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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Mandy & Mitch and the Big Brave Boots - Review and Giveaway

Mandy & Mitch and the Big Brave Boots is the debut picture book from Little Boot Books.  It has been written by Alison Hanson and illustrated by Samantha Theobald-Roe. The team at Little Boot Books hope to create a series of stories for little readers that tackle big ideas and their first book explores the feelings of worry and anxiety. Here's the blurb...
Mitch loves Mandy Mondays, but not even his best friend can stop the worry in his tummy from bubbling out of control. As Mitch's worry bubbles grow stronger, Mandy knows that she must help her friend to pop those worries once and for all...but how?
Mandy and Mitch invite readers everywhere into the complex world of early emotional development. Exploring feelings of worry and anxiety, this book's visceral imagery provides a resource for storytelling, conversation and play. So dive in, boots first!
The story uses worry bubbles to explain to little ones how we all worry from time to time and there are useful discussion prompts available on the Little Boot Books website. At the beginning of the story Mitch is left by his mummy at his friend's house. Mitch becomes anxious and the worry bubbles start to build up inside him. I shared this book with Mini Reviewer, Theo, who is 3. He immediately understood how Mitch might feel if his mummy left him and we went on to talk about how he feels when he is worried.

The story then shows how Mitch's friend, Mandy is feeling. She is clearly fed up as Mitch won't play with her. Mandy's daddy advises her that she should try and put herself in Mitch's shoes, which confuses Mandy. We discussed the meaning of this saying and talked about how Mandy could help Mitch before we continued with the story.

As Mandy is unable to fit into Mitch's shoes, she puts on her Brave Boots (her wellies) and tries all sorts of things to burst Mitch's worry bubbles. Eventually Mandy realises that Mitch needs to share his worries with her. We talked about what it means to share a worry and why this can help. Together, Mandy and Mitch are able to pop and blow the rest of bubbles away and they go on to play for the rest of the day.

We enjoyed sharing this book together. I particularly liked the use of worry bubbles to explain  and visually show how anxiety can bubble up and become out of control. The book made a good conversation starter and I found the discussion prompts on the Little Boot Books website helpful. As a Welly fan, Theo loved the idea of popping bubbles in his own Big Brave Boots so maybe this is something we should try!
Credit: Little Boot Books
If you would like to get your hands on a paperback copy of this book, why not enter the giveaway at the end of this post? If you do not win, do not panic, Mandy & Mitch and the Big Brave Boots is available now from Amazon: £5.99 (paperback) £2.99 (kindle) £0.99 (audio book). There are also activity ideas available on the Little Boot Books website.

*Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are as always our own.

Mandy & Mitch Book Giveaway

Sunday, 18 June 2017

My Little Book of Big Freedoms - Review and Giveaway

When this small yet incredibly important book arrived in the post this week, I was extremely excited and I could not wait to share it with the Mini Reviewers.

My Little Book of Big Freedoms portrays the 16 different freedoms of The Human Rights Act in a series of enchanting and very beautiful pictures. Each picture is accompanied by simplified text taken from the act itself. The book has been illustrated by awarding winning writer and illustrator and former Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell. It has been published by Buster Books in partnership with Amnesty International UK, the world's largest human rights organisation.

As a former lawyer, I am impressed at how effortlessly this little book conveys the importance of The Human Rights Act and explains how the special rules look after all of us, keeping us safe and free. Although aimed at children, this is a book to inspire generations and I cannot see how anyone, young or old, could fail to be moved by such poignant illustrations.

This special little book is undoubtedly my favourite release of the year so far and I can see it being read in homes and classrooms up and down the country.

My Little Book of Big Freedoms is available from 22nd June 2017, RRP £9.99. If you would like to win your own copy please enter the giveaway below:

My Little Book of Big Freedoms

*We received a copy of My Little Book of Big Freedoms for the purpose of this review, all opinions are as always our own.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Bamboozled by PHONICS? Read with Phonics App - Review

Until Mini Reviewer, Izzie, started school in September, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I was bamboozled by these "PHONICS" everyone was talking about. When I learned to read we used sight words - basically repeating the same word over and over again until we could remember it! Of course, I knew what the letter sounds were and had taught these to Izzie but that was pretty much the extent of my phonics knowledge! I now know that learning to read using phonics (sounds) is a much simpler method than using sight words as there are only 44 sounds to learn. Once these sounds are understood then most of the English language can be decoded so it gets children reading more quickly. Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Well fortunately for the most part it has been (phew!) but I am always looking for new ideas to keep learning fun and so when we were asked to review a new phonics app, I jumped at the chance!

Designed by teacher, Sophie Cooper, Read with Phonics is a fun new app to help children learn to read. It is aimed at primary school children aged 4-7 years old (Reception - Year 2). The app consists of a series of games for the different letter sounds that when completed unlock further sounds. There are four stages or worlds to complete: 1. Water World; 2. Forest World; 3. Lava Land; and finally, 4. Jelly City. The sounds in the stages get progressively harder.

Over the past few weeks Izzie has enjoyed working her way through the different stages of the app with Albee the Alien. Initially I was concerned that the games were a little repetitive as it is the same format for each sound. However, this has not bothered Izzie in the slightest, in fact, I think it has enabled her to get to grips with the app quicker and allowed her to work through the later stages independently. The games help to improve recognition, comprehension, segmenting and blending. They consist of finding the correct sound; completing words; matching words to the correct pictures; and, in the later stages, identifying nonsense (pseudo) words from real words. The app keeps track of progress and so it has been easy to identify any areas that Izzie has found more difficult.

I have also had a little play with the app and I found it to be extremely user friendly and the games easy to follow. I particularly like that the font is very clear and the voice used has good pronunciation in UK English. My three year old has also been able to complete some of the easier games and there is a fantastic phonics song available online, which is also great for younger children.

Overall we have been incredibly impressed with the app and, as we approach the end of Izzie's first school year, I am pleased to say we are all getting to grips with our phonics!

Sophie wanted to create "the ultimate learn to read resource for the classroom", however she has created an app that is perfect for home use too. So if you have a child starting school this year or are a bit bamboozled by phonics, I really recommend that you take a look at the  Read with Phonics website. As well as the great song, there is also a free phonics guide and resources for parents and you can of course purchase the brilliant app for £7.99. 

*Disclaimer: We received free access to the Read With Phonics App for the purpose of this review. All opinions are as always our own.