Castles and crowns, glamour and gowns, tea parties and tiaras… if you thought the life of a princess is always easy, think again. Author Stephanie Ward and illustrator Shaney Hyde are welcoming you into the colourful world of Princess Arabella in this beautiful story published by EK Books:
Every year Princess Arabella, adored by her loving parents, is granted one special wish. She uses her royal wish for the most wonderful things, like pretty pink puppies and fluttery fairies. One thing she didn’t wish for, but she got it anyway, was a royal baby brother called prince Avery…
That year Arabella uses her annual wish to request a pencil with the amazing power to make anything she draws become reality. There is no limit to her art, her inventions are simply spectacular and it all comes together beautifully in her carefully designed garden party. Unfortunately Prince Avery turns out to be particularly good at disturbing Arabella’s perfect life and she decides something has to be done in Arabella and the Magic Pencil (RRP $24.99).
Featuring sweet watercolour art and magnificent words that have a royal ring to them this book is a joy to read and look at. Combining the power of magic with a wise lesson, Arabella and the Magic Pencil will help young readers to see the blessing a new sibling can bring.
You can find ‘Arabella and the Magic Pencil’ in leading book stores across Australia.
To find out more about EK Books, to browse the range and to order your favourite titles online visit www.ekbooks.org.
For your chance to win 1 of 3 copies of Arabella and the Magic Pencil (RRP $24.99) head over to the Hip Little One Facebook page, good luck!
I won’t lie: These past months have been hard. I have always been someone who worries easily and this COVID19 outbreak has definitely been a challenge for me mentally. Late last year I lost my wonderful Opa and had to fly to Europe unexpectedly, forcing me to leave my husband and babies behind for the first time. Not long after that my dad received the exciting but scary news that after months on the waiting list a donor liver had been found for him and that he would be undergoing an organ transplant that same day.
We had been waiting impatiently to go and spend seven long weeks with Dad and the rest of family but thanks to COVID19 our flights to The Netherlands were cancelled again and again and after rebooking three times (and travel restrictions coming in) there were eventually no travel options left. With infections sky rocketing in Europe and my recovering Dad in a high risk category we have been terribly worried and still are. The disappointment we (and especially the kids) feel about not seeing our (grand)parents for yet another year is just heartbreaking, not even talking about the money lost through it all. Add to that eight weeks of total home isolation with six kids, home schooling and work worries and 2020 has definitely been a mental challenge I will not easily forget!
For me the only way to keep my head above water has been to grab tight our beautiful kids, take every day as it comes and snuggle up in our safe bubble until this is all behind us. We have baked, coloured, painted, crafted, cooked, puzzled and read. We have spent many days in our pyjamas and enjoyed drives through the country side. We stayed up late, slept in and learnt about all kinds of interesting things. We have built a custom garden bed and set up a chicken coop, we have hatched our very own chicks in an incubator and are watching our chicks and vegetables grow.
As Australia slowly eases back into the ‘new normal’ I look back at a special time with my family and am proud of how we spent it. This week the kids will go back to school and I will go back to my readers, time to tell you about some hip and handy finds that we used a lot during our home isolation time…
While I was away for Opa’s funeral hip Daddy did an amazing job at home. Quite the change for our little troublemaker Ted who was still sleeping with us (and breastfeeding) every single night which was getting pretty exhausting! All attempts at weaning and moving him into his own bed had been unsuccessful until then but with Mummy away he had no choice and it has been the start of a better routine for Ted. He now happily goes to sleep in his own bed with a bit of help from this fabulous LeapFrog bedtime buddy.
Packed full of story classics, myths, nursery rhymes, songs and much more this clever story-telling cube is a wonderful companion for any children’s bedroom or playroom. LeapStory (RRP $69.95, ages 3-8) gives children access to a delightful collection of stories, songs and tunes, they can choose their favourites, listen to them being read out loud and enjoy a mesmerising display of images and animations projected onto the ceiling or wall. Parents can even record themselves reading a special story to their child, which allowed Ted to listen to his mama’s voice even when I was on the other side of the world.
We love the fact that LeapStory presents a great mix of well known classics and lesser known content. With more than 80 preloaded tracks spread out over four different categories (classics, myths, legends and fables,sleepy time and learning songs children are guaranteed to discover delightful stories and songs they have never heard before. From Rapunzel to Rumpelstiltskin, from the Tortoise and the Hare to Three Little Pigs, from Little Red Riding Hood to Robin Hood, from Jack and the Beanstalk to the Fox and the Crow and so many others, LeapStory offers loads to listen, learn and love. Ted’s favourite is by far the Gingerbread Man!
We have put the LeapStory on Ted’s bedside table so it is always within hand’s reach, he can see the light-up base and projector and he often turns it on himself to listen to a story or two. After six solid months of use we can safely say it has been thoroughly tested by our big family and the kids still turn it on every night at bedtime, if that’s not a tick of approval I don’t know what is!
Whether they want to select a favourite adventure or hear multiple tales, set a timer to listen to stories as they drift off to sleep, flick through the different options or turn on the light projector, we have found the LeapStory cube easy to control. Featuring six simple buttons and an adjustable projector LeapStory allows young children to feel independent and in charge and they don’t need to ask mum or dad for help with every little change (particularly handy at bedtime!).
Getting tired of the same stories? Need a fresh fable or new nursery rhyme? No problem! Simply connect your LeapStory to your computer and download an additional content pack completely free using the LeapFrog Connect application. The LeapStory device will work on 4 AA batteries (great for holidays, camping adventures or road trips) or mains power using the included adapter.
You can find LeapStory at a Big W, Myer or other good toy store near you and online at selected retailers.
It’s a tricky transition, from beautiful picture books to big novels. When you’ve finally mastered reading and are starting to enjoy longer stories, you immediately have to give up gorgeous illustrations… or so it seems. I was so excited to discover a wonderful children’s book by Roald Dahl’s granddaughter Sophie Dahl that combines the best of both worlds and it’s definitely worth a read:
With its large A3 size and eye-catching, colourful hardcover it’s easy to think Madame Badobedah (RRP $26.99) is ‘just’ a pretty picture book. But between these lovely blue covers hides a true treasure of a story that is sure to delight readers of all ages.
When your parents own a seaside hotel you can expect to welcome all kinds of interesting guests, but Mabel has never seen anyone as quirky as this before… Initially she is not too sure about the new arrival, whom she has named Madame Badobedah. Madame Badobedah moves into Room 32, together will all her suitcases and parcels, boxes and furniture and even a selection of pets!
As time goes on Mabel discovers that Madame Badobedah is more a friend than a fugitive and a survivor instead of a super villain. She may not be a lost princess or a criminal in hiding (what a relief!) but this special guest sure knows all about exciting adventures and the unlikely pair bond over their love for adventures.
Mermaids in secret cupboards, pirates, ballerinas and precious jewels from far-away destinations… Room 32 is a place every child would love to visit! Lauren O’Hara has created the sweetest illustrations for this dreamy children’s book and with 56 pages there is plenty of reading and spotting and admiring and imagining to do. Walker Books‘ Madame Badobedah is the perfect magical Christmas gift for little bookworms.
To find out more about Walker Books and to take a closer look at Madame Badobedah visit www.walkerbooks.com.au.
For your chance to win 1 of 3 copies of ‘Madame Badobedah’ (RRP $26.99) hop on over to the Hip Little One Facebook page to enter, good luck!
Loyal Hip Little One readers will know by now that reading is very important to our family. We always enjoy discovering new books and I love sharing our favourite reads with you (and treating you to some excellent giveaways along the way!). This week schools all across Australia are celebrating Book Week and there are lots of different ways you can join in the reading fun:
From bookstall to book week parade and from a visit to your local library to scheduling some extra family time reading before bed, how will you ignite a passion for reading in your little ones this week? Our kids love winding down with a bedtime story after a busy day and it’s one of my favourite moments of the day. Not only does it calm them down before bed, it is also a great opportunity to spend some precious family time and create memories that last a life-time.
Disney Junior The Channel has kicked off Book Week in true Disney style with the launch of a magical new storytelling series called ‘Disney Junior’s The Book of Once Upon A Time’. They have teamed up with talented Australian actor and playwright Kate Mulvany who will bring a brand new Disney story to life every day in a heartwarming way that I can learn an awful lot from! From Snow White to Winnie the Pooh, from Aladdin to Frozen and many more, get ready to rediscover good old-fashioned bedtime stories through different voices, engaging play and the turning of pages (and of course it wouldn’t be Disney if they didn’t include some wise lessons and educational content too).
Australian families can experience the magic of ‘Disney Junior’s The Book of Once Upon A Time’ by tuning in every weekday at 7:10pm (AEDT) on Disney Junior The Channel, or anytime on the website http://mydisney.disney.com.au/story-room. Handy tip: If your family subscribes to Foxtel you can find Disney Junior The Channel on channel 709, make sure you save it under your favourites!
The great thing about being able to watch ‘Disney Junior’s The Book of Once Upon A Time’ online is that the stories are available anytime and anywhere. This means kids can even enjoy story time while on holidays, share their special time with grandma during a sleepover and toddlers like our little Sybbie can sneak in an extra story (or two!) before nap time in the afternoon. We check out the website together and she loves picking a story herself with the click of a button. We check out the website together and she loves picking a story herself with the click of a button.
In case you can’t get enough of Disney story time: ‘The Book of Once Upon A Time’ features Disney stories that are available as eBooks from the Disney Story Central app, available for download from iTunes.
The Kids Business Bloggers BBQTM is always a great opportunity to explore great brands and catch up with fellow bloggers and last week’s event was no different. There were some fantastic products waiting to be discovered but a few of them really stood out to me and I know you will love them too, I am particularly excited to introduce you to Bizzibrains:
Lovely Australian mum Nic is the mastermind behind Bizzibrains and the designer of the totally awesome I Learn App. If your child is about to start school this fabulous application is perfect for you, it’s fun, educational, interactive and creative and an excellent tool to help prepare young children for kindy or school. Our 6-year old twins and 4-year old loved testing it out at the Bloggers BBQ and immediately requested we got our own copy too.
The I Learn App allows children to customise the main character to represent them so they feel like the story is all about them. They can personalise the character’s name, clothes and look, they can also take their own photo and record their own name so they’re actually in the story themselves. They can include their parent/carer with name and photo and even the teacher’s name can be changed for a truly customised experience.
Over the course of 11 interactive story pages little students will be introduced to the classroom and the playground, learn about getting ready and recognising emotions, practise writing their name and simple maths and much more. The I Learn App is a fun and affordable way to prepare young children for a new learning environment in a playful, age appropriate manner.
With miss 4 starting kindy next week it’s perfect timing but the older kids love playing I Learn too, at times I have had to set the timer because one iPad between four children is cause for argument. She loves seeing her own picture on the screen and practising writing her name (an excellent fine motor skills exercise!). As a little fashionista she is forever changing her virtual outfit and she very much enjoys seeing mummy or daddy in the story.
The I Learn App ($4.99) is suitable for iPad and iPhone and available for purchase in the iTunes App Store right now, download your copy today:
To find out more Bizzibrains, to take a closer look at the I Learn App and to download a copy for your iPad or iPhone visit www.bizzibrains.com.
Huggable teddies, soft bunnies, cute dollies and gorgeous babies, when it comes to bedtime stories the majority of children’s books is rather squishy and girly. Time for the excavator to come through and mix things up a little with this cool bedtime tale for adventurous boys and girls:
If your little one is crazy about diggers, cranes and dump trucks he is sure to love Sleep tight, Digger Dan!, a goodnight story from the construction site. The guests at Digger Day Care have a busy day ahead of them, there is sand to be compacted, holes to be dug, stuff to be moved and loads to be transported, I wonder what they are making?
All that riding around on the construction site is hard work when you’re a miniature vehicle; a yawn here, some rubbing in the eyes there, it’s time for a well deserved rest. Goodnight Crane Carley, sweet dreams Clive the Compactor, have a nice rest Leo the Wheel Loader and sleep tight Digger Dan! A gorgeous bedtime story with fantastic illustrations that will no doubt be a huge hit with young transport lovers all across Australia.
Right now Hip Little One readers enjoy FREE shipping Australia wide on their Sleep Tight, Digger Dan order, simply enter the code ‘HIPFREESHIP’ at checkout. Offer ends August 31, 2014.
To find out more about Sleep tight, Digger Dan! ($16.95) by Dorte Horn and Philipp Stampe, published by New Black Press, to take a look inside the book and to order your copy online visit www.sleeptightdiggerdan.com.au.
As if preparing for Christmas is not enough work as it is many mums also need to get organised for the upcoming school holidays. Six weeks is a long time and whether you are boarding a plane, hitting the road or ‘just’ staying home you will need to keep the kids entertained somehow. If you’re smart you can kill two birds with one stone by choosing presents that the kids will enjoy long after Christmas day, like this fabulous Australian game called That’s MY Story:
That’s MY Story Card Game ($16.95)
Developed by learning expert and mum of two Melissa That’s MY Story ($16.95, ages 3+) is a simple yet very fun and effective storytelling game that will help children and adults to create the most amazing stories. Most children love listening to and making up their own stories, but many parents (me included) struggle at times to come up with fresh storylines. Time for a little help in the shape of 47 colourful That’s MY Story cards in a handy storage tin.
Each That’s MY Story card plays a role in your yet to be invented story: Begin with a Story Starter (eg. Did you ever hear the story of, It all started when…), add in a Character (eg. Doctor, Dinosaur, Fairy, Girl, Policeman), decide on the Setting (eg. School, Shop, Party, Circus), flavour the tale with a ‘Wild’ card (eg. Soccer Ball, Rainbow, Backpack), decide on your ending with the Story Closer card and finish by holding up the Harlequin card to claim ownership of your very own story.
There are so many different cards and the combinations are endless so this is a game that never gets old. The cards feature both pictures and descriptions, so it is also fun for young children who can not yet read and will help those learning to read to connect the words and pictures. Instructions are included and if you are looking for other ways to play with the cards check out these great game suggestions, lots of cool ideas and all with one single pack of cards.
Keep all cards neatly together in the handy storage tin
The cards pack up neatly together in the That’s MY Story tin making it a perfect game for the car, train, plane or holiday, just pop it in your handbag and pull it out when boredom strikes. Priced at just $16.95 this makes a fun, educational and very affordable Christmas gift that might just save your sanity these school holidays.