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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Let's Boogie!

Why am I so tired all over again? is this just life at 40 (something) !!??! and do I just have to get used to it? or should I be doing it (life that is) differently....well who knows and I have actually given up trying to analyse (too tired!). I just like to remind myself that there are some things that re-energise me...and one of those things that works almost instantaneously is music (the right kind of course). Often followed by dancing (any kind!). In keeping with this theme and inspired by thoughts on picture books, dancing and rhyme - thank you Picture Books and Pirouettes! - I am reviewing Barefoot Books 'The Animal Boogie' and 'The Animal Boogie Fun Activities'. By Debbie Harter and sung by Fred Penner.

Now hopefully most of you will recognise this book as it has been one of BFB's mainstays for quite a while and gracing the shelves of nurseries, playrooms and bedrooms for a long time. Despite selling it at my events all the time, I haven't yet really sat down and reviewed it properly... so here goes. 

First off, the book now comes with a enhanced CD. I had no idea what 'enhanced' meant at first, it sounded quite complicated. But it just means you can watch the animation on a computer as well as listen to it as a normal CD player. Even I have managed to do this! This is a great feature as the illustrations are so vital to the book and to see them come alive to the music is amazing. Nurseries love this book and I have been told early primary years use it too, to get the children up and dancing around - keeping brains in action as well as bodies.

We start off the journey through the jungle trying to see who we can see hiding and who will be revealed on the next page. 

'Down in the jungle, come if you dare! What can you see shaking here and there?'

Different children find a bear, a monkey, an elephant, a big bird (not from Sesame Street!), a leopard and a snake - each animal is shaking, swinging, stomping, flying, leaping and slithering...the children start dancing with the animals so they are ALL boogie, woogie, oogie ing at the same time!

The children are from different ethnic groups and one girl is in a wheelchair so lots to discuss along the way. My favourite animal has to be the elephant - because she is so purple which only adds to the fun. Hariot loves the fact that each child is wearing colours to match the animal they find - a clever idea filling each page with a main vibrant colour.

So what happens when you listen to the CD is that you immediately turn into the animals. You just can't help it, the tune is really catchy and the words are really easy and fun to repeat. Here is Hariot leaping like the leopard! (great photography!) And shaking like a bear....

 Showing Eeyore how the leopard leaps and...

Eeyore reading all by himself about the purple elephant. I think he wishes he was in that jungle. Where it's all happening....
At the end of the book all the girls and boys sway together along with the animals swaying in the background. The animals are all named at the end of the book eg. sloth bear (not just 'bear'), vulture (not just 'big bird') and for those of us who are in slightest bit musical, the tune is there too incase we want to play it ourselves.
'We go sway, sway, boogie, woogie, oogie'

The Animal Boogie activity book is just that - full of fun and business. I have recently given this book as a party bag gift. Having had three girls and more than a few parties along the way, I was looking for something different to hand out. These went down nicely along with some coloured pencils to keep them busy on the way home and for longer!

The Animal Boogie has become a winning formula over the years and as well as the Sing-a-long book (forgot to mention the CD is essential for car journeys!) and the activity book there is now a cute mini cube puzzle. Great choices as gifts together or on their own and a great example of how sing a long books can work without annoying us parents - as we love it too!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Are you a Fish or a Pretzel?

STARTING off my new year with a resolution to keep up with my blog and to do some new reviews...inspired this time by Kerry from Picture Books and Pirouettes - thank you Kerry!

One of the Barefoot Books bestsellers and one of my own personal favourites is 'My Daddy is a Pretzel'. I know this is super popular with Yoga teachers and enthusiasts all over the place and it always proves popular at my stalls due to it's fantastic graphics and catchy title!

Written by renowned teacher Baron Baptiste and illustrated by Sophie Fatus we start off with a lovely introduction from the writer who explains where he is coming from on the yoga front and from the beginning of the story we have the most fantasticly colourful and wonderful pictures. I always say I love the way Sophie Fatus draws eyes, they are wide and bright and convey lots of different meanings although they are very simply drawn. We love them!

Back to the story though....the children in the book each say what their mummys or daddys do and as one child's daddy does yoga, each job is likened to a yoga pose. Great idea! So one mummy is a gardener and the yoga daddy's equivalent is being a translates to being a dog....builder translates to being a bridge...farmer translates to being a plough...he can even be a fish! (guess the job....marine biologist!)


We see a lovely scene depicting the job, then on the next pages we have quick and fairly easy instructions on how to do the pose along with what the pose represents or teaches us.

Our favourite poses - we had a great laugh being planes (slightly wobbly ones), triangles (slightly squint ones), lions (not very scary ones) and of course pretzels (slightly odd ones).

Practising the poses with my girls did remind me of my younger yoga days...I started when I was about 12....when we thought it was hilarious standing on our shoulders and trying not to giggle. I have to admit my yoga days are long gone (sooo looking forward to when they start again!) but being a plough this morning took me right back!

Baron Baptiste aims to guide us on our path to a vital, happy and healthy life. Well I have to say being a mum of 3 lively girls, I strive for this every day. Most of the time, I run round in circles and don't always (well actually hardly ever!) achieve this, but reading books like this together helps us a little on our way...

The book ties in with the popular Yoga Pretzels card deck - a pack of 50 Fun Yoga Activities for Kids and Grownups. Very handy for nursery and primary school fun or for dipping into activities at home. I feel another review coming on!!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Thursday, 5 May 2011

(Nearly) Summer Time and the Reading is Easy…..

Well I see I haven't done very well with my blogging....where did the last two months go? I wrote this piece a while back, for someone else and before I had my own wee given that it's probably not been read I've decided to upcycle it for this Spring season (which has been almost Summer like)... 

Perhaps it’s the longer, lighter days or perhaps it is the fact that I don’t have the heating on full blast and I don’t have to wear my kagool all the time – but there is something about Spring that makes life that little bit easier and I have a bit more energy for getting things done or more time for relaxing. Having embarked on a large clear out over the weekend (oldest daughter with hardly any ‘stuff’ finally gets own room whilst youngest and middle daughters with huge amount of ‘stuff’ get crammed into the same room) I have to decide which books to keep and which to pass on. I have spent a bit of time reflecting on which books we love, old and new, and what makes books timeless but relevant to young readers today.

I’m sure we all remember our childhood favourites, for me - Miffy, Topsy and Tim, Harry the Dirty Dog, My Naughty Little Sister, Milly Molly Mandy (or was it Mary Mungo and Midge – no that was cool TV!), Richard Scarry, Dr Zuess and Just William (for the boys!). I think 99.9% of the books I enjoyed as a child were based on traditional families with mums staying at home and dads coming in from work at the end of the day. With many the feel good factor was about everything turning out fine in the end, good morals and nice safe bedtime stories. The choice of books now is completely open, Dads feature more in books and families are portrayed in all sorts of set ups. Because the issues that kids are dealing with today are so varied, there doesn’t seem to be any taboo subjects any more. In fact, it seems that believable characters and themes are much more likely to interest kids now than happy ever after stories.

I find baby and toddler books the most bamboozling group to choose from – there are so many out there of wildly differing quality and often when said baby or toddler is in tow you don’t get a chance to look at them properly. This is where experienced relations and friends come in - I love receiving books from my older sister for the girls, she has tried and tested many. What remains important is that they have stimulating pictures and lovely sounding words that are fun and interesting to read and hear. Poetry is making a comeback, especially for young children with rhyming and gently repetitive phrases adding to the lullaby feel of bedtime or naptime books. Great present idea, try ‘I Spy the Sun in the Sky’ 

Books now have to compete with the endless excitement of TV, computer games and the internet. This is where fantastic graphics and great art can come into the fore, sometimes less text can mean more if the eye is drawn to stimulating surrounding artwork.

Adventure books and story collection folk tales are still popular for those who like being read to but can also read on their own. I find these great fun, you can often dip in and out of them as the stories are not too long and the story lines not difficult to pick up when you are tired and keeling over after a day with the kids or at work, or with the kids and at work! Some even have CD’s so someone else can do the reading for you….Magic! We like ‘The Barefoot Book of Princesses’

I wasn’t a big reader once I hit my teens (well except for Jackie Magazine of course – any reading is better than none, right?) Few books at school interested me and life was a little too hectic to really buckle down and concentrate on books, not helped by extremely dull teaching methods! I have hope for my kids though, the oldest at 11 seems to be zipping through books especially ‘real life’ stories and the new style of books that combine fiction and non-fiction which help with subjects such as art or history, have a look at The Genius of Leonardo’

Multicultural and Eco message books are popular now for all ages. This I love - it opens up so many more story lines and avenues to explore with ethnic characters and captivating tales from other cultures. For eco activities try ‘The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales’ 

 And for all grannies out there, our Granny loves ‘My Granny Went to Market’
She has wild hair!

So enough reflecting for one clear out – I still love my old favourites and I love lots of the new books that are keeping our 21st century kids entertained. Think I’ll just stick them in a box just now while I decide. Might leave the sorting out up to the kids, that should keep them busy! x

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Something Fishy!

I love art and I love fish. I love fish art (and arty fish). I quite often dream of fish, swimming around me, not in water so perhaps they are flying. I heard somewhere that this means I have so many things to think about that it symbolises my chaotic life - one theory that does actually sound completely true and not a lot of rubbish!

I was trying to figure out how to show off my lovely new(ish) painting and as luck would have it, I don't have to rely on my photography skills as my artist friend Maria now has her website sorted (check it out - so I can post a pic of my new painting here...this sits above our dining table and restores peace and tranquility to the table (one can hope?)

If you are from around these parts you will pretty much know where the scene is of my favourite places, the Botanic Gardens. I loved visiting as a child with my Dad, one of his passions was gardening. And I loved the ponds and fish fact my dream job was to work there and clean out the fish tanks (well that was next to working at the children's farm in Edinburgh Zoo...). Where would I have ended up, I wonder, if I had got my dream job?

And here are my lovely inspirational fish...Denise and Menis. Denise used to be Denis (she didn't have a sex change, she was a different fish - a he) and Menis got a new lease of life when she came along...our big mama...

I think I could have cleaned out the tanks and been official underwater photographer....

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Being new to the blogging malarky I am utterly amazed at the sheer number of blogs out there (aren't there 50,000 a day being started up?), I seem to get 'lost' every time I start dipping into blog world. I need to get my head round this new way of mass communication which seems a wee bit unreal as I sit in my wee home office/junk store soon to be bedroom/wee home office. Well I have now actually worked out that Tara Cain who I follow on twitter (yep, I'm up with the kids) writes the lovely Sticky Fingers blog (keep with me - it's taken me a while to go round in this huge circle). Her weekly Gallery feature encourages fun photography - great idea, gets the creative juices flowing and brain cells moving.
The theme this week is 'Shapes'.'s a photo with loads of rectangles and some triangles, recently taken on the path leading to Corstorphine Hill, our fav local walking spot,

When I say it's my entry, it is my entry but not my daughter Jas got a camera from Santa and we were trying it out that day. The shed wall looks like it could belong anywhere, quiet countryside or breezy seaside village. The graffiti gives it away life to the fore. SNOB! She says she didn't notice the writing. Isn't it nice that kids see behind the surface? We see 'oh that's a shame, someone's ruined that person's shed wall'. They see 'wow, I can that person's shed behind that wall!'. Love it!

I've added another one that I took walking the dog along the same path - it's definitely a shape....answers on a postcard please as to which shape it is!

Have a wee look at the other 'shapes' on Sticky Fingers x

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Listen to...the Barefoot Podcasts...for free!

I am trying to keep up to date and on the button with everything. One of these things is listening in to the Podcast each week. Now, it's taken me a while to figure out what a podcast is, but when you just have to follow a link, press a few buttons and listen, its easy enough for me. You can download these two so great for listening to on car journeys, long or short, from Edinburgh to Ireland (as we do) or from our house to ballet lessons (as we do). The latest is 'The Crocodile's Blessing' taken from 'The Fabrics of Fairy Tale' which features one well known character with extra sharp teeth...see what you think!