Hachette Picture Books Preview August/September

One of the things I love about book blogging, is being sent catalogues so I can drool over the books. For some reason, I’ve never thought of sharing my favourites (we don’t get everything to review of course), so here are some of my picks from the August and September catalogues (in no particular order):

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Mr Croc! We all love Mr Croc in the Chaos house. Sadly my two are a little on the older side to invest in any more, but the ones we have get lots of love and attention. Mr Croc rocks.

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Not a picture book, but this sounds like one that I will love, because I love fairy tales in modern settings. It also should be good for my little Ever After High fans – the Ever After High books were a little on the older side for them but they watch the series on YouTube.
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This is definitely one for Mighty Girl and Danger Girl, especially for Mighty Girl’s story and character creation. I think we may have to get this one.

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Britta Teckentrup’s illustrations are so beautiful, and combined with Mark Sperring this sounds like a lovely gift book.

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A Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark combination sounds delicious. This is a reissue, and based on the Orchard book of Greek Myths that we do have, this should be on many Christmas gift lists.

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I think I want this book for the Octopus (sorry, Giant Squid) alone, doesn’t it look gorgeous?! Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz books have been a great hit in the Chaos household, and Mighty Girl’s KS1 class did a project on Commotion in the Ocean just before the end of term so even though the age says 0-5, these are usually suitable fora larger age group.

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James Mayhew’s Katie in Christmas – just look at those beautiful spreads. Another one to add to the Christmas gift list (I know it’s only August still!)
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Another Christmas book! Belle and Boo are just so gorgeous, they’re worth getting to frame the pages as prints (not that I could ever bring myself to cut a book apart!)

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We’ve been lucky enough to receive this one and it is BRILLIANT. Gorgeous illustrations coupled with a perfect story of how we perceive differences, and how perception isn’t necessarily right. Highly recommended.

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Pink usually puts me off but this book has Sarah Warburton on the cover so we’ll certainly be looking at it in more detail. I will ignore the ‘little girls’ marketing and judge it on its own merits! ;-)

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A reissue of Alex T Smith’s Egg, which for some inexplicable reason we haven’t actually read. Definitely one we want to see, Foxy and Alphonso are wonderful characters, and the early reader chapter books make a great follow on from their picture book adventures.

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I know my Mighty Girl (7) will love this. She’s always writing stories and creating ideas, and she enjoys the Secret Kingdom books too. This looks like it will be a great ‘stocking filler’ this Christmas.

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We go on UK based holidays, which means l-o-n-g car journeys. Packing several activity books has been essential – they don’t run out of batteries, and being tied in to favourite reads is even better. This looks like another nice stocking filler, to keep the children amused while you’re busy!
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This is another that we’ve been lucky enough to be sent. Bright, colourful art, and a funny story. Great fun.

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To say this one is a hit would be an understatement, Danger Girl (5) absolutely loves this (and Ten Little Pirates)

Hopefully we’ll get to see a few more of these close up and share more details, but these were the ones that caught my eye from the latest catalogues. I’ll try to share more previews as we get them.

Our Week in Books #34

No books acquired to my knowledge this week, because we’ve not been at home to see any post. We did win Betty Goes Bananas by Steve Antony, from Oxford Owl, so that might have arrived. We’ve also been lucky enough to be offered a few other review books, that I need to reply to emails for. So lots of lovely goodness to share shortly.

I’ve been thinking about the future of Child-Led Chaos and what I want from this blog. I enjoy blogging and writing about books, but I don’t feel I’m adding much to the world at the moment. So I’m thinking of doing a series of themed posts, collecting books within a theme. These might be specific or broad; for example Little Red Riding Hood stories, or Pirates. Plus using social media more, and sharing the press releases that we get.

I still have six #bookadayuk posts to finish, from June. I hate leaving things unfinished, so I will do them, even if it’s months later!

Today we’ve been packing up to leave Mull, so writing this got delayed and I’m just going to leave it how it is for now.

Books added to shelves: none
Cumulative: 374 (£529.99)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 21

Books removed from shelves: none (9 still to post)
Cumulative: 130

Read 52 books finished this week:
Children of the Folded Valley – Simon Dillon

Year progress: 235/365 = %
300 Picture Book progress: 250?/300 = 83.3?%
Read 52 progress: 52/52 = 100.0% (37/52 = %)

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Looming for Charity

I’ve written about my loom band obsession, and a great place to buy loom bands, but there’s only so many things one family can keep and as I find loom bands great therapy, especially making ropes of fishtails, I can sit looming for an evening in the same way some people knit or crochet (I never got the hang of them, nor have I been bitten by that bug yet…)

Fortunately, there are plenty of worthy causes to donate bands too, or to make money for by selling bracelets in charity colours. Here are the ones that I have been creating for.

National Autistic Society

The National Autistic Society (NAS) are the leading UK charity for people with autism (including Asperger syndrome) and their families. NAS provides information, support and pioneering services, and campaigns for a better world for people with autism.

NAS has a #beloomingamazing campaign to raise awareness and funds. They will even supply you with the loom bands in the right colours to use. I’ve used my own bands with card backs (also supplied for free). I’ve not sold any yet, but you can post them to NAS to sell if you can’t sell them.

Little Princess Trust

The Little Princess Trust provides real-hair wigs to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland that have sadly lost their own hair through cancer treatment.

Kay from Brink of Bedlam‘s nine year old daughter is donating her long hair to The Little Princess Trust, and hoping to raise funds along the way including the auction of loom band rainbow art, for which Kay needs fishtail ropes in single colours.

A little girl I know local to me donated her hair and raised over £700 -paying for at least two wigs. It’s a fabulous charity to support.

Blue Skye Thinking

Blue Skye Thinking is a Charity which supports research so that all children diagnosed with brain tumours, will have a better chance of survival and a better quality of life post treatment. The Charity is run by volunteers and all money donated goes directly to the forefront of Research and Treatment.

Skye Hall is a five year old boy, who happens to be local to us, who wants to reach the moon. Sadly his life has been drastically changed by a brain tumour, and the treatment to remove the tumour. He wants to Loom to the Moon, and the family is asking for as long a loom band as everyone can donate. The moon is about 385 million metres away, so my paltry 24 metres (20 in the picture) is a drop in the ocean. Progress updates can be found on the Facebook page. At the time of writing, they’re 3/4 of the way up Everest.

If there are any charities that are using loom bands to raise funds that you would like me to add here, please let me know. And if you’re fed up of loom bands all over the house, maybe see if you can direct the looming for one of these charities? Thank-you.

Our Week in Books #32 & #33

We’re currently 500 miles away from the book shelves, and I haven’t kept my book spreadsheet up to date, so I’m not sure whether the books added to shelves is right or not. I think there may have been a couple more review books. Ah, instagram, they’ll be on there (one more added to list.)

I’ve been counting everything I read for myself as a ‘Read52′ but some have been incredibly short, so as I’m doing quite well I’ve added a second total removing books with less than 150 pages. Maybe I’ll achieve 52 not-quick-reads books this year :-)

Hopefully I’ll manage to get reviews and posts up over the next week, it should be possible as there’s four adults and two children, so it’s quite relaxing. I’ve been doing lots of loom bands, so should have a post on looming for charity up soon, plus the books I packed for a fortnight away (by car, so I could pack quite a few!)

Oh, and it’s about time I got the #300PBs linky back up. Sorry for the break in service.

Books added to shelves:
You Are (Not) Small – Anna Kang & Christopher Weyant (review book from Hachette)
Kids’ Kitchen: Fun Recipes with a Dash of Science – Lorna Brash (review book from Wayland)
Beyond the Door (Time Out of Time Book 1) – Maureen Doyle McQuerry (competition prize from Making It Up)
Discovering Tutankhamun (bought from Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)
After I Left You – Alison Mercer (bought from Mostly Books)
The Fairytale Hairdresser – Abie Longstaff & Lauren Beard (bought from Mostly Books)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne (bought from Mostly Books)
Grimms’ Fairy Tales – Vintage Childrens Classics (bought from Mostly Books)
Cumulative: 374 (£529.99)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 21

Books removed from shelves: 1 (9 still to post)
Cumulative: 130

Read 52 books finished this fortnight:
Discovering Tutankhamun
Lilith Dark and the Beastie Tree – Charles Dowd
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E Smith
Where We Belong – Catherine Ryan Hyde
After I Left You – Alison Mercer
The No.1 Car Spotter – Atinuke

Year progress: 228/365 = 62.5%
300 Picture Book progress: 250?/300 = 83.3?%
Read 52 progress: 51/52 = 98.1% (36/52 = 69.2%)

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Back to School: Labelling School Clothes

Back to School

In the UK, we’re coming up to half way through the holidays, so in a little over three weeks it’s back to school again. Some people may have already bought and labelled the school uniform, but if you haven’t, now is a good time to think about getting it all sorted.

We’re about to enter our fourth year of full-time schooling, and second year with two children, so it’s all fairly routine here now. But three years ago, faced with a variety of labelling options that didn’t really suit, I was faced with a dilemma:

How to Label the School Uniform?

Labelling clothes is essential when many children are dressed identically. Jumpers and cardigans will get strewn randomly in classrooms whenever it’s vaguely warm, and entire uniforms will get put in the wrong gym bag on regular occasions. Labelling is a must, but what do you use?

1. Sew-in labels: The traditional option. Pros: Woven labels are long-lasting and don’t come out in the wash. Cons: Time consuming to sew on dozens of labels, and to unpick them to transfer. Also may fray so can’t be reused.

2. Iron-on labels. Pros: Quick to iron in. Cons: Involves ironing (I never iron!) Labels can wash out after even one wash, labels can only be used once.

3. Fabric stickers. Pros: Quick. Cons: Not reusable, will probably wash out at some point, may be difficult to remove when you want to pass uniform on.

4. Pen: The cheap option. Pros: Quick and very cheap. Cons: Looks horrible, pen may bleed, might wash out or is impossible to remove other than scribbling over.

5. Easy Tags. Pros: Quick, reusable, last for years, don’t come out in the wash, attach to clothes, bags, towels, labels, even canvas shoes. Cons: Initial cost higher than other options.

Easy Tags from Easy 2 Name

We’ve been using Easy Tags for three years now. A year ago I saw that there was a new applicator available so got that to review and recorded our first vlog, which I didn’t actually publish at the time oops. It’s full of ‘um’s, ‘you know’s and ‘sort of’s and is utterly embarrassing (to me!)

With another year’s experience, I still love them, and here are some highlights:

I LOVE the crocodile system. The bulkier looking tag that I was initially concerned about has been no trouble at all. It’s possible to get the tags behind woven neck labels so the tags don’t touch skin, and my daughters have never noticed the tags were there. It’s so quick and easy.

The names are still clear on all the tags, even the ones that have been in constant use and washed at least weekly for the last three years.

In three years, we’ve lost ONE tag in the washing machine. And by ‘lost’, I mean, ‘pulled out of label’ as it was in the machine and we used it again without any problem. The only reason it came out is because I attached it too near the edge of the label so it tore – but not until several months of use and washes.

The used tags still look like new.

25 tags is enough for a year’s worth of uniform, e.g.:
5 polo shirts
5 winter dresses or trousers
5 summer dresses or shorts
3 sweaters / jumpers / cardigans
1 jogging trousers for PE
1 shorts for PE
1 polo top for PE
1 PE sweatshirt
1 coat
1 pair waterproof trousers
1 other item (or 6 other items as you don’t need winter and summer dresses/trousers at the same time, but you’ll need extra backs for this)

A starter kit with 25 tags, 25 backs, and a crocodile applicator costs £25.95, with replacement backs costing £4.95 for 25.

Disclosure: One crocodile applicator, 25 labels and backs received for review. We purchased our own dolphin applicator, dolphin tags and backs, plus additional crocodile tags and backs.

Our Week in Books #31

It’s August already, and I haven’t finished June’s #bookadayuk. Sniffle. I’d really like to get those six out of the way before we’re off on hols so I can take more review books in the hope of getting more written (ha!)

Too many books again this week. On the bright side, I won’t be able to purchase anything when we are in the middle of nowhere. Also it was my birthday this week so I’m allowed ;-)

I’m in an overwhelmed feeling mood (if that makes any sense) so not writing much today. Need to get a review to a friend, and sort out the gazillion piles of books all over the house and… brain melt at to-do list …and breathe. Mustn’t forget to breathe. Mustn’t forget to post things either. Got lots to post.

Books added to shelves:
Owls – Usborne Early Learning (party bag gift)
Cats – Usborne Early Learning (party bag gifts)
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell (bought from Mostly Books)
Dixie O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery – Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy (bought from Mostly Books)
Doodle Jump Downloaded – Activity Book (bought from Mostly Books)
Rosie Flo’s Games Colouring Book – Roz Streeten (bought from Mostly Books)
Tom & Small – Clara Vulliamy (2nd hand from charity shop)
Owl at School – Helen Nicoll & Jan Pienkowski (2nd hand from charity shop)
Silly Stories – Michael Rosen & Mik Brown (2nd hand from charity shop)
Rocks & Fossils – Factfinders (2nd hand from charity shop)
Hey That’s Cool – Lagoon Books (2nd hand from charity shop)
Hug Me – Simona Ciraolo (review book from Flying Eye)
Chomp! Munch! Chew! – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
It Takes Two – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
What’s Up? – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Wheels Keep Turning – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Wash, Scrub, Brush! – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Stone Age Bone Age! – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Wild and Free – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
The World is Full of Babies – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
My Body Your Body – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
When I was Young – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
What’s Under the Bed? – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
What If? – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Out There Somewhere: It’s Time To… – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Hiding – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Splish. Splash, Splosh! – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Supermum – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Tick-Tock – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Let’s Build a House – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
Yum Yum! – Mick Manning & Brita Granstrom (bought from The Book People)
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E Smith (bought from The Book People)
Dodger – Terry Pratchett (bought from The Book People)
Lollipop & Grandpa Go Swimming – Penelope Harper & Cate James (bought from The Book People)
The Fairytale Hairdresser and Snow White – Abie Longstaff & Lauren Beard (bought from The Book People)
The Misadventures of Winnie the Witch – Laura Owen & Korky Paul (bought from The Book People)
The Wombles – Elisabeth Beresford (bought from The Book People)
The Wombles At Work – Elisabeth Beresford (bought from The Book People)
The Invisible Womble – Elisabeth Beresford (bought from The Book People)
The Wombles Go Round The World – Elisabeth Beresford (bought from The Book People)
The Wandering Wombles – Elisabeth Beresford (bought from The Book People)
The Wombles To The Rescue – Elisabeth Beresford (bought from The Book People)
Lilith Dark and the Beastie Tree – Charles Dowd (bought from Amazon seller)
Children of the Folded Valley – Simon Dillon (Free Kindle)
Where We Belong – Catherine Ryan Hyde (review from NetGalley)
A Puffin Book of Books (review from NetGalley)
Cumulative: 366 (£489.52)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 21

Books removed from shelves: none (9 still to post)
Cumulative: 129

Read 52 books finished this week:
Dixie O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery – Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy

Year progress: 214/365 = 66.0%
300 Picture Book progress: 260/300 = 86.7%
Read 52 progress: 44/52 = 84.6%

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

#BookADayUK Hooked Me Into Reading

#bookadayuk June 24th

At first I struggled with this theme, as I’ve always been a reader so there is no particular book that ‘hooked’ me, but when I was young, a book I read over and over was a ‘Me Book’ – one where my name, and some other details, were typed in spaces of a generic story. Mine was The Great Sesame Street ABC Hunt, and I still have it thirty-something years later.

You can still get a variety of character books with personalisations, but they’re mainly not great stories, and the personalisations seem a bit forced. However, Lost My Name has a different approach, and I think it’s just right.

The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, or The Little Boy Who Lost His Name (Lost My Name, on demand)The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, or The Little Boy Who Lost His Name (Lost My Name, on demand)

I first became aware of these books via a friend who was working for a font design company, and therefore had a deep interest in words. So when I was offered the chance to review, I already had experience of the website and the books available, and I definitely wanted to try them out.

The premise of the book is that a child has woken up and their name has been stolen. The book takes the form of a wandering quest, with each letter of a child’s name given a two page spread where they meet a creature starting with that letter and collect the letter from the creature. At the end, all the letters are put together and it’s your name. How exciting!

The website is very easy to navigate, and the fact you can preview your whole book in advance is a huge advantage to me. Being the personality that I am, I’ve played with the website to see what combinations you can use.

You can use names with between three and twelve characters. If you have a name with only three or four characters, an extra double page spread of wandering is added, to make the book longer. A very nice touch.

Another nice touch is that the website accepts hyphens! As someone with a hyphenated first name, I live with the frustration of being known as ‘Anne’ or ‘Annemarie’ on some computer systems. They’re not my name. But all hyphenated children everywhere can rejoice with Lost My Name! The hyphen is not counted as one of the twelve character limit, and doesn’t appear in the story, but it’s used when the full name appears.

The combinations allowed (every letter of the alphabet once, with A and E twice, and up to three additional duplicate letters) mean that most names are covered. For example, with my name ANNE-MARIE, there are two As, two Ns, and two Es. The second A and E have their own creatures, and the second N has a generic double page. It is possible to come up with a plausible contrived name that doesn’t work, but it’s unlikely that your child’s name won’t work.

Example of generic page from The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, or The Little Boy Who Lost His Name (Lost My Name, on demand)

After ordering, the book(s) chosen are printed on demand and arrive within a few days. I was really impressed with the speed of delivery, and the books were packaged well so as not to be damaged in the post. I can’t stress highly enough how excellent the quality of these books are. They are gorgeous, thick quality pages and excellent binding. A friend remarked how they didn’t look ‘on demand’ printed as they were so well made.

As someone who is anti gender stereotyping, I usually get annoyed when gender is requested, but in the case of Lost My Name, the only difference in the books is the use of his/her, the girl/boy images are different, as are the cover colours. However, girls get Robots and Dragons (if their name has an R or a D), and boys get Mermaids and Princesses (if their name has an M or a P), with no ‘girl’ letters or ‘boy’ letters in sight. I also like how the boy/girl characters skin could be seen to match a variety of skin shades. Five stars for lack of stereotyping.

My daughters absolutely love their books, and it was wonderful watching Danger Girl (5) work out that the letters were her name when we read the story the first time. It’s been often requested for bedtime (as “The Girl Who Lost Her Gnome” sometimes!) and who knows, maybe in 30+ years these will still be treasured possessions too.

At £18.99 per book, including postage, and with discounts for multiple purchases, these books make wonderful gifts (new baby, Christening, first birthday, first Christmas, starting school, just because) and are worth every penny. This is a very clever concept, and highly recommended by the Chaos household.

Disclosure: The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name books received for review from Lost My Name.

Our Week in Books #30

Where am I? What day of the week is it? Who am I? Oh yes, it’s the first week of the school holidays…

All going well so far, but busy, and it looks busy the whole time too. I need to schedule in some doing nothing days. I’ve not even scheduled anything, they’ve just seemed to happen.

Still not finished the #bookadayuk reviews, let alone the rest. Will try to get the #bookadayuk ones out of the way asap, and see what I find time to do when we’re on hols with the in-laws.

Still addicted to loom bands. Also becoming addicted to Hama beads. I blame Craft Merrily. I’m sure the point of getting a review box is not to order more things in the same week though. In my defence, most of it was a birthday gift (yay for next day delivery) and we needed more Fimo colours…

On the bright side, I read a couple of books (Landline was finished last Saturday night so could have been on last weeks but I’d already posted), although I now need more Rainbow Rowell. I may just have to get Eleanor and Park in paperback to match the set.

Books added to shelves:
Specs for Rex – Yasmeen Ismail (review book from Bloomsbury)
The Colour Thief – Gabriel Alborozo (review book from Bloomsbury)
The Unknown Unknown – Mark Forsyth (bought from Mostly Books)
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell (bought from Mostly Books)
Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten – Alison Murray (bought from Mostly Books)
The Day No One Was Angry – Toon Tellegen & Mark Boutavant (review book from Gecko Press)
Line Up, Please – Tokomo Ohmura (review book from Gecko Press)
The Boy Who Cried Wolf – Tony Ross (bought from The Last Bookshop, Oxford)
Cumulative: 319 (£414.57)

Library books borrowed: 10
Cumulative: 21

Books removed from shelves: none (9 still to post)
Cumulative: 129

Read 52 books finished this week:
Landline – Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell

Year progress: 208/365 = 57.0%
300 Picture Book progress: ???/300 = %
Read 52 progress: 43/52 = 82.7%

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Our Week in Books #28 & #29

It’s been a hectic last two weeks of term, it’s nice for school to finally be over for the year and have time to breathe. Typically it’s pouring with rain today after weeks of sunshine ;-)

I have lots of reviews to catch up on as always, and still the last nine days of June’s #bookadayuk. We’ve been getting some super review books and I really need to work out how to share them without writing full blog posts as I never seem to have the time. I think I need to get the hang of Instagram…

Books added to shelves:
Ten Little Princesses – Mike Brownlow & Simon Rickerty (review book from Hachette)
Mine! – Jerome Keane & Susana De Dios (review book from Hachette)
Best Friends – Mara Bergman & Nicola Slater (review book from Hachette)
Mr Tweeds Good Deeds – Jim Stoten (review book from Flying Eye)
Where is Rusty? – Sieb Posthuma (review book from Gecko)
You Can Do It, Bert! – Ole Konnecke (review book from Gecko)
Pirates Love Underpants – Clare Freedman & Ben Cort (bought from The Works)
Peas & Tickles – Kes Gray & Nick Sharratt (bought from The Book People)
Tigers & Spies – Kes Gray & Nick Sharratt (bought from The Book People)
Katie Morag and the Dancing Class – Mairi Hedderwick (bought from The Book People, pack of 5 but rest as gifts)
There’s A Lion in my Cornflakes – Michelle Robinson & Jim Field (bought from The Book People)
The Fairytale Hairdresser and Sleeping Beauty (bought from The Book People)
Jacqueline Wilson Birthday Journal (bought from The Book People)
Listen Up, Pup – Steve Smallman & Gill McClean (teacher gift to children)
Toffee and Pie – Pippa Goodhart & Paul Howard (teacher gift to children)
Cheeky Little Kittens – Adrian Rees & Marcin Piwowarski (party bag gift)
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell (bought from Mostly Books)
Landline – Rainbow Rowell (bought from Mostly Books)
Harry’s Last Stand – Harry Leslie Smith (£1.09 Kindle Book)
Cumulative: 309 (£391.60)

Library books borrowed: none
Cumulative: 11

Books removed from shelves: none (9 still to post)
Cumulative: 129

Read 52 books finished this fortnight:
Pea’s Book of Big Dreams – Susie Day
Pea’s Book of Birthdays – Susie Day
Pea’s Book of Holidays – Susie Day
The Unknown Unknown – Mark Forsyth

Year progress: 200/365 = 54.8%
300 Picture Book progress: 240?/300 = 80.0?%
Read 52 progress: 40/52 = 76.9%

300in2014 A reading challenge from http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup

Loom Bands

What Are Loom Bands?

Loom Bands are my current addiction special interest. I know they’re the ‘in’ thing at the moment so on principle I ought to have no interest, but I was bitten by the bug before my children were ;-)

What they actually are, are small elastic bands in a variety of colours that you can loop (weave) together into bracelets, charms, or even bags or dresses.

I had a think, and here is why they are perfect for my personality:

1. Sorting – the packs usually come in mixed colours, and I find it therapeutic to organise small things into colours and types.

2. Organising – after sorting, there’s the planning where to keep everything and putting things in a nice order.

3. Repetition – simple designs are easy to pick up and repetitive movement is very therapeutic. I like fishtail variations for this.

4. Research - there is lots to learn and discover, not just about the bands and looms that are available but more interestingly about all the complex designs you can do. YouTube is full of interesting things taught in different ways so it’s possible to find one that suits your learning type.

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So right now I am in geeky heaven collecting and organising, and occasionally also making. I should point out that both Mighty Girl and Danger Girl also make them, but usually get bored so I finish their designs off!

Where To Start?

The joy of loom banding is that it can be as cheap a hobby as you like, so it is perfect for pocket money. Packs of 300 bands, 12 clips, and a hook are available almost everywhere at the moment, and only cost £1. Have a look in any independent stores you might have locally, I use Lewis Baker in Abingdon.

With a single pack, you can make approx 6 single fishtail bracelets (40-50 bands each depending on wrist size) or 12 single chain bracelets. All of these can be made using just fingers.

It’s also possible to do slightly more complex designs with a couple of forks sticky taped together, but if you want to go further, it might be time to get a loom.

Which Loom To Buy?

The cheapest loom you can get is a fixed type, which you’ll be able to do a range of bracelet and charm designs on but there are some limitations. They’re usually shorter than moveable looms, but they’re also cheaper. You can get fixed loom band looms for under £2.

Moveable looms are best if you really get into the hobby and want to do more designs. Moveable means you can configure the pegs into square or diagonal versions, and the gaps between base plates allow certain designs somewhere to grow. You can get moveable loom band looms for under £6.

I personally prefer the moveable looms with the bigger base plates, like the original Rainbow Loom brand design. An authentic Rainbow Loom costs around £20 but you can get cheaper imports (hopefully at Craft Merrily soon, as I prefer to support them.) The bigger base plates make the loom more stable.

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Bands and Clips and Charms, Oh My!

There are a huge variety of loom band designs to choose from: solid, stripy, glitter, glow-in-the-dark, scented, colour changing… A lot of the colour packs can seem quite pink-centric, but that’s not always the case and a whole rainbow of opaque and jelly bands await. For Minecraft fans, the camo packs are perfect.

I don’t get the point of loom band charms you can add onto bracelets, but my five year old loves them, so what do I know?! But I do love that you can get loom band clips in bright colours as well as clear.

Before you know it, a couple of packs here and a couple of packs there make a lovely collection of colours to choose from…

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What To Make?

YouTube is full of design tutorials, just search for Rainbow Loom or Loom Bands. Some other search terms that might be useful to add are: fishtail, double fishtail, hexafish, starburst, ladder, dragon scale, triple single, pencil charm, penguin charm, charms.

I’m currently making bracelets to support the National Autistic Society’s #beloomingamazing campaign, and think charity colours (or school, or club colours) bands would be a great fundraiser.

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I’ve linked through to Craft Merrily’s Loom Bands because their service is impeccable and I’ve never been disappointed. I wasn’t asked to write this post, nor was I compensated in any way.