Archive for the ‘books’ Category

You know you’ve brainwashed your 17 month old daughter to be a Star Wars fan when she sees this book and says, “Ewok!”


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Ahoy there! Somethin’ excitin’ is comin’ o’er yer way come the end of October! Better be on the lookout for it, me hearties!

Singapore Repertory Theatre’s (SRT) The Little Company (TLC) will be staging the exciting and swashbuckling story of Treasure Island from 30 Oct 2015 at the DBS Arts Centre.

A new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s popular novel of the same name, Treasure Island follows the adventure of Jim Hawkins, who receives a treasure map from a kooky old seaman. Jim is tasked to help find the hidden treasure, but the road to riches is never smooth sailing. In this version of the Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins is cast as a lion-hearted 13-year-old girl rather than a boy, possibly to appeal to the girls, though I think the story itself should be compelling enough.

Look out for other colourful characters like Captain Smollett, Squire Trelawney, and of course, Long John Silver!

Treasure Island promises to be a hilarious and action-packed musical about friendship and trust, and is suitable for the whole family! It’s a great way to welcome the year-end holidays, and reward the kids for working so hard throughout the school year.

My boys have read Treasure Island the book and really enjoy the story. So much so that when Ellery saw a children’s illustrated version of the book at the Book Swop at the recent Octoburst Festival, he exchanged a book for it even though we already have the longer version at home.

We sure are looking forward to joining those buccaneers on an adventure to find gold! Argghh!!

Treasure Island is being staged from 30 Oct – 13 Dec, 2015 at the DBS Arts Centre.
Tickets are available through the SISTIC website or via their hotline (6348 5555).


SRT has generously sponsored 1 Family Package (4 tickets) worth $153 for Treasure Island on 7 November, 11am, to be given away to one lucky reader! Please make sure you are available to watch the show at the stated date and time before joining this giveaway. To qualify for the giveaway, please do the following by 28 Oct, 2359H:

  1. Answer the question below by leaving a comment at the end of this post. Please include your email address so I can contact you if you win.
    “In The Little Company’s stage adaptation of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins is a girl. True or False?”
  2. Share this post with three friends, and let me know your FB name so that I can verify your entry.

Good luck me hearties! May ya get yer hands on that ticket treasure!

UPDATE (22 Oct 2015)
Instead of just 1 Family Package (4 tickets), SRT will be sponsoring 2 Family Packages to 2 readers! What are you waiting for? Take part in the giveaway now!

Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (e.g. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue. 

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I bought the children’s version of The Wind in the Willows some years back, and had read it to the kids a couple of times before. We pulled it out again in the run up to the theatre production of The Wind in the Willows performed by talking Scarlet.

The Wind in the Willows is a classic children’s book by Kenneth Grahame and tells the story of four friends – Mole, Ratty, Badger and the irrepressible Mr Toad. When Mole plucks up the courage to explore the Riverbank with his friend Ratty, nothing can prepare him for the adventure that awaits. Along with Badger and Mr Toad, they go from one exploit to the next, brought about mainly by Mr Toad’s reckless indulgences, and it all culminates in a battle not only to save Toad Hall, but their very way of life.

From the get-go the show presented a unique proposition, immersing you in a classic English experience. The costumes, the manner of speech, everything was just so English! I’ve never watched any other play like it. I wondered if the kids had trouble understanding what was said because of the heavy accents and speed of talking, but I loved it! And Mr Toad was played wonderfully! Irresponsible, irreverent, yet lovable and funny. I think the kids connected with him the most.

The irrepressible (irresponsible) Mr Toad

The irrepressible (irresponsible) Mr Toad and his friends

The script was good, the songs were original and very well arranged. I especially liked the song about going into the wild wood. The melody, rhythm, lyrics and mime came together perfectly to make you feel how creepy it was to wander in the woods when it was getting dark…and you hear a pitter patter…and you think someone’s there…

I also liked how they managed to bring you into different scenes by stirring up your imagination through the use of costumes, very simple props, and context. Without the set ever being changed, you are brought from the riverbank, to Toad Hall, on a ride down the country road, to a courtroom, to a jail, etc. Through subtle use of costume changes some actors took on multiple roles, though these might have been a bit to subtle for the kids. You have to be listening carefully to know which new character is being represented.

The 'car' that started Mr Toad's obsession

The ‘car’ that started Mr Toad’s obsession

Mr Toad driving his swanky new car

Now here’s Mr Toad driving his swanky new car!

While I think it is a tad too sophisticated for the little ones, its really appealing for older children and adults. I really enjoyed watching this! I think it would best suit kids 8 years and above. It is also probably a good idea to read the story to your kids first so that they have an idea of the plot and can keep up with the action. As for my kids, they liked the battle scene the best, though they wished the Chief baddy was shown being flung across the room like how it was mentioned in their version of the book. Boys.

The Wind in the Willows is brought in by ABA Productions and runs until Sunday, 14 June 2015 at SOTA Drama Theatre. Tickets are available at the SISTIC website and hotline (63485555). The show is 1h 45min long, something I had overlooked, so if you’re catching the evening show make sure not to overpack your day before that (as I did) and to give your kids enough to eat prior to the show in case they get tired and hungry (and cRaNky – as mine did! Hoo boy! My apologies to those who were sitting around us!)


We received complementary tickets for this show. All opinions are my own. 

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We went to catch Aesop’s Fables by iTheatre with Ellery and Alyssa. I’m so glad we did because it was a thoroughly enjoyable show!

There are 8 stories and it was a good selection of familiar and less familiar tales, all with good morals that children should learn about. It led to some meaningful discussions on why “a bird is more than it’s feathers (in the Jay and the Peacock) and what it means, and why you shouldn’t give up your friends for your enemies (The Sheep and the Wolf).

I thought it was a good idea to use the context of a travelling performance company as it gave scope for the actors to take on many different characters (as would need be the case since they are telling many fables…). I also liked how the actors subtly brought home the message of using your imagination. In the show, the person in charge of the travelling company’s costumes misplaced them, and so for some characters the actors had to use everyday objects as props and costumes. The boys are familiar with this concept. Our dress up box filled with random things is one of the most popular ‘toys’ in the house. With my old white shirt they have become doctors, astronauts, dragons, kings, knights, Daddy, etc. But it’s always interesting to see new ways to create costumes – like with the sheep! It was so funny! Gloves and yarn on the head! :)

Docile sheep

Docile sheep

There was some audience interaction in the middle which Ellery loved. He wanted very much to go up on stage to be the Wind in the story of The North Wind and the Sun but wasn’t chosen. At the end of the show he asked to try being the Wind and the actors were so kind to oblige :) He was soo happy he declared The North Wing and the Sun his favourite story from the show and was blowing and blowing on the ride home.

So happy to be able to press the horn and be the Wind. Unfortunately covering his face here!

So happy to be able to press the horn and be the Wind. Unfortunately the horn is blocking his face here!

The actors put up good performances, transforming themselves into each new character with ease. I was keen to watch Darren Guo’s performance because I thought he did well in Hop & Honk and was interested to see how he’d do this time. His acting did not disappoint, and he continues to be a versatile actor capable of playing with his voice and manner. Actually, I thought all of them (Darren, Alecia Kim Chua, Elizabeth Loh, Erwin Shah Ismail and Ghazali Musakir ) did well individually and together.

The songs are great (till now I still have the Aesop’s Fable song stuck in my head) and I thought the choreography was good too (gotta love those Sheep!).

Donkey has had enough!

Donkey has had enough!

Androcles and the Lion

Androcles and the Lion

I left the theatre thinking, “iTheatre is getting better”. The last couple of performances have been really good, and Aesop’s Fables, with its timeless stories and lovely songs, is a great show to catch with the children.

Aesop’s Fables run until 21 Mar 2015. Grab your tickets and go support local theatre!

Aesops’ Fables is show at the Jubilee Hall at Raffles Hotel. Ticket are available via SISTIC.


I received three complementary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.



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There were some books I remember reading over and over again as a kid, and my two small books containing a selection of Aesop’s Fables were definitely among them. There are about 665 fables in total, dating back 2,600 years. I haven’t read them all, but am well acquainted with the more popular stories.

I think my mum gave away those books, but we now still have two thin copies of Aesop’s Fables in our house. These were Jon’s copies from when he was younger and my late mother-in-law kept them, along with some other books, specially for her future grandkids! She would be very happy to know the books have been read repeatedly by the boys.

If you love Aesop’s stories too, you should check out iTheatre’s performance of Aesop’s Fables from 26 Feb to 21 Mar. They show and tell a selection of Aesop’s most famous stories, along with some lesser known ones, using puppetry, live action and song. The selection will include “The Jay and The Peacock”, “Androcles and The Lion”, “The Lion and The Mouse”, and “The Goose that Laid The Golden Eggs”.

AEF015 landscape

Their 2009 production of Aesop’s Fables played to sold-out audiences, so be sure not to miss it this time around. We really enjoyed iTheatre’s last show, Hop & Honk, and I hope that they’ll put on a good performance again!

Tickets are available from SISTIC.

*** Giveaway ***

iTheatre has kindly sponsored 2 sets of 2 tickets to Aesop’s Fables on Saturday, 7th March 2015 (2.30pm). If you need more than 2 tickets, iTheatre has offered to sell adjacent seats at a discounted rate to the winners.

To qualify for the giveaway, please do these 2 things by 2 Mar 2359hrs (not a lot of time, so don’t put it off till later!):
1. Leave a comment below on which of Aesop’s Fables is your favourite and why
2. Share this Facebook post with at least one other person.

Don’t forget to leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win!

The winning entries will be selected at random from all qualifying entries. The winners will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  They will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue 30 minutes before showtime. 

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The boys and I had the opportunity to catch Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story which made its Asian premiere at Resorts World Sentosa on 27 November 2014. They were so excited in the run up to the show! When we read the story, they were very tickled by Mr Croc and all his tick-tocking that they kept talking about how they couldn’t wait to see Mr Croc in the show. I was really praying that the show would feature Mr Croc, else they’d be so disappointed. And thankfully, they did! A huge Mr Croc too!

Peter Pan Cover Image

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story, is presented by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in association with Belgium’s Music Hall. It tells the enchanting story of Peter Pan, a mischievous boy with the ability to fly and who refuses to grow up. One night, he visits Wendy, John, and Michael Darling in their London nursery and takes them on an unforgettable flight where the Lost Boys, Indians, mermaids and pirates await them at Neverland. While they revel in adventures beyond their wildest imaginations, the villainous Captain Hook hatches an evil scheme to capture Peter Pan – his greatest enemy. In a fight years ago, Peter had cut off Captain Hook’s hand and a crocodile ate it. It tasted so delicious that the crocodile followed Captain Hook everywhere in the hope of eating the rest of him! The story climaxes in a duel between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, with the crocodile getting his treat in the end.

Beautiful set

The nursery in London (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Wendy with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Wendy with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

The Indians on Neverland (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

The Indians on Neverland (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Peter Pan and Captain Hook (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Peter Pan and Captain Hook (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

The giant crocodile! (Photo from The Desert Life)

The concept for this version of Peter Pan was to use familiar, chart-topping hits to bring across the story. Songs such as “Angels” by Robbie Williams, “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban, “Forever Young” by Alphaville, and many others, were rearranged to fit the feel and context of the story. It’s pretty well done, and for the most part you don’t feel it’s been forced into the storyline. I left the show with “One Day I’ll Fly Away” stuck in my head for days!

The downside to this concept is that if you are not very familiar with the storyline, you may have trouble understanding what is going on – because there is so much going on! There is a narrator, but no dialogue between the various characters at all. Tinkerbell takes on the role of the narrator and remains unseen for almost the entire show. As she speaks, the performers are acting, and there is dancing, and the set is changing. Basically, plenty to distract you from what Tinkerbell is saying. Children, in particular, may find it hard to follow the story if they haven’t already read the book. If you are bringing kids, I strongly recommend you read them the story first. It also didn’t quite make sense to me that Tinkerbell was the narrator as she was supposed to be locked up in a box in Peter Pan’s hideout, so how could she know what was going on elsewhere?

Tinkerbell, the narrator (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Tinkerbell, the narrator (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Still, this production is a real visual treat. Elaborate costumes, a whimsical set featuring giant books, high-flying action, acrobatic stunts, and really good dancing. I was impressed by the dancers and Martino Muller’s choreography. Unlike other musicals I’ve seen, almost every segment of this show featured a full contemporary-style dance routine. It was like a double treat for me – watching the story of Peter Pan, and watching a dance performance. I really loved how the dancers attacked their moves and were so expressive. It as a pity that the programme booklet didn’t feature the details of the dancers as I would very much have liked to read up about them.

Dancers in Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story

Dancers from Peter Pan (Photo from City & Style Magazine)

At the end of the show we were unanimous in our choice of favourite character – Captain Hook. We loved Captain Hook! Played perfectly by Wim Van Den Driesche, from the moment he appeared on stage, he was a force to be reckoned with. He sang Rossini’s Largo Al Factotum and portrayed a pompous Captain Hook that was at once melodramatic yet extremely endearing. The drama continued when Captain Hook sang Puccini’s Nessun Dorma and his crew were falling all over themselves in their adoration of him. It was hilarious! The boys left singing nonsense words pretending to be Captain Hook singing in Italian. They also spent the next few days using anything vaguely hook-like to role play as Captain Hook in their games.

Captain Hook (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Captain Hook (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story makes for a fun and entertaining family outing. The action (and Captain Hook!) will delight children – just make sure you read the story first. If I may quote Ellery as we walked out of the theatre, “It was awesome, Mummy!”

Super happy!

Happy boys on a late night outing to catch Peter Pan

Us before the show

Us before the show

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story run at Resorts World Theatre, Resorts World Sentore, until 20 Jan 2015. Tickets are available from the SISTIC website, or through the SISTIC hotline (63485555).


We received complementary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.

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Hair Maclary and Friends is a delightful show!

Based on Lynley Dodd’s series of books, Hair Maclary and Friends stays true to the books and illustrations within them. I liked how the costumes reflected closely the characters in the story. Hairy Maclary with his furry body and stick thin legs, skinny Bitzer Malone with his ribs showing, and my favourite Muffin McLay truly messy all over like a bundle of hay. Muffin was so adorable. I just wanted to give him a big squeeze! As it turns out, Muffin McLay was also Ellery and Asher’s favourite character :)

They even managed to show Schnitzel von Krumm with a very low tum! I was wondering how they were going to achieve that. Turns out the person playing Schnitzel von Krumm had to walk in plank pose!

Hairy Group 2013

Hairy Maclary and Friends (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

Hairy Maclary

Hairy Maclary (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

Muffin McLay - my favourite! (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

Muffin McLay – my favourite! (Photo courtesy of ABA Productions)

The stories followed the book, and were made even more engaging because each story was sung as a song. It worked especially well for the story ‘Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack’. All the pittering and pattering, and skittering and scattering by Zachary Quack was transformed into a very catchy tune, bringing the words in the book alive. I also thought that it was clever how the bees that were mentioned in the first line of the story were brought into the action.

“It was drowsily warm with dozens of bees

Lazily buzzing through the flowers and trees.”

They helped to emphasize the “z” sounds in the rhymes, and contributed to the bustle of Hairy Maclary trying to run away from Zachary Quack.

Lots of other stories like ‘Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy’, ‘Schnitzel von Krumm’s Basketwork’, ‘Hairy Maclary’s Bone’, and ‘Hairy Maclary’s Hat Tricks’ were also dramatised. The boys really liked the story ‘Scarface Claw’, and found it hilarious that he was afraid of himself! It’s really quite amazing the number of books they managed to cover in one performance.

The cast delivered an energetic performance throughout, and got the kids involved by having them look for missing pictures and trying to scare Scarface Claw. These are classic crowd-pleasers and the kids were more than happy to participate.

After the show, I discovered that the boys had transformed themselves into doggies. I was supposed to call them by their doggie names – which worked for dinner since I told Ellery that dogs are omnivores, so he ate up his veg!

Crawling around like Schnitzel von Krumm

Crawling around like Schnitzel von Krumm

Overall it’s a really fun outing for the kids!

Hairy Maclary and Friends is on at the Drama Centre Theatre at the National Library until 12 Oct 2014. You can get your tickets through the SISTIC website or by calling the SISTIC hotline (63485555).


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After a morning with the grandparents at Botanic Gardens, the kids and I spent an entire afternoon at the Esplanade enjoying the various Octoburst offerings. There were so many things to do, and as it was, we only did a fraction of what was available.

First, Asher and I caught Something Very Far Away by Unicorn Theatre while Ellery had a nap.

As Ellery was still napping when we came out, Asher went to check out Book Stop, a book swop event. I’ve never actually been for a book swop before, so even I was excited to see what was available and what treasures we might find. In the end he settled on The Fish Who Could Wish, a funny book about a fish who can wish anything and have it come true, but he made one very bad wish that ended all that. Ellery now keeps asking to go for the book swop too so that he can exchange his book for another. So we might have to go down again…

Checking out the books at the book swop

Checking out the books at the book swop

The sticker reads "I swopped this book at Octoburst"

The sticker reads “I swopped this book at Octoburst”

We then went for Dance Appreciation Series: Introduction to Classical Ballet by SDT. I’m not kidding when I say I must have seen a hundred Elsas that day. There were even families with more than one Elsa in them! Gosh. Poor Anna. She’s the real protagonist, I think, just that her sister has the prettier dress and the headline song.

After that the boys then wrote a postcard each at Octopost to a secret someone and posted their postcards in specially designed letterboxes with birds’ heads sticking out. It was a colourful and attractive set-up, and the boys carefully looked at all the birds before deciding which to give their postcard to. I can’t wait for that secret someone to receive the postcards!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Not just pigeon holes. Ostrich, owl, peacock, toucan, flamingo, etc., holes!

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam

Ellery was going to give his postcard to Luciel (this yellow bird), but after I snapped this changed his mind and gave it to Sam on the right

In the concourse was also this eye-catching installation by Tiffany Singh called Revision of the Optics. I loved how the artwork captured both the sense of sight and smell. The vibrant colours were perfect for a children’s festival, and the scents that drifted past your nose, especially the smells of lavender and dried chilli, added another dimension to the work. I think there was supposed to be the element of sound from the tinkling of bells that hung from the ribbons, but as the air was still there was no tinkling.

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Eye-catching installtion that filled up the space above and below

Beautiful rainbow colours

Beautiful rainbow colours

The boys were getting hungry so we started to head for Gluttons Bay, but stopped by the giant Snakes and Ladders for a while. In theory the children will take turns to roll the dice and move on the board. In practice, it’s who is the most assertive that will get the dice. I suppose it’s like that everywhere though huh? Unfortunately for Ellery, he kept missing his turn and got quite upset about it. I tried to encourage him to speak up for himself, but instead he gave up playing altogether. I was quite disappointed, and I couldn’t coax him to go back into the game. Instead he wanted to move on to aMaze Me. I guess there could have been another dice perhaps. But at the same time, it’s good for children to learn to either take turns, or to speak up for themselves.

Snakes & Ladders

Snakes & Ladders

Happily, we bumped into Del and Anya there and we decided to head for dinner altogether before the kids went to play at aMaze Me. It’s always nice with the cousins, and it was a real bonus for me to bump into them. As expected, the ribbon maze was more colourful and complicated now than when we went a week ago. To the delight of the boys, they found they could sit and lie at certain parts. They couldn’t quite climb on it as they had wished for, but it was good enough for them. Ellery also specially went to check on his ant bridge and did some maintenance and improvement works. I was happy to see that it was still there at all! I had half-thought that someone might have removed it for some administrative reason or other like it’s “damaging the tree”, “not part of the exhibition space”, or something else. It was a lovely example of allowing kids to think out-of-the-box and for them to enjoy seeing the results of it.

Chilling on the ribbons

Chilling on the ribbons


Anya adding her ribbon to this maze

Ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

The ant bridge engineer doing some unscheduled maintenance

As we headed home I asked the boys if they had a good Children’s Day, and they gave me a resounding “Yes!”

Octoburst is on until Monday, 6 Oct, and there are plenty of free and ticketed events still on. Go check out their website for more information on the various programmes.

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Out of the gate
and off for a walk,
went Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson’s Dairy.

He boarded a plane,
along with his friends,
and flew to dear Singapore
What did he come here for?

Well, let me tell you!


The loveable furry black dog, Hairy Maclary, is coming to Singapore from 10 – 12th Oct, along with his friends with the rhyming names like Hercules Morse (as big as a horse), Schnitzel von Krumm (with a very low tum), and the cutest – in my opinion – Muffin McLay (like a bundle of hay)! You can check out this website to learn the names of his other friends.

Direct from a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013 and hit of the Sydney Opera House Christmas season 2012, Hairy Maclary and Friends is an official stage adaptation of the much-loved Hairy Maclary children’s books by Lynley Dodd. The show promises to be packed with live music, singing, colourful costumes and some of your favourite Hairy Maclary stories. If you’ve never read the books before, you can listen to some of the stories on Youtube here and here.

Brought in by ABA Productions, Hairy Maclary and Friends will make for a perfect family treat suitable for those from 2 to 102. You’d be barking mad to miss it!

Show details:
Hairy Maclary and Friends
Dates: 10-12 Oct 2014
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre – National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street
Tickets are available through the SISTIC website and SISTIC hotline (63485555). You can use the discount code ABA2014 to get 10% off ticket prices!

~~~ Giveaway ~~~

I have a set of 4 top-category tickets worth $62 each to give away to one reader! The tickets are for the Fri, 10th Oct, 5pm show at the Drama Centre Theatre – National Library!

To qualify, simply leave a comment below by 7 Oct, 1pm with your email address and share which character from Hairy Maclary is your favourite and that you are most keen to see on stage!

The winner will be chosen through a random draw.

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Took this picture a few days ago and it reminded me of this picture (of Asher ‘reading’ to Ellery) when Ellery was a baby, except there’s three of them now!

Bonding over books

Bonding over books

Alyssa is usually asleep when the boys read a bit before bedtime, but her schedule is not settled yet and that night she was still awake. I hope she’ll grow up to love books as much as her brothers!

Asher being the big Kor Kor and reading to his little sister

Asher being the big Kor Kor and reading to his little sister

We're going for a bear hunt!

We’re going for a bear hunt!


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