Tag Archives: Reading

Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks

Use of Weapons: Iain M Banks (Orbit, 1990)I’ve been meaning to re-read Banks for a long time, and his untimely death also meant I wanted to honour his memory in some way too. A small, personal way, for an author who had an impact on me.

This is less of a review, and more of a comparison of reading the same novel almost seventeen years apart, considering the historical context of when I first read it. There will be spoilers. They may be subtle, but if you want to read this book for the first time, don’t read on…

I almost met Iain Banks once. I kicked myself for the memory years later, but… There was a book-signing at The Friar Street Bookshop in Reading. Back in the mid-nineties (which seems like no time ago to me, despite nearly twenty years passing), The Friar Street Bookshop was a science-fiction specialist bookshop and therefore utterly wonderful. It was one of Blackwell’s bookshops and as I came from Oxford and was at university in Reading, it became a favourite haunt.

This was a couple of years before the final collapse of the net book agreement, so all books sold for RRP, and ‘real’ bookshops were rife. That’s not quite true, as Reading also had a shop selling discounted books that I practically lived in, but I think they had to be ‘damaged’ in some way. It was 1994 and The Friar Street Bookshop had a joint signing for two authors: Tom Holt (for Faust Among Equals) and Iain (M) Banks (for Feersum Endjinn).

I was (and still am) hugely fond of humourous fantasy (Terry Pratchett mainly) and had enjoyed all Tom Holt’s books to that point. They’d already lost the brilliance of his first half-dozen and I don’t think I actually read any after then. But at the time I’d been collecting his books, enjoying them, and was excited about the book signing. There was a huge queue. Not to Pratchett (or Gaiman, who I also hadn’t discovered yet) signing-queue standards, but a huge queue none-the-less.

I think no more than half a dozen people came for Tom Holt. I vaguely wondered who this Iain Banks person was but wasn’t curious enough to buy the book so I queue-jumped massively as everyone else was there for Banks, got my signed book, and returned home.

It was another two years before I read any Banks, and Use of Weapons was one of the first handful I read. I’d struggled with Consider Phlebas, but found Use of Weapons far more readable. I’d also read The Wasp Factory and seen the BBC Crow Road adaptation, so didn’t manage to read that for several years until the TV version faded enough. The Wasp Factory stunned me. Use of Weapons stunned me. I remember feeling almost breathless at the end.

I was young, twenty-one, just failed my degree and although ‘well read’, not in a literature sense. I studied (sort of) engineering; my A-Levels were maths and science. I was well read in horror, science fiction and humourous fantasy, with a soft spot for James Clavell novels.

The structure of the novel was new to me. The alternating chapters tell the current plot, and the history of the main protagonist; one narrative going forwards, the other backwards. Throughout there are hints to the chair, what the chair means, why it is so terrible.

On re-reading I was worried that the fact I remember what the chair was would destroy any shock for the ending. As it turned out, I had actually forgotten the part that had floored me all those years ago, but the chair itself was so horrific that it stuck with me. Leaving years between re-reads meant that although much of it was familiar, it was like reading from scratch. Apart from thinking throughout that I ‘knew’ the shocks the ending had in store.

I was thoroughly drawn back into the world of the Culture, and so taken in by all the characters that I didn’t look out for any twists or shocks. These days, with films especially, the ‘twist’ ending is such a stalwart that you can usually guess them a mile off. I’m glad that the memory of the chair was so strong that it became the ‘thing’ that I remembered and I could be shocked again, albeit more mildly.

I’m tempted to start rereading another Banks novel, but as I managed to miss the last three SF novels and have just ordered them, Use of Weapons has probably just set me up to start Matter when it arrives. If I don’t read The Quarry first.

For my twenty-one year old self, this is a five star novel. For my almost-thirty-eight year old self, this is probably a four star novel. I gave it five stars on Goodreads for nostalgia.

The Super Swooper Dinosaur by Martin Waddell & Leonie Lord

The Super Swooper Dinosaur: Martin Waddell & Leonie Lord (Orchard Books, 2012)

The Super Swooper Dinosaur: Martin Waddell & Leonie Lord (Orchard Books, 2012)

The Super Swooper Dinosaur is a ‘sequel’ to The Dirty Great Dinosaur, which we also have. I bought The Dirty Great Dinosaur because of loving Leonie Lord’s art in Whiffy Wilson and was delighted to be sent the second book in the series. The first one confuses me slightly: at the end the pet dog is shown with a toy dinosaur and I’m not sure if you’re meant to realise that the dinosaur was all in the child’s imagination or whether it was supposed to be real. A bit too deep for small children perhaps, and there seems to be no ambiguity in the sequel.

The Super Swooper Dinosaur tries to play different games with Hal, but he’s not very good at any of them because he’s too big. In the end, they do what he does best – swoop! Seeing a pterodactyl/pteranodon crying is a very silly sight, but the subtext of the story is probably on how to make playdates feel okay when they visit?

Oh, I read too much into these books sometimes! It’s a lovely story of a boy, and his dog, and his dinosaur, in an idyllic village setting with lots of outdoor space, lots of playing, and lots of fun. Great for any child who likes dinosaurs. So, about 90% of all small children then ๐Ÿ˜‰

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Super Swooper Dinosaur by Hachette Childrens Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Lily Gets Lost by Jane Simmons

Lily Gets Lost: Jane Simmons (Orchard Books, 2012)

Lily Gets Lost: Jane Simmons (Orchard Books, 2012)

You can’t go far wrong with Jane Simmons for beautifully illustrated gentle books for toddlers (and older) and Lily Gets Lost is no exception. In this story Lily, an inquisitive little lamb, hears a noise and goes off to investigate. Then she hears more noises, and investigates some more. Before long she’s lost but a kind mother pig helps her find her way home.

There are so many things to love about this story. Lily is inquisitive and brave. Yes, it gets her into a spot of bother but actually she’s in no danger. Enforcing the ‘stay in sight of your parent’ is a good lesson alongside this book. Encouraging investigation and questioning is an even better lesson in my opinion!

Lily hears lots of animal sounds, so the book teaches (or reinforces) animal sounds to very young children, and encourages listening to the sounds around to older children. At the end, Lily has to listen very carefully to hear her mother and find her way home. Learning to be quiet and listen to all the sounds around you is an extremely important skill.

Then, of course, there is the beautiful soft, pastel art that make all the animals jump out of the page and into your lap as you read the story. Lily is a lovely character (and a female animal star, something that is surprisingly rare) and one I hope to see more of in the future.

Perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers, and lovely to read aloud, we all enjoyed Lily and her adventure in the Chaos house!

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Lily Gets Lost by Hachette Childrens Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Small Knight and George and the Pirates

Small Knight and George and the Pirates: Ronda Armitage & Arthur Robins (Orchard Books, 20??)

Small Knight and George and the Pirates: Ronda Armitage & Arthur Robins (Orchard Books, 2012)

I’ve been trying to get my head around writing about this book because it’s a bit of an odd one for me. It’s got pirates. It’s got a dragon. It’s silly. But… For some reason I don’t quite love it, but I can’t work out why. Because there are so many good points of this book, I really ought to like it more than I do.

Small Knight’s castle is falling to pieces and his parents are worried about fixing it. Money worries are probably something that all small children pick up on, and to have it actually mentioned in a book gives it a more accessible place. Especially a book where things work out well for everyone.

There are lots of different words to increase a small child’s vocabulary like ‘turquoise’ and ‘provisions’ and ‘wallowing’. And some lovely alliteration like ‘wallowing waves’ and ‘prattling parrots’.

Female pirates! Okay, so they’re the secondary characters after Small Knight and his crew, but they are female without any comment. They just are, and it shows that pirates can be either gender.

Captain Swashmebuckle’s treasure isn’t gold and jewell-er-y but her beloved parrots. Showing that money isn’t everything, and things that are important to us are worth more.

This is the third in a series, and I’ve not read the others. In this book, George the dragon seems superfluous as a character. I don’t know if he never speaks or does anything in the others, but it’s a shame he hasn’t got more of a part in this one because as a first time reader of the series I can’t see the point of his character!

It’s got pirates. It’s silly. It’s got lots of good points. It ought to be a 5* book, but it just didn’t quite work for us. Would be great for pirate-mad children who love words and silly stories.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy ofย Small Knight and George and the Pirates by Hachette Childrens Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Bookish or Literary?

Books old and new

I think it is a case of stating ‘the bleeding obvious’ to write that I love books. I grew up in a house full of books; I’ve always lived with books; I’m bringing my children up in a house full of books. It’s a standing joke that we could open a library, but due to space issues I have actually given away & (occasionally) sold many hundreds of books over the years that if I could I would have kept. I love books.

I don’t read anywhere near as much as I used to. As a teenager & early twenties I’d easily read a minimum of 100 novels every year. This dwindled over time to around 15 or 20 post-children which is why I’m making a concerted effort to read (and finish) novels (for me) this year.

Picture books don’t count for this ramble. We’re going to reach the 300 different picture books read this year by the end of May, but that won’t mean we’ll get to 600 by the end of the year. In fact, I’ll be surprised if we reach 400 different picture books across the year, because favourites cycle over and over.

I am digressing massively from my planned ramble. Which is that I love books. We own thousands. I’ve read thousands.

However, I am not in the slightest bit literary. I do not particularly like literary fiction or make much of an effort to read it. I don’t really like classics. I’m aware of the titles and authors; of famous first lines; of general plot points; and of certain characters. But I have no particular desire to read Dickens or Austen; Melville or Tolstoy; Bronte(s) or Hardy.

Another digression: I had to read certain things at school. Which put me off classics for life. Silas Marner, Jane Eyre and The Mayor of Casterbridge were dull and lifeless and uninteresting. I never bothered finishing them outside whatever we were prescribed in lessons. I think I was working my way through Stephen King’s back catalogue outside lessons at the time (age 14/15) Earlier (age 11/12) I didn’t mind Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Children of Green Knowe, My Family and Other Animals, even Of Mice and Men but getting towards GCSE it got more and more boring. Apart from A Room With a View, which may have had a lot to do with our middle-aged English teachers giggling at that scene in the film adaptation…

I’m not bothered about literary awards. I don’t chose what I read based on what award it’s been nominated for. I once (as a teen) read the first page of Foucault’s Pendulum (Umberto Eco) about a dozen times and it was at that point I decided I would read what I liked. If the synopsis sounded interesting but the writing didn’t appeal, I’d stop reading. Sometimes I’ve attempted books three times before finishing and loving them; sometimes I’ve given up and never bothered to finish. I’ve never read Foucault’s Pendulum.

I am bookish. I am not literary.

I only have C’s in English GCSE; and have not studied any humanities subjects beyond GCSE level. But I am well read. I have read a lot. I don’t know the technical terms for grammar, but I know how to use it (when I can be bothered) because I’ve read so much. I have read widely, despite my preference being in fantasy and science fiction. I can spell quite well because I read so much when I was younger.

I learnt from books because I was introverted and I loved to read. I can spell words I can’t pronounce because I read them in a book at some point! I don’t confuse pacific for specific; or albeit as all be it; or for all intents and purposes as for all intensive purposes because I read them before hearing them.

I’ve been lucky in my life to have always been described as intelligent. Being quiet and wearing glasses can be a useful stereotype! My lack of reading literary fiction has not dumbed me down. Not knowing the technical terms for grammar has not stopped me being able to write. My point in all this ramble is that people should read whatever suits them. Whatever it is. Literature should not be snobbish. I find myself utterly switched off by pretentious twaddle in book reviews websites and newspapers but because I love books I carry on reading what I want when I feel like it.

My new favourite author blogger is Matt Haig. He writes much sense at his own blog and Booktrust. He’s written (with far more authority) on what’s wrong with ‘literary’ fiction and literary snobbism and why people don’t read. I recommend you read them all. And then carry on reading whatever you want, including literary fiction if you like it!

The King of Space by Jonny Duddle

The King of Space; Jonny Duddle (Templar Books, 2013)

The King of Space: Jonny Duddle (Templar Books, 2013)

Some books are worth every ounce of anticipation, and are even better than you expect them to be. The King of Space is one of these books. Having utterly loved both The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door, it was almost a given that we’d love The King of Space but there was some trepidation as I opened the book to read…

As soon as the book opens to the first end paper, there is a treat awaiting you: the contents of Rex’s desk with blaster, blue-prints, planner book and wonderfully retro calculator showing 531608 (for those of us who grew up with trying to make rude words on calculators, this is a treat!) I read the book to myself first, loving all the little sci-fi in jokes and ‘graphic novel’ feel plus slight surrealness of the plot.

Then I paused. I loved this book, but would my daughters understand it? I paused a while before reading it to them. Several days of pausing… But of course, I read The King of Space as an adult and got all the things that were aimed at me, and all the little details in the backgrounds. As I read it to MG and DG, they got all the things that were aimed at them, and different little details in the backgrounds! “Again!” DG shouted as soon as I’d finished. “Yes, Mummy, can we have it again?” added MG. It’s been regularly requested ever since ๐Ÿ™‚

I have always been a nerd, a geek, a lover of sci-fi. This book was always going to appeal to me. But it is also another little packet of perfect awesomeness from the incredibly talented Mr Duddle and has all the silliness (and comfort) required for small children with all sorts of interests.

The plot follows Rex, a small boy who lives with his parents on a Moog farm (cows with space helmets!) and has Big Plans. Somehow this time all his plans work out and before he knows it, he’s wiped out all resistance in the Western Spiral with his warbots (dung blaster attachments essential) and caught the attention of the Galactic Alliance. What’s a boy to do, other than kidnap the Emperor’s daughter and bribe her with choco-goo? Soon things get Serious, and Rex realises he doesn’t want to play anymore. Fortunately there’s someone who can always save the day: Mum.

I’m usually a fan of traditional artists, as I find a lot of digital art too ‘shiny’ (for want of a better word!) but in all three of his books Jonny Duddle has packed the pages with grime and details. I’ve read them so many times and still have the odd “oh!” moment when I notice yet-another connection between the stories in the background (the climbing frame in Pirates Next Door and King of Space; the ship in Pirate Cruncher and Pirates Next Door; the Cruncher popping up everywhere…)

I personally find The King of Space hard to read aloud because it’s like a comic, with lots of speech bubbles and lots to look at. But my girls forgive my uselessness and help along by pointing out everything I miss! This is a beautiful, huggable book and one I’d put on every bookshelf. I’ve given several copies of The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door as birthday presents to friends’ children, and I’ll be doing the same with The King of Space.

Too good to miss, grab a copy as soon as you can.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The King of Space by Templar Publishing for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen

The Dark: Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen (Orchard Books, 2013)

The Dark: Lemony Snicket & Jon Klassen (Orchard Books, 2013)

I have started writing a review for The Dark many times over. I just seem to end up being overly negative every time, which it doesn’t deserve. This is one of the most highly anticipated picture books of the year, a collaboration of two of the finest contemporary children’s book creators. But anticipation is a duel edged sword and knowing the talent behind this book I think I was expecting something other than it is.

There is nothing wrong with this book. It is a very good picture book. Not every book will be loved by every family, and this one didn’t work for us. So instead of struggling with words, I’ll leave you with this fantastic trailer, narrated by Neil Gaiman, which gives you the first few spreads of the book and a very good feel of the story. Enjoy!

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgiRc3CytPM”]

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Dark by Hachette Childrens Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Tuesdays at the Castle: Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, 2011)

Tuesdays at the Castle: Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, 2011)

I loved the premise of this book so although it’s a younger read than I usually enjoy I eagerly devoured it. The book follows the inhabitants of Castle Glower, a castle with a mind of its own that generally tends to add an extra room or rearrange itself on Tuesdays. Except, for most of this novel, the changes happened on any day of the week due to the nature of the plot so the title is somewhat misleading.

There are lots of interesting little facets to this story, like how the Castle chooses its own rulers, and the politics between neighbouring kingdoms. The main character is Celie, the youngest daughter of the current King who is aged 11 (but comes across as much younger most of the time) and the plot is full of intrigue where the King, Queen and eldest son disappear and the Council try to force the fourteen year-old heir to take the throne under their stewardship. The Castle itself it a major player, creating a room for Celie and her family when it realises trouble is afoot.

On the whole, this is an enjoyable and exciting tale for approx 8-12 year olds. It has some faults in logic, for instance I’m not entirely sure how an eleven year old can really haul a 300-page atlas that she’s drawn with her at all times, and Celie isn’t as strong a female lead as I’d like (the set-up is quite male oriented) but on the whole it’s a decent read. It ought to appeal to boys and girls, but I suspect the female lead might be a hard sell for boys despite the ‘unisex’ plot.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Tuesdays at the Castle by Bloomsbury for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

My Funny Family On Holiday by Chris Higgins & Lee Wildish

My Funny Family On Holiday: Chris Higgins & Lee Wildish (Hodder Children's Books, 2013)
My Funny Family On Holiday: Chris Higgins & Lee Wildish (Hodder Children’s Books, 2013)

Warning: contains spoilers!

This is an early reader chapter book aimed at 5+ (although I’d say 7 for most children to read themselves, probably a read aloud earlier than that) about a larger than average family going on holiday told from the viewpoint of second-eldest child Mattie, who is nine.

It’s the second in a series and I’ve not read the first but that wasn’t necessary as all the characters were described and explained in the early pages. I thought it was a wonderful story for young readers containing lots of things that they’ll either be familiar with or could learn about. It’s nicely written, not overly complex and has enough happening to remain entertaining.

For me, it fell apart at the end with the reveal of Mattie’s friend being a ghost. It just seemed so out of place in the story, but maybe for very young readers it might be an exciting reveal. I love fantasy, it’s my favourite genre, but I never think it works tacked on to the end of a book. If the fantastical is there throughout, bubbling under, then fair enough, but this didn’t seem the case to me.

I realise I am completely over-analysing a book that I’m thirty years too old for, but a more literal child who was expecting a story about a holiday may not enjoy the addition of a ghost character either! Otherwise, an excellent book for young readers and one I’m sure my daughters’ school will be glad to receive.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of My Funny Family on Holiday by Hachette. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Note: We are fortunate to receive a variety of review books, far too many to keep! Most of the chapter books and novels, plus about half of the picture books, are donated to either my daughters’ primary school or a local charity.

I Heart Bedtime Blog Tour: Bunny Crafts

It’s PUBLICATION DAY!!!! If you haven’t already, get running to your nearest bookshop and grab a copy of I Heart Bedtime! After you’ve done that, why not read on about my bunny crafting attempts ๐Ÿ™‚

Clara Vulliamy is the sort of person who could inspire practically anyone to have a go at some kind of craft. From her website packed full of things to try; to events where there’s always something to make involving felt, button and ribbons; to tid-bits that arrive in the post occasionally from the Happy Bunny Club. We’ve had the pleasure of bunnies in matchboxes, bunny ears, felt bunnies with satin hearts inside, colouring and sticking…

Not only is Clara an extremely talented author illustrator and crafter, she can do mechanics too. Look at this amazing music player that she actually made: (You can watch the video of it playing at www.claras.me)

I Heart Bedtime: Clara's Music Box

I jumped at the chance to be part of the I Heart Bedtime blog tour, and knew something crafty would end up happening. I’ve already reviewed I Heart Bedtime in a separate post, and to celebrate publication day I offer you: my rubbish sewing skills! Don’t worry, there’s also a little treat from Clara herself to download too ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t know what I wanted to do so just wandered into the local haberdashery (I know how lucky we are to have one: Masons in Abingdon, if you were wondering) and wandered. Near the entrance I saw the most utterly perfect material for the book: mini hearts in pink, blue, yellow and orange. Squee! And then my latent inner-crafter took over and I came out with a bag including white fleece, felt, mini sewing kit (I didn’t even own a needle and thread) and from their sister shop next door, embroidery thread in pink and black.

We had a paper colouring-in template from last year, which I traced around to make a simple bunny doll template. Actually there was about five iterations, because the picture was designed for colouring in, not for cutting out. I traced around the head, and then moved the body to make a neck; then I ditched the idea of fingers as they’re too small and fiddly; and I moved the legs closer together so they looked better as a doll; plus I widened the arms and legs (but not enough as it turned out!) Finally I drew a dotted line around my template for the seam and cut it out.

I Heart Bedtime: Martha Pattern

The only way I know to make soft toys is the very simple “cut two of the same shape and sew them together” method! I do know enough to leave room for a seam, and to sew inside out and then turn round to fill, so I realised that I would need to create the face first. I pencilled in the face and cut out two inner ears in felt to sew in place then used the black and pink embroidery thread to sew her sunny smile.

I Heart Bedtime: making the bunny toy smile

Next, I put the two fleece pieces back to back and sewed around, leaving the head unsewed for turning. I used backstitch – at least, I think that’s what it’s called! – to make the seams stronger. Oh, I wish I had a sewing machine! Hand-sewing seams takes forever! As I was sewing I thought the arms and legs were a bit thin, and I’m not going to admit to how long it took me to turn them the right way round, with copious help from the back end of a pencil. When the body part was turned, I used the same backwards method to sew the face and ears, leaving a small hole at the top for filling.

I Heart Bedtime: Sewing the bunny toy and dressing her

My plan was to use a funnel and fill the bunny doll with rice. Could I find a funnel anywhere? Hah! We have at least three plastic funnels in the house and the last time I saw one it was in the correct drawer but Destructo-Girl does have a habit of stealing things from the real kitchen for her pretend games and after searching through three boxes of their toys I lost patience! I then looked up toy fillings and it said rice was a bad idea because it went mouldy when wet too, so the next day I went back to Masons and bought proper hollow fibre toy stuffing instead.

I Heart Bedtime: Not Quite Martha Bunny

Of course, having made Martha for Mighty-Girl, I had to make Pip for Destructo-Girl. I made a couple of changes when cutting round the same template, widening the arms and legs, ditching the feet (they were so fiddly) and thinning the neck. I think the original one looks better, maybe third time lucky I’ll get a suitable template, or just leave that to the experts!

I used the perfect material for Martha’s dress (nightie) and decorated it with mini buttons and ric rac we already owned (I’m a bit of a button and ribbon addict!) It was a very simple “cut round the outline and sew it up” design! My plan was for the dolls to have several outfits to dress and undress but I got the sizing totally wrong and it’s a good thing Martha was filled with her outfit on or it would never have fit her! Pip is obviously wearing Monty’s old pyjamas because they’re Monty’s favourite colour and Monty loves stars too (well, he loves rockets, so he probably loves stars too), DG wanted Pip to have stars because he is wearing stars in I Heart Bedtime. I didn’t do any seams on the clothes so they are fraying and rubbish, but it’s the thought that counts?!

I Heart Bedtime: Two soft toy bunnies, entirely hand made!

All the above was something that was a little more complex than my little bunnies could cope with so I begged the lovely Clara for some paper dress-up bunnies and she e-mailed me a set of bunnies and their pyjamas. I printed out a few sets and they’ve been lying around this week for my girls and any guests to have a go. There’s been some great decorating and cutting going on, and a whole lot of mess!

I Heart Bedtime: DG and MG's paper doll bunnies (I might have coloured in one of them!)

You can download your own paper bunnies too! I made two sizes – one where all three bunnies fit on one page and their pyjamas on a second sheet; and another where each bunny and two pairs of their pyjamas are on each page.

I Heart Bedtime Paper Doll Templates

Bunny Paper Dolls small (takes you to OpenDrive to download)
Bunny Paper Dolls medium (takes you to OpenDrive to download)

I Heart Bedtime is a dream of a book, and has spent its life so far in the Chaos household being dragged up and down stairs like a yo-yo so that it can be read just one more time… ๐Ÿ™‚

I Heart Bedtime Blog Tour so far:
23 March: Clara Vulliamy guest post at Netmums
24 March: Bedtime routines with Jax and family from Making it Up
24 March: Illustrated interview with Martha herself from The Book Sniffer
25 March: Princess C interviews Clara Vulliamy at Read It, Daddy!
26 March: Bedtime routines with the Library Mice
27 March: Bedtime with Smiling like Sunshine