What We Have Been Reading Lately, the Penguin Random House Edition…

We have been reading a ton this year, lots and lots of new books are on my desk waiting for their reviews to be written… so let’s dive in and begin…



The Happiest Kids in the World by Rina Mae Acosta and Michelle Hutchison published by Penguin Random House South Africa:

I have to qualify this review a little bit, because I almost never ever read parenting books… ever. It is quite simple, with eight kids our entire parenting philosophy can be summed up in a couple of words: “Whatever makes the least noise.” And I haven’t met many parenting books with that philosophy. That being said, I love reading about anything around the world, and parenting around the world is just fascinating. It turns out that Dutch children have come out tops in the “happiness stakes” in study after study, so I was eager to see exactly what it was that makes their kids so happy. It turns out, love and respect are the foundation of their family life, everyone has an opinion and anyone can voice their opinion… children are people and need to be treated like that… Not necessarily like little adults or like the centre of the universe. This was reassuring for me as in our house everyone does indeed have a voice (and yes often all at once) and opinions are expressed freely and frequently. The authors, who are married to Dutch men and raising their children in a totally “new to them” culture, have had a lot to learn and a lot to get used to. It appears that the Dutch in general are very pragmatic and have a very level headed approach to life in general, including parenting.

The book includes thirteen chapters, from pregnancy and birth, right on through pre-school, primary school and into the teen age years. The gloss over nothing, they merely observe what happens, in schools, in parks, in playgroups and so on. It was a lovely read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and kept thinking I must have Dutch ancestors… because so much of what they write about makes perfect sense, including how they trust their children to get on with things and leave them to get on with them. There are no home work fights because primary school children don’t get homework; there are no chore debates, because everyone has their role to play; there is definitely no hovering around the playground to make sure that your child is performing better than all the rest, because honestly, nobody cares; and there is no “PRETEEN/TEEN TALK” because they have already discussed everything their children need to know as they grew up. I really enjoyed this book. If you are looking for a fun to read no-nonsense parenting book, that isn’t going to leave you drowning in guilt about all the things that you should have done… then this is the parenting book for you. This is definitely not the book for go-getter parents who are aiming to get their kids ahead at all costs… this is exactly for parents who need insights and ideas into raising “The Happiest Kids in the World.”

A Quick Escape

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella published by Penguin Random House:
This is a fabulous weekend read that had me laughing out loud. It certainly isn’t deep or earth shattering in anyway. Just pure fun. This is the story of Katie Brenner, and her boss, Demeter, in two parts. The first part is set in London, Katie is working as hard as she can to stay afloat, in the cut-throat world of marketing. And Demeter has the oh so perfect life of the boss, who really couldn’t care less about her underlings. While Katie’s life looks perfect on her instagram feed, the reality is somewhat further away from that, further than even she would like to share with her friends and relations. She is trying to fit into the BIG world of London, it is very much a case of two steps forward and three steps back… and then her world comes tumbling down and she returns to her roots in the country. And we find ourselves in part two of the book. During her sabbatical, as she tells her folks, from the world of commerce, she establishes a glamping holiday farm… and who should turn up but her nemesis Demeter. Katie decides to get her own back on her perfect boss… only to discover her boss has a not so perfect life. Funny, heartwarming and just the book I needed to get a bit of a break from reality… and a visit to the English countryside, even in a book is always a good getaway. I am definitely going to be seeking our more Sofie Kinsella, for some light reading that takes you away from it all.

Middle School Fun

Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson:
We have a huge James Patterson fan in our house in one of my middle school boys, James Patterson is a bit of a prankster and clearly appeals to the middle school boy sense of humour. This is the story of Rafe Khatchadorian, a middle schooler who decides to break every rule in the school. Gotta say not my fave genre of book, but my “most reluctant to pick up an book and read for pleasure lad” absolutely loves James Patterson and roared with laughter all the way through, so he is clearly reading it and I will take it as a win!!! The chapters are really short and the story is richly illustrated, adding to the easing reading approach and appeal. Clearly Rafe’s scheme to break all the rules is a little silly and he encounters a number of problems as he launches from one ridiculous scheme to the next… fun reading, totally anti-establishment… and a great read for a reluctant reader.

Middle School Fun

Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated bu Joe Sutphin and published by Penguin Random House South Africa:
And this title just brought James Patterson to my younger readers… there is an adorable mouse in it after all!!!. This is the story of Isaiah a laboratory mouse that discovers freedom… The book begins with his entire family escaping from a laboratory… That Horrible Place. They all have rather special, laboratory induced peculiarities, Isaiah for instance is bright blue. And they are all recaptured almost immediately except for our delightful little friend who was the smallest of them all… a particularly nervous little fellow with a penchant for big words and reading. A chatty little mouse, who also happens to be afraid of everything. This is a sweet and endearing animal story… that would make a fabulous read-a-loud to children that are ready to move up from picture books at bedtime, it is also a great first chapter book… because the action is fast and the chapters are short. The book is delightfully illustrated all the way through and against all odds and a number of obstacles the little hero does actually win the day.

The Faraway Tree for Emerging Readers

A FarAway Tree Adventure: The Land of Dreams by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Alex Paterson, published by Penguin Random House South Africa:
This book is perfect for children whose parents are dying for them to read their favourite childhood books, The folk of the faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, and yet their children aren’t quite ready for chapter books. These are easy reader versions of stories from the Folk of the Faraway Tree and they are fabulously illustrated with full colour pictures on every page and short snippets of writing on each page as well. Perfect for readers who are launching from those initial reading books, who are keen to read more but lack a little confidence… these books consolidate the reading skills they have and provide perfect practice with interesting and engaging stories. The book is short enough to read in a sitting for the more confident reading, and long enough to be read “a chapter a day” with a bookmark for the less confident reader.

In this story the Folk of the Faraway Tree Heroes Beth, Joe, Frannie and their cousin Rick find themselves in the land of dreams, where they are put to sleep by the sandman and it is up to their Faraway Tree friends Silky, Saucepan Man and MoonFace to get them home safely.

A FarAway Tree Adventure: The Land of Toys by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Alex Paterson, published by Penguin Random House South Africa:
There are six in this Far Away Tree Series, and well worth it for your emerging reader… in this story the Saucepan Man finds himself in a little pickle as he is imprisoned in the castle by the toy soldiers. The children have to figure out a way to rescue him before the cloud at the top of the tree moves onto a new land. Exciting times and just fun reading.

All these books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

6 Replies to “What We Have Been Reading Lately, the Penguin Random House Edition…”

  1. You all have been busy readers! Thanks for mentioning the James Patterson books – I have a feeling they will be perfect for one of my boys! xo

  2. I just put the Sophie Kinsella on my to-read list yesterday 🙂

    Thanks for the recommendation of the Happiest Kids book.

    I’ve been thinking I’m half Danish because most of the things that happen in that country I’m completely in favour of. Have you listened/ read The Year of Living Danishly? I think you’ll love it.

  3. Hay christi, they are really middle school boys best kind of books… plenty of funny illustrations and short short chapters. My younger girls are loving Word of Mouse as well. Anyway, hope you have a fabulous week!!!

  4. Hay Marcia, I have that on my Kindle to read… I have a feeling I am naturally living a lot of it!!! I loved the Happiest Kids in the World book… it was a fabulous and affirming read!!! There is a chance our kids may grow up happy and we are definitely doing a few things right!!! Hope you have a great day!!!

  5. Hay Cat, I hope you are feeling so much better… and where have I been that I haven’t read Sophie Kinsella before, really light and fun… I thoroughly enjoyed it!!! Lots of love and hope you get better soon!!!

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