Recently we have been reading some of my favourite children’s stories that were read to me at bedtime when I was younger. When Bear was a baby he was given some of my hand me downs and among the little gems of my childhood was a book my Grandad used to read to me. He would pull up the rickety, squeaky chair, with the wicker back from the desk near the window, open up the book and read from it an array of magical stories. It’s so special that I can now read these treasured stories with my own children and brings a tear to my eye remembering the most seemingly mundane but truly wonderful memories of my Grandad.
Favourite Fables – A collection of Favourite Fable and Fairytales
This was a book that my Grandad found on offer in Woolworths (remember that place?) over 20 years ago and it has been one of my absolute favourites since. It is brimming with stories such as; Aesop’s Fables, Grimm’s Fairytales, Hans Andersen’s Fairytales and Tales from the Arabian Nights. I always adored being read Aesop’s Fables in particular and loved how every story had a moral at the end. Over the past couple of days we have been reading the boys some of these stories and came across ‘The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse’, which has the message of, ‘Better a poor and carefree life than a rich and worried one’. This is something I’ve always remembered and make sure that the boys understand that money and material items are not really all that important.
One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth
This is another book I adored as a child. My Mum had me when she was 18 and so for a long time we lived with my Nan. She had this amazing collection of Nick Butterworth books that were really small, but hardback. My favourite was always One Snowy Night and I would always ask her to read it to me again and again. The story is set on a cold winters night and Percy the park keeper gets a lot of visitors looking for somewhere warm to stay. He is more than happy to have all his animal friends stay, but it is quite a dilemma trying to find them all a bed for night. It’s amazing being able to share my favourite childhood stories with my children and this one has become a firm favourite over the years.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
This is a story about a little boy who one day finds a penguin at his door. The little boy assumes the penguin must be lost, so they venture to the South Pole to return the penguin to his home. As the boy sails away, he realises that the Penguin isn’t lost at all, but is lonely, so goes back to find the penguin and bring him home. This is such a heart-warming story, with really lovely illustrations. The boys enjoy reading this story and it opens up conversations about being kind to people who feel lost or alone. We’ve really enjoyed reading it and would recommend giving it a read.
What I’ve been reading…
The House on Bellevue Garden by Rachel Hore
This is a multi-narrative story that follows different characters through turbulent times in their lives. Along one storyline we have Leonie, who is worried about the house she lives in as it crumbles around her. It has been her refuge for many years after fleeing an abusive relationship. Leonie was left the house by a dear friend who passed and she now rents out rooms to different people who are feeling lost in life. There is also Stef who herself is fleeing an abusive relationship, Rosa who is trying to find her brother after he disappeared shortly after arriving in England and Rick a creative who is working on a graphic novel, while working in an unfulfilled job role in a supermarket.
I wasn’t overly bothered with this book to be honest. It is written reasonably well and the storylines are intriguing, but I just didn’t connect with the characters. There were a lot of weak characters in the story that relied on Leonie as a support while they wandered through life a bit lost. I got the impression that Leonie was to be meant to be seen as this wonderful character, but that the pressure of being so many people’s support was causing her to crumble with the house. In theory it was quite poetic I guess, but actually I just found it a bit tedious and got a bit bored waiting for everyone to rise up as new, stronger people. Overall an easy, lazy read but ultimately a little underwhelming.