Monthly Archives: May 2017

Running on the Roof of the World – Jess Butterworth

‘Running on the Roof of the World’ is a remarkable debut from Jess Butterworth which takes the reader on a thrilling perilous journey across the Himalayas. Tash and her family live in Tibet, a world where every move they make is watched by soldiers who are desperate for them to break the rules so  that they can dole out punishment. Tash finds these constraints unbearable and when her parents are seized by soldiers she must go with her friend Sam on a mission that will break all the rules, to save them. To rescue them, they must escape Tibet, cross over the mountains to India to reach the Dalai Lama facing the most arduous conditions and terrifying danger than they ever could have imagined.

This is the most extraordinary of stories, Jess transports the reader to the Himalayas with the most rich and evocative descriptions that will stimulate all your senses. You can tell that she has spent a lot of time there as you get a true insiders feel, a real sense of this place as opposed to feeling like an observer looking in. The story flows quickly with short punchy chapters capturing the drama and movement of Tash and Sam frantically making their way across the mountains trying to evade capture. Hold your breath as you embark on an extraordinary adventure through unknown lands where danger is lurking all around you. At the heart of this story is a tale of friendship, courage and survival both Tash and Sam face unsurmountable challenges which they must overcome to save themselves and Tash’s parents. It provides a wonderful opportunity for children to gain an insight into the trials and tribulations many children face on a daily basis around the world, a really important book to teach them empathy.

Not only is this book beautiful inside, it has an absolutely stunning cover illustrated by Rob Biddulph and each chapter has the most intricate illustrations designed by the in-house team at Hachette. This is one of the books that I have been sent a proof for that I am compelled to buy the finished version, so that I can fully enjoy it’s beauty. The book is less than 200 pages without the illustrations, alongside the short chapters make this story really accessible for readers who may be fazed by a longer book. It really is a must have book for every primary school library, I know that I will buying a copy for mine.

Thank you to Orion for sending me a copy of this fabulous book.

Irresistible Illustrated Fiction

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I’m a huge fan of illustrated fiction books, they are perfect for newly confident readers allowing them to gain confidence without being overwhelmed by pages of text. Here is my round up of my favourite recent releases all guaranteed to enthral and entertain younger readers. They would make wonderful additions to any primary school library or home.

Mango & Bambang  Superstar Tapir – Polly Faber & Clara Vulliamy

Mango and Bambang are back with another four delightful adventures in ‘Superstar Tapir’ which is bound to enchant and delight younger readers. The unlikely relationship between our intrepid duo is wonderfully endearing, they really rely on each other and would go to the ends of the earth to make each other happy. It captures perfectly the hopes and fears that children experience and provides a gentle reassurance that friendship and acceptance can be life affirming. I can’t tell you enough how this series is adored by the children at my school, we have all fallen in love with Polly’s beautiful storytelling and    Clara’s stunning illustrations.

Up, Up and Away – Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are back in another three hilarious adventures guaranteed to captivate and entertain. Packed with hilarious moments, and unforgettable mayhem, they are back on the case solving more wacky mysteries and encountering the unexpected. From a riotous race day with the pesky Red Rocket, a mysterious parcel causing confusion and undercover shenanigans, Shifty and Sam can’t help finding themselves caught up in trouble. A combination of marvellous storytelling and sublime illustrations ‘Up, Up and Away’ is just superb I absolutely loved it.

Good Dog McTavish – Meg Rosoff & Grace Easton

‘Good Dog McTavish’ is a witty and humorous tale about The Peachey family who are in complete turmoil after their Mum goes on strike. Fed up of being taken for granted by her family, Mum is now devoting her life to yoga and clean living and nobody knows what to do. No one cooks dinner, no one picks up the dirty washing and the kids are late for school. It seems that all hope is lost until they adopt rescue dog McTavish who sets out on a mission to rescue his new family. Meg’s writing is brilliantly observational and filled with warmth, storytelling at its very best. Whilst Grace’s illustrations capture the humour of the chaos unfolding perfectly. Another gem from Barrington Stoke’s ‘Conkers’ range making wonderful storytelling accessible for everyone.

King Coo – Adam Stower

‘King Coo’ by Adam Stower is an absolute triumph in storytelling matched with the most bold, intricate and zany illustrations, it really is an irresistible combination. When Ben Pole accidentally falls into a hidden forest –  whilst being pursued by bullies –  ruled by King Coo – a tree-swinging, wombat-owning, trap building and most remarkably fully-bearded girl. With laughs aplenty this whirlwind of an adventure is filled with the most crazy capers as Ben and King Coo try to defeat their dastardly enemies who are trying to destroy the forest so that they can swindle a huge pot of money from the townsfolk. Prepare yourself for thrills, spills and plenty of chaos I loved it and can’t wait to share it at school.

Superdad’s Day Off – Phil Earle & Steve May

I was so excited to find out that the wonderful and ridiculously talented Phil Earle was writing a ‘Little Gem’ book for Barrington Stoke because for me his books are sheer perfection. ‘Superdad’s Day Off’ is no exception, he delivers a punchy tale packed with wit and heart. Meet Stanley, an ordinary boy whose Dad just happens to be the world’s greatest superhero except on a Friday when he spends the day with his son. Yet the world seems to want to get in the way of their quality time by throwing panthers stuck up trees, shark infested waters and monster trucks with flat tyres in their path. It’s up to Stanley to save the day so that he can protect his special time with his Dad. Steve May’s bold illustrations capture the chaos and carnage unfolding magnificently. At the heart of this story is the importance of family and the time they spend together, bravo Phil Earle you’ve done it again another superb tale!

The Seaside Family – Enid Blyton & Alexsei Bitskoff

As a child I devoured Enid Blyton stories and was lucky enough to have a library bursting with shelves upon shelves of her books for me to choose from. It feels very different reading them as an adult but they still retain that good old fashioned charm that children today will enjoy for their innocence and simplicity. The Caravan Family are spending their summer in the beautiful, secluded Seagull Cove with the only cloud on the horizon is the arrival of their spoilt cousin Benjy to stay with them for their holidays. Will Benjy ruin their fun or can they help cheer him up and teach him to love the seaside just like they do? Aleksei Bitskoff vibrant illustrations help give this story a fresh look making it accessible and appealing to new readers. An ideal read to get you in the mood for your seaside holiday.

Thank you to Barrington Stoke, David Fickling Books, Egmont and Nosy Crow for sending me copies of these brilliant books.

Bigfoot, Tobin and Me – Melissa Savage

‘Bigfoot, Tobin and Me’ is a stunning debut from Melissa Savage, an incredible tale of adventure, friendship and overcoming grief which filled my heart with joy. Meet Lemonade, who is uprooted from her home in the city – after the tragic death of her mother –  to live with a grandfather she has never met to the wilds of Willow Creek. A place where everyone is obsessed with finding ‘Bigfoot’, especially Tobin the self styled CEO of ‘Bigfoot Detectives, Inc’ who manages to persuade Lemonade to join him in the search for this elusive creature. Together they embark on a journey of discovery where they find something that neither of them expected.

I found this story wonderfully endearing and totally captivating, devouring it in one sitting, desperate to find out just what Lemonade and Tobin discover. The quest for ‘Bigfoot’ injects an excitement and energy into this tale thus allowing Lemonade to escape from her grief and prevents the reader from being overwhelmed with sadness at the circumstances she finds herself in. Stuffed full of mystery and red herrings, as we turn each page we wonder will we ever get to the truth about ‘Bigfoot’ as each clue seems to fall flat. Our intrepid duo show great resilience and refuse to be deterred at the seemingly never-ending dead turns.

The characterisation is just marvellous with Lemonade and Tobin making a formidable team. My personal favourite is Tobin who I absolutely adored for his unfailingly belief in ‘Bigfoot’ which helps him to deal with his own loss and confusion over his missing father. We feel the pain and agony of all the characters as they learn to live their lives without their loved ones and the coping mechanisms they use to survive. Ultimately this is a tale about the things in life that keep us going and how we move forward in difficult times. Although it is an emotional story it is remarkably uplifting and I found it sublimely  compelling. Definitely one of my must have reads of the year!

You can find out more about Melissa by visiting her website or following her on Twitter @melissadsavage

Thank you to Chicken House books for sending me a copy of this beautiful book.

Rachel Hickman – Guest Post One Silver Summer

I am delighted to welcome Rachel Hickman to the blog today for a special guest post to celebrate the release of the glorious ‘One Silver Summer.’ Today Rachel talks about her recommendations for transition books for children moving to secondary school, something which I am really interested in as my daughter will be in year 7 in September. A really wonderful selection, I can’t wait to find out more.

My top 5 books for pre-teens transitioning to Year 7 – Rachel Hickman

A little of everything is good for transitioning readers and sometimes nothing comforts like re-reading books from younger days like Jill Murphy’s WORST WITCH series, or Liz Kessler’s tails of EMILY WINDSNAP; or gulping down a long-running series. But when pre-teens find themselves in scary new places perhaps the best books are those with ‘real’ characters in they can relate to – whose situations are often more perilous than their own.

 

THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS by new author Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an island adventure about a girl called Isabella Riosse who sets out to save her missing best friend. Following her late mother’s map, her heart – and the words of an ancient myth, Isa discovers the true purpose of her journey: to save the island itself – for beneath the dry rivers and smoky mountains, a fiery legend is stirring … Exciting, magical and inspiring– inside and out – this book won the Waterstones Children’s Prize 2017.


AFTER IRIS by Natasha Farrant  Blue Gadsby’s twin sister Iris died three years ago, and since then, her family hasn’t been the same. Her older sister Flora changes her hair colour almost daily; her younger siblings Jasmine and Twig are obsessed with their pet rats; and both of her parents spend weeks away from home – and each other. Blue captures her family’s trials and tribulations in a sequence of film transcripts and diary entries that will make you cry, laugh, and ultimately give thanks for mixed-up families.

THREADS by Sophia Bennett Nonie customises her clothes so she doesn’t look like everyone else. Apart from that, she’s not sure what she’s good at, which is frustrating because her best friend Jenny is about to appear in a Hollywood movie and her friend Edie is top of the class. Life changes for the three friends when they meet a younger girl; a refugee called Crow, sketching a dress at the Victoria and Albert Museum. They discover she’s being bullied and set out to help her. But who’s helping who? And just how far can four friends make a fashion designing dream come true?

  THE ONE DOLLAR HORSE by Lauren St John – Casey Blue lives in an East London tower block and dreams of riding in the Badminton Horse Trials. When she rescues a young horse, she’s convinced that he is her chance. But Casey has reckoned without the consequences of her father’s criminal record, or the distraction of a boy with dark eyes. Casey learns the hard way that no matter how high Storm can jump, or how fast he gallops, she can never beat the past unless she’s very, very determined.


 THE WEIGHT OF WATER by Sarah Crossan

Armed with a suitcase and a laundry bag, Kasienka and her mother head for England. At their shabby new home in Coventry, school friends are scarce, but when a boy called William swims into her life, Kasienka learns there might be a way for her to stay afloat. Moving, unsentimental and unusually told in verse, we meet and share the experiences of a remarkable girl who shows us how quiet courage can win.

And one for luck . . .

THE WOLF PRINCESS by Cathryn Constable

Sophie dreams of being someone special.  On a school trip to Russia, she and her two friends find themselves on the wrong train. They are rescued by the beautiful Princess Anna Volkonskaya who takes them to her winter palace and mesmerises them with stories of lost diamonds and a tragic past. But as night falls and white wolves howl, Sophie discovers more than dreams in the crumbling palace of secrets. Thrilling and dreamy, and set in the coldest place in the world this is a mesmerising story of friendship and destiny.

Thank you to Rachel for stopping by the blog today you can read my review of  ‘One Silver Summer’ over on the blog. ‘One Silver Summer’ is released tomorrow on the 25th May and is available from all good book shops or online.

There’s A Werewolf In My Tent – Pamela Butchart & Thomas Flintham

It was with huge excitement that we got our hands on a copy of the newest ‘Izzy’ book from Pamela Butchart & Thomas Flintham because we just adore this brilliant series. Hugely funny and compelling I have been using this series for years to get reluctant readers to begin to engage with books and it’s always proved to be a success. They are so popular at school that you are more likely to spot a werewolf in my school library than one of these books because they are ridiculously popular. I can already predict that ‘There’s A Werewolf In My Tent’ will be whizzing off my shelves because this is the funniest one by far.

Izzy and her friends are “mega excited” about going away for four whole nights on a school trip camping in the wilderness.  Knowing that they have a tendency to have slightly overactive imaginations, it’s bound not to run smoothly. Having been convinced they have had baby aliens in school and that there head teacher was a vampire rat in previous stories what could they possibly think would happen now? So, when all the sausages mysteriously disappear and they are disturbed by howling in the night they know that something strange is afoot. And then they spot their new teacher’s hairy legs they are convinced there’s a werewolf on their school trip and that they’re all doomed!

This book is wonderfully appealing, I love how Izzy and her friends fall in and out of friendship but still look out for each other, we know that this is true for children and seeing that it can be resolved quite simply is reassuring. It captures perfectly how children can have the most remarkable imaginations which can often lead them to trouble and cause misunderstandings.  Energetic and frenzied, we are swept along with this story by Pamela’s brilliant writing and  punchy short chapters keeping the momentum of the story fast-paced whilst making sure the reader is thoroughly entertained. Your laughter becomes uncontrollable as you see the characters trying to make sense of what’s going on and getting completely muddled with more and more far-fetched scenarios emerging as the story progresses. Wonderfully accessible, the bold typeface interspersed with Thomas Flintham’s  witty and lively illustrations make it a perfect read for newly confident readers tackling chapter books who may be overwhelmed by pages of text. This series is a must have for every primary school library I just can’t recommend it enough.

Thank you to Nosy Crow for sending me a copy of his hilarious book!

Moonlocket – Peter Bunzl

It was with much anticipation that I  opened up the pages of ‘Moonlocket’, Having got my hands on an early copy of the magnificent ‘Cogheart‘ last year I have had to wait a whole year to find out what adventures lay ahead for Lily and Robert. ‘Cogheart’ was deservedly one of my most favourite reads of 2016, a really thrilling adventure and a stunning debut from Peter Bunzl! How could ‘Moonlocket’ possibly live up to the glorious ‘Cogheart’? Well I can confirm that not only does this fabulous book live up to it’s predecessor it in fact surpasses it, being even more compelling and exciting!

When a notorious escapologist and jewel thief known Jack Door breaks out of jail and heads towards Brackenbridge determined to find the mysterious Moonlocket it spells trouble for our formidable heroes.  Secrets from Robert’s past emerge and they soon discover that he holds the long-lost secret to the location of the missing Moonlocket. Robert finds himself inextricably caught up in the search and he’s plunged into terrible danger, trapped in the cruel game that Jack is playing. Can Lily and Malkin unravel the clues to determine the Moonlocket’s whereabouts and protect Robert before it’s too late….

Whilst ‘Cogheart’ was Lily’s story, you really feel that ‘Moonlocket’ the reader’s chance to discover Robert’s story. And just as Robert found himself unwittingly caught up in Lily’s perilous adventure, Lily finds herself swept along in a dangerous journey to try and stop Jack succeeding in his deadly plan. Jack Door is the most menacing and dastardly of villains that I have ever encountered in middle grade fiction, for me he feels more terrifying because it feels more personal this time. Yet again Peter has assembled a marvellous and compelling cast of characters whose lives you can’t help but become engrossed within. His rich storytelling conjures up the most fantastical of worlds within which you manage to feel lost as you find yourself captivated by this truly, exciting and dramatic adventure. Deliciously dark and irresistibly gripping, ‘Moonlocket’ proves to be another extraordinary story that you won’t want to forget from Peter Bunzl.

You can find out more about Peter on his website  which has some fabulous activities perfect for schools or book groups. Or why not follow him on Twitter @peterbunzl

Fascinating Fact books for Older Readers

2017 has brought with it a wealth of glorious new non-fiction books for children and today I will be sharing my favourite choices for younger and older readers. Each of these books are wonderfully interactive and feature the most vibrant illustrations and photographs to capture the imaginations of the reader.

The Anti – Boredom Book of Brilliant Outdoor Things to Do – Andy Seed & Scott Garrett

The phrase that is bound to fill any parent with dread up and down the country from their child is, “I’M BORED!” I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve told my girls  “go and play outside and get some fresh air if you’re bored” only to be met with the same responses “It’s boring outside there is nothing to do!!” Fear not because Andy Seed has come to the rescue just in time to save us from the depths of despair with the fabulous ‘The Anti-Boredom Book of Brilliant Outdoor Things to Do Outside’ which is packed with tons of activities to stave off those cries from bored children. Want to know how to make a rainbow, set a bug tap. construct an awesome summer slide or make a water balloon piñata then this is the book for you! With things to do in the garden, at the beach and even on a rainy day this has everything and more. Scott Garrett’s hilarious illustrations capture the fun and silliness of this book brilliantly, it is a perfect book to get children outside we loved it in my house!

Women in Science – 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World – Rachel Ignotofsky

‘Women in Science’ is a remarkable book celebrating 50 women throughout history who defied the odds to succeed in the worlds of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Refusing to accept the limitations placed on their sex they worked tirelessly to achieve their goals. Featuring a fascinating introduction into why women have faced barriers and how they overcame the obstacles put before them. Throughout history many women who are not necessarily well-known have made significant contributions to the scientific world and this book seeks to highlight and celebrate them. Stunningly illustrated and wonderfully compelling this book deserves to be in every school library, it’s an absolute joy of a book.

The Earth Book – Jonathan Litton & Thomas Hegbrook

‘The Earth Book’ takes us on a voyage of discovery around a tiny sphere in space  – which to us is in fact a huge and fascinating world called planet Earth where the life of humans is only one tiny part of it. Exploring the wonders of the world we are taken to the four corners of the globe to examine animal habitats, super cities, oceans and deserts to try and understand how our planet has evolved. Sublimely illustrated and irresistibly informative, this book covers the most complex of topics but presents then in a truly accessible format. It is the kind of book that you can dip in and out of depending on what part of our planet you would like to delve into. Perfect for children who love to wonder at the world all around them.

Off With their Heads/ I Wish I Knew That – Buster Books

 

Does your child have an insatiable appetite for facts and loves to know details about anything and everything, if so Buster Books new reference series is what you need. I’ve have seen the first two books in this series ‘Off With Their Heads’ and ‘I Wish I Knew That’ both of which are crammed with cool stuff that you might not have had a chance to find out yet at school. Ideal for fans of ‘Horrible Histories’ they are bursting with all the best bits from history and every other subject you can imagine. I can see them being a huge hit in my school library for those children who love to devour information books.

Lesser Spotted Animals – Matt Brown

So you’ve heard of a Gorilla but what about a Zorilla? And we’ve all heard of Wombats but how about a Numbat. Martin Brown takes us on a journey to discover the brilliant beasts that you probably haven’t heard about. Children will laugh out loud as the find out all the funny facts about these creatures they have never met before. With hilarious illustrations this quirky look at the animal kingdom lets you find out things you never knew you needed to know! There is so much humour lurking within the pages that you can’t help but want to read more. Witty and wise a real gem of a book.

Thank you to Bloomsbury, Buster Books, David Fickling Press, Little Tiger Press and Wren and Rook for sending me copies of these fabulous fact books.