Monthly Archives: November 2015

Socks for Santa – Adam & Charlotte Guillain Lee Wildish

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‘Socks For Santa’ by Adam & Charlotte Guillain is the fifth book in the ‘George’s Amazing Adventure’ series and this time we are treated to a lovely Christmas tale. We follow George as he embarks on an expedition to the North Pole as he has decided to find Santa and give him some presents for a change. Lee Wildish creates this truly magical festive world with incredibly detailed and stunning illustrations which will delight children and keep them engrossed in this fantastic story.

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George builds himself a sleigh and packs up the presents (and some spare woolly sock just in case) and sets off to find Santa. He gets distracted on his way by polar bears, snowball fights and making snow angels but after hitching a ride on a polar bear he soon arrives at the North Pole. Alas when he arrives at Santa’s Workshop he finds all sorts of mayhem taking place. The elves haven’t finished wrapping the presents, Rudolph has got a cold and his nose won’t glow so it’s up to George to help them get organised and save Christmas.

 

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After George has helped wrap presents and found a torch for Rudolph he finally gets to meet Santa. Too late he realises that all of his presents have gone and he decides he should  go home and is filled with despair. Aaarrgghh but then more disaster strikes as Santa discovers he has a holey sock, how can he go on a long journey to deliver all the presents surely his foot will freeze. Then George has a brilliant idea he knows just what the perfect present for Santa will be after all and he manages to save the day once again.

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This is a perfect book for reading aloud the rhyme whisks you along on the adventure whilst the sublime illustrations draw you into this festive, sparkly and wintery world. It’s an entertaining and funny read that takes you on a truly magical adventure.

A big thank you to Egmont for sending me this lovely book to review it will be a fantastic addition to my Christmas storytime collection.

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Welcome back Mog – Mog’s Christmas Calamity Judith Kerr

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When I heard Mog was coming back it was like all my Christmas wishes were coming true. I absolutely adore Mog as do both my girls. Sharing Mog stories has been a huge part of their growing up and I have lots of special memories of storytimes laughing at the mischief that she was managing to find herself in yet again. It was such a delight to sit down and share the new book ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ which Judith Kerr has created especially to support the work of Save the Children.

It’s Christmas Eve and the Thomas family is fast asleep including Mog. She is having an incredibly vivid dream about her favourite food eggs which are up in the sky. She leaps to catch the egg but is attacked by birds which wakes her up in a fright and in true Mog fashion she unknowingly gets caught up in the disaster which is about to unfold.

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Mog manages to get tinsel tangled in her tail and when she tries to shake it off she sets the house on fire. Not realising what she has done she leaps out the cat flap desperately trying to run away from this annoyance not realising that it is caught up in her tail . Just when she thinks it can’t get worse Mog hears this horrible noise and runs back home not realising it’s a fire engine. The fireman think that she is leading them to the fire and when the Thomas family are rescued Mog is mistakenly hailed as a  hero.

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The initial joy at realising everyone has escaped safely turns into dismay when they realise that their Christmas has been ruined and all of the Thomas family are feeling very sad, especially Mog. But wait what can  Nicky spot through the window? All of their neighbours are coming to help them clear up the mess and to share their Christmas with the Thomas family.  This book beautifully sums up the importance of sharing at Christmas and helping those who are in need. It’s a truly heart warming story and I was totally entranced with the gorgeous illustrations which I have grown up with reading. It is a perfect addition to our Christmas picture book collection and one which we will enjoy sharing for many years to come.

Judith Kerr, HarperCollins and Sainsbury’s will donate all of their profits from the sale of this book and at least £2 will go to supporting Save the Children’s work on improving child literacy in the UK including supporting the work of the fantastic ‘Read On. Get On.’ campaign. To find out more about the work Save the Children are doing to help improve literacy go to:

http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/christmas/sainsburys-mog-reading

A total festive delight – The Little Christmas Tree

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‘The LIttle Christmas Tree’ is one of the most beautiful Christmas books I have ever seen , a book that turns into a Christmas tree has got to be a true festive delight. This gorgeous interactive pop-up has been created by Corina Fletcher and is a true interactive experience for children it comes  with press-out decorations so that they can decorate the tree themselves. It also has play pieces, including characters from the story so that children can re-enact the story something which both my girls really enjoy doing.

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This heart-warming story is beautifully illustrated and told by Vicki Gausden and Rachel Elliot. It’s Christmas Eve and the village children have decorated all the trees in Emerald Wood with shiny baubles and little lanterns. But one tree has been forgotten! The woodland animals start to gather up decorations for their homes and spot the tree looking sad and bare so they decide to share their pine cones, berries and snowdrops to create the most beautiful tree in the forest.

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Then who should appear but Father Christmas! He has some very special presents for all the animals in the forest for remembering that everyone deserves a truly magical Christmas. This book would make a perfect Christmas gift the cover is so sparkly and glittery the child is immediately enchanted, The illustrations are stunning and vivid and will capture a child’s imagination. I love that this story acts as a reminder to children about the importance of sharing and being kind to others.

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A big thank you to Egmont for sending me this fantastic book to review it has been a true festive highlight.

Nixie Wonky Winter Wonderland – Cas Lester & Ali Pye

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‘Nixie Wonky Winter Wonderland’ by Cas Lester with illustrations by Ali Pye is a glorious wintery read. It is the second in the series about Nixie the bad, bad fairy. I really love highly illustrated books and this is no exception you cannot fail to be enchanted by the endearingly naughty Nixie who just wants to have fun. With her clompy boots, holey tights and a wonky wand you know that Nixie is not going to be like any other fairy you will have met before.

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In ‘Wonky Winter Wonderland’ Nixie wakes up one morning to find she is surrounded by snow. The Winter Fairies have been busy scattering frost on houses, hanging icicles on trees and covering the whole of Fairyland in a deep blanket of snow. It is the day of the Midwinter Midnight Feast and Nixie must collect holly berries for the Fairy Godmother but all she can think of is sledging, skating and most importantly and snowball fights. She knows that everyone one is busy getting ready for the party but surely nobody can resist a SNOWBALL BATTLE.

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Throughout the story we keep finding Nixie getting herself into lots of trouble partly due to her wonky wand but a lot to do with her mischievous personality. She does try hard not to be tempted but sometimes these things do happen by accident (ally-on-purpose) and her least favourite fairy Adorabella always seems to be there to witness or be subjected to  her mishaps. Known as ‘Adora-smella’  she is annoyingly perfect and is constantly trying to get Nixie into trouble with the Fairy Godmother Tabitha Quicksilver. With Nixie forever getting herself into scrapes nobody trust her to do the right thing. But when she finds out her friend Fidget is in trouble she is determined to prove that she can be a useful fairy even is she’s not sure just how she will be able to do it!

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Ali Pye captures the spirit of Nixie and this winter wonderland fantastically in her sublime illustrations, which truly are a joy to look at. The book is a total delight to read with each page covered in magic and snowflakes which gives the book a real wintery feel. It makes you want to curl up on the sofa and read it with a steaming mug of hot chocolate covered in marshmallows. It is a delightful story full of fun, mischief and a sense of humour which will massively appeal to children.

At the end of the book it also includes cooking and craft activities perfect to do over the winter holidays From snow covered gingerbread trees to swirly snowstorms in a bottle I can imagine my girls loving  making these.

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Thank you to Oxford University Press for sending me this book to review I look forward to more mischief from Nixie in ‘Splashy, Summer, Swim’ due for release next summer.

Cas Lester has just added this lovely craft activities to her website snowflakes and fairy doors, follow the link to find out more:

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http://www.caslester.com/nixie-make-and-do.html

The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean – Lindsay Littleson

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‘The Mixed-Up Summer Of Lily McLean’ is the debut novel from Linday Littleson. It  tells the tale of Lily who is coming to the end of her final year at Primary School and is getting ready for her summer of freedom. In some ways she feels she is going to have the best summer ever having a holiday away from her  dysfunctional family but this is tainted by the fact she keeps hearing a voice. Lily is trying desperately to work out just what is going on. Is she being haunted or is she going crazy, all she knows for sure is that it’s driving her to distraction.

The story opens with a feeling of chaos as Lily and her family have been forced to move to a smaller house to escape an alcoholic step-father. Lily is struggling to maintain her sanity in a house with a hormonal and volatile teenager Jenna, her two younger brothers Bronx and Hudson and her baby sister Summer. She is forced to seek sanctuary in the cupboard under the stairs but even there she can’t hide from this voice who appears to be warning her.  Having the chance to get away from her family and spend a week away with her Gran seems like bliss but if only Lily could work out who this voice is and what it wants with her she might just be able to enjoy herself.

While I was compelled to read this book quickly to find the truth behind the voice I also enjoyed the fact that the book tackles lots of different issues that children may be facing. Despite Lily not fitting in with the popular crowd she still had strong friendships which offers reassurance to those who may be feel the same. The story has lots of humorous moments like Lily’s  Mum giving her ‘the talk’ on the train in front of everyone, which I’m sure anyone who reads it will totally sympathise with her.

This books is a real mix of funny, sad and poignant moments and to me it feels real and genuine which enables the reader to really empathise with Lily. It captures perfectly that time of innocence where children can still enjoy picnics and bike rides without having succumbed to too many pressures of growing up. You can feel that Lily is on the verge of being confronted by the inevitable changes but for now she can enjoy this time in her life. This is definitely an enjoyable read and I can see it having real appeal in my school library. I would definitely recommend it as the ideal book for children facing this transition from primary to secondary school.

A big thank you to Lindsay Littleson for sending me a copy to review.

Feeling Festive – A Letter For Bear David Lucas

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‘A Letter For Bear’ by David Lucas is another gem from Flying Eye Books. It is the perfect tale to get you in the mood for the festive season. From the moment you open the book you are transported to a winter wonderland of deep snow, icy blue skies and falling snowflakes. It makes you want to wrap yourself up in an blanket and snuggle with your loved ones to enjoy this beautiful tale.

Bear is the postman who delivers the mail every day but lives a lonely existence. Nobody seems to notice him and he returns at the end of each day to his cave wondering what it would be like to receive an actual letter himself.

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However one fateful day a gust of wind blows all of his letters into the air and all the addresses get smudged meaning Bear has to knock on all the doors so he can deliver the mail. He soon meets all the creatures who live there but seeing all the families together makes Bear feel even more lonely.

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He trudges back to his empty cave feeling sadder than ever before. Suddenly Bear has a really good idea, he should have a Christmas party and invite everyone then perhaps he won’t feel so lonely. After writing a ‘snowstorm’ of letters Bear starts to plan his party. He decorates his cave and sits and waits patiently hoping that someone will come along.

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This is such a heart warming festive tale which is beautifully told and magically illustrated. It is a gentle reminder to children when you are struggling to get them to write their Christmas cards and thank you letters, the sheer joy that you can get from opening a letter. I love the attention to details on every page and there is so much for a child to look at and enjoy. The colours throughout the tale manage to perfectly capture the mood from icy blue at the beginning, to gradually warming up with pinks, reds and oranges as Bear opens himself up to the possibility of friendship.

One of my favourite pages is in the endpapers which highlights all the different wintery creatures in the forest who Bear meets on his travels. It is details like this which make this book a thing of beauty which you will want to own.

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A big thank you to Flying Eye Books for sending me a copy of this gorgeous book to review.

Fabulous Fact Books from Red Shed – National Non-Fiction Month

I am so excited to share with you two gorgeous non-fiction books which are guaranteed to keep children entertained and informed. ‘ The Adventures of Water’ and ‘100 Facts Around Town’  both explore facts in an engaging and interactive way. They allow the reader to learn lots of interesting information whilst exploring these books and get  lost in their glorious illustrations.

The Adventures of Water

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‘The Adventures of Water’ by Malcom Rose and Sean Sims takes you on a journey of discovery about where water comes from and why we need it. Helping a child to drip, drop and splash their way through the water cycle they will be desperate to share with you all these fun facts. When my daughters read it there were lots of conversations that started with, ‘Mummy did you know……’. It opens with the astounding fact that there is enough water in the world to fill 550 million million Olympic-size swimming pools which truly makes your mind boggle.

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The impact of water in our lives is explained on each page and the interactive format of allowing the child  to open flaps, pull tabs, turn wheels and open pop-ups puts them at the heart of the learning offers a real hands on approach.

We see how water goes ‘into the body and out again’. My girls found this page hilarious and gruesome at the same time and it was the starting point for lots of interesting conversations in our house.

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It also looks at how water makes its journey from the ‘Sky to Earth’ and provides answers to those questions which children often ask but I honestly struggle to answer without resulting to the internet, such as ‘Why are rain clouds dark?’

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There was a real sense of wow and enjoyment when we shared this book from the sublime pop-ups which are beautifully crafted, to the real wealth of information we learned. It offers a really fascinating insight into the world of water presented in a truly stunning format.

100 Facts Around Town

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‘100 Facts Around Town’ by Clive Gifford and Brendan Kearney is the first in a new series that will make children see their world in a different way. With pages devoted to different areas of urban life you will find lots of fascinating, funny and downright bizarre behind-the scenes facts.

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 Did you know that:

there are 6 million skeletons buried in tunnels beneath the city of Paris? Creepy!

the most people to have ridden a motorbike at one time is 54? Impressive!

the world’s fastest lift travels 80 floors in just 37 seconds? Stomach-churning!

As you pour over the incredibly detailed and vibrant illustrations you can open the flaps to discover hidden histories, gob-smacking records and inspiring inventions. Each of the scenes is full of day to day life of people scurrying here and there which provides endless opportunities for discussion. There is also a ‘can you spo’t feature on every page which my girls loved. They have a slight obsession for  finding things hidden in books and this just made the whole experience more enjoyable.

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It is a brilliant tool for unlocking children’s imaginations so they can take a look at their own surroundings to try and find out what hidden secrets or weird and wonderful things are happening all around them every day. The next book in the series ‘100 Facts on Holiday’ is due to be published in Summer 2016 which is bound to keep children amused over the long summer holidays.

A big thank you to Egmont Publishing for sending me these gorgeous fact books from Red Shed to review they have provided hours of interaction and enjoyment for both my girls.

A sneak peek The Shadow Keeper – Abi Elphinstone

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I was ridiculously excited to receive this fantastic book post from the lovely Abi Elphinstone a book proof of her second book ‘The Shadow Keeper’ which immediately jumped to the top of my to read pile. It even contained a message in a teeny tiny bottle which had a code you needed to solve! The book isn’t due to be published until February 2016 but I enjoyed it so much I just had to share it with you in anticipation of its release. Please be reassured this review contains no spoilers but I just had to share with you the sheer joy I felt upon reading this book.

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When you read a book by an author you’ve met it kind of takes on a whole new meaning. You see it as an extension of them, something that they have poured their soul and all their creativeness into and that makes you appreciate it so much more. In the case of this brilliant sequel ‘The Shadow Keeper’ by Abi Elphinstone, every page you read feels more real because I know from listening to Abi’s tales that she has actually climbed down caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites, jumped off mountains and flown like a bird and swum in lakes which convinces me that what I’m actually reading is real.

It’s really difficult to write a review about a book you truly love? Will you be able to put into words how you felt when reading it? How will you convey the sheer grip the book has on you so that you want to read on, but at the same time you want to stop because you can’t bear it to end. What can you do to convince the reader that they will be so drawn into this adventure that they have to read it.  You know they will have a physical reaction to it because it is so tense and dramatic and they will get totally caught up in this magical world but how do you convey this. In other words how is it possible for me to tell you just how brilliant this book is without giving anyway too many details and believe me  there are so many twists and turns in the story and heart stopping moments that it’s almost impossible to resist sharing. But I promise I will resist!!!

‘The Shadow Keeper’ begins where ‘The Dreamsnatcher’ ended. Forced out of Tanglefern Forest Moll and her tribe seek new refuge hiding in a cave from the Shadowmasks who are trying to destroy her and stop her finding the second amulet which contains her mother’s soul. Locating the story by the sea influences the whole feel of the book, the dynamics have shifted and you can sense that things are changing. The language that Abi uses to describe the surroundings clearly show how much she loves writing in this setting, it manages to evoke these vivid images of this dramatic landscape and you can almost hear the sea crashing against the rocks,

Throughout the story there is a sense that  the old magic is stirring and changes are ahead, we are introduced to more magical elements which totally entranced me. Like ‘The Dreamsnatcher’ the story moves at a fast pace but the tension seems to build much quicker and having already become attached to our characters in the first books you find yourself more emotionally involved with the events that are unfolding. The relationships between Moll, Gryff, Siddy and Alfie continue to be at the heart of the story, their bonds become much tighter as they are tested to their limits and are forced to make unbearable decisions. We see their vunerability and their compassion in how they deal with others despite battling the deadly Ashtongue and Darkebite. Even in their darkest hours their humanity shines through and gives us a sense of hope for the future. Our tribe has learned to trust and to love and have forged friendships that nothing can break.

With dastardly smugglers, sinister villians and magical beings Abi keeps the reader captivated throughout. It manages to weave a spell over you so that you get lost in the words and the lives of the characters. As the story draws to a close we wonder what the future will hold for our tribe but you feel certain that there are many more battles for them to fight before the old magic can be fully restored.

A huge thank you to Abi for sending me a copy to review it has been a total pleasure to read.

 

 

Glorious Picture Books – Keith Negley Yasmeen Ismail

I am a huge fan of picture books that offer a more realistic approach of what it is like to be a child and allows them to understand it’s fine to be different and that you should enjoy being who you are. In these two glorious books I am going to share with you they offer a unique way of allowing children to be themselves and expressing their true feelings. Parents often ask me why they can’t find books where  girls don’t have to be princesses and boys don’t always have to be strong and brave. Having shared these books with parents they were delighted to find that yes these books do indeed exist.

The first book is the magnificent ‘Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley published by Flying Eye Books.

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On opening this book the first thing I was struck by was the bold and vibrant illustrations which are visually stunning. Each of the pages features heroic men who children would aspire to be, from wrestlers to astronauts, cowboys and superheroes. But did you know that ‘tough guys have feelings too’ and each of characters is struggling with a different emotion.

This provides an opportunity for a parent to engage with the child and discuss how they think that person is feeling and reassures them that it’s fine to feel apprehensive, sad, cross and scared. Having characters experiencing these emotions who children can look up to and admire is really refreshing and demonstrates that even those who we think are brave and strong  feel these emotions too.

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I also love the strong relationships that is portrayed between the father and son, we see them sharing a stor and in the endpapers they are enjoying role playing all the different characters in the story. It is a real celebration of the bond between parents and their children and reinforces that it is ok to show your feeling and to love each other.

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This truly is a stunning book a total delight to read and to look at in every way. Thank you to Flying Eye Books for sending me a copy.

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‘I’m a Girl’ by Yasmeen Ismail is a celebration of why it’s good to be who you are and not to try to be anyone else. It tells the tale of a little girl who is forever being mistaken for a boy because she’s messy, fast, brave and noisy all the things that boys are meant to be not girls! I love the opening lines of the book they really made me laugh out loud…

‘I’m supposed to be nice…… all sugar and spice……

but I’m sweet and sour; not a little flower!’

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Everywhere she goes she has to keep telling people ‘I am a girl!’, I am a girl. I’m a GIRRRRRL!’ yet she is still seen as being a boy. I love that Yasmeen reinforces that it’s fine for children to play all sorts of games and that girls can play with trains and boys can play with dolls and that there is no wrong way.

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The ending of the book is so joyful where she meets a boy and they just jump around in joy loving who they are and glad that they are not someone else. As a parent it’s so important for me to be able to share with my girls a book which allows children to just be who they are and not what people expect them to be. It is beautifully illustrated throughout in a style which is massively appealing and engaging to young children. Using bright colours and such lively animated illustrations it will capture a child’s imagination and keep them coming back for more.

To find out more about Yasmeen’s work you can visit her website:

http://www.yasmeenismail.co.uk/

The Storm Leopards – Holly Webb

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‘The Storm Leopards’ by Holly Webb is a perfect wintery read. I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous cover by Simon Mendez which is so inviting it’s almost impossible to resist opening and experiencing this delightful animal adventure. My daughter is a huge Holly Webb fan and I was only allowed to read it after she had whizzed through it and she urged me to review this as she was totally enchanted by the story.

We meet Isabelle who has just moved with her family far away and is struggling to feel Christmassy having to start a new school and she desperately misses her friends. When a visit to the zoo is organised to cheer her up a  chance glimpse of a snow leopard, inspires her to find out more about these beautiful endangered creatures and their habitat in Mongolia. She finds herself wondering what it must be like to live among the snow leopards not realising that her wish to know more is about to come true.

I loved that this story totally captures your imagination and you become caught up in Isabelle’s adventure whilst unknowingly you are learning all about the importance of conservation and a different culture. It provided a fascinating insight into the lives of the Mongolian people which is  really interesting and engaging for the reader.  The gorgeous illustrations by Jo from Artful Doodlers enhance this tale and is perfect to help younger readers imagine and understand this world. It is the perfect tale to read whilst wrapped up in a blanket, drinking hot chocolate and allowing yourself to become totally absorbed by this lovely book.

To find out more about the conservation work by charities to protect snow leopards why not visit:

http://www.snowleopard.org

https://support.wwf.org.uk

Thank you to Stripes Publishing for sending me this book to review.