BLOG TOUR: The Worst Class in the World Dares You! by Joanna Nadin illustrated by Rikin Parekh

It’s publication day for The Worst Class in the World Dares You by Joanna Nadin and Rikin Parekh and I’m thrilled to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for this hilarious book, along with a celebratory GIVEAWAY!

The Worst Class in the World Dares You! by Joanna Nadin and illustrated by Rikin Parekh

4B is the WORST Class in the World! But best friends Stanley and Manjit don’t care. They have a foolproof plan to catch NITS and beat everyone else at DARES! It might just mean a lot of mayhem……

If you haven’t met the Worst Class in the World yet, now is the time! Featuring not one, but TWO adventures in one book, words and illustrations combine brilliantly to bring to life the adventures of 4B and it’s somewhat hapless, but loveable inhabitants. In book three of the series, this standalone title is sure to entertain readers young and old!

You only have to read the wonderfully funny descriptions of each character from St Regina’s Primary at the start of the book to know you’re in for a treat (I particularly like ‘Harvey Barlow – Eater of many biscuits. Sometimes gets mistaken for a Year 6... – love him already!) Headteacher Mrs Bottomley-Blunt, who thinks learning should absolutely NOT be fun doesn’t stand a chance against this lot. Neither really does the class teacher, Mr Nidget, who works tirelessly to help 4B find what they’re good at and who’s motto of mending everything with kindness doesn’t always work.

Narrated by Stanley, the two adventures in this book, ‘Nits‘ and ‘Dares‘, demonstrate the amazing imaginations he and his best friend Manjit have, as they come up with yet another FOOLPROOF plan that is highly likely to get them into trouble. And usually breaks some, if not all, of Mrs Bottomley-Blunt’s 125 Rules! Or makes her create another one. As someone who has worked in schools, I am sure I may have met a few of these characters before, in some, manner shape or form!

Joanna Nadin does a great job of capturing school antics and all the ups and downs of school life; even the awkward bits, like nit-epidemics or parents like Lionel’s mum who believes school uniforms block the imagination (I’d love to meet Lionel’s mum!), often with hilarious results. Add to this Rikin Parekh’s brilliantly expressive illustrations, it’s a recipe for success. With laugh-out-loud moments galore, The Worst Class in the World Dares You! is sure to lighten a dull day, not just for young readers, but for grown-ups too (especially the ones who work with children!).

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY on Twitter and check out the rest of the blog tour:

With thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this book to review and Fritha for inviting me to participate in the blog tour and giveaway!

New reviews: Festive reads for the holidays!

There is a plethora of new children’s books to choose from for festive reading. In addition to Christmas classics like The Night Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe the following stories are sure to delight and entertain over the holidays.

Picture Books

Santa’s New Sleigh by Caroline Crowe and Jess Pauwels takes you on a delightful colourful, rhyming ride, as Santa’s sleigh breaks down and all the elves must come together to try and save Christmas! They try everything from skiing to polar bears to no avail. But one little elf has the right idea and soon Santa is able to take to the skies and bring Christmas to everyone. Festive fun abounds with lively, humourous illustrations bringing it all to life. Published by Faber.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam in Santa’s Stolen Sleigh by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton is another fun-filled Santa story, but this time it’s the elves who are in trouble as they come down with spots and can’t finish getting the presents ready! Luckily, baking duo Shifty and Sam are on hand to help Santa, along with a very naughty polar bear who just wants to fly the sleigh. Watch out for some magical mix-ups as baking ingredients are mistaken for flying dust! A sweet treat for everyone to enjoy at Christmas time. Published by Nosy Crow.

The Christmas Pine by Julia Donaldson and Victoria Sandøy is a magical picture book following the story of a little tree with a very special destiny. Based on the true story of how we come to have a Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, this utterly delightful tale is full of nostalgia and the magic of Christmas. With a mesmerising rhyming narrative and Beautifully drawn atmospheric illustrations, The Christmas Pine is sure to be a classic for years to come. Published by Alison Green Books.

Middle Grade

Wishyouwas The Tiny Guardian of Lost Letters by Alexandra Page illustrated by Penny Neville-Lee is another story destined for classic status! This timeless tale transports you to a secret underground world full of magic and wonder, as we discover Wishyouwas, a Sorter who makes sure lost letters reach their destinations. With a brave heroine in Penny Black and beautifully described world of postboxes and pens, Wishyouwas is a charming adventure, perfect for Christmas time. You’ll never look at a postbox in the same way again! Published by Bloomsbury .

A Secret in Time by Sally Nichols is the fourth adventure in this highly enjoyable time-slip series. This time brother and sister, Alex and Ruby, head back to the winter of 1947 through the magic mirror in their Aunt’s house. There, they meet the harsh reality of life after World War 2 and have to solve a mystery involving a missing family heirloom. Adventure abounds and historical detail brilliantly brings the time period to life for young middle-grade readers, creating a wintry story for readers to escape in. Published by Nosy Crow.

Tinsel: The Girls Who Invented Christmas by Sibeal Pounder brings more festive heroines to life in a story celebrating friendship and Christmas in equal measure, and giving a twist on the origin tale of Santa Claus. Blanche Claus is homeless on the streets of Victorian London when she receives her first ever Christmas gift – a magical bauble. So begins a madcap adventure that will see Blanche making new friends and finding magic she couldn’t have possibly imagined! So much so, Blanche wants to share her festive dreams and wishes with all children. Sleigh rides, the North Pole, elves, mince pies – there’s more Christmas than you can shake a stick at, turned on it’s head with laugh-out-loud results and lots of love. Previously reviewed in hardback, now published in paperback by Bloomsbury.

The Christmas Carrolls by Mel Taylor-Bessent and illustrated by Selom Sunu is this year’s ultimate festive read, spreading much-needed Christmas cheer through every page! Holly Christmas and her family celebrate Christmas every day, which is fine until Holly starts a new school. Little does she realise the challenges that await her as she dons her Santa backpack and ready’s herself to share Christmas carols – in September! Discover the power of true Christmas spirit and kindness, in a story that is bursting with festive fun, as Holly battles to save her own Christmas cheer and that of her school’s too. Perfect for everyone who loves Christmas – and those who don’t too! Published by Farshore.

With thanks to Alison Green Books, Bloomsbury, Faber, Farshore and Nosy Crow for sending me these books to review. They will be donated to my local foodbank in time for Christmas!

Guest Post for #NNFN: How I started writing non-fiction by Cathy Evans

As we continue to celebrate National Non-Fiction November, I’m delighted to welcome Cathy Evans, author of Cat Eyes and Dog Whistles (the Seven senses of humans and other Animals), published by Cicada Books, to the blog. Cathy shares her journey to becoming a non-fiction writer for children. Welcome to the blog Cathy!

How I started writing non-fiction by Cathy Evans

“I’ve come to children’s non-fiction by a slightly unusual route. I worked as a vet, and took a break when my kids were born. Writing has always been a passion of mine, so when my kids were a little older I started writing the occasional article for local papers and websites, and gradually gained confidence. I was drawn to the idea of a book about the senses for kids when I was home schooling my kids. We were doing a lot of work about current events and news/fake news. I started explaining to my older son how our bodies tell us stories through our sensory organs; how the story of the self starts with anatomy, with our bodies telling us what is real. He was surprisingly fascinated by it all. Particularly proprioception – how brilliant is it that you can touch your nose with your finger without seeing either body part?! I pitched it as an idea and within a year Cat Eyes was born!

My editor paired me with Becky Thorns, who is a brilliant illustrator, and who really brought the material to life. I think that there’s such a gap in the market for books that communicate information in an exciting graphic way.

Speaking as a parent, I want my kids to be curious and explore the world, but I don’t necessarily want them doing that online. My son is very much a visual person. He likes text to be broken into chunks and he likes illustration to guide him around the subject matter. Sometimes it’s hard to find science books that do this effectively and which reach out to kids, like my son, who aren’t natural science enthusiasts, but who can be drawn into it by means of engaging text and presentation.

In a world that can be very confusing, factual books can be very reassuring. I believe we need to teach kids how things work – nature, our bodies, the planet – because if there’s anything the past couple years have taught us, it’s that nothing can be taken for granted.”

Find out more about Cathy’s book here. With thanks to Cathy and Cicada Books for contributing this guest post.

New reviews: Early readers with Bloomsbury Education

Looking for stories to support young readers, building their independence and reading stamina? Now’s the time to try the Bloomsbury Early Readers series supporting children aged 6 and up with great stories written by award-winning authors and illustrators.

Featuring adventures told with humour and fun, to retellings of Shakespeare, myths and legends, to contemporary stories that will engage, these books are ideal for those children just starting to develop their own reading tastes and independence. Engaging tiles – such as Scratch and Sniff; Ping and the Missing Ring or The Night the Moon Went Out grab attention and the series features a range of genres and topics, in accessible formats and with diverse characters.

There are also discussion points and online guided reading notes written by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) for added support, either at home or in the classroom. For those children who aren’t quite ready for full-blown chapter books, this series is a great option and one they can work through at their own pace. The book banding is helpful as a guide, but it’s always important to remember that children’s reading skills develop individually and not necessarily in line with banding.

A series that will engage and entertain as well as support reading skills development, these are great for the classroom and school library, find out more here.

With thanks to Bloomsbury Books for sending me these books to review.

New reviews: Picture books to brighten your day

I don’t know about you, but glancing out the window is enough to make one feel a little fed-up with gloomy overcast skies. I can’t wait for the cold, frosty winter sun to come out but until it does, reaching for a picture book or two always works to bring a smile to my face! Especially these lovely titles.

The Three Happy Lions by Louise Fatio, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin is the third title in this very happy series! This time, the third happy lion is a baby and as he grows up his parents begin to wonder which career he should choose. Perhaps a fireman? A policeman? Or a pet? And of course, there’s always the circus…Whichever one he chooses, you can be sure it will be a marvellous adventure getting there, beautifully told and illustrated! Published by Scallywag Press.

Sophie’s Stories by Devon Holzwarth brings the magical world of stories to life with every book that Sophie opens transporting her on a new adventure. How on earth can she go to sleep when stories are so exciting? Vibrant illustrations will bring young imaginations to life, alongside the charming narrative, which shows just how truly magical stories are. Published by Alison Green Books.

The King’s Birthday Suit By Peter Bently, illustrated by Claire Powell is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s tale The Emperor’s New Clothes. Prepare to be amazed as two smooth-talking tailors promise King Albert-Horatio-Otto the Third a stunning new outfit for his birthday…It’s a right Royal Stitch-Up! Young readers won’t fail to be entertained with this hilarious story that leaps to life through fantastically funny illustrations. Published by Bloomsbury.

Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees by Catherine Jacob, illustrated by Lucy Fleming shows every little garden explorer just how they can help the insects in their gardens, especially the bees! Betsy Buglove uses her magical magnifying glass to show her grumpy neighbour Stan why it’s not a good idea to pave over his garden and scare away the bees. Gorgeous illustrations, a delightful rhyming narrative and fabulous bug facts will bring much-needed sunshine to all who read Betsy Buglove! Published by Scholastic.

The Wall and the Wild by Christina Dendy, illustrated by Katie Rewse is another picture book bringing the magic and wonder of nature to life! As Ana grows perfectly-sized plants and flowers in her garden, throwing all the uneven shoots and seeds over the wall, little does she realise the wild she is creating over the wall. The beautifully muted illustrations shot through with colour, show the power of nature to delight and survive, and how through it we can entice wildlife to our gardens. A lovely story. Published by Lantana.

Stop That Dinosaur by Alex English, illustrated by Ben Cort is a rollicking, rhyming roar-some romp, with a gran-napping brontosaurus. What can the little girl do when a dino steals her granny? Follow the adventure as she chases them through the parkm, fields and forests and finally finds out why the dino did it! Full of fun and with a sweet twist at the end, children will want to read this colourful story again and again. Published by Bloomsbury.

The Queen on Our Corner by Lucy Christopher, illustrated by Nia Tudor tells the story of a young girl who is the only one who ‘sees’ the homeless woman on the corner of the street. In her eyes, the woman is a warrior queen who has fought many battles but sadly lost her palace. It’s not until the woman sounds the alarm and saves the street from fire, that everyone sees her, and helps to make her home again. An important story about noticing everyone around us, especially those in need who all have their own story to tell. Beautifully told and beautifully drawn, a lovely addition to any bookshelf. Published by Lantana.

When Cucumber Loses His Cool by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by Tom Knight shows even the coolest of characters can sometimes lose their cool! Join Kevin the Cool Cucumber as he raps his way round the veg store helping everyone keep it together; but what happens when Red Pepper steps up with his own song to share? Kevin is not impressed; but as we see with the fun, rhyming narrative, it’s ok to have your own song to sing, and soon all the veggie friends are happy together. Great fun and full of beans (pardon the pun) this is a fab story to read aloud and share. Published by Scholastic.

The Longer the Wait, the Bigger the Hug by Eoin McLaughlin, illustrated by Polly Dunbar is a story we can all relate to, as we meet Hedgehog and Tortoise, who have been waiting for a very long time to see each other. Hedgehog gets more and more upset as hibernation has ended and Tortoise is nowhere to be seen and life is just not the same without him. But when they finally meet again, an extra-big hug awaits! A very simple, sweet narrative accompanied by gorgeous illustrations – each of which is a hug in itself – shows just how wonderful it is to be reunited with the ones we love. An absolute delight of a picture book. Published by Faber.

With thanks to all the publishers for sending me these books to review, which will be finding new homes via my local foodbank.