Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Nubie wish list

I've just discovered Nubie and I think it's a brilliant shop/boutique to make your house look child-friendly and yet ultra-modern. As with any boutique you will only find the best quality of items. All items are ultra-colourful and made of the best materials you can find. My readers will know that I am a big fan of wooden toys and here I have found a hoard of toys that I really, really want for my children. In fact I have had to make my own wish-list up, so that I have a guide whenever I have spare cash to spend on toys.

The Nubie website is really well designed so that it's easy to find exactly what you are looking for. Sections are small enough to hold your interest so that you can view all toys in one sitting. The website is quite neutral and minimalist so that you can concentrate on viewing the most important things; the toys. I love the fact that I can browse all the funky toys for ages sitting in my pyjamas.

Nubie believe that if kids have their own inspirational and funky stuff, not only will it encourage a child’s development but it will also enable them to embrace and appreciate good design too! I think that is why I love Nubie so much!

You can furnish your baby in style with products from leading children’s designers such as Magis, Offi, Brio, Donna Wilson, Sebra, Skip Hop, Katvig and Holly's. What more could you want? I could spend hours browsing the website as all toys are so attractive and serve as dual purpose attractive decorations for the modern home.

I've started off my list with something we already have from Nubie; the Brio Stacking Clown! I love dual-purpose toys; toys that look great and have fantastic play value. My one year old son loves pulling off all the rings and throwing them about and my older son then stacks them up again for him. Eventually this will become a toy that teaches my youngest son about sequence but for now he is content with the bright colours an fun that he has just getting the rings off. This clown has in fact been a popular toy since the 1950's which proves that good toy design means that generation after generation can enjoy. It's such a nice variation on the classic ring stacker. And most importantly the wood is coloured in a safe way which is very important as babies are renowned for putting everything in to their mouths.

The Brio clown also has great educational value. It will help develop motor skills and will help them with developing their grasp. It also helps develop hand eye co-ordination. It's also a great way to help your child learn colours if you repeat the colour names as you put the rings on. You can make your children laugh hysterically with this clown by rearranging the clowns' body parts.

Here is my wish list for Nubie:

Blue Didicar

Castle by Villa Carton

Fea Bea Ugly Doll

Ox Ugly Doll

Transportation storage bin by Dwell

Music Cuddle Mouse

Nido Play Cave by Magis

Bib by Dwell Baby

Blue Sausage Dog shoes by No Added Sugar

Cuddlemoo towel

Go and have a browse at www.nubie.co.uk

Britax KIDFIX Car Seat

Further to my review on the Britax Duo Plus and the research that I done on car seat safety I was compelled to get the Britax KIDFIX for my seven year old. I previously had the basic booster seat which just does the job of elevating him so that the seat belt fits more efficiently. So now I have this gorgeous car seat in my car, apart from looking nice and making my son look like he is sitting upon a King's throne what are the advantages??

Let me explain......

To make sure that I was ordering the safest car seat possible for my son I used 'Fit-Finder.' The Fit-Finder is a great tool which allows you to input the age and size of your child and type of car you own to find the best suited car seat for your child. After inputting my details, the 'Fit-Finder' provided an explanation of why the Britax KIDFIX was the best choice. Safe in the knowledge that I had the experts' choice I awaited the arrival of the car seat.

It is an easy task to fit the car seat in to your car as it simply clicks in to place with the ISOFIX system. The ISOFIT system anchors the base directly to the car’s ISOFIT connection points eliminating any margin for error when installing the seat. It's really reassuring to know that the car seat will withstand any fiddling with the belt that children are known to do.

It's a little pricier than a basic booster seat retailing at around £134.99 but it is worth it as not only are you are getting all the extra safety features which I am about to go into but this seat offers protection right up until your child is 12 years of age.

Unlike the booster seat I had before the KIDFIX has side wings which offer my son so much more protection from side impact. I liked the fact that the seat belt actually goes under the arm rests offering a tighter and closer fit.

My son informs me that it is really comfortable and it also has a recline facility which he absolutely loves. The padded headrest also is a godsend as my son is very prone to falling asleep in the car.

The fact that it has won so many awards fills me with reassurance.

A simply excellent car-seat.

For more info visit www.britax.co.uk

Le Toy Van Lion Heart Castle

This is now officially one of my son's favourite toys and it's also mine too! It's become a centrepiece in my living room and really makes the room come alive with the magic of childhood play. The castle is so well made, so solidly built, so accurately proportioned and so eye-catching that it is sure to be a hit with any child. I am a big fan of wooden toys but this one outdoes any previous wooden toys we have. I suppose you could say it is the boys' equivalent of a dolls house as there is literally potential inching out of every pore of this castle. It's a great historical learning tool for your child as you can illustrate to them how the drawbridges worked and why castles had moats. Show them the dingy dungeons and let them have guards patrolling in the court-yard. We are looking for a big green dragon to add to this set to add the element of magic to this gorgeous piece.
This is most definitely going to become a toy that is handed down to future generations. It's worth every penny as it is not a toy that will end up in the bin a few weeks after Christmas.

The castle comes flat-packed, apart from the towers which are already made. So it is very simple to assemble, most of it just needing to be slotted together and then the front is screwed down to the board underneath.

Here's a close-up of the drawbridge.

This is a brilliant feature as you even have a knob on top to wind up the drawbridge. Inside you have the portcullis.

A close-up of the winch.

You can see this is oozing with play value. It has seven towers and a wall that the enemy can push their way through.

We rate this toy a fantastic 10/10.

Here is the review from Master Craftiness:

Available from www.brightminds.co.uk

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Usborne Christmas Eve

We have reviewed a few Christmas books this week, but now it's time for a book that will appeal to babies. We LOVE Usborne Touchy-Feely Christmas Eve. It's written by Fiona Watt and illustrated by Rachel Wells.

It's Christmas Eve and Santa's little mice are planning a big surprise for him. So turn each page and let the babies enjoy the sensory experience.

Straight away we knew that this was going to be a book that appealed to little ones, as the woolly mice hair and baubles on the front cover made us grown-ups want to pick the book up and stroke it. Apart from fluffy hair there is also the glistening holograms on the bauble on the front cover; all very eye catching!

Another bonus about this book is that you don't have to worry about babies hurting themselves on sharp corners as the corners have been rounded. Pages made out of sturdy board ensure that babies can't rip the pages.

Cute characters and interesting textures will get everyone oohing and ahhing.

I just wish I had some little helpful mice in my house. They even put Santa's decorations on the tree for him. There's lots of glistening baubles to marvel at and woolly hats to stroke.

Those adorable little mice hanging paper chains, holly and stockings.
As you can see from the photos everything has different textures and the bright colours hold babies interest.

Textured material for the holly and a woolly nose for the reindeer.

A big glistening present, and I just love the furry teddy bear tummy.

More interesting surfaces to explore for babies.

I haven't photographed the last page but beside all the interesting touchy feely bits to explore, all the mice decide to hide from Santa. So it makes an additional joy for little ones to be able to spot all the mice on the two pages.
A really enjoyable Christmas book for babies and toddlers!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Star of Wonder

Above the town of Bethlehem, a dazzling star lights up the sky, calling animals from all around to follow in its rays. With its soft sparkly star light and simple rhyming words, this charming adaption of the nativity story tells of a very special journey. As each page is turned, the Star of Wonder becomes bigger and brighter as the animals get closer to Bethlehem and the miracle that awaits them.

The star shines when the book is opened and will automatically shut off after a few minutes.

I think I have mentioned once or twice how much I love Top That Publishing and yet again they deliver the usual amount of wonder. A nice glossy hardback feels great and this is topped off with the fantastic illustrations and story. Despite the fact that I'm not a religious person, I think the story can be appreciated by anyone who wants to provide their child with a deeper understanding of the origins and background of Christmas. The book is simple enough for children to understand and the pictures also tell a story in their own right.

The dazzling star lights up each page and makes each page come to life. You can almost imagine yourself in Bethlehem......

If you take a look at the video above I am sure you can imagine yourself sitting by a warm and cosy fire reading this glorious book to your children. Religious or not, the story of the various people and animals travelling to Bethlehem under the guidance of a bright and shining star is heart-warming. The three wise men and camels struggle to stay awake but they know it is a journey they must make. Along the way various animals join the group. The book provides the ultimate anticipation with the line 'The star leads onward to Bethlehem, where a miracle is awaiting them.' My son found himself in turmoil between wanting to devour the detailed beauty on each page and racing to the end of the book where the miracle is awaiting. The miracle is of course Baby Jesus who will one day forgive their sins and keep them from danger.

A perfect Christmas book!
Available from Top That Publishing

I've Seen Santa by David Bedford

'I've Seen Santa!' is a great book from Little Tiger Press. It's Christmas Eve and Little Bear can't wait for Santa to deliver his presents. "Santa will come just as soon as you go to sleep," Mummy Bear says. But Little Bear doesn't want to go to sleep. He wants to see Santa. Suddenly. . . glug, glug, glug! What's that noise? Someone is downstairs! Will Little Bear really get to see Santa. . ?

This is a lovely story which illustrates the level of intrigue children have about the mysterious 'Santa.' If you are a parent you are sure to have been bombarded with lots of questions about Santa. "Is Santa as big as you?" "Will Santa fit down our chimney?" "Does Santa visit bears all over the world?" What if Santa eats too many mince pies and then gets stuck in the chimney?" The mummy and daddy bear answer the questions with humour which makes the book very funny to read.

"Someone big was standing by the Christmas tree. This time it had to be...." Oh no Mummy bear has been caught. Good job children don't realise the significance of this in the book.

Oh no, Daddy Bear has been caught drinking the milk!

Daddy Bear getting interrogated.

"Is Santa as big as you?" he asked Big Bear. "Nearly" said Big Bear proudly.

There are gorgeous illustrations throughout the book.

My personal favourite picture is all three bears snuggled down together on Christmas Eve enjoying the magic the event always brings. Regardless of who plays Santa.

Weary parents will relate to poor mother and father bear's attempts to play Santa. Eagle eyed and over-excited kids can be a nightmare on Christmas Eve. The book is a clever twist in the way that it can be read by a child without seeing the humour it holds for a parent. Firstly Little Bear catches Big Bear drinking the milk and after giving him a scolding for drinking Santa's milk he returns to bed. Just drifting back to sleep he is awoken by a munching noise and is even more annoyed to find that Big Bear is eating Santa's mince pie. Obviously by this point Mummy Bear feels the need to step in as she sends them both back to bed and takes over the role of Santa. Little Bear then becomes very worried that Santa will be too fat too fit down the chimney after eating all the mince pies the children in world will leave him. So he snuggles down with Daddy bear only to hear more rustling and he finds Mummy bear putting something in the stocking. In the end all three bears end up sleeping downstairs cuddled up together in anticipation of the arrival of Santa. But they never saw Santa... but Santa saw them. It's a lovely ending to the book to keep children off the trail of the part mothers and fathers play.

A very clever book!

Available from www.amazon.co.uk

Sunday, 13 December 2009

George Saves the World by Lunchtime

"Today I'm going to save the world by lunchtime!" George tells Grandpa one morning. And with a little help from Grandpa he does.

Join him as he saves electricity, recycles rubbish, repairs his toys and visits the farmers market. Children everywhere will be delighted to discover how their everyday actions can affect the world around them.

This is a very eco-friendly book inspired by the Eden Project in Cornwall. George is an everyday kid who wears normal clothes and becomes an instant superhero by tying an old sheet around him as a cape and putting in to practice the four R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair.)

The book is written in an easy to understand manner and incorporates cartoon elements, photos and text to maintain children's interest. The use of bright colours and fun images makes the book seem very appealing. Because of the fact that George does everything that every little boy does each day, children can relate to each scenario played out in the book.

Grandpa is a useful character in the book as his age affords him a wealth of knowledge which he can bestow upon George. Every child knows about recycling but do they know the importance behind recycling? Grandpa provides reasons on why the four R's are so important.

As you can see from the above picture, children can spend a few minutes browsing these pictures for ideas on how they can help the planet. The visual elements of the book are great for younger children to understand what things they can do to reduce harm to the planet.

The first lesson George learns in the book is that leftover breakfast foods can be composted instead of being thrown in the bin. Lights can be turned off and washing can be hung on the line. Saving electricity saves the world! It was interesting how the book explained exactly how electricity is made; by giant magnets spun around by jets of steam. The steam is made of burning coal and burning coal causes pollution. Not even I knew exactly how electricity was made. So a storyline that educates accompanied by interesting facts and tips is what you can expect throughout each page of the book.

George then decides to sort out his room and give all unwanted items to a charity shop. This means less waste on landfill sites.

Repairing makes things last longer and means that less waste is produced for landfill sites.

The book makes recycling seem great fun.

More interesting facts are littered throughout the book.

The recurrent theme throughout the book clearly shows children that they really can save the planet by doing simple everyday actions. A really enjoyable book that brought home to my son exactly why we separate papers and plastics from our everyday bin.

An excellent book!

Available from Eden Project