Tara Binns – Books That Empower Little Girls to Dream Big

One of my issues with princesses has always been this. The role is not a career aspiration. I live in an actual monarchy, where there really are princesses, and there is even a possibility of our daughters becoming one. But I think we can all agree it’s a fairly narrow life path to target.

I suppose it’s a more realistic aspiration than being a superhero, but at least most of them have real jobs as journalists, lawyers, wealthy industrialists, Amazon princesses… er, where was I…?

Anyway, of the many characters aimed at children, male ones tend to be the only ones tied to a profession. Think Postman Pat, or Fireman Sam. Female characters are far more likely to be more fantastical.

In a clever twist, tying the two together, is the Tara Binns series. Created by Lisa Rajan and illustrated by Eerika Omiyale, these books have the tagline of “Giving Little Girls Big Ideas”. The format of each tale involves our eponymous girl hero playing dress ups in her attic, and being magically transported into a fantasy (or is it?) involving the profession one of her outfits.

Books that empower little girls, Tara Binns, female pilot, girl pilot
From ‘Tara Binns – Eagle-Eyed Pilot’ written by Lisa Rajan and illustrated by Eerika Omiyale

In Tara Binns – Eagle-Eyed Pilot, she suddenly becomes a jumbo jet pilot – in mid-flight – and quickly has to learn not only how the cockpit works, but also has to navigate a storm and wrestle with a moral dilemma involving old pirate treasure.

The next book is Tara Binns – Crash Test Genius, where she becomes an engineer who quickly learns how the application of science benefits us all, and is inspired to invent a new concept of her own.

Coming soon is Tara Binns – Double Choc Doc, where she has to deal with everyone’s winter nemesis – the common cold!

My 3-year-old daughter loves being read these books, and requests we revisit them regularly. She is full of questions about the professions themselves as well as the way Tara deals with the dilemmas and opportunities presented to her. She’ll often ask questions about them out of the blue, when we’re not even reading one. They have clearly made an impression, and an immensely positive one at that.

The prose is bright and snappy, and the illustrations whimsically delightful. Tara, as both herself and when she’s exploring her various professions, is a great role model. One that is thankfully a world away from fairy princesses.

These books would be terrific for any child – but parents of girls in particular may find these to be essential bookshelf additions.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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This giveaway is over, but these books can still be purchased on Amazon (and other retailers)

Keep up to date with all the latest news about Tara Binns on Facebook and Twitter.

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Disclaimer: While I was not paid to write this review, we did receive these books free of charge.

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What profession would you like to see Tara Binns explore next? Please comment below.

Review: LEGO Batman – Jokerland Set

My daughter recently declared that two of her favourite superheroes are Batman and Robin. As luck would have it, a few days later this was delivered.

We set to building it right away!

The first thing we noticed about this set is that it is almost like a series of LEGO play sets, which made it great fun to build and to play with.

The story behind ‘Jokerland’ appears to be an ordinary theme park has been taken over by the clown prince of crime and some of his villainous allies. Each of them has their own twisted theme park ride to torment our heroes.

The set has eight minifigs in total – Batman, Robin, Starfire, and Beast Boy are the heroes, while the villains are The Joker, plus his accomplices Harley Quinn, The Penguin, and Poison Ivy.
Batman, Robin, Beast Boy, Starfire, The Penguin, The Joker, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, LEGO, minifigs, minifigures,
Batman, Robin, Beast Boy, Starfire, The Penguin, The Joker, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, LEGO, minifigs, minifigures,

There are also a couple of bonus figures – a freaky clown robot and a penguin with some dynamite!

The Joker’s theme park is made up of these four main ‘attractions’:

Jokerland LEGO DC Comics Superheroes 76035 PENGUIN
The Penguin’s ‘Deadly Duckies’ – which sees Beast Boy taken prisoner

Jokerland LEGO DC Comics Superheroes 76035 Poison Ivy Starfire

Jokerland LEGO DC Comics Superheroes 76035 Harley Quinn 2
‘Harley’s Wheels of Fire’ – where she torments the boy wonder.
And of course, the Joker’s ‘Jokerland’ (with the ‘Toxic Tank’).
And of course, the Joker’s eye-catching ‘Jokerland’ (with the ‘Toxic Tank’). Not recommended if you have a fear of clowns!

My daughter and I construct these big sets in a few sessions, each one usually just one numbered of the bags these sets are divided into. That usually means we end a building session with only a part of the vehicle/set constructed.

While this set has over a thousand bricks, four of the six numbered bags contain one attraction each. We built a bag a session initially, so what was nice about this set was that each one ended with a finished attraction.

She’s only 3-years-old, and this set is recommended for 8-14, so it is pretty advanced for her age. But with a bit of guidance and encouragement (as well as patience!) from me, she eventually put together her very own Batmobile.

Overall, this set was a really fun build that was a great joint activity for us – especially on a rainy bank holiday Monday.

It has great playability when completed. Each attraction has interactive elements – The Jokerland slide into the Toxic Tank, as well as revolving eyes and tilting hat; Harley’s motorcycle launches down towards the flaming barrels; the Penguin’s Deadly Duckies turn; Poison Ivy’s ride falls suddenly to the ground when triggered; and there’s a cannon that fires cannonballs – or the Joker’s custard pie! Oh, and the Batmobile had spring loaded missiles too.

Jokerland’s also a playset – so it’s a great environment for children to create stories with the characters. We’ve had everything from Batman arriving to rescue Robin, to everyone enjoying a day trip to the theme park. Another big attraction for us was the number of female character minifigs included – even just one in a superhero set is a bonus, so getting three is fantastic. My daughter loves having more female characters to us with her LEGO.

“Everyone’s happy in Jokerland” stated my daughter. Not sure that was the Joker’s intention, but we’re very happy to have added this set to our LEGO collection.

Despite appearances :/

"Why so serious?" #jokerland

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway has now ended, but the LEGO Batman – Jokerland set (76035) can be purchased from Amazon.

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Disclaimer: While I was not paid to write this review, we did receive this LEGO set free of charge. 

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I think it’s important for boys and girls that female characters are included in merchandise like this superhero LEGO set. What do you think?

Family Fever

Review: Kawaii Box – a Collection of Cute Items from Japan and Korea

This week we received a box of delights from Asia. Kawaii Box is a subscription based service where you receive a monthly box of assorted Kawaii items – which basically means ‘cute’.

While some brands will be recognisable (previous boxes have included Hello Kitty and Totoro for instance) for the most part these products from Japan and Korea will be new to most westerners.

The monthly boxes are crammed with random cute stuff from Asia, ranging from sweets to stickers and accessories.

It’s always fun receiving parcels, especially if you don’t know what’s inside. When our slightly battered box arrived from Singapore, it was with great anticipation that we opened it…

So, as promised, here’s a more detailed look of what was in the box:

Kracie DIY Chain Candy

Kracie DIY Chain Candy Kwaii Box - July 2015
Some Japanese pink & blue (good choice) sweets that interlink to form a chain. Or you can eat them. They tasted… sugary.

Squishy Doughnut Mirror

Squishy Doughnut Mirror Kwaii Box - July 2015
My daughter’s favourite. It’s the perfect size for her hands, flips open to reveal a mirror, is colourful, and makes you really want a doughnut!

Dessert Eraser

Dessert Eraser Kwaii Box - July 2015
“Can you eat this?” asked my daughter. No, but it is a cute looking cake shaped eraser (aka ‘rubber’)

Kawaii Toast Coaster

The simplest item in the collection. A thin piece of wood, in the shape of a piece of toast, with a minimalist face stamped through it.
The simplest item in the collection. A thin piece of wood, in the shape of a piece of toast, with a minimalist face stamped through it.

Pastel Pearl Bracelet

My daughter liked this stringed collection of pastel balls as well.
My daughter liked this stringed collection of pastel balls as well.

Korean Glitter Glue Set

This made my daughters eyes light up - six colours of glitter glue, plus four colours of hearts, stars, and flowers to stick.
This made my daughters eyes light up – six colours of glitter glue, plus four colours of hearts, stars, and flowers to stick.

Rilakkuma Notes

This is a very cute fold-out collection of post-it notes of different shapes and sizes, all featuring the equally cute Rilakkuma character (roughly translated as ‘Relax Bear’.
This is a very cute collection of post-it notes of different shapes and sizes, all featuring the equally cute Rilakkuma character (roughly translated as ‘Relax Bear’).

Mushroom Mini Plush

The kind of thing you might see in a Nintendo game.
Reminds me of the kind of thing you might see bouncing around in a Nintendo game.

Cute Pencil Set

As described really - ordinary pencils with cute colourful patterns.
As described really – ordinary pencils with cute colourful patterns.

Flake Seal Stickers

I was expecting seals. We get what appears to be hordes of pandas, pink rabbits, and yellow birds (one with a bow in their hair).
I was expecting seals. We get what appears to be pandas, pink rabbits, and yellow birds (one with a bow in their hair).

Alpaca Keychain

My favourite. To me it seems utterly random to have three pastel coloured alpacas on a key ring, but here we are. Might try and keep this for myself…
My favourite. To me it seems utterly random to have three pastel coloured alpacas on a key ring, but here we are. Might try and keep this for myself…

So there you have it. A nice little collection of pop culture curios and oddities from the east. We enjoyed getting this Kawaii Box, and I can imagine it would be fun to get one of these each month – a regular little box of surprises.

It may all seem rather pink and pastel. As I’ve said before, I don’t object to the colour pink – just how it’s used to market things to girls, and there is nothing in the Kawaii Box offering to indicate that these items are for girls only. They’re for people who want a bit of cute in their lives. And why not.

Fancy getting your very own Kawaii Box delivery? Then click to enter the giveaway. Competition closes on 20 September 2015. Good luck!

Kawaii Box Man vs Pink Giveaway August 2015

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Disclaimer: While I was not paid to write this review, we did receive this Kawaii Box free of charge. All opinions stated remain our own.

Family Fever
You Baby Me Mummy

Review: LEGO Star Wars Imperial Assault Carrier (75106)

The LEGO Star Wars Imperial Assault Carrier set (75106) is based on one of the Empire’s spaceships from the Star Wars Rebels TV show. It featured prominently in the finale of season 1. Continue reading Review: LEGO Star Wars Imperial Assault Carrier (75106)

Win This Fantastic Rockabilly Lottie Doll!

My daughter recently received a new Rockabilly Lottie doll, kind of as a thank you from them for our previous post about these great dolls. For a general overview for why we like Lottie so much, please have a read of it.

However, while those other Lotties are awesome, I think this new one might be our favourite yet.

My daughter's latest addition to her @lottie_dolls collection. She rocks! 🙂

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We like this one so much we’re offering you the chance to own one too.

What’s so great about the Rockabilly Lottie doll?

The first thing that struck me about Rockabilly Lottie is her outfit is exactly like the kind of cool and quirky mash-up my daughter would put together. We’ve been letting her choose her own outfits since she turned 3, and she comes up with some amazing combinations.

Mixing a tutu with leggings and a vintage Letter Jacket is her kind of outfit. In fact, the other day we tried to replicate Rockabilly Lottie using items from her wardrobe – we came pretty close don’t you think?

Why we love @lottie_dolls – she's a lot like my daughter 🙂

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The only condition we really place on my daughter when choosing an outfit is that it needs to be weather appropriate. Other than that, pretty much anything goes (though I admit I did persuade her not to wear her micro-skirt as an even smaller dress recently).

I feel Rockabilly Lottie is a character who exhibits the same exuberance, of a child not yet confined by social strictures of how you should or should not dress.

This is yet another Lottie that will help reinforce my daughter’s self-esteem as she grows, supporting her in making choices that may be outside of what is considered the norm.

If Rockabilly Lottie were an actual little girl, I would love my daughter to be friends with her. She is a character who truly embodies her slogan of “Be Bold. Be Brave. Be You.” – an inspirational message for all of us.

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Disclaimer: While I was not paid to write this piece, my daughter did receive the featured doll free of charge.
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See below for your chance to win your own Rockabilly Lottie doll, or alternatively you can purchase one here.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway