Books and Me

Summer Reading Challenge Review

My little one has finally completed the Summer Reading Challenge. All six books have been read and reviewed before the holidays are even out. It required a lot of bedtime reading, but we got there.

Review of the overall experience: We loved it. We are already advocates of the library, and as parents we understand the importance of reading to our daughter for her educational, emotional, and developmental growth. This challenge just upped the ante for us. We spent a little longer on bedtime reading than usual to ensure we completed all six books, and it was great fun.

Sophie usually picks the shorter, picture books for bedtime (the read in five minute books), but after taking part in the challenge, she has asked for a longer story book to complete each week. I’m not sure who is more excited at this prospect- me or her. I have so many recommendations for her, not to mention all my childhood books to pass on. I think it is safe to say that we have a little bookworm on our hands, and I’m a little bit chuffed… okay, I’m a lot chuffed.

She has given me reviews for each book, and please bear in mind that she is only four years old. However, she has impressed me with her comments. I have also included my own ‘Mummy review’ to give a parent’s perspective.

To kick off the challenge each child received a f0rtune teller to make and use. All questions and answers related to the theme of this year’s challenge- record breakers.


1. Hello Kitty: The Magazine Mix-Up by HarperCollins Books (author not stated)

Sophie: I liked the part where Hello Kitty’s Mummy knocked the water over the magazine they made. Hello Kitty’s friends stayed to help her. Hello Kitty has kind friends.

Mummy: This book had clear moral objectives- work hard and you can achieve what you want to achieve, and always help your friends. I’m glad that Sophie picked up on this. It is a sweet story, and definitely aimed at girls. Sophie was enthralled as we read, and could relay to us what had happened. I would give this book 2 stars. The story and morals were sweet, but the concept was unoriginal.

2. Hello Kitty: The Beach Holiday by HarperCollins Books (author not stated)

Sophie: Timmy was naughty and played tricks on the girls. Then, he got stuck up a cliff, and should have listened to his Daddy. I liked this book more than the magazine book.

Mummy: The idea behind the narrative was to express the need to listen to your parents and to be yourself when trying to make friends. The story was slightly better than the Magazine Mix-Up book, but I would give it the same rating of 2 stars.

After reading two books, each child was given a wall poster- (the stickers received throughout the challenge can be added to the poster ). They also received a set of stickers, one of which is a scratch and sniff.

3. Petal’s Story: A Battersy Dogs and Cats Home Story (author not stated)

Sophie: Gemma got Petal from the dog’s home, and looked after her by herself. Gemma got lost at the funfair and Petal found her family again. I love this book. I want a dog.

Mummy: This story goes into brief details about what happens when you take on a rescue dog, and how much work goes into looking after a dog, without taking away the fun of having one. I give this book 3 stars. And no, we’re not getting a dog!

4. The Railway Rabbits: Wisher and the Runaway Piglet by Georgie Adams

Sophie: Wisher got lost looking for a piglet who was scared and ran away from the farm. She used her friends tunnels to get back… I didn’t like this book very much.

Mummy: Sophie was not as engaged with this book. Sometimes she couldn’t recall the narrative, but whether that was due to the narrative itself or boredom, I’m not sure. Either way, that is not a promising sign for a children’s book. To be honest I find it hard to recall the story. Wisher seemed to get away with a lot of disobedience because she is a ‘special’ rabbit. A mediocre, boring book, hence why I awarded it 1.5 stars.

After reading four books, each child received a key ring and stickers for the wall poster:

My Hamster is a Detective by Dave Lowe

Sophie: It was very funny. I liked Stinky the hamster. He’s a grumpy hamster, and made me laugh. The next door neighbour stole their kitten, but Stinky found out.

Mummy: This book was brilliantly written, and original. There was humour in places, and Sophie was literally rolling with laughter. We would definitely recommend this book. 5 stars for this book.

Whizz Bang Winnie by Laura Owen and Korky Paul

Sophie: Winnie is a silly witch and her cat is called Wilbur. He doesn’t talk, but he is funny. Winnie eats disgusting food, and makes silly spells. She says abracadabra.

Mummy: This book was made up of short stories all about Winnie the witch and Wilbur her cat. The stories are funny, and enjoyable for kids and adults. We finished this book in three nights. It was easy to read two stories a night, and kept Sophie’s attention. I’d give this book 4.5 stars.

The last reward for completing all six books was a wrist band and the final stickers for the wall chart:

We have been informed that one of the librarians will be going to Sophie’s school to award her a medal and certificate in assembly. It’s a lovely touch, and encourages the children in front of their peers, but I’m not sure all libraries are doing this with their local schools.

We shall definitely be partaking in the Summer Reading Challenge next year, and advise all parents of primary school children to do the same.

100% K.J Chapman

A Week In My Shoes

The holidays are much more exciting than school runs and word counts, so I decided to share a glimpse of my life over the course of seven days.

My weekly word count posts are now to become my Sunday feature posts, hence why there is not a single mention of my writing in this post. This is all family fun, and my real life.


Today was a family day. The sun came out for us… eventually. We went to Porthleven (Cornwall) to visit family, and took Sophie rock pooling and crabbing. We only caught a shell… but we had fun all the same.

My daughter’s new favourite thing is ‘Pom Pom Wars’. It all started when we were crafting, and she chucked a pom pom at me. Two hundred pom poms later, we were in hysterics, and my house was covered. She requested another pom pom wars game on Monday, and we obliged. I would recommend this game for little kids and big kids. You heard it here first!


We had our Notice of Marriage appointment at 11.30, and got to look around the wedding venue after. The registrar even put music on, so my daughter could get the feel for walking down the aisle as a bridesmaid. It is all so exciting- eeekkk!

Tuesday was an exciting day in more ways than one. We added two new faces to our little family. Meet Juno and Lavender, our dwarf hamsters-

These miniature sweethearts have a love hate relationship. They sleep entwined with each other, enjoy each other’s company, and then push each other down the tunnels, and the vertical pipes. Definitely siblings!

Date night was on Tuesday this week. We’re saving money for our wedding, so we stayed in, put Sophie to bed, and watched Insurgent. I was, of course, in batman pyjamas.


Wednesday was another family day. We went to my Nana’s house for tea like we do every Wednesday during the school holidays. It was cloudy, but humid, so we decided to get productive, well, semi-productive. We painted my Nana’s garden furniture, and then realised we used the wrong outside paint…<deep breath>


Cornwall woke up to rain on Thursday, but that didn’t stop us. A soggy outing to our local boating lake kept Sophie entertained for the morning. I think the ducks and swans liked our choice of bread. It was like a scene from ‘The Birds’ at one point.

The afternoon was quiet and lazy as the weather steadily got worse. We watched films, played Lego, and got crafty to pass the day away.


Today was mine and Mr O’s fourteen year anniversary. We decided on a trip to Roskillys, Cornwall. It’s a beautiful farm with free petting facilities, a restaurant, homemade Cornish ice cream, bee hives, nature walks, and much more. We spent the whole morning there and spent no more than £6.80! Roskillys is nestled in the Cornish countryside, and is a must- see for visitors to Cornwall.

Friday’s are our library days. Sophie was especially excited this week because she has finished another two books as part of the Summer Reading Challenge. She was particularly happy with this week’s stickers for her wall chart. Only another two books (two weeks) and she’ll have completed this years challenge.

I just have to share a photo of my anniversary treats from Mr O. Check out my new mug. He knows me too well… and of course, there is a massive bar of Galaxy to dip in the tea I shall fill my new mug with. Proper job, Mr O.


Sophie has been desperate to help with the wedding plans, and I gave her her first official bridesmaid duty today. What’s more important than the wedding fund? It definitely deserves a pretty pot of its own. I think she did a brilliant job.

Today we saw family members who have travelled to Cornwall from Kent for a weeks holiday. Of course, the conversation was all about weddings! Fingers crossed that the weather plays ball for them.


Dump day! Not in the bowel movement sense, but in the refuse and recycling centre sense. We have been waiting for ages to clear our garage, and Sunday was the day. I’m not one for waste, but our centre has fantastic recycling facilities… <Happy K.J>

Sophie got to pick the activity for Sunday, and she settled on scooting through the National Trust estate – Penrose.  The weather remained dry for us, and I think everyone had the same idea. There were lots of children on bikes and scooters, lots of dogs, and Sophie even saw an enormous beetle. It was a morning well spent.

Check out similar blog posts, writer’s musings, and a bit of fun at: K.J.Chapman

All images are the property of K.J.Chapman

100% K.J Chapman, Writing and Me

Summer Holidays Writing Hell

This summer has been absolute hell as far as my writing goes. Since my daughter has been off school, I haven’t laid down more than 3000 words, and most of them are a load of rubbish. I get a little panicky when I think about how far behind I find myself.

So far, the summer holidays have been great. We’ve had trips to our local theme park, visited family, park trips, and nature walks/ rides through the National Trust estate I mentioned in my previous post: The Beauty of Home. We also have a LOT more planned.


This has resulted in my writing falling seriously behind. I should ensure I write in the evenings once my daughter is in bed, but I’m either exhausted, or my other half has a night off work and I want to spend time with him. I won’t forfeit time with my family, and even more so since my other half has precious holiday time from work, but I also don’t want to forfeit my writing time. This is my summer holiday writing hell!

There are still four weeks left of the summer holidays, and I need to take action:

  1. Draw up a writing schedule.
  2. Stick to the schedule.

I’m not greedy, I don’t need to be rocking out tens of thousands of words, just more than I have been, and I think a schedule is the way forward. Once I have designed a suitable schedule, I’ll shall create a blog post to let you know how I get on with it.

Do you have your own writing hell experiences? How did you deal with it? I’m interested in all solutions… Seriously, TELL ME!

(Images are the property of K.J. Chapman)