Monsters Love Underpants by Claire Freedman

EXCERPT: Monsters think it’s MONSTER fun
To creep around all scary!
But there’s something they love even more,
Than looking mean and hairy!

ABOUT ‘MONSTERS LOVE UNDERPANTS’: There are prowly monsters howling loudly and drooling monsters from the steamy swamp. There are wild, woolly mountain monsters and spiky, spooky monsters from outer space. And they all have one thing in common – they LOVE underpants!

LUKE AND SANDY’S THOUGHTS: What monsters love even more than looking mean and scary is ….. UNDERPANTS! And they have ever so many pairs of brightly coloured, striped, spotted and patterned underpants. One monster even wears an extra pair on his head!

As well as a fun rhyming story, there are plenty of learning opportunities – counting, colours, and working into the story that even though the monsters are all different, just like people are all different, they all live and play together.

Luke particularly loved the cat being scared by the monsters, and the pirate underpants. He also liked that there are bats and spiders and mice in some of the pictures.

Delightfully silly, bright and cheerful. I have lost count of the number of times we have read Monsters Love UNDERPANTS!


THE AUTHOR: I’ve been a writer for over 15 years now, but it wasn’t planned!

I had a variety of jobs, including secretary, trainee buyer at Harrods, dental nurse, production assistant in a reprographic and printing company and various others.

I began to write after joining a creative writing class. I had no success with article writing, or short stories, or fiction, but the first children’s story I wrote, for a magazine called Twinkle, was accepted for publication. Hooray!!!

Things snowballed and a lot (yes lots and lots) of hard work later I now write full time and have over 50 books published. I still go to the same writing class and we have become a big happy family of writers!

For me, writing is the best job ever. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I love to create worlds for young children to enjoy and escape into – whether the stories are educational, bedtime, problem solving or just plain good fun. It’s also very exciting to see the first picture roughs, as my wonderful, talented illustrators bring the text to life.

I live on the Essex coast in a lovely two-bed-roomed flat, which I share with my husband, Michael. At long last I have an office to write in, with room for all my books and bits of scribbled on papers.

The seafront is (still) just around the corner, and I find a bracing walk (it gets freezing when the East wind blows from the North Sea!) or gentle stroll when the weather is warmer, is great for clearing my head and mulling over story ideas

DISCLOSURE: Luke owns his copy of Monsters Love Underpants, written by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Ben Cort and published by Simon & Schuster. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely our personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Instagram, Twitter and

How to Catch a Dragon, written by Caryl Hart and illustrated by Ed Eaves

EXCERPT: ‘Are you going dragon hunting?’ I ask.

‘I want to,’ says the knight. ‘But my brothers say I’m too small, so I’m just reading about them instead.’

‘Well, two small knights are easily as good as one big one,’ I say. ‘Let’s go together.’

ABOUT ‘HOW TO CATCH A DRAGON’: Albie’s visit to the library quickly turns into an amazing adventure when he makes a new Knightly friend among the bookshelves.

The brave friends set off on a daring quest where they meet trolls, bears, and a mysterious many headed monster . . . but will they be able to catch a dragon?

MINE AND LUKE’S THOUGHTS: An excellent read! There are so many topics for discussion in this beautifully illustrated book from the creators of the award winning How to Grow a Dinosaur.

The story itself is delightful. Luke loved that the library Albie visits is in a castle and that Sir Cuthbert Clinkety-Clanks horse found a book about carrots.

There is lots to talk about as you read, such as facing your fears, and looking after one another.

The illustrations are bright, colourful and detailed. We kept saying, ‘Oh, look at that…..’

A definite winner!


THE AUTHOR: Caryl Hart is an award-winning children’s author who writes picture books and young fiction.

She lives in Sheffield, England with her family and loves running, walking, cafes and snuggling. Her favourite place is the library because it’s warm and full of books.

Caryl runs creative literacy workshops in schools, libraries and for festivals.

DISCLOSURE: Luke owns this copy of How to Catch a Dragon by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Ed Eaves, and published by Simon & Schuster UK.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Luke has been with us for the weekend. I picked him up Friday afternoon and we have had a fun and busy time. My cousin had kept some eggs for him that she was sure were double yokers, which I scrambled for his dinner Friday night. They weren’t, but he enjoyed them anyway. Yesterday we baked cookies. I took photos but they’re too dark to post. We also made garages for the cars out of shoeboxes. Today we made sleeping bags for his favourite cuddlies for when he and Dustin go camping. They have just left to go home. Luke is one tired bunny as he didn’t sleep well last night, so of course I didn’t either!

I am still reading Lost Souls by Chris Merritt. Although I have read a lot this weekend, not much of it was for me.

And I am listening to The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron.

This week I am planning on reading The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

You won’t want to leave. . . until you can’t.

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in…

And The Dare by Lesley Kara

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find traumatic memories and paranoia suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

I have only one new ARC this week –

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

I introduced Luke to Roald Dahl’s poems, and Mole and Toad of The Wind in the Willows this weekend. What have you been reading with your grandchildren or children?

Have a wonderful week. Mine is very busy workwise, and Pete is working long hours so it looks like the lawns will also be on my ‘to do’ list this week.

Stuck in the Muck by Brett Avison, illustrated by Craig Smith

EXCERPT: This cow was a pet
Who hated the wet
She was happy inside chewing cud
No one could explain
Why she went in the rain-
And got herself stuck in the mud.

ABOUT ‘STUCK IN THE MUCK’: On Mum and Ted’s farm there’s a very large barn, where Milky the cow was a pet. But no one could guess how she got herself stuck in the mud on a rain sodden night.

Join Bryn, Oscar and a parade of machines – and broken gear – as they help Milky out of the muck.

MY THOUGHTS: Luke loved A Bigger Digger by the same author and illustrator, and had been wanting this book for some time. He came to work with me for a few hours on Monday and I told him that if he was very, very good while I did my work that his pay for helping me would be this book. He was extremely good and really deserved his ‘pay.’

There’s lots of machinery involved in rescuing Milky from the muck – a quad bike, a ute, a truck, a bulldozer, a fire engine, a crane, and a helicopter.

Stuck in the Muck is lighthearted, amusing and beautifully illustrated. There is so much to see and discuss in each illustration which adds to the whole reading experience.

While I don’t like this quite as much as A Bigger Digger, Luke absolutely loves it, and whatever makes him happy, makes me happy.


THE AUTHOR: Writing a book is a bit like giving birth, the Havelock children’s author says. Brett says he often lets ideas foment for a while before writing. While the writing process itself is fairly quick, editing and revising his stories takes a lot longer.

DISCLOSURE: Luke owns his copy of Stuck in the Muck by Brett Avison and illustrated by Craig Smith, published by Plus One. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely Luke’s.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram, and

Books by Mercer Mayer

I bought these books for my boys when they were little. Both are now in their 40s. Now my three and a half year old grandson is loving them!

He loves knowing that I have also read them to both his Dad and his uncle.

If you are looking for a few stocking fillers for preschoolers, these come with Luke’s five star seal of approval!

I Need a New Bum by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird

EXCERPT: I need a new bum! Mine’s got a crack …..

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A young boy suddenly notices a big problem — his butt has a huge crack! So he sets off to find a new one. Will he choose an armor-plated butt? A rocket butt? A robot butt? Find out in this quirky tale of a tail, which features hilarious rhymes and delightful illustrations. Children and parents will love this book — no ifs, ands, or butts about it!

MY THOUGHTS: A huge thank you to Carla Johnson-Hicks who posted a video clip of a Scottish woman reading this to her wee grandson on her webpage – it was hilarious, I had tears of laughter running down my cheeks and I almost wet myself. It is honestly, the funniest thing that I have ever seen. (Other than Billy Connolly live). Maybe it’s the Scottish thing…..

Luke didn’t have quite the same reaction, but he still thought it was pretty darned funny and we all had to take turns at reading it to him. In the end, he couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted a rocket bum or a robo bum.



I live in an amazing place, on the Thames Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand.

I work from a little studio in my back garden. I look out my studio window across the park to the beach. Many of my stories are about the sea, or about nature. We have the bush close by and I love to walk alongside the Waiomu Stream, right up to a grove of magnificent Kauri.

But not all my stories come from nature. I keep a watch on what’s happening around me and I listen to what people say. Sometimes a joke can give me an idea. But most of my stories come from my own experience…the happy times, the sad times, and the special people I’ve known.

You’ll see that I do a lot of readers for schools. I enjoy doing these. They’re like a story and a puzzle combined. The story is the most important part but there are lots of reading level challenges to get right too. The readers go all over the world, with some of them translated into other languages.

Come and see us sometime. Bring your swimming gear and your fishing rods. If you let me know you’re coming I’ll make you some hokey-pokey biscuits.

DISCLOSURE: I purchased I Need a New Bum written by Dawn McMillan and illustrated by Ross Kinnaird, published by Oratia from my local bookstore, PaperPlus. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own and my grandson Luke’s personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and

The Monster at the End of This Book – a Little Golden Book written by Jon Stone and illustrated by Michael Smollin


Little Golden Books were everywhere when my children were little. Now, forty years on, they are like hens’ teeth. This, I ended up ordering online along with Grover’s Own Alphabet for my grandson’s Christmas parcel. However, I didn’t hide everything as cleverly as I thought I had, and he stumbled upon my secret stash. I let him keep this out…

He wasn’t too sure about the monster on the first reading. He laughed uproariously at Grover tying and nailing the pages together, then building a brick wall so that the pages couldn’t get turned and bring us any closer to the monster at the end of the book. But when it came to actually turning the last page it was, ‘You do it, Nana. You turn the page.’

Once he saw it was only Grover, he thought it was hilarious and we read The Monster at the End of This Book many times that afternoon. Luke loves this as much as his father and uncle did. And I love reading it. It has so much scope for amateur dramatics.

The Monster at the End of This Book is part of the excellent Sesame Street series.

Five big flashing shooting stars.

What Should I Wear,Huggle Buggle Bear written by Rachel Elliot and illustrated by Russell Julian


EXCERPT: Get set,Huggle Buggle,
Let’s all play outside.
We’ll run and we’ll jump,
We’ll swing and we’ll slide.
Come on, Huggle Buggle,
Let’s get dressed and go!
First underwear, then socks –
Where are they? Oh, no!

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Learn about getting dressed in a fun search for the missing clothes with Huggle Buggle Bear and his mischievous friends.

MY THOUGHTS (AND LUKE’S): ‘Read it again Nana/Daddy/Poppy,’ is good enough for me.

Luke loved this beautifully and colourfully illustrated storybook with plenty of activity for the enquiring mind. We talked about colours and stripes and spots, animals that have stripes and spots, the differences between toy animals and real animals; we counted; we compared the contents of the drawers in this book to the contents of Luke’s drawers.

A lot of fun!


THE AUTHOR: Rachel Elliot has been writing stories all her life, and her first book was published in 2004. Since then she has written lots of books for children. She works as a freelance writer and editor, and lives in Devon with her husband and two daughters.

DISCLOSURE: I purchased What Should I Wear, Huggle Buggle Bear written by Rachel Elliot, illustrated by Russell Julian and published by Lake Press expressly for Luke. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own and Luke’s personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page and the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy


EXCERPT: ‘the truth is, everyone is winging it.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.

MY THOUGHTS: I received this book for my birthday from my good friend Gayel, who has an extraordinary talent for finding me books that I love that I would never have picked out for myself. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy is one such book. I can already think of a few people for whom I am going to gift copies.

It is beautifully illustrated, reminiscent of the style of the illustrations in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books and written with the same down to earth wisdom. Perfect for the days when you’re not quite….., and the world is a bit daunting/overwhelming/scary.

Delightful and enchanting, this book is ageless, and written for all ages. It is inspiring, comforting. And there is cake.


‘Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlie Macksey was born during a snowy winter in Northumberland. He has been a cartoonist for The Spectator and a book illustrator for Oxford University Press. He has collaborated with Richard Curtis for Comic Relief, and Nelson Mandela on a lithograph project, ‘The Unity Series.’ Collectors of Mackesy’s works include Elizabeth Gilbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Roger Waters, Richard Curtis, The Murdoch Freuds, Tim Bevan, M. Night Shyamalan, Bear Grylls, Howard Goodall, Harry Enfield and Sting. He has lived and painted in South Africa, Southern Africa, and New Orleans. He co-runs a social enterprise, Mama Buci, in the Zambian copperbelt, which helps families of low and no income to become beekeepers.

DISCLOSURE: I own my very beautiful copy of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy, published by Ebury Press. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Instagram and

A Bigger Digger by Brett Avison


EXCERPT: They were doing no harm
On Mum’s little farm,
Just digging around in the shade.
With Oscar’s front paws
And Bryn on all fours,
Working hard with his bucket and spade.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Right there in the backyard, Oscar and Bryn struck something hard. What they discover as they dig deeper will surprise everyone. Join these little adventurers and a whole parade of diggers as they uncover a very big find.

MY THOUGHTS: If you’re a fan of The Little Yellow Digger, you are just going to love A Bigger Digger. My 3 year old grandson certainly did. We have another two of this author’s books, Stuck in the Muck and Pigs Might Fly, both of which he also loves.

Simply and beautifully illustrated, A Bigger Digger has enough detail in the pictures to provide plenty of conversation, but that only adds to, not detracts from, the story of Bryn and Oscar’s find.

Highly recommended both by Luke and myself.

THE AUTHOR: Writing a book is a bit like giving birth, the Havelock children’s author says.

Brett says he often lets ideas foment for a while before writing. While the writing process itself is fairly quick, editing and revising his stories takes a lot longer, he says

Brett and his partner Lorain Day moved to Marlborough from Auckland four-and-a-half years ago, and they were both involved in The Gallery in Havelock.

Being an author was a low-key pursuit, and Brett found he could do everything in Havelock that he could do in Auckland.

DISCLOSURE: This book is owned by my grandson. Thank you Luke for allowing me to borrow A Bigger Digger written by Brett Avison, illustrated by Craig Smith, and published by Imagination Press Ltd, for review. All opinions expressed are those of an excited three year old and his Nana.