I love Christmas films and have wanted to start watching them since before Halloween but my brother said it was too early. I have now only got a few weeks to watch them all! These are my Top 10 favourites.
I would love to know yours so I can add them to my list to watch.
1. Polar Express
2. Nativity…1, 2 and 3!
3. Home Alone
5. Miracle on 34th Street
6. Jingle all the way
7. The Grinch
8. Santa Claus the Movie
9. Arthur Christmas
10. Narnia (not really a Christmas film but we always watch it at this time of year!)
We are giving you a chance to win a family Christmas DVD of your choice (subject to availability) with a treat bundle to enjoy to get you into the Christmas spirit.
I couldn’t believe A Clock of Stars was Francesca Gibbons’ first book. It was absolutely amazing. The story is so well written, it draws you in and neither my Mum or I wanted to put it down. We were supposed to read two or three chapters a night but we often went on for four or five! I was sad when we got towards the end as I didn’t want it finish.
The book starts with Imogen and her little sister Marie, who annoy each other like normal sisters, and tells the tale of their adventures after Imogen follows a Shadow Moth through a mysterious door in a tree tree only to discover Marie has followed her and they are trapped, unable to get home. The sisters find themselves in a magical Kingdom and are helped escape some terrifying monsters by a very spoilt prince.
The girls stay with Prince Miroslav and they form a strange friendship that almost creeps up on them. Miro has never had real friends before so it is all new to him and there are a few difficulties along the way.
We felt like Gibbons had created a whole new world – it has a feel of being ancient and a step back in time but it could be any time or place, it is just a complete new world like nowhere I could have imagined.
Despite the fun they are having the children realise they need to get back to their own world as their Mother will be worried. It soon becomes clear that it isn’t going to be as easy as that. They meet lots of interesting characters along the way and get caught up in an important quest that changes the future of the whole Kingdom. This is a great adventure story with twists and turns along the way, there were a lot of cliff-hangers!
I love the characters in A Clock of Stars, they all have their own stories and their own strong points and negatives, even the main characters have faults and weaknesses which makes them so much more believable. My favourite character is the huntress Lofkinye, she is such a brilliant character, with so many stories to tell. My Mum liked Marie as she enjoyed the way her character developed and grew throughout the book- she is a great peace keeper but also ended up being very brave. The illustrations by Chris Riddell at the start of the book are perfect, they show the characters exactly how I imagined them to be and the Shadow Moth is beautiful- I can see why Imogen would have followed it!
I really like the way A Clock of Stars shows us that heroes can come in all forms and challenges us to reconsider what we think we know about other people.
A Clock of Stars is probably the longest book I have ever read and I think it was right to read it with my Mum to start with, although I am re-reading it by myself now. As it is quite a detailed book I think it is best suited to age 10 upwards but think children age 8 upwards would enjoy it with a parent or teacher.
I absolutely loved A Clock of Stars and would love to read more about the characters. I really hope Francesca Gibbons has another book out soon.
Disclaimer: We were gifted a proof copy of A Clock of Stars but all thoughts are our own.
I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Cookie and the most annoying girl in the world by Konnie Huq from Love Reading 4 Kids and I have loved it. I am now reading it for the third time!
It is a great book for children who don’t like reading huge amounts as it has lots of different styles to catch your attention. Most of it is written as a chapter book, but it is from Cookie’s perspective and really easy to follow, almost like a diary, then it is broken up with emails and lots and lots of drawings and sketches.
I really enjoyed the way Cookie thinks as it is very easy to relate to.
The book follows her story and the lives of her friends Jake and Kenziah as well as the most annoying girl in the world- Suzie Ashby and some other children from their class. Cookie is given some tickets to the Aliana Tiny concert and suddenly finds Suzie Ashby wants to be her best friend, which comes with more problems than Cookie could have imagined.
Cookie suffers with major FOMO and it is this fear of missing out that means she finds herself signed up to The F Factor. It turns out the F Factor isn’t quite what she imagined.
I love the storyline of the book as it is really entertaining. I like the way Cookie ends up learning a bit about herself and her friends but still stays like a normal kid. While there is a bit of a lesson in the book it isn’t too much!
I hadn’t heard of the Cookie books before, but I enjoyed this one so much I asked for the first Cookie book for my birthday.
Konnie Huq’s book is perfect for kids age 8 upwards and is ideal for both bookworms and more reluctant readers.
Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to be sent this book to review but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I can’t believe we are going back to school tomorrow. It felt like it would never come but at the same time feels like time has just disappeared.
We have been lucky enough to stay healthy during lockdown and for us it was only difficult because my Mum was shielded so it felt like a really long time before we could start seeing people again.
I am looking forward to getting back to school to see my friends and it will be better doing some of the subjects like science there than it was at home as we will hopefully get to do more practical things. I am not looking forward to early starts, homework and remembering masks for the bus.
I can’t wait for clubs to start up again and to hopefully be able to do hockey after school again as well as at the weekend.
The Summer holidays were really strange this year because we didn’t go on holiday or even for many days out really but we still managed to have a nice time and see some friends.
During lockdown and over the summer we have had three birthdays between the five of us so we have had a good time celebrating these- we even got a bouncy castle in the garden for Lottie’s last week which she loved.
Last weekend we set up our tent in the garden and my friend came over with his and we all camped out for the night which was a good laugh. We had a BBQ, toasted marshmallows and had hot chocolate while we tried to identify the stars and played some card games.
The other highlight of our holiday was the arrival of our two new ducks, Finn and Rose, who firstly kept us busy digging ponds and making sure the garden was safe, and then by generally entertaining us- they now come flapping up to us and have a little walk round us whenever we go out in the garden, it’s like they have been here much longer than they have.
Now it’s time to make sure the bags are packed and uniform is out, ready for the first early start in months.
If you have been following our blog for a while you will know that we are Star Wars fans- although my little brother Sam is probably the biggest fan of us all and knows more about it than any other 5 year old I know (except possibly his best friend who is equally obsessed!)
We have asked him to tell us some of his favourite things about it:
Obi Wan Kenobi
Favourite Space ships
Return of the Jedi
We always do a Star Wars day competition and decided that even though things are a bit more tricky this year we would still run one to hopefully brighten someone’s day. You can enter on Rafflecopter below to win a copy of The Rise of Skywalker on DVD- Sam would love to know who your favourite character is!
Today has been a long day, it has been raining all day and we are all getting a bit fed up of being stuck at home. After we finished our school work for the day we decided we would pick some of our favourite games to play which got us thinking about our favourites.
These are (probably!) our top 10:
Othello– We were sent this game to review last year and Lottie and I have played it loads. It’s really straightforward but gets you thinking as you need a bit of strategy planning, it’s a great game for age 7 plus.
Reveal- I got this game for my birthday after seeing it when we went to the UK Games Expo last year. It is very funny to play in a group and involves testing your knowledge on TV shows, films and songs at different levels of difficulty.
What’s in the box?– This is such a simple idea, we reviewed it a couple of years ago and loved it, it is now my little brother’s favourite game. You literally just choose something to put in the box and then use the counters to ask yes and no questions to find out what it is. It’s ideal for the whole family even little children.
Randomise- This is one of our most favourite games ever- we wrote a full review here but it involves drawing, acting or describing whatever your cards throw up. It’s really, really funny and one every family should have in their games cupboard.
Villainous– Disney Villainous is a bit tricky to get started with but once you get your head round it then it’s a great game, Lottie absolutely loves this and really likes the fact that it is villains rather than princesses!
Monopoly– I love monopoly, it’s my favourite game and we have lots of different versions. I really like the electronic one and would love the cheaters edition. My Mum hates it when we play, she says we always end up arguing and someone always cheats!
Telestrations– This is a bit like Chinese whispers in drawing and is really funny. It’s a great game for age 8 upwards.
Think Words Spin– You have to think really quickly in this game and shout out something that matches the catagories and letters. It is quite competitive and harder than it sounds to think of the right word.
Tetris Speed– We like the fact that this is a very portable version of Tetris and it is suitable for anyone adult or child. It doesn’t take long to play and you just have to be really fast and use your memory a bit.
We would love to know your recommendations for other games we might enjoy and in return we are giving you the chance to win a £20 Amazon voucher to treat your family to a new game.
It was my little brother’s 5th birthday earlier this month, with everything else going on it wasn’t quite the day we had planned. This year was the first year he had been excited about having a party and has been talking about it for months. He was very good when he realised he couldn’t have one and asked if we could have an at home party instead so we decided that was what we would do.
It was a bit difficult because my Mum is shielded so no one could go to the shops but fortunately she had already got a few presents and we had ordered ink for our school work so we had some things to use.
Sam spent a few days before his birthday planning a party playlist on Alexa of his favourite songs, he has loved dancing to them ever since.
I made some Happy Birthday signs using his favourite Star Wars characters to go with each letter and we wrapped up the bottom half of the living room door for him to burst through which he thought was really funny.
Normally our birthday cakes are a surprise, sometimes we order them from a lady we know and sometimes Mum makes them but we never know what we are having until the day, this year Sam asked if he could help make his. He asked to have a chocolate cake and he absolutely loved being involved with making it and decorating it. His favourite bit was covering it with Easter sweets and treats that we had left over. It was a bit wonky but he said it was the best cake ever. We did surprise him by adding a Star Wars cake decoration that we had ordered before lockdown started.
During the day we played outside and I helped to build his birthday LEGO space set and then in the afternoon we had his ‘At home party’. We arranged a Zoom call with two other families who each have two children, one is Sam’s best friend and one is Lottie’s but they all play really nicely together and I organised a scavenger hunt for them. It worked really well because Sam and his friend are a bit little for video calls but this stopped them from being too shy and had everyone running around laughing.
Once we said goodbye to their friends we played some games together with Mum and Dad including a game of pass the parcel. Sam was amazed that he was allowed to win because we aren’t normally at our own parties. We then played the chocolate game- you have to take turns to roll the dice and when someone gets a 6 they have to quickly put on a scarf, hat and sometimes gloves and then cut up a chocolate bar with a knife and fork, they can then eat as much as they are able before the next person rolls a six. Sometimes you get loads and sometimes you don’t even get the hat on before it is the next person’s turn and it is very funny.
After that Sam spoke to some of our family on the phone and we made him a party tea with sausage rolls, mini sausages, pizza and lots of yummy treats.
We watched a film that Sam picked out and then sang happy birthday to him and had cake. We has also planned to have a campfire and toast marshmallows but we ran out of time so we did that at the weekend as an extra birthday treat.
It wasn’t what we planned but Sam had a great day- he said his favourite thing was blowing out the candles on his cake!
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‘Abi and her two step brothers, Max and Louis, find that strange things happen when they are alone in their eerie, ivy-covered new house.
Abi reading alone, finds herself tumbling deep into books, while Louis summons a startling guest through his bedroom window. Even Max has started to see shapes in the shadow in the shadows….
Their busy parents see none of it- but Louis’ secret visitor is growing too alarming to keep secret, and he finds he cannot manage without Max and Abi’s help.
Can they find out where the mysterious creature has come from- and how to get it back there?’
Hilary McKay is an amazing author, she makes you feel like you are really there. I could really imagine I was Abi. The Time of Green Magic is full of mystery and a little bit scary- not enough to frighten you a lot but enough to make you want to keep reading.
The descriptions are so good, you can imagine exactly what the family are like and all that is happening to them. I can see how strange it is for Abi getting used to having step brothers. The book has lots of people’s stories running through it and you get to know all the characters really well and feel like you know them.
I really love this book. I read it within 2 days even though we were still at school when it arrived and have read it again since. I would recommend it to confident readers age 7 and over. If you are looking for something magical to read then The Time of Green Magic is a brilliant choice.
Disclaimer: We were sent a review copy of The Time of Green Magic but all thoughts and opinions are Lottie’s own.
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Yesterday I made peanut butter cookies from a recipe in my Mum’s BBC Good Food Magazine – they were so easy and really delicious, I would really recommend them. The original recipe can be found here.
These were really quick and easy and I think they are perfect for kids to make on their own, next time I might try adding chocolate chips or some extra chopped nuts but they were delicious both warm and cold. I think they tasted more nutty the following day.
200g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth- I used a mix as that was what we had)
175g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
1 large egg
Heat oven to 180 degrees/ 160 degrees for a fan oven and line two baking trays
Mix peanut butter, salt and sugar
Add in egg- it makes a dough type mixture
Place large marble size balls of dough spaced out on the trays and gently squash with the back of a fork.
Cook for around 12 minutes until golden around the ages- I found they needed around 16 minutes until they were a nice colour and I turned the oven up for the last few minutes
Allow to cool slightly on a baking tray before eating!
We would love to hear if you make these, I will definitely be making them again soon.