> The Beesley Buzz

Minion Madness!

Minion madness seems to have taken over the world and it hasn't bypassed the Beesley household. We've been reviewing some great Minion themed stuff to coincide with the recent launch of the Minions Movie.

Everyone seems to love minions. And what's not to love? They're pretty cute characters really aren't they? We've also long enjoyed playing Top Trumps in various guises depending on the latest theme the kids are into. Top Trumps is a simple concept of a game, but can bring hours of enjoyment with a single pack of Top Trumps cards. Great for travelling or to play at home.
So putting together the Minions theme with Top Trumps cards is just a genius idea. Through these cards, the minions are travelling through various eras in history from Dinosaurs to Ancient Egypt. The game is played by competing on cleverness, bravery, leadership, mischeivous and a top trumps rating.

There are 30 cards in total and each features a different movie themed mission. The cards are aimed at children aged 3+ and Miss T joined in the fun too as it is such a great concept that I think anyone aged between 3 and 103 would enjoy it.

The RRP is £4.99 and they are out now available for purchase.

Our minion fun was not yet over as we then received another interesting blue and yellow parcel...
This one contained the new Crayola Colour Alive Minion themed colouring book. This is a really unique concept that I hadn't seen before where you can download a Colour Alive App to go alongside your colouring book that 'brings your colouring to life'.

You can find out more including a video and instructions that we found really helpful here.

 D coloured in a page of the colouring book. There are 16 pages in total.

 Once the page is coloured in with the markers that come with the colouring book, you use the app, line it up with your picture to get started, then the picture comes to life with special effects too.

You can move the character around and see it with your own background. You can also even take photos and selfies alongside your coloured in character. Really cool stuff that my kids really loved!

It took a while for me to get to grips with the app so it really is worth taking a quick look at the guide on the Crayola website to really make the most of it and understand what it can do.

You can find the Minions Colour Alive Colouring book at leading retailers. The RRP is £6.99 and it would make a great gift for any minion fan. Look out for other Crayola minion themed items coming soon too.

disclosure: We were sent the Top Trumps card and Crayola Minions Colouring book for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own. 

10th Anniversary edition of Wolves by Emily Gravett

We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Emily Gravett. Her books are just so clever. We've read so many of them and adore the illustrations and clever story plots which are perfect picture book stories.

But there's something more you find with many of Emily Gravett's books - The book becomes part of the story. We saw this with Again! where the little dragon has burnt a hole through the book's page with his fiery breath. In Little Mouse's Big book of Beasts the pages are made to look like Little Mouse has ripped and torn them and in Meerkat Mail the pages are made to look like postcards.

When I was a kid, I remember wanting that something more from books. I used to make my own little books out of pieces of paper folded together and had little keys made of cardboard hanging on string on certain pages of the book, then a key hole cut out on another page for the key. I remember making little envelopes stuck in with letters and 'treasure maps' that unfolded to be used as part of the story as you 'travelled' through the book.

And I think this is why I absolutely adore the Emily Gravett books which have that extra added element where the pages of the book become a part of the story that you interact with.

Wolves is a perfect example of this. With one of those little cardboard pockets that used to be found in all library books in the old days complete with a little white tea stained card that can actually be removed from that little pocket, this is just the sort of thing we love about Emily Gravett.

Miss T said "I like rabbits card" as she took the little white card out of the pocket and then put it back in again.

The opposite page has one of those sheets of paper that gets date stamped with the return date printed on it. And at the end of the book a page with letters with one of the envelopes actually opening up containing a letter that can be removed and read, enhancing the story.

Utterly brilliant. These sort of things show what an absolute genuis Emily Gravett is.

The story itself is simple yet fantastic. Let's just say when rabbit borrows a book from the library, he gets rather more than he bargained for.

Amazingly, Wolves is 10 years old this year and won the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2005. This new 10th anniversary edition is being released this year to celebrate. It contains an extra special element - a cut out and keep book called '10 Little Rabbits' which we are told is wolf's favourite book.

I personally could never bring myself to cut anything out of an Emily Gravett book - I will forever treasure it just as it is but I can see just how some children would absolutely love this little 'cut out and keep' extra treat.

I very much doubt that I need to specifically state this as I'm sure it's clear from the rest of our post - we absolutely ADORED this book. Miss T loved the suspense build up and really really enjoyed those little extra elements that I've described that take the book from being great to being superb.

Thank you so much Panmacmillan for sending us such a special book to treasure and keep!

And if you'd like one of your own, it is due for release on 30th July 2015. Wolves can be pre-ordered from Panmacmillan here.

You can see some of our other Emily Gravett posts as follows:

Book Review: Bear and Hare Snow!
Book Review: Matilda's Cat
A few of our favourite Emily Gravett Books - featuring Again! and Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts.
Book Review: Bear and Hare Go Fishing
Meeting Emily Gravett at the Wonderlands Festival


Book review: Death In The Rainy Season, by Anna Jaquiery

Review by Richard Beesley.

Commandant Serge Morel is on holiday in Cambodia, visiting the temples and historical sites whilst trying to avoid the hectic noisy crowds. It isn't long, however, before he is summonsed from his break by his bosses back in France - not back home, but to Phnom Penh. A French man has been found brutally murdered, and Morel is asked to assist with the investigation. With no forensic service, and scant regard for preserving evidence at the crime scene, Morel has his work cut out supporting a disinterested local detective.

It isn't long, of course, before the investigation starts to uncover dark secrets, hidden worlds and long-standing deception. 

I decided part-way through this book that I knew who the murderer was. Then I changed my mind three times, before settling on my original suspect. Surprisingly, I was right... but I never did work out the motive until it was revealed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Anna Jaquiery writes in a very matter-of-fact style, giving emphasis on the key points and developing the scene around. I really felt I could hear and smell and see the bustle and rains and mud of Cambodia.

Death In The Rainy Season, by Anna Jaquiery, is published by Pan Macmillan and is available from their website.

Disclosure: Pan Macmillan sent me this book to keep for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

Getting Crafty with Yoshi's Woolly World

To celebrate the release of Yoshi's Woolly World for Wii U last week, Nintendo sent us a fabulous craft pack along with an adorably cute KNITTED Yoshi Amiibo.

I think we are going to struggle to use it as an Amiibo as Miss T seems to think it is just a cute pink cuddly toy for her.

The boys loved the cool box that their craft goodies arrived in as it could be coloured in. And because of the grey shading already printed on the box, their colourings took on a brilliant woolly effect and looked great.

Here's a pic of one of D's creations from instagram:
A photo posted by Rebecca Beesley (@rebeccabeesley) on
Even mum had a go at getting a little creative with the craft stuff.

We've got really excited about Yoshi's Woolly World as the boys had seen it advertised and so have been getting to grips with the game and we will review it soon....Once we've persuaded Miss T to let us use the woolly Yoshi as an amiibo again!

You can find out more about the game and see a trailer for it here. Warning - there are lots of cute woolly Yoshi amiibos to be seen.

Thanks Nintendo for the fab craft pack. We'll let you know how we get on with the game soon.


The Flying Bath by Julia Donalson, illustrated by David Roberts: a book review

Miss T has been a very lucky girl lately. The lovely people at Panmacmillian recently sent her some fabulous picture books. Two of them were by the very talented Julia Donaldson. We've already reviewed 'What the Jackdaw Saw' and you can find our review for that here.

Today we are reading 'The Flying Bath'. In typical Julia Donaldson style this is a rhyming story book. The difference is that this book is written through speech bubbles with the characters speaking. 
On my first read through I was struggling to work out quite how it rhymed. I was focussing on what each character said rather than reading the whole book smoothly and letting it flow. As such, some of it felt 'forced', like it had been an effort to make it rhyme and somehow it didn't quite work. 

Second read through, reading all the speech bubbles straight after one another as you would read a regular storybook and oh my what a difference. It suddenly worked. It sounded like a Julia Donaldson book and rhymed brilliantly.

This amazing flying bath and it's occupants travel off on adventures to save the day helping other animals like a kangaroo and a bee along the way.

It's an easy, fun read. If you want it to rhyme smoothly, read it as if you would read a regular book rather than pausing after each speech bubble and it works brilliantly. Having said that, Miss T enjoyed it at my original slower pace as we chatted through the pictures and talked about what was happening. The illustrations really look good in this book and are definitely as much part of the story as the words. A truly great picture book.

This book can be purchased as a book and CD pack from Panmacmillan here. Thanks Panmacmillan for sending us this fun book to read!


School runs, 'sweenies' and secondary school!

Every month I complain of how busy life is and reassure myself that the following month won't be quite so crazy. That it will be quieter, less rushed, more time to relax. But it never seems to work out that way.

Bedtimes are getting later just to get the essential chores done. I don't mean things like cleaning or vaccuuming. I mean real essentials like making sure there are clean plates, and clean clothes and food on the table.

The kids are struggling to sleep in the heat so their bedtimes become more stressful leaving us even less time to get on with everything that needs doing.

And juggling the 3 of them can be stressful in itself - on Monday morning thinking I had the morning off school run as Richard took D in, quite literally at the same time, I received a text saying D had forgotten his guitar, Miss T's pre-school phoned on the landline to say someone there had chickenpox (which she needs to avoid due to being on Methotexate) and J's school phoned to say he had forgotten his lunch (he hadn't - he was going to his new school for lunch so didn't need it with him that day). So much for a morning off!

Today's post is just a little round up of this very busy week we've had and for the kids to know how proud I am of them right now.

D recently had music concert at school where he played guitar. He's only been learning less than a year but seems to be coming on leaps and bounds. I didn't make it to the concert but Richard tells me he was beaming on stage - so happy and relaxed. I love hearing him practice at home too whereas at one stage when he first started to learn it was painful listening to him play.

Miss T is doing remarkably well considering everything that is going on in her little body. She has surprised us all by staying so well whilst on the Methotrexate considering her immune system is suppressed on it.

We went up for a Great Ormond Street appointment last week and they were really pleased with her progress too. They've put her back on naproxen again as we had gradually weaned her off it but she is still in a lot of pain at times and still has a lot of swelling in the left foot so the doctor is hoping that a further month on naproxen alongside the MTX should help.

And J has had some brilliant secondary school settling in sessions. I'm still in disbelief that my little boy is big enough for secondary school and a further shock is just how amazing his turnaround has been concerning school life.

If you'd asked any of his teachers at the beginning of his primary school years where they thought J would be by the end of primary school, I would be willing to bet that not one of them would have predicted this. They'd basically given up on him, written him off as naughty, knocked his confidence until he hit rock bottom.

It took 3 years of home school and then a further year and a half at a really amazing school where they understood him. He has done so well. Whereas at one stage phonecalls from the school would be for me to go and pick him up because he wasn't coping, now the phonecalls are to tell me how exceptionally wel he is doing and how he is a role model to the other children.

Because he's in the right environment for him, it means he can also now fulfil his academic potential which we have always known to be huge.

He flew through his 11plus exams and is off to one of the best secondary schools in the country. Somewhere where the ASD kids are not just put up with and tolerated, or seen as a nuisance to be accomodated. No - this place values their ASD kids so much as they recognise that it is often these children who develop exceptional talents in their areas of interest and make breakthroughs that can literally change the world in their chosen fields.

So we are really hopeful that it is the right place for J. The early indications are positive based on how much he has enjoyed his transition sessions. We are so proud of him for everything he has done over the past few years to get to where he is now.

And finally a #funee from Miss T to end on. This happened when we had water play out one day in this hot weather:

Miss T: I want to wear my sweeny
Me: Sweeny?
Miss T: Yes Sweeny.
Me (remembering that she sometimes makes up words when she can't remember the exact word - like the parachute / sharon fruit day): Do you mean bikini?
Miss T: Yes bikini

A photo posted by Rebecca Beesley (@rebeccabeesley) on