Tag Archives: reading

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.

By Toutatis – what a ride! At Parc Astérix

The chief!

The chief!

I don’t really have a bucket list as such, but if I had, then right at the top would have been a trip to Parc Astérix, just outside Paris. Ever since its opening back in 1989, I’ve been wanting to go. No idea why it’s taken me this long, but in any case the 27-year wait was worth it.

I think my indomitable wife, Sarah, only told half the story when she said about our Family Trip to Paris on a budget that it was really all my idea. No, the actual idea for the trip was the brainchild of our little book addict daughter (yes, the serial book reviewer you may remember from a couple of blogs). But of course when she announced she wanted to go to Paris, Dad was all for it, in order to finally meet his childhood hero Astérix.

I have to confess, I’ve read every The Mansions of The Gods “>Astérix book (in various languages), and watched every film. In fact, I’m quite excited that there seems to be a concerted effort to re-launch Astérix in the UK, with big names like Jack Whitehall, Catherine Tate and Dick & Dom providing voices for the most recent Asterix: Asterix: The Mansions Of The Gods [DVD]“>”The Mansions Of The Gods” movie. Yes, went to see it in Germany over a year ago already, but I wouldn’t want to miss the UK release for anything … but more on that in a later blog.

Back to Parc Astérix. When I first heard about it, I had only just started secondary school. Now with children of my own, there were many more reasons for going. Kids love theme parks, and for a polyglot family like ours, Parc Astérix was certainly a more genuinely French experience than the (according to feedback from other parents) overhyped and overpriced Disneyland Paris. We spent remarkably little time queuing, even the most popular rides (including Discobélix, a brand new ride which had only just opened) had a maximum of 15 minutes waiting time! Prices in general didn’t seem excessive, compared to what we’re used to from other theme parks, and getting there with the shuttle bus from CDG Airport was nice and easy.

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The biggest surprise, and one of my favourite attractions, was the sea lion & dolphin show. Absolutely amazing! As far as the rides are concerned, I was really impressed that there seemed to be plenty of options for different age groups: From high speed rollercoasters for the older thrillseekers, like Oziris, to family friendly rides and attraction for the “Young Gauls”, there is plenty to choose from. Finally, the spectacular live action show “Romains – Gaulois: Le Match” was a fitting and entertaining conclusion to our day at Parc Astérix

I think I’ll have to find a new excuse to ensure I won’t have to wait for our next visit as long as I had to for the first one!

The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise

 Jasmin and the hundred mile an hour dog

Jasmin and the hundred mile an hour dog

Hello, I’m Jasmin and I have been asked to write a review of The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise by Jeremy Strong. I have already read The Problems with a Python so I was pleased to be asked to review this book.

My most favorite character is the dog named Streaker because he is fast and funny.

A brief outline of the story is that the dog was naughty and the dad tried to send it to boot camp so the boy disguised the dog and the dog gets dog-napped by accident.

I would recommend this book to boys and girls aged 6-10 who like books about mystery.
I like the whole book but my favorite bit was when they dyed Streaker’s fur white to disguise him.

There is an exciting competition running on the Jeremy Strong website. Print out a picture of Streaker the dog and create your own amazing disguise.

If this review of The hundred mile an hour dog -Master of disguise has made you want to read other books by the same author check these out.

How does it feel to speak a language?

We are really blessed to have a guest post from the inspirational bilingual author Delia Berlin. Prepare to be encouraged and provoked to think.A tall order, but she does it! Emotional Aspects of Language Learning

Delia on deck

I grew up in Argentina and my first language was Spanish. Then and there, any knowledge of a foreign language was universally valued. My school years in Argentina exposed me to German, English and French. Today, I’m only fluent in Spanish and English, but I still have rudimentary knowledge of a variety of languages.
Having spent my adult life in the US, when I had a daughter I had to decide what language to use with her. Since I always thought that speaking more than one language was beneficial, I wanted her to learn both English and Spanish. She was bound to learn English from her teachers and peers, so I chose Spanish. She grew up bilingual, and decades later she is now raising a bilingual child of her own.

So why is it that so many Americans with parents or grandparents who spoke another language never learned a word of it? A friend of mine pointed out that in her family, the first generation of immigrants was focused on fitting in. Learning English and leaving the old language behind was required for upward mobility and success. There was no practical value in teaching children a language for which they no longer saw use. For these immigrants who had left their countries forever, survival depended on growing new roots as Americans.

In the years between the world wars, immigrants arrived in waves. There was a hierarchy for these groups, with the latest one to arrive usually being the poorest and least socially connected, and therefore shunned. With language as the main identifier of one’s group, the quicker one learned English, the sooner this discrimination would diminish. Native languages were a liability. It was only natural for parents to want their children to sound “American” and to be spared these difficulties. As for children themselves, then just like now, their focus was to fit in with their peers.

The first time I noticed a child in the US who spoke Spanish but pretended he didn’t, I was baffled. But then, I understood. Here, if you are middle class and educated, travel and have global interactions, proficiency in Spanish is helpful. But if you are a Latino child in a poor community, speaking Spanish may have given you nothing but grief. And so ironically, emotional aspects come into play and those who are most disadvantaged become less likely to exploit the rich, low-hanging fruit of an additional language, that eventually may give them an edge.

libros2

Although largely spared, I was not blind to the prevalent prejudice and discrimination against Latinos while raising my daughter. I understood that if she was going to speak and maintain Spanish, she had to “buy in” to its benefit. In those days, I didn’t have many bilingual support sources at hand, but a home-made combination of talks, travel, books and even a little Sesame Street, seemed enough to convince my child about the value of her Spanish.
These days, with easier travel, increased communication technology, more diverse populations and a global economy, the practical value of knowing multiple languages has skyrocketed for some. But for many they still remain a stigma.

During the last four decades in the US, inequality has increased resulting in more marked segregation in neighborhoods and schools. In my own town, for example, more than three quarters of the students are Latino, while more affluent adjacent towns have mostly white, non-Latino enrollment.
Our teachers and school administrators do their best to support bilingualism, but with segregation entrenched, prejudice and discrimination are hard to eradicate. Speaking Spanish is not perceived by many of these children as helpful, and this presents an emotional barrier to developing and maintaining bilingualism. How could we change this negative perception in every child who has the opportunity to learn Spanish from a young age?

kids' books

In my community, my contribution comes in the form of writing bilingual books for children and reading them at local schools. Bilingual books help children make linguistic connections between their languages. In their homes, these books allow every family member (a grandma who may not speak English, or a young uncle who doesn’t know Spanish) to share the same story. Children can discuss the story with everyone in the family, and even adults may benefit by improving their own language skills. By reading these books in local schools, I also demonstrate that bilingual skills are valuable. Many of these children have never met an author, let alone a bilingual one. For some of them, this single experience may tip the scale of motivation.

When I’m out with my young granddaughter, we speak Spanish. While rarely anyone says anything, gestures and actions speak louder than words. The wide range of responses from people around us spans from sheer delight to harsh judgment. At times, even I become self-conscious enough to switch languages, as if needing to prove that we can speak English, that we are home.

We all can find our own ways to recognize the value of languages to motivate children’s learning. Our help could come in the form of praise for a child’s language proficiency, or a request for help with a translation. And it could be as subtle as becoming aware of our own reactions to people speaking foreign languages. Worldwide there are different social dynamics at play for each foreign language. Some languages may even trigger public distrust, avoidance, or fear. Children may not be able to articulate these reactions, but they certainly notice and internalize them.

Bio Statement:
Delia Berlin was born in Argentina but has spent most of her life in Connecticut. With graduate degrees in both Physics and Family Studies, she worked in early intervention, education, and administration, and taught child development at the college level. She writes bilingual children’s books, as well as essay collections with her husband, artist David Corsini. For more information about Delia Berlin and her books, visit her website at deliaberlin.com.

If you’d like to buy some of Delia’s lovely books click on the links below.

Who is “the other Alice”?

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If you follow our blog regularly you’ll know we love books. My daughter Jasmin was sent “The Other Alice” by Michelle Harrison to review. So this is it.

We enjoy fantasy and magical stories in the genre of Terry Pratchett so we were really pleased to be asked to review this book. Mum read it to her nine year old. She thought it was a “bit scary” so mum read it on her own and will save it for when she is a bit older.

What did we think of “The Other Alice”?

It is a magical tale blurring reality and fiction with many surprises.

A rich and twisting tale of magic riddles and the power of imagination

The same day Alice disappears, her brother Midge thinks he has seen her walking down the street, so starts a story which brings into question what is real and what is imagined. The story feels like it could take place in any small town in the UK, with speckles of magic which appear at the most surprising points.

Alice is a writer. When she goes missing, a talking cat called Tabitha appears in her bedroom. Before long, Midge realises the only way to find out where Alice is is to ask for help from Tabitha,
the talking cat, Gypsy and Piper (who seem to be a lot like the characters from a story Alice had written) Soon Midge realises Alice’s stories contain the clues he needs to find his sister, before time runs out.

This is a very tense, dark, page turning adventure with plenty of twists and turns to keep a reader engaged in the story. It’s a spellbinding story for readers aged 12 plus.

We were sent this book proof (and a beautiful handmade paper cut cat) in exchange for our own honest review.

What did Katy do? Book review

Katy - book review

Katy – book review


We love to read. It’s great for expanding vocabulary and literacy. Jasmin has written another book review, here it is.

Hello my name is Jasmin and I’m 8 years old.I have been asked to write a review of “Katy” by Jacqueline Wilson.

The main characters are Katy, Izzie (Katy’s stepmum), Katy’s dad. One weekend they have a lady called Helen come to visit. Helen is in a wheelchair. They become good friends.

Could you tell us a little bit about the story?

A little bit about the story is that Katy broke her back and she was sad.

Where did the story take place?
The story took place in the town where Kate lives.

What did you think of the book?

The book was sad near the end.
I did not like it when Katy had an accident.
I would make the book better by having a happy ending.

What did you think of the cover?
I thought the cover was pretty because it is embossed and shiny.

Which character would you like to be and why?
I would like to be Katy because she is clever.

How long did it take you to read the book?
It took two nights to read this book.

Note from Mum: I think this book is written for older children (11+) as it needs a certain level of maturity to cope with the difficult themes in the story. Jacqueline Wilson writes at the end of the book, she wrote this book in response to the classic “What Katy Did” This classic book is now on our reading list.

We were sent this book to review by A Big Shot. These are our own views.

If you’d like to read this book you can get it here.

If you wish to read more of Jasmin’s book reviews have a look at these links Would you rent a Bridesmaid?
First book review of a seven year old reading monster. Review of The Person Controller by David Baddiel

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