The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood 1…

September 22nd, 2014 · 3 Comments

So we had a weekend of birthdays…

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood #1

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The chap who recreates the world of Tolkien every time we go to the beach…


The guy with a wicked sense of humour…


The Lego creator of note…


From blocks he creates entire worlds…


The teacher of all things fascinating to little people…


And the trumpeter of note…


To the one person ready to braai at a moment’s notice…


And our super keen photographer…



To the lad that never stops drawing…


Always ready with an incredible tale or the definition of an incredible word…


To the man who insists on a hat…







Who appears to have grown up so very suddenly…




Wishing you the Very Best Year Ahead…

Previous Blogging Birthday…

→ 3 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Our Events · Stuff About Us...

Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun Post #240…

September 21st, 2014 · 4 Comments

I am totally not sure what happened to my carefully planned, relaxed and chilled out week… it was replaced by wild and stormy weather and plenty of busy-ness, all of the good variety. It was indeed a fantastic week… and blogging took a back seat. The father person was away and I climbed into bed each night to read bedtime stories and without an offering of a cup of coffee later, found myself fast asleep until breakfast every single night… not a bad thing for life in general, but certainly not the best thing for blogging!!!

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Now about blogging… we have a couple of the most fantastic giveaways ever… coming to you very soon… loads of them… it’s going to be a bit of a week after week after week thing. We would so appreciate your support, and enter away… the more you enter the easier it is for us to accumulate fab GiveAways for you all.


Here are some lovely links from this week:

  1. How fun are these: Art Supply Finds on Babble Dabble Do. This looks very much like the kind of Christmas shopping that goes on around here.
  2. I am so grateful to Picklebums for this post… Gardening Playdough SO very cute and we haven’t done play dough forever, I simply forget about it but our youngest LOVES it!!!
  3. There are parts of the world, and of course HandMade Charlotte, who are thinking about Autumn. After a week of torrenting rain we would love some spring… And while we are with HandMade Charlotte Paper this Lion Mask… too fantastic for words.
  4. We are huge Katie fans over here… and so of course we loved this great read: 25 Years of Katie’s Picture Show, with James Mayhew on Playing by the Book
  5. And in a world where things turn inside out and upside down so very often… this is an excellent read: Daughters and Grief on A Holy Experience
  6. I know of at least one person in our house that will have to create a fairy bed after seeing Molly Moo’s Fairy Bed.
  7. If you aren’t following Zen Habits already, then let that be your task for the week, follow away… plenty of great posts like this one: The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others by Leo Babauta.
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:

That’s us… Hope your weekend is a fabulous one. Birthday season is upon us… and candles abound!!!

→ 4 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en + 1 Things That Have Helped Us Homeschool Through a Crisis…

September 18th, 2014 · 12 Comments

The uphill battle of life… In the last week three moms I have spoken to have said they are way beyond their tether. They have been through traumatic events and suffered extreme loss and pain and just like all moms they were crumbling under the effects this would have on their children’s hearts, let alone their schooling. Now I am not talking about disastrous days where boys are boisterous, energy is low, cars break down and it all seems a bit much… this is more in the line of marriages collapsing, bankruptcy and giving up a home, losing a child, terminal illness… shattered hearts and just how on earth do you go on.


At this time of year especially, when homeschool posts abound: Back to school, hope and dreams for another school year and folks are blogging their plotting and planning; there are great first days back at school and not so great first days back at school. These moms are nowhere near any school and feel like their world, not to mention their school is collapsing around them… easy enough to say, “Put those kids in school,” but for some folk and I speak for ourselves as well, there isn’t another option… homeschooling has to work and in times of great tragedy it is easy to lose heart and to let those little voices of self-doubt enter our heads.

Se7en + 1 Things That Have Helped Us in Times of Tragedy

  1. Lose the Guilt: You know what needs doing but you just can’t get there. Grief is a strange phenomenon you can feel fine for years and then be struck so low for something that came to pass – really years ago. Years later you will hear a phrase or a word and be thrown straight back into the midst of grief – that’s how it works. So many friends have said they wish they had stopped and taken the time to cry, I think that is great advice… don’t bottle up your pain with the idea that you are saving everyone from your emotions… you aren’t. Tears are the companion of grief and not something to be afraid of. Those tears will get out, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow… but they are there and they won’t be squashed down forever. You cannot pretend that all is well, when clearly nothing is well… slow down and tell your kids. My kids would rather I told them that I was too devastated to get off the couch, than I pretended everything was normal and then snapped at them.
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  3. Take it Easy on Yourself: It is so easy as mom’s to fall into the trap of “burden carrier,” and we must keep going no matter what and for months we can wind in and out of this mire of beating ourselves up because we aren’t doing enough. There are times in our lives when doing nothing is more than enough. It isn’t forever, it is a season. Your children are in this life with you and while they grieve and experience painful events they appear to bounce back so much more easily than we do. Don’t believe it, they need time out too. If your family is struck by a tragedy and you are just not coping with the workload, then chances are your kids won’t be coping that well either… It takes time to recover, let them have the time too.
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  5. It is Easy to Think That You Have Nothing To Give: I firmly believe that families grieve together, it is unusual for us to face an incredibly painful event in isolation. Though we might think we are alone, we usually aren’t. When one of our children lost a friend due to illness… we all lost a friend. Nobody was up to anything for a time. And that is okay. I think one of the blessings of homeschooling for us has been we have been able to take time off school and learn a lot about life. While we haven’t tossed our children into the waves of family tragedies, we certainly don’t shelter our children from tragedies that have struck friends and relatives. In times like this, I might not be giving my children history lessons, or math instruction, but I am giving them comfort and someone to draw alongside. There are times when none of us have been up to much, and that is okay… because it is only for a season.
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  7. Get Help: So many people offer to help… “let me know if you need anything”… I know you wish they would be more specific but they aren’t. If you need help with the laundry ask for it, if you need help with dinner ask for it. I know it can be awkward to ask for help… but the more specific you are the better people will respond. If you need your kids to go and play at friends for the day then find the friend who can do that for you. I can’t think how many friends have said please can we leave our kids with you for the day, while they deal with an emergency.

    It isn’t every day and to be honest, my children welcome interruptions and a little shuffle in their routine… yes school happens a little more slowly as we adjust to new numbers, and sometimes with many many kids visiting for the day – normal school has to be thrown out of the window. That doesn’t mean you have to do nothing, it just means that the school you had planned is going to be a little different. I would so much prefer that our school day was disrupted to help a friend out than to hear months down the line that a friend really needed a day off and couldn’t ask for help. It does take courage to ask for help, but you will be surprised how many friends are willing to help.

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  9. Find Someone to Talk To: Get yourself an anytime friend, someone you can call or email “anytime…” and they will stop what they are doing and be there for you. I have a couple of anytime friends, we very rarely chat about everyday life, but when disaster strikes they are the first folk that I turn too… it works both ways. While I can expect my family to understand my deep sadness, I cannot expect them to be my emotional ear, especially when they are dealing with their own aches and pains. I find I really need an impartial friend who is near and dear to me, but isn’t necessarily part of the family. Your anytime friend may not be the people that you think will be good listeners, they may be someone totally unexpected. Different folk in different seasons can be extremely helpful. I have to say, whoever they are, don’t be afraid to call them.
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  11. Do Just One Thing: I think we get so caught up in getting everything done and the level of overwhelm can just be alarming. To be sure you do not have to provide your children with an entire education this very year. We are so caught up in the “everything now culture” that we often forget that our students are with us for years. Even before disaster strikes this is something that really worries homeschool moms. Now is the time to let crazy expectations go and just try and do one thing. Just pick one thing that you think you can manage and then try it. Your kids will survive for a while without doing all the reading and all the math and all the science experiments. I know in difficult times I have chosen just one book to read to our family, one chapter a day and that is all… there have been times when even that was too much. In fact there were times when my one thing was to step outside and sit on the steps. I reckoned my kids were outdoors playing, I was alongside them and that was my one thing… you can go smaller than that too… your kids will learn despite you… if they play computer games, if they page through library books, if they chatter with friends… they will be learning, and I will say it again, it is only for a season.
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  13. Find Time for Yourself: I know this sounds impossible… my husband works all day and often nights, I am surrounded by early-rising-little-people and never-ever-going-to-bed-teens… and that is all the more reason to find space for yourself. I have learnt to find space within a crowd/our family. I can take my kids to the beach and they all are engaged and playing and I can just sit and stare into space. When my children were younger I would go to the library alone and choose their books… Even a cup of tea, just for you, can feel pretty sacred. This year we started really little ambles in the evening… to the end of the block and back. The kids were busy looking at things my mind could wander. It has grown in to something bigger but it began as a very small step of getting some fresh air for me.
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    And the Se7en + 1th…

  15. This is a Season it is not Forever: I am not for a moment saying that grief goes away, when you survive an ordeal it really aches and a part of you will always ache… but you do get better at living with that ache. You won’t forget everything that has happened and bounce back into life as it was before, we are changed by a crisis, we are different because of them and our lives and perspective will be different too. You will find months, years later, when you just can’t face the day – so be it, collapse. That’s okay. You are a human person, a frail one at that… we don’t expect perfection from those around us, let’s not expect it from ourselves either. If you find yourself sinking way too far into the pit of despair, then their is no shame in getting professional help. Sometimes problems are poured on us thick and fast and when things appear to be totally more than we can cope with, another thing lands on our plate… if you do need professional help then get it sooner rather than later, because impartial help may be just the help you need.

Your kids will learn from your family trials, maybe not your traditional school classes. When we walk through the different seasons of life with our children alongside they get to join us on the journey. We are teaching them the path to take and how to handle difficulties that are bound to strike them as adults. Oh yes, your children are learning… maybe not how to spell ten new words for the week, but life is a lesson and the more help they get along the way when they are younger, the easier it will be for them when they are adults.

→ 12 CommentsTags: Organizing School · Se7en at School

Se7en + 1 Things to do with a Bandana, And Let’s Support The Sunflower Fund Together…

September 16th, 2014 · 2 Comments

The Sunflower Fund National Bandana Day Campaign runs from 15 August to 15 October 2014. And National Bandana Day is 12 October…

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The Sunflower Fund National Bandana Day Campaign has a simple message this year:

“We all have Hopes and Dreams for the future. By purchasing a bandana for R25 you could make a difference and offer those fighting leukaemia and other life threatening blood disorders a chance of a future”.

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As a family we really wanted to support the Sunflower Fund and we headed for the supermarket and collected se7en + 1 Bandanas… and then we brainstormed se7en + 1 Things to do with a bandana… and like all good brainstorming sessions we began by baking a batch of cookies, as one does…

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Se7en + 1 Things to do with a Bandana…

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  1. Endless Quilting: Sew them together for a picnic blanket or an almost instant bedspread.
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  3. Endless Cushions: All my kids think a pile of bandana cushions will rather up the decor around here.
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  5. Endless Head Gear: There are only about a million bazillion ways to wear a bandana.
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  7. Endless Bandana Bunting: Cut your bandana into four triangles. Fold the base of each triangle over and stitch them to form a casing. Thread some ribbon or string through the casing and hang your bunting up… done!!!
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  9. Endless Clothing and Accessory Upgrades: Sometimes a pair of jeans just needs a bandana stripe.
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  11. Endless Dress Up: And I mean endless… pirates, cowboys, super heroes, doctoring, endless…
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  13. Endless Aprons: Just snip and add ribbon and all that felt baking will be taken to a new level.
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    And the se7en + 1 th

  15. Bandanas make the Best Gifts and the Best Baby Present Ever: All our babies had a special bandana, firstly they are bright and fun and each can have their own colour. Buy a couple and then you have a special supply. They are great for about a million baby things:
    • A trendy spit up cloth,
    • An instant bib,
    • A sunshade,
    • Something to lay them on when you really need to put them down on a clean surface,
    • Something to swing above them for batting practice with those little feet,
    • Something light enough for them to hold on too,
    • And something for them to cuddle when they fall asleep,
    • Could go on and on…

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While bandanas are fun and projects with bandanas are more fun… these bandanas serve a serious purpose. The Sunflower Fund desperately needs our support. The Sunflower Fund is a non-profit organisation in Cape Town, South Africa. They are trying to educate South Africans, create awareness and raise funds to build the South African Bone Marrow Registry with healthy bone marrow stem cell donors…to improve the chances for all South Africans, diagnosed with life threatening blood disorders, of having a bone marrow stem cell transplant and being given the opportunity of a longer life!

What can you do for the Sunflower Fund

  • Visit their website to learn more.
  • See if you qualify to be in the bone marrow registry.
  • The funds from bandana sales goes towards funding the project… buy a bandana.
  • Wear your bandana on Bandana Day – to raise awareness of this very important project.

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Caring and Sharing

Sunday Snippet: Construction Site – Expect Delays…

September 15th, 2014 · 6 Comments

Roadworks seem to be the fashion of the day and we are never very far from them. I have a child who loves and adores a good construction site and fortunately for her, there is often one within walking distance of home. Much as she loves construction sites I have a feeling that the amount of delay and traffic congestion surrounding the roadworks, and the fact that they are taking forever, may be leaving a lot of neighbourhood motorists more than a little put out.

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It isn’t just roadworks, construction seems to be a way of life and it appears that often those around the construction find themselves a little put out – I didn’t even attempt to hang laundry this past week. Our laundry rack was going to be busy just for an afternoon of moving house… it turned out to be the whole week. I said nothing, I prefer to pick my battles.

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However, when it comes to our hearts we expect the construction that is going on in there to happen overnight… and it won’t of course bother anyone around us. Needless to say as we sit in church on a Sunday morning and we all have on our Sunday smiles it might appear to the world that the roadworks going on in our hearts are all up to date and complete too. Smooth traffic flowing all round. I know there are moms sitting a couple of rows back thinking, wow she must be so organised and together, all her kids are in a row. Little do they know one child left home without shoes, another only had one shoe… three children flatly refused breakfast and claim they will never ever eat oats again and I don’t want to mention the dishes “soaking” in the sink. And as for the “he touched me, her knee was in my space, humming during prayers…” that goes on. I have to say that those in the row directly behind us are often very polite, and I am sure more than a little put out by the “roadworks” going on in our row. And that’s before we even get to the hearts.

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Unfortunately, the roadworks in my heart are a bit more of a stop-and-go situation, sometimes I stop and take a breath, but mostly it is just go, go, go without pause. Two people asked me this week if I worked… um I have eight kids, I think I do. I have a feeling that they were actually asking if I earned a salary, I don’t. But what sprung to mind immediately, was the work I haven’t been getting around too… it is September and my plans to read the Bible through in a year… have drifted into a two year plan, and my intentions to learn a Bible verse each week are stuck way back in February. And the only good thing about that is that those were my plans and my works. And I am more than grateful that it is God who is working on my heart and constructing and transforming my mind, because if it were up to me… then we could expect quite a few delays. But since it is up to God, it will happen, despite my flimsy efforts, according to His perfect timing and eventually He will reach completion, even with me.

All our Sunday Snippets have been updated and gathered into one place again.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Sunday Snippet

Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #239…

September 13th, 2014 · 6 Comments

It has been such a busy week… and the posts I had planned never came to fruition, which is a good thing because I have a pile of blogposts in the pipeline all close to “good to go.” This week, someone we know discovered flying is for the birds – literally. He has needed lots of extra care and attention and multiple friends over continuously as distraction…

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We actually have a fairly quiet weekend planned, which is great because I have some great posts looming, they just require a little crafty time and good light for photographing. Honestly, I am quite keen to dive right into the weekend!!!


Here are some lovely links from this week:

  1. It is birthday season again over here and this weeks Favourite Party Ideas on Oh Happy Day – sweet fun inspiration!!!
  2. And Handmade Charlotte could well be upping our breakfast game with “the art of the breakfast sandwich,” not to mention would you look at these darling animal spools.
  3. How adorable are these mini-pinatas… on Bellissina Kids!!!
  4. Hmmm… this post on Playing by the Book got me thinking: Do you have desert island books… I have a mental timeline of books for ages and stages that I have passed through… but I think I might need to create a desert island list – Just in case!!!
  5. Katherine Marie… she’s back and I’m loving it!!!
  6. Ever since we explored the River Cottage CookBook for school one here we have wanted to visit there… take a peak at a visit: River Cottage…
  7. Humour me and my IKEA campaign – hello would someone like to say why there is no IKEA in Cape Town because would you look at all this IKEA paper love on Poppytalk… go on … look – stationary heaven!!!
  8. And I absolutely cannot let this week pass by without pointing you to Alisa Burke’s Family beads… they are too delightful!!!
  9. And the se7en + 1th link:

  10. A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:

That’s us… Hope your weekend is a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…

→ 6 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

What We Are Reading Right Now #30 – The PanMacmillan Edition…

September 12th, 2014 · 4 Comments

Once again we bring you a pile of the latest and greatest new kids books, hot of the press…


A Family Read A Loud: We have absolutely loved Sam Angus’ previous books: Soldier Dog and Hero… so much so that I read this as soon as it landed in our review pile and I am saving it until we are finished our current read aloud… to share with the gang. Sam Angus writes war stories… stories about children and animals caught in the throws of the Great Wars. They are incredible reads, she has the knack of carrying your emotions to the edge and back – there will be tears of anguish, there will be tears of joy… there will be tears. In her latest book Captain, you are taken with young Billy Bayliss, who at fifteen faked his way into the war effort, into the heart of Galipolli. Captain is not a donkey, as you might have guessed by the cover, but a quick witted refugee and someone who is of the same age as Billy… together they find themselves in a man’s world. How often we have a romantic ideal of a a distant war, in a distant time, in a distant city. This beautifully written book brings Galipolli home, you will never forget the men and boys that fought for their lives and essentially our freedom. If loyalty and bravery could be learnt within the covers of a book then you would definitely learn those qualities in this book.

The Hoods Are Reading…


Hood #3:

Deep Blue, the first in the WaterFire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly: Hood #3 vanished into this book, and Hood #2 was intrigued after her rave reviews. They both took a day off from the world to read it from cover to cover. I don’t know if I am dying to read a book about mermaids, per se… but I had to take a peak after they both enjoyed this book so much. This book is a mystery… and a saga, it is the first in a series of four. Serafina is a Mediterranean mermaid about to get betrothed to Prince Mahdi, of the Indian Ocean. Serafina is part of the Mer-world, a whole world invented and created just for the saga… Serafina has been having troubling dreams and as you wander into the book you discover that these dreams are more than dreams. You are in the world of mermaids, there will be magic and myth intertwined, and lots of it. This book is not nearly as grown up as it looks, so a good read for the younger teen set. A little love, but nothing untoward or intense, and lots of very capable girls or should I say mermaids directing the story. The book is also full of puns and while the story is a serious one, the puns and humorous style, keep it light. I liked the little details in the book, all the text is blue – adding to the whole “undersea effect.” If you love all things ocean, and pretty and dramatic, then this is a fabulous read… The book ends with a bit of a cliff hanger and you will want the next book in the series to be out already – it isn’t of course.


Hood #4:

Really, Really Big Questions about Science by Holly Cave and illustrated by Marc Aspinall. I totally and absolutely love and adore this book. Everything about it screams vintage. It feels like the kind of fact book I grew up on, only the facts are current. Five Chapters: Life and Living Things; Amazing Me!; The Weird and the Wonderful; Bright Ideas; and the Big Wide World. The whole book reads like the author is chatting to you… the pages are big and clear, with one fabulous question per page and a fabulous retro illustration to go with it. The questions alone are intriguing and enough to get even the most sluggish brain thinking or rather reading: “Why am I always late for school? Why don’t I look like a banana?… Why can’t I jump like a superhero?” and so on. Also, on almost every page there is a little “Brain Burn Box” filled with the most mind blowing fact. The illustrations are glorious and you really do feel like you may have stepped back in time!!!


Hood #5:

Foxy Tales by the Caryl Hart and Alex T. Smith… Oh you are in for some fun… anything with Alex T. Smith on the cover is going to be great fun… Foxy Dubois is a very fancy fox, filled with airs and graces and she is off to Jollywood to find her fame and fortune. Only one thing stands in her way and that is Alphonso Alligator, a delightfully impolite alligator with an insatiable appetite… anything and everything is at risk of being eaten, and a series of burps and other bodily smells and noises are emitted… Much as Foxy tries to get rid of him, she can’t, one of those “friends” that sticks like glue. The illustrations are as much, if not more part of the tale… lots of slapstick funniness. After hood #5 read this one to himself and laughed hysterically out loud to it all… I was forced to read it to the younger group too… they loved it. This book is a bit more work than an easy reader, and a lot less work than your typical chapter book… perfect for the just reading reader. Perfectly silly through and through, the sort of book reviewers would call a delightful romp… and for once they would be right.


Hood #6:

Donna Wilson’s Creative Creatures: We have reviewed this lovely book before, but it is out in soft cover now and worth a second shout out. This is a book for the “makers” of this world… packed. packed with lovely ideas of things to make and do… quick and easy crafts and other’s that will require time and effort. Paper crafts, fabric crafts… owls and kittens, monkeys and foxes… sock puppets, paper dolls, soft houses and pop up cards… there is really a craft for everyone in this book… EVERYONE!!! Now that our child, that just can’t stop making things is old enough to dive in and conquer any craft completely unattended, this book is the book for her!!! Don’t for a moment think this is just another children’s craft book… it is packed with loveliness for all ages and stages. We totally love this book, it is a keeper and will be lying on the coffee table inspiring someone for weeks to come.


Hood #7:

Handa’s Surprising Day by Eileen Browne is just delightful… an easy reader of the sweetest variety, with a story that is interesting and fun to read… Handa is a young gal growing up in a village in Kenya. My children delight in reading stories about children in Africa and really we wish there were more around. Anyway, Handa is your typical young gal who has a tendency to misplace things. One day she leaves home with a large basket of fruit on her head, all the animals she passes on her journey are very happy to help themselves and when she reaches her destination she has a large collection of tangerines instead… life sure is full of lovely surprises. Three really lovely stories in one… and just at the right level for a beginner reader to tackle with a little help.

The Flying Bath by Julia Donaldson: Honestly, who knew that all the bath toys have a wild and energetic play after everyone leaves the house in the morning. The bath goes on a bit of a rescue mission – all over the world. It is Julia Donaldson, so there is clever rhythm and rhyme, lots of it and of course a repeatable chorus that gets louder and rompier towards the end. This is a picture book and it was appreciated as that… but there is a little more, almost all the writing is in speech bubbles, the words are very simple and my beginner readers really enjoyed reading the predictable text and really got that the story was a conversation between the main players. A fun read but not an awesome read… nowhere near as easy reading and poetical as the Gruffalo or A Squash and a Squueze, say.

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8:

Hugless Douglas by David Melling: I know we have blogged about Hugless Douglas before, but honestly he is so darling and his funny bunnies and cuddly sheep… just the perfect guy to cuddle up with for a story… Everything to love!!! And Hugless has activity books too… filled with adorable pages of “how to draw” and spot the difference, and puzzles and fun for the junior set… but I have to say it is the dozens and dozens of the cutest stickers that get me… I just love them!!!

That’s us… hope you have a weekend full of great reads…

We would really like to thank Pan MacMillan South Africa for providing us with all the books to review for this post. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books