books, books and more books (and why now really IS the best time to spend money on them)

You know how most of us aren’t feeling up to any kind of expenditure right now? It might not seem like the time of year when we have money to burn, but most of us will have children to buy presents for over the next year, so why not save ourselves a few pounds? Any sassy spender will know that forward-planning is key when it comes to effective budgeting, so allow me to present…the Scholastic post-Christmas sale! Ta-dah! You’ll thank yourself when that birthday rolls around and you already have something appropriate (and cheap) stashed away!

I’ve really got into Scholastic this year. They cover all ages, and the span of authors and styles is very impressive – their aim is to keep children reading right through to adolescence, and the variety of books available makes this easy. And if you needed another reason to shop with them, for every £1 you spend, your school receives 20p in free books. This is a great way for grandparents and other interested friends/relatives to support a child’s school, even from afar!

My First ABC

One sale item, for example, is My First ABCa lovely, chunky book which is hardwearing enough for babies and toddlers – and it’s a snitch at £1.99 (RRP £6.99). Monkey and Meerkat (both 1) instantly loved the appealing pictures – and the book was larger than I was expecting, making it easier for small hands to handle.

Stick Man’s First Words

We enjoyed Julia Donaldson’s Stick Man on BBC1 on Christmas Day, and Stick Man’s First Words is a great introduction to the Donaldson/Scheffler duo. Again, it’s a beautifully vibrant, sturdy book, and an absolute steal at £2.99 (RRP £8.99).



Next up, we have a longstanding classic: Shirley Hughes’ Dogger (was £6.99, now £3.99). We are big fans of Alfie, and have several books in that series courtesy of Granny, who’s also a fan, but have never owned Dogger. It’s a heartwarming tale, just brilliant for children whose attention span can cope with a narrative. Both Missy (4) and Mister (6) loved this, and it would make a wonderful birthday present for someone aged 3-6 (ish).

The Enormous Crocodile (Colour Edition)

The Enormous Crocodile – another classic (which Roald Dahl book isn’t?) – is down from £7.99 to £2.99. Slightly longer than your average short-story book, both my older kids enjoyed this one, and I reckon the typical Roald Dahl gruesomeness would appeal to many children in the 4-8 age bracket.

Rover Saves Christmas

Finally, although you’re probably feeling anything but Christmassy just right now, why not order ahead several copies of Roddy Doyle’s Rover Saves Christmas (was £5.99, now £1.99) to give to all your 5-10 year old chums for Christmas 2016? My 6 year old laughed his socks off, and the weird and wacky writing would appeal to older children too. I remember reading Roddy Doyle’s adult books at school, but now we’ve tried one of his hilarious children’s books, I’m sure it won’t be the last.

So there you have it: a little taste of the Scholastic sale. There’s much more on offer, with prices starting at 99p, so do hop over and have a browse. I think I’ll be steering my children there to see if they’d like to spend some Christmas money on books they can choose themselves. And don’t forget to select your school at checkout!



So this is how it is. You tick along nicely with your two kids, enjoying the luxurious 1:1 adult: child ratio, thinking how easy it all is and how much fun it’s become now they’re out of nappies and sleep through the night and draw things which look like things. Then you think, “Hang on a minute, life’s not hard enough – why not have another one?” And he or she arrives and you enter a fresh hell, where every minute of every day contains at least two demands made of you by at least two children, and where the definition of a productive evening is simply loading the dishwasher and collapsing with a large amount of chocolate in front of The Apprentice.

Well, friends, this is what my life has become recently: except where people are usually like “why not have another one?” we were like “why not have another TWO?” so now we’re realising the implications of that rash decision to hop over from two to four kiddoes. It’s kind of a big deal. Who knew?? Here are some differences I’ve spotted so far:

1) You have to stay on top of the house. Not literally. That would be a crazy stunt of David Blaine proportions. I mean the clutter. The mess. The spillages and unidentifiable stuff glued to the floor. With two kids, I could kind of get away with not tidying that well each night. Whatever was left out could be sorted in the morning. Not so now. Whilst I can hardly boast that our household is run with military precision, I know that if I don’t spend the first hour of the evening clearing the main rooms, it won’t be worth getting up the next day. Really. (And then by about 8am the next day, it’s back to Mess. But at least there was one gloriously tidy hour.)

2) There is not so much time for make-up. Fortunately, I predicted this, and have spent the last few months ditching the mascara so that people get used to seeing me looking like something out of a Tim Burton film, and don’t keep plaguing me with that awful concern-cum-insult “You look tired”.

3) Ditto replying to texts. I’m sorry. I really am. I will get better. In about 17 years’ time.

4) Ditto housework. Kind of a problem (see point 1). Note to husband: get me a cleaner. Please.

5) I’m very tired. Again, not great considering point 1. I’m a night-owl, and all four kids sleep pretty well, but I really do need to train myself to get more sleep. Apologies if you’ve had (or attempted to have) a conversation with me recently. I’m well aware that I’m largely speaking nonsense, making contradictory statements, or looking at you with a glazed ‘Who are you again?’ expression on my face.

6) There is always a child who needs something. With two kids, sometimes – just sometimes – I got a break. Every so often, they would both have full stomachs, full energy levels, fully working toys and a fully functional relationship with each other. Nowadays, there is always at least one who needs either a) a drink of water, b) a toy fixing, c) a TV programme switching on, d) a cut plastering, e) two Lego bricks separating (thank God for nails), or occasionally f) a trip to A&E.

The thing is, I’m told that one day our offspring may produce grandchildren. They will be fun and sweet and easy to buy for – and we’ll be able to give them back at the end of the day. This, my friends, is what we’re all aiming for, what should keep us going through the endless tidying and fatigue. So hang in there, parenting allies. Solidarity to you all.