The second book in the Stick It Brit series by Jenny Neal won’t disappoint fans of the original. It is a fully illustrated children’s book that will delight even if you are not familiar with the first book in the series.
This alphabet book focuses on food with Brit and baby Amy putting on a picnic for their toys. Once again Brit is covering everything with sticky notes and causing a little chaos at the same time. Young children will not realise that this book is helping them read, it isn’t at all preachy or stagnant, it is a real story all the way through.
Once again Jenny Neal has created a bright and colourful book with really wonderful backgrounds that have so much energy. The illustrations are simple and playful, they really capture the relationship between the sisters.
Harry thought that baby Amy pouring the drink over her own head was hilarious and Brit’s reaction was perfect for a big sister. I have a soft spot for the teddy Captain Spy and hope he makes more appearances in further Stick It Brit titles.
The Q part of the alphabet is Quavers which I thought was a little risky, any brands in a book can age them but then again I think Quavers will likely be around for many years to come (I hope so at least, they are delicious!). I will warn you though, if you plan to read this book, do not do it at bed time like we did, we had no choice but to get top and have snacks and a glass of milk! This book will make you hungry! It is good that the majority of the foods are healthy snacks and mostly vegetarian but some vegans may not like the inclusion of eggs if reading to vegan children (we love veggie ham and sausages so we didn’t mind that!) Honestly though you would have to be pretty strict to let that stop you from enjoying the story.
We both really enjoyed the second instalment of Stick It Brit and hope that it won’t be the last.
Stick It Brit and the ABC Picnic Surprise by Jenny Neal is available now from Shookbop.
This book was kindly sent to us for review by the publisher Stour Valley Publishing and it completely our own views.
When Marion Veal reached out to me and asked if Harrison and I would review her latest book I could not of said yes faster. I had seen the cover of the book in the Shookbop online shop and admired the stunning artwork on the cover. Harry is a big fan of foxes and had previously enjoyed Small Tom’s Big Adventure by Marian Pierce so I thought that he would jump at the chance to review Vix as much as me. He was just as delighted as me when it arrived. This review is of course all our own opinion, we hope you enjoy it.
Vix The Lockdown Fox is the true story of trust, kindness and friendship. Inspired by heartwarming events that occurred during Lockdown when Marion, the author of this story was gardening and appreciating all of the flora and fauna that surrounded her.
A truly beautiful picture book, illustrated by Kathryn Coyle in stunning watercolours, at times it feels more like an art book than a picture book because every single picture is stunning and you want to spend time really looking at each and every page. With really vibrant colours the images are colourful but with a softness, Kathryn is an expert at painting fluffy characters. The cover is just a sneak peek at the beauty inside.
The story follows the relationship between fox and human as they learn to trust each other, it is a really charming story made even better by the fact that it really happened. It is an inspirational tale because throughout the story Marion feeds and helps Vix without ever trying to domesticate her or turn her into a pet. It was evident throughout that Vix was a wild animal and Marion treated her as such, with respect. As a parent I think it is important that children see that they can help animals without owning them and that wild animals might look fluffy but they aren’t cuddly cartoon characters that should be petted and cuddled.
Harrison absolutely loved this book although he kept worrying that something awful was about to happen to Vix or one of the other characters and he was relieved at the end that nothing bad happens to any of the characters (I was relieved too). His favourite part was when Vix was a cheeky fox sitting in an empty paddling pool. Vix has a cheeky little grin.
Being vegetarian we didn’t really enjoy the descriptions of ‘chompy-chicken’ however that started a conversation about animals and food chains and the fact that foxes can’t pop to the local supermarket for a meat substitute. Any chance for an open discussion with children is good in my opinion and Harrison is always happy to have a good discussion about topics he believes in (Chickens are one of his favourite animals!).
Lockdown was hard on a lot of people in a lot of different ways, this book shows how loneliness was a major factor for people living alone at that time and how being surrounded with nature really helped to alleviate that, especially making bonds with the animals that visit the garden. We sadly don’t have a garden but through lockdown we were delighted to see a family of ducks pass by each day and that little bit of nature made us all smile. It is lovely to hear happy stories of lockdown, something positive coming out of all of the negativity.
This book is really delightful, the story is inspirational and the artwork is fantastic. It has everything you would like for a bedtime story, heartwarming and wholesome. I recommend it to anyone with children who like animals. I do not think that you would be dissatisfied with this book at all and it is one that we will read again and later pass on to younger family members.
We award Vix The Lockdown Fox 5 out of 5 webs. We both truly enjoyed it.
Small Tom’s Big Adventure was written by fox enthusiast Marian Pierce and is a wonderful story of one fox named Small Tom who helps a couple of lost cubs try to find their way home. With the help of a fox lady who is never shown but who helps keep the local dens fed and warm, Small Tom goes on his big adventure.
Small Tom is great in the fact that he knows when he can help but also knows when to ask for help too. Their is a whole community of foxes and they all come together to help each other stay safe, warm and dry. It is genuinely a heartwarming tale that made for a fantastic bedtime story.
The story is a little wordier than most picture books but is not too long at all, if you have a child who wants the same book read over and over again in one night then it might be one you want to start a little earlier in the night but it certainly won’t be one you would mind reading more than once.
The illustrations are beautiful, all of the foxes are so fluffy especially the baby ones who were Harrisons favourites. There could have been a way to make each one a little more identifiable as once the fox community comes together it can be hard to keep track of which fox is which. The foxes may also benefit from just the slightest highlight in the eyes to make them appear just a little more approachable but that may just be personal opinion.
The book also highlights the importance of The Fox Project which helps foxes in the UK who may be displaced, hungry or injured. It is a very worthwhile charity which links nicely to Small Tom’s Big Adventure. Find out more now http://www.foxproject.org.uk
You can purchase this beautiful book, available now from Shookbop.
Harrison awarded Small Tom’s Big Adventure 5 webs out of 5, his favourite part was the sleeping foxes in their dens and the thought of humans being able to help foxes in their neighbourhoods.
We were delighted to receive this book for review from the publisher Stour Valley Publishing and all of the opinions are our own.
Happy New Year everyone, this is obviously my first blog post of 2022 and I am going into the year feeling really hopeful which honestly is rarer than I would like. I am not starting the new year with big declarations or huge goals (maybe I am getting wiser now I am 35?) that I will no doubt trip myself up with but I am recognising that in 2021 I made progress and I hope to continue on that journey.
I made a lot of mess in 2021 because for the first time in (what feels like) forever I allowed myself to experiment and to try new things even if I wasn’t sure they would work. I tried printmaking, fluid art, zine creation and collage for the first time. I stopped posting every single drawing on social media which freed me up from feeling like every piece of artwork needed to be complete and presentable, that in itself has been liberating.
My Art V Artist instagram post shows just a glimpse of some of the experimentation I have been playing with, these are the bits that came out well but I couldn’t of created them without the messes that I made in my various sketchbooks before that. I also released three picture books which is pretty amazing considering I was homeschooling Harry Webbling for part of the year too.
This is the gushy part of my yearly review, feel free to skip it if it makes you nauseous! I have to say a huge thank you to my amazing husband and children for really believing in me, for inspiring me and especially Jamie for giving me the freedom to take some time off when my mental health became a barrier, without his hard work and dedication to his business I would not of had that luxury and I am incredibly grateful to him for that (I probably would of given up without that break). Thank you to my amazing friends who have listened to me moan when I have had bad days and helped me celebrate the good, you know who you are and I love you. 2021 was hard but you made it infinitely easier than it could of been.
So yes its a new year but it is absolutely not a new me, it is the same me on the same journey that I have been on for the last few years. I have no destination in mind, no end goal and I am having so much more fun with my art work than I had been previously. I put way too much pressure on myself, got massive imposter syndrome and started doubting everything that I created especially if it didn’t get social media attention. I am growing, I am learning and I am hopeful that I will make a lot more mess in 2022. I hope you are along for the journey.
Happy New Year and may a little of my hopefulness rub off on you, if not just go and make a little mess because it is fun!
I have a lot of finished sketchbooks now, I am not really sure what to do with them all. I have done videos in the past but my anxiety at the moment is really affecting me and I don’t feel confident enough to talk on camera right now. I thought that showing you a flip through on here might be a good compromise. I hope that you enjoy it.
This is a Hahnemuhle watercolour book in A5. 200gsm fine grained paper. I absolutely loved painting in this book which made me more excited to paint. I took it away with me a few times because it is a really good size to fit in my mini backpack. It lays flat and both sides are the same. I would buy another in the future. I started on 11th July and completed it on 30th November. I always have two or three sketchbooks on the go at any one point.
This little floral dino was a Draw This In Your Style challenge on Instagram set by @calliandco I am hoping to do a whole blog post on DTIYS challenges in the new year.
I had a lot of fun drawing guinea pigs on international guinea pig day! These even inspired one of my Gnomevember paintings too.
Lots of experimentation especially with paint doodles, painting without drawing beforehand. I also drew a few familiar characters, Lumpy from Winnie the Pooh was a challenge to see how small I could paint him and Ponyo was because I got the Art Of Ponyo book for my birthday and was really inspired to paint her.
I have been trying to challenge myself with new styles and push myself out of my comfort zones, I know that adding more detail to faces is a way for me to add more emotion to my illustrations so it is something that I am experimenting with. I want it to be a natural progression of my style and I feel like I am going in the right direction.
Expecto Patronum!!! Lilly and Harry had been taking Pottermore quizzes to find out their patronus’, Harry had a black swan and Lilly a bunny so I thought it would be fun to paint them casting the spells.
These are very much just doodles, practice and exercises. The Narwhal is inspired by a painting Harry created that I will show further down this post. The flowery green lady on the top row is actually a repaint of a similar illustration that I created with Brusho.
OK, I completely chickened out of painting my little cat because I was so happy with how he came out! I did try to colour him digitally but it didn’t look anywhere near what I was hoping for, I may share it in future but for now its on the digital scrap heap! I was however really proud of the little devil, the paper took so many layers of paint and they all blended beautifully.
Character development of Noah the Gnome the I drew for the entirety of Gnomevember began life in this little sketchbook.
I wanted to try gouache paint in my sketchbook, the donkey is the Caran Dache studio gouache and the swing is the gouache background with watercolour girl. They smudged a lot in my sketchbook so I regretted painting in there with them but the images came out ok. I am not a fan of a heavy black outline but I was proud of the little girl swinging onto the next page.
I wanted to try some full page illustrations, this paper is a dream to paint on and doesn’t warp or bend so it was perfect for edge to edge illustrations. These aren’t finished illustrations but they are about as far as I come in this sketchbook and I am genuinely really proud of them all even though they are so different.
Christmas is coming fast and I really wanted to draw some fun elves. The robin was inspired by Robin Robin movie on Netflix which is so sweet and adorable, we all really enjoyed it. The cow is random but who doesn’t want a cow in their sketchbook? I have a real weakness for drawing candy canes, I just love to draw them and I have no explanation why.
These are the last real illustrations in the sketchbook. just some painting doodles without lifework, I like them, they aren’t perfect but they are fun. The top left is just a little fun mindless paint while I was swatching mini paints from Cats Arts, it helps me to see how the paints will look together whereas swatches help see them individually.
The last page of my sketchbook is my absolute favourite, the left side is just more swatching and playing. The pallet is the travel one that I was carrying with me at the time, its an amazing little creation by a company called Go Draw which I found on Etsy. It is the right hand side that I love the most, Mr Narwhal painted by Harry Webbling. I always let the children paint or draw in my books if they ask to because I get to keep it and carry it with me. This was totally from his imagination and inspired the Narwhal that I painted earlier, of all the images in my sketchbook this is the one I will cherish the most.
That is it, my full sketchbook, the good, the bad and the ugly! Do you have a favourite? I can’t help but feel proud of myself for finishing another sketchbook, I put my heart into it and I can see the improvement each and every time I complete one. I am already part of the way through two and have another I am about to start so if you like this post I may do more photographed flip throughs in the future.
We absolutely love Christmas books and Bertie Bird and the Chilly Little Snowman is no exception. With beautiful bright illustration by Anita King and the lovely story by Stacy Bax this really is a great book for the holiday season and one that you would enjoy cosying up to read on a cold night.
Poor snowman keeps loosing his nose, luckily he has someone who is watching over him and trying to solve his problems. It is nice that the snowman has a friend because Bertie Bird is a cheeky little robin who both Harrison and I agree, needs to learn to ask before he takes things. It really is sad for the snowman.
The illustrations are enchanting and they make us want snowy days and snowball fights, to make our own snowmen and then snuggle up with hot chocolates. If you are making a story book advent calendar then this should definitely be included, alternatively it would make a great addition to a Christmas Eve box too. It has all the charm of a warm and cosy Christmas story and is laid out beautifully.
Get your copy before Christmas, available now from Shookbop.
We really enjoyed the playful nature of Santa in the book and think you will too. Who decided that a carrot was the correct nose for a snowman anyway? You will have to read the book to see the humorous alternatives.
After a very lengthy discussion Harrison decided that this story deserved 4 out of 5 webs, he really wanted to give it 5 but felt that Bertie Bird took what he needed for a good reason but could of explained himself beforehand so that Snowman didn’t get so sad. I love that this book began a discussion about stealing for the sake of good and about being honest with your intentions. I feel like Harry learnt from the story at the same time as enjoying it.
We gladly received this book for review from the publisher Stour Valley Publishing and the view are all our own.
Always Good is a full colour children’s book written by Gary Heskins and illustrated by Kerry Sullivan, it is the story of a boy named Bobby Mac who sees the world differently to everyone around him. Teaching that the world is full of more than just material possessions and that you can be happy without all of them. Happily Bobby Mac sees his family as the richest treasure he could have. It is a feel good story with a heart of gold that tries to see the best in not having much.
Bobby has a wonderful family and they have taught him a lot about gratefulness and I think that it is a great lesson especially for children that aren’t in a position to have all of their wants met straight away. For the even children that are lucky enough to have everything, this story teaches to be a little more humble and to look at what really matters in your life.
Harrison and I really enjoyed this book, it is bright and colourful, has a clear message and was easy to read. It helped us to discuss what we take for granted in our life and how we could be more grateful for what we have too.
The illustrations by Kerry Sullivan are great, the style is very friendly and appealing to young children and old with lots of action going on, Harry particularly enjoyed the illustrations of the animals and the children playing football. Every page is jam packed with colour and energy, the characters really stand out.
The book is let down by a lack of punctuation which is very hit and miss, some pages have capital letters and full stops and others have no punctuation at all which does bother me when reading aloud especially. It could use the help of a good editor to just polish off what is a great story.
I was concerned that the book promoted an unhealthy, ideal version of being ‘always good’ however the main character does admit that he does have bad days too, which was a great addition to the story in my opinion because it is hard to be happy all of the time and is an unrealistic expectation to put on yourself or other people but it is possible to always be grateful for what you do have.
Harrison and I think that this book would be great for children who are struggling to see that other people live different lives and have different lifestyles but it doesn’t make your life any less valuable. We all have moments of envy and this book would be a good one to read in those moments.
Harrison awarded Always Good 4 out of 5 webs, the story is great and the illustrations are beautiful, it just needs some work on the punctuation and grammar.
We were sent this book by Stour Valley Publishing for review, the thoughts and opinions are our own.
It is not often that a book is created so beautifully and by a whole family at that. Created by the Bax family and written by mum Stacy Bax, Busy Buzzy Bee is a story that has been created from five year old Elodie’s watercolour paintings. The whole process is really creative and inventive. The mix of the innocence of Elodie’s five year old imagination painting flowers in beautiful colours combined with the parents bees makes it really magical.
The story has some great repetition and tells children just how important bees are and how busy they are making sure that all of their jobs are done. It inspires children to look after the bees and help them as much as possible without getting too scientific and confusing.
The text is great but it is formatted in a confusing way, it could definitely be clearer but it doesn’t take much away from the story all and since it is surrounded by a literal hive of bee activity I can see how it would be difficult to format the text around it.
The back of the bus has a bonus poem and a lovely illustration dedicated to the heroes that are our amazing NHS and all they have accomplished throughout the global pandemic. It is really heartwarming.
I am a big fan of bee books and encouraging children to look after our fluffy little friends as you will know if you have seen my book Blake the Bee Who Believed or the book I illustrated for Simon Henderson, The Soggy Little Bee. It is amazing that all of these bee books can be teaching a similar message and still be amazingly different. Bees really are magical and Busy Buzzy Bee really shows that magic.
Harrison really enjoyed looking at all of the little details in the illustrations, he spent a long time looking at all of the individual bees and deciding on his favourite ones. He really engaged with the illustrations as much as the story. The colours and the beautiful illustrations really do catch your eye.
Written by Tazkia Dokrat and illustrated by Kerry Green, Peaty Pencil Learns To Help is a lovely little book about a pencil who is great at academics and not so great at sports (I can instantly relate!)
Peaty Pencil has to learn that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and that helping each other really helps everyone. It is a very cute book and the pencils have so much personality. I am a massive stationary addict (Hoarder?) and seeing these little pencils chatting and running is just charming. It is a really cute idea. It isn’t easy to give emotion and movement to inanimate objects and Kerry Green does it really well.
The font selection is a little strange as random words throughout the text are given extra emphasis with decorative fonts, it does add to the interest on the text only pages. It is only a short story but is one of a series of Pencil Case Pals and we would be really interested to see the rest too.
We were curious on pages where Peaty Pencil and friends were sat writing with little pencils, did those little pencils have personalities too? That would be super cute but could go on forever.
This book was sent to us for review by the publisher Stour Valley Publishing and our opinions are our own.