The tiger who came to tea

The tiger who came to tea (a review)

The tiger who came to tea

When I woke up last Saturday, I felt like John and I must do something fun and special with the girls in London. Going into London at the weekend is a big deal for John and I because our weekdays are spent working in London.

Scouring through Time Out website for last minute ideas, I discovered that tickets for Olivier Award Nominated The Tiger Who Came To Tea at the Lyric Theatre were still available to buy – so I bought four of them.

If you are wondering if it’s the same story as in the popular picture book written by Judith Kerr, yes it is. The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been superbly adapted for the theatre by the impressive David Wood, one of the best known writers and directors of plays and musicals for children.

If you haven’t read the book yet the gist is: Sophie and her mummy are about to have some tea when the doorbell rings. Since it’s not daddy, or the milkman, who could it be? What they certainly weren’t expecting to see at the door is an impressive big, stripy tiger! 

When the show started, it did cross my mind that the show was maybe aimed at younger kids, and the theatre was certainly packed with them. In saying that, my six and eight year olds still had a ball watching, dancing and singing along. After the show, I asked my daughters what they liked best, they said ‘the tiger’, because he had a striking entrance, he was full of tricks and he shook his bottom a lot!

I must admit, I really did like this show too. It was full of contagious sing-along songs; I had no choice – and to the embarrassment of my children – but to loudly join in.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea was about one hour long – which is perfect for young kids to sit still. This certainly explains why the kids in the theatre were well-behaved compared to other longer shows we have been to in the past, where I’ve either told (or have been tempted to tell) the mother of a disruptive child to please take the child out just for a few minutes.

We left the theatre feeling happy, festive and wondering how they managed to carry out the special effects in the show. Would I recommend this show to you? Absolutely… if you have a spare £19.00 per ticket to spend and you want to see a show. As a family we concluded that The Tiger Who Came To Tea is  worth every penny because it was funny, delightful and g-r-r-r-eat!

The Tiger Who Came To Tea is showing at Lyric theatre until January 10th.

Yvonne xxx

Colour Me Happy

Today we have a blog post by good friend of KemiKids – Jenny Knighting.

51Cx58OjJ9L._SX491_BO1,204,203,200_I have always loved books; from being read to as a child, to devouring books as a teenager, to reading as an adult. I love getting lost in the characters and immersing myself in whichever world I am reading about. Now that I have children of my own I love reading books to them and with them, and seeing which books make them laugh and which characters they love.

A few years ago my sister gave me a book called Colour Me Happy for bedtime reading with my daughters. It is a book that links colours with emotions in a very simple but engaging way – “when I am happy colour me yellow”, “when I am bored colour me grey”. What has been brilliant about this book is not just the hours of bedtime reading it has given us, but the conversations about emotions it has sparked off.

I think we all want to know how our children really are and what is happening in their worlds but sometimes it is hard to strike a balance between loving questioning and sounding like an interrogation officer. This book bridges the gap. For the last couple of years we have read it and when after reading it through we have gone back to the beginning to discuss each page, with me saying “Have you been happy today? Bored? Jealous?”

It’s been brilliant for the girls to tell me about their days, it also gives me a valued insight into the challenges and happy times they have experienced and how they feel. It has evolved to be a book that they sometimes ask for subconsciously or maybe consciously when they want to talk about something.

I hadn’t realised how important the book was until my youngest daughter was asked to write a book review; at five years old I thought this was quite a challenge. We sat down and I asked her to get a book. She appeared with Horrid Henry, but it soon became clear that book reviews are a bit more complicated – involving being able to sum up what the book is about as well as reviewing its style – so off she went to find a book she really loved and came back with Colour Me Happy. When it came to the question, “Would you recommend this and why?” my daughter said, “Yes, because it is about happy and sad and because it makes me happy.”

Afterwards I thought about how much the book has given my family, and thought what a truly fantastic book it is.

Shop Colour Me Happy!

Jenny

Christmas book for baby

Winter Wonderland officially opened its doors to the public last Friday. And for me, this means Christmas is creeping upon me and I must get organised. In the past, I have been that annoying person who is shopping for gifts on Christmas Eve instead of having fun. Yesterday seeing the glimpses of bright light at the Winter Wonderland – as I travelled into London on the number 73 bus – got me into the spirit of things.

So, in the next few days I will be sharing with you gift ideas – from books to toys – so we can get organised together. We’ll start with festive books for babies.

DEAR SANTA By Rod Campbell

Your toddler will love Dear Santa by Rod Campbell, creator of Dear Zoo. She will have to lift flaps to unwrap the Christmas presents on each page to discover what Santa has sent, and finding a special present at the end.

THE CHRISTMAS BEAR By IanWhybrow and Axel Scheffer

Poor Christmas Bear is accidentally left behind as Santa sets off deliver presents. The problem is how will Bear make it to Tom’s house in time for Christmas morning? Each page has a flap to lift, a tab to pull and mini pop-ups to engage your child as they follow Christmas Bear’s adventures as he travels far and wide to find Tom.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL By Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

This book will introduce your baby to the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. The books will also introduce your child to colours and shapes with its amazing pictures.

BABY’S VERY FIRST CHRISTMAS BOOK

This board book will appeal to the youngest readers. It explores Christmas scenes such as Santa and elves packing presents, accompanied by atmospheric, stimulating and engaging Christmas music from the integrated sound panel.

BIZZY BEAR: CHRISTMAS HELPER By Benji Davies

Christmas is almost here, and Bizzy is making himself useful at the North Pole as one of Santa’s elves. Join the fun and help Santa deliver presents.

WINTER By Ailie Busby

This sensory, detailed and child-centred book introduces young children to the cycles of the year. It explores indoor and outdoor play using beautifully illustrated pictures.

CHRISTMAS FOR GRETA AND GRACIE By Yasmeen Ismail

A beautiful and humorous story about sisterly love and overcoming differences. It includes a magical meeting with Santa.

ELMER’S CHRISTMAS By David McKee

It’s two days before Christmas Eve, the night Papa Red visits, and the young elephants are very excited. They choose a tree to decorate and prepare the presents for Papa Red to collect during the night to take to those who need them. But this year Elmer has a special treat in store for the young elephants, if they can keep quiet and out of sight…

MAISY’S CHRISTMAS TREE by Lucy Cousins

Maisy and her friends decorate the Christmas tree! There are lights and ornaments to hang, candy canes to put up, and an angel to place at the very top.

IS IT CHRISTMAS YET? By Jane Chapman

This is a good story to read in the run up to Christmas. Christmas is coming and Ted is SO excited, he is ready to pop! “Is it Christmas yet?”, he cries. “Is it Christmas yet?”… Poor Ted – will it EVER be Christmas?

Yvonne xxx

The conscious parent Dr shefali

The Conscious Parent

The conscious parent Dr shefali

As a mother of two girls, my job is not to teach how to be happy. That is too big a burden for me to carry. I am also incapable of making them happy, but what I can do is parent them well and the by-product is happiness.

My job as a mother is to do my best not f@@k my children up, this so easy to do. No parent deliberately wants their child to grow up to be dysfunctional.

Another part of my role as a mother is to help them grow into themselves and not convert them into “mini-mes”. I must confess that in the past, I have tried to mould my daughters to be what I never was… but what I had craved to be. Like when I desperately tried to make my emotionally intelligent and creative daughter into an academic genius. After so many battles and much unhappiness, I stopped. I came to the realisation that her life’s signature is not the same as mine. I am just a vessel that brought her into this world and she is not mine to possess or change.

Don’t get me wrong, I still make both of my children work hard at academic stuff, but without being too pushy. Also, I have made my peace that they have their own path to follow and I must help them get there.

Another job of mine as a mother is to help my daughters grow to be responsible, strong, independent, kind, and compassionate women who can make decisions for themselves. I plan to achieve this by reading books written by mothers who have learnt far more than me.

Dr Shefali Tsabary is one of those mothers. She is also is a world-renowned clinical psychologist who received her doctorate from Columbia University, New York. Her book, The Conscious Parent (which I only started a few days ago) has challenged me to really think about what it truly means to parent well.

In this post I will share with you five quotes from The Conscious Parent.

  1. “When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature. For this reason, it’s important to separate who you are from who each of your children is. Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than molding them to fit our needs.”

  2. “It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life?”

  3. “… to enter into a state of pure connection with your child, you can achieve this by setting aside any sense of superiority.”

  4. Children learn who they are and what they really enjoy if they are allowed to sit with themselves. Inundated with activity and subjected to lesson upon lesson, how can they hope to recognize their authentic voice amid the din of all this “doing?”

  5. “What is my parenting mission, my parenting philosophy? How do I manifest this in my everyday interaction with my child? Have I mapped out a thoughtful, mindful mission, as I would were I running a major organization?”

Since starting this book, I have bought it for some other parents. I urge every parent to buy this book. I promise you, it is money well spent.

Shop The Conscious Parent

Yvonne xxx

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Old school

Diary of a wimpy kid old school

When I asked my daughter, Lore,what she thought of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Old School, she said, “If I were to score it, I’d give it 10 out of 10“. To which I said, “Nobody gets 10 out of 10 in story telling or creative writing, there is always room left for improvement”. So, she reduced her score to 9.

Old School is book number 10 in the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series – originally an on-line comic series… it was so popular that it was turned into books.

To review the book, I read it (I don’t normally read kids books!). I found Old School funny and engaging; no wonder Lore finishes each Wimpy Kid book soon after she picks it up. Not being a previous reader of this series did not affect my enjoyment in any way.

In Old School, the main character and diary keeper Greg Heffley is still in Middle school. His annoying mum is now going round town looking for a 100 signatures for a petition to stop people from using their phones and electronic gadgets for 48 hours. The pet pig in Greg’s home now walks on his hind legs and is beginning to interfere with Greg’s life. And even more distressing for Greg, his grandpa has moved into their home. Actually into Greg’s room.

The theme of this book is old generation vs new generation. If you are a parent who constantly bangs on about the good old days, ask your children to loan it to you after they have read it.

Shop Diary of a Wimpy Kid Old School.

Yvonne xxx

ideas for craft pencils

Pencils and the non- arty parents

 

ideas for craft

Pencils Ideas for craft

I must confess I am not the kind of mum who sits down with her children and happily does crafts on the family’s dining table. I have tried, but the truth is craft and I do not like each other.

When my children were younger, the solution to my lack of enthusiasm for craft was taking them to playgroups where they could “glue and glitter” to their hearts’ content. Back home, we did a lot of doodling and colouring and sometimes painting. I remember one summer using our Melissa and Doug Easel

Recently, we have gotten creative again – but this time with pencils. Yes, pencils! Like me, you may think pencils are just for colouring or writing. Miri Flower, the author of The Pencil Book disagrees. She has changed the way we see pencils in our house, even the old pencils that would have made it into the bin have a new life. So my dear parents, pencils are not just for writing and colouring. Do you know that you can make a pencil picture frame, or a pencil pot, or even an arty hair clip from pencils? I was amazed to see all of this in Miri’s book.

As a non-arty person, I love this book. Apart from the fresh craft ideas, your children can create some things that are so arty that you’ll allow their creations to sit proudly in the family sitting room. Also, instead of leaving my girls to get on with it, I find myself joining in the fun.

If you are like me and you do not like glitter in your home, but you still want your child to get creative, this book is for you.

Shop The Pencil Book

Yvonne xxx

 

Brilliant children’s books we love in our home

I am not a teacher – but I am the mother of two girls who love to read. For this post, I asked them to tell me the brilliant children’s books (other than comics) that helped them fall in love with reading. Even though I asked them for a book each, they brought out loads! So I thought I’d share the list with you.

BTW I noticed that there are common threads running through most of the books selected – fun and adventure. It seems my daughters like books that are funny and books that takes them on an adventure they may never go on in real life.

Hopefully these books will give your child great inspiration.

Brilliant children's books

Matilda by Roald Dahl. Story of a girl who is blessed with an extraordinary mind, but a horrible family. A nasty headmistress, but a kind teacher who makes a difference to her life.

Brilliant children's books

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr – As Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea, the doorbell rings. Who could it be? What they certainly don’t expect to see at their door is a HUGE tiger!

Brilliant children's books

Mr Birdsnest and the House Next Door by Julia Donaldson. There is a tiger in the back garden and a bird-eating spider in the cupboard! Elmo and his sister love playing in the jungle house next door, that is, until the “not so nice” Mr Birdsnest moves in. But when it looks as if that Mr Birdsnest has abducted the children’s grandma they must sneak back in to rescue her.

Brilliant children's books

Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon (all here)

Brilliant children's books

Tom Gates by L.P Pichon (all here)

Brilliant children's books

Diary of a Wimpy Kid(all here) by Jeff Kinney.

Brilliant children's books

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy. Mildred Hubble is a trainee at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, but she’s making a chaos of it. She keeps getting her spells incorrect and crashing her broomstick. And then she turns Ethel – the teacher’s pet – into her worst enemy… chaos follows.

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Betsey Biggalow the Detective by Malorie Blackman. Betsey Biggalow is here! She may be small but she’s full of smart ideas about new trainers, winning at marbles and helping the world! So, join Betsey on her adventures as she learns you don’t have to be big to make a big difference.

Brilliant children's books

Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddle. Meet Ottoline and her hairy, helpful friend Mr Munroe. Ottoline is off to the Alice B. Smith School for the Differently Gifted, but she is rather worried that she doesn’t have a special gift. Mr Munroe is more worried about the ghost who is said to haunt the school halls at night. Does Ottoline discover her hidden talent and can they expose the spook?

Brilliant children's books

Jill Tomlinson collection – 6 Books. From The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark to the Gorilla Who Wanted to Grow Up. These are stories that warm the heart. Illustrated by Paul Howard.

Now it’s your turn. What books transformed reading into pleasure for your kids? We’d love to hear from you.

Yvonne xxx

Colouring your stress away with adult colouring books

The word relax means…

Relax

For me, relaxing is not easy. It is one of the hardest things for me to do. In my head, I believe if I am not busy doing something, I am wasting valuable time. Plus, I am a go-go-go kind of person. You know – the type who doesn’t know when and how to chill out. I am the kind of person who always has another errand to run. Even during a yoga or meditation session, my mind reminds me of how many tasks I have left on my to-do list.

During the summer holiday partly spent in Devon, I felt peaceful. Thanks to an adults’ colouring book bought by Aunty Jackie for the kids. The process of helping the children perfectly colour in a page turned into a relaxing exercise for me. I rudely coloured away in restaurants, ignoring everyone around me. I remember colouring late into the night. At the end of the holiday when we returned home, I bought myself an adult colouring book. I even bought my own colouring pencils since I did not want to share with my children. I specifically told them not to touch them!

Adult colouring book

Adults’ colouring books are getting so popular now. So much so that they shoot up to the top on Amazon’s best seller list. Click here for some great adult colouring books

Colouring has helped me relax. It has helped the children too. Why don’t you try it for yourself instead of finishing off the edges of your children’s colouring?

Yvonne xxx

Grandpas Great Escape

David Walliams Grandpa’s Great Escape

 

Ola started reading Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams this morning. She started reading the book after striking a deal with her younger sister Lore. (Lore was first in the queue to read it)

I am looking forward to hearing what she will make of the book.  But first, I must warn you that she’ll say, “I didn’t like it, I LOVED it”. She adores Mr. Walliams, who doesn’t?

Grandpa’s Great Escape is illustrated by Tony Ross  and has been described as “a daring adventure full of comedy and heart”. It may just be another BBC’s Christmas special like Gangsta Granny.

Watch this space for Ola’s review.

Yvonne xxx

PS. It’s Lore in the photo. The photo was taken before a deal was struck between the sisters.

Comics for kids

Comics for kids

Comics for kidsRemember Whizzer and Chips? Or even Buster, Asterix, Tintin and Beano? I certainly do. As a child, reading comics brought joy to me. I was introduced to comics late; my parents and teachers did not see them as proper books. They thought that proper books have lots of words and no pictures. Whether they are proper books or not, introducing comics to children fosters a love of reading.

With Lore and Ola, I buy them comics. Comics are just a simplified way of  encouraging reading since they don’t have the complexity of proper books. The first comic they ever read was the 1996 Dandy Annual we found in an antiques shop for less than a pound. And because they enjoyed it so much, I bought more. I have recently bought the Dandy Annual 2016 and Beano Annual 2016 for them.

Unlike proper books, my daughters analyse the characters in the comics they read. For this article I asked them why they enjoy reading comics… they both said, “It helps our minds imagine.” Imagination is great – it fosters creativity.

Comics for kids

Still not convinced? Here are more reasons why you should encourage your children to read comics:

  1. If your child gets intimidated and overwhelmed by proper books, comics are the answer.
  2. Reading comics helps both “accomplished” and “struggling” readers infer meanings in sentences.
  3. Comics help children understand gesture and body language.
  4. They help children learn the links between images and pictures.
  5. Reading comics encourages children to like all types of writing styles.

Convinced? These are your next steps:

  1. Choose an age suitable comic (see below for ideas).
  2. Sit with your child.
  3. Explain each frame to him.

REMEMBER: Just like learning to read proper books, comics have conventions too. So,

  • Teach your child to read from frame to frame.
  • Teach her the meaning of the different symbols used in comics to express feelings like: heart = love, stars = bang on the head, swirls = swear words, etc.

Here are some choices to consider when introducing comics to children

Very Young Children:

4-6 years:

6-12 years:

As Christmas approaches, for the child who loves books – or even the child who refuses to read at all – why not take out a subscription to Anorak, or Dot or The Phoenix. Or just simply purchase annuals. There are so many comics choices out there for you to choose from.

Yvonne xxx

Reading for pleasure

Reading for pleasure

“I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.” – MARGARET ATWOOD.

Like Margaret Atwood, I read for pleasure… so I get this quote; I understand what she is trying to say. When I was growing up, I did not read for pleasure. In fact, I can’t remember my parents encouraging me to read for pleasure. I was only encouraged to read to pass school exams. My parents did not understand that reading for pleasure is the best way to learn, it boosts imagination and creativity in a child. And most importantly, it opens up a whole new world for children. My mind was closed until I started reading for pleasure.

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Concerned that one of my daughters did not enjoy reading books, the librarian in my local library bluntly told me that if children see their parents read for pleasure, they will model that behaviour too. Her statement is true because I was an example of a child who did not see her parents read. I only started reading for pleasure in my early 20s after I moved to England. The first book  that I read for pleasure was (and made me want to read some more) was The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi.

Reading for pleasure

I bought this book when I went on a blind date with a man who was a keen reader. As we walked round Camden Market, we stopped at a second-hand book store and he bought the book for me as a, “We are not suited parting gift”. I never saw him again! The Buddha of Suburbia was a book that took me on a journey into a world I knew nothing about.

Reading for pleasure has taught me to be accepting of people’s differences: accepting of their religion, who they choose to love and what they decide to do with their lives. If you think you are critical by nature, read books for pleasure. It will free your mind.

So because I did not read for pleasure until my 20s, I have lots of books to still read. This month, the photos of the books you see here are the books I’m planning to read. 

There is nothing as mind freeing, self-loving and educating as reading for pleasure. 20 minutes a day is all it takes. Try it for a month and let me know how you get on.

Yvonne xxx