This weekend is a long weekend and we have been so very busy lately, shuffling kids to and from parties and events and work. So we are taking the weekend off, walking on the beach and reading books. And I have to say that I am ready, for a bit of a break and a long weekend is just that. I got thoroughly back into the habit of reading when I was in Zambia, and I have managed to maintain it since I have been home… so half a dozen books have finally been read on my kindle, I have read books off the bookshelf that have been waiting for ever and here are a couple of real live books that I think our readers will be keen to take a closer a look at…
Brilliant Review Books
I have tried to add a book for all sorts of readers… a good classic story, thoughtful parenting, a fabulous homeschooling resource and finally a fabulous family cookbook. And lurking at the end of the post is a Give Away. All the books featured in the post were published by Penguin Random house South Africa.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee published by Penguin Random House South Africa: I knew that I had to read this as soon as I saw it was launching… so much was said and there was so much hype about the launch that to be honest I felt a little daunted about reviewing it. To begin with I went back and re-read To Kill a Mockingbird. It was just the right thing to do, all the while trying not to read other reviews so that I could read “Go Set a Watchman” with fresh eyes. Turns out my eldest grabbed it and read it in a sitting and declared that “it goes onto his list of favourite books ever.” I have to say that I started it late in the afternoon and had to reluctantly put it down for dinner. You know those books where the words are actually art and you find yourself reading for the sake of them. The primary theme of the book is the racial tension in the American south during the middle of last century… and like any great author the story reveals the theme by describing everything around the issue, the tone of the story tells the story. I have to say that I have enjoyed every artfully selected word, I loved how the mind and voice of a grown-up Scout is very much the mind and heart of the Scout in To Kill a MockingBird, just like us… we might grow older in time but, and I speak for myself, I still feel like a kid inside. Scout’s reactions to life, love and Atticus are predictable… but the story isn’t. Gotta say, despite all the critics, I loved it.
Bully Proof, a Practical Guide for Parents, Teachers and South African Schools by Gail Dore and published by Penguin Random House South Africa: This is a book that so needs to be written and should have been written long ago. No longer is bullying someone else’s problem – it is ours. Our children are all involved in bullying, in some form or manner: they are being bullied, or observing bullies, or bullying others. No one is free of the plague and yet most of us don’t have the tools to deal with it. A fearful child and furious parents are really not the best coping mechanisms and this book does provide a lot of good solutions. Like so many books that provide help for a difficult problem the book begins by defining the problem and to be honest I had to push through some of the horrendous bullying anecdotes here. This is not a subject for the faint-hearted, but I can categorically say, no matter how daunting this is, it is a topic we should all be addressing. One thing the author says, and I completely agree… removing your child from a situation because of bullying, for example choosing to homeschool, is not ultimately helping your child. There are places where removing your child has to be done, for sure, but I often wonder why folk think that homeschool children are somehow magically protected from the world of bullying, because they aren’t. The point is all our children, and ourselves need to have clear and do-able tools at hand to ensure that bullying doesn’t happen in the first place. I love her approach to a class of children and she asks “Imagine a place with no bullying” and they all visibly relax. The structure and solutions that she provides to the problem, for all players involved, is a relatively short and succinct section of the book and very well worth reading. Otherwise she obviously has a lot of experience with the topic and explains quite clearly what bullying is and what our rights are… what you can expect from the school your child attends and the legal ramifications of taking the problem higher up the chain if need be. I highly recommend this book. It is a practical, no nonsense, not to mention eye-opening read on a topic we should all be concerned about.
Homeschooling the Primary Years by Shirley Erwee, published by Penguin Random House South Africa: Another book written in the South African context, that is an excellent resource wherever you find yourself homeschooling. I would recommend this book to homeschoolers and curious non-homeschoolers alike, so many non-homeschoolers ask us about homeschooling and this is a book I would definitely recommend. This book defines homeschooling in a non-confrontational and “preachy” way… just the facts: this is what homeschooling is and this is what it isn’t; this is what you can expect from homeschooling and these are the limitations. This book has a great chapter on the legal rights as a homeschooler in South Africa, should you or shouldn’t you register your child, for instance. There are also heaps of practical resources to help homeschoolers find the tools they need to teach their child: sports activities, socialisation issues, mistakes to avoid and where to find homeschooling support and help for those families with special needs. As a new homeschooler this book would have been invaluable to me, and as someone who is just beginning the journey with our eighth student there was a lot of information in this book that I highlighted and made note of. In fact my poor book is absolutely packed with post-it-notes for me to go back and check the details later. I would say this is way up on the list of essential reads for a new homeschooler, particularly a South African homeschooler.
Party Time by Lizelle De Kock published by Penguin Random House South Africa:The truth is, I am not the best party mum ever… The funny thing is that until we had five kids our parties were great and elaborate affairs… full of months of secret planning and preparation. I was always looking for quick and easy solutions and in fact when I began blogging parties were a major feature. But my tipping point was reached and with eight kids life has become dramatically simpler and clutter free, times change and we have simplified our lives considerably. Parties around here have become really quick and easy affairs: My mum makes the cake and my kids ask their friends over to play on the day… we have cake and sing and they have a blast and that’s it!!! I know I can do better and now that this book has been on the lounge table I am going to have to do better. My smaller people embraced this book with such enthusiasm I just couldn’t believe it. This book is packed with party themes that will interest the main party goers in your lives: Construction parties, butterfly parties, rainbow parties and so on. What I liked about the book was that a lot of the ideas were totally do-able, and for certain folk in our house that think everyday is worthy of celebrating, they were joyfully diving in and creating butterfly party treats and fruit kebabs, rainbow jelly and wafer windmills. This book has party decor and party food sorted, it is full of lovely party ideas. The book comes with a CD of templates for the decor and signage projects in the book. The author Lizelle de Kock has a fabulous website, where you can take a peek at her work.
Home. Food from my Kitchen by Sarah Graham, published by Penguin Random House South Africa: The first time we came face to face with Sarah Graham was with the Free Online Baking Course she gave with Yuppie Chef, it was a very good experience for all of us!!! Other than that Sarah Graham hosts her own TV show and has published cook books before this one, and of course she has a beautiful blog, the place to find her recipes.
This is the kind of cook book that our family loves, pages and pages of wonderfully doable recipes: family meals, starters, mains, deserts and everything in between. My guys dived in immediately and made chocolate chip fudge. What can I say, galactic success. Otherwise there has been Salt and Pepper Squid, and Beer and Brisket Pie, as well as lamb, red onion and tzaziki flatbreads on the menu. These are all things that we don’t normally eat, but now that we have tried and tested them, these recipes are on the menu to stay. I love how her recipes are so easy, especially for kids to follow. Nobody wants a plain old sandwich for lunch when they can have “Quick thyme, feta and black pepper muffins.” These are so easy to make that I can leave even my littlest people to make them while we finish up with school for the day.
Se7en + 1 Recipes we Tried and Tested with Success:
- Fiery Lentil and Chorizo Soup
- Salt and Pepper Squid
- Beer and Brisket Pie
- Lamb Red Onion and Tzatziki Flatbreads
- Quick Thyme, Feta and Black Pepper Muffins
- Chocolate Chip Fudge
- Lemony Scones
- My Favourite Chocolate Tray Bake
Honestly, there is so much to love about the genteel Sarah Graham, her book somehow feels like an invitation to tea. She introduces her recipes along with members of her family, who wouldn’t want to make Granny Jinty’s rosemary shortbread? This is a beautiful family recipe book, with a South African flavour and full of ingredients that you most likely already have. The thing I liked most about the book was that it was packed with recipes that our kids wanted to try and they were easy enough for them to dive in and experience culinary success. You can take a look at Sarah Graham in action on this video here.
The GiveAway Winner
And finally, we ran a Katie Fforde GiveAway two weeks back and it is time to share our GiveAway winner:
All the entries…
Snipped and Mixed…
And picking and choosing…
And the winner is Corli Jul 27, 2015 at 10:10 pm I would love a bit of light relief in between packing with all that free time between 2 and 4 am! Or read it on the plane! Ha ha ha! Still, I would love to read it sometime.
Congratulations Corli, expect an email from us shortly so that we can get your prizes to you as soon as possible.
We would like to thank Penguin Random House South Africa for the books for review purposes and the GiveAway book. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.