Category Archives: Book Review

Do you need some Calm?

As a mum and entrepreneur I find that running my own business is incredibly rewarding but also very stressful. During a recent difficult spell we looked into some of the meditation apps on the market. Many have a day or two’s limited access to trial them, but the Calm app really caught our eyes.

In case you are not convinced of the value of slowing down, here are a few quotes from Michael Acton Smith and Alex Tew, the founders of Calm. These are from their Calm book.
Entrepreneurial life can be a chaotic, restless and intense experience. Few of us do anything to train and nurture our minds. Pretty much everyone has an inner voice that does not shut up. Taking time to calm the mind has a huge range of benefits.

In the Calm book, Michael and Alex share their stories of what led them to launching Calm in 2012. “By stepping away and stilling my mind, I was able to fully appreciate the power of calm, we are now on a mission to help the world find more calm and less stress through mindfulness meditation.”
So we downloaded the calm app and bought the book.
The app consists of meditations, bedtime stories and simple deep breathing exercises.

So here are our family’s thoughts on the app:

Sarah:
As soon as the app is opened, it says to take a deep breath then shows you a beautiful, natural scene with the relaxing sounds of nature. I found even to open the app make me feel calmer.

My favourite part of the Calm app was the Emergency Calm, which has proved invaluable to me in restoring a peaceful mind following fraught moments, particularly on difficult mornings after fighting to get the kids to school on time (or not!). Emergency Calm promises to provide immediate relief when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. There is a choice of 2, 5 or 10 minute sessions. It starts with deep breaths, focusing on the body, and some positive affirmations.

The bedtime stories section was a lovely way of finding some calm before sleep. I love to listen to stories: the first time I used it, I was asleep in minutes and did not remember the story. The second time I used it was during a particularly restless night. The story incorporates lots of deep breathing and, at the end of the twenty minutes story, I felt much more relaxed.

There are three different meditations for preparing for sleep. My personal favourite is deep sleep relax. I had encountered this idea before and it worked well for me.

The Breathe section is great when you need to be grounded again; it helps you take slow deep breaths, slow down your thoughts and be more grounded in the now. It has sound to it so can even be running in your pocket, quietly reminding you to simply breathe.
My daughter was having a bit of a meltdown one school morning so I gave her my phone with the Breathe running, whilst I drove her to school. It worked for her. We arrived at school with her in a much calmer place.

Maik:

I think this app does what it says. From the moment the app is opened it creates a sense of calm.

I liked the selection of sleep stories. I listened to them together with Sarah,< who fell asleep within seconds.
I liked the selection of meditations designed to help you relax to sleep and felt they worked for me.

Jasmin and Emily:
The girls enjoyed the sleep stories and meditations specific to their age groups. My youngest really enjoyed the warm heart meditation and managed to follow the instructions well. The blowing candles one was a useful concept when she had her ears pierced recently and we had to clean her ears each evening. The blowing candles idea helped her to focus whilst I cleaned her ears.
Both of my girls enjoyed all of the sleep stories, but the clear favourite was Ella’s lagoon.

Josh:
My teenage son listened to the meditations aimed at 11 to 18 year olds, but found the Emergency calm most helpful.

We found this app helpful for creating a calm space in the day and restoring some order in thoughts.

The accompanying book is illustrated beautifully with gorgeous pictures and fluid text which flows around the pages. You can dip in and out of it, or leaf though it when you are feeling overwhelmed. I found exploring the book an adventure it itself. It has space for interactions, creativity, journalising, and is crammed full of tips for living more mindfully. It makes a beautiful gift for yourself of others.

Disclaimer: We were given a week’s free access in order to review the app.
We have since decided to pay and subscribe for ourselves.

Learn Panjabi the fun way.

This week we have a real treat for you. Kiran Lyall has sent three of her books for me to review. So how can you learn Panjabi the fun way?

 

I was really excited when I saw the resources Kiran had created to teach Panjabi to children. Up until then I had not come across any resources for this. Although I have nothing to directly compare these books to, as someone who has read many children’s books and language teaching books I can tell these resources are good quality and entertaining.

Have Fun With Panjabi introduces high frequency words in Panjabi. The words are written in roman alphabet so accessible to both native and non-native speakers. Each word is also written with an English phonetic guide to help non-native speakers. If there was a way to hear the words spoken it would be a plus to me as a total novice to Panjabi. I’d also like to see it written in Panjabi script alongside the roman script to start familiarity with the script early. I do realise this may confuse some people though.

My First Panjabi Alphabet is a workbook which is really simple and easy to use. A combination of tracing letter shapes and numbers. There are lots of puzzles to identify letter shapes. The workbook contains lots of cultural references both for English and Panjabi. As a mum of three who has used books to help my children with writing, the format feels very familiar.

In addition to writing teaching books Kiran has written a children’s story book, Ria and Raj and the Gigantic Diwali Surprise. The book is in English and introduces some ideas of celebrating Diwali to children in a fun, even silly way.

 

As a teacher who regularly shares stories out loud with children, I really enjoyed the way the story engages the reader with lots of squeezing and squashing and shouting, thus allowing lots of opportunity for interaction whilst reading the story. A great interactive storyline. The illustrations are bright and fun. My daughter aged 8 read the book with me and giggled aloud at points which shows how much she enjoyed the book.

If you want to get your own copies, check out the links below.

 

 

Friendly Mermaids and Snotty Dinosaurs a One Third Stories book review

As proud mummy I’m so pleased to present my Emily’s bilingual book review

What is the book called?
The great Français word search

Who is your favourite character and why?
My favourite character is (la sirene) the mermaid because she is beautiful and I want to be a mermaid so it makes me want to be in the story.

What do you like about the book and why?
I liked the bit when (la fille) the girl meets (la femme) the woman because she uses a paintbrush to paint (la femme) the woman so (la femme) the woman had some colour.


What do you not like about the book and why?

I didn’t like the bit when (le dinosaure) the dinosaur was snotty because I don’t like green slimy snot.

Why is this book special?
It is special because it’s in French and English and not many books are in French and English.

It would be even better if …
It would be even better if (la sorcière) the witch, stole her words and she hid the words at (le cirque) the circus.

Reading with little ones (and bigger ones too) is a a massive part of their language and vocabulary development. I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

This book is available in German, French, Spanish and Italian. A beautiful book and inspiring a love of language from a young age which has massive long term benefits. Buy your own copy at OneThirdStories via this link

https://goo.gl/49z9KP

James and the Amazing Gift book

If you read our blog regularly you’ll know we love books. When Nicola asked us to review her first ever book James and the Amazing Gift we were over the moon!

This book is about a boy called James. He has an amazing gift. He loves to James and the Giftsmile.

If you’ve ever traveled on the Underground with children you’ll recognise the scenario. People, packed like sardines refuse to make eye contact, let alone speak to each other, but littles who do not know the “rules” happily smile and interact with other passengers and even get the carriage talking to each other. As you can see my girls have beautiful smiles that others cannot resist.

A smile is an amazing gift, and this is exactly what the story is about.

James also has an incredible ability to make everyone he meets, smile too. But one day, whilst he is at a garden centre with his mummy, he sees an elderly lady who does not want to smile. She is sitting in the corner with her purple hat pulled down over her face. She is all alone. James has to work really hard to get her attention. Will he be able to make the old lady feel as if she is no longer just by herself?

This book is interesting as it really brings out the question of empathy and how others feel.


And over to my girls

Jasmin: My favourite character is James because he makes everybody smile. I think James is amazing because he cheers people up when they sad.

Emily: I like James amazing gift because his gift is smiling and I makes him happy and other people happy. I think at night time he even makes the owl smile! I think it was good when James made used his amazing gift to make the lonely elderly lady happy.

contact-the-elderly

James and the Amazing Gift illustrates beautifully how a smile can go a long way to impact upon the lives of others.
Nicola has written this, her first book to raise awareness of the loneliness of elderly people, especially at Christmas time. For every book sold, £1 of the proceeds will be donated to the UK charity Contact the Elderly, which
tackles loneliness among older people by holding tea parties.

James and the amazing gift is Available to buy from http://bit.ly/Amazing_Gift, as well as
Amazon and other selected stockists. It makes a lovely gift to share with your own smiller.

The good news is we have a copy of James and the Amazing Gift signed by Nicola for you to win. The giveaway closes on 31st December.

Mudpie Fridays


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

One Third Stories- The Great Deutsch word search

I’m so excited to hear these books are finally ready! surfing-mermaid This summer they’ve been running a kickstarter to produce physical books. We ordered a German one of course, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peek when we met at the Language show Live and … It’s very good!

I met Alex and Jonny from One Third Stories a while back.They have a contagious passion for to inspire children to learn and love foreign languages, not just in a classroom setting. Read my interview with Alex here.

In The great Deutsche word search, The little girl looses her words in a storm and her and her cat go on an adventure to find them again, as the adventure continues more and more German is mixed in. Stories are full of magic and I’m sure this magic will touch your family too.

The books use the clockwork methodology. The stories begin in English. Gradually, words in the target language are introduced in contexts that make their meaning immediately apparent. Words become phrases, phrases become sentences and sentences become whole pages in another language. There is a glossary at the end of the
book to help in understanding if needed.

Our home languages are English and German, but my children are not yet confident to pick up a German book. As this book gradually increases the amount of German I think it will feel much more manageable and accessible to them than a fully German book. It is surprise Christmas gift for my daughters (please don’t tell them!) I’ll let you know what they think in the New Year.

The great Deutsche word search is beautifully illustrated with a fun, engaging story. There is lots of excitement to keep pages turning. I think the mix of languages means we can share it together and they can then look at on their own at bedtime so increasing their confidence in German. They only have school lessons in English and French so building their confidence in German their main issue. As a parent bringing up bilingual children this book is a great fun resource to use. Reading with little ones (and bigger ones too) is a a massive part of their language and vocabulary development. I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

This book is available in German, French, Spanish and Italian. It would make an amazing Christmas gift, a beautiful book and inspiring a love of language froma young age which has massive long term benefits. Buy your own copy at OneThirdStories via this link
https://goo.gl/49z9KP

Percy the Pigeon – Katie’s first book

family-katieI love to celebrate the achievements of other mums in business. This month we have an inspirational interview with full time mum Katie who has just fulfilled her dream of writing a children’s book.

Hi Katie, could you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Katie Budge, I’m 25 years old and I live in the town of Stevenage in Hertfordshire. I live with my two young sons and my boyfriend of five years. My sons – Gerrard-Anthony (2 and a half) and James (7 months) are my whole world and my full time job is getting to spend every day with them being their mum.

I’ve previously worked in schools but stopped working when my first son was born. That’s where most of my inspiration came from when writing children’s stories. I started writing children stories years before, when I was in college studying a ‘diploma in child care and education’ course, we were asked to write a story that helped to teach children valuable life lessons or had some sort of moral to it. I got wonderful feedback both from my tutors and peers and I thoroughly enjoyed writing them.

What was your biggest challenge in writing you first book?
My biggest obstacle was getting published by a publishing company, unfortunately I didn’t manage to find anyone and had to self -publish my book. Although that was my biggest obstacle it meant I got to choose my illustrator, who drew in a way that I liked, which I wouldn’t have got the chance to do, had I been published by a company. I also got to take my time, keep editing my book along the way and at the end of it, I could say, I did it myself. Which is a fantastic achievement and one I’m very proud of.

What would you say is the most important thing when working from home?
Balance is a very important thing when writing stories and having my two boys. Whenever they are taking a little nap or fast asleep in bed by half past seven each night (they’re very good boys) I use that time to write and re write my stories. I’m very lucky that I have so much inspiration around me everyday from my two beautiful boys, but I haven’t yet bought myself round to writing a book about eating snot, which is a daily occurrence with a two year old!

percy the pigeon

Could you tell us a little about your book?

Percy the Pigeon was written after I spotted a very aggressive and greedy pigeon scoffing all the bird food put out in the garden while I was washing up. The story about a very greedy pigeon who doesn’t like to share food with his friends which eventually gets him into trouble. The story follows Percy and his over indulging ways and we find out whether he eventually changes his ways, or if he always puts his belly first.

I really hope people enjoy reading it, especially all the boys and girls out there, and I would love to hear feedback from anyone who purchases it. My book can be found and bought at:
http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/7500674-percy-the-pigeon

It’s been a pleasure to chat to you Katie, thanks so much.

This beautiful book would make a love Christmas present. It’s lovely rhyming book about the value of sharing and friendships. I’m sure you’ll enjoy snuggling up to your little one to share this story. Let me know what you think.

Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Regular readers of our blog will know we love books so when Hennie asked us to review this book I was excited to find out more. Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!

Il neige chez Betty and Cat In the snow by Hennie Jacobs and Christine Duvernois

Betty and Cat

Betty and Cat

It is a really interesting concept I’d not come across before. Hennie contacted me about her books and I was very interested to find out more.

In this story, Betty the dog and cat have lots of fun/ don’t want to play in the snow. It’s a fun story as Betty eventually shows cat how much fun snow can be (If you dress for the weather) hilarity ensues as they find ways to stay warm whilst they explore the beautiful snowy landscape outside the front door.

Hennie describes the books as follows: Betty & Cat is a series of children’s books that reflect the way today’s children play with language. You won’t find a translation, just two animals communicating: Cat in English and Betty in Dutch or French depending on the book.
I found it a bit strange to start with, never having come across a book like it before. As a multilingual family, we do often have conversations in two languages at the same time. For our family, this is very normal but I’ve never seen it on paper. Nathalia’s CD does this a lot.
My daughters had a look with me, and commented on the beautiful pictures. As a mum of children who have always loved to read (sometimes the same book over and over!) the illustration of the book is very very important.
This books helps bilingual children to see how normal and acceptable it is to switching between the two languages. This is often needed as bilingual children get older and want to fit in with their peers.
These books offer adults the opportunity to participate in the bilingual experience of the children. If relatives only speak one language they are still able to share a story with the child.

The books are also good for children who are struggling with learning English and who may not see the point of learning another language. The fun of the stories brings learning in by stealth, part of the everyday family life, in my opinion the best way to learn together as a family.

The books are a really interesting concept and a fun way to bring language learning into everyday. Have a look for yourself on http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The books are available in Spanish/English and Spanish French, as well as Dutch/French and the usual English with French, Dutch, or Spanish.

To find out more check out http://www.bettyandcat.com/

The Return of the Young Prince

the-return-of-young-princeThe Return of the Young Prince
Before I start I need to admit I have not read the Little Prince. I thought many times about reading it in French to help my French practice but had never done it.
When I heard the sequel was coming out in English I was intrigued.
My nine year old daughter began to read it but found it really hard going as she did not understand it. I would say the book is written for adults and deep thinking teens.

I expected a story, but it is actually a reflection on the joys and secrets of living a meaningful life.

I’ve not read a book like it before. We are invited on a journey with the traveller and his passenger, the boy (The young Prince). We listen in on the conversation they have with the driver often thinking aloud and the boy listening with interest. It is as if we also have a seat in the car with them. There is much to provoke thought and reflection on our own lives. The journey is not purely physical but a spiritual one. The book is full of rich description of the journey, it reminds me of Tolkien in Lord of the Rings. The dialogue on the journey encourages us (the reader) to take the time to notice the world around us and our place in it.

The writer AJ Roemmers says “ I see life as a great opportunity in which spiritual development is all important. I wrote this book in nine days of isolation. Emanating from the very depths of my being, it is an attempt to give some answers”
This sense of seeing another’s soul is strong in the book. At times, I felt like a voyeur on another’s personal journey. The book challenged me to think deeply about my worldview and what is important in life.
If you’re looking to go on journey to examine the importance of friendship, family, community and compassion this book is for you.
I’ll finish with some words of wisdom from the book.

“The path to joy and spiritual fulfilment requires the courage to change and grow”
“Really there’s only one way of changing the world, and that’s by changing yourself”
“if you are thankful for the obsticles in your way, you’ll waste less time complaining and lead a fuller life”
“True love is when you put another’s happiness above your own”

Watch the promotional video here.

If you wish to read this book in another language, The return of the young prince was written in Spanish and translated into English in 2016 but, not yet available in French.

Disclosure: I was given this book free of charge by the publisher for the purpose of review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Is that the mummy of Kleiner weißer Fisch?

kleiner-weisser-fisch

This weeks book is Kleiner weißer Fisch by Guido von Genechten published by ArsEdition

I’d love to tell you about my favourite German picture book. I first came across it in our local library who had it on loan from bright books. It is a beautiful, colourful board book written for native German speakers over two years.

The story follows the adventures of a little white fish who has lost his mummy. The text invites you get involved in the story “Is this the mummy of the little white fish?” No spoilers but it has a happy ending!

It has lots of repetition so it is quickly understood. I’ve used this book in a library setting and none native German speakers quickly joined in with ja and nein.

Through the story you will learn the names of the sea creatures in German, colours and yes and no. You will hear how questions are asked in German. My daughters learned their colours in German with the help of this book and bath fizzers (but that is another story)

I’ve used it with children up to eight years who have no previous knowledge of German. As you can see I use lots of props so the children can match the animal to the one in the story. I made my own little white fish. It is a really fun interactive story when can be enjoyed again and again.

This book was originally written in Dutch and I’ve also found a translation in French if these are your target languages.

I hope this blog has inspired you to share stories with your little one, however young or old they are.

You can buy your own copy here.

If you’d like to hear me reading the story in German. Have a look here.

If you missed the last picture book review have a look here.

Do you have any picture books you would recommend and why?

What shall we do with the BOO HOO BABY?

Some of the props we use with the book.

You may have noticed a few book reviews from my gorgeous girls recently. Well I’m not

Some of the props we use with the book.

Some of the props we use with the book.

missing out! At Lingotastic, we love to share stories together, (with puppets of course)

Before I start this series I need to issue a disclaimer. I will probably say of each book it’s my favourite! I love a good picture book and different picture books are good for different audiences and different languages. So what shall we do with the BOO HOO BABY?

This weeks book is

Qu’Est-Ce Qu’On Va Faire Avec Le Bébé Ouin Ouin ? What shall we do with the boo hoo baby?  By Cressida Cowell illustrated by Ingrid Godon. Published by Mantra Lingua.

This copy is in French and Engilsh but Manta Lingua have published it in 20 languages so I’m sure you’ll find one to suit you.

This is a bilingual book but I do not always read the English if they are understanding anyway.

The baby is crying and la vache, le chat, le chien and le canard do what they can to calm him down, with little effect until…. (no spoilers!)

This book has lots of repetition so little ones soon know what comes next.

It has animals and animal noises which is always a winner. Little ones love to join in with that almost as soon as the books starts which really makes it an interactive story. The pictures are lovely which I find so important in a picture book. When reading this with small children I have toys for them to hold, dogs, cats, cows and ducks. I start by letting them choose an animal and then talking about what noises the animals make.

As I read it to parents and little ones, both enjoy it. The parents were waiting with baited breath to see if the animals could calm a crying baby and I reckon to get some tips for themselves.

Many Mantra Lingua books are available in local libraries or buy your own copy.They are available in a huge variety of languages. These are the ones I would use at home or in our Lingotastic classes.

Do you have a favourite bilingual book? We’d love to know about it. Let us know in the comments below.

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