Picture Books: Lion and Mouse

Another gorgeous picture book for you today. This time by Random House Childrens Book publishing we have

Lion and MouseLion and Mouse, by Catalina Echeverri

Lion and Mouse is the story of two friends – yes, the Lion and the Mouse. It is an usual friendship as they are so different. We then find out that Lion is actually quite boastful and thinks he is better at everything. He is so busy being pleased with himself that he doesn’t notice mouse disappearing… And then darkness comes. Lion isn’t quite so brave as he thought. And he needs his friend Mouse. Will Mouse come and help him?

Once again a book that is beautifully illustrated (I like it for the illustrations alone). There is lots of energy and feeling in the illustrations and you can almost hear the Lion ROOOAAAR and feel him quiver in the darkness.

As a parent, the storyline is appealing too. Which child hasn’t either been boastful themselves or had a friend boast about being bigger and better. It teaches 3 things – boastfulness is not a good trait, everyone has strengths and weakness and friends help each other.

Win win all round.

Speaking on win…

Would you like to win a copy? To enter, visit my sister site Theatre, Books and Movies and check out the Kids Movie Reviews section. Which film have you seen?

Terms & Conditions:

1) One entry per person.

2) Giveaway closes on 31st March 2013 11:55pm.

3) Open to UK residence only.

4) Winners will be selected at random and decisions are final.

5) Prize delivery is the responsibility of  Random House Publishing and not Life At The Zoo.

Kids Picture Books from Tate: Alphabet and What Happens When…

We just received two lovely kids books from Tate Publishing. I love going to both Tate Britain and Tate Modern – they are wonderful art galleries and always welcoming to families and children. They also have a fantastic book store (I do hope they will stock Red Ted Art!! It is so beautifully designed and produced, that I am sure it would be a great fit…). I digress.

They sent me the following:

What happens whenWhat Happens When…” by Delphine Chedru

Beautifully illustrated the author sets a number of scenarios of “what happens when…”. What happens to Teddy when I leave him behind? What happens to my bedroom when the light is switched off? What happens to my tooth when I put it under my pillow? Lift the page sized “flap” and what happens is revealed.

We like it on many levels – to begin with the illustrations are simple and wonderful. Next, we enjoyed exploring what Chedru thought would happen “when” (e.g. the tooth is found by a chicken who ends up with a set of teeth and teddy has a fun time at the playground). But we also enjoyed it, as it stimulated discussion and imagination. The children got to think of what THEY though would happen when.. lots of happy giggles.

Alphabet Kveta PacovskaAlphabet by Kveta Pacovska

Pacovska’s books to me are where “Art meets books” – the illustrations are as much about art as they are about the book itself. The new Alphabet book by Pacovska is just that. Following the Alphabet we are surprised by pop ups, bold colours and great textures.

My 3yrs old is particularly taken by the shiny surfaces and textures and loves sitting quietly and going through the book herself. Every so often she will ask what the letter is and repeat it to herself.

Would you like to win a copy of “What Happens When…”? To enter, visit my sister site Theatre, Books and Movies and check out the Kids Movie Reviews section. Which film have you seen?


1) One entry per person

2) Open to UK residence only

3) Giveaway closes on 31st March 2013 11:55pm

4) Winners will be selected at random

5) Prize delivery is the responsibility of Tate Publishing and not Life At The Zoo

Micro Rucksack & Lunch Box

Mmmh, some of you you may know, that we are Micro Scooter MAD in our house. The kids have both been on scooters for ages and they really make the school run, totally bearable. The thought of having to drag the kids to and fro other wise is quite distressing. Anyway, scooters rock. That is all I can say. And as our love for the Micro scooters grow… we also start getting addicted to the various products available. Enter… The Micro Rucksack & Lunch Box !



Firstly, we love the colours and we love the handy little side pockets. I love that you can clip off the lunch bag (ideal for taking into school too). We often take the scooter with us, when we are out and about in town – The Girl’s legs do get tired and a scooter is small enough and practical enough to get around. This is little bag is a great addition to our out and about days and DOES help me having to carry that little bit less.

I think it will also put less strain on the kids backs. Win win all round.

IMG_7399We took it out “into town” today. And I have to say, I was a little sceptical at first, but we LOVED it. It hangs really well off the scooter (no toppling etc) and doesn’t get in the way. The Girl simply ADORED the whole combo, and as soon as we arrived, wanted me to clip off the lunchbox part and carried that in like a little handbag. She was so pleased and so proud. Both the lunchbox and the bag itself had LOADS of space. So I didn’t bother with a hand bag today, we could fit everything in (even an A4 folder).  Loved it. Much  more than I thought we would!

Anyway. I digress.. I have one for you to WIN! Yep. You can have your very own handy rucksack and lunchbox bag.

Would you like to win one?

Simply CLICK THROUGH to the Micro Scooters Accessory page. Take a look a round and come back leaving a LINK to the product you like the look of best – and tell us why you like it.



1) Entries MUST contain a LINK from the Micro Scooter website.

2) Winners will be selected at random.

3) Open to the UK only.

4) Delivery of the prize is the responsibility of Micro Scooters and NOT Life At The Zoo.

5) Competition closes on 31 March 2013 at 11pm.



Board Game Review: Goldilocks & The Three Bears

You may know, that I am one of the BIGGEST Orchard Toys fans. We have so many of them and we love love love them. Generally, I find that they are well made, have lovely designs and the games themselves are fun and usually have some hidden learning for the kids. One of our all time favourites is still Round & Round, as well as Pop To The Shops.

046 Packshot


So what did we think of it?

Well it is another delightful game from Orchard Toys (I know I sound biased, but I do really love them). They come up with so many different and original ideas. The “different” bit about this game, is that you play against each other AND against Goldilocks. It was an interesting dynamic. The Boy (who hates losing, especially when it is a new game that he hasn’t had a chance to get his head around yet), was channeling all his non winning frustration on Goldilocks and not his sister or me. Result. In a funny sort of way we worked together to win. The fact that The Girl ACTUALLY won, almost went unnoticed and I decided not to make too big a deal out of it.

The players move between 1-3 steps. Which again is great for The Girl (just turned 3) who is still learning about rules of the game – she wanted to pretend walking all across the board. So we were able to “slow down”, “stop” and count each step of the way. Win win for both kids! Hooray.

Day 30 Goldilocks

The way the game goes – you throw a di to move along the path. If you throw a “Goldilocks”, you get to spin a spinner to say whether Golidlocks moves one or two paces. If you land on a honey pot you either take a step or two back or forwards. A nice bit of subtle maths. Maths is something that The Boy is subtly beginning to understand and the clear +2 or -1 are a great way to look at the symbols that go with addition and subtractions and what happens to your moves if you “add or take away”. Luckily Goldilocks has a little further to go than everyone else, as not only does she have to reach the house, but shock horror, she has to mess it up as well.. giving the bears a chance to catch up with her.

Like I said, a nice new game with a great twist. Thumbs up.

Would you like to win one?

To enter, visit Orchard Toys, have a look around and  leave a comment below saying which game you would like to have (including link please!).


1) Open to the UK residence only.

2) Only one entry per person.

3) Competition closes on 9th Feb 2013 at 11pm.

4) Delivery of the prize is the responsibility of Orchard Toys and not Life at The Zoo.

(After our game.. we did then have to go off and watch a movie… the kids were exhausted after school and sticking to rules, read our Hotel Transylvania review to find out more).

Disclaimer: we were kindly sent a copy for review

Vanilla Kipferl Recipe

I know many of you have heard me go on and on and on about our Christmas baking already. And I have shared a number of Christmas Cookie Recipes with you already.

But my family’s all time favourite are the Vanille Kipferl – a simple Austrian cookie containing almonds and vanilla sugar. I always make extra and they are always devoured first. So I wanted to share the recipe with you again.

I was also given the brand new Motorola RAZRi smartpone to test the camera features. And I think there is nothing better for someone trying to decide what they want to get than seeing the “photos in action”. So I bring you the recipe, with photos from Motorola RAZRi and hopefully will prove to you, that you do not need an expensive DSLR in order to take nice photos for your blog. Just a note – these photos are taken in winter, in the dark afternoon, with electrical lights on – never the best conditions for photography. So imagine, how good these photos could have been on a summers day!



  • 300g plain flour
  • 215g unsalted butter (+ pinch of salt) or slightly salted butter
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 75g icing sugar
  • (vanilla essence)*

For coating:

  • 150g icing sugar, 2 packets of vanilla sugar (each packet contains 8g)*

**Ok, vanilla sugar is something you don’t necessarily get in the UK, so to replace this fact, you could add a couple of drops of essence or some real vanilla into the dough. It isn’t “quite” right, but you can’t have Vanille Kipferl without vanilla!!

Preheat oven to 140-160C


(quite a good photo, me thinks?! Taken on the Motorola RAZRi)

  • Crumble butter & flour & salt
  • Add almonds & sugar
  • Knead to a dough (or bung it all into a Kitchen Aid)
  • Form little crescents (make a sausage with thinner ends and bend)
  • Place in hot oven (140-160C) – bake until they JUST start to turn golden (prob 10-15min)
  • This is how they should look when they come out of the oven, still pale, but beginning to brown

  • Leave on tray for a minute or two. Let them cool down a LITTLE. Then roll the still very warm Kipferl in the icing sugar mixed with the Vanilla sugar

Finished! Store in air tight container!


My verdict on the camera phone? Well.. the proof is in the pudding, erm, biscuit. See the photos yourself. Very good for taking foodie shots for this site. When you get a new camera, I think it is always advisable to play and to test and see how things work for you, what you like and dislike. I wasn’t so keen on the flash (it was very bright and made things quite yellow), but it took pretty good photos on a dark winter’s afternoon. A challenging setting to say the least. I took the camera outdoors with the kids, and it took bright colourful photos in good light.

I have been told that many android apps are FREE for the android phone, whilst you pay for them on the Apple Store. So that is a plus. And there are always a great many photo apps out there, to help you edit and enhance your photos. Free apps are always a plus in my eyes.