We were therefore VERY excited to be asked to take part in Belle and Boo’s blog tour, celebrating the publication of two gorgeous sticker and activity books. We positively bounced for joy when we were told that we could do an interview with Belle and Boo’s creator, the super-talented Mandy Sutcliffe and we did many gleeful star jumps when our friends at Orchard Books told us that we could run a Belle and Boo giveaway with a totally tremendous prize package!
After we’d had a lie down and a restorative mug of hot Ribena, we set about playing with the sticker books that we’d been sent. I have to say that my initial perception of them was that they would be marketed as something more for girls than boys, but I’m pleased to report that C and H enjoyed them as much as any activity book we’ve ever had. Yes, if you’re thinking about traditional gender stereotypes, they do look as though they would appeal more to girls, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m really proud of the fact that neither C nor H pay any heed to such stereotypes and never question whether something is ‘for them’ because of its colour or the gender of the main character or the type of animals that are pictured (check out Carmen’s fab posts over at Rhino Reads for some interesting facts about the gender of animal characters in books…).
Anyway, back to the books.
Both books contain oodles of high quality stickers (I now count myself as *somewhat* of an expert on the quality of stickers, having given out approximately 450 million over my time as a teacher/parent – I can spot a duff one a mile away) and many other activities besides, including matching, colouring and writing games.
The boys were happily absorbed for nearly an hour in choosing food for the picnic (this required a LOT of discussion), selecting outfits for Belle and Boo to wear and finding woodland creatures hiding in beautifully detailed illustrations. An hour of pretty-much-independent playing is an absolute hit as far as I’m concerned and therefore these two books come with the Story Seekers stamp of approval for entertaining children, with an extra Highly Commended rosette for being so very lovely for me to look at as well.
While you wait for the shops to open so you can hotfoot it down and get your own copies of the books, we are very pleased to be able to offer you a couple of printable Belle and Boo activities for you to enjoy 🙂
In addition to the above, we’ve also got an EXCLUSIVE download for you!
There will be one each day of the blog tour (check out the banner on my homepage for details) and they all go together, so yesterday’s at Read it, Daddy! was a cut-out Belle doll, today’s here on Story Seekers is a set of summer outfits and there is more fabulousness over the next three days as well. Enjoy 🙂
If your appetite is now well and truly whetted, read on to the end of the post for a truly great giveaway, but before you do, check out the interview we were lucky enough to get with Belle and Boo’s creator, Mandy Sutcliffe. As usual, the boys have posed the questions, so my personal thanks go to Mandy for answering them with such aplomb.
Mummy told us about you hearing the word ‘Belle’ in France and choosing that for the little girl’s name (a very good choice in our opinion, as it’s also the name of one of H’s favourite trains!). Why did you choose Boo for the bunny rabbit’s name?
I just knew that was his name as soon as I drew him, a bit like when you get a new toy or a pet and you just know immediately that that is their name.
What was the best adventure you had when you were little?
I had lots of adventures when I was little as our friends owned a wood, with a pond and a river and we were allowed to run wild all day only coming home at tea time.
We loved all the pictures of food and picnics in the books. What are your top three treats to have at a picnic?
French bread and brie, pink Champagne and gooey banana bread with chocolate chips.
If you could dress up as anything, what would it be?
Ooh good question, I think a fairy tale princess with a huge dress and pointy hat and glass slippers like Cinderella.
We LOVE stickers. Do you love stickers? Are the sticker books your favourite books you’ve made or do you like doing stories just as much?
I used to LOVE stickers as a young girl and had sticker albums that I would rearrange constantly. It was a real treat on a Saturday after my ballet lesson to go to Gregg’s the Bakers for a doughnut and then to a shop called The Flying Circus and chose a strip of new stickers. I especially liked textured ones, padded or velvety. I do love the sticker books, at the moment they are my favourite.
We like rabbits, but we also like owls and sea creatures too. What is your favourite animal?
To be honest, I love most baby animals, but I think the cutest are baby orang-utans. I went to an amazing zoo in Singapore where they roam above your heads in trees and on ropes. I remember watching a teeny tiny one dangling way above me on one finger whilst his mother sat calmly watching – I was a bag of nerves. I also love seeing them at Monkey World and last time I went they were doing roly-polys to make everyone laugh.
Did you used to have paper dress-up dolls when you were little? Mummy told us that she used to spend HOURS playing with hers!
Yes, I used to spend hours with mine – they were called Holly Hobbie and I think I had a cardboard room that they could play in, although I have searched the internet and can’t find what I remember I had. Maybe it was Sarah Kay, I always get the two confused? Drawing the dress up dolls for Belle and Boo is one of my favourite things to do, I would just do that all day if I was allowed!
Have you ever built a den or been camping? Do you think you might write a story about Belle and Boo doing those things?
What a great idea – I imagine Belle and Boo would love camping. They do have a tree house that they play in a lot which is a bit like a den and in our new craft book there are two ideas of how to make your own dens. The first is one that looks like their tree house and hangs over a washing line and the second is a pirate ship den that fits over a table – maybe your mummy can make one for you and your brother? I used to make dens all the time, especially when we were camping. We used to camp at a place called Shell Island and the sand dunes were perfect for den making and sand sledging.
Did you ever have a midnight feast? Mummy says that they were one of her VERY favourite things to do when she was younger (and we think she’d still like to do it now…) but we haven’t managed to stay up late enough yet. Maybe Belle and Boo could come to our first one?
I did used to have midnight feasts with my sister, although I think actually we ate all the food long before midnight as we were too excited to wait, so they probably should have been called ‘just that little bit later than bedtime feasts’
Does Belle have any friends who are boys?
Yes, Belle has lots and lots of friends of all ages boys and girls. I am busy developing a new boy character called Ellis he has a pull along horse called Easy and you can see pictures of them in my shop.
Thank you so much to Mandy for a great interview – we can’t wait for Ellis and Easy’s adventures!
Sooooooo, here’s the really exciting news. You can win EVERYTHING featured in the picture below -including SIGNED editions of the Belle and Book books – simply by entering our competition:
Here’s how to get your hands on this gorgeous prize – we’re trying something new this time…
We LOVE bunting here and hang ours out for all family birthdays and other special occasions, so we were super excited to see it featured in the Belle and Boo books. We’d love to see a picture of your bunting designs so we can drool over them 🙂 Being somewhat craft-challenged, I’d never ask you to actually make anything (unless you wanted to, of course!) so just email or tweet me your sketches or post them to the Story Seekers Facebook page. The boys will pick a winner on Friday 19th July, 2013, at 10am.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @storyseekersuk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/storyseekers
I will contact the winner after the draw for their address (you must live in the UK to enter) to pass on to Orchard Books, who will send out the prize. I will also post the winner’s name on here. Good luck!
N.B. This competition closed on Friday, 19th July, 2013. The winner was Damyanti Patel. Thanks to all who entered 🙂
Disclaimer: I received my copy of these books from the publisher. I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.