Wednesday, 21 March 2018

A Mutant Plasma Orb Christmas by Nick Patrice Book Review (age 7+)

A Mutant Plasma Orb Christmas is a recent release from author Nick Patrice. A funny and mainly light-hearted story for independent readers aged around 7+, It does have a slightly deeper side and doesn't tread heavily over children's emotions and fears.

The story centres on Freddie - big brother to 4 year old twins and living in an old, draughty house with his long-suffering Mum and his Dad. Life is hard and relationships are tense. In contrast his best friend Clive lives in a sparkling new house with all of the modern gadgets and a seemingly blessed life.

Toy of the moment are Mutant Plasma Orbs, small rechargable balls which contain little characters. Freddie's are left out in the rain, fixed by Clive's Dad the Professor, only to then suffer an accident involving Nectar Pop. Freddie's world suddenly becomes a lot more interesting...

Monday, 19 March 2018

Sophie La Girafe MSF Award Teething Gift Set Giveaway (2 Winners)

I don't usually cover products for babies, but for Sophie La Girafe I'll make an exception. She's been around since 1961 and has soothed over 50 million babies.  This year for every special Sophie MSF Award Set sold, they are collaborating with Medecins San Frontieres to provide 3 Measles vaccines to children who wouldn't otherwise have access to immunisation.

I'm a huge advocate for vaccinations, there is no doubt that they have saved many thousands of lives and are the safest option for your child. Measles is a particularly nasty disease which can cause pneumonia, brain damage, deafness and even death. Around 1/4 of children under 5 who catch Measles will need to be treated in hospital*. Sophie's collaboration with Medecins San Frontieres will take vaccinations to children who very often would not be able to access medical care if they did catch Measles.

Hopeless Heroes Blog Book Tour - Independent Readers aged 7+

I'm delighted today to be taking part in the Hopeless Heroes Blog Tour with Sweet Cherry Piublishing and answer some Hopeless Heroes themed questions!

Written by Stella Tarakson, the Hopeless Heroes series of fiction books are ideal for newer independent readers aged around 7+. Lively and funny stories with witty, monochrome illustrations, they are modern with a huge twist of history...

The Hopeless Heroes series star a young boy named Tim. Tim lives with his Mum in a regular house in a regular street, and then one day he breaks a vase. This is no ordinary vase however, it's from Ancient Greece, and when it breaks it releases Hercules!

Having Hercules around certainly livens up Tim's world, as well as giving him company when his Mum is at work. It's actually a lot of fun and Hercules turns out to be very useful - although he is not the only Ancient Greek to make it to our modern world, and some of them aren't here just to hang out peacefully with Tim.

We've already read the first 2 books in the series, Here Comes Hercules! and Hera's Terrible Trap! and I gave my readers a sneak peek in a previous Hopeless Heroes post.

Without any more rambling, here are my answers to the Hopeless Heroes related questions...

Saturday, 17 March 2018

How to solve a smelly washing machine with Dr Beckmann.

I have been a regular user of Dr Beckmann's cleaning products for almost 30 years now. Reliable and easy to use laundry and appliance cleaners that have stood the test of time, and cost very little.

Dr Beckmann also have an excellent database of washing and cleaning information on their website, including answers to the questions they are most commonly asked, and a fantastic Stain Clinic which should be able to advise you on anything you can possibly spill down your shirt.

I've been asked to share one of the questions that Dr Beckmann are asked very often, and it's one that I think everyone who owns a washing machine has definitely wondered at some point...:

Q. “My washing machine is beginning to smell, what can I do?”

Friday, 16 March 2018

Celtic Herbal Natural Handmade Skin Care Review and Spring Giveaway

Celtic Herbal are a Welsh company who hand create luxury skincare and other products using carefully extracted botanical oils and natural ingredients. They don't test on animals and their products don't contain sulphates, parabens, chemical preservatives or petroleum or palm oil. Good for you and good for the environment. Perfect pampering for your skin as we approach Spring and start stripping off the layers...

Celtic Herbal sent me some of their gorgeously indulgent products to try out, and they have also offered a giveaway prize for one of my readers.

I was sent the Wellness Gift Box and it's gorgeously presented in a very smart box. An excellent present that makes you feel spoilt before you even undo the ribbon. Inside the box doesn't disappoint, 4 beautiful products - the Exotic Wood & Ylang Ylang Soap, Bath Salts, Bath Oil and a Travel Candle.

Scholastic Books Spring Bundle Giveaway & #KeepReading Competition!

World Book Day may have been delayed all over the country due to snow, but Scholastic were on time in releasing their special World Book Day Book Club catalogue. Including over 400 carefully chosen books from more than 70 different publishers and a host of amazing authors, the price of  everything in the World Book Day Club catalogue is also heavily discounted by as much as 70%.

To help promote the Spring catalogue and celebrate World Book Day, Scholastic have a fabulous #KeepReading competition with a chance to win £30 of books for your child AND their school or nursery. Scholastic are inviting children to send in a video or written review of a book that they have recently enjoyed. There are three different age categories, 0-6, 7-11 and 11+, with one prize for each category. It doesn't have to be professional, and it doesn't have to be a particular book - but it does have to be the child's review, not yours!

To enter the review competition, share your child's book review with Scholastic on social media. State which age category you are in, use the hashtag #KeepReading and tag @ScholasticUK and @WorldBookDayUK 

The three winners will be able to choose £30 worth of books for themselves and nominate their chosen school or nursery to receive a £30 credit to their Scholastic account, which can be exchanged for free books. Entries need to be received by midnight on Thursday 29th March 2018.

Scholastic have also offered one of my readers an awesome bundle of books from the World Book Day Book Club, and it seems only appropriate that I got my 8 and 9 year old boys to give their thoughts...

Thursday, 15 March 2018

43 Months #TBCSmiles

It's the 15th and time for this month's smiles. As usual you guys shared some belters. I think the snow was exhilarating for everyone and we all blew away a few cobwebs. I've never had so many outdoor photos - not even in mid Summer, and your snow photos made me miss it already and  hope we get it more often. Nice one to everyone who got a snowday, boo humbug to all the bosses and schools who didn't let some of you have a day to play too...

I was tempted to do a special Mother's Day 9 Smiles this month because there were so many family shots. It was lovely to see. Mother's Day is hard for so many people, for so many reasons. For every mother without a child, every child without a mother, every single parent doing 2 jobs and yet getting no card or day off, absent family and missing relations. It's one of the most bitter-sweet of annual events, a reminder as much of what we have, as what we have lost. I hope your day was a good one.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Badger And Crab's Adventure - Children's Book Review (age 7-9)

Badger And Crab's Adventure is the latest release from author Catherine Trimby. Recommended for independent readers aged around 7-9, it tells the story of an unlikely friendship and has a message about preserving and looking after our UK wildlife, rather than feeling we have a right to control it for our own amusement or gain.

The story is centred on a badger and a crab, who meet one night on the beach. It isn't Badger's usual haunt, but he answers a cry for help and finds himself in a whole new world of sand and wetness. They have a common enemy, humans, and when both face imminent danger, they have to come to each other's rescue to survive.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Fletter Game Review - Fast-Paced Tabletop Card Word Game For Age 8+

Our latest game review is the tabletop card game, Fletter. A quick fire word game for 2-4 players , using 110 specially designed cards. Fletter is easily portable and a great game for taking away with you. Recommended for age 8+, although the letter cards are also brilliant for younger family members to practise their spellings or even learn their letters.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

9 Great Books For 9 Year Olds - chosen by my 9 year old.

I'm often asked which books are good for children of various ages and I give my answers, but what does an actual 9 year old think? My own 9 year old is a voracious reader and it took him precisely 23 seconds to choose 9 of his favourite books - and here they are...

1.Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling
Everyone has heard of J.K.Rowling's student wizard and all of our children worked their way through the series of books with gusto. They are a fantastic natural progression with your child, as the books get longer, stories more complex and subject matter slightly more mature gradually from book 1 to 7.
My son says his favourite of the whole series is the 7th and final book, and he's read them all twice.

2. Nelly The Monster Sitter series by Kes Gray
There are several books featuring Nelly, a girl who has a part time job offering her services as a monster sitter. As you can imagine, looking after monsters isn't always the easiest job, but it's usually the funniest.

Nerf Nitro AeroFury Ramp Rage Review for Hasbro (age 5+)

We really like the Nerf Nitro car launchers and the AeroFury Ramp Rage is a very neat set with a compact battery-operated launcher, 2 beautiful foam cars and the all important ramp for launching your vehicles as high and as fast as possible.

Packaging is almost entirely card and recyclable. It's best to cut the straps with scissors and unboxing only takes a couple of minutes. You will need 4 x AA batteries which aren't included, so don't forget them if giving as a gift. Inside the box you have the launcher itself, 2 awesome camouflage cars and one big yellow ramp.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

100 years of the 4th Electoral Reform Act / International Women's Day 2018

100 years ago women were allowed to vote in UK elections legally for the first time. Only women over 30 with property worth at least £5 (or a husband with property worth £5) were allowed to vote, but it added over 8 million to the electoral roll (more than 5 million men aged over 21 were also allowed to vote for the first time).

Allowing another 13 million of the population to express their opinion was a giant leap and it was only another 10 years before voting rights were extended to the entire UK population over the age of 21. There are many flaws in our electoral system, but it's the best one we've got and the closest to democratic that will probably ever happen in our lifetime.

Women's Rights were fought and died for, and although I was born over 40 years later, we've come a long way. Manchester was the key location during the reformation of elections and the Suffragette movement, and there are masses of special events planned.

Here is a rundown of some of the things you can watch, talk about and get involved with in Manchester this week.

Manchester Museum Of Science And Industry

Contact Young Company celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act (1918) with She Bangs the Drums. Based on research at the People’s History Museum and will take place in the Museum of Science and Industry’s characteristic 1830 Warehouse as part of the city’s Wonder Women 2018 festival.
She Bangs the Drums will explore voices and stories from Manchester’s rich and radical past as a centre of protest, from the Suffragettes to the Chartists.
She Bangs the Drums takes place at the Museum of Science of Industry, Thu 8 Mar – Sun 11 Mar, at 12pm, 2pm and 7pm (Thursday & Friday) and 2pm and 7pm (Saturday & Sunday). Tickets are on sale now priced £13/£7 concessions via or by phone on 0161 274 600. Please note this show is for over 14s only.

Manchester, Pankhurst Centre

The heritage centre has information about the Pankhursts and the Suffragette movement and is open to the general public on Thursdays from 10-4 and on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, 1-4pm.  Entry is free. For more information call on  0161 273 5673 or visit the website (Best to ring, the website is a touch out of date).

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Sphero Mini - the awesome App-Enabled Robotic Ball review

I'd seen Sphero Mini before, so I jumped at the opportunity to review. Sphero Mini App Enabled Robotic Ball is an amazing little table-tennis sized ball which is actually a very nippy little robot. You charge it, then control it and programme it, play games and guide it through obstacle courses or just drive around your table or room. It is tons of fun and we think it's awesome!

Sphero Mini is presented in a really smart plastic box which is great for storage and safekeeping afterwards. Inside you have your Sphero ball, USB charging cable, paper guide and a selection of gorgeous, brightly coloured obstacles. The Sphero Mini comes in a selection of 5 different, bright colours - great for knowing which is which if you have more than one!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Stargazey World by Christine Dawe Book Review (age 8+)

Stargazey World is a crazy, wild ride of a book. It is full of everything that you can imagine - or that the main character Sheena can imagine anyway. A fiction book for children aged around 8+, everything starts ordinarily enough with a trip down to Cornwall for her cousin's wedding.

Sheena has naturally green, untamed hair and is teased by bullies because of it. She isn't exactly academic and struggles to pay attention in school, so the teachers find her a challenge too. She escapes into her imagination maybe a little too often, but in the unfamiliar setting in Cornwall, sharing a bunk bed for the first time and staying with relatives she barely knows, her imagination runs riot.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Their First Snow Day!

I was going to do a post about some of our favourite books for 8 year olds today, but, along with a lot of the country, we have had a snow day and our local weather has been so exhilarating that it's basically filled all my time.

Tuesday 7am - not enough to close school darnit

My young boys have yearned for their own snow day since they started nursery. We had snow on Tuesday and it was pretty impressive to look at, but not quite enough. Today though, they got one. Double bubble because they have another snow day tomorrow, although they don't know that yet.