Wednesday, 27 February 2019

WBD- Claude Best in Show

Claude is a superb book character, full of wit and charm.  I like to imagine him as quite a posh pup, living with Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes.  I have yet to watch the animated show but I have high expectations on it.

I was really pleased to see Claude in the World Book Day selections, as he is hugely popular with a range of ages.  Certainly in our house from my 7 yo to myself (age not needed)!  He is a loveable pooch with a wonderful best friend.  Sir Bobblysock is up for anything, especially dressing up!

Within the first couple of pages I was giggling as Claude says “...we don’t know any dogs at all. Not even one!” Poor Claude can’t enter the dog show without one, so off comes the beret and out comes the dressing up fun! Sir Dogglysock? No! It has to be Butch!  Simply hilarious.

The dog show gets underway but things aren’t looking good for Claude and Butch...until the end of the day! A marvellous happy ending for the proud pooch and Butch!

And of course, what Claude story would end without the unsuspecting Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes looking adoringly at Claude all tucked up in bed!

Now off to find out where I can watch the animated series!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

WBD- Cruella and Cadpig

This might be my favourite World Book Day Book this year....written and illustrated, in my opinion, by two powerhouses of the book world!


Peter Bently has written some brilliant books, such as The Great Dog Bottom Swap and The Great Sheep Shenanigans.  Those are firm favourites in our house.  My daughter loves everything about the Dalmatians books and movies.  She even dressed up as one last World Book Day.

Steven Lenton is my favourite children’s illustrator,  and I am a massive Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam fan.

This is short, sweet and full of fun! Bold, colourful illustrations make the story come alive, especially the page featuring Cruella’s face....it is fantastically evil looking and enough to give any puppies nightmares.

This would be a great book for younger readers!

I would also recommend looking for the adaptation of The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Peter Bently and Steven Lenton.  It is wonderful and an excellent way to introduce children to the books as opposed to just watching the movies.



Monday, 25 February 2019

WBD- 10 Little Bookworms

How cute are the 10 Little Bookworms? 
This is a perfect World Book Day book for little bookworms! 

Mike Brownlow and Simon Rickerty have created a bright, colourful story to be read again and again! 

Excellent rhyming text, bold illustrations and fun to be had on every page.  I spent ages poring over the illustrations, looking at the characters and at the end, helping my own children get inspiration for a costume. 

With other books in the Ten Little series, these could be firm family favourites, and enough for one each night of the week.....

Happy Reading Little Bookworms!

Sunday, 24 February 2019

World Book Day

The World Book Day selection is brilliant this year.  I always like a few of the titles but this year I like all of them.  There are some amazing authors and illustrators in this year’s selections!

I am going to go through them one at a time to help students in my schools decide which one to choose! Or encourage them to buy more than one of them.

When they arrived my children were each drawn to specific titles and I found that so fascinating.  My 7yo daughter went for Lego Minifigure Mayhem and my 10yo son went for The Diary of Greg Heffley’s Best Friend.  I was immediately drawn to Claude Best in Show, and Cruella and Cadpig.

Today I will look closely at the Lego Minifigure Mayhem.
It has facts, jokes and Lego challenges to keep children entertained.  Mini figures are hugely popular and I know I spend a lot on them, but how can you resist when they look like hot dogs, sharks or astronauts.  They are funny and add a lot of fun to a day of Lego building.

The challenges are excellent, from stacking them to mixing them up....endless hours of fun!
My daughter regaled us with the jokes and we groaned and laughed in equal measure.
There is a good variety of characters to meet and learn more about and we enjoyed reading about them all!

All in all this is a terrific book and I am sure it will be hugely popular on World Book Day!


Friday, 22 February 2019

Picture Book Perfect Day 5

Today is a brilliant book about love!

Loved to Bits
Teresa Healy and Katie Cleminson
David Fickling Books



My 10yo son has a bear that was given to him before his first birthday.  It has had multiple surgeries, washes, and adventures but it is truly “loved to bits” by my son and I must admit, by the rest of the family too.  He is, unimaginatively, called Blue Bear.  That was his original colour, though now he is closer to grey!


When I saw this book, I knew it would be special.  I knew it would be one to share with my son and knew he would appreciate it too! We laughed and remembered special times with our favourite bear.


The adventures of the boy and bear are exactly what we might see with any child and their favourite teddy.  Adventures at home, and out in the world.  Adventures with injuries but the bear wears the adventures as badges of honour, and in truth, fits better for it! I love how the brave bear is injured during sword fights, tugs of war, and train journeys.

A lovely, heart warming tale of a boy and his ted! I can recommend this for all families to celebrate the love between a child and their toys.  It is a special relationship and one to be treasured and remembered, especially as they grow older!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Picture Book Perfect Day 4

When the crocodiles came to town
Written and Illustrated by Magda Brol
Hachette Children’s

A wonderfully, colourful and funny book.
It is a large book but that makes it more perfect for sharing with little ones! 

The story begins with two bright and busy crocodiles arriving in Dullsville.  They certainly add colour and sparkle to the town but the dull towns people are not pleased with the crocs or their habits and behaviours.  Eventually they are told to leave! 

Feeling sad and dejected they begin packing, while the “naughtiest thieves in the land” arrive to steal the Golden Donkey! Pages of racing, chasing and sticky sauce ensues! Brilliant illustrations accompany the funny text.  

A fantastic happy ending to make us smile and see what the crocs can offer the town of Dullsville! 

A lovely message about learning about your new neighbours (friends/family/coworkers/etc) and accepting them as they are! We are all different and we bring our own uniqueness to the world! Dullsville needed those crocs! The world needs us to be who we are! 

Loved it! Packed in bag to deliver to school on Monday! 

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Picture Book Perfect Day 3

Mira’s Curly Hair
Written by Mariam al Serkal
Illustrated by Rebeca Luciani
Lantana Publishing

The exquisite cover immediately grabs your attention and makes you want to meet Mira and learn more about her and her family.

Poor Mira has curly hair...it curls everywhere and all the time.  She tries to straighten it, just like her Mama’s, but nothing works.  We see Mama and she is beautiful with long flowing hair.  Anyone would be jealous of Mama’s hair.  Mira especially looks up to her Mama and wants to be just like her. 

One rainy day, they are out for a walk and something amazing begins happening.  Mira watches in awe as her Mama’s hair begins to curl.  It keeps curling and they both decide to have curly hair from that day on. 

There is such beauty in the relationship between Mira and her Mama.  Many little girls look up to their Mothers and want to emulate them.  I love that Mira doesn’t have to change who she is but her Mama makes the change instead.  A simple message that comes across wonderfully.

The illustrations are stunning and full of details to pore over.  I love the colourful birds and I felt they were a representation of the freedom for Mira to be who she truly is! 

An excellent book! 

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Picture Book Perfect Day 2

I am so Clever
Mario Ramos
Translated into English 2019

I am a big fan of fairy tales and enjoy the many spin offs that come from them.  Two of my favourites are The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, and Mr Wolf’s Pancakes Jan Fearnley.
 I also love Inside the Villains by Clotilde Perrin.  
Who can resist a good villain?
And...
My all time favourite villain in stories is the big bad wolf! 

I like this book for many reasons but first and foremost are the twists and turns throughout story.  The wolf does not have an easy time in this story and I love that he meets many favourite characters, including the pigs, bears and dwarfs.  The poor wolf is stuck in Grandma’s nightie and just wants to eat....but it all goes wrong.  You almost end up feeling sorry for the poor wolf.  

I also love the word choices in the book.  These choices create a richer vocabulary for the reader.  Words such as ferocious, sauntered, snagged and peals of laughter.  Brilliant words to take the story to a higher level.

The illustrations are colourful and fun! The leap off the page and you feel transported to the woods where they all live. I can imagine all the fairy tale characters living near each other and sharing stories about the wolf.  

This would make an excellent companion to a KS1 Fairy tale topic.  Great for empathy and perspective as well.

A lovely addition to my bookshelves at home!







Monday, 18 February 2019

The Umbrella Mouse

My 30th Read of 2019

The Umbrella Mouse
Written by Anna Fargher
Illustrated by Sam Usher





I had been keen to read this book since I first viewed it on netgalley.  I loved the cover and the description sounded wonderful.  The animals of war are not often given a voice in fiction texts and this was a wonderful story from Churchill’s Secret Animal Army.
We know great sadness affected all in the war and the animals in this story are no different.  With mirror emotions to those of humans, we meet Pip Hanway and her umbrella mouse family.  They have history with umbrellas and live in a popular London store.  Pip is mischievous and keen to watch the world around her, but disaster strikes and we see how life has changed for Pip’s family and their beloved umbrella shop.

Pip meets Dicken, a rescue dog and a variety of animals leading the fight for the resistance.  There are brave messenger pigeons, fierce eagles and rats, and a fearless hedgehog leader named Madame Fourcade.  They call themselves Noah’s Ark and they cause havoc to the German war effort.  Their bravery, courage and determination help to bring down phone lines, rescue animals from capture and blow up land mines.

Pip surprised me with her courage, her ideas and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.  She becomes a proper little heroine and very much a part of the Noah’s Ark family.  As an orphan, she soon finds a home with these brave and fearless creatures.

There were parts of this story that had me on the edge of my seat, in tears and wishing for the end of the war.....I was so emotionally charged and invested in the lives of these creatures.   They all had personalities and qualities we might see in humans and they wore scars of the war in the same way too.  There are happy, proud moments and others with great sadness and loss.  It was the perfect blend.

I enjoyed it from start to finish!

Read this book, love it and share it!

Picture Book Perfect Week- Day 1

It is half term break and I am planning my bookish activities for the week.  I am going to dedicate my week to perfect picture books.  I have some new ones in my collection and they are lovely to read and share.  I have included a non fiction book in this week’s plan as it is wonderful.

This week I am also reading The Midnight Hour by Benjamin Reid and Laura Trinder and The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher.  I am loving both of these and enjoying their differences.  I can highly recommend them both!

But this week is called Picture Book Perfect!

I am a huge picture book fan and love poring over illustrations and savouring the words and story.

Today’s book is the quirky informative book called Incredible Creatures.  It is written and illustrated by James Olstein.

The text is kept short so all readers can access and enjoy the fun and fascinating facts about animals we know and love.  There are also new animals to learn about and strange facts we didn’t know.  The rich vocabulary lends itself perfectly to learning and understanding more about animals and creatures in our world.  

The illustrations are wonderfully quirky and brilliant for studying.  I loved the camouflage sloth and turtle in a bed.  The colours and design take this from being an ordinary non fiction animal book to being one of extraordinary proportions.  They make the book relatable and fun! There is a great variety of animals and facts and who can resist discovering the answer to the age old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? I won’t spoil the fun of reading and enjoying this fact.  

This would be wonderful in a class or school library.  I know my own children have loved having it in the house!


Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Closest Thing to Flying

What an incredible feel good story about hope, bravery and freedom.

Semira and Hen may be one hundred years apart and the freedoms they want may have changed but the fighting spirit of women is still fierce.  I love historical fiction, links with the past and finding answers in others stories.  

Semira lives a tough life in a foreign city, with chaos, cruelty and corruption part of her daily struggles.  A new school, new friends and a new hobby help her to become stronger and to see a way out for her and her mother. 

On a market stall, Semira is drawn to a broken hat with a bird seemingly caught mid flight.  She buys the hat and later finds a diary of Hen in the hat box. Hen writes about her brave Aunt Kitty.  We learn about the start of the RSPB, the movement of women fighting for the vote, and living for the moment through the diary entries.  Hen is inspired by her Aunt Kitty and her love of life, and ability to make bold decisions. 

Semira and her mother read the diary together and escape a life with no promise.  
It proves that hope is always there and there is always someone who will listen. 

I loved Semira’s character and the way she bravely faced each day.  She was so strong and vibrant.  I was so pleased she made friends and stood up for what she believed in. 

This is a lovely book to read and I found myself crying and laughing at different parts of the story.  I was also worried, scared and hopeful. A sure sign of a good book is the range of emotions the reader feels throughout. 

I can highly recommend this one! 




Sunday, 10 February 2019

The Boy Who Flew


What a triumph of a book! Murder, mystery and mayhem! Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Athan, the only boy in his family, gets caught up in a mystery surrounding the murder of his friend and employer Mr Chen. Mr Chen and Athan are inventors and creators of many devices, one of which is a flying machine.  They just need the right conditions for flying...but sadly Mr Chen is murdered before they can test their bird.

Athan and his friend Tod, are roof runners and travel around the city via rooftops.  This helps them to rescue the flying machine, the plans to finish it and to escape from the mysterious Colonel Blade. The man is dangerous, murderous and intent on getting the plans all for himself.

A prize of 10,000 guineas is offered to anyone who can fly the first proven flight.  Athan knows his family needs that money and so the pressure is on to complete the flying machine.  Colonel Blade has other plans for Athan and his family.  The race is on to protect his family, the plans for the flying machine and the legacy of Mr Chen.

A fast paced, emotional adventure.  I was glued to Athan, his bravery and love for his sisters.  He is a brilliant character and I was so proud of him for facing up to Colonel Blade.

At the midway point I was worried, scared, hopeful and needed to read just one more chapter.  Then just one more....and on it went until I was finished.  I love books that keep you hooked until the very end.  My emotions were in tatters but I thoroughly loved this book!

Recommending to my 10 year old.  I think he will enjoy the adventure, thrills and chills held within the pages.


Saturday, 9 February 2019

We Won an Island

Bookpost from Nosy Crow this week.....I have been hearing wonderful things about this debut and they were all right!
Join Luna, Margot and Fabien on an incredible family saving island adventure!

Winning a wonderful and slightly impossible competition brings Luna and her family an unexpected change in lifestyle.  They up their lives in London and move north to a small island off the coast of Scotland.  There are bats in the kitchen, goats roaming wild and enough dust to make dust angels but pulling together makes a big difference and positive changes start happening.

There are some excellent laugh out loud moments that make the front page news and hijinks from all three children.  As in any family, the children are all different and they have amazing personalities.  Margot is very cool and smart, loving airplanes and all things flying! Luna loves animals and donkeys in particular and Fabien, the youngest, is a keen knitter and woolly animal fan!

Mum and Dad somehow go along with the plan to move north and although less keen they soon adapt to a new way of life.  Dad needs more time to get over the loss of his mother but the children are working hard to cheer him up! Dad, a former Glastonbury fan, would love a festival! So that is what the children do in secret! Add in more hijinks, funny moments, and an unshakeable bond between the siblings and you have the perfect remedy for a broken heart.

This is a wonderfully uplifting story and I devoured it this afternoon.
Congratulations Charlotte Lo on a happy, stunning debut.  I feel incredibly lucky to have been sent a copy!

Asha & The Spirit Bird

Asha & The Spirit Bird
Jasbinder Bilan
Published February 2019

I picked this book up last night and within the first page I was hooked.  I couldn’t put it down and therefore needed to stay up late to finish it.  I had tears of joy streaming down my face as I read late into the night.

We meet Asha as she is fondly remembering her father who is away working.  She misses him dearly and is worried about him as the family haven’t heard from him in months.  We meet Asha’s best friend Jeevan, her mother and siblings.  A terrible woman and her henchmen are threatening her family and brave Asha tries to intervene.

Asha shows true bravery at this moment and will draw on this throughout the rest of this adventurous journey.  She learns some hard truths about her family and feels it is her decision to find her father, bring him home and ultimately save her family’s farm.  In the depths of her sadness, a beautiful bird flies into the garden.  It is a lamagaia, and Asha believes it is the spirit animal of her Nanijee.  Asha has been blessed with vivid dreams and connections to the world around her.

Asha has striking green eyes and a local witch tells her she has “been called by the Mountain Gods”.  To find her father she must travel to the most northerly temple in Kasare.  Asha and Jeevan plan their journey and put it into motion.

Danger inevitably follows and Asha is so admirable in her ability to keep going, to protect her friend and to find the path to her father. So much happens to the intrepid duo that you think they will never make it, they won’t find Asha’s father....but Jasbinder Bilan has created such strong characters we grow to love and believe in.

The lamagaia makes appearances throughout the journey and helps Asha to persevere.  Asha’s belief in her spirit bird is unshakable and it helps the friends they meet along the way to see a true path of freedom and happiness.

My heart was in my throat so many times and I had to continue on the journey with Asha.
I love Asha and her bravery, her friendship with Jeevan and the ending is simply glorious.

Buy this book, read it and share it!

A beautiful tale of adventure, friendship and love!

Saturday, 2 February 2019

My January Reads

So it should come as no surprise that I love stationary as much as I love books! Find me a teacher who doesn’t appreciate a new notebook or special pen!

I bought this for myself in December as I wanted a notebook dedicated to my blog and reading habits. 
I knew quite a lot of people who tallied how many books they read through the year and I loved the idea! I started keeping track in December and in all honesty it was hard to do.  I would forget to add a book, misplace my notebook or dither over whether to count picture books.

In the end I have gotten into a routine of keeping my notebook next to my TBR pile so it is within easy reach.  Most of my reading is done at night before I go to sleep. 

I also decided that I am including picture books.  Many of the picture books I read, I am reviewing.  I consider that a more in depth read as I want to convey as much feeling and information about the book.  

In January I have read 21 books.  
12 Chapter books
8 picture books
1 grown up book- The Binding by Bridget Collins.  So different from middle grade fiction but a worthwhile read.  

Try not to focus on the messy handwriting! I have read some brilliant books...many new and ones that  I would highly recommmend.  My top picks from January are...
The Day I was Erased by Lisa Thompson
The Dog who saved the world by Ross Welford
Knights and Bikes by Gabrielle Kent
Hotel Flamingo by Alex Milway
Our castle by the sea by Lucy Strange
The girl with the sharks teeth by Cerrie Burrell
And
Guardians of the Wild Unicorns by Lindsay Littleson

I could not choose just 5! Choosing 7 was a struggle.  
There are so many wonderful books in children’s fiction and I am so grateful that I can spend my time immersed in books! 
Now on to February and I have just started Hazel and Holly: A fantasy Adventure by Sara C Snider. 
I am 6 chapters in and I am lost in the world of witches and warlocks, spells and potions! 



NetGalley

A few years ago I won a kindle.  The basic one but it introduced me to a new way of reading and enjoying books.  As a family we travel quite a bit and it made life easier when having to think about how many books to pack!
I go through phases of using it a lot to actually forgetting I have it.

Saying that, a few months ago on twitter, someone mentioned netgalley.  I hadn’t heard of it before and it peaked my curiosity.  I signed up, checked it out and was immediately thrilled I did.  Since joining I have read 13 not yet published books, and I have 3 more on the go now.  I am loving it!

I have enjoyed Bridget Collin’s bestseller The Binding.  The book is wondrous and is totally enjoyable.  I did miss holding the book and admiring the design of the cover.

I was also able to read Sinead O’Hart’s The Star Spun Web.  This was one of my top picks for 2019.  I know it will be met with fabulous reviews and perhaps a few awards along the way.

Michelle Harrison’s A Pinch of Magic was also made available and I fell in love with the Widdershin sisters and the curse on their family.  Another one to watch for this year! It has amazing reviews already!

There are obviously many more I have read and loved.  I will continue to use my kindle, netgalley and my blog to review these books.  There have been several times when I missed holding, admiring or passing along the book but I seem to be able to get past these moments. It is reading for pleasure after all.

I would be keen to know the opinions of others using netgalley.  Do you like it? Does it make you still want to buy the book upon publication?


Five New Favourites

I have read so many amazing books recently!  My TBR pile is growing daily and I am loving this Golden Age of Children's Fiction. ...