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One for them and one for me: books for January


I am so excited today because finally after a couple of months of thinking about it and emailing and hoping my lovely cohosts would say yes (they did- phew!) and announcing it last month, the first day of our new reading project is finally here.  One for them and one for me is a monthly reading link up with a twist. Each month Katie at Be Nourishd, Claire at Clarina’s Contemplations and I will be sharing our favourite children’s book from the last month and a favourite grown up book, be it fiction, non fiction, just whatever we’ve been reading.  It’s a bit of a push to read for me a little more often and if you’re feeling inspired to read a little more then we’d love it if you joined in too.

And to start us off I have a real treasure:

One for them: Oi Frog!

Space for the Butterflies - Oi Frog!

Both H and I have a terrible affliction. It seems that when we go to the bookshop to buy presents for one or other of the girls’ friends we somehow always end up coming home with a little something new for our collection of lovely children’s books.  Oi Frog! is one of H’s entirely reasonable moments of weakness, and a very good one it is too.

He told me he picked it up in the shop, flipped through it, started laughing and was entirely sold before he’d even tried it out on a single one of the children.

Fortunately they are fans because if they weren’t I think he’d read it to them as a bedtime story regardless.

Space for the Butterflies - Oi Frog!

Cat, with all the determination that things should be as they ought to be so familiar to those of us with children in the preschool and early school years, is insistent that Frog should sit on a log.  That’s where frogs sit, on logs, so sit frog must.  But Frog doesn’t like the sound of a log, “they’re nobbly and uncomfortable. And they can give you splinters in your bottom” so he suggests alternatives, and off we go on a wonderful romp through some very creative rhyming.

Space for the Butterflies - Oi Frog!

Frog can’t sit on a mat because they’re for cats, nor a chair or a stool or a sofa or any number of sensible things that you might like to sit on, and it makes him curious.

Space for the Butterflies - Oi Frog!

Where do lions sit? Or lizards? Or puffins? All the way through, until our lovely friend Frog asks the one question perhaps he ought to have left alone…

Space for the Butterflies - Oi Frog!

…what about dogs?

It’s such a beautiful rhyming story, told with humour and fun and delightful illustrations, and as you can see, sufficiently popular that I couldn’t even sneak it away to take a few photos without tiny hands (belonging to Pip) coming to rescue it back.

One for me: Do Story

Space for the Butterflies - Do Story

One of my as yet unwritten down or particularly planned out aims for this year is to improve my writing.  It’s not that I don’t like the way I write, but it’s so much easier to say that I want to improve my photography or redesign my blog (which I may also be doing!) because it’s so much easier to set tangible goals.  I’m not sure what the writing equivalent is of moving to shooting on full manual, or pressing “Go” on a pretty new set up, but when writing is one of the biggest things I love about blogging, why wouldn’t I want to see if I can polish it up a bit? And then maybe I’ll stop starting sentences with “and” and my English teachers will stop collectively wincing (highly unlikely, it’s how I speak so it seems completely normal to me)!

Part of the plan is to try to separate my writing practice from my blogging.  It’s a bit of a challenge because my time for blogging is at a premium as it is, but I’d really like to get to a point where my not blogging everything I write, sometimes I’m writing just to see what happens, old school pen and paper style (we will have to imagine the garret and the constant supply of apples – I had dreams of being Jo March when I was younger).

And that’s wher my first book of 2016 comes in.  Do Story was a recommendation from one of the speakers at Blogfest and I hope they’ll forgive me for completely forgetting who it was because it was an awesome recommendation.

It was actually recommended for being short, though that’s far from its only attribute and it is quite simply a gripping pocket guide to the 10 principles that make up a story.

But Do Story isn’t just “do this”, it’s why.  Why do we tell stories in the first place? Why should we for example, take trouble to “set the GPS”, explaining the background and the reference points to our story? And it’s not just telling, it’s showing.  Each chapter is beautifully illustrated by a story that proves the point, and they are really engaging tales, from Scott the New York nightclub promoter who set up an African water charity to Churchill, who brought the English language into battle when he was rather lacking in much of anything else to fight with.

Space for the Butterflies - Do Story

Its worth reading for them alone.

But even better, to get me kick-started on my New Years not quite made it to a resolution, there’s an entered chapter at the back filled with writing exercises. Pen, meet paper, and off we go.