her one kiss and one hug and they both fall asleep together before their parents reach their bedroom), we managed it by saying that Beru bear could give Milo cuddles (provided of course, he’s not been tossed out of bed that is!).

A great book to share on Valenitne’s Day. As were these yummy chocolate cupcakes with vanilla marshmallow icing that we made at the weekend.

Tonight’s special race car shaped chocolate was not such a good idea. A bit messy.

One Kiss, On Hug! by Jason Chapman was very kindly sent to us by the good folk at Random House. All views of course are our own.

Snow day!

And oh, the excitement! From me mostly on Saturday night, peeping out the window every five minutes to check it was still snowing! And then Sunday morning when Milo woke up to look out the window at the blanket of white that had covered our little corner of South East London.

He’s been lucky. It’s snowed every year since he’s been born but now that he’s three he wants to do everything. Build snowmen, throw snowballs, skid, slide, shuffle like a penguin and drink hot chocolate when he’s feeling cold. Fair enough! For me, it felt like a great opportunity to get out Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle Books) and introduce Milo to this beautiful book.

So after a morning in the park doing everything on Milo’s list of “fun things to do in the snow” we came home to a cosy read before his nap. Over and Under the Snow is a lovely book especially for any child interested in nature and who enjoys reading non-fiction. It follows the journey of a little girl and her father as they ski through the woods on their way home. As they ski, they discuss the animals living beneath the snow, their habitats and how they survive the winter months.

Kate Messner’s writing is poetic, thoughtful and informative and Christopher Silas Neal’s illustrations compliment the text perfectly. They are quietly stunning, giving the nature surrounding our guides of the girl and her father, centre stage.

Over and Under the Snow is ideal for a curious toddler and there’s even a handy guide at the back of the book with further information about each creature so when the inevitable “why” questions come up, you’re ready to go with answers.

The little girl finishes her skiing trip through the woods and the snow at a bonfire where she toasts marshmallows with her dad and mum.

“Over the snow, the fire crackles, and sparks shoot up to the stars. I lick the sticky marshmallow from my lips  and lean back with heavy eyes. Shadows dance in the flames.”

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Unfortunately we didn’t have any veggie friendly marshmallows in the house so we decided that our afternoon would consist of making some mini gingerbread houses and hot chocolate ready for a re-reading of Over and Under the Snow (while our snow melted away outside).

I’d seen this fab looking post on notmartha.org for “mini gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of a mug”, before Christmas when I was looking for a little decorating inspiration for Milo’s Christmas gingerbread house and decided they were a must. I didn’t use the recipe suggested but chose the simplest and quickest gingerbread recipe we have from my old, reliable Pooh Bear cook book!

Very simple to make and construct. Not quite enough time to decorate properly, but managed a little icing on the roof, glitter (for snow of course!) and added a star on the front of the houses as Milo loves stars!

Perfect end to our snowy day.

Thank you to Chronicle Books for sending me a copy of Over and Under the Snow for review. All opinions are my own and my family’s.

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