Tag Archives: Non-fiction

BLOG TOUR: What did the Tree See? by Charlotte Guillian, illustrated by Sam Usher

It’s a celebration of nature and history on the blog today! I’m delighted to share a guest post today on my stop of the blog tour for What did the tree see? by Charlotte Guillain and Sam Usher. When I first heard about this picture book I absolutely loved the idea of it. There is something wondrous about the mighty oak tree and the fact they have often lived for hundreds of years – what indeed have these majestic trees seen throughout history? What did the tree see? is a non-fiction picture book that captures exactly this premise through a charming lyrical narrative and wonderfully detailed illustrations. We see an oak tree grow from an acorn, to sapling to a fully grown tree. As it grows, it sees the land change before it, with villages turning to towns and the advent of industrialisation. It’s a lovely depiction of the oak tree and it’s importance in our heritage. There’s a wonderful spread charting the life cycle of an oak tree and a historical timeline tracking what happened in history over the course of a 1,000 years – oak trees can live for a long time! Published in partnership with The National Forest by Wellbeck Children’s, 10p of every book sold goes towards helping look after our forests. Today, we discover a day in the life of a picture book author with Charlotte Guillain and she shares are top tip for would-be writers. Welcome to the blog Charlotte!

“In many ways, I’ve been very lucky over the last year. When the pandemic hit us and the lockdowns started, my working life didn’t really change that much. Of course, I missed the opportunity to meet children in schools and at festivals, but the day-to-day job of writing went on pretty much as normal.

I write non-fiction, such as What Did the Tree See? (illustrated by Sam Usher), on my own but I also write picture books with my husband, Adam. We have a room like a box at the bottom of our tiny garden, which we call the Writing Den, and this is where we head every morning. With schools closing and the whole family having to work at home, we’ve never been more grateful for the extra space the Writing Den gives us. After switching on the computers and the heater and checking emails (and Twitter!), we usually start the day properly by going for a walk. We live just over the road from the Blenheim Palace estate, so we normally head there to breathe in the beautiful green scenery and wander among the wonderful mature trees that are scattered throughout the park. It was on one of these walks that I first had the idea for What Did the Tree See? I wanted to tell the story of an oak tree over the hundreds of years that it has been growing and show how much the world around it has changed. Walking in nature always works well for Adam and I to brainstorm new ideas, thrash out plots and solve writing problems.

After our walk, we head back to the Writing Den. I try to do any new writing in the morning, when I’m feeling fresh and energised from going out. On a good day, I’ll be totally immersed and only surface at lunchtime. When things are feeling harder, there will be more Twitter and tea breaks… After lunch I might continue with the new writing, or I might switch to editing projects that are already in progress, update our website, write publicity such as a blog post or deal with any emails that have arrived during the day.

On some days, we might have a virtual visit with a school anywhere in the world. This is always great fun and it’s so important to be reminded who our readers are, even if we can only see them on a screen. We also spend a lot of time recording videos for our YouTube channel. Lockdowns permitting, we might end our working day with another walk among the trees, discussing how much progress we’ve made on a manuscript and helping each other to solve any problems that may have arisen. My top tip for any would-be writers: Don’t spend too much time at your desk! Get out into the fresh air and hang out with some trees if you can. You’ll be amazed how much it helps!

What Did the Tree See? by Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Sam Usher (£12.99, Welbeck Children’s) available now.

With thanks to Wellbeck Children’s for sending me this book to review and inviting me to participate in the blog tour. Find out more on Twitter: @KidsWelbeck and @cguillain and check out the rest of the blog tour:

New review: You Are Positively Awesome written and illustrated by Stacie Swift

In celebration of National Non-Fiction Month, I’m sharing my review of this delightful book full of good vibes and self-care suggestions. You Are Positively Awesome written and illustrated by Stacie Swift is a gorgeous guide to feeling good about yourself. Not only is it full of brilliant ideas to combat those days when we feel a bit rubbish, there’s also space for readers to jot down their own thoughts and self-motivating notes.

Full of colour and simple, lively illustrations, you cannot fail to feel good after reading through all the words of wisdom and self-care. Affirmations and practical suggestions provide helpful guidance in how to find your way through life’s ups and downs. At a time when the world is all over the place, and children might be feeling the strain, You Are Positively Awesome is the ideal encouragement – something we can all benefit from! Covering everything from why self-care is important, to that it’s okay to say no and how to be kind, there is a good idea for every day of the week.

Published by Pavilion, this book would make a great gift for independent readers and would also be perfect for sharing with younger readers, to help them make sense of how they’re feeling and learn how to be kind to themselves. And grown-ups will benefit too!

Find out more at www.stacieswift.com and www.pavilionbooks.com.

With thanks to Pavilion Books for sending me this title to review.

BLOG TOUR: Literally: Amazing words and Where They Come From by Patrick Skipworth, illustrated by Nicholas Stevenson

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I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the language safari blog tour for LITERALLY: Amazing words and Where They Come From by Patrick Skipworth, illustrated by Nicholas Stevenson, published by What On Earth Books.  LITERALLY is an amazing collection of some of our most commonly used words and shares the history behind them.  Prepare to be astounded as you discover more about one of our most precious commodities, learning not just about the origins of words but also about how their meanings have changed and how far they have travelled.  Accompanied by vibrant and humourous illustrations, this is a wonderful book to share and enjoy again and again.

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Today I’m sharing a guest post from author Patrick Skipworth, who studied Classics and Linguistics in London and the Netherlands, connecting the dots between ancient cultures, their histories, and their languages.  Welcome to the blog Patrick!

Language Safari part 3: Language on a plate: food words from around the world

In the guest posts on the LITERALLY Blog tour I’ll be taking a closer look at three familiar areas of English vocabulary to reveal some of the surprises hidden in our words.

One of my favourite hobbies is cooking. Ever since I was very little I’ve enjoyed trying new foods, and now as an adult I love experimenting in the kitchen. Things sometimes don’t turn out as planned, but that’s half the fun. Food also provides an opportunity to combine one passion with another – words! Words for the vegetables, herbs, spices and animal products we use to make our dinners are a treasure trove for etymologists, with connections spanning thousands of years and crossing the world. The easy access we have today to globally imported foods in every supermarket or high street means we get to discover new words all the time.

Even familiar food words can have distant origins: pepper and sugar, for example, have their roots in Sanskrit from ancient India, and tea comes from Chinese (ch’a). Or take the humble potato. This ubiquitous feature of Sunday lunch in the UK was originally introduced to European stomachs after it was brought back from South America by Spanish conquistadors. The Inca who ruled the area around what is now Peru were huge fans. But, as with many words, unpacking the potato reveals a more complex journey into English. Long before its recent resurgence in trendy recipes, the sweet potato was the original ‘potato’ for English speakers. It took its name from batata, probably its name in Taíno but certainly a language from the Caribbean. The arrival of the less-sweet potato from South America saw it eventually take over as arguably the most loved root vegetable. Elsewhere the story is just as complicated: compare French pomme de terre (‘potato’, literally ‘apple of the earth’ – also see Dutch aardappel) with the more familiar looking patate douce (sweet potato), or, even more telling, Spanish patata (‘potato’) and batata (‘sweet potato’).

Through the various forms and changes around this single word we can identify a period of history that saw invaders and colonists taking two plants from the Americas back to Europe and causing linguistic mayhem. These words reveal historical connections around trade and colonialism that have shaped a significant part of societies today. Often these connections are actually right in front of us, such as for the word peach which comes ultimately from ‘Persia’, through which this fruit once made the long journey from China to Europe. A less common sight, the Roman snail (or escargot) was introduced across Europe by the Romans who had a taste for the slimy molluscs which has been passed down to French cuisine today. Red herrings abound though (French fries originate in Belgium for example), so any etymologist always has to stay on their toes. Next time you have your dinner, take a closer look at the words on your plate – you might discover some amazing stories.

Follow Patrick on Twitter @PSkipworth and Nicholas @xonicholasxo.

With thanks to What On Earth Books for inviting me to participate in this blog tour! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour:

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

FREE Information book explaining the Coronavirus to children, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

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In these extraordinary times we find ourselves in, children must be somewhat confused and concerned with their lives turned upside down. And although many children will be pleased to have extra time with their families at home, understanding what is really happening is difficult. So to help, independent children’s publisher, Nosy Crow have enlisted the help of Axel Scheffler, the illustrator of The Gruffalo to bring to life a digital book for primary school age children, free for anyone to read on screen or print out, about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine acted as a consultant, and the Nosy Crow also had advice from two head teachers and a child psychologist in order to write the book.

Informative, colourful and just what is needed to help respond to children’s questions and anxieties about these unprecedented events, the book answers key questions such as:

  • What is the coronavirus?
  • How do you catch the coronavirus?
  • What happens if you catch the coronavirus?
  • Why are people worried about catching the coronavirus?
  • Is there a cure for the coronavirus?
  • Why are some places we normally go to closed?
  • What can I do to help?
  • What’s going to happen next?

It actually helped me see the whole picture in very straightforward way too – and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone wanting to talk things through with their child in a calm and reassuring manner, without the background of media dialogue.

Nosy Crow wants to make sure that this book is accessible to every child and family and so the book is offered totally free of charge to anyone who wants to read it. However, the company suggests, at the back of the book, that families might make a donation to help our health service if they find the book useful: https://www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/.

Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo, said:

“I asked myself what I could do as an children’s illustrator to inform, as well as entertain, my readers here and abroad. So I was glad when my publisher, Nosy Crow, asked me to illustrate this question-and-answer book about the coronavirus. I think it is extremely important for children and families to have access to good and reliable information in this unprecedented crisis, and I hope that the popularity of the books I’ve done with Julia Donaldson will ensure that this digital book will reach many children who are now slightly older, but might still remember our picture books.”

To download the book follow this link or you can read it here:

Click to access Coronavirus_INSwith-cover.pdf

With thanks to Nosy Crow for sharing this today.