Beautiful reads for kids – Storytime magazine

I love a good print subscription. We have a few for the kids and they get such a rush opening the post and looking through new magazines when they arrive. Magazines often throw things up for us to explore further or new activities to try. In the past, we’ve mostly done science and nature ones but every now and then I’d eye up a fiction magazine. I finally got my chance to get a closer look when Storytime asked if we’d like to review their magazine.

The illustrations are fresh, colourful and quirky, in the style of modern storybooks. The pages are of a heavier paper stock, not card but not flimsy. These are magazines made for collecting. We certainly won’t be throwing them away.

The content is pretty timeless. My eye was drawn to this poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, made more accessible for my kids by the illustrator’s keen sensibility. Talitha went ahead and read both issues we were sent but when I read them to her afterwards, we talked about the art of reading poetry, that it’s often transformed by reading aloud. Ophelia was taken by Gabriel Setoun’s “Jack Frost” poem, following the many pictures he paints on the windows at night, verse by verse.

The magazine brings together classic and original tales, myths and legends from around the world, fairy tales and rhymes. They are carefully curated, the tales thrilling and the standard high. My older two, at three and six are delighted with it but I imagine they would have been a good fit for me at ten or even older too.

Along with a fact or a themed activity to accompany each story, there’s a “storytime playbox” at the back with word searches, brainteasers, prompts for drawing, crafts, recipes – all offering a chance to take the stories further. There’s even a game to play. Springing you further into reading, each issue concludes with book recommendations for children too.

Storytime has clearly been carefully conceived and it’s certainly beautifully executed. We’ve had ours for a few weeks now and they’ve gone most places with us. Ophelia has her clear favourites that’s she’s asked me to read over and over. Talitha has so many questions about things we come across in there. I love that there are no adverts and that it raises discussions about geography, different cultures and the natural world. They just love getting lost in beautiful stories.

Storytime sent us two issues for review and have also given us a year’s subscription in exchange for this post. All gushing is entirely honest, though. I absolutely love this magazine and what they stand for as a social enterprise, working with schools, charities and councils to make high quality reading materials available at a low price.

You can also grab a 10% discount on your subscription here. Storytime even sends out educational resources to go alongside each month’s issue!


Mother’s Milk Books review and giveaway

I first came across indie publisher Mother’s Milk Books a few years ago, both through La Leche League (the breastfeeding charity that has been a source of strength, support and community to me since becoming a mother) and through chatting about breastfeeding and parenting online.

Their tagline “Celebrating femininity and empathy through images and words” pretty much encapsulates what drew me to them and the books they publish. I say “they” but the press is run solely by at-home mother and founder Dr Teika Bellamy.

Mother’s Milk Books receives no funding and makes no profit but they are putting out such important books. I want to tell you about three of them, which Mother’s Milk Books are giving away to one of my readers.

Mother's Milk Books

Musings on Mothering

After meaning to for ages, I finally bought their Musings on Mothering – About Pregnancy, Birth, and Breastfeeding: An Anothology of Art, Poetry and Prose at an LLL event last year. The collection covers broodiness to the first feed to remembering our own mothers. It is page after page of voices speaking what is true about the human experience of being mothers, fathers and children, illustrated often with children’s artworks. Musings is a beautiful and powerful book. Describing and sharing our family experiences artistically (fathers’ voices feature too) can mysteriously connect us. This collection realises that mystery.

In strangers’ arms my mother’s touch,
My friends when all alone
In strangers’ eyes my father’s face,
In all my pathways, home.

Mother's Milk Books-3

The Forgotten and the Fantastical

This is an entirely different sort of collection. The Forgotten and the Fantastical brings together modern fairy tales for adults, filtered through many different voices and experiences.  The writers take on Red Riding Hood to the Arthurian Legends, leaving only echoes of the familiar. Every tale is thrillingly unexpected. I found myself wanting to read some of them aloud – so strong was the sense of the oral tradition on the page. The authors’ notes at the end complete the experience. It’s definitely worth getting your hands on, especially if you’re looking for something to easily dip in and out of.

“Grief made no reply but the boy could see her clearly now. She had swelled from a voice in the wind to a grotesque face that enveloped the whole grey sky, her great mouth opening in a putrid mess of rotting teeth and stale blood.”

Little Loves-2-2

Oy Yew

Oy Yew is a children’s novel, suitable from age eight, which equally targets adult readers. Gripping from the start, it is dark, tense and wickedly humorous. It follows the plight of Oy Yew, a parentless waif who adopts this name since it’s how he’s been addressed as long as he can remember. He’s enslaved in a great house, along with other waifs, all underfed to stunt their growth and they must creatively make their way to freedom. The fantasy world and characters that author Ana Salote has created in Oy Yew are rock solid. I echo another reviewer in affirming that this is a classic in the making. I’m looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.

“He fed daily on the smell of bread, letting the vapours swirl around his brain and conjure themselves a high-risen floury loaf. He would sieze it with his two hands, break open the crust and inside it would be fluffy and white with a puff of steam, and he would scoop out the new bread and eat. That warm salt vapour would feed his mind for hours, but his body did not know bread.”

To win a copy of Musings on Mothering, The Forgotten and the Fantastical and Oy Yew, tell me what your favourite spot for reading is and enter the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


iCandy Raspberry review and a wander around Castle Drogo

On our way for a weekend in Dartmoor, we stopped off at Castle Drogo. We try to plan stops at destinations rather than service stations when we’re going on longer journeys and our National Trust membership has helped perfectly with that. I also thought it would be a good time to photograph the iCandy Raspberry pushchair that we’ve been trying out for the past few weeks.

iCandy Rasberry review
iCandy Rasberry review-5

The main reason I agreed to review the iCandy Raspberry is that you have the option of making it parent-facing. In fact, it’s really easy to turn the seat around either way in just a few seconds. I’ve even done it with Ophelia in the seat, though it’s definitely easier to sort it beforehand.

iCandy Rasberry review-9

We are a babywearing family. Even now that Ophelia is nineteen months, we wear her in a sling or she walks most of the time. However, I’ve found that she naps so consistently in a pushchair and will stay asleep in there for longer than she will the sling these days, so the iCandy Rasberry is a good addition, especially as it reclines flat, completely and easily. It also has a very generous sunshade which Ophelia pulls down herself, which is great when she needs a dark space to just shut off from everything.

iCandy Rasberry review-6

Also generous is the shopping basket. I’ve never come across a pushchair with such a roomy basket. I can easily fit my bag and then some in there and it’s separated into compartments too.

iCandy Rasberry review-4

iCandy Rasberry review-3

I found putting the iCandy Raspberry together a breeze, taking it out of the box but it just wasn’t that intuitive figuring out how to collapse it. Once I’d worked it out from the instructions, though, it was incredibly simple and quick. That’s been fine off and on buses and trains.

iCandy Rasberry review-2

It’s been a dream to push around, steering comfortably and accurately. Laurence and I both love that the handle extends quite a lot.

iCandy Rasberry review-10

The only downside for us is that the seat is too small. Ophelia is a big nineteen-month-old, granted, but there’s no way it’s going to last her until three without taking the seat liner out.

But all in all, I’ve really enjoyed using it and it’s a no-brainer passing on the last pushchair we had, especially as this one fits so well in the tiny boot of our Skoda.

iCandy Rasberry review-12

Thanks to iCandy for sending me the iCandy Raspberry. If you’d like to know more about this pushchair, check out the Pushchair Expert review.


She is not my son

I swore I didn’t care, wouldn’t flinch, would be cool if people thought my daughter was a boy. I believed that I could stand outside the ridiculous system that genders babies without temptation to join in.

In this spirit, I welcomed a load of blues and pretty boyish clothes from my cousin-in-law who had a son last year. And I dress Talitha in them. I love how she looks in blue. I wash and hang her little blue baby gros with affection and admire the way the shades fall on her skin.

Then it started. The compliments about my son. Possessed by something more girly than I, I got me to the next NCT nearly new sale and bought all things pink and floral. It was a strange moment.

And of course, people still assume she’s a boy. Even in a dress.

But babies don’t really have gender do they? I mean, they have sexes but you’d only know that in a nappy change. When I think of Talitha, I think of my baby, not my little girl, particularly.

It reminds me a bit of a book we borrowed from the library when I was little, about how you could tell if someone was male or female and the conclusion was that you couldn’t.

So, my own must-get-pink-now has surprised me. It feels overpowering. Like I’m desperately shouting a gender statement over her life. There must be another way.

When Natureshop sent me this kimono bodysuit, I was struck by how effortlessly feminine it was yet how easily unisex. It’s an article of clothing that isn’t just cute. Those squiggles are genuinely pretty, carrying all the attraction of a story. I feel like I’m inside someone’s fictive imagination, seeing Talitha in this. They also sent this sleeping bag which could definitely go boy or girl.

This is how she feels:

“All the poppers and wraparound stuff mean you don’t have to fit my head through that silly neck hole thing and make me feel temporarily blind. The world WILL end if I miss anything. But they’re a few more bits to do up and it’s taking longer than I’d like.”
View Post