We Love Books – Dick Bruna

A Miffy/Dick Bruna collection set to get biggerFrom the moment I knew I was having a baby I started buying Miffy books. There’s some traditions which have to be repeated, and Miffy is one of them. My mum and dad went to Holland in the last ten years or so, and my dad bought me something Miffy related – he lost it, but the one thing I’ll remember him saying in relation to it was “you always loved Miffy when you were little” – and he’s right, I did.

The first Miffy book was written back in 1955 by Dick Bruna. Obviously Dick Bruna is now so much more better known and has his own museum in Utrecht (next year’s holiday, maybe…?) but back then who could have predicted that Miffy would be so universally loved, translated and still available for children to read?

Miffy the Ghost

There’s so many books to choose from – with only a handful still in print, though a lot can be bought at a reasonable price in second-hand stores or online.

There’s only one Miffy book I find difficult to read. ‘Dear Grandma Bunny’ – which deals with Grandma Bunny’s death (a feature on books about death will happen when I can get through one of the books without crying) – but only because it deals with death and it’s something H will experience at some point. I got this while pregnant and made it to page two before I had to close it in floods of tears – be warned. Though the cover gives you a good enough idea.

Dear Grandma Bunny - Miffy

Other than that, there’s so many Miffy books to choose from. The Book People had a box set of fifteen or sixteen books you could get at a bargain price, but I just missed out so bought them all individually – then started to collect further Dick Bruna books – so now we have a few Boris and Barbara ones, Poppy Pig and some learning books, as well as some based on the tv series that we’ve picked up at car boot sales.

Miffy - I Know My Shapes

I recommended ‘Miffy and the New Baby’ to a friend yesterday, as she felt a lot of the baby books out there at the moment start with the elder child resentful of the new addition  – which in Miffy world just does not happen. Almost every book has a positive slant (there’s always exceptions); in this book Miffy is shouting hurrah, drawing the new baby a picture and looking forward to meeting it, then showering it with cuddles, and it’s all very nice and positive.

Miffy and the New Baby

The latest addition to the Miffy library hasn’t yet received an English translation – Nijntje is Stout (Miffy is Naughty) – she steals a sweet! Then feels huge guilt at her terrible deed and confesses all, so even when Miffy is bad she’s quite good really. Kind of…

Nijntje is stout

There’s also the very cute small Miffy’s Birthday Book which has a simple story/rhyme about a birthday, which we’ve given as a gift a few times to H’s friends – it’s small and cute and you can even write the name of the recipient in the front. It’s also a lot smaller than the regular Miffy books and it’s a different story to ‘Miffy’s Birthday’ too.

Happy Birthday From Miffy

 There are also some different books – Miffy The Artist was released in conjunction with the Tate in 2008 and is a story about Miffy discovering art. You can usually pick this one up quite cheaply on Amazon and Ebay.

There’s a Miffy at the Zoo pop-up book which was another I bought before H was born. It was actually for her cousin, but he already had it, so we kept it.

Miffy at the Zoo

The thing which stands out the most for me with all these books is Dick Bruna’s wonderful pictures, and use of simple colours and fonts. There’s a shop in York which sells Dick Bruna artwork postcards – every time I go back I pick up a handful, put them in a picture frame (a nice colourful Ikea one) and make a picture for H’s bedroom. I love the simplicity.

H's room

Of course, Miffy is more than just books now – we’ve got a tabard, t-shirts, jingly ball toys, a Miffy and a Stuffy the dog toy or two… it’s never-ending – though not as in-your-face as some other toys out there.

Miffy Tabard

We love what Dick Bruna has created, so just wanted to do a little Miffy tribute.
Thank you Dick Bruna, from a mother and her daughter, both growing up with your creations.

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We Love Books – Frugal & Fun – Enjoying School Holidays the Thrifty Way

I like to think I’m good at finding things or thinking about things to do with H, especially now she’s older and more aware of everything, and wanting to do something All The Time. Occasionally we’ll relax in front of the tv or read a book – and occasionally we’ll do crafty things together.

However, there’s only so many times I can do the same things and I need inspiration. Step in ‘Frugal & Fun – Enjoying School Holidays – The Thrifty Way’ – a book by Cass Bailey, Jen Walshaw and Becky Goddard-Hill who make up the Frugal and Fun website (as well as their own blogs).

Frugal & Fun

The book is geared very much towards the summer of 2012 – the World Cup, the Jubilee, the Olympics – and loads of crafts and ideas you can do with your children. Having said that, the crafts and ideas aren’t exclusive to this time of year – you can make medals at any time – it just fits in with now. There’s also lots of tips for organising your life which is good – I could do with a bit of that for my own things.

I really like the homemade craft box – it’s like a step on from the Treasure Box a lot of us made when our little ones were babies, with plenty of craft items in it. I suspect this is something I need to get organised with – as I have several boxes with crafty things rather than one big one! Two other fantastic ideas are the Wish-book (where everyone writes down something they want to do and make a nice book out of it), and the Boredom Jar which I know we’ll need in a year or so from now, where you write things on pieces of card and pick them out on a day when you’re bored for a nice activity to do.

There’s some excellent ideas, and especially when a lot of us have less money to spend, it’s a fun book which will give you plenty of ideas, and best of all it doesn’t break the bank at only £2.99 from the Amazon Kindle store is aimed at 3-10 year olds and is 150 pages!

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We Love Books – So We Made A Playlist

We’ve already done it with music, then it hit me the other night – there’s so many audiobooks or even just readings of books on YouTube which we keep stumbling across – so we’ve created a playlist to share the goodness.

Every day we’re devoting at least twenty minutes to look for any good quirkly YouTube videos – and that includes some trailers for books we’ve featured like Clara Vulliamy’s ‘Martha and the Bunny Brothers – I Love School’ and ‘The Hueys in the New Jumper’ book by Oliver Jeffers (as read by Jarvis Cocker, excellent!) – the only rule is that it has to be a book we’ve read (and if you’ve seen the size of H’s bookcase, then there’s a lot to get through) and it doesn’t matter if it’s read or sung as long as it stays faithful to the book.

Up until an hour or so ago I never even realised you could sing ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ by Julia Donaldson. We all do now, though. There’s going to be so much more out there that we’ll find, and it’s all shared below. Oh, and yes, there’s Topsy and Tim in there too…

We Love Books – Topsy & Tim Have Their Eyes Tested

I suspect this one is no longer in print in any way – I picked one up at Amazon, but if your child is set to wear glasses or get an eye test, then after just one read I can see this will be a positive addition to our Topsy & Tim collection – and that’s the beauty of these books – it’s regular things that happen to them (I’ve still never found any other books about headlice or safety incidents that set it out as plain as this).

For that reason alone, I love Topsy & Tim. H really relates to them and the things they do.

Topsy & Tim Have Their Eyes Tested was first published in 1990, and I suspect this is that very edition, so already 22 years old. Yikes.

Topsy & Tim Have Their Eyes Tested

The story starts with the school medical check, Topsy and Stevie both fail their eye tests, so are referred to the optometrist which becomes a very odd word when you repeat it a lot. Topsy passes the tests at the optometrist (the same tests H had so that’s good!), but Stevie has to wear glasses; he’s not happy about it (fortunately H was!), but sees things the others don’t spot so actually quite likes having them in the end.

You can pick up the book for around 1p with shipping extra on Amazon Marketplace – if your toddler is set to have glasses and you want something that spells it out simply, this may well be your book.

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We Love Books – Oliver Jeffers – The Hueys in The New Jumper

The Hueys in The New JumperThis book is excellent – but most of all it has a message in there – and all of a sudden we find ourselves hoping that the message in the book rubs off on H – as tomorrow she’ll be collecting her first pair of glasses. We’ve no idea how the other kids will react towards her at nursery – hopefully nobody will really notice, and quite possibly they may all want to be like her – which is where this book fits in.

The Hueys all look the same. They all wear the same things and you can’t really tell them apart. One day one Huey (Rupert) knits himself a jumper, and they all look at him oddly as he’s different, until eventually they all want a jumper too. That’s the simple message – which you could quite easily put into as similar a scenario as a first pair of glasses and being the only one who wears them.

The Hueys is really simply illustrated, but you know it’s an Oliver Jeffers book, he has a distinctive style!

Oliver Jeffers The Hueys in The New Jumper

The Hueys in The New Jumper is available in hardback, and also e-book read by Jarvis Cocker.

Oliver Jeffers has written and illustrated many fantastic books, including ‘Lost and Found’ and the follow-up ‘Up and Down’ – this is the first in a new series for him. The name is inspired by Oliver’s grandfather who could never remember the names of his grandchildren so called them all Huey, regardless of gender. Funnily enough, H’s grandad in Australia is also nicknamed Huey!

The Hueys in The New JumperWe were sent a copy of the book by HarperCollins to review. All opinions are our own.

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We Love Books – The Somethingosaur

The SomethingosaurThe Somethingosaur is a new book by Tony Mitton, which was released on the 6th June 2012.

It’s the story of an adorable little creature (The Somethingosaur) who hatches from his egg and finds he’s separated from his mummy, but actually he has no idea who his mummy is.

You know the story by now; it’s an old familiar tale; told in many ways – but what makes this great is the rhyming – it felt like the really good nice simple sentences structured not a million miles from a Julia Donaldson book – and was really enjoyable to read (and if you’ve a keen reader then it’s possible that by the second read they’ll already be finishing your sentences for you).

The pictures are lovely too – and make me want to make a Somethingosaur doll… it’d be too cute!

There’s a happy ending of course, it’s a lovely book which was a delight to read and look at. Tony Mitton (the author) and Russel Ayto (the illustrator) have done a marvellous job!

The Somethingosaur is a HarperCollins Children’s Book, available now with a rrp of £10.99, hardback only.

I received a copy to review, all opinions are mine.


We Love Books – I Love Kipper

Those wicked Book People dropped by Shaun’s work again, and as well as getting the pack of ten Julia Donaldson books (we’ll talk about those another time), we picked up our first Kipper books by Mick Inkpen – a name we weren’t familiar with, but the books look so lovely we had to try.

As it was, the risk was worth it – Kipper has all kinds of adventures – you get ten books for £10 – so that’s £1 a book too which is extremely reasonable. Mick Inkpen has also written and illustrated the Wibbly Pig books which I’ve seen, but we don’t own – and both sets of books now have tv shows.

The books you get in the I Love Kipper bag are : One Year With Kipper, Hide Me, Kipper!, Kipper’s Toybox, Kipper and Roly, Kipper’s Christmas Eve, Kipper’s Monster, Kipper’s Birthday, Kipper’s Snowy Day, Kipper’s Beach Ball and Kipper. They come in a sturdy plastic carry bag too, which is handy for keeping them all together.

I Love Kipper books by Mick Inkpen


The books? Each is a beautifully illustrated story about things Kipper has done – H will choose two or three to read after lunch and is engrossed – the books are targeted at the age range 2-5, so perfect for her.

The tv series? It looks like it’s not currently on CiTV, so we’ll have to look out for a DVD or some YouTube footage – I suspect it’ll also go down very well…

We Love Books – The Ultimate Baby and Toddler Q&A Book – Netmums

The Ultimate Baby & Toddler Q&A I remember back when we were preparing for H to come into this world, and one of the first things we did was nipped to Mothercare and checked all the baby books. I had no idea what to buy, and opted for a hardback book which I thought would be useful. I guess it probably was, but it was pictures and words and actually, once H was born it was never opened.

A more useful book was the ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’ book and the follow-up ‘What To Expect – The First Year’ – but there was a lot in there, and it covered everything – to the point it was overwhelming.

Add to that a Miriam Stoppard book my sister gave me which had me in tears when I’d read a page as everything felt so terrifying, and really it was the internet which gave me the support I needed and information I wanted.

Which is where this book comes in. This is exactly the sort of book a new mum should have – it doesn’t go into a lot of detail, but you don’t need that – there’s plenty of places that cater for that. I found that other people’s experiences and advice (even if I pretended I didn’t need to hear it, I just needed to be ready on MY terms) were what helped me the most when I was trying to ‘get it right’. So you have fifty questions with answers from the experts, and additional comments from Netmums contributors – or should I say, parents who know, and have been through it.

The Ultimate Baby & Toddler Q&A - taking notes

“ah, so that’s what mummy’s trying to do when I have a bit of a screaming tantrum. Bwahahaha”

It’s again very much the kind of book you can dip in and out of like ‘Toddlers – An Instruction Manual‘ by Joanne Mallon – and there’s different perspectives on each question – there’s never a 100% correct way to do something, and it’s reassuring to know others understand or have done things in a way you wouldn’t have thought about – which to me is what communities like Netmums are about.

The book is put together by Hollie Smith a freelance journalist who has already written six books for Netmums.

As for us, I wish we’d had it sooner! The toddler section is a lot smaller than the baby one – so I’m going to be doing the neighbourly thing and passing the book onto my next door neighbour who will definitely get a lot out of it with her seven month old. I’d highly recommend the book, regardless!

I was provided with a copy of the book for review. (which has since been passed on to next door!)

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We Love Books – My First Justin’s Jokes – Justin Fletcher

Okay, so Justin Fletcher as we know, rules tv, in particular Cbeebies where it is impossible to avoid him (and why would you anyway?).

Having said that, he’s also holding strong in the album chart with his ‘Hands Up’ album, which went Top 20 on release (and still gets regular plays on the stereo here at home).

There’s the ‘Something Special’ magazine which is still going strong, plus plenty of books for older kids…

My First Justin's Jokes by Justin Fletcher

What could Justin possibly do next? Oh, just an utterly excellent joke book, that’s what!

It arrived in the post today, and was eagerly ripped open by.. me. I am a woman of few jokes, but my jokes I’ve carried with me through the years are ones that I’ll continue to take with me – and they’re BOTH IN THE BOOK. My sense of humour is obviously not as advanced as I thought.

Now, H is two and a half (going on twenty-two and a half), so we had our next hurdle to conquer – explaining jokes. I wasn’t sure how she’d react, as Christmas Cracker jokes were just a bit too advanced last year but actually, this book is just right. There’s a few jokes that she’ll get as her vocabulary improves, but on summing up the book, she got ‘Knock Knock’ quite quickly (and even started inventing ones of her own), her own personal favourite (we repeated it 15 times) is ‘Why does a giraffe have a long neck? Because his feet smell!’ – so nothing too taxing, but enough she understands why it’s funny.

Every page has Justin in a different costume (mostly in cartoon form with a photo of his face), and she did spend a bit of time saying “ooh, silly Justin, what’s he doing now?” and having a good giggle about it.

My First Justin’s Jokes is available to preorder now at Amazon, and will be released on the 3rd May 2012. ISBN 978-0-571-28823-6, published by Faber and Faber.

I was sent a copy to review, and all opinions are my own (and H’s!).

EDIT – We have a copy to give away in a competition – stay tuned…. we’ll get it up as soon as we can!

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