Tag Archives: Book review

BLOG TOUR: Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found by Aisha Bushby illustrated by Rachael Dean

It’s the final stop on the blog tour for the first in a magical new middle-grade series, inspired by the Arabian Nights. Beautifully told and full of imagination, Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found by Aisha Bushby illustrated by Rachael Dean will transport you to a world of wonder!

We all have our stories. And if we feed them, some may grow all the way to the moon…..Magic has always been part of twelve-year old Amira’s life, even though her world frowns on it. When a mysterious storm begins to rage and Amira’s magical cat companion goes missing, she decides to set sail. An extraordinary adventure awaits – one that will change Amira’s life forever…..

Aisha lives on board a dhow with her sea witch mothers and her jinn, a magical cat called Namur. They only visit the land to make their living selling tonics in the souks and buy supplies. Amira has spent all her life at sea so when her mothers tell her she is old enough to go to the souk, she cannot wait. Amira’s magical ability – to read people’s emotions through her sense of smell – is somewhat overwhelmed as she navigates the stalls and helps her mother. Little does she know a chance encounter with a boy called Leo, who also has a jinn in the form of a magical goldfish, will start to unravel the mysteries Amira has been pondering. Not least why Namur, who usually only appears when Amira is angry, has been visible ever since a dangerous storm arrived on the Sahir Penninsula. So begins the most marvellous but dangerous adventure, leading Amira to discover the truth about her magic and rescue her beloved jinn.

Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found is a captivating tale, drawing you in to Amira’s world. Magic and mystery abounds with each page a discovery in itself, featuring beautiful descriptions, heartfelt emotions and fantastic characters. The use of emotions and how we deal with them is present throughout, shining a light on the importance of accepting how we feel. I loved the Arabian Nights-inspired narration and invitations to accompany Amira as she embarks on her quest to find her jinn and the truth she so desperately seeks. Each character has a story to tell, embedding a sense of myth throughout and the narrative cleverly intertwines these stories to create a tapestry of adventure.  Accompanied by wonderful illustrations bringing Amira and her world to life, Moonchild will transport you to a place so full of enchantment you won’t want to leave!

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

BLOG TOUR: Return to Roar by Jenny McLachlan illustrated by Ben Mantle

Come and join a marvellous adventure in Return to Roar! Today is the final stop on the blog tour for this brilliant new book by Jenny MacLachlan and illustrated by Ben Mantle, taking us back to the Land of Roar with twins Rose and Arthur. It’s not always that a sequel is as good as the first in a series, but this one definitely is – you will not be disappointed! I’m delighted to share my review and even more excited to share a Q & A with author Jenny McLachlan!

Twins Rose and Arthur are so excited to be going back to Roar, their magical world of dragons, ninja wizards and anything else they can imagine! But then the twins receive a message from arch-enemy Crowky. WHAT’S IN THE BOX? The Box contains the things that scare the twins the most. If Crowky gets hold of it, he could use it to conjure up Rose and Arthur’s worst nightmares and destroy Roar….FOREVER.

In Return to Roar, Rose and Arthur are spending half term with their Grandad – at least that’s what their parents think! But Grandad knows better and he’s more than happy for the twins to ‘stay’ with him and travel back to Roar through the magic portal – the Z-bed in the attic! Little do they know, there’s an even bigger adventure than last time awaiting them – bigger than flying on dragons, catching unicorns and swimming with merfolk. Before they know it, Rose and Arthur are doing battle again with evil villain, a terrifying scarecrow called Crowky, who is determined to destroy Roar forever! Rose, Arthur and their friends, Wininja the wizard and Mitch the Mermaid must travel to The End and find The Box before Crowky – and a new fearsome villain – wreaks havoc on their imaginary world – and their home too!

Return to Roar is a storytelling delight, celebrating the wonder of imagination and the power of friendship. With great character development, brilliant new faces to meet and places to visit, along with some really heart-warming themes, it makes a fantastic sequel to Land of Roar (review here). Rose and Arthur have become closer now they’re a bit older and their support for each other – with a bit of healthy sibling rivalry – is great to see. The inhabitants of Roar are fantastic and make you want to join the fun. In amongst the adventure and excitement, there is a subtle theme of how to deal with bullies running through the narrative and some really wonderful moments of compassion and kindness. All in all, Return to Roar is a wonderful read, with brilliant illustrations throughout capturing the action. If I were you, I’d get your hands on a copy now – don’t miss your chance to visit Roar!

Jenny McLachlan was kind enough to share some insights into writing Return to Roar so read on to find out more!

How did you find travelling back to Roar?! Was it more difficult than the first visit?It was actually! I had no problem describing Roar and stepping back into Arthur’s shoes, and it was absolutely brilliant meeting Win and Grandad again, but there is quite a lot going on in the plot: Rose has a secret, the children go on a treasure hunt across Roar, and I introduce two new characters. It’s all go!

There’s some fantastic new places to visit and characters to meet in Return to Roar. What was your inspiration for them? ike ALrthur, I’m a big fan of Frozen Planet and this inspired The End. I’ve got a beautifully illustrated book that accompanied David Attenborough’s series and I spent a lot of time gazing at it! Mitch is inspired by lots of my favourite females: my daughters, my sister, my mum. She was probably the character that appeared most fully formed in my head. Some characters require a bit of work, others seem to have always existed. Mitch was just waiting to be written down. In fact, she was originally in The Land of Roar – I think I was very keen to include her! – but I took her out to save for the sequel.

Crowky is back and badder than ever – he makes a great villain and surely belongs in the children’s fiction villains’ hall of fame! Who is/are your favourite villain(s) in children’s fiction? I really love properly scary villains. I think my favourite villain in children’s fiction is probably Miss Trunchball. I took my daughters to watch the musical Matilda! when my youngest was only six. You should have seen her face when Miss Trunchball appeared! It was touch and go for a moment, and I wondered if we were going to have to make a speedy exit, but she wasn’t going anywhere! I found Moon-Face in The Far-Away Tree very scary, although I don’t think he was supposed to be. I wonder if he inspired Crowky…

I love Mitch the Mermaid – what a great character – (who also happens to have lots of tattoos)! If you were going to have any tattoos what would it be and why? Writing Return to Roar did involve a fair amount of tattoo Googling so I have given this some thought! I would have a beautiful fox somewhere I could always see it – my arm? I love foxes. I did wonder if I could ever get Mitch’s map tattoo . . . it’s quite big though. I don’t think I’m brave enough!

You draw on Rose’s experiences with her school friends – and you show real compassion in her actions right at the end. Why did you include this theme in the story and what do you hope readers will draw from it? I, like a lot of people, experienced some bullying at school. When it happens it’s absolutely terrifying. I can completely understand why it would scare Rose so much, and also why she would keep it a secret from Arthur. I really didn’t enjoy the first three years at secondary school. It felt like an unsafe place. Some days, I felt like Rose did when she was being chased by Hati. It’s very difficult to stand up to bullies. I didn’t want to offer a glib solution to Rose’s problems, but I did want her to, ultimately, triumph. If there is one thing I would like readers to draw from Rose’s experience it would be to start listening to that voice inside. The one that, when you know you are being spoken to unkindly, says, this isn’t right, and rather than keeping quiet about it, speaks out.

Thank you for participating and I cannot wait to read Book 3!

Find out more at https://jennymclachlan.com/ and https://www.benmantle.co.uk/.

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

BLOG TOUR: Llama Glamarama by Simon James Green and Garry Parsons

Llama Roundel 6Could there be better moment to publish a picture so full of fun and flamboyance as well as a really important message about acceptance? Llama Glamarama by Simon James Green and illustrated by Garry Parsons published by Scholastic is a spectacular story that leaves you with a big smile on your face! 

Today is my stop on the non-stop Llama Glamarama Dance Party Blog Tour! I’m sharing a POOL PARTY playlist from author Simon James Green and participating in the Dance Party Challenge. This is Simon’s debut in children’s picture books and it’s safe to say he’s on to a winner!

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I first heard this story at the Scholastic Children’s Book preview event, pre-lockdown and it’s safe to say, it was a huge hit. As Simon read the book aloud, illustrator Garry Parsons drew along and Larry the llama came to life before our eyes. By day,Larry is a very well-behaved llama like all his llama friends; but by night a secret dancing superstar. Larry runs away not wanting to admit the thing he loves most in the world and reveal his true self. But thankfully, he finds a place where he can really be himself, and not only that, it helps him feel brave enough to tell the truth!

It’s impossible not to feel good after reading this story and fall in love with Larry, as he discovers that actually, it’s ok to want to dance and in fact, taking pride in who you are will help you be truly happy! Llama Glamarama is a book to be enjoyed over and again and also one that can open the door to conversations about acceptance and being just who you are.

So here’s my Dance Party Challenge:

1. What’s your favourite dance move? The Twist – Pulp Fiction style!

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2. Favourite song to groove to? Pretty much any on this Dance Party Tour playlist!

3. Favourite song for a slow dance? A Rat Pack number

4. Ballet or hip-hop? Ballet (Noel Streatfeild anyone?!)

5. Jive or tango? Jive – I would LOVE to learn this dance

6. Flossing or flamenco? Flamenco (purely because of Baz Luhrman’s Strictly Ballroom!)

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And here’s Simon James Green’s POOL PARTY playlist!

“Maybe Llama Glamarama will be a massive hit, and I’ll buy a villa in Spain with a pool, and call it Casa de Larry. Until that time, these water-themed songs would equally work if you don’t have a pool, but just a tepid bath. Splash, splosh and enjoy!”

Purple RAIN – Prince

The TIDE is High – Blondie

The Day we Caught the Train – OCEAN Colour Scene

The RIVER of Dreams – Billy Joel

It’s RAINING Men – The Weathergirls

Here’s a link to the full ‘Llama Glamarama Dance Party Tour’ playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2ADCN4QeWgEcFosldR5nVv?si=Pp_Y6uQRSoKNmdjvN-GBvA. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour:

Llama Tour 1

With thanks to Scholastic for inviting me to take part  in this blog tour and sending me this book to review.

BLOG TOUR: Flyntlock Bones: The Sceptre of the Pharaohs by Derek Keily and Mark Elvins

Ahoy there me hearties! It’s a pirate’s life for me…well not really, but you can’t help feel pirate-y after reading the first of a brand new trilogy of pirate adventures with a twist, Flyntlock Bones: The Sceptre of the Pharaohs, by acclaimed author Derek Keilty and debut illustrator, Mark Elvins.  This is the first chapter book offering from Scallywag Press for children aged 7-10 years and it definitely lives up to their usual high standards of exciting and quirky new books.

I’m delighted to share my review of this new book on today’s stop of the blog tour celebrating Flyntlock’s publication this month!

Flyntlock Bones Jacket

Flyntlock Bones: The Sceptre of the Pharaohs, by Derek Keilty illustrated by Mark Elvins

Welcome to the Black Hound – a ship full o’ the cleverest pirate investigators ya ever set eyes upon…You OK, lad? Ya gone paler than a full moon.’ 

When Flynn applies for the job of cabin boy on the Black Hound, he doesn’t expect it to be a pirate ship! But soon he’s setting sail for the Seven Seas, on a perilous quest to recover ancient treasure bound by a magical curse….

Adventure abounds from the first page as we join Flynn on the Black Hound on his first sea voyage – well his first journey anywhere!  Having been in an orphanage most of his life, Flynn can’t wait to escape and after getting over the shock of discovering he’s on a pirate ship, he can’t help but be excited when he finds out that Captain Watkins and his crew are actually pirate-investigators!  Flynn immediately makes friends with Red, a feisty girl who is a pirate-ship pro and he soon has to find his sea legs as the Black Hound heads to the Isle of Tut to solve another mystery.

It’s a brilliant twist on pirate stories, combining all the best bits – think treasure maps, swashbuckling, suitably grumpy pirate cooks, walking the plank, pirate grog  – with a mystery thriller narrative including a villain named Captain Morihearty! Highly enjoyable with a fantastic cast of characters, the story is brilliantly enhanced by illustrations reminiscent of the master himself, Chris Riddell.  This is definitely one to watch and I’m sure will go down brilliantly with would-be pirates and sleuths alike.  Great fun!

Find out more at www.scallywagpress.comand check out the rest of the tour using #FlyntlockBones

Derek Keilty lives in Belfast and is the author of over ten books for children. His work has been translated into many different languages, and shortlisted for the Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year. He has a thriving schools program, storytelling and taking creative writing workshops around local schools.

Mark Elvins lives in Yorkshire. When he’s not drawing pirates he’s a print-maker and recently won an English Heritage competition to illustrate the displays at Whitby Abbey.

With thanks to Scallywag Press for inviting me to participate in the blog tour and sending me this book to review.

Flyntlock Bones Jacket

 

Book of the Month: Generation Hope: Youth Can Make a Difference by Kimberlie Hamilton

book of the month

Hope is a wonderful word and much needed at this time.  This month’s Book of the Month is a fantastic new book by Kimberlie Hamilton, published by Scholastic, Generation Hope: Youth Can Make A Difference. It’s a brilliant book offering inspiration and advice for young people who want to do some good in the world, and encouraging them to believe that they can make a difference. And I’m delighted to say author Kimberlie Hamilton joins the blog today to share a wonderful post – Why Kindess Counts.

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Meet the young people around the world who are acting now to make a difference. From tackling climate change and animal welfare, to fighting for equality and advocating kindness, the young activists profiled in this book show how we can all make a positive change.

With a vibrant and funky layout, this eye-catching book is bound to capture the imagination of young people everywhere! Full of incredible facts about children and young people who really have made a different throughout history, each section explores an aspect of activism and shows how you can get involved. From Animal Advocates to Water Warrior, from Creative for A Cause to It’s Not Easy Being Green, this book has it covered. I love that there are examples of young people all over the world who are making a difference in the most wonderful ways. Perhaps the most well-known to young people today is Greta Thunberg who has inspired a generation of young activists:

“To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible”  Greta Thunberg

If you are looking for a book to inspire the young people in your life that they do have the power to make change for the better, then this is it.  And to celebrate it being Book of the Month, author Kimberlie Hamilton shares her thoughts about how to be kind – something we can appreciate at this time. Welcome to the blog Kimberlie!

Why Kindness Counts – 8 Ways Kindness Can Make a Difference

“Kindness is one of the most powerful tools we have as human beings. Young and old alike, our words and actions have the potential to impact other people’s lives in countless ways. During challenging times like these, we each need to do our part to spread hope and compassion, kindness and caring. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1 – Kindness holds people together. There really is magic to be found in making connections with others and finding common ground. How we treat each other determines the kind of community we live in, the kind of country we live in and ultimately the kind of world we live in.

2 – Being kind feels good. When we do something for someone without expecting anything in return, it gives us a natural high. And that feeling is pretty addictive!

3 – Aim to understand, not judge. Kindness is all about empathy, acceptance and tolerance. Being kind helps break down the emotional barriers that all too often build up between ourselves and those around us.

4 – Kindness is ageless. No matter our age, we all have the power to make our community and our world a better place for everyone. In the words of teenage Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg, “No one is too small to make a difference.”

5 – Everyone is fighting their own battle. None of us can ever know what anyone else is going through in life. One small act of kindness might make a huge difference to them. This is why “compassion activism” can be just as powerful and important as other forms of activism, like school strikes for the climate.

6 – We have more influence than we realise. The people around us can take inspiration from how we treat others. Set a good example by being an ambassador for kindness.

7 – Love trumps hate. Each of us has the same power to spread hope and kindness as those who wish to spread fear and hate. The world needs kind-hearted people to put positive energy into the world, now more than ever.

8 – Kindness is contagious, too! In unsettling times like these, it’s comforting to know that lots of people working together can achieve amazing things. As Harold Kushner once said, “When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.”

In a world where you can be anything, be kind!

Find out more www.kimberliehamilton.co.uk. With thanks to Scholastic for sending me this book to review.