Peapod’s Picks 4/1/19

Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (usually for his bedtime story) each week plus a more in depth review of at least one of them – this week Claude All At Sea by Alex T. Smith.

*His social media alter ego, not his real name!

What did we read this week?

The start of the week saw the end of December, and the last of our Christmas books (you can see all the books we read here).

On Tuesday, we read Claude. Then, on Wednesday, Daddy chose ‘Laura’s Star’ by Klaus Baumgart and yesterday we read The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith(after ‘From Baby to Bronte’ read The Worm and the Bird earlier in the week and reminded me of her books!)

Claude All At Sea by Alex T. Smith

This was one of Peapod’s Christmas presents. And it was a total surprise (after all, who buys the bookseller books?!) which made it even better! I (I mean *he*) was thrilled! Even more so when I found out it was signed!

So, what better way to kick off the new year and a return to non-Christmas books than with this one?!

Firstly, Claude as a character is totally brilliant – expressive, funny and just quite happily doing his thing. With a beret full of useful stuff and trusty sidekick Sir Bobblysock, Claude can cope with anything that comes his way!

Which is just as well, because being swept out to sea in your bath then eaten by a sea monster called Kevin (oh, the warning signs 😂) is quite something!

The illustration is full of life too – no mean feat when only using a restricted palette in this way. But there’s texture, movement and a big, bold character to it all which rather captured ‘Peapod’s attention!

It’s an imaginative, pacy and above all FUN read that somehow manages to be creative, funny and matter of fact. We very much enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading the other Claude books with ‘Peapod’ when he’s bigger!

Have you or your little ones read any of these?

Which stories have you read at bedtime this week?


Happy New Reading Year!

Happy New Year!

I talked the other day about using the new year as a bit of a reset on my reading/blogging.

Today I’m going to share some of my other reading hopes/aims/goals for 2019.

Goodreads Challenge

For us, 2018 brought the best thing ever – ‘Peapod’! This considerably slowed down my reading. Where I used to read on my commute, breaks at work and before bed, I now find myself trying to cram in a couple of pages whenever I can (which isn’t often!)

While I wouldn’t have it any other way, it did mean I didn’t quite reach my Goodreads goal of 100 books in 2018 – I managed 88.

So for 2019, I’ve set my official goal of 70. Though secretly, I’d still like to make 100.

Are we friends on Goodreads? Have you set yourself a reading challenge for 2019?


There are a lot (A LOT!) of classics I haven’t read, both children’s and adult ones, so I’d like to read more of these next year. I’m going to aim for one a month, but I’m not setting this in stone.

I think my first will be Mary Poppins, as I bought the Lauren Child illustrated version a while back but still haven’t read it.

How do you feel about classics? Which would you recommend I read?


Likewise, there are a lot of books I’d like to re-read but never seem to get round to them because of my never-ending stack of new (or new to me) books.

So, I’d like to take the time to re-read some of these in 2019. The one I’ve been promising myself for a while is Harry Potter, which I loved but haven’t read since they were originally released! There are others I’d like to go back to as well but if I can read Harry Potter this year, I’ll be happy!

Are there any books you’d like to re-read this year?


I’m a wonderfully sweeping statement – I only ever read fiction. Last year, I read a couple of adult non-fiction books and really enjoyed them though. It reminded me that I do like some non-fiction – namely biographies or memoirs – so I’d like to keep reading more of these this year too.

Do you read non-fiction? Are there any biographies or auto-biographies you’d recommend?


Put simply, my aim is to keep on top of them! I know there will still be times I lag behind, but I’m hoping some shorter reviews and more frequent Mini Monday posts might help!

What are your 2019 reading goals?

Whatever 2018 may have thrown your way – good or bad – here’s hoping 2019 is a good one for you…and your reading goals!

Happy New (Reading) Year!

Better Late Than Never…

…I received these Christmas books to review and then got so snowed under (geddit?!) with all things Christmas and baby that time ran away with me and I didn’t manage it.

So, I know… I know…not much use now, but maybe some of you are ridiculously organised and want to go and buy next year’s books already! And I have scheduled it to repost in the lead up to next Christmas, so then it WILL be useful (I hope!) and I have a head start on 2019’s blog posts – winning all round!

First there were a few books I was sent that I did actually manage to review before Christmas arrived rather quicker than anticipated:


Emily Brown and Father Christmas by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

This was a brand new one to me. It was great and I loved the writing style. A thoroughly modern story, with hugely appealing, lively illustrations reminiscent of Lauren Child’s collage-y, textured appearance, and a very traditional twist. It takes all the magic of Christmas and delivers it by the sleigh load!

Originally reviewed here. Thanks to Hachette Kids for sending me a copy.


Kipper’s Snowy Day by Mick Inkpen

I love Kipper and have really enjoyed reading this to ‘Peapod’ during our book advent this year (along with Kipper’s Christmas Eve).

OK, it’s not strictly Christmassy but everyone knows snowy books and Christmas books go hand in hand!

A classic character in a story so full of snowy fun you can’t help but smile – makes you want to go and play in the snow

Originally reviewed here. Thanks again to Hachette Kids.


Snow in the Garden: A First Book of Christmas

This is a beautiful book, and will make a wonderful addition to a Christmas collection. The combination of activities and stories/poems/illustrations make it ideal for dipping into throughout the season and, while there’s a wonderful sense of nostalgia and old fashioned charm, there’s also plenty for new, young readers to love and relate to – playing in the snow, going for wintry walks and acting in the school nativity – and the activities are timeless: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without paper decorations, homemade cards and gingerbread!

A cosy, nostalgic hug of a book and an absolute delight – it’s one we’ll be getting out year after year.

Originally reviewed here. Thanks to Walker Books.

Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnley

This is the 20th anniversary of this book, but it’s not one I’d previously heard of, so I’m extra glad to have been given this as it’s definitely one we’ll be reading in our book advent each year!

It’s a lovely, heart-warming story that manages to convey the message of Christmas spirit and kindness without feeling didactic or sickly sweet (no mean feat – I’m a particularly harsh critic of books with a moral or message!)

Robin is utterly loveable and I loved the illustrations too which felt light and bright, with a touch of humour in the details.

Thank you to Nosy Crow for my copy.

Winnie the Pooh: The Long Winter’s Sleep by Jane Riordan

Drawing on the original stories and illustrations from The Hundred Acre Wood, this is a lovely introduction to the world of Winnie the Pooh and fans of the original (like me!) won’t be disappointed.

The story itself is a warming winter tale full of friendship and it captures both the season and the characters well.

Thank you to Egmont for my copy.

Ten Little Elves by Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty

I’ve reviewed books on this Ten Little series before – they never disappoint and this festive outing is no exception!

Combining counting, Christmas and catastrophe, it’s as bold as they come – positively leaping off the page and demands a lively telling full of sound effects, actions and energy.

Thanks again to Hachette Kids for our copy – thrilled to have a board book version of it that ‘Peapod’ can handle (and inevitably chew!)

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas by Kes Gray and Claire Powell

We loved this – it really made us laugh and it has definitely earned a firm 23rd December spot in our annual book advent!

It retains a feel of its inspiration, Clement C Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, and is just as full of the building excitement the days before Christmas bring, but is a much more modern tale, taking Christmas preparation and tradition and depicting them with a huge dollop of humour that will be enjoyed by both children and parents.

Father Christmas is frantically trying to get through his last minute jobs in readiness for the big night and the story bounds along in a pace to match. The illustrations are busy, warm and detailed too – again, perfectly festive and funny. And the ending…well, I won’t spoil it, but…it’s guaranteed to raise a smile!

Thanks to Hachette Kids for my copy.

Peapod’s Book Advent

So we lost our way with keeping the posts about our book advent up to date. (I have just counted up our Christmas books though and since we had 42 instead of 24/25 it’s maybe not surprising!)

BUT we loved doing it. We read so many wonderful books – from the wintry and snowy to the warm and fuzzy to the downright silly and laugh out loud.

So, while I may not have managed to post proper reviews of them all, here’s what we read this Christmas:

Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton

Grandpa Christmas by Michael Morpurgo and Jim Field

Snow in the Garden: A First Book of Christmas, Alfie’s Christmas and Lucy and Tom at Christmas by Shirley Hughes

The Snowman and Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnley

Emily Brown and Father Christmas by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

Humphrey’s Christmas by Sally Hunter

Maisy’s Christmas Eve by Lucy Cousins

Aliens Love Panta Claus by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

Winnie and Wilbur Meet Santa by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Supertato: Evil Pea Rules by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Meg’s Christmas by Jan Pienkowski

Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss

Paddington’s Christmas Surprise by Michael Bond and R. W. Alley

Santasaurus by Niamh Sharkey

Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht and Jarvis

Mince Spies by Mark Sperring and Sophie Corrigan

Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allan

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas by Kes Gray and Claire Powell

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and Eric Puybaret

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Alan Ahlberg

Just with these we had enough for a book a night leading up to Christmas, but I bought some as we went along (as well as being sent some for review) and already had some wintry, snowy ones:

Kipper’s Snowy Day by Mick Inkpen

The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies

The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Snowball by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Snow is My Favourite and My Best by Lauren Child

One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth

Winnie the Pooh: The Long Winter’s Sleep by Jane Riordan

Harry and the Snow King by Ian Whybrow

So they went into the mix too and in the end we had enough for a seasonal book each bedtime throughout December.

But I’d also bought/received some lovely festive board books, so they went in the basket to be read/felt/flip-the-flapped during the days!

Dream Snow by Eric Carle

Dear Santa by Rod Campbell

The Snowman Puppet Playbook

Kipper’s Snowy Day and Kipper’s Christmas Eve by Mick Inkpen

That’s Not My… Reindeer/Penguin/Snowman

Where’s Mr Penguin/Where’s Santa Claus? by Ingela P Arrenhius

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from me and ‘Peapod’!

Rest. Reflection. Resolutions. Restarting.

So, it’s that time of year again.

I’m not a strict resolution-maker, but I do always like this time of year to start afresh, draw a line, make a change etc.

This morning, I went for my first post-baby run. It was bloody hard, but I did it. I’m not sure how I’ll manage it regularly, because of, you know, having a baby now! But it’s a start – if I can get out once a week most weeks, that’s something to aim for. If I manage more, even better.

The other thing I really want to improve on is my reading and the blog. Not in themselves, but in the way I’ve begun to approach them.

I started the blog as a way to spur me on to review the books I’m kindly sent by publishers and to keep a record of these reviews and books I’d read. It was very much for me, though obviously I’m thrilled when other people read and enjoy it or find it helpful too.

In recent months, I’ve found myself hopping from one thing to another, trying This Day and That Day, trying to add lots of photos and generally trying to keep up with it all.

I’ve ended up with such a huge ‘to read’ (and review) pile it’s overwhelming me, as my reading has slowed right down and – inevitably – taken a back seat to my new position as mummy. (I know there are loads of great bloggers out there who juggle both and I take my hat off to them, but I’m struggling to fit it all in!)

Added to which my anxiety means once I become slightly overwhelmed/behind etc I find it very difficult to reset and it generally spirals meaning I don’t do anything instead of being able to just do a little; no reviews up instead of the 1 or 2 I might have had time to do.

So…I’m paring it right back and remembering it’s ultimately for me.

I haven’t posted the last of our book advent posts, but that’s ok – WE loved doing it and that’s the important thing. Plus, next year I’ll have a head start! (I am going to try and post a summary of it though.)

I’m really behind on reviews and, though I feel bad, I’m going to draw a line under it and stop trying to catch up. I’ll make a determined effort to review as I finish before starting a new book from now, as that’s what worked last time, but can’t promise I’ll go back to review those I’ve missed. The alternative is to keep trying (and failing) to play catch up and failing – feeling pressured and miserable and reviewing nothing. And reading really isn’t meant to make you feel like that.

I’m keeping Peapod’s Picks, but the aim is to focus on one book we’ve enjoyed that week instead of cramming in everything we’ve read.

I’ll do WWW Wednesday every couple of weeks and I might throw in a Mini Monday every few weeks too, but I’m not going to feel bound to doing them every week.

Much of this will make the blog sporadic, hotch potch and inconsistent. If it was for others, for a living, for views and followers and likes and comments, that would be a problem.

But it’s not.* It’s for me. And I need to remember that!

*Although obviously likes, comments, followers and views are encouraged and enjoyed too!

Peapod’s Picks – Book Advent Days 1-5

I decided to do a book advent for Peapod, so this week’s picks are all the books we’ve read so far.

This year, the books aren’t wrapped or hidden or anything – they’re just all out together.

There’s a few I’ve not yet read – Grandpa’s Christmas and The Night Before The Night Before Christmas are a couple – but on the whole I’ve read them so Dad is choosing one a night for Peapod’s bedtime story, which is nice as he’s not read most of them, and we’re just reading the board books whenever we fancy!

This week, we’ve read:

That’s Not My Snowman and That’s Not My Penguin – Peapod loves the touchy feely bits in these books!

Where’s Mr Penguin? – The felt flaps in these are ingenious and withstand Peapod’s eager grabbing. Plus he loves the mirror at the end!

Kipper’s Snowy Day – Mick Inkpen

OK, not strictly Christmassy but everyone knows snowy books and Christmas books go hand in hand!

A classic character in a story so full of snowy fun you can’t help but smile – makes you want to go and play in the snow.


Snow is My Favourite and My Best – Lauren Child

Another book featuring favourite characters, this time Charlie and Lola, and more snowy day fun.

This book perfectly captures the building excitement of waiting for the snow, seeing it start and finally getting out to play in it…as well as the disappointment when it melts which is dealt with in a really fun and clever way!


Maisy’s Christmas Eve – Lucy Cousins

Yet another well-known character! With bold illustrations, simple, bold text and a story combining preparing for Christmas, friendship and a mishap in the snow it’s a great book for younger readers!

Santasaurus – Niamh Sharkey

I first read this book at least 10 years ago with my first reception class in my very first teaching job. I’d forgotten all about it until I saw it in @FatherReading‘s book advent pic. It brought back such lovely memories that I had to order it. It’s the illustrations I love best – beautifully detailed and coloured!


Aliens Love Panta Claus – Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

Another of everyone’s favourites – those Aliens who Love Underpants are back causing more mayhem (and, yes, saving the day!) in this pants-tastic Christmas tale. Guaranteed to make you giggle, I can’t wait to read this one with Peapod when he’s older.

Hello Old Friend

Today is National Poetry Day.

We have a funny old relationship, poetry and I. Like a friend you realise you’ve not seen in ages – you make an effort to meet up and have a ball. There’s stories shared – laughter, tears drama, the everyday & the big events. There’s disbelief that it’s been so long and promises to do it again soon. Then suddenly a year has passed and you realise you’ve not seen them in ages…

You see, I never read poetry. But I do really like it.

But I never quite know what to read or when – how to choose? Read as a collection, as a whole book like a novel? Or one a day – but when in the day? And which one?

When I started this post, it was going to be something else but as I started writing, it changed and a plan evolved:

I’m going to tackle my long distance love affair with poetry on here. Instead of an annual National Poetry Day (well, ok, as well as) I’ll have a weekly one (Thursday Verse-day?! That’s awful – ideas for a catchy title welcome!)

Each Thursday, I’ll share a poem and/or post something poetry related.

I’m hoping you’ll join in – feel free to share a poem yourself and link back here, or comment on the one I share!

To kick off, I’ll share this one by Sharon Owens. It’s been shared a fair bit on twitter which is where it caught my eye. I especially liked the last 3 lines. What do you think of it?

How do you feel about poetry – do you read it? Do you have any favourite poems or poets?