Tag Archives: squirrel

Autumn books we love

Yes, the weather has turned to wet and miserable, but we can still rejoice at the thought of hot chocolate and biscuits, or whatever treat warms both your belly and your heart. Autumn is almost certainly my favourite season and Jane Porter‘s gorgeous illustration seemed to perfectly illustrate the joy this time of year summons in me. Don’t get me wrong, my kids and I love summer with all the opportunities it offers to spend time outside, but I like the fact that summer is precious because it is short lived.

If you don’t feel like braving the rain and wind, or if your kids need to be convinced that autum is a great season, then read them these two lovely stories. The first of these will explain to them why leaves fall, and the second will encourage them to be patient and understanding, so really, what’s not be liked?

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When we picked up Leaf Trouble written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church at the library recently, I wondered why it looked familiar to me. Then once home, I realised that Caroline Jayne Church had made a series of books that my son adored as a baby and toddler whose main character is a fun little puppy called Woof.

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Now in Leaf Trouble there is no dog, but a family of squirrels who lives in an big oak tree. Pip when he realises that the leaves are not only changing colours but also falling from the trees, starts to panic.

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He calls for his sister’s help and hopes that they can save the tree which is “falling to pieces”. After making a huge pile on the ground, this spontaneous rescue team tries to stick the leaves back on the branches, but of course this fails, and thank goodness their mum arrives and asks them what they’re doing!

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She then explains to them that the tree needs a rest and that when spring comes, the leaves will all come back again.

Relieved to hear this, they play beneath the old oak tree until sunset, collect some leaves to take back to their nest, and watch the gorgeous colours of the sunset which perfectly match the ones on the leaves. Seeing them happy and soaking in the scene contrasts nicely with their frantic panic and makes for a nice ending.

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This story gave us a chance to think about the change of season and what happens to trees and animals who live outdoors. If your child has ever wondered why it is that leaves change colour in the fall, read this great post by an expert who has tons of ideas to make this tangible and fun with experiments and activities.

Now for a visual feast you can’t really beat the lavishness of Helen Cooper‘s work. “Deep  in the woods there’s an old cabin with pumpkins in the garden. There’s a good smell of soup, and at night, with luck, you might see a bagpiping Cat through the window, and a squirrel with a banjo, and a small singing Duck.”

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Each of them has a special role in making this yummy soup: Cat slices the pumpkin, Squirrel stirs in the water, and Duck adds the right amount of salt. But one morning Duck wakes up early and decides to borrow Squirrel’s special spoon and to become the Head cook. Of course this is not going to work and not only because he is too short. The three friends start squabbling and arguing until Duck walks out, annoyed that no one will let him help.

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Contrary to what the Cat and the Squirrel thought Duck does not come back for breakfast, not even for lunch. The soup they make is not tasty and they don’t feel hungry anyway. So they start to look for him and to worry about where he has gone.

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After looking for a long time, they decide to go back home, see some light from a distance, and run to the house where they are finally reunited.

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My kids love pumpkin soup and understand all too well falling out with friends, so when the Cat and Squirrel decide to let Duck make the soup for the sake of their friendship, they understand why it is, believe me! And they love the look of the messy kitchen too.

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For another visual automnal feast, watch Co Hoedeman’s Ludovic who has been a favourite in our house for years. We have a DVD with several of this cute teddy’s stories but you can watch Magic in the air on the National Film Board’s website for free.

For more activity ideas, have a look at our seasonal pinterest board!

Finally here is some inspiration for those of you who like making yummy snacks together. Look at these maple roast pumpkin seeds or apple pie cups on Weelicious, don’t they look nice? I also love improvising with date-nut bites, there’s a good recipe here, but feel free to try your own combination. We like date+cocoa+walnut+almond butter, rolled in dessicated coconut to make them a bit less sticky. As long as you’ve got a good food processor, they are easy and kids love these energy balls.

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Just in case you get thirsty, why not try THE drink that says autumn: apple cider, a good old classic which makes the house smell like heaven. Here’s a link to a foolproof recipe with an option to make it plain, decadent, or even boozy.

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Do you like slimy slugs…in your stories that is?

For the last few days, my children have reminded me how much they love reading about yucky things. Alice Bell has a brilliant post on poo books that I suggest you have a look at if you’ve ever wondered about the why of poo literature. I have already written a couple of posts on poo literature myself, so you may be thinking; what?! Another post on poo?! Not quite. I will spare you and focus on a slightly different topic today, but expect a gruesome (and slightly delayed) French Friday that will no doubt include the p word this week end.

Gareth Edwards’ and Hannah Shaw‘s The Disgusting Sandwich starts off with on the one hand a boy going to the park with a truly beautiful sandwich, and on the other hand a very hungry badger salivating at the sight. But almost as soon as the little boy gets into the playground, a girl bumps him and his sandwich falls in the sandpit. Does he apply the 2 second rule? No! This may be because the girl tells him: “Well you can’t eat it now. It’s disgusting!” or maybe because he has experienced the unpleasant grittiness of sand on food before, we don’t know.

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But from then on, we follow the sandwich as well as the badger who is trying to catch it. Before he can grab it, the sandwich is picked up and discarded by a squirrel, a frog, a crow, and finally a fox.

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And every time the sandwich gets dirtier and more disgusting until it is “covered in sand and smelly green goop and big squish marks and hundreds of ants and grimy old feathers and slippery slime and oozy grey bubbles”.

DisgustingSandwichScooterBut the badger is still ravenous, his tummy still rumbles and his hunger has to be satisfied, so guess what he does? I’m not going to say! All I will say is that my kids love this slimy and yucky ending. The repetitive pattern and lines, the funny faces the animals make, and the yucky, slimy sandwich are winners with both my children. Almost every single time we’ve read this book, we’ve discover new details about the park, its inhabitants, and those who use it daytime or nighttime. From the yellow wellies worn by the frog to the little boy in a wheelchair playing tennis, it abounds in fun details.

If sandwiches are your thing, go and see this post which gives you additional reading suggestions including a great pop out book I did not know about and ideas for activities!

And for a bit of drawing and assembling, download this activity sheet by the illustrator to make the squirrel’s sandwich or make a beautiful sandwich truly disgusting!