Family reading

A while ago I did this post for my blog and it was a great success, that’s why I would love to share it here.

The advice comes from Lara, the owner of the Bosque de la Maga Colibri bookstore in Gijon, Asturias. She is very sweet and knows a lot about these things:  ”One of the most pleasurable experiences that will remain more intensibly in the memory of the whole family is shared reading. From the moment of birth the time spent each day to share words, stories and images  is a haven of warmth and unbeatable communication.” She says to:

1. Pick a good book.

2. Sit close. Contact and affection are for life and help to build self-esteem and optimism.

3. Sign out of everything, get off line, don’t think about the boss or the laundry accumulating in the basket.

4. And above all, enjoy, without obligation, just as a gift!

I have really loved these tips. At first glance they appear simple but they are not. They are ideal to remember every night when we are about to read the book to our children. Personally I try to remember number 3 and make that time  unique and banish from the mind the things that remain to be done.

Enjoy your reading!!

- Maria

Cachette — wonderful finds!!

Cachette is a new Anglo-French lifestyle concept store that has recently launched, and it is selling a gorgeous selection of homewares and children’s products. I love the artisan quality of it all, the simplicity which has a directness and honesty to it that reminds me of other times, without it being antique or scruffy at all — it’s a super fresh collection! All the finds are totally up my alley, and I’m pretty sure will be up yours as well…

xxx Esther

Crumpled City Maps

I just discovered these maps via BozAround and I am hooked! What a great idea: a map that can be crumpled up, shoved into a bag and then magically unfolds again when you pull it out. I love maps but I really, really don’t like trying to fold and unfold a map in a middle of a crowd, making sure I fold it back into the right creases — especially as it will invariably have ripped right on the spot that I am trying to navigate towards. Compared to a normal map, these crumbled city maps are virtually indestructable,

They are also geared specifically towards children, with cute little illustrations marking famous landmarks. Such a great way to explore a new city with your children!

- Emilie

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Unisex London Toile bedding
Bobinette (just for boys)!

Little Puggle crafty activity kits

Little Puggle is a brand new website offering a monthly subscription service for craft activity boxes to be sent to your door. Each box is filled with crafty and cool activities, DIY art kits and all the necessary materials (scissors, paints, glue) for making your creations. When you sign up, you can fill out your child’s details and interests and receive boxes which tailor to your child’s interests (trains, animals, fairies, etc). I recently tested out the service and it’s fantastic — I spent an entire rainy afternoon with the kids making puppets, blowing up balloons and creating animal heads, painting, sticking, colouring, and playing.

I will say… that because I’m already quite a crafty mum (I was joking the other day with a friend that my craft cupboard is bigger than my  clothes closet!), this isn’t a service which I really need. But for busy mums who don’t have the time (or interest) in sourcing craft supplies and activities for their kids, this is the perfect solution. It offers craft inspiration as well as all the materials, so it takes the hard work out of being creative with your children. You can sign up to receive the Little Puggle boxes here. (I also think they make great gifts!)

x Courtney

PS – You can now receive 15% off at Little Puggle — details here.

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Curious?

The Magic Paintbrush

We discovered The Magic Paintbrush while visiting friends in Hong Kong last month. At first I thought it was a famous, old Chinese fable, but then I realised it’s written by Julia Donaldson (of The Gruffalo fame)!! What was this? A Julia Donaldson book we didn’t already know? Yes!

Apart from The Gruffalo, of course, The Magic Paintbrush might actually be my favourite of her books. Told with her recognisable, simple rhyming schemes the story is about a little Chinese girl who is given a magic paintbrush — everything she paints becomes real.  She then puts the paintbrush to good use, refusing to let greedy people benefit from the paintbrush.  Such a beautiful, touching story, and such stunning illustrations (by Joel Stewart). The book is available from Amazon (UK and US).

x Courtney

Puff, The Magic Dragon

For accommodation on our recent trip to Australia, we managed to arrange a house swap with a lovely family in Melbourne (have you ever done a house swap before? it was our first time and we LOVED it!). One of the best things about doing a house swap is you get to stay in a family home with toys and books for the kids! So nice! (They even had a trampoline in their backyard. Constant entertainment for the kids!)

Anyway, my favourite find from their shelves of children’s books was this beautiful copy of Puff, the Magic Dragon. When I was a little girl Puff, The Magic Dragon (by Peter, Paul and Mary) was one of my most favourite songs. I can still remember putting the song on repeat in my bedroom and listening to it over and over again. I had almost completely forgotten about it until I discovered this book. And it was such fun to read/sing it to my kids (who know also LOVE the song!), and the book’s magical illustrations bring the song to life so beautifully. Such a gorgeous book (and it comes with a CD of the song, so you can listen while you read).

x Courtney

Joanna Skipwith’s Top Ten Book List

It’s been a long time since we’ve published a Top Ten Book List, but it is still a series we really love and we will try to bring you more book lists in the coming months. Today we have a list from Joanna Skipwith, author of the Silver Jungle books (pictured above) which we’ve mentioned here before. Joanna’s latest book, One Timid Babbler, is a counting book featuring loads of beautiful birds, and is just as catchy as her others. We are delighted to share her book list featuring her family’s favourites (with photos of her very own copies, below!).

Only 10, how difficult. I have chosen books that have been enjoyed by at least two generations of my family (sometimes 4) and ones that were fun to read with my boys before Horrid Henry, Torak and Alex Rider took them off into their own realms. I have photographed our copies: battered, bruised, very well-thumbed, some no longer in print.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, illustrated by E.H. Shepard, 1926
The edition I grew up with was printed in 1936. It says ‘Sixteenth Edition (Cheap form)’. The first volume is my favourite because it contains the cunning plan to catch a Heffalump.

… but there was just one other thing that had to be thought about, and it was this. Where should they dig the Very Deep Pit? Piglet said that the best place would be somewhere where a Heffalump was, just before he fell into it, only about a foot farther on …

The Lorax by Dr Seuss, 1971
Janet and John at school, Green Eggs and Ham at home. I certainly preferred learning to read with Dr Seuss and enjoyed the process all over again with my sons. The way he combines rhyme, colour, layout and humour … bold, spontaneous genius, or so it appears to me. The Lorax is also a poignant warning about consumerism and the despoiling of our planet. There it was, forty years ago. It is a melancholy tale but full of humour and a GREAT pleasure to read:

At the far end of town
where the Grickle-grass grows
and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows …

Edmund Dulac’S Picture Book For The French Red Cross, 1915!
I loved this collection of fairy tales, handed down from my grandmother. After a diet of bears and bunnies, it was probably my introduction to princes and princesses, but exotic ones from Persia, China and Carthage. Dulac’s exquisite images were ‘tipped in’ (pasted in by hand, along one edge), so I had to take great care turning the pages.

Red Rackham’s Treasure by Hergé, 1944
I remember the thrill of a new Tintin book and the suspense if my brother was allowed to read it first. As a child I was caught up in the plot and the characters, now I appreciate the graphics even more. Red Rackham’s Treasure was my favourite, perhaps because Calculus makes his debut. His shark submarine is a beauty and his deafness provokes many a ‘blistering barnacle’ from the captain.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, 1999
I think you might have read this one already! We all loved it and read it so often that the boys knew it by heart very quickly. I’m a little disappointed that we have moved on … and will sneak down to the library to read … The Highway Rat.

Mother Goose, Nursery Rhymes illustrated by Brian Wildsmith, 1964
These nursery rhymes and Brian Wildsmith must have crept into my machinery at an early age. I soaked up his rich velvety colours, and the rhymes now seem to be creeping out whether I want them to (Diddle, diddle,) or not (dumpling). His ABC influenced the format of the Tiger and Rhino books I produced. I took a copy with me to the first design meeting.

Fidgit by Dale Maxey,1965.
This was one of my favourites, the large format so much larger then. It is a very friendly tale of a ‘fidgit’, who helps the other animals at the zoo. They take him for granted until an accident proves how much they love him. I have included it partly because I loved it but also because there is so little about this illustrator on the internet.

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer, 1964
Deadpan humour and just enough words to make you smile. Stanley’s predicament is met with British stoicism and a bit of sibling ‘pique’, which is very amusing. Stanley, on the whole, remains cheerful throughout his ordeal. ‘Can I eat my sandwich now?’ he asks from his envelope as he is airmailed off to California.

Nicholas by René Goscinny, illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempé, 1959
The boys still ask me to read this to them and I try to with as few pauses as possible, like an overexcited child. As with Milne and Shepard, the illustrations suit the story perfectly. Nicholas and his friends are delightful trouble-makers, innocently undermining the best-laid plans. My sons enjoy the gleeful punch-ups. I, meanwhile, empathise with the collateral damage, especially the exhausted parents. It is written as if by Nicholas:

‘Our teacher was very cross and she gave Eddie lines to do – I must not refuse to change places with a friend who has dropped a piece of bread and jam on his shirt.’

Cockatoos by Quentin Blake, 1992
We spent many happy evenings counting up naughty cockatoos. They belong to Professor Dupont and decide to disrupt his daily ritual by hiding throughout the house. Like Dupont, my children enjoyed the same old routine and were quite happy to count up cockatoos even when they knew exactly how many there were and where to find them. The hiding places are often comical and sometimes difficult to spot among the rampant lines and theatrical flourishes of colour.

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

French Toast Stamp
A real Fireman’s water bottle

Easter Buddies

I came across these cute printable animal sets from UK based company Mibo while looking for last minute Easter decorating ideas. You simply purchase and they email you templates for your animals that you can print, cut and fold for a fun afternoon activity with your kids. They offer a wide variety ranging from safari animals to forest friends with the sweetest little expressions. You’re bound to fall in love with them!

xo Elizabeth

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Little Bean
La Camille cushions

Books about…. Paris


I often get asked which are my favorite children’s books about Paris. Books are such a good way to introduce this wonderful city to children before visiting it. Knowing what the Eiffel Tower looks like before seeing it, makes it so much more impressive the first time you see it!

Here is a little list:

Marie from Paris is a lovely story that takes you through the everyday life of a typical little Parisian, from school to family traditions. My girls love it, as Marie lives almost the same life as they and their friends do.

Henri’s Walk to Paris — a beautifully illustrated book I discovered via Black Eiffel. It’s such a cute story about a boy who dreams about coming to Paris. One day he packs up his lunch and gets on his way. He soon realized that Paris is very different from where he comes from.

Paris – City Walks with Kids are the big set of cards I have written about previously. Each card has a different itinerary on it, taking you to loads of interesting places. They are specially designed to make sure that the walk is not too long and boring for kids. It is a great idea, as you don’t need to lug around a whole guide book with you.

Paris, Mon Imagier is a little book for smaller children, with illustrations of all things Parisian with the words in French and in English. A great first introduction to Paris.

Paris Pop-Up is maybe not the most practical book to have, but a cool thing to have as a memory of your trip. You will find all the famous buildings and sites in this book with a description of each on of them.

Paper City Paris: even if I just recently wrote about these, I wanted to mention this downloadable craft by Made By Joel again, just because it is so cute and such a lovely way to learn about Paris through play.

-Emilie

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Happy UK Mother’s Day!

Mama, Is it Summer Yet?

I first read about this book on Brooke Reynold’s Inchmark blog last year and quickly picked it up on Amazon (I always trust her book recommendations!). Having forgotten about it, my kids recently picked it off the shelf for their bedtime read and I found it so relevant… the waiting (and longing!) for summer to come, and noticing the seasonal changes (budding trees, singing birds, nesting squirrels, and little ducklings) that happen in the spring in the countdown to summer.

What a sweet little book and perfect for this time of year! Available from Amazon (US and UK).

x Courtney

Le Petit Theatre des Ombres

This past weekend Coco, Violette and I popped round to visit a new little theatre school and children’s bookshop right by our house called Attrape Nuages. I totally recommend it if you live in Paris — it is super cute! We picked up a really cool little shadow theatre, which has been the sole source of entertainment in our household for the last few days. I actually hadn’t the faintest clue how a shadow theatre works, but it is such a simple idea! Who knew?

The theatre comes with all the bits and pieces you need to replay Little Red Ridinghood, even with a little flashlight. If you get tired of Little Red Ridinghood, there are refills for other stories. I am going to try and make some of my own characters and backdrops with some of the girls drawings, I reckon it could be a fun craft project…

Check out this little YouTube video to show how the whole thing works.

- Emilie

Sew Fun

I love the colors and illustrations of these little Piquages sewing cards by French designer Marc Vidal. I found them at a local Los Angeles shop and quickly snatched up a few packs for birthday gifts. I remember sewing similar ones with my mother when I was a little girl. They would be adorable hanging in a nursery or as a gift tag, don’t you think? I’m really excited to try these out with my little girl Elodie!

-Elizabeth

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

After spotting this book in the front window of nearly every bookstore in town, I figured it must be good and so I finally picked up a copy for ourselves. I Want My Hat Back is about a bear who can’t find his hat and so he goes on politely asking all the other animals if they’ve seen it, only to realise that perhaps he saw it along his way. It’s a really clever book, but there is something quite dry about it in a way that I somewhat doubted whether my kids were going to like it. I also wondered whether they would understand the mischievous twist at the end… but I read it to my kids and they were immediately laughing out loud and asking me to read it again and again. Clearly, this book appeals to both kids and grown-ups. Definitely worth picking up the next time you’re at the bookstore (or on Amazon if that’s easier).

x Courtney

Snow White Round Up


Have you seen all the advertisement for the two Brothers Grimm-inspired movies (Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman) yet? It made me want to watch the Disney classic with my kids, and so we did! Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was one of my favorite fairy tales growing up, it’s no wonder I felt a little inspired… Here’s a round up of some of my favorite Snow White-inspired goodies for the kids!

1.) Seven Dwarfs
2.) Snow White inspired dress
3.) Snow White doll
4.) hairpins
5.) yellow apple pillow
6.) blue dwarf
7.) vintage Snow White kid’s chair
8.) yellow embroidered slippers
9.) Snow White all over print dress

-Celina

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Enzo Mari’s Fable Game
BPA-Free Snackpots from VUP baby

Comment J’ai Sauvé Mon Papa

I thought it would be nice for you to get to know my little family, so I decided I would share with you our favorite book, Comment j’ai sauvé mon papa by Hervé Tullet. We’ve had this book for 2 years now, and it has travelled with us, been slept with, and even stepped on. It’s a lovely little story about how a little boy goes about to help his dad get out of a funk, with many different ways until one day he has a great idea and saves the day! It’s a simple book with little text (although I like to add my own personal text and sound effects) and simple illustrations — just the way we like it and no matter how many times we’ve read it we just never get tired of it, the ending is just too good!

Unfortunately, the book has only been published in French, but lucky me my kids only speak French! However, I only recently discovered that the author Hervé Tullet is quite popular and that a few of his books are available in many different languages (Esther wrote about The Game of Finger Worms a few weeks ago). Now I have got to get my hands on his latest book Press Here — this unique book about the power of the imagination and interactivity looks like fun for the whole family!

-Celina

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Wee Gallery Tattoos
Mini and Maximus at Fuzzy Zebra

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope your day is filled with lots and lots of love. xoxoxo

PS — Hearts print is from the Laura George Etsy shop along with loads of other cute prints. (I bought this print for Ivy’s room and it’s so cute! And Esther has this cool print and I was so in love with it I bought one for myself as well!)

Yoga Pretzels


My kids have been greatly enjoying the Yoga Pretzels cards they got from their babysitter for Christmas. It’s so cute to see them bend in all sorts of curves, or trying to keep their balance. There are 50 cards, each of them giving a suggestion for a pose. There are, for instance, balance poses, stretch poses, stand and bend poses, and, most popular with my children, the partner poses (they need each other to perform the pose!). There are also cards that give breathing or relax exercises, or suggestions for games that enhance teamwork and creativity. It’s great fun, and especially 6-year-old Sara has been able to really relax after her yoga. Pim (almost 5) loves it too, his favourite pose, of course, is the ‘Warrior’.
Yoga Pretzels is available through Amazon (UK or US).

xxx Esther

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Win a dress from Poppy!
Kalma & Violeta

Paper Wonderland

The temperatures over here have dropped into the -0°celsius level, which is a rare occurence. When it does happen, the whole of Paris seems to go off to hiberate in their homes. Which is where you’ll find us, snuggled up in our house! Time for some crafting…

We were recently given the Paper Wonderland book and we are officially obsessed. With some scissors and some tape, you get to put together some of the coolest creatures and little projects I have seen. Some are more complicated than others (great when you have kids of different ages) but the end result is super cute and great to play with, so the enjoyment goes beyond just crafting. I highly recommend it!

- Emilie

Pippi Longstocking

Do you remember reading Pippi Longstocking by Astrid  Lindgren when you were a child? It was my absolute favourite. Pippi was our superhero: an orphan with bright red hair and incredible stories to tell, who lives on her own with a horse and a monkey and does not conform to anything.

I had totally forgotten about this book (It made me a bit sad that something that had been so special to me, had slipped out of my memory), until I stumbled over a copy of it today in a bookshop. And the copy I stumbled over is pretty special. The story of Pippi, which must have been written more than 50 years ago, has been given a face lift with illustrations by Lauren Child, famous from the UK TV show, Charlie and Lola. The illustrations are super charming and work beautifully with this story. I cannot wait to read this book to my kids. Coco, who is now 6 will be captivated by the story and 3-year-old Violette will love the pictures!

- Emilie

TinTin!

I read my boys (ages 6 and 4) their first Tintin book recently, and an obsession ensued. For the past couple months it is the only thing they have requested at bed time; I think we are now on our fifth Tintin book.  I’m actually surprised by how much they like it — there is so much they can’t possibly understand, and so much of the humour goes straight over their heads. But still… they love the adventures of Tintin, his dog Snowy and the very funny Captain Haddock who says things like ‘billions of blue blistering barnacles!’ and makes silly mistakes.

The story behind Tintin is an interesting one. The first Tintin comic appeared in the children’s section of a Belgian newspaper in 1929. The series was so successful it was then published in Belgium’s leading newspaper, Le Soir, and then spun into its own magazine. It became one of Europe’s most popular comics and has been translated into more than 50 different languages (you can read more about the origin of Tintin here).

There is now a Tintin movie — I haven’t seen it, have you? There’s an online Tintin Shop and an actual Tintin store in Covent Garden where you can buy all sorts of Tintin goodies like posters, toys and, of course, the books. I’m thinking of buying my boys some Tintin posters for their bedroom (don’t you love that image above with the Tintin poster and figurines?).

x Courtney

Image found on Pinterest

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Nils & Happy to see you
Tutu Du Monde
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