Tag Archives: review

Aquila Magazine

This post was written by Owl.

We have been sent three copies of Aquila Magazine to review.



My favourite bits are Over to You (a page where you can send letters in) and the instructions for making things.

In the November issue, I was very interested to read about time travel.  The article explains the theories about time which were put forward by Immanuel Kant and Albert Einstein.  They raised the questions “Is time real?” and “Does time always go at the same speed?”  I think time is real but I’m not sure, and in my opinion time doesn’t always go at the same speed.  For example, in the early hours of the morning on Christmas Day, time seemed to go very slowly.

I like the mask-making activity in the December issue.

aquila masks

The two things I like best in the January issue are the article about “Why successful people love to fail” and the instructions for making the giant hands, which I will do as soon as I can.

Thank you to Aquila for sending us these excellent magazines!

We were sent the magazines free for the purpose of this review.

The Carrot Cake Catastrophe

We have enjoyed reading The Carrot Cake Catastrophe! by Elizabeth Dale and Gemma Raynor, which was kindly sent to us (rather a long time ago) for review by Parragon Books.

carrot cake catastrophe 1

It’s mum’s birthday, and Jenny and Grandad try to make her a carrot cake.  Unfortunately, they make a few mistakes, and it turns into a catastrophe!  Jenny is very sad, until her mum comes along and makes everything alright again.

carrot cake catastrophe 2

At the end of the book, there is a recipe for carrot cake and Rabbit was keen to try it, so she wrote a shopping list for the ingredients we needed.

carrot cake 1

When it came to making the cake, Tiddler wanted to join in, and they worked very well together taking turns.

carrot cake 3

After a while, Tiddler had had enough, and Rabbit was left to finish the job.  Though I helped her, she really did a lot of the work herself.

carrot cake 4

Rabbit was very pleased with the results, and I am very proud of her.  She is planning to make it again for my birthday, which is good because it was actually the most delicious carrot cake I have ever tasted!

We were sent the book free of charge for the purpose of this review.

A Squash and a Squeeze

We love A Squash and a Squeeze, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, so we were really pleased to be sent a Let’s Read version to review.

a squash and a squeeze 1 one

I’ve written here, here and here about how much we love the Let’s Read books, so I won’t repeat myself again, but I will just say again that as a teacher, parent and home educator I can’t recommend them highly enough.

a squash and a squeeze 2 two

A Squash and a Squeeze is the story of a little old lady who is unhappy because her house is too small.  A wise old man tells her to take in all her farm animals one by one.  Then he tells her to take them out again, and she finds that “There’s no need to grumble and there’s no need to grouse.  There’s plenty of room in my house.”

a squash and a squeeze 3 three

The story is brilliant for reading aloud, and seems to be just as appealing to nine year olds as to three year olds – in this house anyway.

a squash and a squeeze 4 four

Thank you Macmillan, we love this book!

We were sent the book free of charge for the purpose of this review.

The Christmas Treasure Hunt

I haven’t quite managed a post a day in Advent as I planned.  We read this lovely book yesterday, but then I went out in the evening and got back too late to write anything.

The Christmas Treasure Hunt

The Christmas Treasure Hunt, Ag Jatkowska, Macmillan, £9.99

The story is sweet and simple, and the illustrations are beautiful and detailed.  The children enjoyed lifting the flaps and they loved the giant pop-up tree at the end.  I’m too tired to write anything that will really do this book justice, but it is wonderful and it would make a perfect Christmas present.  Thank you to the lovely people at Macmillan for sending it to us!


The Christmas Show

This evening’s bedtime story was The Christmas Show and we all loved it.  I read it first to Tiddler, then to Rabbit and then the big boys took it in turns to read it in bed.

the christmas show

The Christmas Show by Rebecca Patterson, Macmillan, Paperback, £5.99.

This very funny book tells the familiar story of a child who has a small part in the nativity play – “… in this show I think I am almost nothing.”  A few small mishaps occur, but the show goes on and the little boy is happy in the end, because not everyone cares if he sings at the wrong time or dances the wrong way.

Tiddler is, of course, an expert on the subject of nativity plays, having recently played an angel in his preschool show last week.

my angel

He also played a king in our Home Education group nativity from scratch yesterday, then went to a carol service at Granny’s (Paul’s mum’s) church afterwards and gatecrashed their nativity too, as did Rabbit, who was an angel.  Monkey (who was Joseph in our play) and Owl (the narrator) were more restrained at the church, though Owl (with a bit of help from Rabbit and Tiddler) sang “I’m a Little Christmas Cracker”, accompanied by Granny on the piano.

We enjoyed the book, and the conversations it prompted.  Tiddler particularly liked talking about the shows he has been in, and the parts he has played.  I now have the tricky job of persuading him to consider being something else for the nativity at the church near his other Granny’s house next weekend.  He’s been given the choice of being a shepherd or an animal, but he won’t be parted from his king costume.  We might have to adapt it!


Millie Shares

Millie Shares is a new book which is due to be published by Egmont on 30th January 2014.

millie shares 1

Millie Shares by Claire Alexander, Egmont, Hardback £10.99, Paperback £6.99

Millie loves her toy Monkey very much, and when her best friend Lily wants to play with him, Millie gets very cross.  She won’t share Monkey and she won’t share the other toys at nursery either.  The other children don’t want to play with her in case she takes their toys away.  Will Millie learn that sharing can be fun?

We have been enjoying this book and Tiddler especially likes it.  It’s a gentle story, with simple, appealing illustrations, and a clear message about the benefits of sharing.

millie shares 2

The Night Before Christmas

This evening our bedtime story was The Night Before Christmas, a little early perhaps, but I’m sure we’ll be reading it again many times right up to Christmas Eve.  We have been talking about St Nicholas Day, which is tomorrow, so it seemed a good choice to read tonight.

night before christmas one 1

The Night Before Christmas, Clement C. Moore, paperback, £6.99, Parragon

The famous poem by Clement C. Moore is accompanied by warm and playful illustrations which the children loved, especially the glittery cover.  We read it first while Owl was out at Cubs, and the three younger children drew some pictures.  When we got home from collecting Owl, they added glitter to their pictures, and then daddy read the poem again to all the children before they went to bed.

night before christmas two 2

We were sent a copy of this book to review.


Mr Men: The Christmas Tree

Having decided at the last minute to read a Christmas book a day in Advent, I was pleased to receive some more review books in the post this morning.  If I decide to do this again next year, maybe I’ll be more organised and contact some publishers in advance with my plan, but for now winging it seems to be working okay!  The book we chose for today was Mr Men: The Christmas Tree.

mr men christmas 1

Mr Men: the Christmas Tree, Egmont, paperback, £2.99

It is Christmas Eve and Mr Forgetful has forgotten to buy himself a Christmas tree.  He sets off through the snow, into the forest, to cut one down instead.  However he gets lost and it is getting dark and cold.  In desperation, he cries for help.  “And as luck would have it, help was at hand.”

This is a funny story, written by Adam Hargreaves, based on the original concept by Roger Hargreaves.  The children liked it and they laughed out loud at several points.  I enjoy reading Mr Men books with them because it reminds me of my childhood, even though there are far more stories now.

mr men christmas 2

After reading the story, the children drew some pictures of Mr Forgetful.

mr men christmas 3

This led on to reading our new Mr Men magazine and completing some of the activities.

mr men christmas 4

All the children enjoyed the book – it appeals to a wide age range – and it is a good addition to our Christmas story collection.

We received a copy of this book to review.

Little Robin’s Christmas

Today we continued to read our Christmas poems, and we also read a new story – Little Robin’s Christmas.

little robin1

Little Robin’s Christmas, Jan Fearnley, paperback, £6.99, Egmont

This is the story of a little robin, who has seven warm vests to wear for each day in the week leading up to Christmas.  Each day he gives away a vest to a friend who is cold.  On Christmas Eve he is alone in the snow with no vest to keep him warm.  Read the story to find out who comes to his rescue, and why robins have read vests to this day!

little robin 2

It is a gentle, heartwarming story with very appealing illustrations, perfect for sharing at bedtime in the days leading up to Christmas.

We received a copy of this book to review.

Christmas Poems

Advent is here and we will be counting down the days by reading a Christmas book each day.  Today we started with this selection of Christmas Poems.

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Christmas Poems, selected by Gaby Morgan, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Macmillan, £10.99

The book contains a varied selection of Christmas carols, and classic and new poems, chosen by Gaby Morgan (who also selected the War Poems we have recently reviewed.)  It is illustrated in full colour by Axel Scheffler.

We have read and enjoyed several of the poems over the last few weeks, and I am sure we will keep coming back to this book throughout Advent.  This was one that all the children liked:

In a Forest Clearing

Pine tree in the forest

Standing tall.

Water dripping from needles

Like crystal baubles –

Exploding on forest floor

Like fairy lights.


christmas poems two 2

After we read the poem, I asked the children to draw a picture, copy out the poem or write one of their own.  Rabbit drew a Christmas tree, then some reindeer which she cut out, and she also made a paper plate snowman.  Owl wrote out the poem and illustrated it.  Monkey wrote some Christmas words and illustrated them, then he decided to write a poem of his own:

Christmas Eve

Waiting for Christmas

To celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Stockings hanging, Santa coming

Decorations on the tree.

Asleep on my bed

Waiting for dawn

In my dreams.

We received a copy of this book to review.