Tag Archives: Summer reading

New reviews: summer book blog!

I am very pleased to share new reviews on the blog today of some of the books I’ve read over the last few months. For younger and middle grade readers, these titles are ideal for keeping children engaged and reading over the summer holidays! Happy reading!

Madam Squeaker by Pip Jones illustrated by Paula Bowles (Age5+) is a charming tale of a little mouse with a big heart. Minetta is desperate to teach the Ruling Rats a lesson about sharing; just in time a wise old Owl appears and offers her some advice.  Lovely colourful illustrations capture Minetta Mouse’s courage as she finds her voice and shows all the animals how they can share together. A Little Gems story, this is a perfect treat for very young readers. Published by Barrington Stoke.

Lottie Loves Nature: Bird Alert by Jane Clarke illustrated by James Brown (Age 6+) is book three is the series which is part of the Summer Reading Challenge 2021- Wild World Heroes. Once again we meet nature-mad Lottie and this time she’s watching! But share has to act fast when a hatchling falls out of it’s nest and we learn all about looking after feathered friends in the garden with handy tips and checklists. Entertaining, informative, Lottie Loves Natures is a great way to encourage young reader’s interest in the natural world and reading. Published by Five Quills.

Flyntlock Bones: The Eye of Mogrod By Derek Keilty illustrated by Mark Elvins (Age 7+) – pirates ahoy! It’s adventure time again with quick-witted Flynn and friends embarking on another mystery-solving quest.  With fearsome villains and monsters to face, alongside pirate-y behaviour, be prepared for multiple thrills and entertaining pirate fun all brought to life by brilliant illustrations. Published by Scallywag Press.

Grace-Ella: Pixie Pandemonium by Sharon Marie Jones Illustrated by Adriana J Puglisi (age 7+) is the third book in this delightful series featuring young witch Grace Ella and her cat Mr Whiskins.  This time, Grace-Ella must save the school fair and stop a mischeviuous pixie named Buddy from causing chaos!  Great fun, young readers will be enchanted. Published by Firefly Press.

An Escape in Time by Sally Nicholls illustrated by Rachael Dean (Age 7+) continues the adventures of siblings Alex and Ruby as they travel through the magic mirror in their historical family home of Applecott House to another historical destination. This time they meet French Aristocrats who have escaped the Revolution, and must find a way to help them, all the while learning more about the magic mirror, their family history and themselves. Clever plots, engaging characters and fantastic historical detail bring this story to life making the reader wish they could travel in time too! Published by Nosy Crow.

Me and the Robbersons by Sirir Kolu, translated by Ruth Urbom (Age 8+) is a quirky adventure telling the tales of a bandit family, a kidnapping and lots and lots of sweets. Full of madcap mayhem, The Robbersons inadvertently give Maise the summer holiday she’s dreamed of when they kidnap her and she’s soon embroiled in their hilarious escapades! Fun and furious, this adventure will charm the socks off those looking for a Dahl-style story. Published by Little Tiger Group.

Agent Zaiba Investigates: The Haunted House by Annabelle Sami illustrated by Daniela Sosa (Age 8+) stars Zaiba, a girl who can’t wait to become the world’s greatest detective! Who is trying to scare away the new family who’ve moved into Oakwood Manor? Zaiba and her friends are determined to find the culprit in book three of this exciting, well-paced adventure series. Perfect for fans of mystery stories, with friendship and fun at the heart of each one. Published by Little Tiger Group.

We Made a Movie by Charlotte Lo (Age 8+) revisits Luna and her family on their island-home with another madcap adventure in the offing, in this thoroughly entertaining sequel. This time, Luna comes up with a brilliant plan to solve everyone’s business problems and save her home and the town of Wishnook from being turned into ‘The Las-Vegas of Scotland’! Hilarious, heart-warming and full of eccentric and endearing characters, this story is great fun! Published by Nosy Crow.

How to Save the World with a Chicken and an Egg by Emma Shevah (Age 8+) is an absolute delight of a read with characters you’d want to save the world for! With themes on friendship and acceptance we can all be inspired by and a brilliantly portrayed environmental message we can all learn from, you’ll fall in love with the first story in this series (and I’m so glad there’ll be more!). It’s also full of fascinating facts about animals and the natural world with a list of top tips about how young readers can tackle environmental issues. Published by Chicken House.

Artic Star by Tom Palmer (Age 8+) is a poignant and moving tale by an author who has proved himself again to be a master historical story-teller.  It’s 1943 and childhood friends Frank, Joseph and Stephen are about to embark on their first mission aboard a naval ship as part of an Artic Convoy sailing to Russia delivering supplies to the Soviets. You can almost taste the seawater and feel the freezing cold as they plummet into danger and face threats all around. This story won’t fail to move you and shines a light on the brave and courageous naval forces that helped the Allies win the war. Published by Barrington Stoke.

The Secret Detectives by Ella Risbridger (Age 8+) tells the story of orphan Isobel travelling from her home in India to a remote Uncle in England.  Little does she realise life is going to take some unexpected turns as she witnesses a murder, grapples with etiquette and expectations and makes some new friends.  On board ship adventure abounds as Isobel and her fellow would-be detectives use all their deductive powers to find the culprit. Plenty of historical detail, well-drawn characters and an engaging plot will keep you hooked on every page! Published by Nosy Crow.

With thanks to the publishers for sending me these books to review – they’ll all be going to a local school as part of the Book Buddy scheme!

New reviews: Tom Fletcher’s Book Club 2018: a bundle of brilliant summer reads!

tom fletcher logoTom Fletcher’s Book Club is a wonderful initiative aimed at encouraging a love of reading for pleasure and to help families discover exciting children’s books. Launched in early summer, the Book Club brings together ten titles selected by Tom, a member of the hugely successful band McFly, a parent himself and a best-selling children’s author.  Helping parents encourage their children to get into reading is a cause close to my heart, so I was delighted to be invited to read and review this fantastic collection of books. There is something wonderful about receiving a large box of books through the post – especially when they arrive in a set of gorgeous WHSmith stationery boxes!

I have a soft spot for WHSmith; my local branch being the first place I ever bought a book and where I used to spend many an afternoon browsing the bookshelves planning which book I was going to spend my pocket money on next!  Here I discovered Mrs Pepperpot, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, Judy Blume and then Flowers in the Attic, Maeve Binchy and many others.  Today, there are so many fantastic titles on offer with so many brilliant authors writing for children, it can be really hard to know what to choose – for both children and their parents.  Tom’s Book Club provides a great antidote to not knowing where to start and sets children on the path to discovering brilliant books, all the while giving much needed support to parents and teachers including online resources, reviews and author interviews.

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Instantly attractive, with colourful jackets and a range of genres, the books are a brilliant selection of some of the most talented authors and illustrators in children’s books today. Some already familiar to me and some I hadn’t yet read, today I’m sharing a brief review  of each title – all available from WHSmith and as a bundle with a helpful discount.

The Chocolate Factory Ghost by David O’Connell illustrated by Clare Powell I loved this story – full of adventure, magic, sweets and much more. A brilliant combination of fun and fantasy with some great characters, the mystery of Honeystone Hall is great entertainment. Review available here.

Dave Pigeon by Swapna Haddow illustrated by Sheena Dempsey I literally laughed out loud at this delightful and daft tale of two pigeons.  They are quite simply hilarious, doing their best to escape the clutches of a very mean cat. Expect lots of comedy, some feather-brained ideas (pardon the pun!) and some delicious baking!

The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt illustrated by Ross Collins One of my earliest reviews, this tale tells of bloodthirsty pirate, strange creatures, dear little nose-picking Mabel and of course, treasure.  It’s a rip-roaring adventure and will have readers gasping and giggling at the same time!

The Nothing to See Here Hotel by Steve Butler illustrated by Steven Lenton A marvellous, madcap adventure with a very likeable hero and a weird and wonderful cast of characters you want to see to believe!  If creepy critters, ghoulish goblins and hungry garden lawns are your thing, this is the perfect book for you – I shall definitely be looking for this hotel next time I’m in Brighton!

I Swapped my Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons illustrated by Nathan Reed Ah we’ve all been there – that terrible moment where you wish away your irritating sibling! But you should be careful what you wish for as Jonny discovers on receiving an unusual array of ‘swaps’ for his brother, creating mayhem, chaos and lots and lots of laughs in this very funny tale of sibling rivalry gone awry! Review available here.

The Travels of Ermine Trouble in New York by Jennifer Gray illustrated by Elisa Paganelli  You have to love the gorgeous Ermine the very determined and full-of-character travelling stoat!  And you’ll love her fabulous New York adventure complete with sight-seeing, diamond thieves and a near-miss with hungry alligators.  Young readers will be eagerly awaiting her next adventure and will delight in making their own travel scrapbook as featured at the end of the book.

Iguana Boy by James Bishop and illustrated by Rikin Parekh Superheroes lookout – you’re about to be upstaged by Iguana Boy!  It may not be the coolest superpower but talking to iguanas can be surprisingly useful – especially when you have to save the world.  This story is full of madcap ideas and very funny moments with comic strip humour readers will love.

Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis A detective agency with an over-confident detective who never quite gets it right? A polar bear sidekick? Brilliantly drawn quirky illustrations?  It’s a recipe for success and this story features hilarious observations throughout making Timmy Failure a very funny and at some points quite touching read.

My Magical Life by Zach King illustrated by Beverly Arce My Magical Life features Zach, a boy with yet to be discovered magical powers facing all the perils of secondary school. Hugely colourful with zany cartoon illustrations the story keeps you thoroughly entertained. I didn’t read it with the app, but am sure this will be a hit with young readers, especially those who are more reluctant to put down their screens and pick up a book.

The 39-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton The most incredible (and slightly bonkers) treehouse ever to exist is brilliantly brought to life in this story. Inventive with everything you could possibly imagine happening at once, the story is bursting with adventure, larger than life characters and lively illustrations leaping off the page.

Find out more about Tom Fletcher’s Book Club 2018 #TomsBookClub

With thanks to the organisers for sending me these fantastic books to review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New review: Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink

Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink is the debut novel by Jennifer Killick, published by Firefly Press. Jennifer studied Creative Writing at Brunel University and having always loved stories, has achieved what she thought as a child would be impossible: having a book with her name on it in the shops!  It’s a fantastic middle grade debut and has been chosen as one of the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge titles.

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Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink by Jennifer Killick

Alex Sparrow is a super-agent in training. He is also a human lie-detector. Working with Jess – who can communicate with animals – they must find out why their friends, and enemies, are all changing into polite and well behaved pupils. And exactly who is behind it all. This is a humorous tale full of farts, jokes and superhero references. Oh, and a rather clever goldfish called Bob. In a world where kids’ flaws and peculiarities are being erased out of existence, Alex and Jess must rely on what makes them different to save the day.

Alex Sparrow is a boy whose mission in life is to be a superhero of the secret agent variety (think Nick Fury). He doesn’t share this too much with the boys at school, for fear of losing his ‘friends’.  But Alex’s idiosyncrasies become more obvious when his ear becomes a human lie detector causing horrifically smelly results! Little does Alex realise he’s not the only one who’s been ‘gifted’ a superpower. Jess, a girl at school who he’s never had much to do with, has her own unique power; she can talk to animals with equally odd results.  Together they make a hilarious team. Whilst the rest of the school kids, including Alex’s so-called friends, shun them for being ‘weirdos’ Alex and Jess set about uncovering a dastardly plot led by an evil teacher. Who knew the hidden lives teachers lead?! As you can imagine, this leads to some unusual and action-packed scenarios, featuring everything from a brave and noble goldfish to a fairly irritating pigeon – and lots of twitching and farting.

I particularly loved – and laughed at – Alex’s voice overs narrating their every move, fully immersing himself into a secret-agent-come-superhero guise. Even more amusing was Jess’ reaction to this, given her straight-talking personality and refusal to be anybody’s sidekick!  The banter between Alex and Jess is brilliant and brings each of their characters bouncing to life. The barmy plot keeps you guessing and laughing out loud all the way through. With twists and turns galore, Alex Sparrow is a school comedy caper perfect for kids – and I think lots of grown-ups will enjoy it too. It also brilliantly reminds us that being different is what makes us human and true friends are often found when we least expect it.

Find out more at www.jenniferkillick.com.

With thanks to Firefly Press for sending me this book to review.

Amazing Authors in August

With many children and parents on holidays, it’s a great time to be promoting reading and the wonderful books available to read.  Children love to find out about behind-the-scenes of an author’s life and how they spend their time!  Through Amazing Authors in August we hope to inspire lots of holiday reading.

Have you ever wondered what authors get up to in the summer?  Do they seek inspiration in far flung, exotic locations? What fantastic, fabulous adventures do they have? Or do they prefer a more sedate summer, surrounded by home comforts?! We asked our fantastic participating authors ten questions about their summer and will be publishing their answers online throughout August.

OUT OF OFFICE written on sand on a beautiful beach, blue waves i

A short break & some summer reading.

I was very much looking forward to taking a summer break from ‘work’, so it was with some irony our first stop was Waterstones in my home town to buy a new book or two…given I spend much of my working life reading, you’d think I’d want a rest! But this was slightly different; I was choosing something for myself rather than the latest children’s fiction.  Don’t get me wrong I love reading children’s books, but it was nice to be choosing something just for me.  I did comment to the bookseller that I spend a lot of time guiding children on how to choose a book – but I myself couldn’t decide between the wonderful plethora of fiction before me!  (Which reminds me why I do what I do – children faced with all that choice sometimes just give up..but that’s another comment for another time). Continue reading