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.

The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen

Imagine if you had access to a machine which could make anything at all. The first thing you get your machine to do is make sweets, of course. A neverending supply of sweets. The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen is a story where this happens. But it wouldn’t be much of a story if it was about a machine that made sweets, so here’s our review.

The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen

The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen comes from Scholastic and is out now. In the book we meet eleven year old Olly, who receives a special delivery – a 3D printing machine. There’s a problem though, the machine has stamped on it ‘PROPERTY OF M.O.D and BRITISH SPACE AGENCY. WARNING. DO NOT TAMPER’ which when you’re eleven means you may as well have a go when nobody is around, right?

The Everything Machine blog tour banner

Even better, it prints anything Olly asks it to. So that’s a constant supply of sweets, a swimming pool for the shed and one other thing that Olly wants – his dad. His parents have separated and his dad moved out of the family home. So Olly with his brother and sister, Stevie and Bird created a Dad-bot.

H enjoyed reading The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen. We received the book when she was ill from school, and she had finished it by the end of the day.

H says “I liked this book because it’s funny but also dramatic.”

I asked her how it was dramatic, what happened?

“Bird tells Olly and Stevie to stop when they’re creating the Dad-bot. She warns them but the boys decide to carry on. She thinks she has added too many wires.”

What about the funny part – which bit did you find funny?

“At one point the Dad-bot ruins Stevie’s room when he asks him to tidy it up – that bit was quite funny!”

Would you recommend The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen to any of your friends?

“It would appeal to 7-10 year olds. I hope there will be more books about the Everything Machine!”

You can follow Ally Kennen over here, or over on Twitter here. This is Ally’s first book for younger readers, as she has written several books for teens – we’re hoping there’ll be more!

Ally Kennen


We’re part of a blog tour – check out the other reviews. Thank you for letting us join in – H had lots of fun reading the book – and also left a review in her own words over at Toppsta! The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen is available at all good bookstores and Amazon (affiliate link)


Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond by Sam Hearn

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond is the first fiction series that Sam Hearn has written and illustrated. We are taking part in a blog tour, here’s our review.

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond is a story about John Watson starting the Baker Street Academy. While there he meets Sherlock Holmes and Martha Hudson, and the three of them try and solve a mystery.

The story tells through various ways which appealed to H. She liked the comic book illustrations and detective notes. You also read the story through school assignments, media reports and Watson’s blog.

Holmes and Watson go on a school trip to one of London’s top museums which is home to the world’s most famous jewel, the Alpine Star. But, someone has stolen the jewel.

They find the jewel, and the police close the case. Yet Sherlock Holmes isn’t so sure that it should be. John and Martha work with him to try and solve the mystery.

Our copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond arrived on a day H was off sick from school. Until the postie had arrived she had been ambling from one activity to the next, not focused on anything. Since she started reading the book she hasn’t put it down. It’s a winner here.

It’s a nice easy read, and with the pages laid out like they are, it makes it a good attention-grabber. There’s plenty going on inside.

H says “I like that it’s like a comic strip, but also like a book. It’s half comic strip, half book. I like the detail in the pictures and how everything is in a logical way”

I asked her what she means by logical

“so it makes sense” she replied. “I like the blog part too.”

I asked her about the story

“They find the jewel, but it’s a fake. I like how Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and Martha Hudson all realise this and work out how to find the real one.”

I like how the start of the book has a few pages of character introductions. That kind of thing helps me a lot!

In summary, Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond is a good, fun read which she hasn’t put down. H recommends it for 7-10 year olds who like books that have mysteries in them which get solved.

We have one final question. Who is Sam Hearn….?

Just Who is Sam Hearn

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond is published by Scholastic. You can buy it now from all good booksellers, plus of course, Amazon. (affiliate link)

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond Blog Tour

Stories for Life with Penguin Books.

Books make the best Christmas presents – and within those books there may be stories for life. I know there are books which have stuck with me to this day, having made a lasting impression when I was young. We received a parcel from Penguin Books with three books inside.

We love Books - Penguin, Stories for Life, presents

The challenge was to get the three books and wrap them, and give them to someone who would also love them.

I have a bookworm here at home – a seven year old bookworm. She’s fed daily on a dose of books which she seems to devour with little or no fuss. Fruit and vegetables come as an optional extra. So getting three new books and keeping them away from her was a task in itself.

Today is the 5th December, which is a special day in mainland Europe. They give a present for Saint Nicholas Day. So I’ve let H open one of these presents early. I decided that Clare Balding’s debut book ‘The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop’ would be a fun read. H loves horse riding and has had a couple of goes this year. I like that it sounds like a fun story with the horse being the main focus, and getting him to actually gallop.

Penguin, Puffin, Stories for Life

We also got a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Double Down. I know my nephew loves that series, so that will be one for him. I suspect there may be tears as H has recently declared a love of the Wimpy Kid books. The story is about a mum worried about her boy – Greg Heffley. She worries his brain is turning to mush from watching too many video games. So Greg has a plan to convince his mum that he’s actually a creative soul which he hopes will get his mum off his back.

There is also a Zoe Sugg book – aka Zoella. I have heard of this young lady, though as H isn’t quite in her age range she hasn’t made it into this house. My cousin’s eldest daughter is thirteen and I think this could be a good one for her. Girl Online – Going Solo is about a girl called Penny. Penny makes friends with Posey, and it looks like there’s a charming Scottish boy called Callum in there too. It sounds like a fun teen read anyway – so it’s all ready for her!

If I was to buy a book which was much-loved as I was growing up, then I know what it is. I was OBSESSED by The Famous Five. This was especially due to the 1970s tv series (which I now own on DVD). I think the tv series couldn’t actually adapt the first book as it had a different copyright holder. They touched on it for their first production. I had all the books, and they were all the 1970s TV series covers. But then I grew up. The books were given away… and only one was kept. But I kept it with me – it moved from house to house through the years and is still with me now. Given how H treats my Harry Potter books, she has not yet inherited it – maybe when she’s a bit older. You can quite clearly see the number 1 in the top right hand corner, so I’ve already defaced it a bit in my younger days – and there are scribbles at the back too. It is well-loved!

Five on a Treasure Island Stories for Life

Ah, The Famous Five. A world which existed full of adventures, buried treasure, caravans, circuses, wrecks, Kirrin Island. Of friendship and being there for each other. Family too. I love that the books are available with new covers by well known artists. We’ve now got her the Box Set for Christmas – The Book People did a good deal. I think we may have to sell the older copies to make some space! H has recently moved on to Malory Towers, and I’m certain I still have all those books hidden away at my mum’s. At this rate she’ll end up owning them before I can find my copies!

H loves reading, and I love that stories I read when I was younger are still in print and loved by my daughter. Maybe her books will in turn be passed on to her children when she’s older?

You can’t beat the gift of reading – these are all stories for life.

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club by Emma Barnes

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is the first in a new series of books from author Emma Barnes.

Chloe's Secret Princess Club with H

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is an easy read, and an enjoyable one too. H didn’t put it down, and by the end had demanded that we make some Princess jam tarts. There’s a recipe as well as some other cool bits at the back of the book.

So what is the story about? Chloe is a normal girl in Year 5, so nine or ten. Her mum tells her she can be anything she wants to be. She decides with her friends Aisha and Eliza to start a Secret Princess Club after school one night.

So what is a Secret Princess Club? It has a few rules: Princesses must stick up for each other, Princesses must call each other by their princess names (e.g. Princess Clarinda (Chloe), Princess Araminta (Aisha) and Princess Elisabetta (Eliza)). The Princess Club is SECRET.

Chloe's Secret Princess Club

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is a fun story with the girls acting like princesses and making plans to make jam tarts (which they do). The girls set themselves Princess Challenges which involve kissing frogs! They also do ultra-important stuff like saving kittens too.

In the book Eliza wishes that they could learn about princesses during Tudor times, as they wear lovely dresses!

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is quite a girly book, says H. The girls try to be princesses and do quite well. I like that at the back there’s a little section ‘The Secret Princess Club Notebook’ which has all the kind of things I could see H plotting with her friends if they had their own secret club. There’s also a ‘Which Princess are you?’ quiz too (H came up as Chloe).

H enjoyed reading it – and loved making the jam tarts afterwards. I loved that the book inspired her to make them (and they were delicious too!)

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club has a rrp of £4.99 (affiliate link) and is published by Scholastic in the UK. Emma Barnes website is over here. We received the book for review, all opinions are our own.  We’re part of the Chloe’s Secret Princess Club blog tour – check out the other reviewers on here!

Chloe's Secret Princess Club Blog Tour

Bath Book Bed With Jo Frost

We’re BookTrust bloggers, and have some exciting news to share! Jo Frost of Supernanny fame has been revealed as their new celebrity ambassador and a new campaign Bath Book Bed has been launched.

Bath Book Bed BookTrust campaign logo

Bath Book Bed is a new campaign from the BookTrust which is designed to help us parents settle our children into routines at night time by keeping it simple – child has a bath, you read a book together, put child to bed and hopefully they’re settled and will drift off to sleep!

Jo Frost, who has starred in a variety of television shows including Supernanny, Family Matters, and her newest show, Jo Frost: Nanny on Tour, agreed to become an ambassador for BookTrust after following their work for many years and strongly believing in the charity’s mission to inspire every child to read confidently.

Bath Book Bed sleep deprived BookTrust

Jo said: “I have found during my 20 years in childcare that when children are read to it can have a wonderful calming effect on them. Reading doesn’t just give children a head-start in learning; the ritual of sharing a story and providing special time for parents and carers to build a strong and loving relationship with their child is vital.

Bath Book Bed info BookTrust

“I believe every childhood should be enriched by books – that’s why I’m looking forward to working with BookTrust to ensure all children get to experience the joy of a story.”

Diana Gerald, BookTrust Chief Executive said: “Reading changes lives. Books bring knowledge and reading develops empathy. It can help children who are going through difficulties – whether it’s by reading about people in similar circumstances, or simply escaping into another world. We want families everywhere to prioritise books and reading, even if they’re not confident readers themselves. It’s such an easy way to make huge difference to your child’s future. By working with Jo Frost we know we will be able to spread this message to even more families and support them to read with their children.”

Jo Frost is the most recognisable and trusted parental expert and family advocate worldwide. With over 20 years in childcare, beginning her career as a professional sole-charge nanny, she has honed her successful methods of child-rearing with hands-on, real-life experience.

For more information about Bath Book Bed, head over to the BookTrust site where there’s loads of information and you can sign up to take part!

Bath Book Bed BookTrust campaign

Real Parenting for Real Kids by Melissa Hood

We’ve been sent a copy of Real Parenting for Real Kids by Melissa Hood to review – and it’s a really interesting book.

Real Parenting for Real Kids by Melissa Hood

Real Parenting for Real Kids is the kind of book you dip in and out of. Feel like you know your child, but their behaviour can be odd from time to time? This book has lots of sections which make you feel like you’re less alone. It gives suggestions on how to deal with situations and things to look out for with your child.

Let’s face it, we’re all different. There isn’t one type of parenting which suits every child – and Real Parenting for Real Kids recognises this.

The author Melissa Hood is one of the creators of the Parent Practice – a website which enables parents to bring the best out of their children. They also run parenting classes – and don’t feel that things stop when your child reaches five. Melissa’s story is very interesting, and how she ended up creating the Parent Practice; she took parenting classes herself when she was having difficulty coping with one of her sons who was diagnosed with dyslexia and was in trouble at school with impulsive, aggressive and disruptive behaviour. The advice that she received worked so well that it transformed her family life and drove her to train as a family therapist so that she could help others.

And here’s the book – Real Parenting for Real Kids. I’ve found some useful hints and tips inside. Melissa’s approach is a positive and practical one, and allows you to work out what kind of solutions could work for you – it isn’t just about the child, it’s also about what works for you. There are several different strategies and ways of looking at things.

An example which we’ve already come across goes back to the phase when H refused to do anything we asked. So we’d ask her to do the opposite – and funnily enough she’d do exactly what we wanted. This is summing it up in a very shortened way, but does give you an idea of how the book works.

Other sections get you to identify things your child may have copied from you – identifying behaviour of your own that may contribute to your child’s poor behaviour. H is at the stage where she’s copying me a LOT. I hear a lot of what I say when she talks, and I know I’m terrible at discipline (because more often than not she’ll do just that and make me laugh), so I’m looking for techniques to be a firmer parent, but keep the fun.

Real Parenting for Real Kids is the kind of book you would dip in and out of – it isn’t a read cover to cover kind of thing. There are seven essential skills that every parent needs to understand their children and bring out the best in them, and this book covers them.

Knowing your child.

Encouraging cooperation and confidence with Descriptive Praise. 

Listening and Connecting.

Setting up for success.

Family values.

Positive discipline.

Keeping calm – the holy grail of parenting.

Once you’ve read these chapters, Real Parenting for Real Kids breaks down into other sections – all of which are relevant. As the book says, even if your child is 44 it isn’t too late! There is even a chapter on being safe and kind online – given my job deals with a lot of people online, I’m going to be getting into that chapter soon enough!! (some people can be so nasty and mean.. good job I don’t take it to heart)

Real Parenting for Real Kids is a wonderfully positive book, and one which I feel a lot of people will get a lot from. It covers so many angles it seems kind of crazy a book this big could cover everything – but I feel like it’s a really good starting place.

Real Parenting for Real Kids is published by Practical Inspiration publishing and has a RRP of £14.99.  It is available from Amazon here.

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

Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books

As Parragon Book Buddies we receive books to review, and our latest set are two Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books; Disney Princess and Frozen.

Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books are designed for kids and adults to colour in – I often like to switch off and colour, and even better, it’s big enough to do with H.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

H says “these are interesting. I like the patterns and how each page is different, you could colour in every day and you would still have loads left to do”

I would agree – with over 100 designs in the Disney Art Therapy Colouring books there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Given H currently seems to dislike Frozen, I’ve claimed that one! I like how the patterns and pictures are geared towards older children and young adults – and they’re not obvious Disney patterns either, yet within the pages you’ll find things you’re familiar with.

Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books Disney Princess and Frozen

The book for Frozen is still a hit with H. While she can pick out some of the Frozen things in there, she said “some of them don’t look like they’re in the film. They look a bit complicated but there are also some which look easy and fun to do. The castle picture looks quite tricky – there’s quite a lot to colour in on it, and lots of small bits. I like the patterns a lot!”

Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books

With no shortage of pens and felt tips for colouring in, I know these books will last us a while – there’s plenty to do in there. I’d recommend these Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books for children aged 7 and up – though if your child is patient and younger it would definitely be suitable!

Ultimately, the books are a hit in this house!

The Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books are available now, with a rrp of £9.99.

We were sent the books for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own! 

BookTrust – Learning about What they Do.

Book Trust Logo

We recently visited the BookTrust offices to learn about them, and what they do.

So who are the BookTrust? Chances are you’ll have come across them at some point. For me, my first time was getting H’s first bag from our Health Visitor, which had an Elmer book in it. It was read constantly – we’d seen Elmer but didn’t have any of the books, and this led to more purchases. The idea of getting a bag with free books and activities was amazing to me. Up until then, the only thing I’d come across which was free were the bags you get when you’re about to give birth.

Finding out that you could get more free books as my child grew up was INCREDIBLE. We knew she loved reading and being read to, and discovering new authors or ones we hadn’t yet read opened up a world of adventures, stories, great things. Needless to say, when anyone who had a child of a similar age said they had a new BookTrust bag, we all made a point of getting them. Once H was at school she got her Booktime pack in reception.

Book Trust BookBuzz

And that, I thought, was that. But no – you see, BookTrust have loads of different schemes, and on the 1st April we headed to their offices and met with them to learn about what they do.

The Letterbox Club is a fantastic service for children aged 5-13 that provides books to children who are in care. Often it can be the first thing they receive which is theirs. The packs are tailored and have books, maths games, stationery and more.

They’re designed to encourage reading and learning at home. There are five levels – Letterbox Orange (5-7 year olds), Letterbox Yellow (7-9 year olds), Letterbox Blue (7-9 year olds), Letterbox Red (9-11 year olds) and Letterbox Green (11-13 year olds).

The books are carefully selected, each child gets a new book every six months. This will build up to their own collection of things that is truly theirs to use and keep. I think it’s a fantastic scheme.

For more information head here.

Book Trust Letterbox example

At BookTrust they believe in a society where nobody misses out on the life-changing benefits that reading can bring. They want to get children and families reading. I know we’re extremely lucky with H and how much she loves and enjoys it.

The Letterbox Club isn’t the only service for older children. BookTrust also have a service for schools to sign up, as well as a new service launching later this year, Story Hunters – and while it says which children these packages are targeted towards, it’s open to everyone.

Book Trust Story Hunters Book Trust Story Hunters

There’s a lot on the BookTrust website too. You can search for books based on ability and age; something which has always confused me with H as she’s such an advanced reader; what exactly would make a book suitable for an 8 year old, when she’s only 4? I’m going to be using this section a lot!

I love the Bookbuzz scheme too – a fantastic choice of books, and for students in years 7 & 8 at school!

At the networking event on April 1st, a lot of bloggers were also authors – and it was great to chat to them. We met the author Sita Brahmachari and received a copy of two of her books. See, this is the other fantastic thing about the BookTrust; they’re working with authors all the time, reviewing books and encouraging children to read. It’s wonderful – and, in case you didn’t realise, they’re a charity.

I knew this, but didn’t realise we could raise money for them – so we’re now thinking of a way to do something. Maybe have H see how many Harry Potter books she can read without sleeping or something! You can also buy Christmas Cards at Waterstones which help raise money, something we’ll be doing this year.

I came away from our meeting knowing that working with the BookTrust was a really positive thing. They’re really making a difference for many children. I have so much more I could write about, but I’ll save that for a follow-up post – and instead direct you over here, where you’ll find so many things.

We are delighted to be BookTrust bloggers!