Monday, July 23, 2012

Raising Competent Children by Jasper Juul

So although Barefoot magazine has wound down, our interest in all things Barefoot related has not!!

The publishers at Rockpool Publishing were kind enough to share a copy of Raising Competent Children by Jesper Juul with me to review.

I've really enjoyed this book, which doesn't 'dumb down' our roles as parents and carers for our children and certainly encourages us to take more responsibility for the way we listen to and learn from our children. Juul asks that we 'embrace a new set of values, based on the assumption that families can be built of dignity and reciprocity between parent and child'.

While this doesn't feel like a far cry from what I try to achieve in my own parenting and care of my children, I found Juul's discussions on responsibility and power very thought provoking. It certainly made me listen even more closely to the way I talk to my children on a day to day basis.

Raising Competent Children addresses issues such as the conflict between integrity and co-operation, the family as a power structure, self esteem and self confidence, responsiblity and limits. Juul offers practical ways to re-think and re-word some of the common parental fall backs when we are in a position of parental responsiblity - using examples of both respectful and disrespectful ways of talking to our children.

Throughout the book, there are real life examples of families and interactions between children and adults which illustrate how to achieve a different way of speaking with our children; to acknowledge them as our teachers and giving them the opportunities to develop their own personal responsibility. I certainly resonated with Juul's reiteration of the idea that children are of most value to their parents, when they are at their most difficult!! I remember being told this when my children were in the toddler years, and have often thought back to it when having challenging times with my children!

In Raising Competant Children, Juul offers ways to inspire parents and carers to meet our children to 'discover who they really are, rather than defining who and what they should become'. By seeing our children as their own people, rather than extensions of ourselves, parents step out of the authoritarian role and into of role which nurtures dignity and reciprocity between parent and child.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in not only developing a new way of relating to their children, but also those who feel they resonate with these ideas already. I certainly felt that the book offered lots of ideas and concepts that further supported the style of parenting that Barefoot supported and recognised. 

Available from bookshops and online at

Anna Foletta

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October reviews

In an attempt to write reviews every month, I've failed miserably - but I do have two reviews that I'd like to share with you all.

One is a great new book called Mrs Echidna's Dilemma by Betty Johnston.
Mrs Echidna's Dilemma was orginally written as a resource for early learning resources, but has since been released through 3E Innovative as a picture story book. The illustrations have been taken from an award winning quilt that Betty Johnston created and entered into the Queensland Quilt Show 2009.
This book has a wonderful simple narrative, with extra factual information on each of the animals in the story. The story follows an echidna's journey to find the perfect place to lay her eggs. Each page focuses on a different animal, with a lovely textured illustration for little hands to touch and experience. The information on the left hand side of the page provides in depth information about the breeding patterns of each animal.
My 5 year old daughter really enjoyed the story and was interested to go back once we had read the book, to find out more information about the animals. I really enjoyed this side of it too - to have both a story and same factual information made the reading of this story more involved for both of us.
Johnston also provides patterns for finger puppets and a DVD to accompany the book. We haven't managed to make any yet, but my daughter definitely wants to!!
I enjoyed the different aspects of this book, and although I initially thought it was a bit old fashioned, my children certainly enjoyed the textured pictures and the extra factual information.
Mrs Echidna's Dilemma is available at and was set for release in late September.

My second review is about a movie due for release in early November this year. It's called SANTA'S APPRENTICE and is a Christmas animated adventure, following the journey of a 7 year old boy called Nicolas as he comes to terms with being the next Santa Claus. It has an all star voice cast including Magda Szubanski, Shane Jacobsen, Delta Goodrem, Hugh Sheridan and Georgie Parker.
I decided that I would take my two children (aged 7 and 5) and we trundled off to the city for an adventure! Both my children really enjoyed the movie. There was a lot of conversation after the film about Santa and both kids wanted to talk about Nicolas being an orphan and what that meant - so there was some great conversation starters!! The kids loved seeing inside Santa's toy shop and were interested the whole way through.
I enjoyed the film too - I was worried at the start when there were some conversations about Santa not being real (My kids are still true belivers) but thankfully my children didn't take much notice of that!
The animation was great too - it felt like it was influenced by the animae in Japanese cartoons. 
Overall I'd recommend this film to people with younger children - it brought in lots of different topics to discuss afterwards, as well as being just a easy film to watch.
Check it out November this year...

Take care

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June Reviews!!!

So some of you might have noticed that we only have one page of reviews in Barefoot now - so much to write and so little space!! So we are moving some of our reviews onto the blog - and my intention is that I will review three or four books each month (see how that goes!) This month I have reviewed two great books and two lovely CDs for you. Enjoy!
PS If you have a book or CD you'd like us to review, please send us an email at and let us know what it is and what it's about and you might just be our next review!

Mysore Style Cooking
The first book I've reviewed is a great Indian cookbook called Mysore Style Cooking - The Secret of Yogic Recipes of Mysore, India by V. Sandhya. It is a beautifully set out book and all  the recipes are vegetarian - which really appealed to me as I don't eat meat. When I first picked it up, I felt like I had been invited into Sandhya's family kitchen and was being honoured with the sharing of old family recipes. There are lovely family photos and a sense that these recipes are authentic and nourishing.
I have to admit I'm not a big cook. I tend not to work from recipes and I think of my meals about an hour before eating - so this book was a challenge for me. There was often ingredients that I didn't have in my cupboard and that I had to seek out like asafetida (a spice), but luckily there are some great Indian spice shops and supermarkets in Melbourne!
I really enjoyed the food though -yummy meals that weren't too hard to cook once you had all the ingredients..
I particularly like the Chickpea, potato, cauliflower Palya and the Spinach with Yellow Mung Daal.
I recommend this book for people who love authentic Indian food, who have the time and energy to chase up ingredients and be rewarded by the luscious tastes and textures these recipes produce.

Available from bookstores or  visit for more information and recipes to download.

       pictures of Old Freedom Train — Steiner Inspired Alphabet Book.

The second book that I was lucky enough to get my hands on was Old Freedom Train by Shayne Jackman.
Old Freedom Train is a Steiner Inspired Alphabet Book which is just beautiful. Coming from a Steiner inspired school and kinder (and family!), my children loved this book and accompanying frieze for the wall. Gorgeous, hand drawn pictures where the letters are the pictures - A is turned into an angel, H is a house, R is a rooster etc - allows children to feel into the letters, rather than the letters being abstract symbols. Old Freedom Train takes children on a pictorial journey of the alphabet with songs, poems and nursery rhymes and my children certainly love it. A lovely change from the usual alphabet books and one I've throughly enjoyed sharing with my children.  I also really like that Old Freedom Train is produced in Australia on recycled paper which is manufactured with net zero climate impact.

Available at bookstores or visit for more information and opportunities to purchase.
A copy of Old Freedom Train and accompanying freize is up for grabs in our Winter 2011 issue. All you need to do is write in to our letters page at and our star letter wins a copy!! Get writing!

On to the music...

Songs of Connection Cover Art

I was sent this CD to review and I have to admit that I was sceptical - I don't usually get into kids's music so much. In fact, most kid's music makes me feel like I'm going slightly bonkers - but this one was different. Songs of Connection by Alice Garrick is really good. I gave it to my 4 1/2 year old daughter to listen to and I found her snuggled up on her bed with a toy sound asleep at 5pm in the afternoon!! So I thought to myself - it's either boring or so peaceful and lovely that she relaxed completely and fell asleep!! So the next day, my daughter and I lay together and listened again and I was really pleasantly surprised. Beautiful, well composed music and singing that was enjoyable to listen to - I would even be happy to have this one in the car on repeat for a long trip! Now that is saying something!!  My daughter was humming the songs after one listen and often now goes into her bedroom and puts it on.. So thanks Alice - for sending me your CD and sharing it with us - I highly recommend Songs of Connection for any family - a gentle, fun CD for your kids to listen to, that won't send you round the bend..

Available for purchase at You can also listen to one of the tracks too..

We have one copy to give away - so write to me at and tell me why you need a copy and the best answer will have a copy in the mail soon!! Competition ends Friday 10th June at 5pm.

Last but not least -

I have been eagerly awaiting the new CD from the Waifs called Temptation, and when it arrived earlier this year - it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The first couple of times I listened to it, I didn't really enjoy it as much as other Waif's albums. However, the more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it. There are definitely some tracks that I'm not so keen on, but overall I'm starting to find new love in it - it's quite melancholy and dreamy and I think I've been caught up in the fastness of other music - so once I allowed myself to relax into it - it's like having dinner with an old friend after many years.. My favourite tracks are Falling and Day Dreamer - I just love those soaring voices..
This is not a CD for hyping yourself up, but definitley one to sit down in front of the fire and relaxing on a wintery day.. Enjoy!

Available from music stores and

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Small Fry Outdoors

I'm tired, and run out of ideas. My child needs time without constraints, doing something where his imagination, also, has no contstraints. We both need to breathe, and be ourselves. But the more stressed and tired I become, the more narrow my focus - the less creative I am to problem-solve in my household. The TV becomes one of the only things I can think of to get us both some breathing space.

Along comes Small Fry Outdoors. It's like Susie Cameron, Katrina Crook and writer Caroline Webster reached into my fried brain and pulled out all the things I love about childhood and outdoors and play - put them together in a cohesive, articulate, fried-brain-friendly and most beautiful book. Then added extra inspiration for good measure. Honestly, it doesn't take long before a child will reach out to Mother Nature with his senses and interact with her. I remember in our Barefoot Event on Boys Andrew Fuller and Maggie Hamilton exhorting us to take our kids on adventures, regularly. This books inspires those adventures, big and small. This book is a huge boost of motivation and inspiration to get us and our kids outside together.

Point form rundown of fantastic elements of Small Fry Outdoors: 
  • Visually beautiful and easy to follow. Even the photos awaken ideas.
  • Easy to read
  • A rarely seen description of what might one expect in needs, development, imagination, activities for different age groups (a toddler will play with seaweed very differently to a seven year old - Caroline helps the reader understand WHY)

    The book itself is structured in a most wonderful way, containing elements important to getting the most out of our time outside. My favorite are:

    Seasons - What to observe, activities to do, what to plant, what to eat (including yummy recipes)

    Senses - activities that involve touch, sight, smell, taste and sound

    Concepts - colours, shapes and all sorts in between.

    Also there are inspiring sections on imagination (well, the whole book contains this subject), activities for height (trees, clouds); up close (snail watching, rain catchers, studying decay); what to do if outdoors isn't feasible (family trees, seeds in egg cartons, cooking); combining chores with fun.

    I can't say much more because I really want you to get your hands on this book yourselves. As I mentioned, even the photos will awaken not only ideas but take you to wistful places in your own memories. In such a little book I didn't expect to find such big magic.

    The book is available through ABC shops and online at ABC:
    Or through Caroline's facebook page, Caro & C:

    All photos by Katrina Crook. Her website can be found here:

    Caro Webster is a freelance writer, author, fanatical gardener, foodie and a passionate believer in the magic of being outdoors & encouraging lots of unstructured play for children.
    She also writes a monthly column for Australian Country Style on all that nature and the outdoors has to offer and contributes to Home Beautiful.
    Caro has worked in a variety of industries including advertising, politics, the not-for-profit sector and publishing. She is currently working on a second book about the power of imagination and a third about a girl who loves dirt.
    She lives in Sydney with her husband and two young children.
    You can find her on twitter as @salisburydowns, on facebook at Caro & Co or check out her blog: