A big part of the joy that comes with blogging is discovering new products and hearing people’s stories. Hearing the personal stories and the challenges many have faced along the way serve only to reinforce what a privilege it is to share these parts of people’s lives with you.
And the story of the da Canha family is no exception! It was amazing to sit down properly this past weekend and learn about their journey as they have navigated the road with a special needs child. When their youngest child Tate (4) was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the challenges Jonathan and his wife faced as parents took to new heights. Hannah, their eldest child by only one year, was at an age where she was eager for her dad to read her books and tell her bedtime stories before bed, which proved tricky with a younger sibling who needed special care. It was during this testing and demanding season that Jonathan’s passion project was born and where the stories about Mr Brown Mouse originated.
“Bedtime proved the most challenging and exhausting with both children in different routines and with very different needs. But it was in the ‘chaos’ of the bedtime routine, and specifically story time for Hannah however, that the kernel of a fable about a little brown mouse began to germinate. “I began telling Hannah made-up bedtime stories,” explains Jonathan, “and it was here that the Mr Brown Mouse stories originated. Soon she began requesting a new story nearly every night.”
And soon these stories became so popular with Hannah, that Jonathan began recording the stories on his phone, just so Hannah would have these stories to listen to on the extra tiresome and challenging evenings where they were simply at the end of their emotional and physical tether. Jonathan says that another unexpected benefit of creating these stories was that they became an amazing opportunity for him to try and help his daughter through the struggles of dealing with a special needs sibling.
“Themes of courage, optimism, willingness to try, problem solving, being adventurous and also enjoying the simpler things in life like watching all the different kinds of beetles or picking new kinds of flowers, prevail throughout the stories.”
His intention was never for these recorded stories to replace book-reading and story-time, but to rather offer tired and busy parents (hello mom of multiple children!!) a little help on those days when life feels that extra bit hard and overwhelming.
After a while Jonathan had amassed a whole series of stories involving Mr Brown Mouse, often created together with Hannah, incorporating her contributions and ideas for how the story should go. (How sweet!! ♥)
“It dawned on me that perhaps other children might enjoy the stories too. And perhaps other parents might appreciate being able to take a breath from time to time knowing that their children were listening to child-friendly, positive and encouraging stories, expanding their imaginations and being helped to get to sleep. We worked hard to write and re-write them, refining them and turning them into high-quality audiobooks. We also have sights on converting them to print picture books and eventually a TV series.”
The first six Mr Brown Mouse stories from the delightful 18-part series is now available to parents for purchase. Appealing to 3-6 year olds, each ten – eleven minute story introduces heart-warming, child-friendly adventure that gently deals concepts of kindness, courage, friendship, problem solving, helpfulness, loyalty and more. Accompanied by beautiful illustrated cover art, and brought to life through a searing score of original music, the Mr Brown Mouse series is perfect for bedtime, road-trips, bonding moments and teaching moments.
What I have really loved about these audio books personally, is being able to be present with my kids but also being able to relax and surrender to the togetherness without the added effort of having to read myself. As much as I Iove reading to my kids, there are nights where parents need a break too and cuddling up on the couch under a blanket with the lights dimmed is just the most perfect opportunity to connect while still encouraging their imaginations to run free.
Here’s just one example of one of Mr Brown Mouse’s tales : MR BROWN MOUSE MEETS MRS GIRAFFE : Mr Brown Mouse rides on the back of ditsy Mrs Hippo and crosses the river for the VERY FIRST TIME! Join him as he crosses paths with crocodiles, elephants and lions and makes friends with the tallest animal he’s ever seen! A gentle first adventure, perfect for bedtime.
It’s quite funny, because we played it through our iPad, the boys are used to looking at the screen while watching movies or looking at pictures in a book, so it took them a while to get used to not having to do that. Eventually we put the iPad behind them on the back of the couch and then they began to relax, taking in all the words and really getting into the story. By the time the first story was coming to a close, both boys were lying on the couch on their backs looking up at the ceiling. I wondered to myself how each of them experienced and made sense of the stories in their own minds, how they imagined each character to look and their surroundings. Oh the magic and wonder in their eyes!
We are already four stories into the series, but I can tell you these things with certainty already :
- These audio books are very high quality. The sound is crisp and clear and you can hear the story easily, even over other noise. Yup even in our noisy house with a 13 month-old screaming in the background. Although I will say with confidence that the best time to listen is tucked up in bed at bedtime. Last night we got our boys to brush their teeth and do toilet time before climbing into bed with the lights dimmed. And it was so perfect to end off the day in a calm way as their minds focussed on Mr Brown Mouse and his next adventure.
- The narrators voice is just so perfectly suited to the stories. It has an old English charm to it, making them traditional tales with a modern and relevant twist. Just perfect for young minds!
- Each story is the perfect length of about 10 minutes, meaning kids can keep up and stay focused while not losing track of what’s going on. It’s also the perfect length for a bedtime story as it allows them to wind down after a busy day and get into sleep mode. Saying that I usually allow my kids listen to two stories because, well, one is never enough!
- They are so inexpensive! Each story is available for download for only R29.95 each or you can get the whole lot for R149,95! Their are six stories in the collection.
Mr Brown Mouse is currently available as audiobooks, at http://mrbrownmouse.ecwid.com for R29.95 each, or R149.95 for all 6. The MP3 can be saved to your itunes library for quick and easy access. For more information contact Taryn Uhlmann on 083 586 0449 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS! Not only is Jonathan offering you guys the chance to download these beautiful stories at a discounted rate of 15% off, he’s offering one of you mamas the chance to WIN 6 Mr Brown Mouse stories for your little one!!
To Win the set of six stories here’s what you are going to have to do:
- Like Mr Brown Mouse Facebook page
- Like and share the post on Facebook
- Comment with the name of two friends with young kids who will enjoy them as much as yours on the Facebook post!
To qualify for the 15% discount you will need to use the code STZIHDX34HSB at checkout!
Terms and conditions
- Winner will need to follow all three steps in order to qualify for the prize
- Winner will be selected randomly via random.org
- Winner will be sent a direct link where they will be required to download the stories to a device, preferably saved to iTunes library
- Competition closes on Wednesday the 15th September 2018.
- Discount code is available until 15th September 2018.
GOOD LUCK!! ♥