Doodle books from Start Creative

Start Creative doodle books
We have one more week of summer holidays before heading back to London and diving straight into school and a busy Autumn schedule. I’m starting to psyche myself up for the routine that is coming… but first, I have a 9-hour flight with four kids to survive. I’ve been trying to convince one of my siblings to fly back with me to help with all the schlepping of children and luggage, but haven’t had any takers… so it looks like I will fly solo, just the kids and me. Eeeek!

Thankfully, a set of doodle books from Start Creative arrived this week for us to check out. The timing couldn’t be better.

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Each little doodle book provides the start of a doodle on each page — a simple line, swirl or scribble, which the kids can use as the starting point for their drawing. All your kids will need is a pencil and a bit of imagination!

I also love that the books are perfectly sized for travel, small enough to fit into any carry-on tote or child’s backpack (I’ve already stashed some in our travel bag, ready for our flight!).

x Courtney

p.s. Last year, after surviving the long flight back to London with all the kids, I jotted down some simple tips for flying with kids. I’ll be studying these tips to prepare myself for next week’s flight, and if you have any other tips to share, please do!

The ShopUp 2014!!

ShopUp website

We are beyond excited to finally announce this year’s ShopUp event! Following the success of last year’s event, we’ll be hosting another 2-day shopping fair in London this December where we will bring together more than 25 different boutiques all under one roof just in time for the holiday shopping period. We’re already soooo excited!

We’re also thrilled to announce a brand new dedicated ShopUp site. Introducing… www.theshopup.com! Here you will find all the important info, activities and, most importantly, the list of all participating shops. You can also watch the video and see all the photos from last year’s event.

We’ve already lined up a hot selection of amazing shops (don’t you want to go shopping already! so good!), and we’re excited to organise more shops and some sweet activities to keep your little ones entertained. Please stay tuned…

In the meantime, mark your calendars for December 3rd and 4th, and get your holiday shopping lists ready!! We hope to see you there!

xx Courtney, Esther & Emilie

Get organised! This month’s column in Baby&Me Magazine

Baby&Me mag

Every year I promise myself I’ll be organised come the first day of school. I’ll be ready for early morning wake-ups and prepared for the rush to school. But no matter my best intentions, I’m never ready.

We still have another two weeks until school starts for my kids, but this year I’m determined to be prepared for the inevitable routine that’s coming. This month for Baby & Me Magazine I’ve rounded up some of my favourite products to help get organised: notebooks, planners, pens, name labels and an office wall organiser I’ve coveted for years. You can find my selection in this month’s issue here.

x Courtney

Mabo Kids summer sale

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When Mabo Kids announced their summer sale a couple weeks ago, I quickly scooped up a few adorable pieces for the kids, my favourite being this little chambray playsuit for Ivy. So sweet! I snapped a few photos of her earlier this week when we were out at Fort Casey near where my dad lives. I love how summery these photos are — the dried grass, the flower seeds blowing, her blonde wispy hair… and of course the cutest little summer outfit.

There are still some remaining pieces in the Mabo sale, and if you hurry on over you might get lucky with the right sizes, etc.

x Courtney

Learning to weave on a peg loom

ivy weaving

weaving loom

My sister just gave Ivy a Peg Loom weaving kit and it’s been really sweet watching Ivy learn to weave this summer. She’s intent on making herself a little handbag, which is one of the projects recommended in the loom kit. I’m kind of hoping we can buy some pretty yarns and make some weaved wall hangings, perhaps with some driftwood found on the beach (I was feeling inspired yesterday when I saw this photo on Instagram). In either case, it’s a great summertime project (for both of us).  The PegLoom kit comes with everything you need to get started, including yarn and a weaving needle.

x Courtney

Blackberry season. Time for pie!

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girls eating blackberries

And just like that… it’s blackberry season! In just the past week the blackberries on the island have ripened… and they are abundant! We’ve been picking blackberries daily and eating them for every meal.  Yummm. Last week the girls and I decided to make a blackberry pie. To be honest, Ivy decided she wanted to make a pie and I decided to be a good mama and help her make it. Pies are not my favourite thing to make — I’m always turned off by the trickiness of pie crust (the making, the rolling, the precision of pie crust pinching!). Cakes and cobblers are so much easier for this reason. But, Ivy wanted pie…

I’ve recently discovered the baking blog Bakers Royale, and the few recipes I’ve tried have been really good so we decided to make her Blackberry Lime Pie, despite my worries that it might be too sour for a little girl’s palette.

blackberry lime pie
blackberry lime pie, last piece

The pie turned out really well (despite the not-so-perfect pie crust design!). The blackberry and lime combination is really interesting, and the crust is a bit sweeter than most crusts so it’s the perfect combination of sweet pastry and slightly sour filling. Really yummy! We will definitely make it again.

x Courtney

MAPS Activity Book

MAPS activity book
colouring MAPS activity book
Remember the MAPS book we all love so much? Well, they’ve just come out with an activity book version which my kids are loving nearly as much as the book!! (Easton did make sure to tell me that he still loves the book more!)

colouring american states

The MAPS activity book is filled with loads of great activities, all based on encouraging children to learn and discover the different countries, continents and cultures around the world. There’s a page, for example, that encourages children to colour the 50 different states of America, using only four colours, and without letting any of the colours touch — a fun, yet challenging activity that my 9-year-old really enjoyed.

colour your own flag

Another page asks you to colour the different flags from countries around the world and then asks you to design and colour your own flag. Another fun activity! The book is available from Amazon (US and UK).

x Courtney

A few days in Portland

walking downtown portland

We’ve just finished a little road trip from Lake Tahoe, NV, where Michael’s parents have a home, back up to Seattle where we will spend the rest of our summer holiday with my family. We did some sightseeing along the way and really enjoyed exploring some new parts of California and Oregon we have never seen before. We decided to stop in Portland  on our way and spend a few days checking out the city. Despite having grown up in Seattle, I’ve never really spent much time in Portland… and we keep hearing such good things about it!

I can definitely say it is worth all the hype. Portland is such a great little city, so easy to navigate with all the wonderful shops and restaurants located downtown in an easily walkable grid. It’s a perfect destination for a weekend break because it’s small enough to explore, but still feels very much like a hip, happening city. We loved it!

Here’s a little recap of our visit and some photos too:

We arrived into Portland in time to check into our hotel and walk to dinner at Oven & Shaker in the Pearl District. We sat outside and enjoyed good pizza and beer. We then stopped by Ruby Jewel for ice cream on our way back to our hotel. Lots of people suggested to go to Salt & Straw for ice cream, but we never made it there. Apparently they serve delicious ice cream in the most unusual flavours (and it’s so popular they have a queue going around the block!).

marlow at Kenny & Zuke's

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at Kenny & Zuke’s (I ate the gravlax salmon bagel and it was delicious!) and then good coffee from Stumptown. We then enjoyed a bit of window shopping in the new Union Way shopping arcade across the street. Quin was excited to find a candy shop named Quin (!!) while I was happy to take a quick stroll through Steven Alan.

Quin candy shop

kids in portland

After window shopping, we walked down to Portland Pedal Bike Tours where we rented bikes for the day. We put the girls in a trailer behind my bike, Quin rode tandem with Michael, and Easton rode his own bike. We had so much fun cycling around the city and exploring the various neighbourhoods (once I got the hang of riding a bike in a dress and pulling two heavy girls behind me! oh my!).

girls in bike trailer

During our bike ride around town, we stopped for lunch at Por Qué No?. The kids were hot and sweaty from cycling in the 90º heat and they loved getting iced cold prickly pear juice to cool them off. The tacos were yummy too!

kids at por que no

At the end of our cycle, we stopped for a while and let the kids run through the fountains at the waterfront park near the Hawthorne Bridge. The kids were so hot, they went in completely clothed (we didn’t have their swimsuits!). I nearly went in too – I was so beat from riding all over town with the girls in tow! ;)

portland water fountain

For dinner that night we met one of Michael’s college friends at one of Portland’s hot spots, Tasty & Alder. The food was again delicious! It was worth the hour long wait to get in (no reservations taken). And even though we were the only ones in there with kids, they were really friendly and accommodating to our big group.

The next day Michael had a few meetings so I was on my own with the kids. We started our day by hitting up the photobooth at the Ace Hotel. I’m a sucker for the old-school photobooths, and my kids loved them so much, they were nearly in tears when I told them we had to leave!

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We then walked over to Powell’s Books, which is a great (enormous!) bookstore selling both new and used books. We sat in the children’s section reading books to each other for a good porting of the morning, and I let the kids each pick out two books to take home with them. It was a great place to escape the heat, and would equally be a great place to escape the rain or cold if you visited during other seasons.

After the bookstore, we walked over to Jamison Square. We picked up pizza from Hot Lips (great name!) and ate lunch in the park, and then the kids ran around in the fountains for a couple hours! Phew! : )

jamison square water fountain

On our way back from the fountains I managed to squeeze in a little visit to Canoe, which is a shop I had been eyeing for the past couple days. I wanted to buy everything in store! So many pretty homewares! Alas, I did not buy everything in the shop. : )

canoe shop

That night, we had a quick dinner at Lardo. The kids got hot dogs, and I had a tasty sandwich. It was all I could manage with four exhausted kids, but it was pretty good for a sandwich joint. The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Mother’s before driving out of town and heading for Seattle. They served us waffles topped with juicy blackberries picked that morning!

That’s it! What a great little trip. I definitely recommend visiting Portland. We will go back for sure!

xx Courtney

p.s. Feel free to add tips in the comments below if you have any other recommendations for people visiting the city. Thank you!

Kid Libs, Mad Libs for kids

mad libs

My kids discovered Mad Libs for the first time this holiday and now I’m wondering what took me so long to introduce them! The giggles coming from the kids’ table are so, so cute. Not to mention, they now know the difference between a verb and an adverb, a noun and a plural noun.

The kids have been playing with the Kid Libs version which are great for kids aged seven and up. And the nice thing about the game is that it can be played by as many people as you want. I’ve even caught Easton playing on his own and then laughing at his stories! We have a little road trip coming up this weekend and I’m planning on bringing a few Kid Libs with us in the car — I think it will be the perfect thing to entertain a captive car audience. You can buy Kid Libs Mad Libs from Amazon (US and UK ).

x Courtney

Baby & Me Magazine, my favourite childhood items

childhood favourites at Baby & Me Magazine
This month’s issue of Baby & Me Magazine features the best and most stylish of children’s products in the 2014 Style Awards. They handed out awards to winners based on their criteria of iconic design, good looks and innovation (you can see the winners here).

This month they asked me to round up some of my personal favourite children’s products — the products we have used and loved in our family, ones that I hope to keep forever and pass down to my grandchildren. The products shown above are a few that made the cut. You can find my column in this month’s issue here.

x Courtney

 

Portable sleeper for newborns

 

fisher price sleeper

fisher price portable sleeper

portable sleeper, folded

We’re visiting my husband’s family in Lake Tahoe this week where the kids are having loads of fun playing with all their cousins.  My sister-in-law recently gave birth to her fourth baby, a little girl called Ruby, and we’ve been enjoying spending time with her and getting lots of newborn snuggle time. I can’t believe Marlow was ever that tiny! Or that sweet and calm for that matter. : )

My sister-in-law has a little portable baby bed she uses for the baby, and she told me it’s the number one thing she would recommend to anyone having a baby. I love recommendations like that!

Not only does the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper fold-up easily for travel or storage purposes (or simply for moving from room to room), but the cocooned shape and inclined position of the bed is perfect for keeping new babies feeling secure and comforted. I remember my babies always hated being put down to sleep on a flat mattress and they would often wake immediately after being put down, which is why I think this little bed looks like such a perfect solution.

The sleeper is available from Amazon (US and UK ).

x Courtney

Painting rocks!

ivy painting rocks
We’ve been staying at my family’s beach house on Bainbridge Island this week, where the water is cold and the beaches are rocky. The kids are in heaven! We have all spent the past few days collecting rocks on our beach walks, and today, while Marlow napped, we sat down in the shade to paint them. It was a fun afternoon activity and one that we all enjoyed.

The results from our rock-painting session were not overly impressive, so I thought it might be better to share some more inspiring images of other painted rocks, in case you are hoping for some inspiration beyond the typical painted ladybird! All images found on Pinterest:

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I love all the different faces in this image. (My boys were especially into painting faces – they wanted to make ‘pet rocks’.)

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Love the bright colours and patterns here. (Image found here.)

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Paint the alphabet! Fun and educational. (Image from here.)

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Thought these were cute!

painted owls

Love these painted owls!

We used acrylic paints, and mixed our paints inside sea shells since we didn’t have paint palettes. It worked perfectly! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

x Courtney

GG* Crêpe Shop!

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GG* crepe game
Kukkia is a toy brand from Japan, which in my opinion is one of the best in the children’s market. The Kukkia toys are beautiful, yes, but what I love is that they are simple enough to allow children’s imaginations to do the work. Many of their toys are classic concepts (like building blocks, wooden cars or dominoes!) but they put a modern twist on everything, adding innovative details that really put the toys in a league of their own.

The GG* Crêpe Shop is a perfect example. They know that children like to play ‘cooking’ and ‘shop’. Many of us have little play kitchens for our kids with chef pans and fake food. But Kukkia have taken the concept a bit further, creating a set for children to make  their own crêpes and set up a little crêpe shop, all the while being encouraged to learn and develop their motor skills along the way.

ivy's crepe

making crepes

The Crêpe Shop set comes with three different fabric crêpes, each with a different fastening: velcro, tie or button. The idea is to encourage children to practice tying bows and fastening buttons in a fun way. So clever! The set also comes with wooden and fabric food toppings, a wooden spatula and a ‘hot plate’ that also doubles as a chalkboard sign when it comes time to ‘sell’ your crêpes. Again, so clever.

GG* crepe shop
quin's crepe

Ivy has been making crêpes for everyone in the family. Her favourite customer is Quin (who prefers the sweet ones over the savoury!). : ) The GG* Crêpe Shop and other Kukkia toys are available to purchase from Abacus Kids or from Sisters Guild.

x Courtney

* This post was sponsored by Kukkia, a brand we have loved for years (even before they ever reached out to us). Thanks for supporting the brands that help to support this blog! : )

Tortustick, a fun toy for kids of every age

tortustick

I popped into Eenymeeny yesterday to pick up a few craft/activity books for the kids (we have a 9-hour daytime flight on Friday!) and this Tortustick game was out on display. Marlow immediately sat down and started playing with it, and to my amazement she actually sat still for a good 45 seconds. : )

I ended up buying it because I figured that not only will she enjoy playing with it, but it will appeal to the bigger kids as well. The game comes with a set of cards with different patterns, and bigger kids can use the magnetic stick to drag the colourful balls around the maze to match the patterns on the cards.  A fun toy for kids of every age (around 2 and up)!

x Courtney

Wearing lipstick!

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Apart from playing dress-up with my mom’s lipstick when I was little, I have never been a lipstick girl. I tried lip gloss when I was in college, but I could never figure out how to keep my hair from getting stuck in my lips, especially in windy Chicago! (Is there a trick I’m not aware of?) And I’ve always felt that a bold coloured lipstick made my lips look even bigger, making me look a bit clown-like.

So when my friend Joanna from A Cup of Jo asked me to test out some lipsticks for a beauty tutorial on her blog, I laughed her off and told her I don’t look good in lipstick. But she persuaded me to try, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I tested them out. There is something about lipstick that makes you feel flirty and fun and can make you look instantly more put-together, even with messy hair and sleepy eyes. : )

The lipstick feature is up on A Cup of Jo. We tested out three different orangey colours. Which one is your favourite? Do you have others to recommend? (I still haven’t bought a lipstick yet so any suggestions you have are welcomed!)

x Courtney

p.s. How pretty is this dress by Ace & Jig?! The dress definitely steals the show.

Do (or would) your kids share a bed?

boys in their bed

I’ve posted a few photos over the years of my boys asleep in their bed, and usually when I do it raises some interesting comments and questions about my boys sharing a bed. Do they really share a bed? Have they always? How did you get them to sleep in the same bed? Do they wake each other up in the night? Do I recommend it?

It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately because Marlow is now starting to ask to sleep with Ivy, and while I don’t want to risk messing up her good sleep habits, I’m thinking I might get rid of Marlow’s cot and let her join Ivy in her bed.

I love that my boys share a bed. Perhaps it would be the same if they each had their own bed within the same room, but those two boys are so close and I really think it has a lot to do with the bond that is created by sharing a bed. I think there’s something magical about bedtime, a time when they know they have to be quiet and play peacefully, no tattle-telling or fighting over toys. Whatever quarrels they have during the day are completely tossed aside at bedtime. It’s like there’s a mutual understanding between them that at bedtime they join the same team: boys versus their parents. I’ve always put them to bed around 7:00 for this reason. I know it’s early, but I figure they’ll end up talking or playing quietly together anyway, so why not make the most of it?!  We often find them asleep, lying side by side under the same book. Or sometimes we find a whole heap of little toys under their covers, evidence of some cheeky playtime before they fell asleep.

We didn’t make the decision to put the boys in one bed; they decided all on their own. When Quin, the younger one, was 6 months old we moved him into the room with his older brother. By the time he was 18 months old, we gave him a matching toddler bed like his brother’s. We joked they had beds like Ernie and Bert from ‘Sesame Street’!

boys' old bedroom

But… Quin never slept in his own bed. We would tuck each of them into their own beds, but every night we would come upstairs to find them in the same bed together. Like this…

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or like this…

boys in one bed

Every single night!!

So when it came time to move into our new house, I gave the boys a choice: they could each have their own beds, or they could have one big bed to share. And of course it was an obvious decision.

The boys sleep so well together. No complaints about bed hogging or snoring. It’s like they just figure out their little place in bed and know how to sleep together (Quin always likes the flatter pillows and Easton always sleeps on the left side of the bed. They’re like a couple of old men with their little quirky ways!) I’m sure at some point they will decide it’s no longer ‘cool’ to share a bed, but for now we are happy with this sweet bed sharing arrangement. Here are some other benefits worth noting:

  • It makes traveling easier because they always sleep together and can comfort each other in new places. (We have never heard either of them say they were scared.)
  • We’ve never had a problem with scary dreams or other sleep issues. They must feel comfort knowing they have each other so near.
  • Easton often reads books to Quin. It used to be simple picture books, but now Easton reads his chapter books to Quin and I can only imagine it is beneficial for both of them to be reading together like this.
  • When guests come to stay, we can use the boys’ bedroom as a guest bedroom because the bed is big enough for adults.
  • One big bed takes up less space than two single beds, so for space-saving reasons, it’s worked out nicely in their little bedroom.

We will definitely let the girls sleep together as well, and I really hope they’ll sleep as well together as the boys do, and hopefully it will strengthen their relationship even more. (They already have bedtime conversations from their separate beds, but I can’t wait until they’re snuggled into the same bed, reading the same books, and sneaking in a few minutes of extra play.)

So tell me, do your children share a bed? Would you consider it?

x Courtney

Sturdy summer sandals from Angulus

Angulus shoes
Angulus shoes for girls
Angulus shoes for babies
Marlow and I left the house the other day to pick the big kids up from school and only after we arrived to the school did I realise we had forgotten her shoes! I guess that is the sign of summertime. She ran around the entire afternoon with her bare feet and never complained!

Alas, there are times when shoes are required, and for this it’s a good thing for Angulus. The shoes are extremely well made, with sturdy straps and nice thick soles. Marlow has been wearing a pair of Angulus sandals passed down from Ivy and they’re still in really good shape.  And many of the styles are unisex, so they can be passed down from sibling to sibling, despite gender differences.

The Angulus site is in Danish (an English version coming soon!) but you can also buy them from UK-based Igloo Kids or Four Fairies and a Prince.

x Courtney

 

Simple Stone Fruit Tart

stone fruit tart
I stumbled upon this image on Pinterest a couple days ago and knew immediately what I wanted to do with the bowl full of peaches and nectarines on my kitchen counter and the ready-rolled puff pastry in my freezer. So easy! I quickly wrote down the  simple recipe and decided to make it that evening with all my little kitchen helpers. It was really a team effort – Easton helped fold the sides of the pastry and painted on the egg yolk, Quin sprinkled the sugar and helped cut the peaches, Ivy poured the honey and Marlow snuck bites of fruit while we worked. : )

Marlow making fruit tart

peaches, nectarines and apricots

Here’s the recipe:

-1 puff pastry sheet
-3 cups of stone fruit, sliced (we used peaches, nectarines, and apricots)
-3 tablespoons of honey
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-granulated sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 190° C (375° F). Place baking sheet in oven to heat up. Place the puff pastry on parchment paper. Fold in edge of puff pastry towards center to create a half inch border; set aside. In a bowl toss fruit, honey and lemon juice. Remove heated baking sheet from oven. Place puff pastry on bake sheet. Pour fruit mixture on top. Brush border with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle sugar over the egg.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!

fruit tart, eaten

We ended up eating the tart before dinner because none of us had the willpower to wait!

xx Courtney

p.s. Recipe based on this one found on Bakers Royale.

Five great European holiday destinations from Kid & Coe

Kid & Coe is a holiday rental site specifically for families.  It was launched last Autumn and it’s been great watching their site and inventory of properties grow. They offer family-friendly destinations all over the world — from beach houses in Brazil to city apartments in New York, or stylish flats in London to countryside retreats in Tuscany.  Most of the properties are personally owned by families, so they often come equipped with children’s toys, children’s beds, highchairs and other items to make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable.

With summer holidays so near, I thought it would be a great idea to ask the team at Kid & Coe to round up five of their favourite European destinations for summer. Here are their picks and a brief description of each place:

 

the vejer

1. The Vejer Residence, Spain
This whitewashed hippy-deluxe residence with plunge pool is in one of Andalucia’s lesser visited characterful white towns, Vejer de la Frontera, near Cadiz, and sleeps up to 6 adults and 1 child in 4 bedrooms. It’s full of rustic, romantic character, from the cobbled stone floors to the studded front door.
From £122 per night.

gumpendorfer

2. The Gumpendorfer Residence, Vienna
A city in summer? Well, if you like art, culture and even beaches along the Danube, Vienna is a great choice. There’s even a floating boat with a pool in it nearby if you need to cool off. We love this central apartment which sleeps up to 2 adults and 2 children and is well equipped for small children.
From €90 per night.

heerlijkheid van marrem residence

3. The Heerlijkheid Van Marrem Residence, Belgium
Don’t let anyone tell you that Belgium’s boring. This stunning and unique renovated carriage shed has been lovingly turned into rustic chic lodgings sleeping up to 23, and is perfect for a deluxe family celebration. Play in the flower-filled fields or day trip to Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Brussels. It’s ideal for a break with friends, too.
From €675 per night.

Karl Kunger residence

4. The Karl Kunger Residence, Berlin
Another great city and another great city pad: this loft apartment set in a former factory building sleeps up to 4 adults and 1 child and combines a sleek, modern interior with serious comfort. It’s close to a large park for sunny picnics, 10 minutes by S-Bahn from the city centre and near to the famous Badeschiff for yoga and days spent playing in the water.
Price on application.

the agrari2

5. The Agrari Residence, Greece
This stunning family villa with a pool, sleeping up to 14, is set on a hillside in the quiet south of Mykonos overlooking the Aegean Sea and Agrari beach. It’s a heavenly retreat for a family or two, with a main villa plus three separate guest studios. Grab some friends, pack the suncream and bring the kids!
Price on application.

Don’t they all look amazing? I’ll be spending the summer with family in the US, but I’m definitely taking note of these destinations for school holidays in the Autumn. I’m thinking the Heerlijkheid Van Marrem residence in Belgium would be so fun to book for a holiday with friends! Esther, Emilie are you in?!

xx Courtney

Easton’s favourite books (great for ages 6 to 12)

Manfish a story of Jacques Cousteau

Easton (aged 9) has always, since the time he could speak, been obsessed with nature and animals and especially sea life.  One of his first words was ‘dolphin’ and by the time we was three, he knew the names of all the different whales and sharks! As a result, some of his favourite books are ones about the sea.

While he now mostly reads chapter books, both for school reading and for pleasure, I still catch him reading some of his favourite picture books, especially the books about sea creatures and animals.  I thought I would split up his list of favourites into two groups: picture books and chapter books.

Here are some of his favourite picture books:

1. Manfish : This sweet and beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Jacques Cousteau from the time he was a young boy up through his adult life and film-making career.  Easton wants to be a marine biologist when he’s bigger, and I think he really relates to the young boy in this book.

2. Zoo-ology : I have now bought three different copies of this book because it’s one of the most read books in our house (I often find it under the covers in their bed!), and I keep replacing the book due to broken bindings or torn pages. The book features more than 300 animals, each page featuring a different type: feathered, nocturnal, large, small, underground, etc.

the red sea sharks

3. The Red Sea Sharks (The Adventures of Tintin) : Easton loves all the Tintin books, but told me this one is his favourite.

4. Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea : This fact-filled book takes you down from the surface to the very bottom of the sea, showing you all the crazy sea creatures who live in each ‘layer’ of the sea.

5. Maps : I’ve written about this book before here. It is still probably my boys’ current favourite book!

6. Stuck : Another Oliver Jeffers favourite. My boys think it’s hilarious to see all the things that Floyd gets stuck up in the tree in the effort to get his kite down.

7. Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals : Easton is fascinated by extinct animals and by the thought that some of the animals on our planet will one day also become extinct. This is another great animal picture book that shows extinct animals and gives a brief description of each.

the terrible thing that happened to barnaby bracket

And here are some of his favourite chapter books:

1. The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket : I haven’t read this book, but Easton told me it’s very funny and it’s about a boy who floats and can’t control his floating, even when he wishes he could be normal and please his parents.

2 & 3. The BFG and James and the Giant Peach : Both by Roald Dahl, both brilliant and imaginative. What I love about the Roald Dahl books is that there is a teensy element of something slightly scary. I remember reading The BFG and The Witches when I was little, and being slightly scared but also totally intrigued.

4. You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum! : Again, I haven’t read this or any of the other Mr. Gum books , but Easton really likes them. I think it’s another funny, silly read.

5. The Harry Potter books: My mum reads these to my boys when she comes to visit. So far she’s read the first three books, and they have loved them. Quin (aged 7) can get slightly scared at times, but Easton can’t get enough.

6. Where the Red Fern Grows: I selfishly read this to the boys last summer because I wanted to re-read the story I loved as a child. It was one of my favourites! I will encourage Easton to read it again on his own, because it’s just one of those magical books, and probably best read on a sofa all alone, where tears can fall freely.

7. Tom’s Midnight Garden : I bought this book after receiving several reader recommendations to do so. We’ve only just started reading it, but Easton wanted to include it in his list and I have a strong feeling he won’t regret doing so.

Easton isn’t the most enthusiastic reader, especially when it comes to chapter books without pictures… but we’re getting there. He seems to be especially drawn to simple or silly stories, mostly featuring boys as the main character. If you have other book suggestions to share for this age group, please do so below.

x Courtney

p.s. You can see previous posts in this series here:

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