Terrific Teen Reads

So when I started writing this blog four years ago I was mainly reading books for younger readers. As a primary school librarian and mum to a nine and six year old I felt inevitably drawn to books that I could recommend to my own children and the children at my school. Fast forward four years and I now have a teenager so it seems natural that I’m gravitating more to teen reads. The books I’m sharing on the blog today are only suitable for teen (and adult readers) but the thing they all have in common is that they entertained and enthralled me in very different ways.

The Paper and Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie

It was with huge anticipation that I read Lucy Powrie’s debut, ‘The Paper and Hearts Society,’ having heard so much buzz about it on Twitter. The mere mention of a literary road trip and a Jane Austen dance party was enough to convince me that this was a book that teen me would have adored, although I’m pleased to say adult me feels exactly the same way. Tabby is tired of trying to fit in. She would much prefer being at home reading her favourite book then have to face the social awkwardness of going to parties.  But a chance encounter in an library opens up a whole new world where she discovers fellow teens who may just be like her. Can Tabby be brave enough to face her fears and reach out to find her people or will secrets from the past ruin any hope she has of happiness? Lucy has created a thoughtful and insightful debut that speaks to everyone out there who hasn’t yet found their tribe. In a increasingly tricky world dominated by social media, healthy and positive relationships can be hard to come by. While teens are pressed to conform and fit in instead of standing out. Lucy explores what could happen if you embrace your inner weird and just be yourself. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a teen in want of an entertaining, funny and poignant read needs this in their life! This book will make you laugh, cry and smile in so many different ways, for me it’s a real joy of a read.

Kate Mallinder – Summer of No Regrets

Having read, ‘Summer of No Regrets.’ it’s hard to believe that this is Kate Mallinder’s debut novel. It’s incredibly brave to write a story from four different view points and be able to create a cohesive and compelling read but Kate does this brilliantly. The cover alone makes you dream of the summer holidays, endless days filled with sunshine, laughter and time with your friends. After their exams finish, four friends vow to live a summer with no regrets allowing themselves the chance to face their fears and try something new. Hetal will seize the day and go to summer camp. Nell will try to escape the confines of her mother’s desire to wrap her in cotton wool. Sasha will go to stay with her absent father, while Cam tries to find her birth father. With all four girls facing monumental challenges, can they stay true to their pledge to live life to the full? Wonderfully diverse, sensitively written this is the perfect teen summer read. It really is a breath of fresh air. Both me and my teenage daughter devoured it and I would love to see more uplit teen reads where the challenges of everyday life are laid bare for the reader to see. A confident and assured debut from Kate, I think she is a very talented writer and definitely one to watch out for.

The Gifted, The Talented and Me – William Sutcliffe

I genuinely can’t remember the last book that made me laugh out loud as much as William Sutcliffe’s, ‘The Gifted, The Talented and Me.’ Sam’s life is turned upside down when his Dad becomes rich overnight and his mum decides to uproot his whole family to London. Convinced her children’s creativity is being stifled by an ordinary school she enrols them in the North London Academy for the Gifted and the Talented. But Sam unlike his musical brother Ethan and his infinitely expressive sister Freya is just well ordinary. In a normal school being ordinary is fine but at this school, it makes Sam a social pariah. Can Sam find a way to fit in while being himself? I don’t say this lightly but this book is a total genius, it’s outrageously funny and downright clever. William’s ability to write the most brilliant observational comedy is outstanding. There are so many scenes that made me cringe and laugh, my particular favourite being the poetry scene – no spoilers here! He has assembled a magnificent cast of characters who felt so real to me, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Sam and his family. Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, it really stands out from the crowd.

The Quiet At the End of the World – Lauren James

I’m going to let you into a secret, some might say it’s quite shocking. Despite the fact I’m a huge booklover I don’t own that many books. I have a carefully curated collection of books by authors whose work I genuinely love and Lauren James is an essential part of my most loved shelves. Her ability to create stories that are truly incredible never ceases to amaze me and ‘The Quiet At the End of the World,’ is another stellar addition to her repertoire. Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused a global infertility. Enveloped in a small community where they are treasured, their every move is controlled and their freedoms are limited. One day whilst exploring the confines of their restricted life they stumble across a secret that threatens their entire existence. Lauren explores the theme of how we as humans are destroying our world by highlighting the irony that as the population decreases the planet begins to recover from the years of excessive consumption and pollution. This dystopia is frighteningly believable, the reader is so drawn into the story we can feel that these events may unfold in the future it is not beyond the realms of our imagination. Lauren yet again manages to surprise and astound the reader with the most unexpected of revelations which disturb the very foundations of everything you held up to be the truth. A truly compelling and extraordinary story that dazzled me with its brilliance.

Thank you to Bloomsbury, Firefly and Hodder for sending me gifted proof copies in exchange for an honest review. All of the books are available to buy or pre-order online (click on the title) or from any good bookshop.

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We Won An Island – Guest Post Charlotte Lo

Once in a while a book comes along at just the right time and gives you the very thing you need and for me, ‘We Won An Island,’ did just that. Charlotte’s debut novel is a wonderfully uplifting read that filled my heart with joy! Luna’s family is in crisis, her dad is depressed and her family is threatened with her eviction for failing to pay the rents. So when she spots a competition from a benevolent billionaire to win his island, she thinks this is the perfect way to save her family. But winning the competition is not the instant solution she thinks it will be. Island life turns out to have it’s own challenges and things don’t go exactly to plan. Cue one secret festival which is bound to win over the locals and help bring dad out of the depths of his grief. I loved the wildness and freedom of island life that was reminiscent of stories I adored growing up. You can’t help but get attached to Luna and her family and are cheering from the side lines desperately hoping for a happy ending. Charlotte deftly mixes humour and heart in this fun-filled and thoughtful tale.

I am thrilled to have Charlotte on the blog today with a special guest post on what she would do if she won her own island.

What I’d do if I won my own island  – Charlotte Lo

(1)

The first thing I’d do is ship a flock of chickens to the island. I am completely obsessed with them. While most people are either a dog or cat person, I’m a chicken one. Such is my love for them that I’ve even been known to watch chicken agility videos on Youtube.

My grandparents owned a small holding when I was growing-up, and I used to take eggs home after visits, and try to hatch them in the airing cupboard. I do not recommend trying this, because not only does it not work, but the eggs will invariably get broken, and your socks will smell of rotten yolks for weeks.

Our garden isn’t particularly chicken friendly at the moment, so despite having convinced by husband to build a chicken palace in anticipation of their eventual arrival, my chicken fancying is still the stuff of dreams. If I had my own island though… well, anyone within a 50 mile radius (on land or sea) would never be short of eggs.

(2)

I would learn to surf. People who surf always look so cool, like they spend their entire lives at the beach, eating shrimp burgers, and having perfectly immobile hair despite the sea breeze. I want to be like that! Although, I am thoroughly aware that I am the epitome of uncool. One of my hobbies is reinventing slang words to annoy my husband, like changing “street” to “cul-de-sac”. The bigger his cringe, the more points I get.

I am also incredibly bad at most types of sport, apart from swimming. I once tried snowboarding, and went down the nursery slope sideways, before crashing in a plume of snow and people. Still, perhaps surfboarding would be different. I did yoga for a week once, so that’s bound to give me an advantage with the balancing.

(3)

The next thing I’d do is buy a karaoke machine, and sing Celine Dion songs until the early hours of the morning. Technically I could do this now, but would probably be arrested for anti-social behaviour and given an ASBO.

I love singing, but I’m too self-conscious / considerate to do it in public, so an island would be perfect. I could dance around with a microphone, pretending to be one of the guest acts on The X-Factor, but with only the seals and gulls to judge.

(4)

Another thing I’d do is hold a children’s book festival, mostly so I could meet all my favourite writers and fan girl after them (and, being on an island, they’d have no means of escape until they’d signed my towering book collection, poor things). I would possibly combine it with a food festival, because I’m not sure there’s anything better than a beach full of authors and burritos.

(5)

The final thing I’d do is is instate an official island siesta between the hour of 12pm – 1pm. During that time it would be illegal for anyone to wake me up to demand cake, or ask me to fast-forward the boring bits of The Teletubbies, or help fish toys out of the dehumidifier. I would spend most of this siesta in a hammock, which would be strung on the beach, so I could watch the ships go by with one eye (I am incredibly nosy – people watching is one of my favourite hobbies) while my other eye sleeps. On particularly coffee-heavy days I would read instead, or jot ideas down in one of my many pretty notebooks (which would have had to arrive on their own boat given the vastness of their number).

So, there you have it: my island would consist of 200 pet chickens, Celine Dion karaoke, surfing authors, burritos, and regimented siestas on hammocks.

 

Thanks to Charlotte for this really insightful guest post, I love the idea of the book festival and I would happily volunteer my services as chief author looker after and food taster of course. ‘We Won An Island,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop. If you want a sneak peek or would like to listen to the first chapter of the audio books, why not head over to the Nosy Crow website.

Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day – Dominique Valente, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

From the moment Dominque Valente’s debut children’s novel, ‘Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day,’ landed on my doorstep I had a feeling that this book was going to be something special and I’m pleased to say my instincts were spot on. I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous cover illustrated by Sarah Warburton, promising a truly delicious read, bursting with magic and wonder. I’ve always been a fan of books with witches so was intrigued to see how ‘Starfell,’ would bring an unique twist to the magic genre and it has truly delivered an intriguing and original concept. Willow Moss is the youngest and least powerful witch in her family, the power to find lost socks, missing teeth and misplaced glasses is not very exciting. Not only that, Willow failed to inherit her mother’s striking looks – unlike her sisters –  feeling like a general disappointment to her family, she’s constantly left behind.  But this seemingly dull power to find things that are lost becomes crucial when Tuesday disappears and Willow is sought out by the most powerful and intimidating witch in the whole of Starfell. Can Willow find the lost day and save Starfell from impending catastrophe?

Dominque has conjured up the most glorious of places in Starfell, through the most exquisite and intricate world-building. I felt an immediate connection to the misfit Willow who feels lost and unloved except by her somewhat eccentric and confused Granny Flossy. Her willingness to step into the unknown with Moreg Vaine in the face of confusion and uncertainty is admirable. At last Willow is being given the chance to prove she is as worthy as the rest of her family. It shows the reader the transformative power of someone having belief in your abilities and how it can give you the courage to face the world. The characterisation in this story is just sublime, Dominque has assembled the most magnificent cast of characters. I have a particular fondness for Oswin the cantankerous kobld – who is most definitely not a cat, despite the canny resemblance. Just when you think this book can’t get any better, enter Sarah Warburton with the most dreamy, beautiful illustrations and fabulous imaginings of the characters. I’ve long been a fan of her brilliant ability to capture the essence of someone’s personality in her creations. ‘Starfell,’ is magical storytelling at it’s very best. An enchanting start to this wonderful series, I can’t wait to go on more adventures with Willow.

Thank you to Laura and Harper Collins for sending me a gifted copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ‘Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day,’ is available to buy online now or from any good bookshop.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria – Catherine Bruton

Today I am delighted to welcome Catherine Bruton to the blog to talk about the books that inspired her to write the remarkable, ‘No Ballet Shoes in Syria.’ I was incredibly touched by the story of eleven year old Aya who has fled from the war in Syria to seek asylum in England. Ava is doing what no eleven year old should ever have to do, she is holding her family together. Her mother is drowning in grief and is unable to speak English, so the burden of looking after her younger brother and trying to deal with the authorities falls to her. It would be almost unbearable to read a story that is so desperately sad but Catherine shows the reader that inside Aya is more than what others see her to be. She may be viewed as an asylum seeker but in her heart she’s a dancer and a chance encounter with a local ballet teacher changes her life forever. Hauntingly sad but ultimately hopeful this is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. I cried, I laughed and smiled my way through this extraordinary story which needs to be in every school. Wonderfully empathetic and incredibly inspiring, I felt emotionally wrung out by this moving story. A complete triumph in every way.

Books that Inspired Me – Catherine Bruton

In No Ballet Shoes in Syria I tell the story of 11 year old Aya who has just arrived in Britain with her mum and baby brother, seeking asylum from war in Syria. When Aya stumbles across a local ballet class, the formidable dance teacher Miss Helena spots her exceptional talent and believes Aya has the potential to earn a prestigious ballet scholarship. But at the same time Aya and her family must fight to remain in the country, to make a home for themselves and to find Aya’s father – separated from the rest of the family during the perilous journey from Syria.

Here are the books that inspired me to tell Ayas’s tale!

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr

As I watched the migrant crisis unfolding on the news, I knew immediately that it was something that I wanted – needed – to write about. And when I heard Judith Kerr talking about the parallels between her experiences of fleeing the Nazis, and the Syrian migrant crisis, I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment. I would write a story about a young girl and her family fleeing the war in Syria, escaping across Europe, seeking asylum in the UK – a story that was a modern version of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – a book which I had adored as a child – a story that would make young readers look beyond the labels of ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum’ seeker and see the child behind.

The Silver Sword – Ian Serrailler

This was the other book that was in my mind as I conceived the idea for No Ballet Shoes in Syria. This classic tale of children journeying through war-torn Europe towards Switzerland where they believe they will be reunited with their parents had a profound effect on me as a young reader, offering a remarkable insight into the reality of Europe laid waste by war. It’s not a story that shies away from difficult truths, but it is irradiated by hope, by small acts of kindness – something which I really tried to capture in No Ballet Shoes in Syria too.

Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild

Very early on I decided I didn’t want Aya to be defined solely by her experiences as a refugee. I wanted readers to see her as just a young girl, with hopes and dreams, friendships and favourite teachers and hobbies, just like they have. I wasn’t sure how to do it until a fan of my Cate Shearwater Somersaults and Dreams gymnastic books asked me if I was ever going to write a book about ballet. When I told her I was writing a refugee story she replied, ‘Don’t refugees do ballet?’ This was such an important question that lies at the heart of the story I tried to tell. I simply adored Noel Streatfield’s ‘Shoes’ books when I was younger, as well as Lorna Hill’s Sadler’s Wells series (I swear I know them all off by heart!) and the Drina Ballerina books by Jean Estoril, and I hope that No Ballet Shoes in Syria will be to young readers what those classic tales were to me – stories of following your dreams that I read over and over and which I still love today. I also hope that if a young reader like Aya picked up the book, she would see herself depicted not as a victim but as a heroine – not a war child but a beautiful ballerina!

The Swish of the Curtain – Pamela Brown

When she joins Miss Helena’s dance school, Aya befriends a young girl called Dotty, daughter of famous ballerina Bronte Buchanan who dreams of performing on stage in the West End, rather than in Covent Garden. It is Dotty who comes up with the idea of putting on a show to raise money for the Refugee Centre, and I had The Swish of the Curtain (another childhood favourite) along with Helen Peter’s The Secret Hen House Theatre (one of the most wonderful books my daughter and I had the pleasure of reading together) in the back of my mind as I wrote these bits. Classic stories that live long in the heart and the imagination and which I hope my story can live up to.

The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

This is going to seem a little obscure, but I was teaching Wharton’s 1920 Pulitzer prize winning classic to my lovely A Level class when I was writing the end of No Ballet Shoes in Syria and it is her beautifully delicately balanced ending that I attempted to emulate. I didn’t want ‘happy ever after’, because that would trivialise the issues I was writing about, but nor did I want the finale to be totally bleak. I wanted an ending that offered hope at the same time as breaking my readers’ hearts. Newland Archer sitting on a bench outside Ellen Olenska’s Paris apartment, not going up, but knowing that the memory of her is enough – it breaks my heart and makes me sob every time. And that was what I wanted to achieve too. I guess you’ll have to read it and decide if I succeed…

Thank you to Catherine for her hugely insightful blog post, it’s really interesting to see how writers can be influenced by the books they surround themselves with.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and special guest posts.

Thank you to Clare and Nosy Crow for sending me a gifted copy of the book in exchange for a review and for inviting me to join in the blog tour. ‘No Ballet Shoes in Syria,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Barnes Children’s Literature Festival

As a child I was such an avid reader and my dream was to meet some of my favourite authors but this sadly never came to pass. However as a grown up (I use this in the most loosest of ways) I have had the privilege of meeting some amazing authors of books I love when they have visited my schools. Sadly not all schools have the resources to host author visits, so thank goodness for brilliant festivals like the Barnes Children’s Literature Festival exist. The festival is back for it’s fifth year and opens on Wednesday 8 May with their Education Programme, three days of specially curated, curriculum-linked sessions which they provide free to pupils in all state primary schools in London. This year 4,500 children will have the opportunity to engage with their favourite authors and illustrators including a rare schools’ performance by Britain’s best loved poet, Roger McGough, Paralympian, television presenter and author, Ade Adepitan and the BookTrust Writer in Residence Nadia Shireen.

If you’re thinking my children won’t get this opportunity to meet authors as we don’t live in London then I’m here with some brilliant news. On the 11th and 12th May London’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival opens to the public in  Barnes. Attracting some of the UK’s best authors and illustrators for a fun-filled weekend for children of all ages.  Led by UK Laureate Lauren Child and master story tellers Judith Kerr, Michael Rosen, David Almond, Frank Cottrell Boyce and Francesca Simon, this year’s programme looks better than ever.

Tickets are available to book online now for events featuring the brilliant Emma Carroll, Lauren Child Candy Gourlay, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Tom Palmer, Paula Harrison and many many more. There is so much to choose from, you are bound to find an event that you will really enjoy.

Barnes also provides dedicated programming for families with children with special and extra needs including inclusive storytelling with Rose Robbins and Vanessa Woolf and yoga-telling sessions.

To find out more about Barnes Children’s Literature Festival head to the website:

www.barneskidslitfest.org/

Runaway Robot – Frank Cottrell-Boyce, illustrated by Steven Lenton

You know you’re in for a treat when a new Frank Cottrell-Boyce lands on your doorstep. ‘Runaway Robot,’ is a quirky heart-felt adventure that brilliantly combines humour and heart. Since Alfie had his accident, where he lost both his hand and his confidence, he’s been hiding away at the Limb Lab. Trying to come to terms with his new prosthetic hand is difficult and he fails miserably to fit in. Unlike the other children he can’t get his new prosthetic  to work and he can’t return to his real school until he does. Stuck in a weird limbo he decides to skip school and visit the airport and soon discovers something strange lurking in the lost property, Eric. Eric is six foot six, likes to sing, is super polite, oh and just happens to be a one legged-robot. Striking up an unlikely friendship they cause chaos and carnage wherever they go. But Eric has a mission and he won’t let anything get in his way, can Alfie find a way to help him and himself unlock the secrets in their pasts?

I was totally swept away by this madcap adventure, laughing and cringing in equal measures as Alfie and Eric lurched from one catastrophe to another. Frank’s imagining of this futuristic world where pizza ovens  deliver your pizza and driverless buses is really brilliant. Strangely it feels like you could touch it, it’s so close and yet in my mind it still feels like a lifetime away. For me that made the story feel more real and added to the warmth I felt about this compelling tale. The characterisation is genuinely brilliant and wonderfully diverse. I particularly loved the brittle Shatter who initially terrifies Alfie but in the end is there for him when it matters the most. Steven Lenton’s illustrations are a joy to behold, he captures the heart and the humour of this story magnificently. Underlying this humorous story you feel that something is not quite right and Alfie feels it too as he struggles to remember the accident that changed his life forever. I was completely surprised at the twists and turns that this story delivered and it left me with a huge smile on my face and a warm glow inside. 

Thank you to Amber and Macmillan for sending me a gifted copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ‘Runaway Robot,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.

Perfect Picture Books for Reading Aloud

I spend a lot of time reading picture books. In particular reading picture books aloud to children during their library storytime sessions. So I’m always looking out for picture books that not only make a great read aloud book (for me that is totally different than a picture book to share) and one that is visually appealing and will engage and entertain a room full of excited children. Today I’m sharing with you some tried and tested new picture book releases that I’ve enjoyed sharing with the children at school.

I Don’t Want To Be Small – Laura Ellen Anderson

I adored Laura Ellen Anderson’s fabulous, ‘I Don’t Want Curly Hair,’ so was thrilled to get my hands on an early copy of her latest picture book which follows similar themes of learning to embrace your uniqueness. As someone who has always been quite challenged in the height department I can empathise strongly with the little boy who is desperate to be taller. He’s so small he misses out when his friends go on the big rides at the funfair and his live is one disappointment after another. In a ginormous rage the little boy throws his teddy into the hair and catastrophe strikes when it gets stuck in a tree. How can he ever hope to get it down? Will eating all his greens make him grow or if he waters himself like a flower? Sadly nothing works. But when he meets a girl who is much taller than him, he soon realises that he is perfect just the way he is! Energetic illustrations combined with lovely lilting rhymes make for a truly irresistible picture book.

Mighty Min – Melissa Castrillõn

I was intrigued to read the picture book debut from Melissa having admired her exquisite and unique illustrations. She has created some of the most stunning covers including, ‘The House With Chicken Legs,’ ‘Winter Magic,’ and a ‘Pinch of Magic.’ So to have the opportunity to have a whole picture book filled with her sumptuous spreads proved to be a huge draw. ‘Mighty Min,’ is much more than a beautifully designed and intricately illustrated joy. Melissa has created a truly wonderful story in this feminist retelling of Thumbelina. Min is surrounded by her brave but incredibly tiny aunts and dreams that one day she will be as fierce and feisty as them. One night an owl whisks her away on an extraordinary adventure and when Min is faced with cries of help from the tormented creatures of the forest, she realises it’s up to her to save the day. An empowering and engaging read that is bound to delight younger readers. Quirky, original and downright gorgeous this is a true picture book sensation that I absolutely loved.

I Am A Tiger – Karl Newson & Ross Collins

You know the test of a great funny story when you read it over and over again and are still laughing along every time. Having shared this story seven times at school I can confirm that is a hilarious picture book that continues to entertain and amuse me in equal measure. The mouse in ‘I Am a Tiger,’ is convinced he’s a tiger much to the amusement of the other animals who mock him for not being big, stripy or fierce enough. But our friend the mouse is adamant that he is a tiger even when he comes face to face with a real tiger. My absolute favourite spread is when the tiger asks the mouse to tell him what type of animals the others are and this is pure comedy genius. This story was met by fits of giggles throughout as the children gleefully interacted with my reading aloud of the book. Ross Collins’s witty and vibrant illustrations capture brilliant the sheer absurdness of this entire conversation and the bemused expressions of the animals are an absolute joy. So much fun to read aloud, this joins my special collection of books that I adore reading aloud with fun and laughter being guaranteed.

The One-Stop Story Shop – Tracey Corderoy & Tony Neal

I always know if I want to capture the attention of children that a picture book written by Tracey Corderoy is bound to be a winner and ‘The One-Stop Story Shop,’ is no exception. When a fearless knight goes hunting for a dragon to slay he is dismayed to discover that his sworn enemy has gone on holiday. What can he do his story is stuck? Best head to The One-Stop Story Shop to help finish his tale but instead of a dragon he’s offered a fearsome ferret and he soon finds himself swept away on a most unexpected of adventure. We travel from the deep dark woods to deep space, from wild west to the wild jungle on a thrilling an exciting search for an ending to the Knight’s quest. A real romp for the imagination, you can’t help but get swept away on this unlikely ride. Tony Neal’s illustrations capture the hilariousness and unexpectedness of this story magnificently. Bursting with colour and energy they demand to be pored over time and time again. A hilarious and fun tale filled with heart and featuring an unlikely but charming friendship, this story is a sheer delight.

Squishy Mc Fluff: Tea With the Queen – Pip Jones & Ella Okstad

It’s hard to believe that Squishy McFluff is five years old and now for the first time we have a gorgeous picture book to join this scrumptious collection of books. There were gasps of excitement when I shared, ‘Tea With the Queen,’ at storytime as we have a legion of Squishy fans at school. This story just slips off the tongue with its beautiful lilting rhymes as we watch Squishy and Ava get themselves into a whole heap of mischief. Pip manages to capture all the fun and charm of the chapter book series in this naughty but nice adventure. When reading aloud I really recommend that you deny that you can spy Squishy on the page, this led to much noise and fun when I was reading it! Ella’s glorious illustrations – for the first time in full colour –  are full of humour and the characters are drawn with such endearing expression that you can’t help but become totally entranced by these stories. Bursting with energy and charm, this is an absolute gem of a read.

A Mouse Called Julian – Joe Todd- Stanton

Sometimes we need time to be alone, a place where we can hide away and avoid others. For Julian the mouse this is his way of life. Preferring his own company he carefully follows a set pattern to keep himself safe from harm and interaction with others. Alas one day an unexpected dinner guest in the form of a greedy fox comes smack bang into Julian’s life disturbing his peace and quiet. Julian is alarmed to discover the fox is wedged in his hole and he can’t get him free. Slowly but surely these two enemies began to rub along and what they learn on the way surprises them both.  Joe Todd-Stanton’s illustrations are wonderfully distinctive, he captures the subtle nuances of the story with his varying shades of darkness and light. A heart-warming tale of friendship and acceptance, ‘A Mouse Called Julian,’ is thoughtfully told.

 

Thank you to Bloomsbury, Faber, Flying Eye Books, Little Tiger Press, Macmillan and Scholastic for sending me gifted copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. To buy these books online click on the title or order from any good bookshop.