Are you sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin.
I love that our home is filled top to toe and bursting out of the sides with books. Crafty books, reams of fiction, H’s extensive history of art collection, a ten tonne weight masquerading as a book called Kryzig (remnant of someone’s engineering degree), and slightly sticky cook books splattered with remnants of whatever it was we had for supper.
There’s a section of my bookcases entirely devoted to the sort of fiction I call “brain anaesthesia”, the books that I can’t start unless I know for certain that I’ve got time to finish them because once I get into them frankly I won’t be able to hear you call my name if you’re sat next to me.
And these two girls of mine are in a fair way to starting a library to rival our own. As they’re a little too young to pull off a successful heist of Daddy’s credit card, although I’m sure Kitty has the PIN number memorised and Elma could probably do some damage on Amazon with a few vigorous gestures, we are largely responsible for the state of the bookcase, with able assistance from the girls’ nearest and dearest.
As I firmly believe that there’s no such thing as too many books (right up until the point that the ceiling falls into the kitchen), I may perhaps perchance and maybe hightailed it over to the Parragon Books stand at Britmums to see what lovely new releases might need to make an appearance in our house soon.
Well that and they had cupcakes.
The books they gave Elma have happily outlasted the cupcake, although I’m not convinced that that’s the chief selling point they were aiming for.
Peek-a-Boo Friends is aesthetically gorgeous; soft colours and sweet illustrations that have a gentle dreamy feel, and the pages are smooth, matt and cool. It’s hard to describe, but they feel nice to the touch, in the same way that the covers of Persephone books invite you to pick them up and hold onto them.
Elma isn’t quite up to carrying it around, but Kitty likes a book with a good handle, and the little animal cut outs at the top of each page are good to help tiny hands turn pages, and appear to be remarkably tasty.
But the let down I’m afraid is the words. I love beautiful words, even if I usually mangle them horribly. If I’m reading aloud I want an engaging story, funny rhymes, or a rhythmic patter; something that helps the reading to be pure pleasure. A string of verbs plus location, even terribly appropriate ones is just a bit too stilted, so although it’s a book we’ve ‘read’ a lot, I tend to make up my own story around the characters.
I’m really in two minds as to whether this is a fatal flaw; if I’d come across it in a shop I would definitely have picked it up, but I can’t promise I’d have parted with £4.99 for it. That said, Elma is pretty keen on it and I do want to check out the Peek-a-Boo Rainbow so the jury is still out.
The one that has completely earned its hypothetical £5.99 is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This is the book that produces in Elma a reaction that can only be described as the over enthusiastic penguin (arms flapping, all energies exerted in attempting self propulsion), usually reserved for family members or food.
In look it has that same serenity, all dusky purples and greens, perfect for winding down at bedtime, but it’s the lights and sounds that won over my daughter. The buttons are just right for jabbing with podgy little fingers, and they’re sufficiently sensitive to respond to a baby’s touch (as anyone who wandered around London with their handbag hooting like an owl after Britmums can attest).
The chief attributes as far as this Mummy is concerned are: (a) I quite like the sounds and (b) (and most importantly) there is access to the battery compartment. It’s not so much about replacing the batteries (when I put new juice in one of Kitty’s favourite Christmas books they cost more than the book had) so much as the ability to remove them when the gentle owl is no longer hooting and more ‘being chased by a Gruffalo’. And for that, whoever you are at Parragon Books, I thank you.
Full and Frank Disclosure – I was given copies of Peek-a-Boo Friends and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Parragon Books at Britmums but the words and opinions are my own ramblings