Monday, 31 March 2014

Book Review: Harvest by Jim Crace

Literary prizes do not normally influence my choice of books but when I was given the chance to read and review Jim Crace's Harvest for the Mumsnet book club the fact that it was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize intrigued me to read a book that I wouldn't normally choose for myself.

As soon as you start reading you understand why it ended up on the aforementioned shortlist: the prose is, without question, sublime. Crace vividly brings to life a small community that undergoes a revolutionary change over the course of a week.  We aren't told exactly when and where the story is set but it's fair to say it's somewhere in England at some point between the 16th and 19th century when fields throughout England began to be enclosed for farming.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Cracking Phonics

Over the last week S has made a real breakthrough with her reading. She seemed to be really struggling with phonics and going over her reading books and flashcards was starting to become a very frustrating experience. She could sound out all the individual letters but seemed unable to put them together. Then she would just guess at the word and inevitably get it wrong which would stress me out because I felt she wasn't trying and then she would be stressed out because I was stressed out! We were on the precipice of a downward spiral. It was so upsetting because she loves books and stories so much and I was worried that this was going to put her off reading.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Picture Book Review: If You Meet a Dinosaur by Paul Bright and Hannah George

If You Meet a Dinosaur
If You Meet a Dinosaur is an absolute romp of a rhyming tale: when you read it aloud you are practically singing it!  The rhythm is just terrific! And the story's a corker too! Meg Mummisaurus has laid an egg, and like any good mother she is determined to protect her baby. But most mothers don't have to contend with a whopping Wagosaurus with its big big big tail, or a stomping Clomposaurus with its big big big feet! But if you ever do, after reading this story you'll know what to tell them (as well as a bumbling stumbling Dozysaurus and a Noseysaurus)!

I reckon this book would be a great one to read to a group of children - there is enough repetition for them to get involved in the story and join in the cries of "watch where you're putting your tail/feet/snout etc". And there's some great inspiration for getting the kids active - getting them up to stomp about like a Clomposaurus or pretend they are wagging a big tail for Wagosaurus for example.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Pure, White and Deadly: Overcoming Addiction

My name is Charelle and I am an addict. Unfortunately there is no self-help group or 12 step programme for my addiction, but my poison is everywhere and it seems nigh-on impossible to give it up. The evil substance I'm referring to is not alcohol, drugs or sex, but sugar.

I've always had a sweet tooth - given the choice of chocolate or crisps, the Dairy Milk wins hands down every time. I'm also more then partial to sugary cereals, cakes, buns, biscuits ... etc etc.  But I've never worried too much about my sweet tooth. I enjoy sweet treats and life is hard enough without denying yourself some simple pleasures in life, right? I don't have any fillings (thanks to my mum instilling a fastidiousness about brushing my teeth!), and I've never had a serious weight problem, but there has been so much hype about the evils of the white stuff maybe I should be worrying? Then I read Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin and thought "sh*t"!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Picture Book Review: Bear's Big Bottom by Steve Smallman and Emma Yarlett

Bear's Big Bottom by Steve Smallman and Emma Yarlett
It's got bottom in the title so this book has got to be a hit right? Correct! B loves this humorous tale of a bear whose big bottom keeps getting in the way.

Bear is kind, sweet and has lots of fun with his friends. And his big bear bottom makes it easy to find him during a game of hide and seek! But his friends start to get a bit tired of said big bottom when it takes up all the room on the settee and splashes all the water out of the pool. Matters come to a head when Bear squashes Squirrel's birthday cake. His friends get cross and poor old Bear ends up running away. Soon enough the friends regret shouting at him and set off on a bear hunt (!). But danger lurks in the form of a sly fox who wants to bite their bottoms! Never fear though, Bear eventually saves the day and the party goes ahead as planned - albeit with a new cake! 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

300 Picture Books #3

We read a really good variety of books this week: some old favourites and some new books after a long overdue visit to the library (and another whopping fine - I sometimes think I'd be better off just buying the books but hopefully I'm helping to contribute to keeping the library open and well stocked! We're actually quite lucky with our local library service - it is open six days a week and even stays open late a few days!)

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Why are children contrary?

Today was the first day of the new ballet term but instead of being greeted with enthusiasm B made a big fuss about not wanting to go. After some cajoling, bribery and threats we get there and guess what? She loves it! I knew this will be the outcome but why oh why do we have to go through the palava??

Part of me wants to throw in the towel but I persevere because (a) I know she will enjoy it and (b) she's lucky that we can afford to do things like this for her - my parents had no spare cash for extracurricular activities when I was growing up (and I always wanted to do gymnastics!!)

After two years S has decided that she doesn't want to do ballet anymore and that's fine - she is old enough to decide and the cajoling was getting a bit trying. But still, I am a tad disappointed because I think she actually enjoyed the class when she got there. 

Is there just an inherent contrariness in young children that makes them say they don't want to do something when they know you want them to do it, even though they actually want to do it themselves??