Tuesday, 30 December 2014

It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach

Is anyone else getting cabin fever? Or beginning to wonder exactly how many more days until the kids go back to school? Or having that dream about finding a nice, quiet, secret room, halfway up the stairs? Well, check this one out and count your blessings. I did.
It Could Always Be Worse is a Yiddish folk tale retold and illustrated by Margot Zemach. It begins by telling us about a poor man who lives in one-room hut with his wife, his mother and his six children. 

"Because they were so crowded, the man and his wife often argued. The children were noisy, and they fought. ...The hut was full of crying and quarreling." 

He visits his Rabbi seeking advice. And is told to bring his chickens, his rooster and his goose into the hut to live with the family.
The results are pretty chaotic.

So he visits the Rabbi again. And again.
And every time, the Rabbi instructs him to bring more animals to live in the house.

Until the man, really desperate now, is finally told to let the chickens, the rooster, the goose, the goat and the cow out of his hut.
Which he does.

And they all sleep peacefully in their now comfy and quiet one-room hut.

Monday, 29 December 2014

P.O.P. gloves on sale!

Two pair sets of these Polarn O Pyret gloves are on sale here now for €4.45 (£3.50!). Cosy, cute and there's always a second pair if one of the first gets "mislaid". In our house these fit hands aged four, nine and eleven.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Little Lamb by Judy Dunn and Pheobe Dunn

The Little Lamb came in a Christmas stocking along with The Little Duck, reviewed here. It is the story of when Emmy is asked by the owners of Wetherbee Farm to take care of a lamb. She names him Timothy. A sweet little story by itself, but with these photos, it becomes a masterpiece. (this book cost less than €4 by the way, which is wrong considering its beauty. But at least it is still in print. I'm trying to find copies of The Little Goat and The Little Pig, with no luck at all.)
Meeting Timothy.

His first bottle in the evening sunshine.

Dandelion chains, which he eats.

And sleeping in the laundry basket.

Off to a birthday party. I had a dress like this in blue.

Yes, he does pull over the table.

And it's time to rejoin the flock.

This book is literally bathed in quiet sunshine. Priceless.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Ollie's Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow

They don't come much cuter than this. 

Ollie gets new skis for his birthday..

And when the snow finally comes, he takes off on them, meeting Mrs Thaw,

Jack Frost,

and lots of busy children in King Winters palace,

who take a break to play with him.

First published in Sweden in 1907, its a real beauty. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Gingerbread men and Charles Dickens

I've had no idea what to blog about for the past few days. My mind is a blank.
Howandsoever, I want to get to 10,000 page views by Christmas so here are a few pictures of me making gingerbread men with my kids. I used this recipe (I later realised it is actually for a gingerbread house, which explains why it made approximately one million biscuits.) It wasn't very complicated but you do get to see how much butter is involved, which is something I never like to know. They are tasty though, especially the ones I rolled very thin.

And then I read Laurie Grahams blog and thought it would be a nice idea to have some of them with a cup of tea and read A Christmas Carol. Our copy came free with a Sunday newspaper but This one is illustrated by P.J. Lynch and I want it. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cadburys Roses - an excuse to buy a tin

Now, I didn't intend this to look quite as homemade as it does. But oh well. I got the polystyrene balls in Book Station, had the wreath from years ago and the snowman is a keyring. Whats your favourite Rose? Mines the purple one.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Seven Uncles Come to Dinner by Marjorie Auerbach and The Walk by Bill Binzen

Most of the time, when I'm browsing online - its with a view to buy. But when I go to vintage kid's books my kid loves, its just to browse and enjoy. Then I realised that while a lot of the books are out of print and not available new, Abe Books sell millions of them second hand and sometimes very cheaply. So I can buy them too! The prices can start at two to three-ish euros but then shipping will be €7.95 or a bit more. Still, I've got some gems for somewhere between eight and twelve euros. Check this out.

Seen Uncles Come to Dinner by Marjorie Auerbach

Emile, who lives in Paris, has to go shopping for dinner for his seven uncles who, you've guessed it, are coming to dinner.

Its a beauty - amazing colours, great story and the detail in those prints are fantastic. I think my favourite picture is of all the uncles dangling shoes. And the winking cat.

My copy cost about $12 plus $20 more for my kind brother to post it to me from the States, but it was worth it. Two boys walk through early seventies New York to get a ride to a Summer Camp outside the city.

Discard! Isn't that crazy!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr

The first time I read this I thought, its not that great. The second time I thought, well, it is pretty peaceful. The third time I saw sense. It is a wonderfully written, beautifully illustrated, calming masterpiece of a book that you will read over and over and over again. We all love it (my kids did from the very beginning, it was just me with the reservations. I think because I spent over a tenner on it and was looking for a bit of immediate wow factor. Sad really, considering I spend way more than that on a t shirt and don't think twice about it. Books are so cheap aren't they, compared to everything else? Think of the number of books you could get for the price of a Skylanders Swap Team starter kit. Or better still, don't think about it.)

Anyways, at this time of year, when our woolly hats and gloves are busy, Owl Moon is particularly apt. For ages four and up.

And some other lovely snowy books...
Children of the North Lights, reviewed here,
and Little Boy Brown, reviewed here.

Thursday, 11 December 2014


Now I know this isn't a picture of a smencil, it's How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which is great too. I'm afraid I cant photograph the Smencils that Santa put in our stockings two years ago as those that are still on the go are in pencil cases in school as I type. 

They are on my mind though as yesterday, when I was helping with my sons maths homework I used one and said "Wow, this still smells really grapey!" and he told me that just earlier that day he had a queue of classmates by his school desk with their hands held open like Oliver, waiting to catch some of the shavings as he sharpened it. 

Never heard of them? Well, they are pencils with different sweety smells, made from newsprint soaked in something that makes the smell last forever. From a practical point of view they sharpen easily and the graphite never breaks. Stocking stuffers that are actually useful! There's a first. (Also, if you are ordering from and need to reach the £25 minimum to get free shipping to Ireland, these might fill the gap.)