Category Archives: Blog tour

BLOG TOUR: Mayor Bunny’s Chocolate Town by Elys Dolan

Spring is in the air – just – so it’s a good time to join the campaign trail with Elys Dolan’s new book, Mayor Bunny’s Chocolate Town, published by Oxford Children’s Books. It’s my stop on the blog tour for this delightful picture book which is sure to put a spring in your step!!

Mayor Bunny’s Chocolate Town by Elys Dolan

Mr Bunny is back . . . and this time he’s running for mayor. Coop Town needs some urgent repairs-and Mr Bunny is promising to make it great again. At first, the chicken electorate is wowed by Mr Bunny’s promises of new chocolate houses, new chocolate parks, new chocolate swimming pools-as well as his bold claim that chocolate will repel hungry foxes. But what will happen when the truth comes home to roost?

Award-winning author illustrator Elys Dolan is back with the sequel to the Lollies prize-winning Mr Bunny’ s Chocolate Factory, in what is sure to be another hit! Get ready for chocolate-fuelled fun and games, as Mr Bunny does everything he can to win the chicken’s vote.

Unfortunately, instead of thinking what he can really do to help the town, Mr Bunny just wants to be in charge, and that means resorting to ‘dirty’ tricks to win the vote. His rival, the much-more-sensible chicken, Debbie, is very disapproving and so are lots of others including the rather wonderful, quality-control unicorn, Edgar. Mr Bunny finally gets what he wants, but when his problem-solving solution of a massive delivery of chocolate for the town fails spectacularly, it’s up to Debbie to clean up the rather waspy mess. Whilst we’re probably a little disappointed chocolate really isn’t the answer to everything, we can see that Debbie is the best chicken for the job!

Mayor Bunny’s Chocolate Town is a tale of being careful what you wish for, as Mr Bunny learns some important lessons about what it means to really be in charge and care for your home town. Wonderfully illustrated with a lively and entertaining narrative, and some equally lively and entertaining characters, children will fall in love with Mr Bunny all over again, even if he is a bit naughty!

Find out more at Oxford Children’s Books and follow Elys Dolan on Twitter. With thanks to the publisher for inviting me to participate in this blog tour – don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour running all this week:

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!

BLOG TOUR: Scaredy Bat by Jonathan Meres illustrated by Anders Frang

Today is my stop on the blog tour for a delightful new picture book, Scaredy Bat by Jonathan Meres, illustrated by Anders Frang published by Little Door Books.

It’s morning in the Dark, Dark Wood and Little Bat can’t sleep. He doesn’t like the light. But when Big Bat and Middle Bat call him a Scaredy Bat, there’s only one thing to do….

Meet Little Bat, a brave little chap who’s out to prove just how brave to his fellow bat friends. This delightful story turns the idea of ‘things that go bump in the night’, on its head and suddenly it’s the daylight that’s scary! Determined to show he’s not afraid of the light, Little Bat takes a leap of faith and discovers it’s not so bad after all. In fact, he discovers the Dark Wood is almost as fun in the day as it is at night!

With a gentle narrative accompanied by charming illustrations bringing nature to life, Scaredy Bat will have young readers asking for more bat-antics! Sure to be a firm favourite at bedtime – and reassure little ones that everyone gets a bit scared sometimes.

With thanks to Little Door Books for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. You can follow the rest of the tour here:

BLOG TOUR: Song of the Far Isles by Nicholas Bowling

Take a trip to a magical isle and be swept away by song, in this wonderful tale by Nicholas Bowling, Song of the Far Isles. It’s the final day of the blog tour and I’m sharing a musical instrument-inspired guest post from the author!

Music is the life-blood of Little Drum, one of the Far Isles, feeding the souls of all who live there – those alive and the ancestors who now exist as ‘ghasts’. Oran plays the cithara, her birth instrument, and such is her skill even at her young age, she plays as though it is part of her, inspiring and thrilling all who listen. All this is brought to a stop by the arrival of the the Duchess from the mainland, along with an order for silence – no more music. Ever. A threat to the very heart of the community, Oran is determined to save her home and life as she has always known it. So begins a quest to find the mythical instrument that might just hold the key to changing the Duchess’ mind, taking Oran and her ghast friend Alick to places they can only imagine. Beautifully told, Song of the Far Isles is lyrcial to it’s core, showing the wonder and power of music to bring life, love and liberty to all.

I’m delighted to welcome author Nicholas to the blog today, with a wonderful guest post sharing the meaning behind each of the instruments in the story. Welcome to the blog Nicholas!

The Nine Instruments of the Chorus

“While writing Song of the Far Isles, I thought a lot about why musicians choose their particular instrument – or why the instrument chooses them. I have played music long enough to know that the stereotypes of certain players (e.g. bassists: reliable, versatile, excellent lovers) are for the most part true. This led me to wonder whether there might be a sort of “zodiac” for the musicians of the Far Isles, in which a specific instrument might naturally attract, and develop, a specific set of emotional or physical attributes.

So, here they are: the Nine Instruments of the Chorus. Which one are you?

Cithara

The cithara is the first of the instruments, and the most versatile. It is unique in not having a specific partner-instrument, and will happily duet with any of the Nine. Cithara players are just the same – open-minded, open-hearted, friendly to all (even when they should be more circumspect). Cithara players are creative, imaginative, and often characterised as dreamers. They usually have an adventurous streak, and have difficulty seeing the seriousness and danger of certain situations.

Fiddle

Fiddle-players have long had to endure the age-old joke about being “too highly strung”. While it is true that they have a tendency towards worry, and do not cope well with change and disorder, they are also fiercely loving and selfless souls. They are tireless workers – often on the behalf of others – and their quick fingers make them exceptional craftsmen and women.

Barrow fiddle

Traditionally the accompaniment to funeral song, players of the barrow fiddle are, like their instruments, a thoughtful and melancholy bunch. In general they are self-sufficient and happiest in their own company, but the friendships they do form are incredibly strong. To those who know them they are loyal, trustworthy and can always be relied upon for sound advice and a sympathetic ear.

Sea Horn

Brash and brassy, players of the sea horn are perhaps the most confident of musicians. They are born leaders. They love to be in the company of others, and others love to be around them – not least to catch their jokes and stories. Typically, sea horn players have incredible amounts of energy, and are known to be spontaneous to the point of recklessness. Underestimate their mood swings at your peril…

Bombard

Bombard players are renowned for being deeply affectionate and soulful sorts (the bombard is often known by its colloquial name, “the lover’s pipe”). They want nothing more than to please other people, and the courtship of a bombardist can be a wearisome thing. They are, like fiddle players, incredibly hard workers – although, unlike fiddle players, they are also impossibly disorganised. Always best to give a bombard player one task at a time.

Reed Pipe

Reed pipers are often hard to pin down – never happy to settle in one place, or at one task, for too long. They have a reputation for being flighty, changeable and unreliable, but at the same time there is no one with quicker wits. Many a time has an over-confident sea horn player found themselves on the sharp end of a reed piper’s tongue. And their feet are quicker still – with the smallest and lightest of the instruments, they are the best dancers on the Four Seas.

Bagpipes

Bagpipers are some of the most gregarious musicians in the Far Isles – great talkers, great storytellers, and (as the stereotype goes) great eaters and drinkers. Only cithara players can compete with their friendliness. They are known for their patience and compassion, and are nearly impossible to rouse to anger. On the rare occasions when they give in to their emotions, however, best set sail for another island…

Bodhran

The role of the drum is to hold a song together, so it is unsurprising that bodhran players are the most steadfast and reliable of islanders. They say what they mean, and they mean what they say. A drummer is often called upon to settle disputes between more “passionate” instruments – in fact, they can be so diplomatic and even-handed that they seem to lack any feelings at all. Do not be fooled by this. Under a bodhran player’s thick skin is a warm heart and a wicked sense of humour. 

Handpan

The handpan Is perhaps the oddest instrument in the Far Isles – somewhere between percussion and a tonal instrument – and handpan players are, without exception, eccentric folk. Their minds seem to work in ways that other musicians cannot fathom, which means they often befriend each other (or just talk to themselves). But beyond their outward strangeness they are fiercely intelligent, perceptive, and imaginative. They often see solutions to problems where everyone else has failed.”

SONG OF THE FAR ISLES by Nicholas Bowling out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House) Follow Nicholas on twitter @thenickbowling and find out more at chickenhousebooks.com. With thanks to Chicken House for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in this blog tour. Don’t forget to check out all the stops on the tour:

BLOG TOUR: Bad Panda by Swapna Haddow and Sheena Dempsey

It’s DAY FIVE of the Bad Panda blog tour – and I’m afraid you just can’t help falling in love with super-fluffly Lin and her partner-in-crime, Fu – no doubt much to Lin’s disgust! Bad Panda is the first in a fantastically funny new series from the duo who created Dave Pigeon, author Swapna Haddow and illustrator, Sheena Dempsey. Lin is the ‘bad’ panda in the story but she’s so super fluffy and cute everyone loves her, no matter how badly she behaves, as she tries to escape the zoo and get home to her favourite person – her bad brother, Face-Like-A-Bag-Of-Potatoes. Combining hilarious narrative, with lively illustrations that perfectly capture the humour, Bad Panda is the ideal tonic if you need cheering up or if you just enjoy laughing-out-loud!

Today I’m sharing an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how Swapna got to know pandas and gain real insight by working as a panda-keeper for a day!

Behind the Scenes of Bad Panda – with Swapna Haddow and Sheena Dempsey

“You are in for a treat. Swapna and Sheena are sharing behind-the-scenes pictures and secrets of their new book Bad Panda.

The Bad Panda story was originally inspired by a trip Swapna took to China with her in-laws in 2017. Her mother in law arranged for the family to be panda keepers for a day at the Chengdu Panda Base and Swapna describes this as the absolute highlight of the trip.

She and her family arrived at the panda base where they heard about the rescued pandas Most had lost their homes due to deforestation and some were orphaned. And right now there are only about 2000 pandas in the wild, which makes them vulnerable of extinction so these centres do vital work in protecting pandas.

Swapna spent the day cleaning up the panda paddocks, sweeping up their poos, smashing up bamboo stems ready for meal times and making steamed panda cake which is a treat of corn, soybean, rice and egg.

And of course, she spent many hours watching the gentle giants go about their day.

When she got home she had heaps of ideas for a new panda story and both she and Sheena co-created Bad Panda.

Sheena says designing characters is one of her favourite aspects of illustration and before she started making the rough drawings for Bad Panda, she wanted to create some model sheets that she could refer to easily for each of the main characters – these model sheets were inspired by those the Disney animators make where they draw their characters from different angles and with different expressions.

Lin was the trickiest character to get right. Sheena struggled to make her cute and appealing, while also making her look like the rotter of a grotter of a panda she truly is. She worked with her art director Emma Eldridge on getting the fluff around her head just right, as well as making her proportions very toddler-like with a big head on a small body.

Fu was a much easier bamboo to crack than Lin. Sheena describes his body shape as ‘kind of like an egg on legs, with a flyaway quiff on the top of his head’.

Sheena wanted to make the antagonist King Cobra pretty vicious-looking and she didn’t hold back. He looks every bit the deadly cobra he is.

Bad Panda is partly told in graphic novel format, with 37 pages of its pages told with panels and speech bubbles. This was a really exciting way to tell Lin’s story through pictures. Sheena did a lot of research into the mechanics of making comics as she had never drawn any before and she even started her own webcomic called Penguin Chronicles for practice.”

With thanks to Faber for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in this blog tour. Find out more at www.faber.co.uk and don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour: