Category Archives: books

School for Good and Evil – Review

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My daughter was very excited when the School for good and Evil landed on our door mat for her to read. She’s 10 and has been reading at almost an adult level for a few years now and will happily read 2 to 3 books per day given the chance!

She loves the whole fantasy/supernatural genre and really levitates to books like Harry Potter and How to train your Dragon so I was really hoping this was going to be a big hit for her.

She quickly got stuck in but found the text to be quite small which made the big book quite daunting for her as she is short sighted and has to wear glasses. I urged her to keep at it but she really did seem to struggle at times with it as she found the narrative to be quite lacking and maybe a little stereotypical, good is beautiful and evil is ugly.

She really relates to strong female characters and wants them to be the hero, stay true to themselves and put their morals before anything else. The whole Grimm’s style fairy tale was a strong lure with this book, she loved the more darker take on the whole pansy Disney Princess narrative but felt that the characters where a little cliched at times and would of benefitted more if they had stayed true to their nature instead of “fitting in with the crowd”.

The plot twists where what saw her through to the end as they always kept her guessing and it really did deliver some strong life lessons for the reading age of 9-14. That good isn’t always beautiful and popular and that evil isn’t always dark and ugly, basically don’t judge that book by it’s cover. It’s a very important lesson for children of this age to understand and this really made the book for her.

All in all she felt it was a good book, maybe not the next big thing since Harry Potter but a good all round read with plot twists, best friends pushed to breaking point and important life lessons we could all learn something from. She just wishes that the text was slightly bigger making the read a little easier.

You can find the trailer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p-u0I9koYg

School for Good and Evil is available at amazon along with the follow up, School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princess .

If you would like to win a copy of the book yourself, simply leave a comment below. Winner will be chosen at random one week from today, 26th June.

 

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Health and Fitness Education – Pilates Instructor Review

I was overwhelmed when I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the HFE Pilates Instructor Blogger Challenge.

I recently took up yoga and I thoroughly enjoy it and I have been looking into taking a course so I can become a certified children’s instructor and with Pilates sharing a lot of the same ethos and techniques I was literally ready to pop.

When the student manual arrived I couldn’t wait to jump in and start reading, it’s glossy and wasn’t to daunting to open, nothing worse than a massive book to put you off starting!

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I couldn’t resist having an initial flick through and was really surprised at how in-depth the manual is for a correspondence course and lack of book weight,  it covers everything from posture to workout phases and how to teach classes.

It provides all the necessary information to get yourself accredited to teach Pilates and provides you with the medical forms that you require to hand to anyone wanting to take a class, it covers all the bases and if you think you need to know it it’s defiantly in there.

I am currently deep into the posture section and I am eager to crack on through, I just hope I can remember it all!

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Life generally gets in the way of all the good stuff but I plan to sit down on Sunday and make some real head way, I bought a notebook for taking notes and everything!!! It also knocks another thing off this years Resolution List, I’m doing well so far and it’s only February!!

If you are also interested in taking a Training Course in Health and Fitness I would highly recommend HFE, go check them out and what they can offer you.

L xx

*All instructor materials have been supplied to me free of charge from HFE*

 

Reasons My Kid is Crying Competition and Review

If you haven’t heard of Greg Pembroke’s blog, Reason’s my Son is Crying you are missing out, it is seriously laugh a minute and as a parent you can relate with the images as you are probably witnessing one as you scroll through his blog page.
And now the good people at Boxtree have turned this internet phenomemom into a hardback book, so everyone can have a good old chortle into their tea on a rainy afternoon while the mini people are having a nap/terrorising the dog/planning an escape route/crying because its a Sunday!

Here’s a little more about it…

REASONS MY KID IS CRYING
Greg Pembroke Published by Boxtree on 10 Oct 2013;
£9.99 hardback
THE BOOK OF THE MOST POPULAR TUMBLR PAGE, REASONS MY SON IS CRYING.
It all started when busy father Greg Pembroke posted a few pictures online of his three- year-old son, mid-tantrum, alongside the reason his son was crying:
He had broken his bit of cheese in half. 


Within a week the blog had featured on countless news, radio and television websites around the world, including The Daily Mail, Buzzfeed,
ABC News, Yahoo, MSN, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Good Morning America and The Today Show.
This book collects together photos sent to Greg from parents across the globe, documenting the many, completely logical reasons why small children cry. (‘I let him play on the grass’ . . . ‘We told him the pig says “oink”’ . . . ‘The neighbour’s dog isn’t outside’).
Together, they are both a fond portrait of the universal, baffling logic of toddlers – and a reminder for burned- out parents everywhere that they are not alone.

Greg Pembroke lives in Rochester, New York with his wife and two young sons. He divides his time between working as a radio advertising copywriter, and looking after his sons at home.

http://reasonsmysoniscrying.tumblr.com/ 

As a coffee table book it seriously is laugh a minute, all the images are large and bright and you cant help but chuckle along on each page for the weird reasons that toddlers suddenly have a melt down.

I suspect that many if not all of you will relate to at least one reason per page, i know i did! However don’t expect any details about the people who submitted the images or about Greg himself, apart from a few lines on the inner page, however i suspect that’s the whole point.
The book has clear ‘chapters’ under headings like ‘ Domestic Bliss’ and Sibling Rivalry’ to categorise the images into easily found areas if you just have to show you friend/mother/neighbour the funniest thing you ever did see!
All in all its a delightful book that’s a real eye opener to those that have long since forgotten what its like to share your home with a toddler or those who are yet to reach those delightful years.

Now you have the chance to WIN this book with our very own ‘Reason’s My Kid is Crying’ Comp! 
Simply follow and RT this comp on twitter any time today sat 16th nov 2013. You will then be placed into a draw to win this book and a xmas book bundle. Ends 9pm tonight, Winner announced Sunday
good luck guys!!

Star Paws Sticker Book Series – A Review

Brand new titles in the amazing STAR PAWS sticker book series!
STAR PAWS is back, and it’s better than ever! This brilliantly funny, silly and utterly addictive sticker book series is taking the world by storm! Perfect for all ages, all animal lovers, and anyone with a sense of humour! STAR PAWS is packed with over 250 stickers and more daft jokes than you can count, for dressing your animals up ready for fashion shows, medieval battles, festive fun or even a mission to the moon!
 
Get ready for work everyone! It’s time to pick some exciting careers and dress up a whole host of animals in STAR PAWS: AMAZING JOBS. There are plenty of outfits to choose from, including doctor, gardener, spaceman, film director, dentist, pop star and wrestler – you’ll be completely spoilt for choice!
 
ISBN 9781447241461
 £3.99 | PB | Age 3+



Step into a medieval world of chivalry, heraldry, dramatic battles and revolting peasants with STAR PAWS: KNIGHTS. Meet and dress the dashing Sir Arthur Sixpence and join the Knights of the Hound Table as they joust and feast and attend Knight School! Design shields for the brave, apply pustules to the poor and enjoy dressing up dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits in some truly amazing medieval outfits!      
 

ISBN 9781447236924
£3.99 PB Age 3+
 
 
 
 
 
 Enjoy the complete retail experience, animal dress-up style, in the fabulous STAR PAWS: SHOPPING! Choose hats in Bears Accessories, help out in the changing rooms, become a stylist, a beautician, or simply shop until you drop! There’s so much to try on and so much to buy – everything from smelly perfumes and crazy fingernails to nice new pants.
 
ISBN 9781447241478                                                                                                                                                       
£3.99 | PB | Age 3+           
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There are presents to wrap, feasts to prepare, snowballs to throw, halls to ‘deck’ and Christmas jumpers galore!
Help spread some Christmas cheer with bells, bows, snow-white beards and jazzy winter knitwear. And look out for the mistletoe…!
The PUURFECT Christmas gift for anyone and everyone!
ISBN 9781447236917
£3.99 | PB | Age 3+    
 
 
 
 
 
I had never heard of Star Paws before I was asked to review it and i have a sticker book addict in Emma. She usually goes for the really expensive ones by Osborne from Waterstones and she simply adores them, well i say adores as she has defiantly found a new love in these gorgeous sticker books.
They are fun and easy to do for all ages, my youngest is 4 and had THE best time with her Amazing Jobs book and even our eldest at 9 with the Shopping book really enjoyed it.
They are fun and educational all at the same time whilst allowing the child to use its own imagination to create something that sparks interest in them and we all know how hard that is right now with TV and computers dominating their life.
The images are delightful and if you are a bit of an animal lover like myself, you will spend as much time just admiring the pictures inside 😉 .
They are of excellent quality and well worth the £3.99 retail price and i think these will be taking the place of our regular Osborne sticker book as they get the thumbs up from me as well as all three of my daughters!
We have squirrelled away the Knights book for a family member for Christmas, I know he is going to be delighted with it! But ssshhhh don’t tell the kids or I’ll have a riot on my hands!
I’m seriously looking forward to getting my hands on the Pirate and Super Hero’s ones!!      
 
L xx                                                                                             




My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish – A Guest Post Review

My eldest is a avid reader and, like me, will literally read anything. When she was asked to review the big summer reads by Macmillan Children’s Books she was so excited so couldn’t wait to get started.
The first book that caught her eye was My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara and heres what she had to say about it…

Age Group: I would say 8-12, I’m 9 and i loved it!
Characters: There were pretty good but there is quite a few so at times it was a bit confusing.
Why I liked it: It was really funny and I laughed a lot!
If there is a sequel i would read it, I would also try the other authors books as they might be funny too.
What I didn’t like: Just to many characters for me, sorry.
Illustrations: They where really good so I would of liked to have seen more.
It was stuffed full of comedy, it even has a funny like flip cartoon on all the pages, so it makes me laugh even when I’m not reading it.

I would recommend this to my friends and anyone else that likes to read, it took me less than a day as it really caught my imagination as it was really funny. If I was stuck for something else to read I would read it again.
Thank you for reading

Elissa

If, like me, you have never heard of it here’s a little about it to wet your appetite,

SYNOPSIS

Finding Nemo meets Shaun of the Dead – two laugh-out-loud stories about an evil big brother, a best friend to the rescue and one big fat zombie goldfish! ‘Sami was still holding the goldfish. “Swishy little fishy,” she whispered, over and over. Frankie stared at her with his big, bulging, glowing eyes. Suddenly a little light bulb went on . . . Frankie was a Big Fat Zombie Goldfish and somehow he’d hypnotized my best friend’s sister!’ Tom’s big brother is an Evil Scientist who wants to experiment on Tom’s new goldfish, Frankie. Can Tom save his fish from being dunked in radioactive gunge? Er, no. In an act of desperation Tom zaps Frankie with a battery, bringing him back to life! But there’s something weird about the new Frankie – he’s now a zombie goldfish with hypnotic powers, and he wants revenge . . . Tom has a difficult choice to make – save his evil brother, or save his fishy friend?

Zoe and Beans – A Review

Zoe and Beans 
How many pets? & Look at me!
By Chloë Inkpen and Mick Inkpen 
Both published 9th May 2013, £5.99 Board Books
The much-loved Zoe and Beans series is now available 
in two brand new board books – perfect for little hands!


How many pets? – Learn to count with Zoe and Beans! 
How many pets can you see? Join Zoe and Beans and their friend Oscar as they count the animals, from one to ten. There’s a hungry rabbit, a kitten, a duck, a puppy and even a cow! But will there be enough room for them all? 
Look at me! – Dress up and play with Zoe and Beans!
Zoe and Beans and their new best friend Oscar have found a dressing-up box. But what will they be today? Join them as they become robots, doctors, bumble bees – even pirates! 
The start of a brilliant new series of board books featuring the adorable Zoe and Beans and all of their friends. With its gentle rhyming text and irresistible illustrations, these books are perfect for sharing with toddlers and young children. 
Chloë Inkpen grew up surrounded by picture books and has a natural gift for storytelling. A love of language and art saw her swap an English Literature course for a degree in Visual Communication at Glasgow School of Art. She spent her final year specializing in children’s book illustration and was awarded second place in the Macmillan Prize for Illustration in 2008.

Mick Inkpen is one of today’s most popular picture book author/illustrators and the famous creator of both Kipper and Wibbly Pig. Mick has won the Children’s Book Award for Threadbear and the British Book Award twice, for Penguin Small and Lullabyhullaballoo. Kipper won a BAFTA for Best Animated Film in 1998. In 2012 Mick Inkpen was one of the top 10 most borrowed children’s authors in libraries. It wasn’t until Mick became a father that he began his career in children’s books.



Meet Oscar, the new next-door neighbour and a brand new friend for Zoe and Beans! Zoe has found a guinea pig at the bottom of the garden . . . and a tortoise, and a chameleon, and now there’s a noisy parrot! Where on earth have they all come from? The hole in the fence could be a clue, but who lives on the other side?
Hello Oscar! is Chloё and Mick Inkpen’s fifth title in the exceptional Zoe and Beans series. Once again they have produced a beautifully designed and touching, yet comic, tale with bubbly characters and colourful illustrations. The combination of father and daughter come together beautifully for a unique and exciting picture book partnership.
Mick Inkpen is one of today’s most popular picture book author/illustrators and the famous creator of both Kipper and Wibbly Pig. Mick has won the Children’s Book Award for Threadbear and the British Book Award twice, for Penguin Small and Lullabyhullaballoo. Kipper won a BAFTA for Best Animated Film in 1998. In 2012 Mick Inkpen was one of the top 10 most borrowed children’s authors in libraries. It wasn’t until Mick became a father that he began his career in children’s books. 
Chloë Inkpen grew up surrounded by picture books and has a natural gift for storytelling. A love of language and art saw her swap an English Literature course for a degree in Visual Communication at Glasgow School of Art. She spent her final year specialising in children’s book illustration and was awarded second place in the Macmillan Prize for Illustration in 2008.

My youngest, Zoe, is 3 and absolutly adored these books the minute they came out of the bag, especially with the main character being called Zoe they instantly became HER books and has carried them around with her for weeks!
They stories are fun and easy for children of all ages to relate to, the art work is beautiful with its washed out tones and full pages illustrations.
My eldest who’s 9 enjoyed reading these to our youngest two who admittedly spent more time talking about the animals and which ones we had than listening to what she was saying.
I believe these will be firm favourites even after they are old enough to read to themselves.
And that was just the board books, Meet Oscar has to be one of my favourite children’s book’s i have ever read and we read a lot!
Its witty and funny and beautiful all at the same time, the narrative is great for young children to understand and it does all this whilst being beautiful to look at.
I literally cannot say a bad word about this serious and now im off to find the rest to go with these, i cant wait to see what other cheekiness Zoe and Beans gets up to next!!
And its not just me that thinks so have a read what some other people had to say about Zoe and Beans..
‘A heart-warming, comic tale with bubbly characters and colourful illustrations!’
Parent Talk
‘The Inkpens, a talented father and daughter due, deliver another stunningly beautiful picture book… Exquisite drawings, the cutest little heroine and a fun story are sure to cast a warm glow over bedtime reading.’ Lancashire Evening Post
‘Absolutely wonderful illustrations’ Chopsy Baby
‘A fun story full of fun and friendship that children will enjoy.’ Early Years Educator
‘Hello Oscar! is a lovely read with beautiful pictures.’ Monsters Fun House
‘The story is engaging and amusing. The artwork is lovely again and we’re really getting into the characters.’ Wham Bahm 
 ‘This book is a lovely, easy to follow read…. It is perfect for toddler and young children in its use of language and is full of beautiful illustrations.’ Mum Reinvented
 ‘The illustrations are so cute and child friendly….. A formidable father/daughter team who produce tales which capture the heart of the children and hold their imagination.’
Mummy Matters
‘Once again we love the simplicity of the images in the Zoe and Beans book and I find the story easy to read…it is great to meet new animals and new characters’  Mellow Mummy
‘Hello Oscar!’ is a playful story that really lends to re-telling.’ Damson Lane 
‘I love the illustrations in the book, they are so bright and really stand out on the page.’
One Blue One Pink

I hope you’ll agree these are ones for the book shelf.
L xx

Post 4 of handmade year

Yesterday i had the biggest blogging FAIL ever! i also did not make one thing handmade for myself, i did however get THE biggest bargains at a local factory seconds shop.
Last winter Monsoon had the most amazing khaki military coat and as much as i wanted it i couldn’t justify £80 for a coat and even after the winter the sale price wasn’t as attractive as i would of liked so i let that one go! But yesterday i found the most amazing Dorothy Perkins military coat which looks almost identical. As its a factory second it has missing buttons to the front but for the whacking £2 i paid for it I’m quite happy to spend the next 6 months trying to find a perfect match!!!
i also got a pair of Wallis navy linen trousers for £5, i think they are sized up wrong as they are a perfect fit but marked as a size 10.
A gorgeous pair of topshop military tapered leg trousers, in an off cream colour with turn ups. There is a small snag in the bum so need to find an ingenius way of fixing them. but for £4 they are WELL worth it!
Also a pair of black palazzo trousers also from topshop, the hemming has come undone on one leg but need turning up due to my sever lack of height anyway so for £5 I’m more than happy 🙂
We also popped into the charity shop on the way home from school and i got a crafted t-shirt for 50p, a vintage single sheet for £1, a school summer dress for Emma for £1.50 and lis bought a Pokemon annual and 2 figures for £1 oh and a pair of pink gap surf shorts for £1.50.
Was a very GOOD day for bargains!!

Lxx

Poppy Cat Review

When i was so kindly asked to review some fabulous Poppy Cat merchandise in the run up to the new TV show coming to Nick Jr I was all over it like a rash as my eldest LOVED the Poppy Cat books when she was little.
We fell in love with her by accident really as one of the lovely board books came in one of those first readers bags you get from the health visitor way back when.
We read it over and over until the board pages where frayed and splitting and i was positively sad when she eventually outgrown those simple books. Relieved for more content for sure but so sad to leave little Poppy Cat behind.
Who’s Poppy Cat you are probably now screaming through the screen at me well here’s a little bio:

The first Poppy Cat book was published in 2003 by Campbell Books (Macmillan). Written and illustrated by Lara Jones, the series has sold over 2.5 million books across 30 titles to date. 1.5 million of these have been sold to a number of international territories, including Spain, France, Italy and Brazil.
Poppy Cat books have won many awards including: Book trust Early years Award – Poppy Cat’s Farm Practical Pre-school Awards – Swap the Scene, Poppy Cat
Right Start Best Toy Awards – Poppy Cat Hug Prima Baby Reader Awards – The Poppy Cat series

By Kate Boutilier & Eryk Casemiro Poppy Cat begins where the Poppy Cat books left off. Lara Jones’ colourful and appealing characters spring to life from the page to the small screen in stories of friendship and fantasy play. The series is aimed at the upper end of the pre-school age range, but the stories are suitable for children of all ages.
Seen through the eyes of Poppy’s young owner, a little girl called Lara, each story is a celebration of imaginative play as Poppy Cat and her friends embark on fanciful journeys through fantastical lands. Told with humour and great heart, these stories give children a glimpse of their own potential for imaginative play and creativity through the tales of a very special cat and her equally interesting band of friends. Each episode is eleven minutes long and comprises an ensemble cast of three boy and three girl characters.

At the beginning of each story we meet Lara, a girl who invents fantastical and extravagant stories for her beloved cat, Poppy. Created with a child-like whimsy, Lara’s stories feature a hero named Poppy and are the sort of adventures she believes her own cat would have in a make-believe world. But whilst featuring fantasy-play adventure, the stories of Poppy Cat are primarily about friendship, focusing on social and emotional development relevant and familiar to a four year-old child. As the leader of the group, Poppy approaches every situation in an enthusiastic, creative way, and her imagination takes them all to the most exciting places.
Each of the main characters is broadly drawn to maximize their comedic personalities while allowing a core curriculum to be addressed. The characters are Poppy Cat’s best friends but most of the challenges arise directly from their real and relatable flaws: fear, vanity, recklessness, self-importance or naivety, and these are played out in their adventures.
While our friends never fight amongst themselves, their character flaws will often steer the adventure, for good and bad. It’s then up to Poppy and her non-judgemental, compassionate stance to lead them to safety, leaving our characters with a greater awareness of themselves and the world. In the world of Poppy Cat and her friends, modes of
transportation can appear in a flash, distant locations can be travelled in one day, and there is no problem that Poppy Cat encounters that cannot be solved.


And now to my utter surprise (I’m so not on the ball when it comes to Nick Jr now a days as my youngest two are cbeebies mad!) She now has her very own show!!!



Joanna Page becomes the voice of Poppy Cat
on Nick Jr.’s new adventure packed show

Launching on Monday 2nd May at 10.00am on Nick Jr and shown every weekday throughout May
An animated series full of adventure and fantasy for preschoolers

Joanna Page, who won the nation’s hearts in Gavin and Stacey, will make her preschool TV debut in May on Nick Jr.’s new animated series Poppy Cat. Joanna voices the show’s leading character, Poppy Cat, a cat with a thirst for adventure and a colourful eclectic mix of animal friends. Based on the award winning books by Lara Jones, which have sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, Poppy Cat will take preschoolers on fantastical adventures and excite their imaginations. The series features 26 x 10 minute episodes.
The show revolves around Lara, a young girl who invents stories for her beloved cat Poppy. Once she starts reading, preschoolers are transported into the fantasy world of Poppy Cat where animals walk upright, talk and have extraordinary adventures. With a flick of Poppy Cat’s patchwork bandana, fantastic vehicles appear, such as sailing ships and hot-air balloons. Poppy Cat and her friends then travel to magical destinations, including the Marshmallow Mines and the Trumpet Tree Forest, where they encounter other animals – pink dolphins, royal toads and even giant space squids! 

Poppy Cat celebrates the fun and power of inventing and sharing stories. Preschoolers are encouraged to use their imagination as a way to solve problems and pursue their goals. The stories of Poppy Cat also focus on friendship, and on social and emotional themes which are relevant and familiar to preschoolers. But above all, Poppy Cat is about Making Adventures Extraordinary!


Poppy Cat premieres Monday 2nd May at 10.00am
…only on Nick Jr (Sky 615, Virgin 715 and TalkTalk 318).

Now here’s a little interview by Joanna herself on the lovely new series:
What is the Poppy Cat series about?

The Poppy Cat series is about Poppy Cat’s adventures with all of her friends. They all play together but then every episode something happens — there’s a bit of drama. Then Poppy Cat unfurls her bandana and magics up a ship or a rocket or a submarine and they all go off on an adventure together and solve the problem.


What was it that attracted you to being the voice of poppy cat?

I was attracted to being the voice of Poppy Cat because Poppy Cat is just brilliant! I’ve always wanted to play some sort of animated character and I adore animals, so to play a cat is just fantastic. But I also love Poppy Cat because she’s strong, she’s determined, she’s not scared of anything, she’s very brave, she’s lovely and kind, she’s not selfish, she looks after her friends and she doesn’t back down from anything — and I think I’ve got some of those qualities! It’s just really exciting to play a cat who is so strong and really up for it. 

And also everybody loves Poppy Cat; the books have been such a success. So to actually play Poppy Cat is such an honour – I’m over the moon.  


What preparation did you need to do for the role?

My preparation for Poppy Cat was actually to study my Jack Russell dog! I’ve studied her for about ten years of her life and I think I’ve incorporated all of her animal ‘things’ into my voice. Listening to all of the other characters it’s really funny because everybody is so suited to their character. And it’s so well written, that you just say the lines. And they’ve cast it so well that naturally you’re very similar to your character. So I find that when I’m reading Poppy Cat I would probably react the same way as she does about lots of different things.

I think my research is to make sure my voice is okay and to make sure that I don’t go too fast and that I get the right feel for it because it’s aimed towards children. Just to try and get the story, try and put across what you want to put across, and make your voice understood. Try and get the essence of Poppy Cat; try not to be too giggly or too scared — just know the way that Poppy Cat would play the story.


How different is being a voice artist to appearing on stage or on television?

Being a voice artist is completely different to performing on stage or on TV. You’re very lucky – if you’ve got to be in very early in the morning, you could turn up in your pyjamas if you want to! You don’t have to wear any make-up or look particularly good because it’s all in your voice. 

But because it’s just your voice that people hear you have to know what you’re playing. You have to know the story, completely commit to it and know what’s going on. Because if a voice artist is feeling a bit nervous, or they’re not confident, or they don’t know what they’re doing the audience will hear it straight away and you won’t believe it. Whereas on TV and in the theatre there’s so much going on and the audience is watching and listening to stuff so you can get away with a lot more. But if you’re on radio or you’re voicing a character you really have to be spot on.


How long does it take to record an episode of Poppy cat?

With the rest of the cast recording an episode of Poppy Cat can take all day because we’ll be giggling and messing around a lot! But the other day I was on my own – I went in at 1.30 and I worked until five and I recorded 12 scripts, because I don’t like to stop; when I’m in the flow of it I like to just keep going and doing all of the episodes. So it takes a good few hours and I’ll probably go through and record about 12 episodes.


Who are your favourite characters from the series?

I love Egbert because he’s so sweet! I love his voice. And I feel so sorry for him because you want to include him. All the other characters are really sweet because they do try and include Egbert and he’s the one who doesn’t really want to be included. And I also absolutely adore Owl. I love it that he’s so wise but also slightly sarcastic. I do think that adults watching will like Owl as well. He does make me laugh! I can’t listen to Chris [Neill – voice of Own] because when he’s speaking to me all I see is a big owl and that makes me laugh so much! And I love Zuzu’s voice! But I’ve got to be honest: Egbert and Owl are my favourite characters.


What are you favourite moments from the series?

My favourite moments from the series are always when we’re in a submarine and we’re underwater. I think it looks absolutely hilarious when we’ve got our scuba diving helmets on – and when we’re swimming. You can see Zuzu’s feet and Poppy cat’s feet just sort of floating and it looks so comical! I adore all of the scenes when we’re all under the water.


How does it feel to hear your voice spoken by an animated character?

I always think it’s really strange hearing your voice spoken by an animated character because I don’t think I sound like I do – especially when I’m doing Poppy Cat’s voice which is slightly higher and a bit cuter. In my head I think I’ve got a very deep mature-sounding English voice. And then I hear my voice as Poppy Cat and think, “Oh my gosh, I actually do sound like I’ve got quite a lilt in my voice and my voice is quite high.” 


If you could be an animal which would you be and why?

If I could be an animal I would like to be a dog because they get a brilliant life. I would basically like to be my dog because she gets fed amazing things, she gets smoothed all the time, she gets to sleep in bed and she’s carried around everywhere. My life revolves around making her life really good fun — so she gets amazing clothes, amazing food, she gets pampered, she gets to sleep and I massage her all the time as well. So I would like to have the life of my Jack Russell dog called Daisy.

So after all that reading and background info, lots i clearly didn’t know, me and the girls sat down for a snuggle and watched the two episodes that i was so kindly sent.
Well the girls certainly loved it, we had peace and quiet for the entire episode and like me they marvelled at how well the characters came alive. We are used the reading the books so seeing how well it translated into TV was glorious.  They had managed to keep the lovely bright colours and the glorious charm of hand drawn characters from the book. The voices all worked well and i was as equally happy to sit and watch as the children where. I find with most book adaptations that a lot of the appeal from the books is lost once it reaches TV but not this, the whole charm and loveliness is there and i think that’s what children find endearing. You can now go away and read the books and match the characters with real voices and personalities. Long may children’s TV be as glorious as Poppy Cat!


You would be mad to miss this lovely show so stop by Nick Jr weekdays in May for a chance to catch all their exciting adventures!!

L xx

Poppy Cat Review

When i was so kindly asked to review some fabulous Poppy Cat merchandise in the run up to the new TV show coming to Nick Jr I was all over it like a rash as my eldest LOVED the Poppy Cat books when she was little.
We fell in love with her by accident really as one of the lovely board books came in one of those first readers bags you get from the health visitor way back when.
We read it over and over until the board pages where frayed and splitting and i was positively sad when she eventually outgrown those simple books. Relieved for more content for sure but so sad to leave little Poppy Cat behind.
Who’s Poppy Cat you are probably now screaming through the screen at me well here’s a little bio:

The first Poppy Cat book was published in 2003 by Campbell Books (Macmillan). Written and illustrated by Lara Jones, the series has sold over 2.5 million books across 30 titles to date. 1.5 million of these have been sold to a number of international territories, including Spain, France, Italy and Brazil.
Poppy Cat books have won many awards including: Book trust Early years Award – Poppy Cat’s Farm Practical Pre-school Awards – Swap the Scene, Poppy Cat
Right Start Best Toy Awards – Poppy Cat Hug Prima Baby Reader Awards – The Poppy Cat series

By Kate Boutilier & Eryk Casemiro Poppy Cat begins where the Poppy Cat books left off. Lara Jones’ colourful and appealing characters spring to life from the page to the small screen in stories of friendship and fantasy play. The series is aimed at the upper end of the pre-school age range, but the stories are suitable for children of all ages.
Seen through the eyes of Poppy’s young owner, a little girl called Lara, each story is a celebration of imaginative play as Poppy Cat and her friends embark on fanciful journeys through fantastical lands. Told with humour and great heart, these stories give children a glimpse of their own potential for imaginative play and creativity through the tales of a very special cat and her equally interesting band of friends. Each episode is eleven minutes long and comprises an ensemble cast of three boy and three girl characters.

At the beginning of each story we meet Lara, a girl who invents fantastical and extravagant stories for her beloved cat, Poppy. Created with a child-like whimsy, Lara’s stories feature a hero named Poppy and are the sort of adventures she believes her own cat would have in a make-believe world. But whilst featuring fantasy-play adventure, the stories of Poppy Cat are primarily about friendship, focusing on social and emotional development relevant and familiar to a four year-old child. As the leader of the group, Poppy approaches every situation in an enthusiastic, creative way, and her imagination takes them all to the most exciting places.
Each of the main characters is broadly drawn to maximize their comedic personalities while allowing a core curriculum to be addressed. The characters are Poppy Cat’s best friends but most of the challenges arise directly from their real and relatable flaws: fear, vanity, recklessness, self-importance or naivety, and these are played out in their adventures.
While our friends never fight amongst themselves, their character flaws will often steer the adventure, for good and bad. It’s then up to Poppy and her non-judgemental, compassionate stance to lead them to safety, leaving our characters with a greater awareness of themselves and the world. In the world of Poppy Cat and her friends, modes of
transportation can appear in a flash, distant locations can be travelled in one day, and there is no problem that Poppy Cat encounters that cannot be solved.


And now to my utter surprise (I’m so not on the ball when it comes to Nick Jr now a days as my youngest two are cbeebies mad!) She now has her very own show!!!



Joanna Page becomes the voice of Poppy Cat
on Nick Jr.’s new adventure packed show

Launching on Monday 2nd May at 10.00am on Nick Jr and shown every weekday throughout May
An animated series full of adventure and fantasy for preschoolers

Joanna Page, who won the nation’s hearts in Gavin and Stacey, will make her preschool TV debut in May on Nick Jr.’s new animated series Poppy Cat. Joanna voices the show’s leading character, Poppy Cat, a cat with a thirst for adventure and a colourful eclectic mix of animal friends. Based on the award winning books by Lara Jones, which have sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, Poppy Cat will take preschoolers on fantastical adventures and excite their imaginations. The series features 26 x 10 minute episodes.
The show revolves around Lara, a young girl who invents stories for her beloved cat Poppy. Once she starts reading, preschoolers are transported into the fantasy world of Poppy Cat where animals walk upright, talk and have extraordinary adventures. With a flick of Poppy Cat’s patchwork bandana, fantastic vehicles appear, such as sailing ships and hot-air balloons. Poppy Cat and her friends then travel to magical destinations, including the Marshmallow Mines and the Trumpet Tree Forest, where they encounter other animals – pink dolphins, royal toads and even giant space squids! 

Poppy Cat celebrates the fun and power of inventing and sharing stories. Preschoolers are encouraged to use their imagination as a way to solve problems and pursue their goals. The stories of Poppy Cat also focus on friendship, and on social and emotional themes which are relevant and familiar to preschoolers. But above all, Poppy Cat is about Making Adventures Extraordinary!


Poppy Cat premieres Monday 2nd May at 10.00am
…only on Nick Jr (Sky 615, Virgin 715 and TalkTalk 318).

Now here’s a little interview by Joanna herself on the lovely new series:
What is the Poppy Cat series about?

The Poppy Cat series is about Poppy Cat’s adventures with all of her friends. They all play together but then every episode something happens — there’s a bit of drama. Then Poppy Cat unfurls her bandana and magics up a ship or a rocket or a submarine and they all go off on an adventure together and solve the problem.


What was it that attracted you to being the voice of poppy cat?

I was attracted to being the voice of Poppy Cat because Poppy Cat is just brilliant! I’ve always wanted to play some sort of animated character and I adore animals, so to play a cat is just fantastic. But I also love Poppy Cat because she’s strong, she’s determined, she’s not scared of anything, she’s very brave, she’s lovely and kind, she’s not selfish, she looks after her friends and she doesn’t back down from anything — and I think I’ve got some of those qualities! It’s just really exciting to play a cat who is so strong and really up for it. 

And also everybody loves Poppy Cat; the books have been such a success. So to actually play Poppy Cat is such an honour – I’m over the moon.  


What preparation did you need to do for the role?

My preparation for Poppy Cat was actually to study my Jack Russell dog! I’ve studied her for about ten years of her life and I think I’ve incorporated all of her animal ‘things’ into my voice. Listening to all of the other characters it’s really funny because everybody is so suited to their character. And it’s so well written, that you just say the lines. And they’ve cast it so well that naturally you’re very similar to your character. So I find that when I’m reading Poppy Cat I would probably react the same way as she does about lots of different things.

I think my research is to make sure my voice is okay and to make sure that I don’t go too fast and that I get the right feel for it because it’s aimed towards children. Just to try and get the story, try and put across what you want to put across, and make your voice understood. Try and get the essence of Poppy Cat; try not to be too giggly or too scared — just know the way that Poppy Cat would play the story.


How different is being a voice artist to appearing on stage or on television?

Being a voice artist is completely different to performing on stage or on TV. You’re very lucky – if you’ve got to be in very early in the morning, you could turn up in your pyjamas if you want to! You don’t have to wear any make-up or look particularly good because it’s all in your voice. 

But because it’s just your voice that people hear you have to know what you’re playing. You have to know the story, completely commit to it and know what’s going on. Because if a voice artist is feeling a bit nervous, or they’re not confident, or they don’t know what they’re doing the audience will hear it straight away and you won’t believe it. Whereas on TV and in the theatre there’s so much going on and the audience is watching and listening to stuff so you can get away with a lot more. But if you’re on radio or you’re voicing a character you really have to be spot on.


How long does it take to record an episode of Poppy cat?

With the rest of the cast recording an episode of Poppy Cat can take all day because we’ll be giggling and messing around a lot! But the other day I was on my own – I went in at 1.30 and I worked until five and I recorded 12 scripts, because I don’t like to stop; when I’m in the flow of it I like to just keep going and doing all of the episodes. So it takes a good few hours and I’ll probably go through and record about 12 episodes.


Who are your favourite characters from the series?

I love Egbert because he’s so sweet! I love his voice. And I feel so sorry for him because you want to include him. All the other characters are really sweet because they do try and include Egbert and he’s the one who doesn’t really want to be included. And I also absolutely adore Owl. I love it that he’s so wise but also slightly sarcastic. I do think that adults watching will like Owl as well. He does make me laugh! I can’t listen to Chris [Neill – voice of Own] because when he’s speaking to me all I see is a big owl and that makes me laugh so much! And I love Zuzu’s voice! But I’ve got to be honest: Egbert and Owl are my favourite characters.


What are you favourite moments from the series?

My favourite moments from the series are always when we’re in a submarine and we’re underwater. I think it looks absolutely hilarious when we’ve got our scuba diving helmets on – and when we’re swimming. You can see Zuzu’s feet and Poppy cat’s feet just sort of floating and it looks so comical! I adore all of the scenes when we’re all under the water.


How does it feel to hear your voice spoken by an animated character?

I always think it’s really strange hearing your voice spoken by an animated character because I don’t think I sound like I do – especially when I’m doing Poppy Cat’s voice which is slightly higher and a bit cuter. In my head I think I’ve got a very deep mature-sounding English voice. And then I hear my voice as Poppy Cat and think, “Oh my gosh, I actually do sound like I’ve got quite a lilt in my voice and my voice is quite high.” 


If you could be an animal which would you be and why?

If I could be an animal I would like to be a dog because they get a brilliant life. I would basically like to be my dog because she gets fed amazing things, she gets smoothed all the time, she gets to sleep in bed and she’s carried around everywhere. My life revolves around making her life really good fun — so she gets amazing clothes, amazing food, she gets pampered, she gets to sleep and I massage her all the time as well. So I would like to have the life of my Jack Russell dog called Daisy.

So after all that reading and background info, lots i clearly didn’t know, me and the girls sat down for a snuggle and watched the two episodes that i was so kindly sent.
Well the girls certainly loved it, we had peace and quiet for the entire episode and like me they marvelled at how well the characters came alive. We are used the reading the books so seeing how well it translated into TV was glorious.  They had managed to keep the lovely bright colours and the glorious charm of hand drawn characters from the book. The voices all worked well and i was as equally happy to sit and watch as the children where. I find with most book adaptations that a lot of the appeal from the books is lost once it reaches TV but not this, the whole charm and loveliness is there and i think that’s what children find endearing. You can now go away and read the books and match the characters with real voices and personalities. Long may children’s TV be as glorious as Poppy Cat!


You would be mad to miss this lovely show so stop by Nick Jr weekdays in May for a chance to catch all their exciting adventures!!

L xx

Featuring….. Good books for Tough Times

Good Books for Tough Times helps parents and teachers choose the right books for children who are facing difficulties such as bereavement, bullying or family break-up. A total of 118 books have been independently chosen, and are reviewed in two separate guides- one aimed at 5-8 year olds and one at 9-12 year olds. Both guides can be ordered from Partnership for Children.

Good Books for Tough Times is produced by Partnership for Children, a charity which promotes the mental health and emotional well being of young children. Launched in the UK ten years ago, the charity has already helped more than 500.00 children in 19 countries, and provides resources, advice and training to teachers and parents.

These guides read like a school book fair brochure, they have a little picture of the book cover at the top with its name etc then a little review underneath explaining which difficult subject they address, then publisher, price and the ISBN.
Each subject has a colour coded section for easy browsing and they are really unoffensive. There is a foreword in each guide from a famous author, Jacqueline Wilson is in the 5-8 age group guide and its great to see such famous authors supporting something so important for children.

The guides are totally free from the Partnership for Children website and if your family is going through a tough time i would highly recommend these guides. The books are obviously “support books” so your child would feel “different” by reading them.

For example The Cat Mummy by Jacqueline Wilson deals with loss and bereavement yet to an on looker that child is simply reading a book so need to worry about bullying whilst dealing with these sensitive issues.

I think its wonderful that someone has finally found a way to explain difficult situations to young children without all the fantasy and drama and i fully support this wonderful charity and the work they do.

For further info or to order your own guides please visit http://www.partnershipforchildren.org.uk/

L xx