“Bear’s house of books” by Poppy Bishop

You probably already saw a picture of Finja’s bookshelves on this blog. I’m really jealous of her, because I don’t have a bookshelf anymore since my office was turned into Finja’s room in 2012… Well, we are trying to change that and in the process of cleaning and staging our home so we can finally move into a bigger home and the days of working on the dining room table are over. Yeah! Moving always means throwing away and donating lots of stuff. It’s always hard to prioritize, I even recycled my old diaries… There is one thing that we won’t throw away though: Our books. Finja always enjoys when we bring some copies to one of our local “Little Free Library”, but in general her bookshelf keeps growing and growing…

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It’s kind of interesting how real life and the books you are reading sometimes come together. The reality of how much work staging a home has just sunk in and I started dreaming of an office with a huge bookshelf when we received “Bear’s house of books” as a review copy. And bear has exactly what lots of us book lovers are dreaming of… But let’s start at the beginning.

Not everyone can enjoy a huge library of hundreds of books like Finja. Fox, rabbit, mouse and hedgehog are good friends and as they all enjoy stories they read the same worn-out storybook repeatedly. It’s they favorite book, although the pages are a bit sticky after years of reading. The friends would like some new books to enjoy. But where do you find new books? Do they grow on trees or do they fall from the sky like shooting stars? Do you dig them out like potatoes? So fox, mouse, rabbit and hedgehog set out on a book hunt. Heavily armed with sandwiches and the eagerness to discover new stories they start their adventure and search the woods high and low. Just before they are ready to give up they find – a book! The fantastic story catches they attention right away, but the book belongs to someone else: A label on the first page says that their new favorite book belongs to bear, who lives at the other side of the woods… Although the friends would love to keep the book a little longer they start their way to bear’s home. After a long hike, they finally arrive – and discover a wonderful library in bear’s abandoned home… A book lovers dream! The friends start reading right away, until bear arrives back home.

“Who left sticky paw prints on this cover?” “And a sandwich in the middle!” “Who’s been reading my books?”

These quotes may remind you of the story of snow-white and the seven dwarfs – and just like in this fairytale bear and fox, mouse, hedgehog and rabbit become good friends after discovering their shared love for books. After bear learns that the friends just have one book to read at home he allows them to read one more book – and soon the animals are cuddled together, enjoying one story after another. And they have a wonderful idea about how to share the love of books with other animals in the woods!

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“Bear’s house of books” by Poppy Bishop is a great book about sharing the love of reading. The board book features a friendly fox, rabbit, mouse and hedgehog and makes it easy for preschoolers to identify themselves with the protagonists. Even the grumpy bear comes over as extremely likable and his decision to open a library for other animals sends an important message about sharing. After all, a library is wonderful – but isn’t it even better to spread the joy of reading and discovering new stories? Another great read by “Tiger Tales”!

“Bear’s house of books”
written by Poppy Bishop
illustrated by Alison Edgson
Publisher: Tiger Tales
ISBN-13: 978-1680100389

„Glitter“ by Stella J. Jones

We recently had an unusual number of school closures due to snow. That is, unusual for the Pacific Northwest… Snow days always make Finja and me a little crazy. She misses her preschool friends. I don’t get work done, don’t get my workout in. That’s why I stocked up on craft kits at the beginning of the winter. Nothing like laying out some nice things to do for the little one and having a bit of peace. Peace for 12 minutes or so… Finja can be a real girl and she likes glitter. So, when we decided to build an indoor fairy garden she was all in – as long as we could put some glitter aka “fairy dust” on it. Said, done. Well, almost. Because you know what happens when a four-year-old gets a small tube with fine glitter in her hands, right? The glitter goes – everywhere…

Building a fairy garden - with glitter, please!

That’s why I really had to laugh when I held the hardcover edition of “Glitter” by Stella J. Jones, published by Tiger Tales, in my hands just a few days later. “Glitter” not only has glitter on every page, what makes it an absolute page-turner for preschool-aged girls. No, “Glitter” is just about this: Glitter getting everywhere, in every corner and cranny… But let’s start at the beginning.

Gloria is a little rhino and the heroine of this story. Gloria’s favorite color is glitter and “everything in her life has a little bit of razzle-dazzle”. While Gloria loves her glitter slippers she is convinced everyone in her neighborhood needs a little bit of glitter. Dashing away on her “glitterama-razzamatazz scooter” she leaves a little bit of glitter everywhere.

She glitters the banker, the barber, the baker, the chef and the cabinet-maker, the plumber, the drummers, the teachers… But instead of being gloriously happy, they find this glitterama rather awkward. Unfortunately scrubbing off glitter is not so easy – it goes everywhere… And it gets messy. Soon the whole town is dusted in a small cloud if Gloria’s glorious glitter. What will happen now? Unexpectedly, the whole town is “smiling, giggling, chuckling, and chortling”. “Just like the glitter that was spread all around, the happiness traveled right through the town.”

Author Stella J. Jones wrote an entertaining, humorous book that heightens the spirits and makes reading fun. “Glitter” was illustrated by Judi Abbot, who studied at art school in Milan. Her colorful graphics are not only glittery and pink, they teem with life and basically catapult you into Gloria’s town to dust you with some of Gloria’s glorious glitter. Perfect, as Gloria’s story about spreading kindness and joy is just about this: Not taking life too serious, having fun – and being cheerful. Just like glitter goes everyway, happiness spreads. So, don’t worry, be happy…

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Needless to say: Finja loves “Glitter” and the razzle-dazzle on every page. We had a good laugh about our experience with the fairy-dust who still sticks between the floorboards. Although “Glitter” doesn’t seem to have a serious, deeper meaning other than being kind and sharing the joy it’s so nice to read a feel-good-book occasionally!

“Glitter”
written by Stella J. Jones
illustrated by Judi Abbot
Publisher: Tiger Tales
ISBN: 978-1680100396

„A friend like you“ by Andrea Schomburg and Barbara Röttgen

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s day! We never celebrated Valentines, not before Finja and not now. Our celebration mostly consists of crafting some Valentines for Finja to bring to school the next day… Yesterday my husband surprised me though – for the second time in 14 years I got roses and, much more important, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Ice Cream! I’m not the kind of women who needs roses or sparkly things, but you are my hero when you bring ice cream… The remaining evening my husband worked on his latest drone footage and I finally had some time to read a book. But isn’t that what love is about? To know what the other wants, what he needs, to share fun time – and give him room when he needs it?

"A friend like you" by Barbara Röttgen and Andrea Schomburg

A book I read with Finja for Valentine’s day is just about this: Giving each other room and still coming back to each other. “A friend like you” by German author Andrea Schomburg tells the story of an unlikely friendship: Squirrel just finished collecting nuts for the winter when he meets an exhausted bird. The friendly squirrel offers one of his nuts – and although bird usually doesn’t eat nuts he gives it a try. Bird likes to fly and squirrel likes to climb, but they find a way to enjoy a wonderful time together: Squirrel darting to the highest treetops and turning somersaults while bird flies with him. Squirrel even hums along when bird sings. Both are happy together: “When you sing, it gives me happy goosebumps all over the back”, says squirrel. And bird agrees: “I never thought I would meet a friend like you.”

But as the day comes to an end, they must decide: Will bird stay with squirrel, who buried nuts enough for two – or will he fly away, as he likes to?

“A friend like you” is a wonderful story not only for Valentine’s day. Bird and squirrel are different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good friends. They can try something new, have a wonderful time – and find a way to be together while both have room for what they like and what makes them “bird” and “squirrel”. A real friends respects you and supports you in being yourself. And, after all, the message of “just trying something new” is great for toddlers who often love routine too much… The wonderful illustrations by Sean Julian are the perfect addition to the perfectly written story.

It doesn’t happen often that I find translation of German books in the US. “A friend like you” is the first book of author Barbara Röttgen, who is a therapist and mother of two kids. Author Andrea Schomburg was born in Kairo, grew up in the region around the river Rhine and now lives in Hamburg and Berlin. She writes for children and adults. The original German version of “A friend like you” was published by Brunnen Verlag is called “Eichhorn und Vogel probieren es mal” – “Squirrel and Bird give it a try”. I have to be honest, I like the English title “A friend like you” much better. 🙂

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A wonderful book about friendship – not only for Valentine’s day!

„A friend like you“
written by Andrea Schomburg and Barbara Röttgen
illustrated by Sean Julian
Publisher: Tiger Tales
ISBN-13: 978-1680100310