Category Archives: competition

Benji & the Giant Kite: A Picture Book Review and Giveaway

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Benji & the Giant Kite by Alan C. Fox and illustrated by Eefje Kuijl, tells the story of a boy who, more than anything in the world, wants a big orange kite.   To buy the special kite, Benji has to earn money, so he gets to work helping his mother in the garden until he earns enough to buy the kite. Benji watches the kite sour through the air but when it is time to let it down he is overcome with an urge to set it free.

Alan Fox explains, that Benji and the Giant Kite is based on true events from his childhood. “I wanted to share the sense of achievement I felt by working hard to obtain something I really loved.” explains Fox, “But once I saw the kite flying at the beach, I wanted to let it go. My dream had been accomplished. It was time to move on to another, new experience. You must always keep going to fulfill your dreams and aspirations”.

Benji and the Giant Kite is visually stunning. The illustrations fill a double page with beauty and energy. The colour pallet of turquoise, pinks and greens is peaceful and warm. I love the way Benji’s hair blows and his little dog follows him around. I also love the depiction of the natural world with rolling waves, bees and flowers, birds building nests and glorious sunsets.

Benji and the Giant Kite

The underlying message of working hard to achieve your dreams makes this book particularly endearing. My only disappointment was the ending where Benji let the kite go.  My children didn’t really understand that part too. They wondered why after all his hard work he would just let it fly away – wasn’t it wasteful? I think this makes an interesting discussion point and it is refreshing to have an unpredictable ending. Do our dreams become meaningless once they are achieved? Should we move on to the next dream or should hard work help us to appreciate our achievements more? If we save hard for something should it be precious for a long time? Why do they think Benji let the kite go? Would they have done the same? I think I’m with the girls, I was a little disappointed in Benji and felt he should have treasured the kite, if he truly wanted it.

Benji and the Giant Kite is available on August 1 2018.

Giveaway – I have one copy of Benji and the Giant Kite to give away the winner will be drawn on August 8th

Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. Additional entries can be found via the Rafflecopter link.

Open to readers in the US.

Win a copy of Benji and the Giant Kite via Rafflecopter

Disclaimer: links are Amazon affiliate links – if you buy the book via this link I will receive a small commission.

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The Queen is Coming to Tea: Book review & fun activities for a Royal tea party theme.

 

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Disclaimer: Links to the book title are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you purchase the book from my recommendation I will receive a small financial incentive.

The Queen is Coming to Tea by Linda Ravin Lodding, is a sweet book that children who love to play at tea parties will adore.  My girls love to grab a blanket, turning it into a  royal cloak and lay out all their cuddly friends for tea parties. As such, they loved this story about a little girl travelling around the world to gather essential items for the Queen’s tea.
Ellie finds out the Queen is coming to tea and with her best friend, Langley the Elephant,  travels to Paris, China, Italy, and New York to make sure they have everything they need for tea with the Queen. But will the Queen patiently wait? And what exactly will be waiting for the Queen?

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I love the bright colourful illustrations by Constance Von Kitzing, but they may be a little too pink for some boys to enjoy.  The illustration of Ellie’s playroom gives clues as to where Ellie’s ideas about gathering items from around the world came from. I liked this insight into the child’s imagination.
The Queen is Coming to Tea would be a great book to read aloud and inspire play and learning.
You could..

  1. Prepare tea and cakes for the Queen using play dough or clay or outside in a mud kitchen.
  2. Bake cakes, or traditional British teatime treats like scones, biscuits and cucumber sandwiches and prepare a tea party or picnic.
  3. Watch footage of real royal events like the Queen’s coronation or a royal wedding and plan your own pretend street party. You could make flags and bunting, make posters or invitations, play games or have races and dance to music.
  4. Taste or smell different types of tea. Which country do they come from? Which is your favourite? How do the leaves turn into a drink? investigate with loose leaf tea, tea bags, warm water and tea strainers.
  5. Make a graph or tally chart of the children’s favourite types of tea.
  6. Could you make tea from herbs or leaves you find in your garden? These could be real or pretend.
  7. Give the children tulle, paper and plastic bags and scraps of material. Can they design an outfit fit for tea with the Queen.
  8. Are there any people from your community who have been invited to tea with the Queen? Perhaps recipients of MBE’s or OBE’s. Invite them to come and talk to the children.
  9. Further investigate some of the places featured in the story – perhaps some of the children have visited them.
  10. Practice squeezing lemons or perhaps try this fruit tea recipe
    Peach Mango White Iced Tea RecipeIngredients:
    4 Cups Water
    3 White Tea Bags
    1 Peach
    ½ Cup Chopped Frozen Mango
    1 tbsp sugar plus Sugar to TasteInstructions:
    Boil the 6 cups of water; remove from heat
    Steep the tea bags about 5 minutes; remove bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature
    Add chopped peaches and mango to a mixing bowl and mix with sugar; let fruit soften
    Place fruit in pitcher and pour cooled tea on top; add sugar to taste and stir

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Giveaway

For a chance to win a copy of The Queen is Coming to Tea and a porcelain tea set enter the giveaway below. The closing date is August 6 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

America’s Most Playful Family?

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We have recently received some very exciting news.  Our family have been selected from over 700 applicants as one of 50 semi-finalists in America’s Most Playful Family Contest. To enter we were asked to answer a number of questions about our play, including why it is important and how we make time for play.

I strive very hard to make my children’s lives playful and to share the things we do with others, so to be chosen as a semi-finalist makes me very proud.

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As a semi-finalist we receive a video camera and have been asked to create a 90 second video sharing tips to encourage other families to be more playful and showing that play can happen anywhere.  I have a huge list of things that I would like to show and it will be a big challenge to my editing skills to fit everything into 90 seconds. Brevity isn’t always my strength, so it will be good for me to pin down the most important messages to share.

walking on ice

The videos will be posted on a You Tube channel, so families can get tips and ideas about play and will be judged by a panel.  You will be relieved to know that I won’t be asking for votes but it would be nice if you would view the video and tell us what you think (I’ll embed the link here once it goes live).

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The winner gets to choose a community in their state that deserves a very special playground.  This will be a great way to learn about local worthy causes and  help disadvantaged kids. Of course there are prizes for us too but for me being chosen as a playful family is a great prize in itself.

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Spitter Spatter Stain Free Anti-Bacterial Children’s Clothing Giveaway

spitter spatter logoI have an exciting giveaway for my readers today from a new children’s clothing company Spitter Spatter.

What is Spitter Spatter?

Spitter-Spatter is a new children’s clothing range for 0-5 year olds with anti-bacterial properties woven into the fabric and also claims to be stain and odour resistant.

Spitter Spatter builds revolutionary antibacterial performance into the fibres of every fabric, without altering the natural breathability or feel of the fabric. Using a proprietary process to modify fabric at the molecular level by creating an invisible barrier on the exterior of the fabric to defend against over 100 different types of germs.

As you can see from many of my posts I love to get my kids outdoors in the dirt. Getting dirty and picking up germs are a natural and necessary part of childhood fostering independence and  building up their immune system.messy play outdoors

So what on earth am I doing reviewing anti-bacterial clothing?

  • I love my kids to get messy, but that doesn’t mean I want them to ruin their clothes.  Through the weaning stage I lost count of the number of t-shirts that had to be thrown away because the stains wouldn’t come out.

Stain Free, Odour free clothing; that interests me

  • I have twin nephews who were born prematurely. Their immune systems are weak and since attending nursery they seem to pick up every bug going and of course pass it to each other. I can see that for children like this Spitter Spatter clothing could be a worthy investment.
  • Many moons ago I worked as a nursery teacher. As any teacher will tell you in the first few months of working in a new school you pick up all of the children’s germs. Working with young children involves lots of sitting on the floor, playing with messy materials, wiping noses and cleaning up spills.  I would always go home feeling grubby, needing a shower and a change of clothes.  If Spitter Spatter had made our uniforms it may have made a difference.

spitter spatter parcelOur Spitter Spatter parcel arrived beautifully presented in a cake box, wrapped in tissue and a note attached.

It contained a dress for my 4-year-old and a t-shirt for my 2-year-old. The clothes are pretty yet practical.  The dress can be worn on its own or with leggings and the t-shirt with pretty ruffled sleeves is great for wearing under sundresses or with trousers.

On the first day the dress was worn my neighbour invited the girls to play. She gave them a home-made slime mixture to play with coloured with blue colouring. A  few spots got on the dress but after washing I was impressed to see that they were gone. I gave the girls permission to eat chocolate ice-cream and get it on their clothes to test it further. Again the dress came out clean.

I only have one small suggestion for improvement. My 4 -year-old chooses her own clothes. She doesn’t often choose the Spitter Spatter dress because she only chooses her ‘prettiest dresses’. I think if it had a patterned fabric she would put it in this category.

Giveaway
The competition is open to readers in the UK and the US.
One reader will be chosen at random to receive a piece of Spitter Spatter clothing in the form of a voucher code that can be redeemed on the Spitter Spatter website.

Competition closes on 25th May 2013 at 12pm PST

To enter follow this link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fed Up With the Same Old Books for Your Kids? Try Something Different From Quirk Books.

monkey fartsI had never heard of Quirk books before but when I was approached to review a couple of their titles, the concepts grabbed me. As the name would suggest, Quirk books publish titles that are a little different. They are most well-known for the Worst-Case Scenario series and have a large catalogue of slightly off the wall books.

The first book I was asked to review is ‘Monkeyfarts – Wacky Jokes every kid should know’. My kids love jokes and joke books and we are always on the look out for new jokes so I knew this would be popular. The book begins with typical boyish toilet humour jokes that young boys will love and my girls did too. With a mixture of well-known one liners, longer story type jokes and old favourites that make you groan, there is something for everyone The book itself is a lovely little hardback edition, light durable and easy to hold. With a rrp. of £5.99 ($8.99 USD) it is very good value and ideal for a party present or stocking filler.

The second book would be attractive to children and adults alike. Fill in the Blank – An Inspirational Sketchbook contains a wealth of ideas to inspire creativity and design. Each page begins with the slogan ‘You are a….’ and then a design prompt. Some of my favourites include

 

 

  • You are a street artist – and won’t be arrested
  • You are at grandma’s – who’s in the family?
  • You are a genius – these ideas will make you rich
  • You are a tattoo artist – make your mark
  • You are an autobiographer – start telling the story of your life
  • You are in detention – confess your crimes

Most of the designs are for drawing but some involve writing or a combination of written and illustrated thought.

gingerbread menWe picked out some of the simplest pages for my 4-year-old, she loved designing ice-creams and she shared the gingerbread man page with her 8-year-old sister.

My 8-year-old loves this book, it is an inspired transition from colouring books for older children. There are some lovely projects that we could work on together and it is a wonderful way to encourage children to draw for pleasure. With such a huge variety of blanks, boys and girls of all ages will find plenty to hold their interest, from designing a hat to creating a city at the end of the road.

This would also make a great coffee table book, a resource for teachers or an interesting addition to a waiting room. Additional blanks can be downloaded from the Quirk website where you can also create a profile and share designs.

Fill in the blank is currently retailing on Amazon.co.uk for £11.70

Competition

I have one copy of each book to give away to my readers in the UK

Simply leave a comment stating which book you would like and one winner for each book will be drawn at random on 3rd November

Terms and conditions

This competition is only open to entries from residents of the UK

One entry per person

one additional entry can be made by commenting on rightfromthestart’s facebook page under the link to this post

winners will be notified by email and first names published on the site.

The Land of Sometimes – Review and Competition

The first thing that struck me when this cd arrived was the beautiful packaging.   The Land of Sometimes moves away from  standard cd casing, instead presenting it as a book  with captivating illustrations. Each song has an illustrated page in the storybook encouraging the children to follow the story. I had high hopes that the songs would also reflect the magical quality of the artwork.

The Land of Sometimes is an audio storybook and the characters are brought to life by original music. The story follows Alfie and Elise in their journey through the seasons.  They meet a number of colourful characters, and each one is brought to life with a song. The narration is simple and clear and the quality of singing and musical production superb.  I’d love to sing on the follow up if there is one. My 3 year old is a big musical theatre fan and she loved the songs dancing around her bedroom and attempting to sing along.

I generally find children’s song cd’s a bit irritating.  I have been playing The Land of Sometimes in the background while I write this post and it is surprisingly relaxing. The songs are well written and very catchy and move away from the simplicity of some children’s songs by introducing them to a number of musical genre including reggae, folk and jazz.

Put this one in your car and I’m sure you will be singing along in no time.

The Land of Sometimes website is also worth a visit. Children can find out more about the characters and places in the story, colour in some of the beautiful illustrations and download lyrics for the songs.

A beautiful gift for any child with a fondness for stories or music and something that can be treasured for a long time.

The Land of Sometimes is released on February 6th at a retail price of  £9.90 from Amazon.

One lucky reader can win a copy of The Land of Sometimes.

Simply post a comment telling me why you would like to win.

A Bonus entry is available if you follow my Facebook page using the link on the right hand side.

Winners will be drawn at random on 6th February.

Congratulations to the winner Sue Willshee

Terms and Conditions

This competition is only open to residents of the UK and Republic of Ireland

Only one entry per person

Winners will be notified by email and  will be posted on this site.

Loquax Competitions