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Delightful picture books bring woolly characters to life

We love a cute picture book, and this range of Woolly Tales with knitted characters that include Dexter the Fox, Myrtle the Pig, and Pauncefoot the Rabbit are just perfect for little people.
Woolly Tales are lovely little picture books designed for babies and toddlers. Each book is a short simple story with a woolly main character and at the back of each book is the knitting pattern and instructions to make that character. Isn’t that a fab idea?
Each book is 15cm square so the perfect little size for small hands. The stories are 5 double page spreads, with a line or two on each page and the pictures are just gorgeous, full of felt flowers, cellophane rivers, cardboard trees and woolly characters. 
This super cute book series are the creative work of husband and wife team Andy Goodridge and Nicola Klinkenberg who create, write and make the series from their home in Godalming.
There are 8 books in the series featuring a different character each with endearing names like Woolly the Warthog, Merrybelle the Donkey, Sprackle the Mole, Fairfax the Otter and Mookie the Bird.
Woolly Tales books are £4.99 each and include free UK delivery from their Etsy store:
Or find out more at their website:

4 tips for the stylish new mum

Motherhood should be one of the most exciting and joyful experiences in life. While your sole focus will naturally be on your newborn, many new mums feel pressure to be physically attractive whilst juggling the other responsibilities and pressures that motherhood brings.

Whether you’re out running errands or catching up with friends, it’s only natural that you will want to look good and feel good too. With that in mind, here are some great style tips for new mums, helping to boost your confidence and self-esteem.

Find flattering clothing

As a new mum, it can be all too easy to compare yourself to others in the same boat, however, everybody is different, so your first port of call should be to find clothing styles that complement your body shape and accentuate your assets. For instance, if your body type leans more towards a pear shape, it’s best to stick with V-necks and A-lines that will fit you better. 

If in doubt, choose jeans

Whether you’re new to motherhood or you’re a pro, the roles and responsibilities expected of you seem to be never-ending! With so many errands and chores to complete, it can be all too tempting to put on some sweats when heading out the door, however, if you’re wanting to be trendy and feel stylish whilst out and about, it’s best to opt for jeans instead. Even if you’re heading to the supermarket, a simple pair of jeans can complement your outfit for the better. 


When it comes to putting an outfit together, accessorizing is key. Even an ordinary white t-shirt and a pair of basic jeans can be transformed into something quirky and unique with the help of a few accessories like earrings, the right necklace, and a jacket. No one is saying you need to splash the cash and shell out on a brand new collection of jewelry, however, a few staple pieces like bracelets, hairpieces, and belts can help compliment your outfit and leave you feeling stylish when out and about running errands.

Picking footwear

As a new mom, your feet will go through a lot. Whether it’s running around the home trying to keep it spick and span, or dashing out the door to get some essentials, finding the right footwear is crucial. Ditching the heels in favor of some sneakers is your best bet, especially as you’ll be on your feet for most of the day. It’s always best to go for quality over quantity, as the last thing you want is to pick a pair of shoes that irritate your feet.

You may be interested in visiting SSENSE - they sell a range of Balenciaga sneakers that can be the perfect addition to your wardrobe. SSENSE also sells a variety of other footwear such as boots, flats, heels, and sandals that can be worn for all sorts of occasions. 

Becoming a mother should be something to be proud of. Your body has done an amazing thing, so whilst you may not feel body confident after giving birth, there are lots of style tips that you can take on board to help boost your self-esteem and leave you looking

Where to find a sparkling firework display in Surrey this year

It’s that time of year again, when the skies light up with beautiful firework displays and families huddle together around spectacular bonfires eating warm treats and waving glow sticks.

There are so many firework events to choose from in Surrey, from low bangs to all-day celebrations with fun fairs and processions.

We’ve listed as many as we can below but please tell us of any we have missed…

Chobham Rugby Club fireworks

Stunning fireworks set to music. There will also be a beer tent, barbecue, sweets and popcorn, drinks, a fancy dress competition and more.

Date: October 25
Time: gates open 6pm, bonfire lit at 7pm, display at 8pm
More details.

The Children’s Trust fireworks night

A spectacular night of fireworks within the charity’s beautiful mansion grounds. Food and drink will be available and there will be a limited park and ride service running. Child-friendly fireworks will be at 7pm, followed by a bigger display at 8pm.

Date: Friday, October 25
Time: from 6pm
More details

Newdigate bonfire and fireworks

Fireworks, bonfire, fun fair, food and drink stalls.

Date: Friday, October 25
Time: from 6pm, display at 7.45pm
More details. 

NCT low bangs fireworks in Godalming

Outdoor tickets available as well as food, refreshments and licensed bar. Suggested donation £3 per fmaily.

Date: Saturday, October 26
Time: From 4pm, fireworks at 5.30pm.
More details. 

Ripley bonfire

This is an all-day event in the village with a fun fair, hog roast, floats, fancy dress, torch light procession, bonfire and fireworks. All proceeds go to the over ’60s and local organisations.

Date: Saturday, October 26
Time: From 1pm, display at 8pm
More details. 

Godstone Farm low bangs fireworks

A low bangs display allowing those with sensitive ears to enjoy the bright colours and sparkles without the usual noise. Your firework ticket also includes entry to the farm so you can make a day of it and there will be a pre-show including dance displays and fun competitions.

Date: Saturday, October 27
Time: 6.30pm
More details.

NCT low bangs fireworks

A low bangs display at Guildford RFC for those who don’t like the loud noise of fireworks. There is also an indoor viewing area for those who like it even quieter.

Date: Sunday, October 27
Time: 4pm-6pm
More details. 

Coldharbour Cricket Ground fireworks

Procession from The Plough, bonfire and fireworks, bar and lots of good food.

Date: Friday, November 1
Time: From 7pm
More details. 

Guildford Lions firework fiesta

This takes place in Guildford Stoke Park but those wanting to join the torchlight procession should meet in the High Street for 7pm. Eagle Radio’s Peter Gordon will be entertaining crowds in the park from 6pm.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: Main display at 8pm
More details.

Horley Town firework display

Fireworks, fun fair, bonfire and barbecue, organised by the Lions Club.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: from 6pm, display at 7.30pm
More details. 

Cranleigh Lions bonfire and fireworks

This is an all-day event including a fun fair, make-a-guy competition, torchlight procession, bonfire and fireworks display set to music.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 1pm, with display at around 7.30pm
More details. 

Brockham bonfire and fireworks

A full day of events leads up to the main firework display in the evening. The timetable includes a fancy dress competition, food stalls, torchlight procession and bonfire.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 2pm, with display at around 8.15pm
More details. 

Rushmoor fireworks spectacular

A large 20-minute firework display that attracts thousands of spectators. There is also a fun fair and food stalls.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 5pm, display at 7.30pm
More details. 

Woking fireworks extravaganza

The Woking Park event this year will celebrate 50 years since the moon landings and the display itself will be set to a lunar-themed soundtrack! There will also be a fun fair and food and drink stalls.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 5.30pm, with display at 7.30pm
More details. 

Cobham Avorians firework display

Large fireworks display, bonfire, barbecue, bar and glow toys for sale.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: from 6pm, display at 7.30pm
More details.

Chiddingfold bonfire and fireworks

There will be a range of stalls opening at 5pm, followed by a procession of torches at 7pm to the main event at the village green. The bonfire will be lit followed by the main display and a grand draw.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 5pm, with display at 8pm
More details. 

Banstead Cricket Club fireworks

This event kicks off with some live music from DJ SM7 and band Brizzler. There will be food, drink and novelty stalls as well as the main firework display.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 6pm, display at 7.30pm
More details. 

Epsom fireworks and fun fair

Choreographed fireworks and music by the award-winning Illusion Fireworks. This is a very popular event and also includes a fun fair.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 5.30pm, display at 7.30pm
More details.

Jacobs Well fireworks and bonfire

A professional fireworks display set to music.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: Fireworks from 6.30pm
More details.

Fleet firework fiesta

A spectacular fireworks display with guest appearances from the cast of this year’s Starburst pantomime Aladdin and the Jorden Hoops Fire Act. There will also be food and novelty stalls.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 5pm, display at 6.30pm
More details. 

Reigate Rugby Club fireworks

An evening of fireworks, flames, food and fun.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 6pm, firework display at 7pm
More details. 

Mytchett Community Centre fireworks

This is a family-friendly event with fireworks and a fun fair.

Date: Sunday, November 3
Time: From 5pm, display at 7.30pm
More details. 

Lingfield Park resort fireworks

A spectacular show with choreographed themed fireworks, traditional bonfire, funfair rides and stalls, suitable for all ages.

Date: November 3
Time: Gates open 5pm, fireworks 7.30pm
More details.

Kingston upon Thames Round Table & Rotary Club Fireworks

A fireworks and fun fair event for all the family.

Date: Friday, November 8
Time: from 6.30pm, display at 8pm
More details.

Beacon Hill bonfire night

Friends of Beacon Hill School's annual bonfire night. All funds raised used to enhance the learning environment of all pupils of Beacon Hill Primary School.

Date: Saturday, November 9
Time: From 4.30pm, display at 5.30pm
More details. 

Bramley bonfire and fireworks

Bonfire guys will assemble at the village library for a torchlight procession to the appropriately named Bonfire Field for the bonfire and fireworks.

Date: Saturday, November 9
Time: From 6pm, display at 7.45pm
More details. 

Magical Fireworks Spectacular at Kempton Park

This evening of entertainment will include a DJ, food and drink, a fun fair and of course the spectacular firework display, set to magical-themed tunes. The funfair and music will continue until 10pm.

Date: Saturday, November 2
Time: From 6pm, display at 8pm
More details. 

A selection of school firework displays

  • Chandlers Field Primary School, Molesey
    Date: Sunday, November 3
    Time: 5pm-8pm
  • Oakfield Junior School, Fetcham
    Date: Friday, November 8
    Time: 5.30pm-7pm
  • Bushy Hill Junior School, Guildford
    Date: Thursday, November 7
    Time: Gates close at 7pm
  • West Byfleet Junior School
    Date: Friday, November 8
    Time: 5pm-7.30pm
  • Green Lane School, Worcester Park
    Day: Friday, November 8
    Time: From 6pm
  • Cleves School, Weybridge
    Day: Sunday, November 3
    Time: From 5pm-8pm

Don't forget, we always recommend you check with the organiser before heading off, to make sure the event is going ahead. We hope you have a lovely evening, whichever event you choose.

Easy ways to save for your child’s future

We all want our children to have as many opportunities as possible in life. That is why we invest so much of our time and effort into teaching them the skills they will need to be able to do well in life. This is important, but, so is making sure that you have put away some cash to enable them to learn to drive or carry on their education. 

Doing this will help them to start their adult lives the right way. It means that they can get more education or pursue an apprenticeship without running up crazy debts. Below are some easy ways for you to put aside money for your children’s long-term future.

Junior ISAs

Top of the list of possibilities is junior ISAs. You can find out more about this tax-efficient child savings scheme by clicking the link.

ISAs are really easy to set up and it is you that decides how much you but into each child’s accounts. But, there is an upper limit. At the time of writing this, the UK government allows adults to put up to £4,368 into junior ISAs for each child. You also get to choose between stocks and shares or cash ISAs.

Once in the account, that money belongs to your child, so you need to bear in mind that it cannot be accessed and used to deal with family emergencies. Your children cannot touch it either, at least not before they are 18. So, these ISAs are an effective way to truly lock away money for your child’s future.

Open a bank account for them

It is also a good idea to open an ordinary savings or bank account for your child. Doing so is a fantastic way to help them to learn about managing money, from an early age. That skill will help your children to avoid getting into debt when they become adults.

You can encourage them to use this account to save some of the cash you, friends and relatives give them in the form of pocket money and gifts. Most banks and building societies offer accounts for children, aged 7 and above. This article will help you to compare what each of them has to offer.

Give each of your children a piggy bank

If your children are too young for a bank account, get them a piggy bank, instead. Even very young kids soon get the saving bug when they start using one. They really enjoy playing with them and soon understand the principle of saving up to buy something a bit bigger which they really want.

Premium bonds

Parents, grandparents and great-grandparents can buy premium bonds for children. They do not accrue interest. The odds of someone with £100 invested winning a £25 prize is currently 1 in 250. So, there is a chance that your child’s premium bonds could grow into a significant pot of money. Even if that does not happen when the child comes of age they can cash the bonds in and buy something important.

Don’t rush into anything

Please bear in mind that the above are only suggestions. We are not trained financial advisors, so it would be a good idea to do some further research before choosing the product you will use. 

Halloween and half term events for families in Surrey

Halloween Grotto at Birdworld

Halloween falls in half term this year in Surrey, which means costumes are encouraged! So dress your little ones up as cute pumpkins, spooky ghosts, scary spiders or magical wizards and witches before you set off for these eerie activities.

You can find lots of half term/Halloween activities in our what's on calendar but we have picked out the main ones below to help you plan your week.

A lot of the popular family attractions and venues have events running all week so we have including these first, followed by single events that run on each day.

All week

Feel your hair stand on end and a shiver down your spine as you walk through the creepy corridors of Birdworld’s unique Halloween Grotto. Make specially themed arts and crafts, take part in face painting, follow a spooky activity trail and take a ride on the park’s Halloween Train Ride to learn about some of the gruesome habits of the larger birds!

Hobbleween at Hobbledown is a week of spooky fun including creepy crawlies, reptiles and invertebrates in the Gruesome Granary; puppet shows; ghostly tales; pumpkin bowling and scary arts and crafts.

RHS Wisley is definitely getting into the Halloween spirit. Inspired by the Mexican festival Day of the Dead, vibrant tropical plants meet skeletons in a colourful display in The Glasshouse. There will also be lots of Awesome Autumn half term fun taking place including trails, walks, crafts, puppet shows and gardening workshops, face-painting and pumpkin carving.

Happy Halloween Hauntings at Fishers Farm Park includes black cats and witches hats, broomstick riders, rats and bats! This week of treats, tricks and ‘FANGTASTIC’ fun!! will also feature a Spectacular Spook Show, Scavenger Hunt, family friendly films and a Spooky Disco!

At Godstone Farm it's time for Wiglet's Great Spook-er-ree - a week of Halloween-themed activities including pumpkin carving, trick or treat games, the new Light Illusion Tunnel, crafts, a spooky quiz, face painting and spooky tales and of course lots of animals.

It's Wizards and Witches Week at Bocketts Farm. This means as well as all the cute animals, visitors can enjoy a packed programme of fun and freaky activities including a Spooky Trail, Creepy Craft Corner, Reptile Roadshow, science and slime shows, owl meet and greet sessions and more.

Celebrate the daring pioneers of aviation at Brooklands Museum. Get transported back in time to discover the stories of the heroes of transatlantic flight in storytelling sessions and an activity trail. Get dressed up as a Concorde pilot, make your own supersonic badges and explore the Concorde mini-exhibition to discover the story behind this incredible aircraft.

Things are getting a bit spooky at Squire’s Garden Centres. Children can paint a bat tealight holder, create a scratch art mask or take part in a ghost pursuit around the garden centre! Just turn up on the day.

Half term activities at Surrey History Centre start on Tuesday and include a 'spooktacular' look at Surrey's history through free drop-in family activities like creating a mummy, making a spider web and a spooky spinner.

Woven Wall Hangings takes place at Watts Gallery from Tuesday through to Sunday. Children can weave colourful fabrics, yarns and ribbons to create a decorative wall-hanging inspired by textiles from the Middle East. Young visitors can also try making and decorating a colourful clay pot.

National Trust venues:

Box Hill - half term trail; share the magic of nature with the kids and help them tick off some of the 50 things activities.

Claremont Landscape Garden - potion making trail; search the ghoulish garden for mysterious ingredients and create some natural magic.

Hatchlands Park - half term trail; follow a trail through the parkland and claim your pumpkin-themed prize at the end.

Winkworth Arboretum - Peculiar Pumpkins have begun to pop up across the arboretum with creepy carved faces – can you solve the mystery?

Dapdune Wharf - Halloween half term terrors with natural night life. Is it a badger? A hedgehog? A bat or a ….???

Morden Hall Park - take part in the Halloween Adventure Game, a thrilling adventure with survival resources to collect and craft tools to make. Work together with your team, you'll only have two hours to overcome all the challenges!

Weekend 26 and 27

It's Wizard Weekend on the Watercress Line. This annual event is very popular and includes unlimited rides on the Wizard Express steam train in the Harry Potter style coaches, a chance to walk in Harry Potter's footsteps on the real Kings Cross footbridge and explore one of the real Hogwarts Express carriages used in one of the films, creepy creatures to meet, haunting magic performances, face painting and much more. This event screams for some dressing up!

Saturday night is Halloween evening at the Great Cockrow Railway. Riding round in the dark is a totally different experience and can be quite scary, even for regular travellers! Don't forget your spooky outfits.

Take part in a Hallowe'en spooky run at Dapdune Wharf on Saturday evening. As darkness falls, test your fitness and your fears in the 2k night run around the haunted Wharf and island. Look out for a string of spooky surprises on the way! Dressing up encouraged.

Monday, October 28

Enjoy a spooky train ride and some storytelling at Denbies today - in your best spooky costume of course!

Tuesday, October 29

Upcycle an old t-shirt from your wardrobe in a workshop at the Living Planet Centre in Woking. Felt tip pens, bits of fabric and felt, buttons and ribbons will be provided in this workshop aimed at four to eight-year-olds (sessions for older children take place on Thursday). This is free but should be booked in advance.

Optical Illusions at Haslemere Museum is a workshop for five to 11-year-olds introducing Op Art, also known as optical art, a style of visual art that uses optical illusions. This should be booked in advance.

Children can take part in a Halloween cupcake decorating session at Farnham Maltings today. This is aimed at five to 12-year-olds.

Wednesday, October 30

There is another opportunity to enjoy a spooky train ride and some storytelling at Denbies today. Or you can head to The Lightbox Museum for a workshop - Acrobalance is a family circus workshop where children and their adults will learn new tricks and Spooky Spiders inspires youngsters to make some spooky hanging insects out of new and recycled materials.

Thursday, October 31

It's Activity Thursday at the Rural Life Centre, when visitors can learn about old-fashion clothes washing with a mangle, play with period toys and launch a rocket. The giant dolls’ house is popular with the younger children, while others tackle the pole lathe and ‘milk the cow’.

Upcycle an old t-shirt from your wardrobe in a workshop at The Living Planet Centre in Woking. Felt tip pens, bits of fabric and felt, buttons and ribbons will be provided in this workshop aimed at eight to 14-year-olds. This is free but should be booked in advance.

If you like the Night at the Museum films, you'll love these next events. Two museums are opening their doors after dark tonight. Weald and Downland is offering a family trail by lamplight and Haslemere Museum will be open until 9pm for visitors to explore by torchlight before watching a film in the lecture hall (book in advance). RHS Wisley is also offering a spine-tingling, hair raising evening with a spooky trail through the garden and Glasshouse.

Friday, November 1

The creepy crawly roadshow will be at Denbies today, offering a chance to meet snakes, lizards, mini-beasts and frogs. Or, children can take part in a scientific workshop at The Lightbox Museum to make and launch a fizzy rocket. This is free, drop-in event.

Please don't forget to check the what's on calendar for more events, plus times, prices and details of how to find the venues. We hope you have a great week!

Surrey and The Silver Screen

When the word ‘Hollywood’ is tossed into our minds, we are frequently transported to the glitz and glamour of far-away red carpets, Oscars and breath-taking celebrities.

A far-cry from home here in Surrey. However, Hollywood may be a lot closer than you think.

From The Hip Video Production have created a map of the highest-grossing Hollywood films within Surrey and Hampshire.

Some of our favourite films have chosen Surrey to shoot in and with Netflix’s new deal with Shepperton Studios, it looks like more sets will pop-up on our doorstep.

The Harry Potter franchise favoured Surrey for location shooting. The fifth film Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire featured Virginia Lake to replicate Hogwart’s Great Lake.

Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley can all be seen in the sixth instalment Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince exploring Surrey’s Bourne Wood on numerous occasions.

Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, chose to film on location a scene that many would believe was done in a studio. 2000 Hillswood Drive in Chertsey homes an office block, whose foyer became the star of the dream sequence in which Gordon-Levitt manipulates their route into a Penrose staircase in front of Ellen Page.

When Brendan Fraser hurls himself from a burning boat in The Mummy along with other cast members, they seek refuge on the banks of The River Nile. Actually, the ‘Nile’ is the banks of Frensham Ponds, clever set dressing makes it almost impossible to spot!

The church in Colin Firth’s final fight scene in Kingsman: The Secret Service is based within a typical Southern American church. This church is none other than The Garrison Church of St Barbara’s. A gem of a chapel hidden in Camberley.

James Bond apparently grew up in Surrey! Well, at least his childhood home was filmed here. The extravagant manor house featured in Skyfall is an elaborate set and was built just for the films. This was placed within Hankley Common to give the look of a grand estate.

One of the most well-known Surrey film locations is Gladiator. Russell Crowe leads the Roman’s into combat in Bourne Wood. These ‘ancient’ woods are a particular favourite with location scouts as their unspoiled land are perfect for period films.

When is comes to family films, we have to mention Beauty & The Beast, the live action film was mostly filmed within a studio but some exterior shots were in Jelly’s Hollow, you can spot this when Emma Watson is being chased by wolves.

These are just the highest grossing films, there are plenty more that have been shot within the county borders, IMDB states over 2500 titles have featured Surrey.

Why not make the most of the diverse locations and take a road trip to see if you can locate where your favourite characters have been?

Alternatively, now the weather is beginning to turn, snuggly the family up with some popcorn and see who can spot these locations first in the film.

Scholastic UK announce LOLLIES 2020 shortlist of funniest books in children's literature

Michael Rosen, children’s novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate, today announced the shortlist for the 2020 Laugh Out Loud Awards (The Lollies), a set of awards, now in its fourth year, created by Scholastic UK, to celebrate the funniest children’s books. 

Having long championed humorous books for children, Rosen said of the shortlist: “Anyone around children looking for books to have them giggling and laughing over and over again, these 12 books will do the job.  Funny books are so important because they draw you through, and you have a wonderful, time and feel good. What could be better than that?”

Rosen and his judging panel, consisting of Alison Leach, founder of BooksForTopics and a primary teacher, Scott Evans, a primary school teacher and blogger, Andria Zafirakou, winner of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize 2018, as well Kate Newport, Product Director for Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs, were tasked with selecting the shortlist from nearly 120 titles submitted by children’s publishers. 

The Lollies, sponsored by Happy Monkey Smoothies, are awarded in three categories: Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book, Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds and Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds. The shortlisted books in each category are as follows: 

Best Laugh Out Loud Picture Book:

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley and illustrated by Stephen Collins (Bloomsbury/ 9781408891193)

Spyder by Matt Carr (Scholastic/9781407172910)

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Tor Freeman (Andersen Press/ 9781783447510)

You’re Called What?! by Kes Gray and illustrated by Nikki Dyson (Macmillan/9781509821440) 

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 6-8 year olds: 

Bad Nana: Older Not Wiser by Sophy Henn (HarperCollins/9780008268060)

The Legend of Kevin by Philip Reeve and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre (OUP/9780192766090)

The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steven Butler and illustrated by Steven Lenton               (Simon & Schuster/ 9781471163838)

World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross (HarperCollins/ 9780008304591)

Best Laugh Out Loud Book for 9-13 year olds: 

I Bet I Can Make You Laugh by Joshua Seigal and illustrated by Tim Wesson (Bloomsbury/ 9781472955487)

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and illustrated by Nathan Reed (Bloomsbury/ 9781408877753)

Kid Normal and the Rogue Heroes by Greg James and Chris Smith, and illustrated by Erica Salcedo (Bloomsbury/9781408884553)

Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and illustrated by Chris Judge (OUP9780192759047)

The winning book in each category will be decided solely by children’s votes, with schools and parents encouraged to help kids get involved and vote via the Lollies website,, or via the Lollies PopJam channel.

The winning books will be announced in early 2020. 

The Lollies were created in response to findings from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report™, ( which found that what two-thirds of children aged 6-17 looked for when choosing books for themselves were “books that make me laugh”

Teachers can cast up to 35 votes on behalf of their class for each category. 

The Lollies are also supported by Book Trust who will be working with Scholastic to encourage schools, parents and children to participate and vote for their favourites. 

Scholastic received over 100 submissions from publishers across all categories for the 2020 awards. 

Michael Rosen, the judges and all the shortlisted authors and illustrators are available for interview. 

When sharing on Twitter, please tag Scholastic’s Lollies account, @lolbookawards, and use the hashtag, #Lollies2020.

Top tips for pregnancy-friendly wedding guest dresses

When choosing a dress for a wedding, it is important to not only consider the colour, but also the overall shape of the dress, particularly if you are expecting. Although there is a vast amount of maternity clothing on the market it can be difficult to find the perfect dress for a formal event. In this article, we are giving you a selection of pregnancy-friendly wedding guest dresses to help you celebrate in style. 

The Simple Navy Dress 

Finding the perfect dress when attending a wedding can take time. However, this can be made much more difficult if you are expecting, as you need to accommodate your growing baby bump. 

If you are finding it difficult to find an elegant dress, the Navy Plunge Maxi Dressis the perfect choice, as the lightweight material stretches to cradle your growing bump. The plunging neckline and frilled hem also helps to create a stunning silhouette, perfect for both the wedding ceremony and the reception. 

To complete the look, pair this dress with nude heels and a small clutch bag, giving you the very best of both formal fashion and comfort.

The Mint Green Dress

If you want a dress that is slightly more unique, then the Mint Green Bird Print Wrap Dress is the perfect choice for you. Not only is this dress flattering on all body types, it also has ¾ length sleeves, an elegant style that is perfect for a formal event. In addition to this, the waist tie can be altered, allowing you extra room should you find yourself feeling uncomfortable throughout the day. 

To style this dress perfectly for the ceremony, pair it with heels, a simple clutch bag and statement earrings. If you are also attending the evening reception, pair this dress with a light jacket for added warmth.

The Formal Floral Maxi Dress 

The Mia Floral Wrap Maxi Beige Dress is the perfect dress if you want a flattering and elegant style. This wrap-around design is perfect for those that are expecting as it will help to hide the bump whilst the lightweight material provides you with the comfort that you need throughout the day.  

To complete the look, pair this with a pair of nude heels and golden hoop earrings to keep attention on the dress. Whether you decide to keep your hair tied back or long and flowing, this dress is perfect.

What benefits does playground play bring to young children

At one point or another, most if not all of us have experienced the unrivalled joy of play on a dedicated playground, whether at school or when we were out with our families as children, or even bringing our own children to parks and playgrounds today. These playgrounds don’t just offer our children a way to burn off excess energy but offer an important area of development for growing children and help to positively encourage areas of growth across social, emotional, physical and cognitive behaviours. 

As a parent, the next time you are thinking about heading off to the playground for a few hours, let these points put any doubts you have out of mind;

Social Development

Play only happens in positive environments so playgrounds are extremely important for building social bonds between all ages of children from toddlers to teens. Play encourages imagination which sees children solving conflicts, dealing with hardships and able to try out new identities and beliefs that can develop their personality in different ways leading to well-balanced, confident adults. 

Outdoor playground play, whether in parks or on school playground equipment also offers children a chance for more independent play, allowing shyer or quieter children an opportunity to find their feet and build relationships of their own on the playground. Additionally, play crosses boundaries of age, backgrounds and cultures between young children helping form socially healthy and accepting children who hold no prejudices against others as the grow and development.

Physical Development

One of the areas of child development that offers more visible results, playground play, especially outdoor play offers children a safe place to expel their excess energy which is a great contribution to their physical growth. Through running around, they build stamina and exercise muscle groupsin their legs, climbing exercises the upper body and improves hand-eye coordination while swinging helps with motor skills. 

Playground play offers great health benefits and should be brought into a child’s schedule either through weekly meetups, giving children a chance to play with their friends or even as a weekly family day out with a picnic. In the winter when the weather isn’t suitable for getting outdoors, a soft play centre or indoor play areas are a great way to let kids enjoy themselves in the warm and still offer benefits through climbing, exploring and imagination. 

Cognitive Development

There have been a number of studies that indicate that play is necessary for positive cognitive development and directly impacts a child's intelligence, confidence and ability to communicate. To encourage growth in these areas, both group and independent playare important. In addition, these types of play contribute to brain growth and a child’s understanding of the world, including spatial awareness, gravity, tactile and depth perception. Many elements of play like problem solving, memory training, creativity and self-evaluation are carried through to adulthood and play key parts in our daily lives. 

Play is especially important for promoting positive cognitive development and is a good opportunity for parents to teach their children about the world. For example, with toddlers; playing with measuring cups for learning about size and volumes, different materials for tactile exploration and using a mirror to identify facial features for developing self-image. 

The next time your child is tearing around the house because they’ve decided they are “bored” with their toys, consider taking them to a playground, not only does it give them a chance to wear themselves out, but it offers so many more benefits that they will take through into their adult life. Why not join in with your children the next time they have fun on the playground, after all, play is good for everyone and shouldn’t be just for the kids! 

5 things to ask yourself when choosing a private tutoring course

Since 2016, private tutoring has risen by almost a third – and now more than a quarter of parents across the UK now choose to use private tutoring as a way to boost their children’s education. So, if you’re considering private tutoring for your child, here are a few things to consider.

What do we want to achieve?

Before you embark on a relationship with a tutoring company, be sure you know the answer to this question. Consider the level of help you might need and whether it’s for a specific purpose, such as support to pass the 11+or GCSE revision– or whether it’s more general confidence building. It’s worth having a very clear idea beforehand and making sure you share these with the tutor. 

How does the tutor engage the students?

It's helpful to ask the tutor how the lessons are constructed. At Peepal Tree Learning, we encourage children to revise and prepare for the 11-plusexams based on the curriculum followed by the child’s school. A typical class might include looking at past papers, exploring the techniques required to answer the different question types and helping your child develop effective study skills. We help your child to grow in confidence, encouraging them to think creatively and analytically, rather than ‘spoon feeding’ the contents of the curriculum. This approach is essential to success in 11-plus, as the exams require children to think for themselves as opposed to simply regurgitating information.

How is progress measured? 

Tutors' assessment methods will all vary, as different practices work for different people, so be sure to ask what approach they use. You should expect regular feedback and for the tutor to explain clearly how progress will be measured. In terms of homework, you should expect that your child will be asked to complete some work outside the class schedule, but make sure this works alongside their existing workload and commitments. Be sure they will not become overwhelmed! 

What’s the best setting for us?

For some parents, the idea of 1:1 tuition can be attractive, however this can be very costly and for some children, a little too intense. The benefits of a classroom setting mean that children often ‘bounce’ off one another, enriching the experience. If you are looking for a classroom setting, take a good look at the locationand make sure it’s conducive to learning. Class sizes are also important, so make sure you ask this question. 

Is my child comfortable and happy? 

If you want success, your child must be comfortable. Watch the interaction between your child and the tutor and ask your child for feedback. Results are important, but they will only come if your child feels comfortable in the surroundings and with the teacher themselves. 

Peepal Tree Learning offers 11+ preparationand GSCE revisioncourses in three comfortable and welcoming setting, located in Richmond, Kingston Upon Thames and Sutton. Get in touchto find out about out class schedules, fees and our approach to learning success. 

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