Giving a part of yourself…

This past weekend, I was at an amazing day of CPD centred all around reading. At this conference, Piers Torday spoke and said something that has stuck with me, something I hadn’t even thought of, but something that I think is so true. It’s one of those quotes that just hits the nail on the head and then resounds with you for a long time.

“Recommending a book is like giving a part of yourself”

(It wasn’t those exact words, but it was that sentiment nonetheless)

Let that sit with you for a little moment. I’m a day in from hearing that quote (as I write this blog post) and it still blows my mind a little.

I think it’s so important to remember that recommending books is something that happens naturally. We enjoy a book, we want to tell people we enjoyed the book, we hope they also enjoy the book. The act of recommending isn’t the bit that’s scary, it’s the other bit. It’s the someone reading the book and seeing a little bit into who you are. 

Recommending books reveals so much about who you are. Whether that’s as a reader, a person, a thinker, a doer. Recommending books (for either OMG I LOVED IT or MEH it wasn’t for me reasons) reveals so much about your self – the characters and actions you approve of, the ones you question, the stories you relate to. Revealing these things can be quite a scary thing.

We’ve all that terrifying moment of recommending one of our favourite books to someone and “OMG what if they don’t like it?“. I don’t think it’s the “what if they don’t like the book?” bit that scares us, it’s the “this book meant something to me, I hope that person can see it and doesn’t then judge me for it” bit (for me it is anyway, I shan’t generalise).

What you’re saying when you recommend a book to someone is essentially “there’s something in this book that speaks to who I am, deep down, and I don’t mind you seeing it, finding it, exploring it, knowing it about me”. That’s massive.

There’s something very personal about recommending a book to someone, but it’s very liberating. It can open doors, conversations, perspectives that you might never have lived before. 

S x

S4S – Favourite trilogies

Hello guys!

Happy Sunday! How are we all today? I spent all day yesterday at amazing reading CPD so I’m pretty tired today, but envigorated about reading in school!

Today’s #SixforSunday explores one of my favourite things:

Favourite trilogies/series

I am a TOTAL sucker for a trilogy. I LOVE getting to know characters and then seeing them through their stories. I’m also team standalone, but there’s something special about trilogies. 

So here we go… (I’ve totally bent the rules, I’m doing 6 YA and 6 MG… I’m the boss!)

YA

  1. The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy by Melinda Salisbury
  2. The Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N. Holmberg
  3. Rebel of the Sands trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton
  4. Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
  5. Show Stopper duology by Hayley Barker
  6. The Spinster Club series by Holly Bourne

MG

  1. Who Let the Gods Out? by Maz Evans
  2. Violet series by Harriet Whitehorn
  3. A Place Called Perfect series by Helena Duggan
  4. The Wild Robot series by Peter Brown
  5. The Nowhere Emporium series by Ross Mackenzie
  6. Amelia Fang series by Laura Ellen Anderson

So yeah, ALL OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS. Sue me. 

What are your favourite series? Do you prefer a standlone or a series? 

Talk to me! Tweet me using #SixforSunday and I’m looking forward to seeing the series I am missing out on!

S x

 

 

Halloween Creatures (2.0) Book Tag

Hello friends!

In the spirit of October being a spoooooooky month, I’m taking on a spooky tag! I was tagged by Cora (of Tea Party Princess fame) to do The Halloween Creatures 2.0 Book Tag, which  was created by Anthony at Keep Reading Forward (who also created the original version). If you’d like to see Cora’s post, check it out here!

Witch
A Magical Character or Book

Pages and Co – Tilly and the Book Wanderers: Anna James
There’s no magic quite as brilliant as being able to jump into books… right?

Werewolf
The Perfect Book to Read at Night

Sweetpea – C.J.Skuse
Rhiannon does most of her killing at night. It’s the perfect time to read about her evilness!

Frankenstein
A Book that Truly Shocked You

Outside – Sarah Ann Juckes
This shocked me in the kind of “I can’t believe would do that” kind of way. This book has stayed with me since I read it. I would recommend entirely. It’s out next year!

The Devil
A Dark, Evil Character

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James
I don’t know that J is dark and evil, but he’s certainly sinister. The first character who jumped into my head at this prompt!

Grim Reaper
A Character that Should Never Have Died

Sirius Black. 
Justice for Sirius Black fanclub member here.

Zombie
A Book that Made You “Hungry” for More

LOL, every book? 
Scythe – Neal Shusterman.
I finished that and NEEDED book 2 instantly. I’m saving book 2 for my half term holiday though. It’ll be a WONDERFUL treat.

Gargoyle
A Character that You Would Protect at All Cost

SO MANY. 
But my initial reaction was Twylla from The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy (not that she’d need my protection). Also, shout outs here to Amani and Jin (of Rebel of the Sands fame), Matilda and Miss Honey (duh). 

Vampire
A Book that Sucked the Life Out of You

Again… so many. I FEEL a lot of emotions about books.
However, I’m going to go with Countless by Karen Gregory. This book, even now, like months later, still makes me feel SO SAD. 

Ghost
A Book that Still Haunts You

I could go with quite a few books here… there’s a canny few books that I think about for a while after the fact. I’m going to go with Clean by Juno Dawson, purely because Lexi quite often crosses my mind quite often. I was SO CROSS with her at times. There’s some pretty explicit scenes in this book… but so good!

Demon
A Book that Really Scared You

I don’t read a lot of scary books, but Northern Lights by Philip Pullman GENUINELY had me (at one point) wanting to put the book down because I was SO SCARED for Lyra. 

Skeleton
A Character You Have a Bone to Pick With

Ev from The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth FRUSTRATED the life out of me. I’d love to sit her down and just give her a stern talking to!

Mummy
A Book You Would Preserve Throughout Time

LOL. Would I even be me if this answer wasn’t predictable? Here… you all know me well enough to know that Matilda would OBVIOUSLY be my answer. But I’d also like to throw a spanner in the works and nominate 1984 by George Orwell.

Creepy Doll
A Cover too Scary to Look At

The Treatment by C.L.Taylor. That eye in the door peeping through… that’s the kind of thing my nightmares are made of!

The Monster Mash
It’s Fun to Be with Friends on Halloween!

I’m not going to tag anyone, but feel free to take part! Let me know if you do this tag!

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Susan Verde

I Am Human: a beautiful picture book, delivering an important message of empathy

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“I am human
I am a work in progress
Striving to be the best version of ME

From the picture book dream team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace comes the third book in their wellness series: I Am Human. A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong”

This book is the 3rd in a series from this pair, with the other two being I am Yoga and I am Peace. These books explore things which children could see as complex, and puts it into words and sentences that children can relate to and use in their lives. 

Something which I loved about this book is there’s a lot of positive, but there’s also the important thing to explore with children about when things don’t quite go right – when you make mistakes, get hurt and hurt others. These things are all human. These things make us human and these are things that children need to develop an understanding of in order to become empathetic. 

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This book explores fear and sadness – some things that as teachers, or caregivers, we can be afraid to explore. Books are excellent pathmakers (that’s not a word!) so that these conversations can happen. These conversations are essential. 

It’s important that children learn the importance of making choices and through this book, children (and adults) can see that making a choice matters. What you say, what you do, what you think… it all matters. Choosing to keep going, choosing to have hope, listening, being generous. 

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The illustrations in this book are quintessential Peter H Reynolds and I love it. If you’ve seen any of the books he’s illustrated before, your kids will instantly recognise his style. I love the fact that the characters are all multicultural and that children will feel seen by this. This book is full of colour – from happy and vibrant colours, to sad and dull colours. We, as humans, attach meaning to colour and this is used brilliantly in the book. 

As a teacher, it’s important that I help my children to understand themselves and to understand others. By creating empathetic people in my classroom, I’m enabling them to be kind, loving, compassionate, thoughtful, not only to each other, but to themselves. This book would fit BEAUTIFULLY in any classroom, regardless of how old the children are and would create some incredible talking points around behaviour, choice and what it means to be human. I can’t wait to read it to my kids to get them thinking and talking. It’s going to be one of those fail-safe books I have around. 

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A massive thank you to the people of Abrams & Chronicle for sending me this book, I am so grateful and I know my kids (and the people I work with) will love reading this! 

Have you got any books you use when talking about empathy?
What’s one piece of advice you give children when exploring empathy?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

S x

Mini reviews – wrap up!

Hello friends!

How are we all? What is everyone reading at the minute? 

I’m currently reading Someday by David Levithan (in preparation for the event I’m hosting with him and the AMAZING Laura Steven. If you’re knocking about Newcastle on October 30th, come along… you can get tickets from Waterstones or click this link to get your ticket! I know… I don’t know how this is my life either. Come along and see me fangirling so hard)

Anyway… I’m here to wrap up some books I’ve read recently! I had a day last weekend where I just read non-stop and I managed to read like 5 books, so I decided to write a wrap up with mini reviews of them all for you! I want to share these books cause they’re great! 

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Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson
Released: September 15th 2018
Publisher: Barrington Stoke

I’m starting with this one because I absolutely adored it. This would be an INCREDIBLE book to use in the classroom for explorers/biographies. It’s definitely more aimed for Y5/6 but would be readable from Year 4. I loved the story this told – a black man whose achievements were ignored, due to the colour of his skin. This book tells of his life from childhood to old age, focusing on the hardships he faced as a black person in America during the late 19th and early 20th century. I found this a touching and moving story, which outraged me and made me cross at some points. I think this is the point though – it’s a book that is meant to make you feel things. It would be brilliant to use for Black History Month. This book would also open many doors for discussions about racial prejudice and bias in history. Would recommend wholeheartedly.

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The Treatment by C.L.Taylor.
Released: last year
Publisher: HQ 

I’d seen a lot of people talking about this book, so I decided to pick it up. It’d been sat on my TBR for a little while, but I was very much in the mood for something a little bit “scarier” than my usual. I started reading this and I was instantly gripped. A story all about a girl going to save her brother from being “brainwashed”? Yes please! Also, it really helped that Newcastle was mentioned (shush man, I love it, it doesn’t happen very often!). This book is well paced with moments where I was actually pretty scared. The characters are brilliant – there’s a character for everyone! I never want to find myself in the centre!

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The Lost Diary of Sami Star by Karen McCombie
Released: 15th September 2018
Publisher: Barrington Stoke

This story is about Hannah. A young girl who is feeling left out. At home, at school, she doesn’t feel like anyone is paying attention to her. She finds a diary in the park and instantly feels like she’s made a new friend. She really likes the person in the diary and makes it her mission to find this person, to reunite this person with their diary. I really enjoyed this book. It’s super readable (as all of Barrington Stoke books are) and it had a lovely message – look for the good in people, and yourself. 

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The Littlest Witch – Bianca Pitzorno
Released: 1st October 2018
Publisher: Catnip Books

I loved this book. It was a great tale all about the downfalls of greed. A story about a young man who has been left a fortune, but he has to marry a witch and the greed that blinds him! Reading this was a whole load of fun. This will be great for children who love a magical story. There’s some crazy antics with the sisters and the little bit of magic left me with a warm heart.

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Lavinia and the Magic Ring – Bianca Pitzorno
Released: 1st October 2018
Publisher: Catnip Books

Another book by Bianca Pitzorno I read very swiftly! This book has a bit of an Oliver feel about it, a young girl who is poor. Throw in a Cinderella feeling of the “fairy godmother” who blesses Lavinia with a magic ring and you have a tale that kids will love. Lavinia makes some brilliant moves in this book and she ends up outwitting quite a few adults! I really enjoyed this, it made me chuckle at points! There’s some very funny moments involving a lot of poo!

And there you go! 

Have you read any of these?
Would you like to hear more about any of them?
Can you recommend me any books based on these reads?
Do you like these mini review/wrap up type posts?

Talk to me! I’d love to hear from you! 

S x

Blackout poetry

To coincide with National Poetry Day, we celebtrated at school with Poetry Week, where our English lessons all centred around poems. We in Year 5 had already done a week of poetry (it’s what I started the year with), so when it came round the celebrating Poetry Week, the kids were enthused to say the least! They have boundless energy about everything, with poetry being no exception. We have tried to incorporate poetry into EVERYTHING… I am often asked “Miss, can I write a poem?” and I always encourage this… write creatively my friends!

One thing I’d seen flying around the internet in particular was blackout poems. I was a bit tentative to start and thought long and hard about how we could POSSIBLY make it happen. After mulling it over since the beginning of the year, (I had wanted to do it during out first week) I bit the bullet and started to plan a one off lesson as part of our school Poetry Week.

To the kids, I posed the question

“What do you think blackout poetry is?”

and we got some brilliant answers:

  • It’s a poem that describes the night
  • It’s a poem about the war
  • A poem that’s only made up of black and white pictures
  • A poem written on black page and the writing is made of only white words

Then, I showed them some examples that I found on Google:

Their reactions were amazing. They were astounded by these, with one boy saying “Miss, they’re not even poems“. We talked about what the poems might be about just on first glance and talked about how we knew that.

Then I explained to them their task: they were given a page of our class novel Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave and they had to create their own piece of blackout poetry based on the page they were given. They had to think about the words they chose and the illustrations which they paired with the words. Some of the children struggled at first, but once they’d had some time to reflect and look at the models again, they had a very good go.

In a one hour lesson, we didn’t all finish. Some of the children were so enthused and loving it so much they even wanted to stay in at lunchtime to finish! I’ve made time next week for them to finish, as I think the finished products will just look incredible.

Here is an example of 4 of the finished ones. I can’t wait to see them all when they’re finished!

Once they’re all finished, I’m going to make them into a book!

My Year 5 class LOVED this and the finished products look amazing. This is definitely going to be a lesson that stays in my arsenal for my future poetry lessons!

Did you enjoy that tale from my classroom?
Do you want to see what else we get up to in Year 5?
Have you any requests for things to see?

Let me know your thoughts on the poems so far, my kids would love feedback!

S x

S4S – Best debuts

Hello my friends!

How are we all on this cool Sunday? I’ve been to town and am home now, doing a big of blogging before tackling school work for the week! What are you doing with your Sunday?

We’re here for #SixforSunday does:

Best debut books

I’m going for 2018 books (some of these I read in 2017, but they still count!)

  1. Tilly and the Bookwanderers – Anna James (MG)
    Magical, wonderful and just brimming with excitement.
  2. The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven (YA – I definitely had to convince myself was only released this year)
    Badass and BRILLIANT.
  3. Brightstorm – Vashti Hardy (MG)
    The perfect adventure, filled with interesting characters.
  4. A Thousand Perfect Notes – C.G. Drews (YA)
    THIS WILL BREAK YOUR SOUL. 
  5. The Secret Deep – Lindsay Galvin (YA)
    A thrilling, underwater peek at the world with a sinister scientist.
  6. The Wicked Deep – Shea Ernshaw (YA -another one I had to convince myself was 2018)
    This is devilishly duplicitous

There you go! There was a load of other books I could’ve added. 2018 has been a great year for brilliant MG and YA!

Share your choices with me using the hashtag #SixforSunday! Thank you for everyone who has joined in so far!

I’ll see you next week for #SixforSunday does Favourite trilogies/series!

S x

Would you rather…? Bookish edition

Hello there friends!

Today I’m doing a tag I saw on my friend Amy’s blog, filled with ‘would you rather…?’ type questions (Those of you who have seen any of my events know that I love a would you rather…? question!). Check our Amy’s post here.

1. Would you rather have a friend who loses your books, or one who dog-ears them?

Either way I’d need new friends ha! I think I’d rather have my original dog-eared copy back than not get it back!

2. Would you rather secretly love a book everyone else hates, or secretly hate a book everyone else loves?

Hmmm… I think there’s definitely some books I don’t like that lots of people love… so probably the second option.

3. Would you rather be stuck on a very long plane or train ride without a book?

Who travels anywhere without a book? What kind of strange being do you think I am? However, I’d rather be on a train ride without a book. There’s more to look at out of the window.

4. Would you rather have dinner with your favorite author or your favorite character?

My favourite authors. If I could have dinner with some of my favourite authors, I think I’d just die. That would be excellent. Plus, it could ACTUALLY happen. (Sara, Mel, Katie, Alwyn, Laura, Maz, Kiran: I’m looking at you!)

5. Would you rather date a character you have a crush on or your crush from real life?

Lol. Get me on a date with Jin from Rebel of the Sands trilogy NOW THANKS.

6. Would you rather have your favorite book turned into a movie, or your favorite movie turned into a book?

I’d rather have my favourite book turned into a movie. I never think that movies into books quite have the same impact. Books that are turned into movies are different – there’s always so much more in the book.

7. Would you rather read a book with an annoying cliffhanger, or one where your favorite character is killed off?

WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THIS? What do you by annoying? I am not a massive fan of cliffhangers to be honest. I like my books to end rounded, all loose ends tied up. But I also like my favourite characters to keep existing (Salisbury, I’m looking at you). So if I’m being true to the question, I’ll have to go for cliffhangers.

8. Would you rather lose the ability to read any new books, or the ability to reread books you’ve already read?

Oh this one’s easy. I RARELY reread books, so I’d rather never be able to reread books.

9. Would you rather live in a library or a bookstore?

Oooooh good question. I’m going to go for a book shop. I don’t know why, but that’s my answer.

10. Would you rather lose your place or get a paper cut every time you read a book?

Paper cuts are badtimes. I’ve got a pretty good memory so I’ll go for losing my palce everytime thanks.

11. Would you rather have to always read in the dark, or always read books with tiny text?

Oh lord, reading in the dark. I can use my phone light to see the words. Small text is not funtimes.

12. Would you rather read by a fireplace, or on the beach?

ON A BEACH OK. I bloody love the beach.

And there you go! Some choices for my ‘Would you rather…?’ questions!

What do you think of my choices? Talk to me! Tweet me! Send me a cocktail to the beach with your question!

S x

If it makes you happy…

I’ve done 4 weeks of teaching now, so I feel this is a good time to write another happy things post.

Walking into my classroom every single morning. Having my own classroom. My kids drawing me pictures. Feedback from my first observation. The culture of caring in the classroom. Laughing with my kids. Making my kids laugh. Watching a lesson just take off on a completely random tangent, but the kids learning much more from that than they would’ve done my plan. Having confidence to go with my gut, rather than a piece of planning. Setting routines. Being able to call my classroom MY classroom. Watching my kids make progress. Seeing friendships blossom. Watching their kindness and consideration for each other. Hearing their conversations. Getting lovely feedback from parents. Recommending a book and hearing it was a 9/10. Showing persistence and finally making breakthroughs. Watching my kids succeed at something they struggled with. Listening to Frank Sinatra songs and my kids thinking he’s “cool”. Believing in each and every one of them. Reading our class novel at the end of the day. Celebrating our collective worship with the rest of the school. How keen they are to do well. How well they persevere. Their sheer determination. Their enthusiasm about Journey. Their enthusiasm about poetry. Their happy faces every day. My happy face every day. That tired, exhausted teacher feeling. Knowing I’m doing the one thing I’ve always wanted to do. 

BOOK BLOG: Alex Bell

Explorers On Witch Mountain: bursting with new adventures and new friends

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“Stella Starflake Pearl is eagerly anticipating her next expedition. Suddenly disaster strikes when Stella’s father, Felix, is snatched by a fearsome witch. Stella must bring her magic ice princess tiara to Witch Mountain or she will never see Felix again! But no one ever returns from Witch Mountain… 
Stella, Ethan, Shay, Beanie and reluctant Jungle Cat explorer, Percival, set off into the unknown. They will face terrifying bat caves, poisonous apple groves, outraged vultures, argumentative mushrooms and deranged broomsticks in their quest to rescue Felix.”

Explorers on Witch Mountain is one of my most highly anticipated books of this year. It’s the sequel to the incredible Polar Bear Explorer’s Club, which came out last year and blew me away. I have been sitting patiently waiting for this book to be released as I needed it in my life. I got a lovely surprise when the brilliant humans of Faber sent me a copy early and I quickly devoured it (because let’s be honest, it was of course jumping to the top of my TBR list… sorry not sorry to the rest of my books!)

Explorers takes us back into the world of Stella, Felix and their exploring. After my love for the first book, it was so amazing to be back in their world – despite the fact there’s somewhat of a foreboding witch puppet lurking in the attic! (I was not a fan of this witch who is watching Stella… spooky!) 

This new tale is full of adventure – there’s new friends, enemies, people who fall somewhere in the middle; new settings and new gadgets. You will never be bored reading this book because there is a fair share of new things to discover. I absolutely loved the fact that there’s so much adventure in this book. Stella and her friends meet a whole host of new creatures – fairies, witches, flying sharks, frogs and troublesome dinosaurs to name a few. Pair these great new characters with an interesting new setting for Stella to explore with her friends (because OBVIOUSLY Felix has told her she can’t) and you get an excellent story.

While we’re talking about Felix. Oh Felix. I do love him. (My book review notes say “Felix tho <3) He’s such a wise man. He’s just lush. I love reading him as a character. At the end of the book he has some wise, wise words for Stella and I love it. He’s not preachy, he talks to her like she’s someone he respects and I think that’s such a lush thing for kids to read. 

One of my kids has already nicked Explorers from me! I can’t wait for more of my kids to discover more of Alex Bell’s brilliant world. I can’t wait for book 3 – the ending of Explorers leaves the door wide open for a book 3 and I NEED IT. I think it’s going to be excellent.

Kids need to meet this world full of adventure. And they need to meet Stella, obviously. She’s badass, brave and bold – 3 things that kids should all aspire to be! 

My Goodreads review:

A brilliant adventure taking Stella to an island with terrifying teddy bears, witches and witch hunters, poisonous gingerbread houses, and of course, her trusty friends. I love this series. They’re so much more than just adventure stories – there’s a massive punch of meaning. Felix gives some bloody brilliant advice in these books. I utterly devoured this. It’s safe to say I can’t wait for book 3!

Explorers on Witch Mountain is out November 1st, published by Faber Children’s. It is available for preorder now!

Have you read Polar Bear Explorer’s Club?
Are you excited for Explorers on Witch Mountain?
Would you also love to have a pet polar bear?

A massive thank you to Faber for sending me this book! I loved it! 

S x