Book Week Favorites- Picture Books

by Shae on August 19, 2014


Yesterday we talked chapter books, today it’s picture books-and narrowing it down to a few is hard! I couldn’t even keep to five like yesterday so I’ve gone with ten that we love.


This list assumes you already know the awesomeness of Where The Wild Things Are, Where Is The Green Sheep, Hairy Maclairy, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Gruffalo. These books go without saying!

It was still hard to narrow it down to a set list. We read a lot of picture books!


Ten of our faves are-

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A Bus Called Heaven by Bob Graham- This book is such a lovely story about community. The pictures are beautiful and it is a big sentimental favorite of mine. All of Bob Graham’s books are great.


Ginger by Charlotte Voake- I may have read this books a million times. But who doesn’t like a story about a cranky old cat and a kitten? This book has never really left high rotation here.


The Biggest Bed In The World by Lindsay Camp and  Jonathan Langley- I will admit that I have serious bias towards this because the whole story revolves around a family who co-sleep. It was lovely to share this sweet book with my kids we we had our own version of the biggest bed in the world.


Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sarah Ogilvie- A dog that wants to dance ballet? What’s not to like? The adults in this one are my favorites to do the voices for. A gruff Dad and a ballet teacher-yes please. Love.


Harriet You’ll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox and Marla Frazee- I’m surprised more people don’t know this one. Who hasn’t lost their temper with their “pesky” toddler?  The Mum in this book is lovely and real. I adore this book and have been known to make a point of choosing it for bedtime after a trying day.


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All My Friends Are Dead by Jory John and Avery Monsen- OK, this one won’t be for everyone. It’s dark and some of the jokes will go over the kid’s heads but that hasn’t stopped my lot laughing their heads off over this. Probably better for older kids but have to include it based on the awesome humor.


The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner- Not a book about poo! Rabbits, chocolate cake, the big brown bear and the terrible plop. Very clever and getting to do the panicked, terrified bear voice is another one of my best.


Slinky Malinky Early Bird by Lynley Dodd- we all know Hairy Maclairy (and he’s awesome) but I love Slinky. This books is pretty much a testament to haw much of an asshole a cat can be. Anyone who has ever had a cat will get this one.


Room On The Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler-I’m going to say it. This one is BETTER than The Gruffalo. This is probably number one in our most read and loved picture books. Everything about this one is perfect! The rhyme, the pictures, the characters. And I get to do voices. My fave.


I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen- Funny, clever and not your usual happy ending. The bear loves his hat!



Picture books-tell me your favorites!

Do you disagree with any on my list?






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It’s Book Week! Which I thought was next week-so chalk that up to another reason it’s better that we home educate.

Books are my favorite and my best and we read in the house hold A LOT. I thought I’d do a post each day this week giving you five of or favorites from one area of the awesome world of books. And I’d love it if you’d comment and give me some of your favorites too.

Today it’s chapter books to be read aloud. I have read chapter books aloud since Harper was little so these books have managed to be interesting enough to hold the attention of multi aged kids as well as being able to hold my interest. Bonus points if they are fun to read and I can do voices.


Five of our faves are-


PicMonkey Collage


The Grimstones series by Asphyxia- The characters in these books are great and I LOVED reading them. Very enchanting gothic fairy tales full of adventure and magic. It is impossible not to like Martha Grimstone! There are lots of pictures so we read these where we could all see what was going on as well. The series is perhaps a little dark for very young children but my three all enjoyed the books.


Charlotte’s Web by E.B White- We all know this one and it really has stood the test of time. If you can read the ending without crying yourself then you are made of tougher stuff than I. Added bonus are the two movie versions that we love equally.


Ava Anne Appleton series by Wendy Harmer- A girl who gets to live in a motorhome? Yes please! Maybe it’s because it is my dream to do the same that I liked these so much. The kids loved them too. The unmistakable “Aussie-ness” of them was refreshing too.


Billie B Brown and Hey Jack books by Sally Rippin- Short, sweet and fun these are great little stories to start and finish in the same sitting. They are aimed at emergent readers so we have enjoyed sharing the reading more as their literacy has increased. They are great to boost a child’s confidence in their own ability to read chapter books alone.


Nim’s Island books by Wendy Orr- The style of writing, the characters and flow of these stories have put them in pretty much top position as my favorites to read aloud. They were delightful! I can’t overlook the fact that Nim is basically unschooled and she is awesome. A nice change from the “homeschooled weirdo” angle.



So there were some of our favorites-what are yours?

Give me some recommendations of some read aloud chapter books!



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Sometimes I like to curl up in a ball

by Shae on August 13, 2014


And then no one can see me because I’m so small…Or that’s how the cheerful kid’s book about the baby wombat goes. But those lines always remind me of being depressed. I’ve been there too.


I was typing this and wondering WTF to write next when the phone rang and it was my Mum. My beautiful Mum who is funny and kind and scary when she’s mad who I love more than peanut butter Tim tams. Which is A LOT. She’s also a sufferer of chronic depression. She’s been suicidal several times. Today we spoke and cried together about Robin Williams among other things. We talk on the phone often and lots of times she cries. Depression is fucked like that.


Yesterday when I heard the news I couldn’t stop thinking about Robin’s family and getting that call. There have been times when I have refused to answer blocked numbers or calls from Dad because I can’t deal with the possibility that I might be the one getting that call. The big one. Knowing and loving a person who finds it hard just to be alive can sometimes keep you on a state of high alert.

And if that magnificent man couldn’t do it forever what hope have the rest of us? Sometimes depression is a terminal illness whether people love you or not.


My Mum is equally as magnificent. I hate that the blackness of the black dog can mask the rest of the person. Mum still loves being with the kids and makes me laugh until I cry and argues with Dad and makes the fucking best pork fillets in the world. AND she has depression.


When Tannah was a baby and I was depressed I loved her with every fibre of my being. So I thought there was no way I could be suffering from PND. Because feelings. I had no idea.

I also used to lie on the floor and count down actual minutes until Luke would get home from work and cried in the shower every day. Not to mention the very real delusion I had that I was going to die, that the very life of me was being drained and that I would never recover. And that made me sad because I loved my baby. So depression? NOT ME.

I mean it’s normal to read a book about a hidey wombat and think of disappearing right?

Turns out not so much.


I still see my Mum. I SEE her. I almost stopped seeing myself there for a while, even though I was still there. I never wanted to disappear after all.





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Have you ever been to Sovereign Hill? Because I grew up in Queensland it was a place I’d never been before. I went on some cool school excursions, but none as far as Victoria! And none where I could pan for gold.


School trip or not, we had a fantastic time. And we’ll be back for sure.

You want some tips to plan your visit? I’ve got some!




- If you have a child that is sensitive to loud noises, check the program. The big, loud shooting of the guns happens at a specific time and can be avoided. It’s a big place and we found our sensitive kiddo had lots of room to get away from the noisy/busy bits.


-Do a mine tour! Some cost extra, but are cheap, and are totally worth it. I had to keep my “omg we’re so far under the ground” panic in check, but I managed it and loved the tour. Tannah (9 years) came with me and also loved it. When the guide found out she was home educated he made sure she was at the front and could see the whole time-without treating her like it was a test. Made us both happy!  Didn’t take the other two because they weren’t keen but keep in mind it’s very dark and you’re in a small space the whole time, so maybe not for every child.




-Set aside a lot of time for panning for gold. This was by far my kid’s favorite activity and we put in some serious panning time. Listen to the guides who’ll show you how then go for it. We found a lot of flecks too! It is in water so don’t wear your best shoes or expect small kids to remain bone dry. But hey, sometimes fun is a little bit messy!


-Go to the bakery and get a pie. Truly, we haven’t stopped talking about the pies. Then go and eat a whole bunch of the lollies that are made on site. Raspberry drops anyone?




-Dress appropriately. There is a LOT of ground to cover and it’s not flat. You’ll want comfy shoes and clothes. Ballarat is very cold in winter-like beanie and jacket cold. Then in summer the sun will burn you very quickly. It’s not the place to wear your most fancy clothes.


-Make sure you chat to the volunteers. There are lots of volunteers wandering around in costume. They are very knowledgeable and friendly. The girls loved checking out the 19th century homes and trade stores with working machinery. Having a person to chat to who was in character really made it awesome.




-Stay overnight! We stayed at the accommodation on site and it was great. We were able to take our time because we had 2 days to wander around Sovereign Hill, Harper was able to go back to the room with Luke for a little time out when she needed it and well,  see the pic above. The buffet breakfast was delicious! The rooms were really warm and cosy and the beds had plenty of  blankets-things that are important to this ex-queenslander! It really was lovely and the kids enjoyed the novelty of staying right at the attraction. Not to mention it took the pressure off trying to do all of the activities in one day.


-Have a look at the website before you go. There is so much there to see and do that it would be easy to miss something. From horse drawn carriages to gold pouring to 19th century bowling to mine tours and that’s just a small sample of what to do there.


Check out the full Sovereign Hill website HERE and plan your trip.


Disclosure-I was given 1 night’s accommodation and admission for my family to Sovereign Hill. All opinions are my own.





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