Book Review – The Niggle by Peta Rainford

We always love reviewing children’s books as reading at bedtime to four children can get very repetitive! The Niggle is a lovely story about confidence, danger, our inner voices and how to manage life – all in a children’s story! Our four year old was a bit scared of the Niggle character, but the others all enjoyed his funky illustrations. The story follows Joe Jackson – a boy without any fear of anything… until one day he has a very scary accident and The Niggle arrives.

We were all so pleased when The Niggle met his match, and the story prompted some great discussions about how to measure danger, how children and adults often think differently about safety and Joe’s experiences were very identifiable to all of us. I would recommend this book if you have  daredevil in the family! We have read it more than once the gentle rhyming is easy on the ear, and it’s still enjoyable even when you know the ending – the sign of a good book.

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Astronaut Lamby

Book Review

 Astronaut Lamby by Jude Lennon, Illustrated by Holly Bushnell

We really love Lamby here, and are very lucky to have bought the toy set to go with it! The story is very rhythmic and funny and the crazy alien is exactly as our children would create one – all eyes and lots of legs.

The colours and illustrations are captivating, and from a more practical point of view the font is very readable (I have struggled on occasion when some books get a bit too ‘arty’).

We now know the story so well that this lovely lady can ‘read’ it on her own – and her older siblings can really read it as well, so they can entertain each other which is perfect. We are looking forward to more Lamby tales this year, and will let you know about his pirate adventures…

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5 Books for Halloween

We try not to over do Halloween as we not really ‘into’ it, and with smaller kids it can be quite scary and I have no idea what the message is supposed to be. We focus on having fun foods and sharing out sweets to any Trick or Treaters. We also love to carve pumpkins… Here are a few books we have particularly enjoyed.


Winnie the Witch is a sure fire hit at any time of year and to be honest, she’s a witch so you could read any of them and be on theme, this collection has four separate stories, and is good for children that are able to read on their own (we also have the picture books which are much more visual, and better for a mixed age group). The four stories are all up to the same fun standard, with a few extra ghosts.

Splat the Cat is also a firm favourite in our house, and this book has flaps to lift which was especially exciting! There are lots of potentially scary things going on in the creepy old house, but don’t worry they all turn out to be quite harmless. However, Seymour the mouse is missing, maybe he is scaring all his friends? It’s a actually a good way to talk about being scared and how we deal with that, and if it’s funny to make people frightened – we had a long discussion about this and I was surprised by what the kids talked about.

We have recently bought the Usborne Very First Reading box set (going cheap at The Book People). They have been a really great, the first few are for adults and kids to read together, with different sized fonts so that it’s clear who does what – A Fright in the Night is one of these, and was very popular. A lovely vet is called to Dracula’s castle to take care of some of his more unusual pets, she helps them all and then runs when she notices Dracula’s teeth. It’s very silly, has great illustrations and doesn’t actually mention anything about vampires etc; so you can handle that how you wish. All the books have fun games and ideas for further learning at the back which we love.

To be honest The Best Halloween Hunt Ever isn’t a reading book, but we really love it! It’s a search and find book, with a few mazes too, for a small book it provides hours of entertainment for quite a big age range as everyone can find something. Even the smallest baby A enjoys searching for the larger items. The answers are in the back, and we did struggle to get everything, but that’s good as it means you can use the book more than once. As we keep these books in our Halloween box, the kids forget year on year and so it’s proved a good buy.

Last but never least is our ongoing love affair with the Mr Men. We have all of the books, both old and new and they continue to delight. Mr Tickle and the Scary Halloween is a great seasonal offering; the dark cover is enough to cause excitement, but as there is a Little Miss Scary too you can imagine the chaos she might cause at Halloween, luckily Mr Tickle finds a good way to deal with her, and peace is restored.

Hope that was helpful…

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Books for Babies


Babies really love looking at books (well my four have…) and if you start young you can instil a real love of books and learning which will stand them in good stead for the future. The charity BookStart give children free books, usually via your Health Visitor at 6-12 months and 3-4 years, you can also collect these from your local library – the best source of free books for all ages!

If you are looking to buy or borrow books, good general choices might include the That’s Not My… series from Usborne Books. These cover the most amazing range of animals and other things children love, and make great gifts for newborns too.

You can’t go too wrong if you start the Mr Men or Little Miss collection for a child, and add to it at various times, again it can be fun to pick a characteristic that matches them in some way – or you can buy the whole box sets if you have no patience x. Other sure fire hits are books with textures (I would avoid flaps until age 2+), finger puppets, favourite characters they know, nursery rhymes, action books – things you find funny.

One thing to consider is that children will put everything in their mouth, so books that can be washed are often a good idea, and there are amazing books that are printed on paper which can be scrunched and chewed without being damaged, you can have a search online for ‘indestructables’ .  

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Love Books!

Some people get a bit snooty about Valentines Day, but we like to celebrate love in our family, so embrace it as a great opportunity to talk about different kinds of love and it’s importance.

Here are a few of the many books for children that tackle love in one way or another, there were lots more on the shelves, but these are firm favourites and are our February reads…


Beauty and the Beast is such a classic tale of love that’s more than skin deep, and a good way for kids to think about what makes people beautiful. It’s more of a girls book to be honest, a great one for boys is the Thing from Fantastic Four all the same issues about outward appearance. There are lots of versions of this tale, we got the Usborne one in a box set. They also do one for kids to read.

I Love You, Little Monster by Giles Andreae is a truly beautiful story of a parent explaining all their loving thoughts and feelings (some of which aren’t always obvious to children), I actually can’t read this out loud without crying, so it’s one that only Mr A does for bedtime. It’s a good choice if you’ve had a ‘shouty’ sort of day…

Love Monster by Rachel Bright has great illustrations and allows us to think about how we fit in, and how we help others to feel comfortable in our groups etc. I love that there is a happy ending, and that there is someone for everyone x

I think we have all the Hugless Douglas books by David Melling, they are so beautiful to look at and have such affectionate humour in them. All of them are about love really, but We Love You, is very specifically about friendship and sharing. It’s another gentle tale, with more great snapshot pictures at the back.

We sometimes struggle to find books that appeal to all the smalls (age 2-7) at bedtime, but The Biggest Kiss by Joanna Walsh & Judi Abbot is perfect. It has very simple, rhyming text and soft, simple illustrations. We all do some kissing at the end which can become a bit out of hand, but the sentiment is not lost – I hope!

Discussing the power of parenting can be quite hard, but The Royal Baby by Tony Bradman & Tony Ross manages to share the joy and expectation of parenting with a funny and happy story. It was especially useful in our house, as we’ve just welcomed a new baby, and lots of these questions had been asked. We love our kids regardless of their features or perceived faults and that’s a powerful message they need to hear.

Enjoy sharing love and kindness – if you want to know what else we do for family Valentines Day, you’ll need to check out The Frugal Family.


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