The Colors of History – Clive Gifford

Illustrations – Marc-Etienne Peintre

This book takes you on a whirlwind trip around the world and through time to teach you the origin stories and fun facts about colour. Each group of colours includes a brief introduction that includes what it has represented over time. For example, yellow is the colour of sunshine but it can also represent illness and cowardice.

The story of yellow contains yellow ochre, chrome yellow, gamboge, Inca gold, saffron and orange.

The reason saffron is the most expensive colour is because to harvest a pound (453.6 grams) of it, you need between 55,000 and 85,000 flowers.

The story of red contains cochineal, vermillion, pink, red ochre and mummy brown.

In some societies in the 19th and early 20th centuries, pink was reserved for young boys, not girls. Red was thought of as a strong, manly color, and as pink came from red mixed with white, it was not thought of as suitable for delicate girls.


The story of purple contains puce, Tyrian purple and archil.

The king walked in on Marie one day to see her trying on yet another expensive gown. It was made of silk in a purple-pink-brown color. The king tried to put her off the purchase by declaring it to be couleur de puce – the color of a flea after it had been squashed! Marie-Antoinette wasn’t put off. She insisted that every lady in her court wear puce or subtly similar shades known as dos de puce (flea’s back) or ventre de puce (flea’s belly).

The story of blue contains indigo, Prussian blue, Egyptian blue, ultramarine and woad.

A plant called woad grows throughout Europe. Its pretty yellow flowers bloom in fields and meadows, but its crushed leaves make a strong blue dye. It was used to color cloth, and some people – such as Celts in ancient Britain – applied it as a war paint.

The story of green contains verdigris, Irish and Kelly green, and Scheele’s green.

Scheele, a German pharmacist working in Sweden, enjoyed conducting chemistry experiments. In 1775, he invented a new green. It contained copper and arsenic. It was cheap to make, popular and accidentally deadly.


Then we wrap it up with kohl black and graphite, and lime and lead white.

Kohl was first used more than 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, where men and women drew thick lines of kohl around their eyes. It kept their eyes from being dazzled by the sun, but they also believed it had magical protective powers.

I’m always keen to store up some new fun facts and enjoyed this journey through the rainbow. Kid me wouldn’t have read this book for fun but definitely would have used it for a school project.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and QEB Publishing, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A truly unique approach to history and a fascinating read that is guaranteed to keep boredom at bay.

Why did Roman emperors wear purple? Which colour is made from crushed beetles? What green pigment might be used to build super-fast computers of the future? Find out the answers to these and many more questions in this vibrant exploration of the stories behind different colours, and the roles they’ve played throughout history. From black to white, and all the colours in between, every shade has a story to tell. Each colour group is introduced with a stunning and interpretive double-page spread illustration, followed by illustrated entries exploring the ‘colourful’ history of particular shades. With vivid, thought-provoking illustrations and engaging bite-sized text, this book is a feast for the eyes and the mind, ready to enthral budding artists and historians alike.

Kind Mr Bear – Steve Smallman

Mr Bear is always helping out the other animals in the forest and has been doing it for so long they have begun to take him for granted. When he becomes ill there’s no one there to take care of him. Until the other animals realise that when you’re friends with somebody giving is just as important as receiving.

This is such a sweet story but it’s the illustrations that have made me return to this book so many times. The animals are so expressive and I love the colour palette.

In one illustration Mr Bear is reading a book to the children so naturally I had to check it out because I thought there must be a reason that specific image was used. The cover matches one of the author’s other books, Batmouse, so it turned out to be a fun Easter egg!

I want to keep looking at the illustrations and I’m keen to get my hands on more books by this author.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and QEB Publishing, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Kind Mr Bear is very kind. He does everything he can to help people. But the animals in the forest start to take him for granted, and when he gets sick, he finds himself all alone in his cave. Will anyone help him?

This touching story from award-winning author/illustrator Steve Smallman shows that when it comes to true friends, kindness is something to give as well as receive.

Nature Craft – Fiona Hayes

This book is adorable! I’ve come across so many kid’s craft books that contain instructions that I doubt I could follow, let alone the child that’s supposed to be able to construct the marvellous creations. Thankfully this isn’t one of those books.

With step by step instructions accompanied by step by step illustrations and photos of the final masterpieces this is the type of book that makes me want to borrow one of your kids so I’m not the only one having fun making all of this cuteness. There are also templates included for the shapes you need to cut out. I love that the basics of each project come from nature so there’s a built in excuse to wander outside and rummage for an assortment of items including feathers, twigs and seashells.

While each project also requires additional crafty items there’s nothing overly expensive on any of the lists and a lot of items are used for multiple projects. Besides the items specific to each project you’ll also need:

  • PVA glue or a cool-melt glue gun
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Felt-tip pens
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Ruler.

The animal projects in this book are “Aww!” worthy with sweet little faces and googly eyes. I can definitely see kids wanting to make these for themselves and if I was a parent my kidlet would earn a serious amount of brownie points if I received any of these critters as a gift.

I anticipate this book being a hit with parents, babysitters, teachers and child care workers, along with adults like me who will most likely be pretending we’re buying the items at the craft store for our non-existent children. I want to make the owl, the tortoise, the rabbit, the dragonfly, the mice, the penguins, the tree frogs, the lizard, the hedgehog, the dinosaur, the mushrooms … Okay, fine! I want to make everything!

If you’re like me and your crafty enthusiasm outweighs your crafty expertise then it looks like the worst that could happen is that your finished critter will have more character than intended. I can definitely see a craft day with my mother coming soon.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – QEB for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Make fun animals and objects from nature’s finest materials! Collect twigs, fir cones, feathers, leaves, shells, and pebbles from your yard, park, or vacation, and create animals and objects with them.

Stunning projects included are a bird nest bowl made with feathers and leaves, a nut mask and feather mask, seed pod flowers, and fir cone owls, a feathery bird bookmark, fir cone fish mobile, painted snail shells, and a twinkling night light jar. Learn about the nature around you whilst being creative.

Perfect activities for parents and children to do together. Over 40 crafty makes feature a well-balanced mix of techniques, materials and colours for a range of ages. 

Girl Talk – Lizzie Cox

Illustrations – Damien Weighill

Girl Talk is a wonderful guide for young girls that takes them through what happens to their body and mind as they go through all of the joy and drama that is puberty. I would have devoured this book growing up if it had been available back in the olden days. It includes a couple of case studies and the answers to some of the more common but often embarrassing questions young girls need to know.

This book covers a wide range of topics:

  • What puberty is
  • Why it happens and how it affects the outside of your body as well as your brain
  • Individual sections with information about breasts, bras, periods, body hair, pimples and skin care, eyes and teeth, body odour and personal hygiene, feet
  • The stages that boys’ bodies go through during puberty
  • Love and relationships
  • Sex and how babies are made
  • Contraception
  • Healthy eating and fitness
  • Body image
  • Body shaming
  • Social media and phones
  • Cyberbullying
  • Bullying and peer pressure
  • School life
  • Sexism and gender equality
  • Family talk
  • Depression
  • Growing up happy.

One of the things I love about this book is how it keeps telling its readers that what they’re experiencing is completely normal and that they’re OK!

  • One of your breasts is bigger than the other? Normal!
  • You like boys, you like girls, you like both, you like neither? Totally OK!
  • You don’t know how to tell if a bra fits you correctly? Here’s a checklist!
  • Not ready to have sex yet? Then don’t!

The writing style is engaging. While Lizzie Cox never forgets who her target audience is, she also doesn’t talk down to the girls who’ll be reading this book. Her writing style is very down to earth so no topic feels sensationalised and there’s no drama. It’s all just good common sense advice. She also consistently encourages girls to talk to a trusted adult for information and advice if they’re worried, scared or have questions. The illustrations by [author: Damien Weighill] are age appropriate, humourous and quirky at times but in good taste.

The helplines provided towards the end are UK specific and the target audience is listed as 8 to 11 year olds.

When puberty hit me I was best friends with a few extraordinarily sheltered girls from church families. I have nothing against church families but these ones in particular had their daughters so embarrassed about anything to do with their bodies that the girls wouldn’t even use the word breasts in conversations. They were referred to “up top”. Interestingly hypocritical though, one of the families had no problem at all with their 13 year old daughter that couldn’t name her body parts dating a 20-something creepy, slimy leprechaun (sorry to all the leprechauns out there for disparaging your good name!).

Needless to say these girls, while lovely, weren’t the most useful buddies to talk birds and the bees with, so my education came mostly through sneaking short reads of Derek Llewellyn-Jones’ 1971 Everywoman when my parents were out or hoping that someone had written in (using actual paper, an envelope and postage stamp) to Dolly Doctor asking one of my burning “Am I normal?” questions. For those of you that didn’t grow up in Australia, reading Dolly magazine was one of those girl rites of passages for those of us growing up in the pre-2000’s and still exists today.

I’d recommend this book for parents to give to their young girls, either for them to read alone and ask questions at the end or to go through together. It would certainly make it easier for parents to discuss topics that they may not be overly comfortable explaining to their daughter. It would also be a great addition to public and school libraries, and during school sex ed classes. There’s also a companion book by the same author and illustrator called Guy Talk which I haven’t personally read but if it’s anything like this book I would recommend it by association.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – QEB for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

From puberty to relationships, social media to school, this essential guide for girls growing up covers everything you have always wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Growing up can be hard and, at times, embarrassing. This funny yet sensitive book is here to offer practical advice and helpful information to help make growing up just that little bit less scary. Covering daunting but important subject such as personal hygiene, different types of bulling, relationships, and how to stay safe online, this book features case studies and questions from “real-life” anonymous readers to explore those embarrassing questions you don’t want to ask! Written by a former teen magazine editor and with funny illustrations and diagrams throughout, this is the go-to guide for any girl going through or approaching puberty.