Archive for Books

The Honest Toddler by Bunmi Laditan

The Honest Toddler

The Honest Toddler

A Child’s Guide to Parenting

The toddler stage can be a real shock for some parents, when your cute, sweet little baby morphs overnight into a mini-monster who seems hell-bent on making even a simple trip to the shops a horrible humiliating experience for all concerned.
The Honest Toddler is a deliciously funny guide to parenting which aims to provide the answers every parent seeks. What are you supposed to do when your little one simply lies himself down on the supermarket floor screaming? Or what do you do when she simply doesn’t want to wear shoes today?

Play-Date Etiquette

Who better to teach parents about the needs of toddlers than a toddler himself? The Honest Toddler covers the big questions – How Can You Prevent Siblings?  Who Does Mummy Belong To?  Sleep and Weaning Your Parents Off It – and is packed full of general advice on play-date etiquette (don’t touch – just don’t!), preferred toddler foods (ice cream and toast), sleep training methods (hint: none) and the proper response to random aggression in the playground (embrace it! The Honest Toddler has everything every parent needs to know to keep their little angel/devil happy.

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The author, Bunmi Laditan lives in Canada and has two young children.  She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Mothering and, where her satirical pieces on parenting and politics often go viral.

The Two Week Wait by Sarah Rayner

The Two Week WaitI just finished reading The Two Week Wait by Sarah Rayner. It’s a book well worth reading although there’s a fair chance, if you’re like me that, you’ll end up in tears!

Without giving too much away, it’s about two women who although they don’t know each other, will be forever connected, even indebted, to each other. In a nutshell, they both want a baby but one is infertile and the other hasn’t got a partner. Part of the story is set in a very colourful, vibrant Brighton where Lou’s other half has to decide if she wants a babywith Lou. Cath and her husband Rich live in Yorkshire and although Cath is desperate for a child, Rich feels she’s gone through enough after her cancer treatment.

The The Two Week Wait by Sarah Rayner is a real page-turner and I for one will be looking out for Sarah’s other books.

The Antenatal Group by Amy Bratley

The Antenatal Group by Amy BratleyJust finished reading The Antenatal Group by Amy Bratley and I loved it! Whatever kind of books you’re normally into, you’ll like it too – I guarantee.

It’s about 5 very different pregnant women who meet in an antenatal class and become friends. If they hadn’t been pregnant, their paths might never have crossed but at this stage in their lives they all have something in common. They’re all going through pregnancy – some have a textbook pregnancy, some find it more difficult. They’re all about to give birth – some with more ease than seems fair, some find the birth traumatic. They all have young babies – and again some find those early days easier than others.

There’s a quote in the book that kind of sums it all up. Just after describing babies as ‘the ultimate equaliser among women‘, Erin reflects…”No matter how successful, or attractive, or well off you were – or indeed the opposite – babies cried and didn’t sleep and needed endless attention and whoever you were, whatever your circumstances, you had to try to learn to cope with that‘”

If I say more I’ll give away the story and I don’t want to spoil it for you. Read it. You’ll love it. I did!

Order The Antenatal Group by Amy Bratley from Amazon . It’s not out yet – it’s out in April. As Editor of TheBabyWebsite I was fortunate to be sent an advance copy. I’m probably not even supposed to write about it yet – if so, apologies Pan Macmillan!

Oh yes – and here are some reviews of The Antenatal Group by some reviewers on our Product Review Panel..

Christmas Books for Children

Christmas in my house is all about the children and their toys. But just as important are the books. In the lead up to Christmas, I’m always  looking about for new Christmas themed books on the market. This time of year can be so magical and really capture their imaginations.

Here are some books I’d like to share with you:

Santa and his squeaky red noseSanta‘s flying in his sleigh, bringing gifts for Christmas day. Squeak santa’s red nose and meet all of his bright, colourful friends who have squeaky noses too. Watch the cheeky elf making toys, for all the good girls and boys – maybe this can be a lesson for good behavior. (Suitable for 1+ years age)

The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas is a modern Christmas classic with a strong moral about the dangers of being greedy and truly appreciating the value of Christmas. My son’s going to love this one! Danny wants everything for Christmas. But what he gets is a dinosaur, a very hungry dinosaur. Danny’s new dino eats up all of Christmas, but as we all know, what goes in must come out…Danny is about to have the most EXPLOSIVE Christmas of his life! There’s poop, presents and prehistoric creatures in this festive feast! Check out what our reviewers think of The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas.

Diary of a Christmas Wombat is a colourful diary of an unexpected journey (read what other reviewers think).

Christmas comes but once a year, and it?s just as well for Santa?s reindeer, who have to fight with Mothball the Wombat for the carrots left out for them by the local children. Follow Mothball when he takes an unexpected sleigh ride (Age 3-5 years).

When I Dream of Christmas will take children on a magical journey of discovery, whilst helping them and their families appreciate the joys that a traditional Christmas has to offer (Age 3-5 years). See what our reviewers think of When I Dream Of Christmas.

The Snow Bear As the snow begins to fall just days before Christmas, Grandad helps Sara build an igloo in the garden, and Sara sculpts a small polar bear to watch over it. And what could be more exciting than sleeping outside under the stars? But when Sara awakes in the middle of the night, she finds the igloo is no longer in the garden but lost in a world of ice …and her snow bear has transformed into a real live polar bear cub. Sara and the cub set out on an enchanted journey through the wilderness – will they ever find their way home? (Age 5-7 years)

So that’s just a few of the new Christmas Books for Children that I’ve discovered this year. If I find any more good ones then I’ll be sure to let you all know!

Babies in Waiting

Babies in Waiting by Rosie FioreJust finished reading a book called Babies in Waiting by Rosie Fiore.

Babies in Waiting

I really enjoyed it and it’s one of those ‘nice’ easy-to-read books that you can just pick up and read anytime. You know the sort of thing I mean…. The rice is cooking, you’ve just hoovered the stairs and have a quick 5 minutes before dinner, so you pick your book up to read a chapter. No complicated plot to remember, easy to follow characters and a great heartwarming story to keep you wanting to find out what happens to everyone at the end.

In a nutshell, Babies in Waiting is about 3 women who get pregnant at different stages in their life and who ‘meet’ on an online forum and despite being very different people become friends. I won’t say any more and go and spoil it for you. Read it for yourself. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.


Midwife on Call by Agnes Light

Midwife On CallWhat with Call the Midwife starring Miranda Hart on Sunday evenings and my favourite One Born Every Minute on a  Wednesday I seem to be constantly grunting and pushing in front of the telly instead of the usual couch-potatoing! And not content with watching women give birth I seem to have a whole load of books around the subject too. A while back I read and loved The Midwife’s Confession (a must-read for any Jodi Picoult fans) and have just finished Midwife On Call by Agnes Light. And once I’ve read all my Christmas books, the next on my list is The Midwife of Venice. Midwife on Call charts Agnes’ 30 year career as a midwife and shows how the actual experience of Childbirth has changed through the years. I thought the book gave a genuinely  interesting insight into a midwife’s job from the ’60s onwards. It was refreshing to read that Agnes is a mother herself so knows what giving birth is really all about. How annoying is it when, say, ‘childcare gurus’, and the like, mouth off about ‘sleep-training’ when they are childless themselves and have no real conception of having their own baby up all night screaming the place down! (I think we all know who I’m talking about there!) The author is clearly a caring, warm individual who loved her job. Midwife on Call isn’t a great literary work by any means but if you like books about women having babies (I do!), like ‘medical dramas’ (I do!), like autobiographical books (I do!) and you like books showing how things that affect you have changed through the ages then you’ll enjoy Midwife On Call. Read what Agnes Light wrote on Helena’s Blog. by Kathryn Crawford (Editor)

Using my Kindle

It was one of my birthday presents earlier this year and I was quite excited, having read all the reviews and other hype in the press over the preceding few months.

I live in a household of sceptics and I must confess to having been a little so myself at some points, but because I had several olde-worlde ‘paper’ books left to read, the Kindle was temporarily shelved.

Last week, however, I embarked on my first novel ‘kindle-style’; a good old Ian McEwan – ‘The Innocent’, a really good read I hasten to add.  After a quick fiddle with font sizes and orientations I settled on the defaults and got stuck in.

Reading with the Kindle is a breeze, no trying not to lose your page by wedging a thumb in between pages at the bottom, no pages working loose at the spine, no having to change the angle for each alternate page to keep the text out of shadow.  Whatsmore…. yes, there’s more!  If you stumble accross a word that you’re not sure about, there’s a built-in dictionary to explain all.  (It doesn’t do German Menu Items unfortunately though – anyone who’s read The Innocent will know what I’m talking about)

Am I a convert?  Don’t know really.  I’ll have to let you know after my next holiday.  I know the baggage will be a bit lighter next time though.

Perhaps I’ll drop back and let you know then.

Poorer Grammar, Fewer Customers

More Laughter, FEWER lines???

Being ever the stickler for the correct use of English, I couldn’t help but be smacked in the face by a Marks and Spencer Advert which appeared on our site this morning.

More laughter, less lines!  What!!  Surely not!  That Great British institution crumbling under the weight of prescriptive curriculae that has been blighting the minds of our current generation of young executives.  Are today’s creative advertising designers really that poorly educated in the use of their mother tongue that they could fail so miserably in the creation of a four-word strap line?  Or was the alliteration considered of primary importance over and above correct grammar?  Possibly!

More educational diversity, fewer mistakes!

Come on M&S, get it together, if only for me and my obsessive compulsive literary tendencies.

I thought my derision of apostrophe abuse was enough.  I must be getting very old, bitter and twisted!


Before I Die

I just read one of my 16 year old daughter’s books – ‘Before I Die’ by Jenny Downham.

Talk about traumatic! My mascara was everywhere by the end of the book. The book is about a teenager who is dying of leukaemia and has a sort of ‘Bucket List’ – a list of things she wants to do before she dies.

It’s a very uplifting book and raises many issues about how we deal with death. The girl in question has a 10 year old brother and some of the questions he has about his sister’s imminent death are at the same time funny and immensely sad.

There’s a programme on TV tonight called ‘Teenagers Fighting Cancer’ and I can imagine that many of the teenagers featuring will be going through similar emotions to Tessa in ‘Before I Die’.

I don’t want to spoil the book by going into any more detail but try and have a read of it sometime.

It’s all about seizing the moment and celebrating life while you’ve got the chance. I’ve always wondered how I would react if I or one of the people close to me were diagnosed with a terminal disease, well this book takes you through the reactions of mother, father, brother, best friend, boyfriend and even the morbid curiosity of school friends.

It’s well worth reading this Random House book but make sure you’ve got a box of tissues handy!


Political Correctness – how un-correct!

The last couple of weeks have made me think lots about me, my childhood, my upbringing and how today’s society differs. My parents did a terrific job of bringing me up – or so I believe, anyway. My childhood was enriched with a diversity of experiences, love, travel, and probably most importantly a freedom to be myself. My earliest years were spent with a really close-knit group of friends who used to spend hours together, exploring, having fun, getting into all sorts of trouble, but in the most part, learning about life. I’m not referring to teenage years here, but back to when I was 4, 5 or 6 years old. We used to come back home at the end of the day tired, filthy, cut and bruised and more often than not to the chorus of my mother’s disapprovals. However, when I now analyse those times retrospectively, they played a huge part in the way I approach life today and I feel a tremendous sense of sorrow at the fact that today’s children are denied the opportunity to experience the ‘bread and butter’ of life.

I see two monstrous demons every day in our society; demons so great that they are a huge threat to our children’s and grand-children’s development; demons that are strangling the life blood out of today’s society; demons that are changing the so-called civilised human race so profoundly that I wonder if I may even start to see the consequences in my own years. What are these demons? We read about them every day in our newspapers, we see them stuck to our walls, we have to think daily about what we say and where we say it. One is that cowardly, evil monster that refers to itself as “Health and Safety”, the other is that slimy, hypocritical little bastard called “Political Correctness”. Why have I described it in such a way, you ask? Well answer this… where does it stem from, this ‘political correctness’? Of what stock is it bred? Who even conceived the term?

It’s a sad reflection when in today’s society, influenced so heavily by the media in all its forms, someone working for our most glorious institution, the BBC, describes a sportsman as looking like a Golliwog  and gets disciplined for it.  I had a Golliwog when I was little. It was one of my favourite little cuddly toys. I still remember it to this day, forty odd years on and it still holds many happy memories. Just through curiosity, my trusty copy of Collins English Dictionary describes it as “a soft doll with a black face, usually made from cloth or rags. :from the name of a doll character in children’s books by Bertha Upton, US writer and Florence Upton, children’s illustrator.”. Now pardon me for thinking this, but I look at some people and think they look like fictional characters, or comic-book creations too! I’m sure I’m not alone! If I were talking with friends in a pub, saying that so-and-so looks like an Eskimo, would the landlord be obliged to kick me out and ban me for racist behaviour on his premises? Surely not! Well, in my eyes, this is exactly what the BBC did to Carol Thatcher a couple of weeks ago. I know for a fact that if you call an Inuit an Eskimo, he may well be offended, in the same way that a Chinese person might be offended if you called him a Chink – and justifiably so! But at the end of the day, she did nothing of the sort, she simply used an analogy (off-air, incidentally) to describe what she thought an individual reminded her of. Good on you Carol!  When working in Brazil a few years ago, I was often called a ‘Gringo’ to my face, but to be perfectly honest, it didn’t bother me in the slightest!  I was in a minority, racially, and I was in their country, not my own.  I used to smile and return the complement in a light-hearted way.  It always resulted in a smile from both parties and no offence was ever taken.

Now staying on the subject of the BBC (why not), I have to add my few penn’orth to the Jonathan Ross debacle. My better half and I have watched his show for several years and last year, long before the furore over the Andrew Sachs insults took a hold, we commented about how he was becoming less and less enjoyable. His sole way of maintaining interest was to insult, belittle, and humiliate his guests and to try to shock people in his childish and reckless way. Years ago when he first started doing it, I have to agree, it amused us as we sat there thinking ‘he can’t say that!’ However, it all wore a bit thin after a while and the novelty diminished. He now bores me and to be perfectly honest, I think he has become somewhat pathetic, like a foul-mouthed little boy in a grown-up’s body. He is old enough to know better, surely, and his blasé attitude since his recent ban has completely extinguished any small urge I may have had to watch his show.

We recently ran a couple of stories on TheBabyWebsite about trends in modern parenting. One was about Fairy Tales and the other was concerning Playground Games. The results of a poll we carried out on each were interesting and, in many ways, refreshing, but what a shame that those aforementioned demons had stamped their mark on such fundamental innocence as the bedtime story and the playground game. Parents, not all of them, I hasten to add, but certainly some, actually thought that the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was politically incorrect. Some of them felt that the story of Little Red Riding Hood was too scary for their children. The game of Conkers has been banned in most schools as it is considered to be too dangerous. My thoughts….. ? Absolute nonsense! In all my years of playing conkers, other than for a few minor bruises to the wrists, I never saw or knew of anyone who came to grief as a result of playing this game. British Bulldog likewise: we all absolutely loved that game. Many would go home with a little graze on the knee or even in the absolute worst case, a bit of a ‘shiner’ (black eye – for those who are too young and have been sheltered from the evils of playground society during your upbringings).

In the name of protecting children, so many parents nowadays take their little darlings from front door to school door every day, so that they are not exposed to the dangers lurking out there. Do they not realise how big a negative impact on their children, their environment, their own well-being they are having? Let the children walk to school, or if it’s too far, then take the bus! Let them learn as they grow up, not just academically, but learn about life, its dangers and its wonderful, exciting and fascinating glory. They will be very much better adults as a result.

I am a parent myself, and as I mentioned in my introduction above, I want my children to experience life in its good and bad guises. I really resent the part of society that advocates the wrapping up of our children in cotton wool to protect them from all risks. If they are not exposed to risk at an early age, how will they ever recognise risk when they are older and perhaps trying to educate their own children. Unfortunately, the same cronies who harp on about political correctness are probably the same ones who fuel our current litigious culture, where blame is king and as long as your shoulders are sufficiently greased to be able to shed any that lands on you, you’re alright!

For heaven’s sake…. (ooops, religious connotation – politically incorrect!) let’s all be human again! Let’s try and make our society as diverse as I remember it to be when I was little. It was a wonderful time, childhood, and I am upset to see my own children being denied the rich experience I so enjoyed when I was brought up as a nipper.

Nigel Crawford