Tag Archives: Younger readers

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!

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: