The „Quack and Daisy“ series by Aileen Stewart

Author Aileen Stewart works in my dream job: She not only writes books and markets them herself, but also organizes children’s writing workshop. How cool is that?

"Quack and Daisy" are an unlikely duo!
“Quack and Daisy” are an unlikely duo!

Her series around duck Quack and cat Daisy shows that Aileen knows what children want. Quack and Daisy are an unlikely team – but they are inseparable from the moment they literally bump together on the farm’s meadow. Both of them like exploring the magic of the meadow, but soon thez have to discover that cats can’t swim and ducks are not good at catching mice. Does their friendship have a chance anyway?

Aileen Stewart’s book is fun to read aloud, my daughter loved the colorful illustrations of the big eyed cat Daisy and her funny friend Quack. The heartwarming friendship story has an important message: You can be friends with everyone – even with someone who is not like you!

Finja immediately wanted to know how Quack and Daisy’s story continues. Luckily she didn’t have to wait long: “Quack and Daisy – Beyond The Meadow”, the second part of the story, continues with another adventure. Mama Quack cautioned her duckling about going beyond the meadow. Sure this warning just motivated the adventurous duo to explore the outside world… Quack and Daisy start on a new quest, they admire wildflowers on their way out of the meadow, enjoy the breeze – and Quack finally gets to swim in a real river! But when the duckling isn’t able to come out of the ditch again the unlikely friends know they are in trouble…

“Quack and Daisy – Beyond The Meadow” comes with lots of action and cautions children to listen to their parents. Anyway, as an adult I also had the feeling that Quack and Daisy’s hunger for adventure was a little bit dampened in this second part of the story… Well, as parent of a four-year-old I know that there is no end to seeking adventures for our daughter though. She just started to explore the “outside world” without waiting for my permission to leave the house. So this story just came to the right time… 😉

What I really liked in both part of the story was the unlikely friendship of the grey cat Daisy and her yellow friend Quack. Friends are important for toddlers and preschoolers – and the books around “Quack and Daisy” put friendship in the focus!

The “Quack and Daisy“-books aren’t Aileen’s only publications. She loves writing about animals – a passion that she explains with growing up on a farm: “The fact that I chose to write about farm animals is directly related to the fact that my childhood friend lived on a farm. It was a magical place to visit and the place where I became a big fan of chickens and gathering eggs. The characters and events in Fern Valley are loosely based on people I knew and events my brother and I experienced growing up.” So make sure to check out her collections of short stories and other books!

More information:
Quack and Daisy” and “Quack and Daisy – Beyond the Meadow
by Aileen Stewart
ISBN: 978-1681877488
ISBN: 978-1682934869

Both books can be ordered on the authors homepage and on


“When dad showed me the universe” by Ulf Stark

When Swedish star author Ulf Stark and Eva Erikson, winner of the Astrid Lindgren price, pair up to make a children’s book you know it will be special.

"When dad showed me the universe" by Ulf Stark, published by Gecko Press
“When dad showed me the universe” by Ulf Stark, published by Gecko Press

We just read “When dad showed me the universe” by Ulf Stark – and I have to be honest, this book was totally different from what I expected! But this is not a bad thing…

The story: Dad wants to show his son something very special he will remember forever: The universe. To prepare for the daring adventure they wrap up warm after dad put aside his bloody dentist coat, get some gum and start they walk. Eventually they get there… The dog park. All seems to be going to plan. It’s totally dark, the universe unveiling in his full majesty. While son is more fascinated by a snail on the ground (because “The entire universe includes everything” doesn’t it?) dad explains about star constellations. Sometimes you have to look up – but sometimes you should look down, too. While dad wanted to give his son an experience he won’t forget he learns a lesson himself… “The entire universe includes everything, my friend”. This includes snails, flowers – and, sometimes, stepping into dog poop… While dad seems to be slightly disappointed about the whole evening, his son is more than happy. He had a wonderful time with his dad and saw everything, the whole universe – including its smallest residents and its up and downs. “It was beautiful – and funny.”


Sometimes parents forget that small things are what matters to our children. We have dreams, we want to show our children something great, something that lasts. But sometimes dreams and reality don’t match. That’s not a bad thing though, because children find the beauty in every small thing. Some alone time with us sometimes means more than the whole universe. Sometimes it’s about the experience, not about the lesson. How do you say? The journey is more important than the destination. And sometimes lessons come in unexpected packages.

Reading this book I got a lesson as well. Not just about expecting a certain content from a book title, but also to enjoy every moment, every page read and every minute on the playground with my daughter. We just ditched the running stroller and I don’t get as many miles in as I planned as Finja sometimes is running with me (so it’s just one kilometer instead of ten or more…), what sometimes makes me frustrated. I kind of missed how special it is that Finja is holding my hand and sharing my love for running and the great outdoors… This was definitely a lesson for me – one I will try to remember in the following days.

But back to our review.

I love the surprising sense of humor Ulf Stark shows in his book. From the blood freckled coat to stepping in dog poop, “When dad showed me the universe” is more than a science book. It’s a book about an adventure with dad, about the magnificence of the universe and the importance to cherish the small things.

Eva Erikson’s artwork is just grand. Full of expression and mirroring Stark’s humor her pictures are also soft and quiet, making this book a perfect match for bedtime. Her illustrations of the night sky make curious – and maybe your little one even requests a “real” science book about the universe after reading “When dad showed me the universe”?

“When dad showed me the universe” was pubished by Gecko Press, an independent publisher from New Zeeland. According to Gecko Press, the publishers aims to encourage children to love to read. “We champion strong stories rich in language and illustration – books that are ‘crunchy’.” “When dad showed me the universe” is definitely a crunchy book – fun and full of love! Enjoy! 🙂

…and please enjoy our reviews of “The big book of animals of the world” and “SHHH, I’m sleeping” by the same publisher!

More information:
“When dad showed me the universe”
written by Ulf Stark
illustrated by Eva Eriksson
Publisher: Gecko Press
ISBN: 978-1927271810


„The Barefoot Book of Children“ by Tessa Strickland, Kate DePalma, David Dean

It’s fall! That means: Pumpkin spice latte and new fall releases! It’s so exciting to stock up on books for the winter season. Today our poor UPS guy had to carry some heavy book boxes. I ordered a copy of “Raising a Hero” by Laura Numeroff, the author of “If you give a mouse a cookie”. A portion of the sales of this book support Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization providing assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. Finja’s preschool will attend a fun online author event in November, so I ordered advance to give the kids a chance to prepare and come up with some fun questions about service dogs and writing books for Laura. Plus, Finja loves dogs, so do the other kids in her play-based preschool, which also is the home of a sweet dog named Oakley!

"The Barefoot Book of Children"

In the last weeks I was super excited for one other release: “The Barefoot Book of Children” by (you can guess it) Barefoot books. I’m not active as a Barefoot ambassador anymore, but was informed about the new inclusive book with the hashtag #allchildren some months ago. To be honest, I couldn’t wait! Living in a multicultural environment I never had the feeling I had to “prepare” Finja and explain about inclusion, had to prevent racism and discrimination. But the worldwide happenings of the last few months and some really disturbing experiences of friends and colleagues showed that it’s never too late to make #worldcitizen out of your children… Because “despite our different clothes and homes and languages – we are more alike than different”, as Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the US fund for UNICEF, states on the cover of “The Barefoot Book of Children”.

"The Barefoot Book of Children"

Today the book finally arrived! Finja and I got right to work. She was fascinated by the colorful pages, asking questions, explaining and discovering nonstop. With 64 pages “The Barefoot Book of Children” was far more extensive than I thought, so I had to finish the book alone after bedtime – but I’m sure Finja will request to read the last pages first thing tomorrow!

"The Barefoot Book of Children"

What can I say? This book is everything I hoped for and more. Every child has a story and “The Barefoot Book of Children” gives kids the chance to tell their story while reading about other cultures and everyday life of other children around the globe. No matter if it’s living space, food, clothing, bodies, families, injuries, skin color, play or feeling – the author and editor did a good job describing the diversity of children’s’ lives in different parts of the world. The text isn’t artful or poetic, but it’s depth surprises again and again. “You are a part of the world. You are also a world of your own. This is were you belong”: An important part of the story comes from the reader: The colorful illustrations full of details will hold every reader’s attention and give the opportunity to explore and add one’s own story to the stories told.

"The Barefoot Book of Children"

Long story short: “The Barefoot Book of Children” is a book you have to experience yourself. Right now, this book is just one of the few inclusive, multicultural books I know of. I hope many more will follow and make the world a more diverse for our children! BTW, I’m sure you’ll love this interview of co-author Kate DePalma in the Barefoot-Blog: “How do you make a book for all children?

More information:
„The Barefoot Book of Children“
Written by Tessa Strickland, Kate Depalma
Illustrated by David Dean
Publisher: Barefoot Books

Diverse Books for #allchildren

„SHHH! I’m sleeping“ by Dorothee de Monfreid

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted the last book review… Here I am, reading at least four books each day (…to our daughter, that is…) and you have to wait so long for another blog post… But, with the start of the new preschool year I’m positive I’ll be able to improve during the next months! 🙂

One of the reasons I didn’t have any time to review new books (…or read any, other than Kidlit…) is that Finja started sleeping even less during the summer months. She didn’t nap since she was about 1 1/2, and we always worked with about 10 to 11 hours of nighttime sleep only, but now she started to get down to nine or even eight hours. More time to do fun things, more time to read – less time to write… That’s why I choose today’s book of the day: „SHHH! I’m sleeping“ by Dorothee de Monfreid. Is there a better book to read to a girl who just doesn’t have time to rest?

"SHHH! I'm sleeping!" by Gecko Press
“SHHH! I’m sleeping!” by Gecko Press

„SHHH! I’m sleeping“ is one of the newer comic-style books for preschool aged children. It took me some time to get used to comic books, especially when reading aloud – but reading with different voiced did the trick. Good for us, because “SHHH! I’m sleeping” is a fun little book about bedtime routines and how hard it can be to finally find some rest.

The story: Eight dogs are sound asleep in two tall bunk beds when one of the dogs, Nono, is awakened by another dog’s snoring. He asks one of his friends for a story, which awakens another dog, who wants to borrow a toy. And so it goes… Soon all the dogs are cuddled under one tiny blanked, enjoying a bedtime story. As each dogs awakes, his reading light is being flipped on – and soon every light shines, except the snoring Popov’s…

"SHHH! I'm sleeping!" by Gecko Press

“SHHH! I’m sleeping” is a cute book, an unconventional bedtime story and easy to understand for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school children. Finja loved to discover each dog’s movement and talking about his feelings and what he needs to finally get some rest. Is he thirsty? Is he lonely? The comic-style illustrations are expressive and fun to look at, especially in an oversized board book format.

This book was published by “Gecko Press”, a publisher located in New Zeeland. According to Gecko Press, the publishers aims to encourage children to love to read. “We champion strong stories rich in language and illustration – books that are ‘crunchy’.” ““SHHH! I’m sleeping” definitely is such a book! Definitely a new favorite at our house, sure to bring smiles during bedtime.

More information:
„SHHH! I’m sleeping“
written by Dorothee de Monfreid
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Board book: 24 pages
Publisher: Gecko Press
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1927271957