Review & Giveaway! Moon and Me: The Little Seed by Andrew Davenport illustrated by Mariko Umeda

For this of you with little ones who like to watch CBeebies, you’ll probably know Moon and Me and have met Moon Baby, Pepi Nana and friends. Well now their charming adventures have been brought to life in a traditional storybook, Moon and Me: The Little Seed by Andrew Davenport and illustrated by Mariko Umeda, perfect for reading at bedtime. I’m very pleased to share this new book on the blog today and be running a giveaway for one lucky reader to win set of Moon and Me books!

Moon and Me was created by Andrew Davenport, the man behind Teletubbies and In the Night Garden, and inspired by tales of toys coming to life when no-one is looking (possibly one of the things I wished would happen most when I was little!) My eldest son, now 22, absolutely loved the Teletubbies and I can imagine were he still young he’d be a huge fan of Moon and Me too. TV character-led fiction can be a great way to engage children with books, and Moon and Me: The Little Seed is a sweet story that tells how Pepi Nana and Moon Baby first became friends.

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As the moon comes out at night, little toy Pepi Nana comes to life and sends an invitation to the Moon to come and share a story with her in her doll’s house, little realisng her invitation will be read by Moon Baby who lives there. Moon Baby arrives and wakes up all the other toys, and together they have some lovely adventures. The gentle storytelling, with a magical feel will capture the imagination of little ones as they join these charming characters and hear they became friends. Delightfully illustrated, this is a great story to read at bedtime, especially as the tale ends with all the toys saying goodnight and drifting off to sleep. The moon has never seemed so magical!

Find out more at www.scholastic.co.uk and enter the giveaway on TwitterWith thanks to Scholastic for sending me this book to review and offering a giveaway to win these three titles:

 

National Non-Fiction November – a celebration of books!

nnfnIn celebration of National Non Fiction November, I’m sharing some fantastic non-fiction titles on the blog today that demonstrate brilliantly why children’s non-fiction is so popular and deserves to be celebrated! From super series to one off wonders, children and adults alike will be enthralled by them all.

 

be your best self

Be Your Best Self – Life Skills for Unstoppable Kids by Danielle Brown and Nathan Kai celebrates being confident in your own skin and provides lots of tips and techniques on how to be successful, achieve your dreams and generally be brilliant! Written by double Paralympic gold medallist Danielle Brown, and the youngest self-development published author, Nathan Kai who is also a member of MENSA, you know the advice is going to be good. There are chapters devoted to each area that impact development for example – goal setting, self-confidence and role models. It also looks at bullying, kindness and how to keep going when the going gets tough – all very real issues for children and young people today. Straightforward advice is brought to life with colourful illustrations throughout and both authors share their own experiences to enable readers to really relate to it. This well-written and beautifully presented book would make a great gift for youngsters to encourage and motivate them to be the best they can be!

“To Be Your Best Self means loving who you are, feeling confident in your own skin and achieving the things you want to do.”

Find out more at www.buttonbooks.co.uk

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A Million Dots by Sven Volker is a quirky picture book that does exactly what the title says – brings a million dots to life! A clever concept where doubling the numbers from one to one million happens over the 40 pages of the book, with a pullout at the back to accommodate all the dots! Recognisable objects illustrate numbers to begin with– such as trees, peas, raindrops and even freckles – until there are too many to fit on the page. As ther number increases the dots get smaller and smaller. A remarkable visualisation of numbers, A Millions Dots makes a great book to share and I can imagine some young readers would want to count them all too!

Find out more www.cicadabooks.co.uk

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Odd Science: Brilliant Bodies by James Olstein is the fourth instalment in this fantastic series which so far has covered inventions, the animal kingdom and space. Full of fascinating facts accompanied by the now trademark gorgeous design and illustration, readers can explore the human body and find out weird and wacky truths about the way our bodies work.  Did you know that every 7-10 years, a human skeleton renews the cells inside itself completely?! Or that the human nose can sniff out the difference between at least a trillion different odours?! With so many interesting things to discover, Brilliant Bodies is a wonderful addition to this series which presents science in a fun and easy to digest format. Not only do these books look really nice on the bookshelf (I’m a sucker for great design!) but they’re educational and entertaining too!

Find out more at www.pavilionbooks.com

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Encyclopedia of Grannies by Éric Veillé is a delightful book full of word play and humour all about grandmas. Lively illustrations shine a light on the wonderful world of grannies and the things they get up to; this is a book for the family to enjoy.  Have you ever wondered why grannies tell us to speak up? Or why they have creases on their faces? How old are they really?! I thoroughly enjoyed this encyclopedia which is full of wit and wisdom and may have some unexpected answers to these questions! Encyclopedia of Grannies would make a brilliant gift to give grandma – so she can share it with her grandchildren!

Find out more at www.geckopress.com

darwin

Darwin’s Voyage of Discovery by Jake Williams is a beautiful book celebrating one of the most remarkable journeys in history.  Enter the world of Charles Darwin and travel on his ship, The Beagle, as you find out all about what inspired our knowledge of the natural world. Overflowing with insight, this book features the story of the voyage but also shares fascinating facts about wildlife and nature too. There’s even a detailed look at the ship itself and the equipment Charles took, as well as hearing about the Captain and the crew.  Beautifully illustrated with wonderful presentation this book is a must for children who are interested in history, science and nature and would make a perfect gift.

Find out more at www.pavilionbooks.com

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So you think you’ve got it bad? A Kid’s Life in Ancient Rome by Chae Strathie and Marisa Morea brings life in Ancient Rome leaping off the page is the third book in this series developed in consultation with experts from The British Museum. Lively illustrations accompany the informative narrative, shedding light on just how children lived in Roman times and featuring all manner of things from what they wore, to what they ate and what school was like. Gladiators even make an appearance!  Entertaining sound bites and engaging design will keep young readers enthralled as they delve into the past. This is a great addition to any bookshelf and in particular for those studying Ancient Rome, this book makes a great starting point.

Find out more at www.nosycrow.com

birds

Atlas of Amazing Birds by Matt Sewell is a glorious book full to the brim with the world’s most amazing birds. The author and illustrator is a well-respected wildlife artist and writer who has brought together this wonderful selection and beautifully crafted all the illustrations to depict birds in all their glory! Alongside witty and informative descriptions, you can read all about just how unique birds are and how each has its own quirky behaviour, ‘song’ and habits.  You will also discover birds you’ve never heard of (Painted Bunting, Resplendent quetzal, Corncrake were certainly new to me!). There are spreads on each continent visited explaining which birds come from which area. All in all it’s a truly wonderful atlas and if you’re not a bird lover, you will be after reading this. As the author says, ‘remember to always look up and around as you never what you are going to see’!

Find out more at www.pavilionbooks.com

With thanks to Pavilion Press, Cicada Books, Gecko Press, Nosy Crow and Button Books for sending me these books to review.

 

Book of the Month: Adventures on Earth by Simon Tyler

book of the monthAdventures on Earth by Simon Tyler published by Pavilion is a stunning book about the world’s most extreme environments with a powerful message of conservation.  In keeping with Simon Tyler’s previous titles (Bugs and Adventures in Space – both of which I loved) expect incredible, bright and colourful illustration accompanying amazing information that will keep you totally absorbed.  Published this Autumn, I’m very pleased to make it Book of the Month especially as it’s National Non-Fiction November!

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Adventures on Earth invites you to travel throughout history alongside the world’s bravest explorers, across deserts and oceans, over mountains and through polar regions. Learn about the world’s most wild terrain, as well as the animals that live there and the people who have explored them. A glossary and useful explanations and maps give a depth to the text, bringing each part of the world in focus to life. Readers will also find out how each of these regions is under threat and what can be done to conserve them.

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A true celebration of the wonder of the world, coupled with the achievements of those who have dared to explore, anyone reading this book will want to ensure we do everything we can to protect our planet.  This is a book to be enjoyed again and again by all the family.

Find out more at www.simontyler.co.uk  and  www.pavilionbooks.com

With thanks to Pavilion for sending me this gorgeous book to read and review.

 

BLOG TOUR: Grace-Ella: Witch Camp by Sharon Marie-Jones

Today is my stop on the blog tour for an absolutely delightful story, Grace Ella: Witch-Camp by Sharon Marie-Jones, illustrated by Adriana J Puglisi. Published by Firely Press, this is the second book in the Grace Ella series which I’m sure will have been eagerly awaited by young readers everywhere! I’m really pleased to be able to share with you some fantastic teaching resources written by the author for this new story – see link below to download!

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Grace Ella: Witch Camp by Sharon Marie-Jones

Grace-Ella is nervous and excited to go to Witch Camp, with her cat Mr Whiskins, of course. She is put in a cabin with Dilys, Mati and Aisha. Grace-Ella likes them all. But when Dilys’s broomstick flying goes very wrong, and Mati convinces them breaking the rules and going into the woods at night is the only way to help her, Grace-Ella finds herself on a real adventure. Will she be able to save her friends? 

Grace Ella is so excited about going Witch Camp and when she hears about the award for best coven given at the end of Camp, she and her new friends are determined to win. Unfortunately, things don’t quite go to plan and that’s when the adventures start! Grace Ella’s Witch Camp is not that different from ordinary holiday camps – apart from the magic of course! And that’s what is so great about this story; young readers will be able to identify with the challenges Grace Ella and her friends face, as they discover the consequences of breaking the rules and just what friendship is all about. Charming from the first page, this is exactly the kind of story I would have loved as a young girl, with lovely illustrations throughout. Enough excitement to keep you on your toes, plenty of friendship and fun and of course, magical moments galore!

I’m delighted to share on the blog today some exclusive teaching resources to support Grace Ella: Witch Camp. Download them here:

Witch Camp Teaching Resources

Find out more and follow Sharon Marie Jones on Twitter @sharonmariej. Discover Grace Ella’s first adventure, Spells for Beginners here.

With thanks to Firefly Press for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour for more magical fun:

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BLOG TOUR: Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner

I recall a time when Sally Gardner’s I, Coriander was permanently on loan from the school library, with a reservation list as long as your arm.  I would not be surprised if the same is to be true of her fantastic new novel for middle grade readers Invisible in a Bright Light published by Zephyr Books and I am delighted to be participating in the blog tour today!

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It is 1870: opening night at the Royal Opera House in a freezing city by the sea, where a huge, crystal chandelier in the shape of a galleon sparkles magically with the light of 750 candles. Celeste, a theatre rat, wakes up in a costume basket from what she hopes is a bad dream, to find that everyone at the theatre where she works thinks she is someone else. When the chandelier falls, she is haunted by a strange girl who claims to know Celeste’s past and why she must risk playing a game called the Reckoning to try to save the people she loves.

Celeste knows something is not quite right and can’t seem to remember exactly who she is and where she has come from. Distant voices and strange memories of a man in an emerald green suit haunt her as the truth is slowly reveavled. Her current reality of being a theatre rat just doesn’t ring true and even those she loves are not themselves. What is the mystery behind the glorious chandelier that adorns the ceiling of the opera house? And why won’t anyone accept that Celeste’s name is not Maria?

A stunning narrative reveals a compelling and dark fairy-tale of love, family and magic set against the backdrop of the opera. Full of startling discoveries, bold characters and family bonds that even time itself cannot break, this story will draw you in one page at a time. The theatrical world of opera is brought wonderfully to life and Celeste’s determination to win what seems the most impossible game is palapable. Beautifully described, I read this in one sitting finding myself totally absorbed and thoroughly enjoying each twist and turn right to the satisfying ending.  This novel really stands out in the crowd; Invisible in a Bright Light will captivate it’s audience from beginning to end.

The story behind the novel
As a young costume designer working at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen, Sally Gardener glimpsed a chandelier which hung majestically from the dome of the opera house into the auditorium. One wintry day, she visited the dome that looked out across the rooftops of Copenhagen and found an old lady living there, whose job it was to polish the chandelier until it gleamed. Sally felt as if she had stepped into a fairy tale and the experience left an indelible mark on her imagination. Inspired by this and by her love of ghost ships, theatre and fairy tale, Invisible in a Bright Light is a story she has
been waiting to write for a long time. It reunites Sally with her favourite middle grade audience and recreates the splendour and dark magic of her award-winning debut novel I, Coriander.

Find out more at www.sallygardner.co.uk and @TheSallyGardner

With thanks to Zephyr Books for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:

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BLOG TOUR: Mother Tongue by Patricia Ford

MT Blog Tour CORRECTEDI absolutely loved The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde, the first in this post-apocalyptic series (read my review here) so when I heard there was a standalone sequel, Mother Tongue, I was delighted to read it and participate in this blog tour.  Today, I’ll be sharing my review and a timely guest post from the author focusing on the issues at the heart of this upper middle-grade novel. Published by Little Island BooksMother Tongue continues the story of Letta’s fight against injustice in a world unrecognisable after a climate disaster.  Language is a weapon and hope and creativity the only defence in this dystopian novel that feels all too real.  

Mother Tongue

Mother Tongue by Patricia Forde

After global warming came the Melting. Then came Ark.  The new dictator of Ark wants to silence speech for ever. But Letta is the wordsmith, tasked with keeping words alive. Out in the woods, she and the rebels secretly teach children language, music and art. Now there are rumours that babies are going missing. When Letta makes a horrifying discovery, she has to find a way to save the children of Ark – even if it is at the cost of her own life. 

Whilst it is quite possible to read Mother Tongue as a standalone novel, the book brilliantly follows on from the narrative of the first story and reaffirms the role Letta, the Wordsmith, must play in restoring freedom to her world.  John Noa might be gone, but the new leader of Ark is even more fearsome and will stop at nothing to control the people through taking their words. But Letta, equally determined and incredibly brave, knows that in order to save the people, she must fight for their words – their voice. Whilst she has much to lose, the tension-building plot shows Letta’s true heroism as she battles injustice alongside her fellow ‘Desecrators’.  Totally enthralling, Mother Tongue invites you to return to a world where the horror of climate change has been realised but despite the despair, the hope of humanity lives on in Letta and her friends. A truly riveting read, you download an extract here.

I’m delighted to welcome author Patricia Forde to the blog with a thought-provoking guest post on what extinction really means.

“Extinction is the saddest word of all.

So says John Noa, ruler of Ark in my novel The Wordsmith.  And he should know. As both The Wordsmith and its companion novel Mother Tongue are set in the future, Noa is in a position to judge. This story takes place after The Melting when almost all of the world has been swallowed by the sea. Rising tides have taken people, technology and almost all hope from Earth. For the small group of people who survive and live in Ark, there is plenty of time to consider the mess that humans created, on their home planet.

When I was growing up, dinosaurs were extinct. That was about the only time I heard that word being used. While doing research for my novels,  I did a lot of research about climate change and its effect on this planet. Scientists tell us that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. This is the sixth wave of extinction in the last half-billion years. Extinction, we are told, in a natural phenomenon. It occurs at a rate of about one to five species per year.

When I read that, I had to pause to take a breath. That many?

Then I read on.

Today we are losing species at up to 1,000 times that rate with many species becoming extinct every day. That’s why they are calling it an Extinction Crisis. Did you know that there are two subspecies of giraffe on the endangered list? Illegal hunting and the disappearance of habitat has been blamed. Translated, that means that humans are to blame.

The blue whale is in danger because she eats mostly krill and requires massive amounts of it. Unfortunately, we humans have developed a taste for krill. Increasing demands for krill oil by humans could sound the death knell for the poor whale.

It’s the inter-connectivity of nature that we are ignoring. Take insects. Small, often scary and very quiet generally. We interact with insects usually with a rolled up newspaper or a cocktail of deadly chemicals but they are our waste management team. At life end, plants and animals of all sizes, from daisy to dinosaur, leave dead organic matter that has to be cleared away.  Bring on millions of munching insects and the processes of decomposition and decay, so critical to life on Earth, can get started. We wouldn’t last long without them.

Way back in 1987 renowned Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson wrote:

The truth is that we need invertebrates but they don’t need us … if invertebrates were to disappear, I doubt that the human species could live more than a few months.

How did we miss that? As I write we are living under a storm alert and it’s all people can talk about.  Will  trees come down? Will the lights go out?  Will there be enough bread to last 48 hours? But when a renowned scientist says that if we keep killing insects we could all be wiped out in a few months – no! We didn’t hear that.

We moved from the city to a house in the country in 2004.  Our house is surrounded by trees. We were under constant attack from midges the first years we were here.  Every summer, as soon as the weather warmed up and the barbeque was taken out, in came swarms of midges. Neighbours assured us that they would be devoured by the bats who lived in the old shed at the back of our site. For the last two summers we’ve had hot weather and no midges. I can’t say I’ve missed them but I liked the bats and now I’m wondering what they fed on this summer and where the midges have gone?

That’s how extinction works, I suppose. First they come for the midges, then it’s the bats, and before you know it, the giraffe is on the endangered list.

Extinction is the saddest word but there’s still time to turn things around. According to National Geographic, there were only 2,000 sea otters extant in 1911, due to years of hunting this lovely creature for its fur. Today, globally, the figure has rebounded to 100,000. We have stronger laws and greater protection enacted in the North Pacific to thank for this miracle. So we can do it. It’s not too late. But to quote Greta Thunberg – the house is on fire.

We didn’t listen in 1987. Are we listening now?”

Find out more about Patricia Forde at www.patriciaforde.com  and find her on Twitter @PatriciaForde1; on Instagram @TrishForde1.

With thanks to Little Island Books for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in this blog tour. Check out the rest of the tour:

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BLOG TOUR: WildLives: 50 Extraordinary Animals that Made History by Ben Lerwill, illustrated by Sarah Walsh

IMG-7800Extraordinary by name and extraordinary by nature, WildLives: 50 Extraordinary Animals that Made History by Ben Lerwill, illustrated by Sarah Walsh, is both gorgeous to look at and fascinating to read – what a fantastic idea for a book!  Celebrating the lives of remarkable animals who have had an impact on history, the book features every type of animal you can imagine from a mystery-solving cat to a sign-language speaking gorilla to the rarest creature in the world – a tortoise. Some of the animal stories you may of heard of (A Streetcat Named Bob, Greyfriars Bobby) but prepare to be amazed as you discover their stories and just how they made history. Beautifully presented, bright and olourful illustrations alongside photographs, bring the wild lives springing to life. Each spread has a wealth of information to be enjoyed again and again. My Dad picked it up and thought it was one of the most “beautiful ideas for a children’s book” and “utterly fascinating” – high praise indeed!

Ahead of World Animal Day on Friday 4th October, it’s with great pleasure I welcome author Ben Lerwill to the blog today, talking about his Top Five stories from WildLives, which is his first children’s book. Welcome to the blog Ben!

Ben’s Top Five Stories from WildLives

“Whittling down a shortlist can be a nightmare, particularly for someone as indecisive as me. WildLives tells the stories of 50 individual animals through history, from Laika the space dog to Dolly the cloned sheep, but this number could easily have been 100. Deciding which stories to include, and which to leave out, was tough.

But I’m delighted with the list of animals that made the final book. In researching their lives, I learned something new from every single one of them. I also love the fact that, collectively, they make up a real Noah’s Ark of different creatures from around the world. Smaller animals include a Skye Terrier, a homing pigeon and two chinstrap penguins, while weighing in at the other extreme are a life-saving elephant, a headline-making giraffe and an itinerant hippo.

Pointing to my overall favourites is almost impossible – I’m indecisive, as I may have mentioned – but I’m particularly fond of these five tales. 

Clever Hans

This is a real favourite with my kids. Clever Hans was a horse who lived in Germany at the end of the 19th century. His owner claimed to have taught him how to solve sums, which sounds preposterous, but the horse achieved so much fame that he drew the attention of the European aristocracy.  His uncanny power was to be able to listen to a maths problem, then stamp his hoof the correct number of times in response. Although, as it turns out, there was rather more to the story than that…

David Greybeard

When researcher Jane Goodall was sent out to the Tanzanian jungle in 1960, we still knew precious little about chimpanzees. Little by little, she earned the animals’ trust, and was eventually able to revolutionise our understanding of this utterly extraordinary species. The chimpanzee that made the difference was David Greybeard, who was bold enough to show the rest of his troop that Jane posed no threat. A great ape in more ways than one.

Moko

I love dolphins. They’re intelligent, inquisitive and inscrutable. Moko was a dolphin living off the coast of New Zealand who got into the habit of visiting the same bay, where he would dart around people in the water. But the heart of his story focuses on the day that two pygmy sperm whales got stranded in the shallows – as onlookers watched, Moko carefully and deliberately led the whales back to the safety of the ocean. It’s a beautiful tale.

Pickles

I’m a bit of a sports obsessive, so I was delighted to be able to include Pickles, the collie dog who found the World Cup when it went missing before the 1966 tournament. Exactly who stole the trophy still has detectives scratching their heads to this day, but what we do know is that without the intervention of our four-legged sleuth, Sir Bobby Moore may never have had a trophy to lift. Pickles is one of seven dogs in the book – and there’s always something heart-warming about a heroic canine.

Christian

As a boy, I remember watching incredible footage of a wild lion leaping on top of two men, not in attack mode but in affection, slobbering them with licks and cuffing them with massive paws. Christian was bought – or rather rescued – from the Harrods’ pet department in 1969 and, after spending his formative years in London, was later assimilated into the Kenyan wilderness. His reunion with his one-time owners, on the African savannah, leaves me smiling every time I think about it.”

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Wild Lives by Ben Lerwill, illustrated by Sarah Walsh, is out now, published by Nosy Crow £16.99 hardback.

With thanks to Nosy Crow for inviting me to host this guestpost and sending me this book to review.