Top Ten Toys: Twincess Tested (Part 5: Julia Donaldson Gift Sets)

Julia Donaldson may very well be our favorite person. We have slowly built up our collection of Julia’s books over the years and we eagerly anticipate any new release.

Can you imagine our sheer delight then when this blog drop arrived:

Can you think of anything cuter than Julia Donaldson Book and Toy gift sets?

The Gruffalo is perhaps Julia’s most famous story… with the “terrible” but highly lovable Gruffalo making bedtime story-time the world over just a little more exciting. The beautiful box is adorned with the familiar illustrations and contains the book (slightly smaller – but not tiny by any means), and a plush Gruffalo Toy.

I’m almost certain I was more excited than the girls to see the beautiful Gruffalo toy! It’s just SO cute! The attention to detail… it’s all there… from the terrible tusks, to his terrible claws, and the terrible teeth inside those terrible jaws. I could see the that his eyes were orange and his tongue was black; and there were purples prickles all over his back!

The second Book and Toy gift sets we received was another one of Julia’s stories that we have read over and over: Sugarlump and the Unicorn.

This gorgeous gift set came with a plush unicorn, again with careful attention paid to ensure the toy matched the description of the unicorn in the story… right down to her eyes of blue.

I’m really so excited to share these gift options with you. I always ensure I add a few books to the Twincesses’ Christmas haul, but this book and toy combo will make a stunning gift on its own! I truly believe that as parents we should strive to give our children the gift of reading… and Julia Donaldson would be my go-to choice.

Thank you Pan Macmillan for spoiling us with these gorgeous gift sets. They will be cherished for years to come.

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Book Review : Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson

Another charming, witty tale by our favorite author Julia Donaldson, creator of the beloved Gruffalo.

Baby Monkey is lost in the jungle. With the help of a friendly butterfly, they set out to find his mommy.

This endearing tale draws children in as Butterfly takes Baby Monkey to animal after animal, not realizing baby monkey’s mommy looks just like him!

After a series of mishaps… they eventually find Daddy monkey who reunites Baby and Mom who is waiting with big cuddles for her little one.

Another winning partnership with with illustrator Alex Scheffler brings the story to life in vivid colors.

I find the girls enjoy this book especially when we dramatically lead up to which animal they meet next … the girls obviously know the order by heart! So much fun for bedtime reading.

The book teaches us the value of helping others, even with no benefit to one’s self, and the recurring theme of communication comes through at the end… if Baby Monkey has just told Butterfly that his mommy looked just like him… it could have saved him a lot of trouble!

Thank you Pan Macmillan for another winner!

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My Little Picasso

After working crazy hours these past few weeks, I really wanted to take some time off this weekend to bond with the girls and just have fun!

Our Saturday started with the usual ballet class and then we went to Pallet Jacks at Cornubia Mall for brunch afterwards. The girls had a blast in the play area – like they always do… coming back every now and then to sip on milkshakes and have a bite of their breakfast.

When we were leaving we passed My Little Picasso at the corner near the escalators. I had meant to go in and have a look many times, but was always in a rush of some sort. Not today, so we went in and chatted a bit with the super friendly Naledi who explained how it all works.

Basically you choose a size of canvas – ranging from R120 – R250. You can then choose a colorful apron from the selection- which you get to take home with you!

Then comes the fun part: choosing a pallet full of paint colors and all the brushes/materials you need to create your masterpiece. Naledi listened as the girls pointed out their favorite colors and obligingly squeezed their chosen paints onto the pallet.

They sat down at the easels that had been set up for them and just let their creative juices flow!

Such a simple- yet brilliant concept! I let the girls do their own thing with a little help from Naledi. She dried their canvases in between color applications and was just super patient with the girls. Left to their own devices, it was amazing to see each of their personalities shine through in their artwork. It is such a fantastic way to let kids express themselves.

We spent a good two hours there as the girls chose their colors carefully, and created stroke after stroke of their masterpiece. Then Naledi brought out little sponges in different shapes that allowed the girls to put their finishing touches on their paintings.

I was honestly so proud of what the finished products looked like. I was expecting a big brown splotch as all the colors melted together, but instead they had made beautiful artwork that was so reflective of them!

At the end Naledi showered their artwork with pink glitter, much to the delight of the girls. You get to take your masterpiece home (the canvas is sturdy, so you can hang it in your toddler’s room if you want), together with the apron and the memories you made.

My Little Picasso is a fantastic way to let kids express themselves through art, and to spend a few hours doing something almost all kids enjoy. The venue also hosts birthday parties and adult paint nights.

If like me, you’ve walked past the shop before, wondering what’s it all about, or if you’ve ever thought about going but never had a chance, I’d highly recommend My Little Picasso as a fun activity to do with the kids! Find them at Shop L05, Cornubia Mall, Durban

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Disney On Ice at Durban ICC

I got back from my epic European trip (including Disneyland) and found myself attending Disney On Ice the very next day. What a way to ease into real life!

I attended Disney On Ice only once before, in Paris. It ways magical…. BUT, all the epic Disney songs I know and love were translated to French for the French audience. I was able to follow along, but it just wasn’t the same.

So I was greatly looking forward to the show when they arrived in Durban!

I took my Twincesses along for the treat. Avalon decided to dress us as Merida, who is by far her most favorite princess. Harper went as Aurora only because we didn’t have a Moana ensemble for her to wear.

The show was held at the Durban ICC and was well organized in terms of parking and logistics. We had front row seats so we were pretty close to the action.

The theme of this particular show, “Dream Big” was all about dreams and wishes, and started with Tinkerbell taking us through an epic journey through Disney’s classic tales of hopes and dreams.

We got to sing along with Snow White, Cinderella, Tiana, and Belle. We fought witches and slayed dragons before tumbling head first into the much-loved story of two sisters from Arendelle.

The show was enthralling from start to finish. I don’t hide the fact that I have and always will be a major Disney geek… so it’s highly possible I enjoyed the performances even more than my girls.

The show makes its way across SA and I’d highly recommend getting a ticket to a performance near you.

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