Things that matter to you when you’re little

Waiting for Anya, Morpurgo

Waiting for Anya

Things that matter to you when you’re little, matter to you all your life.

WarHorse, Morpurgo

War Horse

You are NOT to talk to children as if they don’t know anything.

Lovely sentiments from the incredible Michael Morpurgo, as interviewed by children for the Guardian Children’s Books Podcast.


The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My

Tonight’s a bit of a strange night for us. Kid #1, V, has been sick all weekend, with a cold and to make matters worse, a raging case of pink-eye. Kid #2 has been a trooper, but I can tell she’s feeling a bit neglected, which she is bringing to my attention by being extremely clingy (as is her right, I don’t hold it against her).

So to wrap up the weekend on some kind of positive note, I have brought out the big guns. And by Big Guns, I mean Moomintrolls! Reading one of the Moomins books is a sure-fire way to get my kids to fall asleep with deeply satisfied looks on their faces. But The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My is a special occasion treat that rules even over those lovely little novels. It’s got Tove Jansson’s out of this world illustrations, PLUS cut outs, and clever layering of images that suggests surprises at every page turn.

And it rhymes. Moomin-Mymble-and-my-inside

Kid # 2 (Little N) pointed very excitedly at pictures of flowers and tried to rip the book out of my hands. She didn’t hold it against me when I did not release the book. The book lifted my poor sick V’s spirits right up. Her eyes seemed brighter, but that was probably just the eye drops.

Kid take: 

Oh my god, oh my god, there are creatures in the woods! The ground has eyes! That’s not a chimney, that’s hair! (Plus a bunch of excited exclamations all throughout the book). In the end, V grabbed the book from me and flipped through it again by herself, then said that when she grows up she wants to make books. (Hurray!)

Mama take:

There is no lovelier group of imaginary beings than those who inhabit the Moomintroll world. Even today, I read these books when I’m stressed out, instantly making me forget whatever it was that was troubling me. I love Tove Jansson and all her creations.

We rate it:

Four thumbs up (plus a hundred more from V) out of four.

Buy it or borrow it from the library: 

These books are not easy to find in Canada, so however you can get your hands on them, do it. I have not seen them in stores but you can get them at Amazon.ca at the time of writing.



Winter Go Away: If You Hold A Seed


Winter has been driving everyone at our house crazy this week.

It’s that time of year when the cold and slush typically break our maximum tolerance level for the GREAT CANADIAN WINTER, but this year it’s been an especially miserable time with roads covered in ice and sidewalks buried under feet of snow here in Waterloo.

We’re a family that loves to take long strolls outside and with the mess outside, mother nature has been hampering our outdoors adventures, making us long for spring.

So for today’s story time we reached for “If You Hold a Seed” by Elly MacKay. The story’s simple text follow’s a seed as it grows into a tree alongside a small boy who grows into a father.

I had heard a lot about this book, typically described as a story of not giving up your dreams. I was a bit surprised then to read the book, finding a very straightforward telling of what happens when a seed planted by a boy turns into a tree. There is a surprise ending that suggests the boy’s wish was to be a dad all along, but since it’s not established earlier in the story it felt a bit forced.

The pictures are lovely and charming though and definitely had an impact on little V.

Kid take:

The best part is the seed. I can’t wait to plant seeds in our garden when winter ends.

Mama take:

The best part are the illustrations, and the fact that it’s Canadian. A sweet, but forgettable story. I am looking forward to Elly MacKay’s next books though, this shows promise.

We rated it:

Two thumbs up, out of four.

Buy it or borrow it from the library?

Borrow it.

If you want to buy it, find it here.


The Gruffalo–aka Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

Fairuse_GruffaloOver the past five years of parenting I have learned a few things. The biggest learning has been that the more you learn about parenting, the more you realize how little you know. Another big lesson is that even though you may find something you think your child should absolutely love, it doesn’t mean they will, even if you really, really want them to.

I picked up The Gruffalo when my first kiddo was still teeny tiny and I was on a mission to build her a library. I was visiting a book store and asked the store clerk for a recommendation. She immediately suggested The Gruffalo, saying her 3-year-old asked for the story every night.

The Gruffalo is a modern classic children’s story. It’s playful rhymes follow the path of a little mouse who is approached by predators in the woods and defends himself cleverly by making up a date with a terrible Gruffalo. All is well, until the imaginary Gruffalo shows up!

I excitedly read this beautifully illustrated, artfully written book to my daughter, and was enthralled with it right away. This was a book I loved even as an adult. It was smart, it was fun, it was clever, it was cool!

Her reaction? Meh. It’s okay.

I couldn’t believe it, refused to believe that she could be unmoved by the obvious mastery of this lovely story. So I continued reading The Gruffalo to her over the years, and have now worn her down quite a bit. She now giggles when I act out The Gruffalo’s prickles on her back, or suggest she has a poisonous wart at the end of her nose. She likes it. She just doesn’t love it like I do.

Never mind though, I think she will remember our times with The Gruffalo fondly later, and I have kid #2 as a hope still. Kid #1fox1has not been totally immune to the charms of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. She adores Room on the Broom. (Phew!)

Kid take: 

The best part is the fox and mom pretending I’m The Gruffalo.

Mama take: 

The best part is, everything. This is a perfect children’s story, charming, fun, and a shining example of why it’s important to believe in yourself, and dare I say it, to give the world a little cheek when the odds are against you.

We rate it:

Three thumbs up out of four, but two of them are super enthusiastic. It’s more likely than not that your kid will love this book.

Buy it or borrow it from the library:

Buy it! Get it at your local bookstore, or online here. It’s a keeper.