Monday, 16 July 2018

The Price Of Magic by Gavin Neale Young Fiction Review for Matador (Age 9+)

The Price Of Magic is the second book from Gavin Neale and features reliable old-fashioned good versus evil, with swords and kings and children who have been dropped into a world entirely unlike their usual reality.


This is fantasy in the style of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe mixed with The Lord Of The Rings and given a dash of later years Harry Potter. Dwarves, elves, fairies and magic come together with a very special young hero, and save the world.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

July Smiles... 47 Months...

Get a load of this weather! It's caused havoc on the moors around where we are, but the extended sunshine has been such an amazing breath of fresh air and it really feels we've 'had a Summer' before the kids are even off school.


The sun has had everyone outside topping up the vitamin D and the memories. We spent an awesome weekend at Timber Festival, we've had water fights, marshmallow roasting and all have so many freckles you could almost mistake it for a tan.

You guys have been out in the sunshine too - and as I went through finding photos I'd missed this morning, I had to laugh at the number of people who were delighted by the sun a month ago, and hoping we had 'a few more days like this'... Your wish was granted.

I ask you to show us your smiles and this month you did yourselves proud. Loads of family photos this month, and I am embarrassed to say that I don't believe we have any photos with all of us in, so there's a challenge for me for next month.

Anyone can join in with the smiles, just tag any smile, grin, chuckle or chortle on Instagram using the hashtag #TBCSmiles. I share 9 of the biggest and brightest each month, today's final bunch was chosen by my 20 year old - may as well keep him busy while he's home from uni for Summer.


These gorgeous smiles were shared by the following Instagrammers:


We had our own smiles too - the weather really helps!


We also saw the two youngest of our 'big kids' finish college and we couldn't be prouder of what they have both achieved already. They'll be spending the next month waiting for exam results. My best wishes to everyone waiting for results to find out where their life will take them next.

For one of our young people, a place at uni is unconditional, and this was their final piece of exhibition work. A truly beautiful tribute to their sister...


If you don't know why we collect our smiles, you can find out here. Each smile is a reason and a reminder of why it's always worth carrying on....



Saturday, 14 July 2018

Wannabees Role Play Packs Review And Giveaway (age 5-11ish)

Wannabees spotted that pretend play was missing a special something that could really encourage children to practise more skills and learn to read and write while they play. They created a range of 'I Want To Be...' packs full of printed sheets which support role play for children aged around 5-11.


Currently available in ‘I Want to be a Teacher’, ‘I Want to be a Doctor’ and ‘I Want to be a CafĂ© Owner’, each pack is bundled up into a really handy ring binder with around 45 mainly tear-out pages. The pages include forms, stickers and certificates, appointment cards, registers and even eye tests or weather charts, allowing children to act out all of those fun tasks that somehow aren't so fun when you are an adult.


We've been sent two of the packs for my 8 and 9 year old boys to play with. They chose 'I Want to be a Teacher’ and ‘I Want to be a Doctor’. One of them actually does want to be a Doctor (or an entomologist), so he was particularly excited.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Summer Holiday Stuff for Families in the Manchester and North West Area!

Below is a list with loads of fabulous workshops, performances, plays, craft activities, museums, fundays and all of that other stuff which creates Summer holiday memories your children can take with them forever. I'm based in Manchester and so are most of the listings below, but the whole NorthWest UK is covered. Events are suitable for families with children - some for younger audiences and some which even your teenagers won't mind joining in with...


If you have anything suitable you wish me to add, send an email with a short write up including a photo, plus date, time, location, cost and a little about it to thebrickcastle@gmail.com

In as close to date order as is sensible:

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Timber!!!!!!! Festival - Derbyshire Family Festival Review

Timber is a new festival that instantly sounded right up our street. Set in Derbyshire (in gorgeous woodland in the National Forest) and aiming to be a carbon neutral big sibling to Just So Festival, with plenty to entertain the adults as well as the school aged children. It was brilliant. Everything that we hoped for and more, plus sunshine for once!!!


This is a photo-heavy post because there really was so much to experience at Timber Festival - it was great before we even left the camping field (aside from losing our van keys for 4 hours, but that's another story). Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Our festival began with sunshine, wildlife, cherries, lovely neighbours and a gift of roast chicken... and a space in accessible camping because neither I nor my partner are capable of transporting our tent and belongings. We are working on the boys and they did a superb job of helping to get the tent up and down!

Gravity Touch Wireless Charging Base Review for [Fuse] Chicken

[Fuse] Chicken are a really innovative company who design products that look good and really last. They make accessories for phone, tablet and computer users, and we've been sent one of their new premium Aluminum, Leather and Bamboo wireless phone chargers - the Gravity Touch.


[Fuse Chicken] care about looks. They are modern and forward thinking, and the Gravity is available in sustainable bamboo or leather with high strength aluminum. I've gone with bamboo and it is a really attractive item to have either on the desk or bedroom table. Subtle and understated, yet classic and very smart. It's pretty much exactly what I want from a phone charger.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Boy Who Imagined... And Found He Could Draw Young Fiction Review

The Boy Who Imagined... And Found He Could Draw by Ann and Fred Onymouse is a very quirky book for readers aged around 7+, but older children will take away much more from reading it. I can't decide if this is the most truthful piece of social commentary I've read in years, or a children's book which is just a bit weird? It's impossible to tell.


The book revolves around a young boy called Vapi, or Van Gogh Pablo Picasso Salvador Dali if you want to give him his full name. Clearly his parents are artistic types and have high hopes for Vapi. He doesn't feel he can draw and avoids it as much as he can. Vapi is a sensitive boy and is pulled out of school by his parents to be home-schooled for a while, but that doesn't really go to plan and he returns to school.

Vapi's school is quite bizarre. The teaching staff are harsh and unwilling to stand up to bullies within the school or protect Vapi, who soon learns to keep his comments flattering and his head down.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

FReNeTiC Family Game Review - from the makers of Accentuate (age 8+)

The people behind popular board game Accentuate have a new game release which brings together English and science and a bit of maths in a quite unique and different way. FReNeTIC is a word game based on the Periodic Table. Two or more players create words using the letters which represent elements and then score depending on the atomic number... and there's a copy for one of my readers too!


In the box are the board itself, pencils and notepads, an egg timer, instructions and the playing tiles, which are stored in a drawstring cloth bag. This is a plastic free box and the only thing to discard is the outer plastic wrapping.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Ant World from Interplay (age 5+) - The review that didn't go as expected.

Interplay have an awesome range of children's My Living World sets created in conjunction with Nick Baker, the Really Wild Show presenter and naturalist. The sets help children get up close and personal with nature, supporting science and building STEM skills, as well as teaching about caring for living creatures. We've been given Ant World to review.


There is a backstory as I actually requested this review for my 9 year old. He came home from school one day, incredibly excited about the idea that people can keep ants as pets and see into their usually hidden world. I'd previously been offered this set, so I went back to Interplay and asked if we could still review.