It’s that time of year again! The 19th Annual Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature is right around the corner. This year’s exhibit will be taking place at the Concord Museum in Concord, MA from 26 November 2014 through 4 January 2015, and will feature 38 trees, each uniquely decorated to represent a beloved children’s book. Each year, a different Barefoot Books illustrator is asked to bring their work to life by decorating a tree at the exhibit, and this year is no exception. Carole Hénaff is finding inspiration in her beautiful artwork from The Arabian Nights, and is hard at work creating a wonderful display for this year’s tree.

We were lucky enough to speak with Carole about her creative process. Here’s what she had to say about the opportunity to design a tree for the event:

When you first started working on the decorations for the tree, what was your first step?

After the preliminary sketch, I looked into the different kinds of materials they offer at the DIY shops in Barcelona.  For these ornaments, I wanted to explore different mediums, as well as ways to combine them, in order to figure out how to best create each individual piece.

What media are you working with?

I used a variety of materials, including cardboard, paper mache, clay, polystyrene balls, acrylics, pen and translucent paint for the bird cages.

How is decorating a Christmas tree different from illustrating a book? How is it similar?

With books, the illustrator has more limitations. You have to take into account the text itself and that heavily influences the art. We choose size, background colour and layout to create a final product that people can read again and again.

On the tree, there is much more freedom to work. There is no text. The only thing to take into consideration is the weight of the ornaments and how they will look against the dark green of the tree. There is no beginning or end. The viewing will happen once and that’s it. There is something so transient about it, and I like that. As for similarities, the art itself stays true to the book illustrations.

Do you have a favourite ornament so far?

I would say my favourite so far would be the red horse with the woman’s face; although, I also like the framed characters.

If you’re in the New England area this holiday season, be sure to stop by the museum and check out Carole’s tree. All proceeds go towards the museum’s education initiatives. We are also excited to announce that Carole will be stopping by our Concord Studio! Join us Friday 21 November at 10-11 am and Saturday 22 November at 3-4pm to get a behind-the-scenes look at the life of an illustrator. Enjoy a short reading from The Arabian Nights and a craft inspired by the book!

Shop The Arabian Nights here: North America / Europe


Kathryn White is the author of the beloved Ruby series, including Ruby’s School Walk, Ruby’s Sleepover, and Ruby’s Baby Brother. Kathryn recently attended a fabulous event that she just had to share with us!

I attended the launch of Reading Force Little Ones at the Aldershot Garrison in southeast England on October 22nd, which proved to be a great success.

Dr. Alison Baverstock, Founder and Director of Reading Force, worked alongside as puppeteer while I read some of my books, including Ruby’s School Walk, to preschool children.  Barefoot Books generously donated books for the event, and Reading Force purchased further copies to give to service families both at home and abroad to share together. Every child was given a special Reading Force scrapbook too.

Reading Force is an initiative that helps families separated on duty both home and away to connect via book sharing.  Through books, families are able to engage in stories and experiences such as Reading Force events, as well as enjoying the known benefits reading brings, like raising reading confidence.   Reading Force is a growing force within the UK military community that is going from strength to strength.  The charity is becoming a powerful tool for ensuring families stay close and connected, enjoying time together through the love of books.

It was such a pleasure to get involved with such a fantastic organization! How does your family use books to stay connected?

—Kathryn White

What does success mean to you? Here at Barefoot Books, we know success comes in many forms, and we love to recognize the achievements and milestones in our community. Here are just a few of the stories that have made our heart sing this year!

  • Challenge Superstar: Every month we challenge our Ambassadors to go the extra mile in their businesses, and earn unique business tools and prizes along the way. This year, one Ambassador truly went to the next level by reaching the winners circle in not one, not two, but every single challenge we ran in the course of one year! Congratulations Turquoise Team Leader Allison Diehl; your success is an inspiration!
  • The Mouse that Roared: Earlier this year, Barefoot Books made the decision to stop selling to Amazon, the biggest book giant of them all. There’s been no looking back since then, and our Co-founder and CEO Nancy Traversy has led the charge in bucking the traditional publishing model. Read more about this success story on
  • Facebook Party Superstar: Many of our Ambassadors have started hosting Facebook parties this year, and one Ambassador in particular had a dream guest list! Ambassador Carolyn Sharples hosted a party with over FIFTY attendees this fall, the most we’ve ever seen! Interested in hosting your own Facebook party? You can learn more here.
  • Wordless Wonder: This year we released our first wordless book in entire twenty-two year history: Out of the Blue. Not only have our Ambassadors made this title a bestselling success, but it was recently nominated for the Kate Greenaway Award, one of the most prestigious children’s book awards in the United Kingdom! We were (pun alert) speechless at the news. Discover this title for yourself here: Europe / North America.

With such a great 2014 almost behind us, we can’t wait to see what 2015 brings!

With the Christmas season fast upon us, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the constant advertisements for ‘the perfect gift’. No matter where you turn, there’s another voice telling you that their toy is going to make or break your child’s holiday. And even though you know the truth — that perfect toy may well be forgotten in a week — it’s hard to tune it all out.

We here at Barefoot Books know that there’s something better out there for your family. Not another perfect gift, but something that everyone could use a little more of. This season, why not give the gift of time together?

As the days turn cold and the leaves start to drop, we of course can’t help but think about preparing for the winter ahead. What will we need for the long, chilly nights? What meals will warm our bellies? Do we still have that snow shovel from last year? When facing these wintery questions, there are two Barefoot titles we love to bring out for storytime that focus on harvesting two very different crops.

The first, Laurie Krebs’ The Beeman, follows a young boy and his grandpa as they care for their many bees. Throughout the summer the bees create delicious nectar, and as autumn arrives, the boy and his grandpa are able to harvest what is now honey. As they head into the winter months, they spread the delicious treat on Grandma’s Apple and Honey muffins (which you can make using a recipe in the back of the book!). A golden harvest indeed for this pair!

What’s the difference between sharing a story on-screen with your toddler and sitting down to share a picture book? In June of this year, the American Pediatric Association recommended that parents share books with their babies from birth, and limit screen time for children aged 2 and over to less than 2 hours a day. This weekend, Douglas Quenqua reported in The New York Times that, according to recent studies, ‘reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.’

Our busy, beautiful new word book, My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words, offers a beautifully modern depiction of the world our children experience every day. When deciding which scenes to include in the book, we chose not to reprise familiar children’s book settings like a circus or a supermarket, and instead decided to focus on creating settings that are true to the values of our community, like a library and a farmer’s market.

Of all the fairy tale characters, that of the princess has a special potency for girls. Taken symbolically, the princess archetype is not about material privilege or social status — it’s about self-esteem and personal power. The little girl who is in touch with her inner princess has a head start in life — always providing that this inner princess models the qualities that she needs as she moves from the protection and safety of home to navigate the complexities and challenges of the wider world.

Have you ever wanted to explore space? Now you can with our latest activity sheet! Our astronaut activity sheet gives little ones the chance to join in the fun of Space Song Rocket Ride by drawing themselves into a space suit and rocket ship. When your creations are complete, explore space together by reading and singing our latest singalong!

Download Now: UK Sheet / NA Sheet

Looking for more activity fun? Visit our activities page here: United Kingdom / North America

Want the book? Shop here: United Kingdom / North America

Our newest singalong, Space Song Rocket Ride, launched into orbit last month! We hope Barefoot readers will love discovering amazing space facts about space, while enjoying David Sim’s clever, fun and inventive illustrations, singing the irresistible song and watching the rocket zoom through the stars in the animation.