Book of the Month: The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore and Roger Duvoisin

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Celebrating the final Book of the Month for 2019, I’m delighted to share Roger Duvoisin’s eye-catching interpretation of Clement C Moore’s classic poem from 1954, The Night Before Christmas, republished for 2019 by Scallywag Press . It’s been a tradition in my house since my children were little to read aloud The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve so I have a huge soft spot for this gorgeous poem.

The poem, also known by the name A Visit from St Nicholas, was first published in 1823, with the author wishing to remain anonymous. It wasn’t until some years later that Clement C Moore claimed ownership. The Night Before Christmas was the first time St Nicholas  – Santa Claus – had been depicted in this way and led to the first visualisation of Santa with his reindeer and sleigh. A few hundred years later, it doesn’t fail to capture the imagination and is still a wonderful festive treat to enjoy with whole family. This version is beautifully presented in a long thin format to depict Santa coming down the chimney. Brightly coloured and eye-catching artwork bring the magic and wonder of Christmas Eve to life; I particularly love the spread of Santa and his reindeer flying over the rooftops. You couldn’t really ask for anything more magical at Christmas time!

Find out more at www.scallywagpress.com.

With thanks to Scallywag Press for sending me this book to review!

 

 

Guest blog & GIVEAWAY – Be Your Best Self by Danielle Brown and Nathan Kai

As we near the end of National Non-Fiction November, it’s a huge pleasure to welcome Danielle Brown MBE to the blog today with a guest post about the fantastic non-fiction book she co-authored with Nathan Kai, Be Your Best Self – Life Skills for Unstoppable Kids (read my recent review here). Danielle is a double Paralympic gold medalist and Nathan is the youngest self-development published author, and a member of MENSA. The story behind the book is inspiring – read on to find out more!

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Be Your Best Self

“Have you written a book for children about how they can be the best they can be?” 

Danielle was asked this question by seven-year-old Nathan Kai at an event she was speaking at. Nathan explained that he’d been looking for a book to help him become the very best he could be, but after months of searching he couldn’t find anything out there.

“No,” Danielle said. “But that’s a really good idea.”

And it was. There are thousands of self-improvement books for adults, each one offering a different perspective on how to maximise our capabilities and live more fulfilling lives. However, there wasn’t anything out there to help children build solid foundations for success, happiness and esteem. Nathan then suggested that we wrote the book together.

This had the potential to have a HUGE positive impact and two years later we are very excited that Be Your Best Self has hit the shelves. Writing this book has been an incredibly fun journey, bringing together our unique perspectives and skillsets to create innovative and exciting guidance that children can really relate to, and empowering them to become their best selves. It’s a very unusual combination but we make a fantastic team. We see the world in different ways and our joined experiences and knowledge base has allowed us to create something that is designed for young people.

We believe that every young person is capable of achieving extraordinary things with the right mindset and support structures in place, and Be Your Best Self helps them to do this.  Be Your Best Self is a comprehensive framework that encourages children to raise their aspirations and turn exciting dreams into a reality. It’s a thought provoking career tool, a vital people skills asset, a modern day confidence builder, an engaging life-hack, and it empowers children to make the most of – and create – opportunities to lead bright and successful futures.

Above all it lets children know that they are special and unique, valuable and important, and that they can achieve their dreams. We can all be BRILLIANT if we work hard and develop our strengths and weaknesses.

And this is something that applies to ALL children.

Nobody is born successful, but it is something we can all learn to achieve with the right support, guidance and skillset. We want to help children from all backgrounds and abilities build strong foundations for successful futures and recognise that they have the capacity to achieve great things. Getting this book published is only the start of our very exciting journey. We are looking forward to bringing the contents to life through inspiring workshops and presentations designed to make a lasting impact with children. We believe that the future is built by education and children deserve to be equipped with the right tools and strategies to help them maximise their potential.

Want to know a little more about the authors?

Nathan Kai is nine years old and very determined to achieve his goals – one of which has been to become a published author. Nathan is a member of MENSA and his intelligence shows. He is a prize winning linguist, grade 4 pianist, bronze UK and European medallist in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s educated otherwise. He swims like a fish and thoroughly enjoys the challenges of writing. He’s thrilled that his hard work is paying off and he is looking forward to helping other children feel happier, more secure and confident and in achieving their goals too.

Danielle Brown MBE started archery on her fifteenth birthday and three years later she was on the Great Britain team, jumping in as World Number 1 and hanging onto that position for the rest of her career. Danielle won gold at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games and retained her title in London 2012, as well as winning 5 World Championship Titles. She became the first disabled person to represent England at the Commonwealth Games (and win gold) as an able-bodied athlete. Danielle works as a keynote speaker, trainer and coach.

Find out more at www.beyourbestself.global and head over to Twitter for a fantastic opportunity to win one of FIVE copies of Be Your Best Self!

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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.

 

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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

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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

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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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