Smallprint — an independent bookstore with a neighbourhood feel, but online!

Small Print independent online bookstore

I have a confession to make: I’m not the biggest fan of playgrounds. I love watching my kids enjoying themselves (preferably in the company of a good friend and with a cappuccino in my hand) but I don’t get an enormous amount of fulfilment from pushing the swing 100 times or baking sand cakes for half an hour…
I do, however, love reading to my kids. And they love being read to, over and over and over again — so I hope that makes up for my lack of interest in playgrounds.

Small Print Independent Online Bookstore SmallPrint3

I love books and I have always loved reading. I love bookshops, too. Especially the slightly old-fashioned, independent bookshop, the one you find (or used to find, at least) around the corner, with a passionate owner who knows every book in his or her store and can recommend to you, as no other, what you need to read or gift. So I am really happy to have recently discovered Smallprint — a gem of an independent bookshop, aimed at small children… and entirely online! Smallprint offers the most wonderful curation of children’s books — some I already know (and love), but many are new to me, and very promising.

Smallprint online independent bookstore
Small Print online bookshop Small Print independent bookshop
I asked Jenny, the owner of Smallprint, to make a recommendation for each of my kids, and this is what she suggested. For Sara, she chose Yellow Square, an amazing pop-up book full of  ‘paper architecture’. For Pim she thought of Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet Poster Book, an excellent choice — he loves the cool ABC posters (and we’ll be decorating the boys’ bedroom walls with these). For Ava, she recommended The Bear Song, a beautifully illustrated book (and already a family favourite!) about Papa Bear following little bear, who is following a bee, hopefully leading him towards some precious honey. For Casper she picked Oh No!, a funny book with acetate pages that cleverly change the situation drawn on each page.

Smallprint online independent bookshop Smallprint independent online bookstoreI’m so happy to see that people like Jenny start beautifully curated bookshops that are meaningful, and offer a personal touch and service that you won’t find in the enormous online bookstores we all know. She’s so good in selecting wonderful books for the right age, and her recommendations are terrific. A gem, for every book loving mama!

xxx Esther

 

Pala Mino

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I now have a 9 year old who “hates” girly stuff. Now the problem is that it is very hard to understand what that actually means. When questioned the answer is: “Well, you know…. girly stuff!!!!”

What I have concluded is that it means pink and frills and nothing that is considered “not comfy”. The rest can be negotiated, like in politics.

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We recently were sent this dress by Pala Mino and to both mine and Coco’s relief it is on the thin cross-over line between what we both love. I love the beautiful cut and fabric and the fact that it is locally made in Britain. Coco loves it for the simple reason that it is, as mentioned before “comfy” and also funky.

Here are a couple photos of my Coco wearing her lovely Pala Mino Grecian Dress out and about in Marrakesh earlier this month.

– Emilie

Muny — comfortable and contemporary clothing from Brooklyn

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When we were in Le Touquet a few weeks ago we had such luck with the weather… It was seriously warm and wonderful that day. The kids were running around through the pretty parks and over the beach, there was no rush, in fact we had all the time in the world to spend with dear friends… Weekends like that will be treasured forever.

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That Sunday Casper and Ava were wearing pieces from Muny, a clothing brand from Brooklyn, and they were just perfect for the occasion — comfortable, easy, and lovely. Aren’t Casper’s Khadi pants pretty? They are so well made with a full lining, and I love the pocket detail on the back. Ava is wearing the Olivia dress, an easy piece for beach, playground or birthday party alike. All of Muny’s pieces are made from natural fabrics which are made by various textile artisans in India, using ancient techniques of wood block printing, handloom weaving and hand dyeing. Very nice!

xxx Esther

PS Shoes are from Amy & Ivor, we love them! Casper’s jumper is from Waddler (on sale now!).

PPS Muny is offering an exclusive 20% deal for Babyccino readers this month — check out our deals here.

Duck, Death and the Tulip, by Wolf Erlbruch

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It was a difficult choice to write about this book – you see my aim is to write about books that not only I love but ones my kids love too. My kids DO NOT love this book. You see this book tackles the scariest subject in all of our lives … death. There really is no way to make this topic ‘nice’ but I can’t think of a book which comes nearer.

You may remember Wolf Erlbruch for the wonderful tale of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of his Business. Whilst that book captured all of our hearts (especially kids who, let’s face it, love a mention of poo) this story of Duck, Death and the Tulip is, understandably harder for kids to love but I really, really love it.

Duck is going to die – we know that because Death has started to hang around – he is anxious and scared but as time goes on he gets used to Death. He wants to understand what will happen after he dies, he’s heard stories but wants to really know – Death can’t help but even so Duck starts to find him quite good company and when the time comes death is graceful, tender and gentle. Death is moved as he says his final Goodbye to Duck – but he straightens himself up, he is just doing his job – “that’s life” after all.

I really like this pragmatic approach – I, personally, found it comforting and it has been carefully interjected with spots of humour. I read the book with my children when there was no other theme of ‘death’ in our lives but I wonder if they might have felt differently about it if we’d read it together when someone we loved had died or was likely to die – maybe a relative or a pet? The book is available to buy from Amazon (UK and US).

-Mo x

Booboos’ Bonnets

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booboos bonnets
booboo's bonnets
I received the sweetest email last month from Sophie McCurley, a mother of three and a maker of bonnets. She wrote to introduce me to her beautiful collection of handmade bonnets and I’m so glad she did. Aren’t they beautiful? I love the simple, classic styles and the gorgeous fabrics.

I ended up ordering one for Marlow and she wore it all last week when we were in Italy. I find that hats with ties are so handy for young children because they can’t just toss their hat off easily (and they don’t blow off if you’re on a boat, etc.). Not to mention, they are so adorable — Marlow looked deceivingly sweet all week. ; )

Courtney x

DIY: Hairclips

Hairclips

Esther and her lovely Hair Style posts inspired me for this craft. Apparently someone’s eating Tila’s hair clips at our home because a week doesn’t go by that we don’t lose at least (!) one. Usually even more. So instead of buying them again I decided to make a few instead. And they turned out great! Like always I tried to find the simplest way and these are literally done in minutes – the thing that takes the longest is actually the drying of the glue.

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So, the things you need are:

Some fabric leftovers
Scissors
Glue
Glitter and furry pom poms (optional)
Hair Clips (I got mine from Ebay)

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Draw a shape (a star, a heart, a cloud etc.) on the back side of fabric and cut it out.

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If you want to make it glittery, first cover the front side with glue and sprinkle generously. Let it dry for about an hour or so and shake off the excess. You’ll do yourself a big favor if you do this outside or you’ll have glitter everywhere like I do!

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The bow is also really easy to do. First cut two strips about 6 and 4 centimetres long and one 1.5 cm wide and the other one half thinner. It’s even better if you have ribbons because they won’t fray on edges in time. Now glue both ends of the thicker strip together like on the second photo above. Fold in half and wrap the thinner strip around (begin and finish at the part where the thicker strip is glued together), glue in place and strip away the excess.

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Done!

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I also did one with pompoms where you only need to glue the three together but there are endless possibilities. Now all there’s left to do is glue the little embellishments on hair clips. So easy.

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

The sweetest nightlight from Tulipop

Tulipop bubble lamp nightlight
Ava needed a new lamp for her bedside table and when I saw the new product of Signy and Helga, the two beautiful fiends behind Icelandic brand Tulipop, I knew she would absolutely love it. How sweet is this Bubble lamp? It’s just prefect for her, so soft and sweet. Very comforting for a little girl that just turned five!

tulipop bubble lamp nightlight

xxx Esther

Wee Gallery, 32 ways to dress a…

wee_gallery_2 wee_gallery_3 wee_gallery_4My children were each given a mini activity book from Wee Gallery recently and they’ve been a big success. With a very simple concept (dress the cat / bunny / fox etc), these sweet little books appeal to different ages, and make the cutest little presents.

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I also think they are great for traveling, or to take to restaurants, for instance. Just pop a few in your handbag for instant entertainment!

xxx Esther

Father and son swimwear from Tom & Teddy

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Tracking down nice-looking swimwear for boys is surprisingly more difficult than you would think! Especially rash tops — they always seem to have some crazy text or logos and end up clashing with the swim trunks my boys wear. Which is why I was excited when Tom & Teddy announced their new collection of simple rash tops (without any text!) to compliment their stylish collection of swim trunks. Problem solved.

The Tom & Teddy UPF50+ rash tops are not only stylish and sensible, they’re also extremely durable. Unlike traditional surfing tops which are made for saltwater swimming and not chlorinated pools, these rash tops won’t break down in chlorine water, so they really do last a long time! You can feel the quality when you hold them in your hands – they’re slightly thicker and more matte in finish than normal rash shirts.

What’s more, they offer rash tops and trunks for men — so dads can match their sons. A perfect Father’s Day gift perhaps?

Courtney x

This post was sponsored by Tom & Teddy, a long-time member of our shopping portal and a brand we have worked with for many years. All views expressed in this review are 100% my own.

Topsy Turvy World, By Atak

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As soon as you pick up this book you know you are not dealing with your average kids book.  Atak is a German folksy illustrator and this book is like turning pages of an art piece – each page thickly covered with colour and detail. This book , with no words, just uses pictures to play the typical kids game ‘Verkehrte Welt’ (direct translation – wrong way round the World). The mice chase the cat, the baby spoon-feeds the mama, cars fly and airplanes float, firemen have fire coming out of their hoses and the Punk gives the Banker money on the street. This absurd and fantastical World is not only funny but thought provoking – when we see things the wrong way round we can question if the ‘right-way’ is really right after all? This particularly strikes me on the front cover as the Circus Lion holds up a flaming hoop for the clown to jump through. Kids of all ages (and by that I mean grown-ups too!) will really enjoy staring into this book and looking at this Topsy Turvy World .

The book is available from Amazon (UK and US), and from Flying Eye Books.

-Mo x

Hair style: a messy top-knot

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This hairstyle is one of my favourites for Sara — I think it reflects her style really well (plus, it suits her face). It’s easy, but the technique is a bit tricky to explain. I’ll do my best, and I think the photos help!

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Have an elastic band handy. First, brush the hair up high (high!) and form a pony tail with your left hand. Then, with your other hand, start bringing the elastic band around the hair, while you make a small loop around your right thumb with the hair. Don’t pull the hair through the band! Take the elastic band in your left hand.

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Twist the elastic band to secure the loop of hair, and keep holding it (together with the loop) with your left hand. Now with the right hand, twist the remaining hair around the loop (underneath the elastic band).

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Add the twist of remaining hair to your left hand and with the right one, secure the elastic band around the knot.

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Gently pull the knot a little to loosen it up, and voila!

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xxx Esther

All photos by my friend Maud Fontein

Woody knitting toy

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This past Christmas I discovered the ethical French toy brand Les Jouets Libres when looking for gifts to give my nieces and nephews. They make the most beautiful, old-fashioned wooden toys, the kind of toys you keep forever. I ended up buying this pretty stacking toy for one and this colourful blocks set for another, both which were made from sustainable wood and eco-friendly dyes.

Les Jouets Libres has come out with a new toy, this lovely wooden knitting sheep, and I recently picked it up for Ivy who has lately been showing interest in sewing and weaving. The concept is really simple — it’s a wooden sheep with little holes, and kids can thread the wool in and out of the holes to cover the sheep in a woolly coat. It’s a great way to teach kids the basics of sewing, encouraging them to learn dexterity and patience. Ivy has now covered her sheep in wool twice, and it was impressive how much better she was the second time she did it.

“Woody” is available from the Les Jouets Libres site in France or from EeenyMeeny Kids here in the UK.

Courtney x

Tuesday Tips: Girls and Math & Science

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Since my last post about multiplication tables I have been thinking about how similar one of my daughters is to me when it comes to learning maths and science. She lately has had a defeatist attitude pop up using the famous phrase: “je suis nulle en math”, (I am just terrible at maths). I think it is a ridiculous thing for a 9-year-old to say, as who knows how her talents are still going to develop. But, if I remember rightly, I said exactly the same thing. Turns out it was a self fulfilling prophecy: as a kid I was terrible at maths and only started to enjoy it when I began working.

I have been reading up on why girls are still under-performing versus boys in maths and came across this interesting article. Girls still seem to lack confidence when it comes to maths (and science), even in the year 2015, and I wanted to write down a couple of tips I am trying to use on how to counteract that!

  • I think, as a mother, being a role model is key. I don’t tell my girls that I was terrible at maths at school, but I tell them that I now love it and use it every day.
  • I also want to make sure that they know that a woman is as capable at using maths in an everyday situation as a man. Maybe this is a silly example, but say we are in a restaurant and the bill arrives, I don’t ask a man at the table to break it down or check it, I do it myself.
  • Make math fun, as solving a math exercise is like solving a riddle or figuring out the facts like a spy. When kids start understanding the logical patterns of math and how similar they are to a game, they seem to enjoy it more.
  • Buy science books for girls as much as you would for boys. Some of my favourites are Older than the Stars and Big Questions from Little People (though these are more science book than purely math books). For older children, a friend of mine recommended Feynman, a comic book about the life of the Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman. (I have not found any fun maths books).
  • Whatever job you have, you very likely use maths on a daily basis: a carpenter uses it to measure, a bookkeeper to balance his books, a scientist to figure out the beginnings of the universe, a ballet dancer to calculate the amount of steps it takes her to dance across the scene (I think ;)) so I try to see the numbers in everyday life and to play around with those numbers with the kids.
  • This is just for New Yorkers, but apparently the Museum of Mathematics is brilliant and every child walking out of it is convinced they want to become a mathematician.

This is all I can come up with, but I do think it is an interesting subject, so I would love to hear your views and tips!

– Emilie

PS. After re-reading this post, I do want to point out that though I am focusing on girls, but of course the majority of these tips are applicable to boys too. 

 

WalkyTalkies — talking socks

walkytalkies hand-puppet socks

In essence, WalkyTalkies are simply socks — albeit fun and good-quality ones. But that’s not all… WalkyTalkies offer an extra little bit of great usability to make them really awesome: the socks double up as hand-puppets!

hand puppetsI just love this clever idea from a Dutch mum (and so do my kids). Aren’t the best ideas often the simplest ones?

xxx Esther

 

How Things Work, by Okido

Okido Magazines
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Do you know about Okido magazines? We have been subscribers for years. Okido is an arts and science magazine aimed at 3 – 8 year olds, published every 2 months. Each magazine has a theme – recent ones include Dinosaurs, All About Me, Celebration, Hair and Machines – and the topic is imaginatively bought to life through a variety of games, stories and things to make and do. Okido is the brainchild of Dr. Sophie Dauvois (a multimedia designer and scientist) and illustrator, Rachel Ortas and they now work with a team of talented designers to teach children through bright and fun illustrations.

The Okido team have released some great factual books for kids and we recently got ‘How Things Work’ because, to be honest, I don’t know the answer to that question and my son asks me it a lot! Our guides through the book are Koko and Alex – 2 inquisitive kids who like to see how things work and try and build things. The book is really interactive with games and ideas and poses questions back to the reader to try and figure out by looking at the pictures or by experimenting themselves.

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Rather then just explaining things with text and pictures the book gets children to look at things differently – to start to question: how are things made? What materials are they made from? Why are they made with those materials? How materials can change in different circumstances.

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The book covers a wide range of subjects – How is a book made? How water can change in different temperatures. What is a machine? How things are made in nature / how we can copy those ideas. Electricity. Light. Sound. How a car works? How TV works? It goes on. And there are so many ideas of how to bring these subjects to life for children – games, experiments, things to make etc.

This is a great book to dip into again and again. It offers great support to subjects kids will be learning at school and makes them fun. I learned a thing or two!

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

-Mo x

Stitch ‘n Kids: the braid star

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I saw this braid star at my friend Elke’s house and went to buy one for my children as I’m always interested in these kind of simple crafting tools. And it has become an instant hit in our household! Simply a wooden disc with 8 slots, it’s the perfect entertainment for children aged 4 (depending on their motor skills) and up.

When we were visiting Courtney and co in London last April, I brought braiding stars for all of the kids. They all made each other friendship bracelets and it kept them busy and calm at the same time (exceptional!!).

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With the summer holiday rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to mention the braid star as it is such a perfect item to bring along while traveling. Small enough to keep in your handbag, and it will keep children perfectly entertained on an airplane, in the back of a car, on a train, etc. Plus — they can make presents for all the little friends they meet on their travels!

I picked up our braid stars at De Zaailing in Amsterdam, but I found similar items on Etsy, and here, in case you’re interested.

xxx Esther

PS I really like the thought of asking my children to weave their own colourful shoe laces with the braid star!

Odette Williams new collection

Odette Williams basics and children's clothing

We met Odette Williams in New York a few years ago, when she was just starting her line with adorable kids aprons and cooking sets. We’ve since remained in touch as she is such a lovely lady, and her products are so beautiful and well made, and really capture the essence and innocence of childhood.

Odette Williams basics and children's clothing Odette Williams basics and children's clothing

Odette just launched a whole new product line: a collection of the softest ever, organic children’s clothing. The pieces are mostly unisex, very simple in design but as such just perfect — so sweet and oh, so comfortable.

Odette Williams basics and children's clothing Odette Williams basics and children's clothingI love the baby onesies (one even has hand drawn flowers, delicately silkscreened with gold foil — so pretty), the beautiful chambray dress, the easy pieces for babies and bigger kids. Odette send my kids some tanks and shorts to try, and since they arrived, they have refused to take them off. That’s how comfy they are!

xxx Esther

 

Ivy’s colouring party

Ivy's party

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ivy's colouring party

Ivy turned six last week and we hosted a little party in our back garden to celebrate her big day. It’s become a tradition in our family of hosting parties at home and on the actual day of the birthday rather than waiting for a weekend day to celebrate — it’s our way of keeping things small and intimate, and I always think it makes their  birthday that much more special for them. Ivy got to invite a few friends to come over after school, and we spent a sunny afternoon celebrating the birthday girl.

Ivy’s favourite thing to do right now is to colour and draw, so we loosely themed the party around colouring. We bought her these cool, eco-friendly Kitpas markers which colour on windows (seriously cool!) and the kids had so much fun colouring our glass sliding doors. We also gave each of the kids a pack of sidewalk chalk to decorate the pavement and write messages to Ivy.

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ivy colouring at party
party decor from Little Lulubel

Marlow at party

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Ivy on her birthday

window grafitti

writing on windows

I picked up some colourful party decorations from Little Lulubel and ordered their colour-in party kit, which, in addition to all the cute tableware and accessories, included colouring sheets/placemats for the kids to colour in. I’ve mentioned before how much I like party-kits — they make it so easy to decorate your table and throw a pretty party together at the last minute, which admittedly is always the case for me.

What I liked about this party was that we really didn’t need to organise games or provide any entertainment. It was super relaxed — we played music, the kids danced, they coloured, they chalked, they ate, they played… and that was really it. Just good old-fashioned party fun!

Courtney x

Jemmy Button by Jennifer Uman & Valerio Vidali

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I think real life is usually a bit over-rated – in the fact that ‘stories’ can be so much more exciting than ‘real-life’ could ever really be. But this ‘real-life’ story is really quite remarkable.
In the early 1800s Captain Robert Fitzroy set sail from England to the islands of Tierra del Fuego (South America). He found the native people to be savages, lacking in any kind of sophistication. He believed it was possible to transform one of these wild children into a fine English Gentleman if given the right education. He brought a boy named Orundellico back to England with him. He gave his parents a Mother of Pearl button in payment – which gave rise to his new name – Jemmy Button.

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Of course Jemmy flourished in England with schooling in Christianity and upper-class Victorian manners and even attracted the attention of King William and Queen Adelaide. In 1832 he returned to his home islands – where the hope was he would spread his learning of civilisation – Darwin joined him on his journey home to study him in his original habitat. What happened I’ll leave for you to find out ….
Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali have adoringly illustrated this real-life ‘My Fair Lady’ tale. The two illustrators met online with a shared appreciation of each other’s work – but with Jennifer only speaking English and Valerio only speaking Italian their friendship was formed using online translators to talk about their ideas. They finally met when they had the idea to illustrate this story together and it is such a beautiful partnership – one of those books where every page could be framed.

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

-Mo x

Hair style: messy side buns

buns_7This hairstyle is so sweet, and also a fast one once you get the hang of the technique. I like the crazy, messy look!

buns_5 buns_1 buns_6 buns_3 buns_2Have two elastic bands handy. Brush and part the hair. A messy parting is fine! Form a side pony tail with your left hand. With the other hand, pull the tail through the elastic band until halfway, so it loops. Don’t pull it through completely! Depending on the length of the hair, you can now secure the elastic band, or pull the hair through to form a second little loop.

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Easy!!

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And this final photo is one of my favourites ever from Ava. Isn’t Maud the most talented photographer?

xxx Esther

PS All photos by my friend Maud Fontein.

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