Baby Mer's Book Haul + Mini Reviews



Tihamer is back with a brand new book haul and more mini reviews! Stay tuned to see what books are featured in this installment! 




First of all, I want to start out by giving a special thanks to Sweet Cherry Publishing for sending not one, but two box sets over for us to review. Tihamer absolutely loves them, and I found that I enjoyed these stories as well. 




  The Diaries of Robin's Toys | Ken & Angie Lake
Pages: 940 
Genre(s): Children's Fiction
Published: 2013 | Sweet Cherry Publishing 
Format: Paperback (Boxset)
Source: Publisher





I made Tihamer a homemade bookmark for his new books! Don't talk about my craftiness, it's the thought that counts lol.


There are 10 books included in this boxset. The titles are:


Leon the Lion
Bertie the Bee
Taffy the Rabbit
Carla the Cow
Carlos the Cod
Roger the Reindeer
Clarence the Camel
Geraldo the Giraffe
Donkey Hoo-Tee
Gavin the Gorilla & Snuffles










Since there are 20 books in total between both of these boxsets, I've decided to include 3 titles that Tihamer has already finished from both sets. 

From the Diaries of Robin's Toy's he has completed:







Out of the three books that Tihamer has read so far, this is definitely his personal favorite, and you know what? I agree. First of all, I'm a Leo, so I may be a little bias on that behalf. But, in all honesty, I just really enjoyed Leon's story.



* Okay don't judge me. I had to use something heavy to hold the book open so both pages could be visible. I'm the queen of improvising lol *

So as you can see, all of the stories start of as a journal entry, to represent the diary of Robin's toys. The book actually tells two different stories. One from Robin, and the other from the animal. Both always has some sort of message that is told in a fun way to our young readers. All of the stories kick off with our main character Robin, and his Grandad Harry as they venture off to the car boot sale, which I'm sure is the same thing as a yard and garage sale, or a market here in the states. Grandad Harry gives Robin 50 pence, which Robin uses to buy a "special toy". But what would a children's story be without a little imagination involved? Grandad Harry has magical powers! He has the ability to talk to toys, and with this special power, and a chant that Tihamer can't get enough of, they are able to bring these toys to life!

" Little toy, hear this rhyme, 
Let it take you back in time,
Tales of sadness or of glory,
    Little toy, reveal your story. "



" Look Mama, A Li-Yannn ! Rooaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr "

Here is where the Lion comes to life and begins to tell his "tail" get it? Tale, Tail? No? Okay moving on lol .

" Lions are big cats. "

" Yes we know Leon, we can see that. "

" Don't interrupt, Robin, or I shall have to eat you. "

" Oh No! Mama, Li-Yannn Bite! " * Makes hissing noise and shows me his "Li-Yannn" claws. *

Where is he learning all of this from? lol

Anywho, we dive into Leon's story as he explains to us, how he isn't your typical lion. He's a friendly, mild-tempered lion, who enjoys writing short stories and poetry on his free time. From there we're pushed further into his life, as he describes personal challenge's he's had to face being the type of lion that he is. He wants to meet new people, so he starts job hunting. Employer after employer turns him down because they view him as a fierce and ferocious animal. On his last interview, he is turned down, but giving a different opportunity than what he was looking for. His hobby of poetry, lands him a job on a radio station, making jingles for the commercials.

" You should use Lion Toothpaste when you're eating beef. 

When you've used Lion Toothpaste you can really show your teeth.

You must use Lion Toothpaste, it really is the best.

When you use Lion Toothpaste you'll be a roaring success. "

Tihamer immediately jumps up and begins dancing as I sing the jingle out loud. He then proceeds to chant,

" Brush!
   Brush!
       Li-Yann Tooth!
    Brush!
     Brush! 
         Ma, Brush! "

If you haven't noticed from his last book haul, he's very animated lol. 

As I stated a little earlier, Robin tells a story in each book as well. Each story is similar to the animal's and shares a message for our young readers to learn. In this book, Robin shares a situation about a fellow student named John, or JP as they call him, who has just joined his football team. He isn't really that good, and he caused the boys to lose the game, but John's mother believes he should get out more and make friends, instead of spending his time in the family's garden. He's fascinated by nature, but doesn't have much of a social life and many friends because of this. 

" I know JP isn't the best footballer, but he need to start meeting other children. "

" I've told him him that he's never going to make friends by staying at home and playing in the garden on his own. At least if he plays football he's out in the open air getting some exercise, and maybe he'll make some friends. "

After learning this and feeling a little bad about it, Robin decides to invite John to his birthday party. There John makes an amazing discovery due to his knowledge of nature, resulting in him sparking conversation with the other children, and even making new friends. If you remember, Leon the lion also wanted to meet new people and make friends, but was always rejected. Finally, he put his favorite hobby to use for an opportunity he was offered. There he made new friends and was able to be himself, just like John!



" Look Ma, What's That ?! "

" A Camel. "

" Wowwwww, A Camel !! "

In Clarence the Camel, we read about two similar stories from both Robin and Clarence.

We start things off with a very sad Robin. It had been sports week at school, and Robin just knew he would do well in the races. He was so confident that he would outrun all of the other children, that he even bragged to them about how good he was! Unfortunately for Robin, the race didn't turn out the way he had predicted. 



" Look Ma, Boy Is Tired. "

He cheers up a bit when he and Grandad Harry visit the car boot sale once again to purchase another "special" toy. Here is where Clarence the Camel comes in. 

In Clarence's story, we first receive a bit of a history lesson on Camels. We learn about where they come from, what they're used for, and even the two different types of Camels. 

Bactrian - Two hump Camels that come from the deserts of Central Asia.
Dromedary - One hump Camels that come from the deserts of Arabia.

Have many of you, didn't know this prior to reading this book or review? *
Raises hand. *

As Clarence finishes giving us some history about himself, we then find out he inspires to be a famous racer, just like his father. Apparently, racing Camels are very important where he is from, and are also worth alot of money. So he practiced everyday, and even boasted to his friends that he would indeed become a racing Camel. (Sound familiar?) Finally, his training to become a racer begins, and to his surprise, he doesn't do as well as he originally thought. 

" I was puffin and panting, but I was falling behind. I tried as hard as I could, but I just couldn't catch up with the others. "

After a few failed attempts at excelling in the training races, Clarence is devastated when he is told that he isn't fast enough to be racing Camel.




Not wanting to face his friends after his failures, he decides to head in the opposite direction of his home. He wanders, and wanders, until he comes across a small aircraft that crashed in the desert. He immediately races over, and to his discovery, his former owner is inside! Clarence saves him from the wreckage, and is able to get him back to town safely. For his noble efforts, his former owner decides to honor him by making Clarence a Royal Camel! This is the highest honor a camel can receive, and instead of bragging to his friends about his new "position", he decides to tell them about his struggles at the training school. 

" My failures had taught me to think about their feelings and not put them down. I had learned to treat others with dignity and not boast about how clever I thought I was. "

Like Clarence, Robin also learned this valuable lesson. He didn't make it into his school's cross-country team, and he felt horrible for boasting to his friends about how great he believed was. He definitely redeemed himself, by stepping up and taking on a very responsible role for the sports day event, saving it from being cancelled. Even though he didn't make the team, he didn't want his peers to not be able to participate in the event. 



Lastly, we have the story of Donkey Hoo Tee !
" A Dooooonnnkkkkeeeyyy ! " * Does happy dance because apparently he likes donkeys. Who knew *


We begin by learning about Robin's new neighbors the Hetfields. They recently moved next door to Robin and his family, and have children of their own. A baby named James, and two twin girls that were around Robin's age, Francesca and Marcella. Even though they were identical twins, they're personalities were completely different, Francesca was more friendly and outgoing. She had little to no problems making new friends. However, Marcella, was a shy girl who spent most of her time painting alone. Marcella had hearing problems, and had to wear a hearing aid to better assist her. But she found it difficult to talk with the other children, being that she couldn't keep up with the conversations. 

Next Robin and Grandad Harry hurry on down to the car boot sale to start their search for another toy.



Hoo-Tee the Donkey is purchased, and after Grandad Harry uses his special powers, we dive into his story.

We learn that Hoo-Tee was an old Donkey from Spain. He spent his days as a working Donkey, carrying his owner's things on his back. But he didn't quite enjoy his job. To be honest he hated it! He dreamed of a different life, one where he could relax, and grow old as he should. 

" Life was difficult for me and my master; food was scarce and there was very little money. The work was hard, the sun was hot, and the days were long. "

" I dreamed of lazing around all day, eating proper hay and drinking fresh clean water. " 


He wasn't happy with his life at all. 


* Sorry for the blurriness ! *

One particular day while working, Hoo-Tee finds a lottery ticket. He and his donkey friends get some down time, and decide to head to a bar in the village. There on a radio, numbers are being called out for the lottery, and guess who has the winning ticket? Hoo-Tee! He's ecstatic, and jumping with joy, but his happiness is short lived once he realizes, that donkey's aren't allowed to play in the lottery. Disappointed, he keeps his winning ticket, and goes back to his miserable life. One morning while working, he stumbles upon a beautiful house. His good friend mentions that the house belongs to a man named Don Quijote, who Hoo-Tee is named after. He learned that the man is a famous adventurer, and intrigued decides to speak with the man himself. To his surprise, the man is no longer an adventurer, but an old lonely man in need of some company. 

Being an old donkey himself, Hoo-Tee made the decision to help the old man around his field and keep him company. When Hoo-Tee never returned to his master late that evening, he came looking for him and was quite upset at the donkey. But Don Quijote came to the rescue by purchasing Hoo-Tee from his master. Feeling gracious that he finally can live the rest of his years in peace with good company, Hoo-Tee gives his winning lottery ticket to the old man, who used the money to open up a donkey retirement home, where those who were to old for such harsh work, could rest in peace.

This brings us back to Robin's story about his next door neighbor Marcella. Robin took it upon himself to do a something special for her. He knew she loved to paint, and took her hobby very seriously, so he asked to borrow some of her artwork. He then presented his art teacher, Mr.Hammet with Marcella's paintings, who happened to be very impressed with her work. Mr.Hammet then called her parents with the offer to give Marcella art lessons to help improve her skills. Robin knew by doing this, it would not only make her happy, but give her the company she needed to not feel lonely and left out anymore. He also knew that he made a new friend.

This was by far my favorite story of this boxset. It reminded me of so many occasions where I did something special for an older individual. My mother has been a Homecare Provider for the elderly for 29 years, and I also have experience in the field, so I know all about being good company to an elder.

Collectively, Tihamer and I loved these stories. He enjoyed talking about the animals that were featured, and often commented on the illustrations displayed throughout the books. My favorite aspects of these books where the information we learned about the animals. Who would have thought that I would be learning something new while reading these diaries. I mean, I'm 25, and alot of the facts presented about each animal, I never knew. I don't know if I should be embarrassed or just blown away that these children's books, as short as they are, could be so informative.




There are also 10 books included in this boxset:

Milly, Molly and . . . 

the Stowaways - Book 1
W.W Webby - Book 2
 Betelguese - Book 3
Grandpa's Oak Tree - Book 4
the Ferryman - Book 5
 the Pumpkin Seeds - Book 6
 Meg - Book 7
Alf - Book 8
 One Lucky Turkey -  Book 9
 Jimmy's Seeds - Book 10



Tihamer has read the first 3 books, so let's dive into those reviews.




Out of both boxsets that were set to us, The Milly, Molly series are my favorites. I love the stories of these two young girls, and the special messages that are delivered. Let's get started.

Before I read the story with Tihamer, I decided to flip through the book. I usually don't do this, because of my fear of spoilers lol, but something compelled me to. I get all the way to the back flap of the book and come across this:



On the back flap of every Milly, Molly book is a "teacher guide", which I'm sure every teacher, guardian, and parent will find brilliant. The guide gives information, and questions for you to ask the readers to get them engaged in the reading, but what impressed me the most, were the themes of each book.



In Milly, Molly and the Stowaways, we learn about the importance of " Self Worth". We start the story off in Milly and Molly's classroom. All of the students are watching a stage play, where 5 stowaways try to impress their captain for their keep.
The first stowaway played a beautiful tune on his Harmonica.
The second sang a beautiful song.
The third sketched a beautiful boat.
The fourth  performed a beautiful dance.
And the fifth held onto a notebook, but when he opened his mouth to speak, no words were formed.

Before the captain could become disappointed, the first stowaway who played the Harmonica, came to the rescue by assisting the boy. He read a poem the boy had written in his notepad. The captain was pleased, and granted everyone their keeps, but he was a little confused as to why they wanted to stow away on their ship when they had such amazing talents.

" We thought we could prove our worth before being returned to shore. "

" You see, no one gives us a chance. "

This left the captain and I a bit confused, but then they began to explain . . .

The first stowaway has a brain injury.
The second is blind.
The third is deaf.
The fourth has no hands.
And the fifth, has a problem with speech so he stutters.



I was beyond blown away by this. It wasn't something I was expecting, and it left me with such appreciation for these books. I began to explain to Tihamer, that all 5 of the children were each special. That they each had something, that made them stand out from other kids. I took his little finger, and pointed to each stowaway while telling him what made them special. 

" This stowaway is deaf, which means he can't hear. "

" Oh , No Mommy! He Can't Hear ??! " * Points to his ears *

I nod my head yes to let him know that he's right, and moved on to the other stowaways. For each stowaway and their special impairment, Tihamer would point to a body part that I named. For the stowaway who didn't have any hands, he held them up high in the air. For the stowaway who had a brain injury, he pointed to his head. I did this to help Tihamer not only understand what made these children different, but to also teach him that even though they are different in their own little way, they are still the same as he, and should be treated accordingly. 




In Milly, Molly and W.W Webby, we follow the two girls and their friend, a spider named W.W Webby. He was a friendly spider who believed in loving everyone
equally




Amen Mr.Webby, Amen!

Milly and Molly didn't quite understand what Bigotry and Racism meant, so instead they asked Webby to create them a world wide web. I figured he would use their request to spread his wisdom about the two topics mentioned above, and I was right! 

He created the web for the girls, and even made a sign that said:

" Please leave behind
1. Bigotry and Racism
2. Shoes. "


Milly and Molly were then able to make so many friends of all sizes and races. Then one night a big storm passed through, blowing around the million pairs of shoes of the children. The web was destroyed, but thanks to Webby, he made another one for the girls in no time. Unfortunately, neither of the girls could find their shoes amongest the piles of rubbish that were left behind in the storm. 

" What about our shoes ? " 

" We can't find them anywhere. "

Webby then proceeds to tell them,

" To walk in someone else's shoes, is to really understand them. "

" That way you can stomp on bigotry and racism, forever. "

This message reminded me of something my mother taught me as a small child.

" Never judge anyone. You never know what a person is going through, what their past was like, who they are as people, until you walk a mile in their shoes. "

This is definitely a message that I will be relaying to Tihamer as well. I want him to grow up respecting others. Allowing them to feel accepted, no matter their race, background, gender, etc.



Tihamer was super excited while reading this story. We had recently took a trip to our local Petsmart, to allow him to see some furry friends, and possibly pick out his future pet. So when I began to read Milly, Molly and Betelguese, I was constantly interrupted by,

" Wow, Ma ! Look A Hamstahhhh !! "

I definitely laughed out loud, because these are actually Guinea Pigs, and when I finally corrected him, with every page I turned I heard,

" Look Ma, Piggiessss ! "

He's very fascinated with animals lol.




In this story, we follow Milly and Molly as they watch over a family of Guinea Pigs. There's Ma Guinea who played a motherly role to all of the little piggies. She knew all their names and the stories of where they came from, which she would share with them as bedtime stories. One by one, she would explain to the small guinea pigs about the origin of their names.

" Sweet Pea. When the scent from a trellis of soft pinks and purples fills the garden to overflowing, it's hot and dizzy height of summer. "

At the end of her short tale, she would mention to everyone how special they were. But one guinea pig in particular was a bit different from the others. His name was Betelguese, and unlike his brothers and sisters, Ma guinea didn't know the meaning or origin of his name, which caused him to feel left out. However, she continued to treat him the same as the others, by telling him he was special as well. One night, Milly and Molly were gazing at the stars, when one caught their eye. It was red, silver, and gold, and waved as it twinkled at the girls. Excited to tell someone of their discovery, they ran to their friend, a farmer named Mr.Hagerty, and told him all about the star.

" That's Betelguese. The friendliest little star in the night sky. " 

You can probably guess what happened next. The girls immediately told Ma Guinea about their discovery, and later on that night, she finally shared with Betelguese what he's been wanting to her for quite some time.

" Betelguese, Among the millions upon millions of stars in the sky, there is only one little star that can wave and twinkle and twinkle and wave and catch your attention every time. It's name is Betelguese. "

You are special. " 

I can almost relate to this story as well. My name is Martika, which in my community was often labeled as "ghetto". It bothered me when I was younger, to be categorized by my name, until one day, my mother sat me down and showed me a book. It was a book of African names, where my name was chosen from. She told me about how I was originally supposed to be a boy, and at the last minute, she found out my true gender. She then came across this book randomly in a library, (go figure) and began to flip through it. There she found Martika, with the meaning of Knowledge. How ironic is it that she discovered my name in a library?! I guess she hit the nail on the head, because I'm quite smart, and I love to read!

First of all, I want to thank all of you who stuck through this gruesomely long review lol. The reviews were supposed to be "mini", but if you follow my blog, and read my reviews, then you know nothing about my work is short lol. I promise next time to be a bit more brief, but sometimes my thoughts get the best of me!

I also want to thank (again) Sweet Cherry Publishing for sending my son and I these amazing books. I love their stories, but most importantly, the lessons that they teach our children, and I hope that all parents will introduce their young readers to these series.


Until next time,
Baby Mer & Mommy.