Tag Archives: Reading

Boris and the Horn.

Boris and the Horn.

Boris ‘has got the horn’ quite literally. Pets at Home are stocking buffalo horns for dogs to chew on. I didn’t have the heart to ask about what happened to the rest of the buffalo for fear of finding out something truly horrendous. He likes it I think. He also ‘has the horn’ for his toy lion which is getting increasingly embarrassing. I sat in a pool of sunlight drinking a cup of tea and reading a book this afternoon, it was thoroughly relaxing – apart from when Boris started rolling around on the floor and humping the poor thing. I lost my page because I was giggling too much to concentrate. It’s so undignified. We’ve christened it his “Love Lion” now. It must be an awfully confused lion, he swings between savaging the poor thing to making sweeeet love to it. We may have pups of a very unusual kind in the house sometime soon.
For new readers, Boris is our dog, not my husband or anything.  Horace does not have any inclinations of that sort for stuffed lions.  At least he’s never told me of any.
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Scrabble

Scrabble

This wasn’t June 1982, this was yesterday btw. The photo just arrived captioned like this.

I love this photograph.  Darlek has become a lot more confident with her reading, writing and spelling –  she even attempted Scrabble on her dad’s iPad yesterday.  This is a picture of her battling against the computer, with me faithfully on her side trying my best to help.  Considering how she’s struggled to get her head around spelling and sentences and the like, I was so impressed with her casual determination.

Not all of the words she came up with made sense, they weren’t all spelt correctly, but a lot of them were absolutely fine and fitted in well.  She has, as they say ‘cracked it!’   With her typical ‘I’ll have a go!’ attitude she dived into the game and  gave her all.  There was no ‘I can’t do this!’ or even a hint of a defeatist attitude – although she did of course try to get me to do some for her, as they do.  She wanted to win, and she wanted to use the knowledge she has gained and put it into practise.  Eventually she got bored, but it took quite a while for her to lose interest, and it was only because she was nosey about what her brother was doing that she gave up.  Needless to say she didn’t beat the iPad, but she tried.   I am very, very proud of her for that.

Darlek loves music and often loves to play her favourite songs, with the words on the computer screen so she can sing along now.  She reads shop signs, picks up books and absent-mindedly reads the covers, attempts shopping lists, pretends to lose her voice and writes me notes on scraps of paper, wants to write her birthday cards herself and the list of little triumphs goes on.

Maths has come easy to her, but english has not, and I have worried about her  intellectual inheritance if you can call it that.  Her dad has dyslexia, and I have a close family member who has struggled with the same condition all her life.  I’ll admit I worried Darlek would follow in their footsteps.  But after seeing her this weekend, switching her letters around, tweaking the word sounds, manipulating her knowledge into the Scrabble grid – I’m content to relax a little on her behalf.

Little victories mean a lot, to me and to Darlek too.  I must be doing something right if she’s doing alright.  My baby can play Scrabble now, how cool is that!  I’ll get her on Countdown before she’s 15, just see if I don’t! Right now I’m imagining my daughter stuck in a hothouse, feet dug into a ton of soil in a massive over-sized plantpot, soaking up words and numbers.  She’s growing up beautifully and blooming. :O)

Po-Tolo

Po-Tolo, Plan Bee From Outer Space – written and illustrated by Olly Oliver

Po-Tolo immediately translates in my head to ‘PotHole’ which is a bit of a strange name for a character I thought.  The front cover features shiny, metallic looking, cartoon like creatures that don’t particularly attract me if I’m being truthful.  This is personal taste though, I just naturally gravitate towards natural looking illustrations.  These are all strange looking creatures with huge bug eyes.   Definitely eye catching, if not eye popping.  The kids liked the look of it though, especially Sausage.

Right, I’ll attempt to summarise the plot for you.  Po-Tolo comes to earth from another planet in a spaceship called Nommo, he is looking for help because his world has lost all its bees and their planet is dying.  He meets a bee called Izzy and a purple octopus called Lop and asks if they can encourage any of their bee friends to come back to his planet to help save it. Then it all goes a bit wierd….Po-Tolo gets stung by a wasp which punctures his spacesuit.  Izzy flies off to find a puncture repair kit and Lop then re-inflates Po-Tolo’s spacesuit by huffing and puffing.

After this crisis is averted Izzi tells Po-Tolo that the queen bee has given her permission for ‘two legions’ of earth’s bees to go back with him.  Lop oversees the bog-eyed bumblebees as they load onto the spaceship, and Po-Tolo has a ‘bumblecuddle’ with Izzy.  ‘Plan Bee’ is therefore a sucess, and Po-Tolo goes home and the bees aid the planet’s recovery.

All in all, it’s a rather confusing plot which doesn’t quite make sense to me.  But there’s plenty of chances to make silly noises, ie. bees going ‘Bzzzzzz’ and spaceships going ‘Wob, Wob, Wob’ and a huge ‘AATCHOO!’ from Izzy who inexpicably has hayfever.  You can beat silly noises in kids books!

‘Po-Tolo’ is not a bad read, but I wouldn’t say it’s a great one.   The kids quite liked it, but not much more than that, and if I’m being honest I’m not keen.  This surprised me, I love bees and I think it’s an important message to get across to children.  The world does need bees!  But where purple octopi, bees with hayfever and the importance of puncture repair kits come into the message – I haven’t a clue!

If you think this is more your kind of thing than ours, you can find a copy here for £6.99 on the Top That Publishing website.  They very kindly sent me a copy to review, no other financial reward was given.

A Bulging Bookcase

A Bulging Bookcase

I love reading, always have done.  By the age of 5 I’d read ‘101 Dalmations’ by Dodie Smith – and that’s not the Disney version either.  They are windows into different worlds and I find them fascinating.   Some authors absolutely astonish me with their use of words and language.  Don’t you think it’s amazing that simple shapes and symbols arranged in a certain way on a blank sheet of paper can create whole lives and worlds, with all the heartbreak, ups and downs and twiddly bits in-between?

I’ve just this minute finished reading ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes (this isn’t a book review by the way).  This evening marks the end of the Easter hols, and the house is falling in pieces around my ears.  Paperwork litters the spare room, washing up needs doing, there’s toys on the floor, the effing bathroom needs cleaning again – but I have done none of it.  ‘Manyana, manyana!’ or whatever the phrase is.  I’ll sort it all tomorrow when the kids are in school and nursery.  Instead of doing all these things I decided to enjoy the last fleeting moments of official ‘time off’ and there’s nothing better than a good read.   I curled up on our huge purple corderoeuy sofa, dragged our rainbow striped fleecey blanket over myself, got a cup of tea and lost myself in the final chapters of the above book.

I lost myself so completely that I couldn’t bear to put the book down, the last chapter had me sobbing my heart out, the tears falling down my cheeks and plopping onto the book.  (I shan’t tell you why in case you decide to read this book yourself).  I’ve laughed and cried at this story, felt the frustrations of the characters and have painted pictures in my head of the places they went to.   To reach the last page was like having to say goodbye to friends I had only just made.

Who needs films when you can see everything so completely in a book?   I’m afraid I’m rather snooty about 3D TV, in a book you get 4D – the characters thoughts are known, their insights and observations, the scenes are drawn out with adjectives and sentences that lead you through places and situations that you couldn’t possibly begin to understand simply through what you ‘see’ in moving pictures.  Give me a good book instead any day!

Our bookcase at the top of the stairs is bulging, there are two layers of books on many of the shelves – some of which stick out and fall off if you brush against them.   I’ve read many of them, but not all.  One day I’ll hopefully read them all, at least I hope so.  Freecycle has been my downfall, I once replied to someone who said they had some books going spare.  We ended up with two carrier bags full of science fiction and fantasy books in various states of disrepair.  Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I look at each one as a world waiting to be discovered.  My kids look at them as ammunition for throwing at doors when one or the other has shut them out of the bathroom or their bedrooms.  I’m always so narked when I hear a loud ‘THUNK’ and a yell as Sausage chucks them at his sister’s door.   One day my son will learn that books are more than just ammunition I hope.

Darlek has begun to see a little of what I see in books.  She loves her bedtime stories and I’m finding them a pleasure to read – now that she’s moved on to literature that is a little more interesting than ‘What noise does a cow make?’ kind of books.  We’re currently reading ‘The Valley of Adventure’ by Enid Blyton, and for all her faults Enid did know how to tap into a child’s imagination.  They are a tad twee and are dated in some ways, but as I read them over as an adult, I can still feel some of the childlike excitement I used to as the adventures unfold.  Kiki the parrot still cracks me up.  That’s probably a claim to shame to be honest! Ah well, we can’t all be blessed with a mature sense of humour.

As the years go by, I’ll probably end up annoyed with Darlek nicking my make-up and my clothes (if she’s incredibly un-trendy that is), but I’ll be ever so pleased if she nicks my books.  They give you such amazing insights into places and people real and imaginary.  I can’t wait for her to read the Lord of the Rings (maybe she’ll love it, maybe she’ll hate it….) so we can exchange shivers at the thought of the Ringwraiths chasing Frodo in the flight from Rivendell.

Oh books!  Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day!  (well, apart from Stephen King and maybe Irvine Welsh, that would just be daft – I don’t tend to read scary or disturbing books, they either scare the crap out of me or haunt my thoughts at Silly O’Clock in the morning).

I have no excuse for not going to bed now, or at least tidying the kitchen.  So there are many reasons why I am sad that the book ended.  Might have to find another one now or face the washing up.  *Kay desperately scours the overstuffed bookcase*

Mints and Very Early Mornings

Mints and Very Early Mornings

I’m determined not to lose the main reason I started this blog of mine.  I really do need to put more effort into recording the little things that make parenthood worthwhile, or bearable, or ridiculous or something.

With this in mind, I thought this was worth mentioning.

Every week I carefully dole out my tablets into my pill container, yesterday I did this while sat in front of the TV casually chatting to Horace.   Apparently after I went to bed he found one of my anti-inflammatories where I’d been sitting.  He was not amused and resolved to tell me the next morning to be more careful, which I will be.

So this morning, when Sausage woke up early and began to run around the landing dragging his toys around whilst shouting ‘I’ve found a mint and I’ve put it in my mouth!’ his dad nearly had a fit.

I was asleep on Sausage’s floor in a sleeping bag due to Horaces’ horiffic snoring the night before, so I was particularly groggy.  The first thing I knew about it all was Horace shouting from the attic ‘Spit it out!  Spit it out NOW!’

I opened one eye and saw Sausage stood at the door of his room, he went ‘phlut’ and spat something white on the floor.  He shouted upstairs, ‘But it was round and had a hole in it and everything!’ and then stared mournfully at a soggy polo mint which was gathering fluff on the floor.  Poor love.  We have rampant pill paranoia at our house at the moment.   Probably for the best really.

As for the ‘Early Morning’ bit…..  oh dear, oh dear *yawns*.  Darlek woke me at about 12am last night saying she couldn’t sleep, I told her to go back to bed and read a book whereupon she shuffled back downstairs saying she’d try.  At about 3am I woke up and heard a voice talking, I presumed it was Darlek reading to herself so just turned over and went back to sleep.  At 4am I woke again and heard two voices this time so amidst Horace’s broken tractor revving snoring noises, I staggered downstairs.

Darlek and Sausage were tucked up in bed together and Darlek was reading him the ‘Smartest Giant in Town’ by Julia Donaldson which is one of his favourites.  Apparently she’d been awake since 12am and got sick of reading to herself.  Sausage had woken up so she thought she’d help keep him occupied and stop herself being bored. Darlek had even got her school trousers on in preparation for getting up.  Just before I told her that enough was enough and that she needed to sleep, she even offered to get Sausage dressed for me because it was ‘morning’, it being after 12am an’ all. I think I probably groaned and shuffled further into my sleeping bag, so she gave up trying to persuade me to start the day at 4am and went into her own bedroom.  Sausage cried because he’d lost his storyteller but did eventually drop off to sleep which was a relief.

This morning Darlek cried whilst putting on her school uniform, she was so tired. Once she’d got dressed she curled up under a blanket in the front room and sucked her thumb whilst I did a whirling dervish impression trying to get everything together.  Packed lunches, book bags, changes of clothes and me, all rushed around the room while she lay there trying to be invisible.  I felt a little sorry for her, but if she does this again I might have to Have Words.

I am going to bed now and I intend to sleep.  If there is snoring or kids wandering around the house at silly O’clock, I might just have to go and load that water pistol that has been sat in the bathroom for a day or two. Go on, dare me!

Armoured Bears & Apple Crumble

Armoured Bears, Bats

and Apple Crumble

This evening I am writing to distract myself from wanting to chew my own arm off.  I am so hungry it is ridiculous.  Honestly, I’m so terribly bored of ricecakes, they get stuck in my teeth and sort of squeak when I bite them.  Raisins are simply too raisiny after too many of them.  I’ve run out of popcorn kernels.  I’ve already eaten an apple a day so that’ll keep the doctor away if not hunger pangs and I’m only just resisting the urge to eat every single one of the Jenny Craig snacks I own in one huge binge.  It’s official.  I am struggling.  You know they say that men think about sex every 30 seconds or something ridiculous like that; well if I let my mind go blank for any period of time at all, I start imagining massive steaming hot bowls of apple crumble smothered in custard.  Anyway, scintillating as my food habits are, I think I should probably move on.

It’s World Book Day tomorrow, and guess who only remembered at 9.45ish this evening?  Me!  Typical last minute panicking.  I tried a Matilda outfit, but she wears a blue dress and we have nothing like that, not even a blue top and a blue skirt.  Then I seriously considered Augustus Gloop for a minute or so, a friend of mine suggested shoving a load of newspaper down some jogger pants and tops and smearing her in brown stuff (gravy granules?) to make her look like she was smothered in chocolate and very overweight.  I just couldn’t do it!  She’d need counselling after that!

I weighed up the pro’s and cons of dressing her in a normal outfit and draping her in pans so she could look like Saucepan Man from the Faraway Tree, but I can imagine her getting rather annoyed with real pans and I couldn’t be arsed to make tons of pretend ones.  Anyway!  I finally found a huge pink faux fur trimmed coat that I’ve been saving for Darlek for years, I  think it’ll fit her now, and I’ve found her Build A Bear teddy bear and covered it in tin foil so it looks like it’s wearing armour (or maybe it just looks like an odd Xmas turkey with ears and four legs).  Can you guess the character yet?

Darlek will be Lyra from the Golden Compass!  It’s a bit of a drawback that I can’t find any compasses in the house, although I know there’s a box of un-crackered crackers in the Xmas box upstairs and I bet there’s a compass amongst them.  It seems a bit OTT and frankly lonely to sit upstairs pulling crackers on my own, even if I am only compass hunting.  So, anyway, she’ll have to make do with her tin-foiled armoured bear.  Darlek had forgotten too, I only remembered after she went to bed, so this has not been discussed with her at all.  No doubt tomorrow morning, she’ll wake up and refuse flatly to wear the outfit and I shall want to scream and tear my hair out.  I tried my hardest!  Not much more I can do than that.

Sausage is going to go to nursery in his Halloween Bat outfit if I can find it tomorrow.  He loves his bat outfit and my very weak connection with a book character is that, there are Batman comics with bats in them. Sausage has never read these comics and is unlikely to for many years; but he has been playing Lego Batman on the Playstation an awful lot recently and really, really loves Batman.  The other day he ran around holding the back of his coat up like a cloak and shouted ‘I’m gonna get you baddies!’ so he’s very into the whole thing.  I have no Batman costume, so I’m going half way there.  A Bat it is!  I’ll try and get a photo to post tomorrow :O)

Next year I shall be more organised, and pigs shall fly in formation over Bradford.

‘The Silent Owl’ from Top That Publishing

‘The Silent Owl’

from Top That Publishing

Illustrated by Sam McPhillips and written by Clemency Pearce.

So, my first impressions!  First and foremost I love owls so that was a good start and I was immediately attracted to the lovely greeny blue, decoupage illustrative style.   I love that the owl is a silent owl, and yet it’s drawn as being made from different coloured pieces of written on notepaper – it doesn’t utter a single word, but it’s literally made of them.  Clever!

The narrative is beautifully simple, the owl sits in his tree observing the world around him, not uttering a single hoot.  His fellow forest dwellers try to get him to make a noise by any means possible, including teasing him and telling him off, but to no avail!  The owl remains silent……until he starts playing the bongo, the piano, the trumpet, the flute, the guitar and the big base drum.  He might not want or be able to communicate with his voice, but he can make just as much noise and is obviously just as clever as the animals that were goading him earlier in the book.  The last line goes:

The animals cheered, ‘What a clever bird!’ And Owl just winked without a word.

That line does make me laugh.  I can’t read it without winking at the kids and grinning.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting the book, but I understand it as meaning you can’t judge people by the chatter they come out with, they may be a ‘dark horse’ or a Silent Owl in this case.  Something like that.  That’s something I enjoy about this book, it’s very subtle and very simple, it doesn’t preach a message; it just very gently illustrates that everyone is not always as they seem.

Get the kids to join in and do actions!

When I asked Darlek what she thought of this she said she thought it was like one of her early reading books, I’m presuming that means she thinks it’s too young for her.  Sausage, on the other hand, said he ‘liked all of it’ and wouldn’t elaborate any further – but he did sit quietly and listen to the tale and commented on the shape of the moon and named the different animals.  The Silent Owl does seem to be better suited to approx 2 – 5 years.  Darlek is nearly seven and said that she prefers something with a bit more detail to it.

The Silent Owl is all written in verse form which is great to read aloud, it flows nicely and there’s lots of opportunities for silly voices for the fox, and the squirrel and the mice etc.  It’s also fun to get the kids to pretend to play the instruments too.  I always think the more engaged children are in a story, the better it is and the more they get out of it.

If you would like a copy of The Silent Owl you can find it on Top That Publishing’s website which is HERE!  It’s on offer at the moment and is £5.39 and in my opinion it is a quiet gem of a book.

Top That Publishing sent me a copy of this book to read and review,  no other financial reward was given.