Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival – Our Review.

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival

We’re part of a book blog tour for Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival, a wonderful book which is out now!

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival celebrates individuality in a really lovely way. Norman has always been perfectly normal until one day he grows a pair of wings. He has a wonderful time flying around, but doesn’t want anyone to know about his wings.

So he keeps a large coat on all the time. But that then stops him from having fun. He’s too hot to play in the park, and it’s very impractical when you’re having a bath too.

Eventually one day he decides to remove his coat. So do a lot of other people at the same time, and they all have wings too which they’ve been hiding. “the sky was filled with flying people! Norman had never felt so happy!”

Which in turn makes Norman realise there is no such thing as perfectly normal – just Perfectly Norman!

We’ve reviewed one of Tom Percival’s books on here which we also loved – he gets the message across to young readers really well.

Perfectly Norman is a lovely book, which has a great message in there too. There is no such thing as being normal like everyone else, because everyone is their own kind of normal.

As the back of the book says, ‘A bold and uplifting book about daring to be different and having the courage to dance to your own tune. Perfect for soothing even the biggest worries.”. I think it sums the book up perfectly.

We’re back from our holiday, where we did loads of fun stuff, including a National Trust trail at Dyrham Park which set a challenge of trying to fly like an eagle. It had a beautiful carved pair of wings in a tree trunk and while I didn’t quite get a photo of H mid-flight, she loves the idea of recreating a bird in flight and wishes she had wings of her own.

H flying at Dyrham Park

You can buy Perfectly Norman now, available in a softcover version from all good booksellers and of course places like Amazon too (affiliate link).

Perfectly Norman Banner

We received a copy of Perfectly Norman for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own. 

We’re in the Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack!

A Brownie Lottie doll has just been launched, and we’re a part of it. We’re joining in with the launch of the Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack!

The Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack is a group of former Brownies from various eras, some of us have children who are also now Brownies. How brilliant is it to be working with someone who has launched something we’re doing in real life?

Lottie Dolls need no introduction in this household. H has five of them – and a Finn, her little boy-chum. The Lottie’s and Finn live in our little cardboard dolls house which lives in H’s bedroom.

Lottie Dolls are suitable for children aged 3-9. I like that they’re normal little dolls. They have simple clothes and do fun things that most children will also do. They’re very relatable – and I think that’s why H loves them so much.

Back in the seventies I had similar with Amanda Jane dolls. I loved them SO much! My favourite was my Brownie Amanda Jane – I was delighted to discover there is now a Brownie Lottie doll.

H has just finished her first year at Brownies and loves it! In the year she has done Brownies she has done SO MANY BADGES. Seriously. Even better, she’s doing quite a few on her own. I love the independence Brownies is giving her and hope that we’re encouraging the girls to find things out and do more for themselves.

What I like the most about Lottie dolls is how they’re normal girls like H. They wear normal clothes and do normal things that H and her friends would do.

Having a Brownie Lottie is wonderful! H plays with her Lottie collection a lot – so having a Brownie one is ideal. I love that there are activity sets alongside the launch, and even better, you can buy the Brownie clothes separately, so brilliant if you already have Lottie dolls and don’t want to buy a new one.

How would I sell Brownies to someone who didn’t know? As a Brownie in the seventies I learned life skills – I think everyone did the Hostess badge, learning to make someone a cup of tea. Or learn how to tie various knots that might come in useful (then promptly forget them)?

My favourite thing was learning about Brownies around the world. I think that’s what makes me the happiest about Brownies. It is a worldwide organisation designed to make young girls have better skills in life and allowing them to grow.

Having Lottie team up with the Brownies is in my eyes, a perfect match. Over the coming weeks if you keep an eye on my Instagram feed or follow the hashtags #LottieBrownieDoll you’ll see lots of people sharing their pictures.

Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack, Brownie Throwback pic

Of course, there’s the obligatory #BrownieThrowbackPic – and happily I have just the one which I love! It would be around 1977-1978, though I didn’t seem to have many badges on my uniform. The first badge I did was the Brownie Friendship badge (which was really hard!) – apparently I was the first girl in York to do it.

Looking through a copy of the old Brownie handbook I can’t remember which other badges I did. I do remember having a brilliant time while making friends.

As the packaging says “The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the largest voluntary Movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world. Our diverse Movement represents ten million girls and young women from 146 countries. For more than 100 years Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has transformed the lives of girls and young women worldwide, supporting and empowering them to achieve their fullest potential and become responsible citizens of the world.

We are delighted we are in the Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack! Now if only there was a woven badge to add to our camp blankets….

Lottie Brownie Pack Badge, Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack

Mix It Magazine – A New Fun Magazine Out Now!

Mix It Magazine is a new monthly magazine suitable for 4-9 year olds. We received a copy of Issue 1 & 2 to share our opinion with you!

Mix it Magazine

Mix It Magazine doesn’t have one particular subject, it has many. Issue 2 is out now and just checking inside I thought it was excellent.

If I was to mention the following brands to you and you nod your head in agreement, Mix It Magazine is one your child will love.

Rainbow Magic…. Shopkins… Minions…. DC Super Hero Girls…. Lego Friends… Masha and the Bear…. LOL Surprise…. Glimmies…. Lalaloopsy…. Puppy in my Pocket… Miraculous…. Little Miss…. and my favourite…..

The bit I loved the most was having a whole page of Powerpuff Girls stickers! Shaun and I both love the PPG and love that since the relaunch they have a new audience with H’s age range. Beyond the stickers there are activities too. Issue 1 has some great Powerpuff cutouts with the Townsville background. I can’t think of many magazines that would feature them, Mix It Magazine feels a great match!

Mix it Magazine Powerpuff Girls

Mix It Magazine is targeted at girls without being too girly. There’s an element of kick ass cartoons in there too as well as lots of different puzzles.

Each issue has branded cover gifts – Issue 2 has a Miraculous dance wand, hair bands and lip gloss set. H is enjoying putting the lip gloss on! Issue 1 had some nail files, nail stickers (which we’re saving for the summer holidays), toe separators and some nail varnish which H has already decorated her toes with..!!

Mix It Magazine is multi character, so you’re never sure who you’ll get in the next issue, but you get a good idea looking at the covers.

Mix It Magazine also features YouTube vloggers Creative Celeste and Emily Tube with a page about all the things they like. They’re a similar age to H, so that appeals to her.

H’s favourite part of the magazine was Lego Friends. One thing (apart from football or Harry Potter) you can always rely on her doing is sitting in the corner playing on her Lego table creating things. We had Merlin Passes for a couple of years and visited Legoland several times. H spent a lot of that time in the Lego Friends area.

There’s plenty of Shopkins bits too. She has a few bits which make good props for her dolls house. (which currently houses five Lottie dolls and a Finn) Mix It Magazine covers a lot of topics that would cover a wide range of girls.

Mix It Magazine Issues 1 and 2

Mix It is available now – Issue 2 has just come out, and you can still order Issue 1 here. Issue 3 will be on sale on the 10th August 2017. You can buy Mix It Magazine in all good newsagents and supermarkets!

We were sent Mix It issues 1 & 2 for the purpose of review – this is paid content and all opinions are our own.

Amazing Magazine – Learning While Having Fun

Amazing Magazine

H is almost 8, and finishing Year 3. She’s about to head into Year 4 and is still loving school – coming out with a glowing end of year report. I’d like to think that a lot of her learning is due to the extras we find along the way. When Amazing Magazine asked if we’d like to review a copy I jumped at the chance. Amazing Magazine is an excellent magazine which combines learning and fun.

Amazing Magazine is for 6-11 year olds, so is ideal for H – she’s nearly 8. We were sent a copy of Amazing Magazine for H to try. It fits in with the national curriculum, covering topics that they’re likely to cover at school.

The issue of Amazing Magazine we received was an Oceans themed one. Inside it contains puzzles like a crossword (not too tricky) and some maths puzzles which wouldn’t be out of place with H’s current homework. Add to that a bit of decoding messages and a wordsearch, a section on languages and Moby Dick in cartoon form over two pages, and you get the idea.

Amazing Magazine Moby Dick

H says “I like the Great White Shark poster, and the facts about it are pretty cool.”

“some of the puzzles are easy, but I did find a couple a bit tricky” (good, we need to get those braincells working!)

“the writing is nice and clear and I enjoy reading it”

” I learned how to say ‘look, a dolphin’ in Italian too – that was cool! and ‘I feel sick’ in Mandarin. Oh, and ‘watch out for a shark!’ in Spanish.” (in fact, she repeated them all really well – I found out later there’s a handy pronunciation guide with it!)Amazing Magazine How Do I Say

There’s a section about illnesses when you’re diving which H found quite interesting too.

Amazing Magazine Health
I like that there’s a theme in each issue. It’s the kind of magazine you would keep, knowing that the topic may come up at school over the next year or so and that you have additional activities which your child has found helps them learn. It doesn’t feel like it would ever go out of date.

H and Amazing Magazine disappeared upstairs for a while and there was a lot of quiet. There was more than enough inside to keep her occupied! I’m looking forward to reading more.

H and Amazing Magazine
For more information about Amazing Magazine, please head to their website. A 12 month subscription with Amazing Magazine currently costs £49.00. Each individual issue is £6.99. We have been gifted a year’s subscription to Amazing Magazine. We received a copy for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.

How to be a Scientist by Steve Mould

We received a copy of How to be a Scientist by Steve Mould. It encourages exploring, investigating and figuring out how things work. I like the sound of that; a book that isn’t about experiments and makes science about what it should be – everything around us.

how to be a scientist by steve mould

How to be a Scientist by Steve Mould breaks each part of science into easy chapters. Natural World, Human Body, Chemistry, Earth, Physics and Space.

This is where I like it. When I was at school, science was never presented as being interesting to me. When I had to choose one science as a subject it was between chemistry (too hard), physics (too many potential dissections) or biology (too much writing). How sad does that sound? I wasn’t interested and there weren’t books like this to help me see that science is everywhere.

H enjoys it, and I’m doing my best to make sure she keeps enjoying it. I would say How to be a Scientist is a good way of keeping the enthusiasm going. Steve Mould has his own YouTube channel where he regularly uploads videos, and this is his first book. He’s enthusiastic and interesting too.

How to be a scientist - make a tornado
How to be a Scientist encourages children to think like a scientist rather than reading about it like you would a textbook.

I liked the taste test in the human body section. Trying different fruit while holding your nose to show how simple your tastebuds are. Actually, almost all the tests are along those lines. The book clearly explains everything which meant H was able to work through the book with minimal help from us parents.

She has tried a couple of activities. I like that she’s bringing them to us with enthusiasm and a new found knowledge.

We tried the ‘make a tornado’ activity which was really easy – putting washing up liquid into a jam jar and turning it in a certain way to watch the bubbles created turn like a tornado.

Making a tornado - how to be a scientist

Each section also mentions other scientists to back up the learning, which in turn will help when she covers them at school.

How to be a Scientist is a book for 7-9 year olds. This is exactly the right kind of book for her. She’s a strong, confident independent reader who wants to be able to do things on her own. H is working through some Brownie badges and I feel like this book will be ideal for the Science Investigator badge too!

How to be a Scientist is available now via DK Books.

We were sent How to be a Scientist for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.

Scotland Yard – National Unplugging Day

On the 25th June it’s National Unplugging Day – a day when you avoid your tablets and spend some quality family time together. Maybe playing a board game or two? We received Scotland Yard from Ravensburger games, a board game which has been around for a while now. Read on to find out more!

scotland yard from ravensburger

Scotland Yard is a board game which has a few ways to play. It’s definitely a lot more fun when there are more than two of you playing, though I’d recommend doing the easier version first to get the hang of what to do.

For review purposes, assume there are three of us playing. One person is Mister X. The other players are detectives. The purpose of the game is to move around stops in London to track down Mister X. That’s a really simple way to explain it, as there are different ways to move around London.

Mister X wears a visor – after all, he doesn’t want the other players to know where he is.

Scotland Yard Mister X

You have a taxi which covers every stop, a bus which covers quite a lot of stops and finally when playing the difficult version of the game, you have the underground which moves you around the board faster.

scotland yard board game

The easy version of Scotland Yard has the counters on the board at all times, except for Mister X when he’s doing invisible moves. All of Mister X’s moves are tracked on this handy board. When you’re Mister X it’s handy as I kept forgetting where I was.

When you’re doing the difficult version of the game, Mister X only appears on the board three times. This is where the strategic play comes into it – Scotland Yard is quite clever. If you know where Mister X passed through, you also know the way he has travelled. So there’s a good chance you will be able to work out where he could be – each form of travel covers up the move on the board like so.

The detectives take a card from the blue pile to find their starting spot – then it’s about tracking down Mister X with limited clues.

Scotland Yard gameplay

When you’re playing the difficult version of the game you can control two other counters which are the police. You discuss with the other player who isn’t Mister X where those counters go.

The other part of the game are the travel tickets. There are a set number per game to use – lots of taxi ones, a few for the bus and even less for the underground. So you’re having to use them wisely as the object of the game is to land where Mister X is.

Scotland Yard Mister X marker board

We enjoyed playing it – at first I thought the game seemed like Cluedo, but if you think that you’re wrong. Scotland Yard is a game that could go really quickly or could take a really long time. There are ways to escape the detectives and police, but you need to think carefully. It’s really good fun!

Scotland Yard is suitable for age 8+ and for up to six players. For more information head here!

The 25th June is National Unplugging Day, when families are encouraged to Go Gadget Free – we’re going to give it a go!

We received Scotland Yard for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals Panini Sticker Book

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book
Rejoice, rejoice! Panini have brought out a UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals sticker book! It’s out now, available in stores.

Panini have brought out the first ever UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals sticker book – and it’s available now! This is a REALLY big deal, as it has never happened before.

Back in the 80s I used to subscribe to Shoot! magazine – a football magazine famous for its League Ladders and facts about footballers across all clubs. My favourite week was always the one that featured the Tottenham team, obviously. But you had to wait…

My other favourite week was getting a free Football League Panini Stickers album – plus a few stickers to start you off. I’d spend my pocket money on Jukebox 7″ singles at our local supermarket alongside several packs of Panini stickers to complete my collection.

H is now at the age where she gets enough pocket money she knows to save it up to spend it on something she really wants. When I spotted that Panini have launched a UEFA Women’s Euro finals sticker book I had to buy it as a treat – start ’em young, right?

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book Norway team and badge

The sticker book covers all clubs from the forthcoming European finals, plus has a team badge and full team photo on each page. I found a book in Sainsbury’s. The book contains six stickers inside plus a couple of packs. I bought six more packs, you can never have too many.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book starter pack

The collection consists of a 40 page album with 334 stickers to collect. There are 22 special stickers to look out for too. The starter set costs £2.99 and consists of the book and 24 stickers to start you off. Each pack of stickers is 60p for five. Panini also offer you the option to order up any spaces online. That means no more having to save the backs of your old stickers before ordering.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book switzerland page

There are familiar names from the 2014 World Cup alongside players we’ll get to learn about. There are familiar names from the games we’ve seen, predominantly the England Lionesses of course, but also some Dutch players.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book England page

This leads us onto our next ‘can we do it?’ moment. We’re going to try and fly out to The Netherlands to catch a game if the flights are reasonable. We don’t even mind not seeing England, it’ll be something fun to do. The games are affordable, so it wouldn’t cost us a lot. We have a friend who lives in The Netherlands who we could stay with… very tempting!

We bought our Panini UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals book ourselves, let us know if you get any doubles!

that familiar Panini sight

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Annie the Musical with Miranda Hart

miranda hart in Annie
You know when you like something, and you keep going back because what you like is good fun? That seems to be us with Annie. We caught it twice on the UK tour in Wimbledon and Croydon and thought that would be that. But then they announced Miranda Hart would be playing the part of Miss Hannigan. Now – hands up, I haven’t watched her programmes – but! I could see the part would really work. So we had to buy tickets.

Miranda Hart is a huge Annie fan too. There was a recent interview with her confirming this.

So you’re a huge fan of the musical and you get a chance to play one of the most fun roles in there – of course you’re going to do it! We went yesterday and oh my goodness. She is perfect for the role. She doesn’t try to be Carol Burnett or anyone else who has played Miss Hannigan – just herself.

I haven’t watched ‘Miranda’, I only had a vague idea of her sense of humour from clips on tv, so I’ve seen how she looks to the camera and pulls a face – and you get that on stage. How she manages in a theatre I’ll never know – it’s like she’s looking at you! It’s very very funny when she does too.

I was in my seat almost crying with laughter which I know I’ve never done while watching Annie before. The set has changed slightly too. The jigsaw floor is still there but now extends further back with a raised platform for certain scenes. I noticed some small tweaks to the show as well. It’s almost identical to the touring version otherwise.

An example of one of the changes – the orphans find out they’re not getting hot mush for their breakfast and they cheer. Miss Hannigan announces they’re getting cold mush, then jumps on one of their beds mocking them saying “yayy! Cold mush!!” several times, it shouldn’t be funny, but because Miranda Hart is doing it, it ends up being very funny. It’s all in the delivery.

The rest of the cast remain largely unchanged from the UK tour – the same Daddy Warbucks and Grace Farrell too. They’re still doing a marvellous job and you can tell they’re enjoying what they’re doing.

Then of course there are the Annie’s. Madeleine Hayes was our Annie, and I think she might have been on one of the previous times we saw the show too. The orphans were superb too – a really good confident bunch of girls who played their parts wonderfully.

Do I really need to go into the story of Annie? I would think that if you’ve seen the film then you know what to expect – just don’t expect any crazy chases up bridges. They created that for the 1982 film for reasons nobody truly understands.

You have an awesome cast and crew who know what to do and look like they’re fans of the show. It works on so many levels with jokes for adults in there too.

Plus Miranda Hart makes an absolutely excellent Miss Hannigan.

The opening night for Annie the Musical starring Miranda Hart as Miss Hannigan is the 5th June 2017. She will remain in the role of Miss Hannigan until the 17th September 2017. For more information head here.



The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat

As a child I loved reading the Owl and the Pussycat. It had a charm to it that gave me such vivid pictures in my head as I read. Coral Rumble has created a new version of the story – The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat cover

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat starts with them going to sea “In a box on the living room floor, They sailed away for a year and a day, And these are the things that they saw…

Two children play ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ in their front room and this is their imagination. They’re playing in a cardboard box and whatever toys they have handy are part of this game – and it’s wonderful.

It reminds me a lot of when H was little and we made a boat from a large box. We kept it for a good couple of years – at one point it turned into a car, then a spaceship until finally it was recycled. I loved that it had so much play, and most of that was thanks to H’s imagination.

cardboard car and boat

If I was able to write a book for young children, this is the kind of book I wish I could have created.

It’s a beautifully illustrated book by Charlotte Cooke (who is in fact, Coral Rumble’s daughter). The story rhymes which is ideal for primary school aged children discovering poetry.

Coral Rumble and Charlotte Cooke

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat is based on the Edward Lear poem, but has its own direction.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat was originally published by Parragon Books, and is now published by Wacky Bee books. You can order it from Amazon as well as all good booksellers.

We’re part of a blog tour – check out all the other bloggers taking part!

 

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat blog tour

We were sent a copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 

Check out The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat on Goodreads too!

Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault! by Jackie Marchant

Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault! Is by Jackie Marchant. Previously published as Dougal Trump, it finds a new home with Wacky Bee books, as well as a new name.

Dougal Daley - It's Not My Fault coverDougal Daley - It's Not My Fault cover

Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault! originally published back in 2012 under a slightly different title. Newly named and newly published, Dougal Daley is back!

I, Dougal Daley, am dead! Ok I’m not actually dead. But if I’m not careful I soon will be.

In the first book, Dougal finds himself at risk of death from the mysterious creature in his shed. Chances are he isn’t at risk of death at all, but he sounds like a typical seven year old (much like one I know pretty well…) who over exaggerates things that little bit!

Nobody believes Dougal, so he writes his will in case anything happens. Obviously when you write your will and you’re young you make sure the people who do nice things get the good stuff. If you get on Dougal Daley’s bad side you get disinherited!

Dougal loves football. His last will and testament may well involve football-related things… in fact, a lot of the book has sections where Dougal is planning his football related funeral. There are also tributes to him and his football skills from friends and team mates. H found this hilarious – she loves football and could relate to some of it.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of time for football and things in his everyday life, although Dougal finds himself in all kinds of trouble. Obviously, none of it is his fault..!

Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault is published by Wacky Bee books and is out now. The age range for this book is 7+.

Jackie Marchant

Writer Jackie Marchant says the book was inspired by a messy bedroom and her son asking a question about writing a will.

H says “if you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid you will like Dougal Daley – I want to read more adventures of his now!”

Dougal Daley is illustrated by Loretta Schauer, the prize-winning illustrator.

We’re part of a blog book tour – we’re up first, check out all these other bloggers as the tour progresses! Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault gets a thumbs up from H. She loves reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books so this is ideal.

Dougal Daley Blog Tour

We were sent the book for the purpose of review. The review contains an Amazon Affiliate link.