BOOK BLOG: Emma Yarlett

Dragon Post: a whole lot of fun and friendship! 

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I’d seen this on my friend’s Instagram and as I’m a lover of The Day The Crayons Quit and the trusty The Jolly Postman, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. With beautiful letters inside and an endearing young main character, Dragon Post was an absolute delight to read! 

Alex finds a dragon living under his stairs and knows that the most sensible thing to do would be to write to different people to get their advice on the whole situation. (Alex is very sensible, in my opinion! I don’t know what I would do!)

This is where the humour for adults comes in. There’s puns a plenty with the names of the people Alex writes letters to. I read this book aloud to my mam, and she and I had many a chuckle! Not all of the letters are positive… with one suggesting that the writer of the letter would like to eat the dragon. Most of the letters Alex receives give him good advice however! 

The final letter Alex writes is to his best friend (who he calls one of the best people he knows) and I absolutely adored this! I love the idea that the person Alex thinks is the smartest person in his world is another child – I think this can have quite a profound effect on kids. The very last letter Alex receives is from a very special someone indeed and I know kids are going to ADORE seeing the letter to Alex! 

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This book, just like The Day The Crayons Quit and The Jolly Postman, is going to be taken in my classrooms and children alike. With the inclusion of the letters, the incredible illustrations and the brilliant story, this is one that will inspire writers of letters, stories and illustrations (I only wish I could come up with something this brilliant!) I can see this working in so many houses, minds and ways. As a Y5 teacher, I’d love to use this book, but it equally has a very important place in every classroom. I know the KS1 teachers in school will love this book… and I can’t wait to read it to Reception for their Advent Story time! 

Would you like a dragon as a pet?
Have you read Dragon Post? 
Who would you write to if you found a dragon under your bed?

Speak to you all soon!

S x

Happiness is…

Opening the door to my classroom. Positive feedback. Seeing how much progress my kids have made. Pictures from my kids. Reading books. Fenwicks Christmas Window. Texts that make me smile. Livin on a Prayer. The future. Reading books and knowing EXACTLY who to recommend them to. handing over the perfect book to a child and them just GLOWING with joy. Good morning texts. Listening to the radio in the classroom. Breakfast with my best friends. Chairing a panel with two authors I admire most in the world. My friends being happy for me. The pride you feel for your friends. Watching SimplyNailogical videos. Real pockets in trousers. Laughing with my mam. Seeing my twiglets. Going back to work and seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces. The run up to Christmas. Singing stupid songs. Newcastle United winning (finally). Spending time with my favourite Welsh human in the world. My reading rainbow display. Laughing and chatting with my TA. Doing the thing I love doing. Getting back to blogging. Being wrapped up warm with a cup of tea and a book. Books. Always books. My kids. Always my kids. 

S4S – Authors I’d love to see collaborate…

STOP, COLLABORATE AND LISTEN! 

Hello there! Wecome to another installment of #SixforSunday! This week sees me take on something that took an AWFUL LOT OF THOUGHT. Mainly because I needed to get it right. And I didn’t want to miss out anyone who I loved. Mainly, I have too many choices! 

Today we take on:

Authors you’d love to see collaborate

Now… the majestic book that is Floored came along and saw many of my faves ACTUALLY collaborate in an EPIC way, so if you’ve not got on that yet, I’d really like you to. 

  1. Melinda Salisbury and Sara Barnard
    This is a YA collab I will shout about forever. LADIES I NEED THIS TO HAPPEN. (C’mon, none of you will be surprised by this at all)
  2. Kiran Milwood Hargrave and Piers Torday
    I think this MG book would break my heart and be the most beautiful book ever!
  3. Sara Barnard and Alice Oseman
    This one literally just came to my brain and I think my brain is a genius. I think this could be such a brilliant combination!
  4. Sara Barnard and Laura Steven
    GUYS. I need this to happen… I just think these 2 would boss a YA contemporary that punched me in the face and made me cackle with laughter.  
  5. Maz Evans and Lisa Thompson
    I just think this would be a BRILLIANT MG book pairing… happy to read WHATEVER!
  6. Melinda Salisbury and Alice Broadway
    I think this would be such a brilliant meeting of minds… 

So if there’s anyone reading this who can make these things happen, that’d be amazing thanks!

Remember to share your #SixforSunday posts with me and I look forward to going “OMG YES THAT WOULD BE A MINT PAIR THANKS!” at all of your suggestions! 

S x 

An EPIC book tag!

Hello pals! I saw this tag on My Little Book Blog and thought “you know what I want to do? Answer 50 questions about books” (ha!) so here we go… I hope you have a cup of tea at the ready or something! (In fact, let me know what kind of tea you have… and if you have a biscuit!)

1. What was the last book you read?
The last book I finished was Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman.

2. Was it a good one?
I really enjoyed it! I want the next book now!

3. What made it good?
It was amazing to be back in that world, and they’re brilliantly paced.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?
Absolutely! Read Scythe first though!

5. How often do you read?
I’d say daily! There’s odd days where I don’t read, but I aim to read every day.

6. Do you like to read?
No, it’s the worst (LOL)

7.What was the last bad book you read?
Bad book? OOOH. The only one that springs to mind is The Smoke Thieves… but only because it takes 80% of the book to get anywhere.

8. What made you dislike it?
It’s just a bit slow. I did get to the end and think “ah that wasn’t too bad”, it just took SO LONG to get anywhere.

9. Do you wish to be a writer?
I go between yes and no for this. I love writing, but I don’t think I’ll ever write anything publish-worthy.

10. Has any book every influenced you greatly?
Yes, 100%.

11. Do you read fan fiction?
I used to.

12. Do you write fan fiction?
Nope!

13. What’s your favorite book?
Ever? Matilda.

14. What’s your least favorite book?
Ever? WHO EVEN KNOWS.

15. Do you prefer physical books or ready on a device (like a kindle)?
Physical books > kindle. I love my kindle, but I’m a bigger fan of reading physical books.

16. When did you learn to read?
I do not know the answer to this, but I’d presume when I was at school?

17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?
1984. We did it for GCSE English and I bloody loved it.

18. What is your favorite book series?
The Sin Eater’s Daughter series by Melinda Salisbury.

19. Who is your favorite author?
REALLY? That’s the worst question.

20. What is your favorite genre?
Fantasy… but not high fantasy. I’m all about magic and potions and poison.

21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?
Jin from Rebel of the Sands for aesthetically pleasing reasons. Twylla from The Sin Eater’s Daughter series for badass. Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows for wit.

22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?
Every time I open a book.

23.Which book do you wish had a sequel?
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Tbf, I just want a book all about Simon and Blue.

24. Which book do you wish DIDNT have a sequel?
Oh, I’m a massive fan of sequels, so I dunno if there’s going to be one I could name.

25. How long does it take you to read a book?
How long is a piece of string? Genuinely though, it depends on so many factors.

26. Do you like when books become movies?
I don’t watch that many movies so I don’t know that I have that many opinions.

27. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?
Again, I don’t know that I have enough experience in this to give you an answer.

28. Which movie has done a book justice?
I loved Me Before You – both the film and the book. So let’s go with that.

29. Do you read newspapers?
Yes?

30: Do you read magazines?
Not very often!

31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?
It depends what I’m after.

32. Do you read while in bed?
I’d say 70% of my reading happens in bed.

33. Do you read while on the toilet?
No?

34. Do you read while in the car?
I’m not in a car often enough to read in it.

35. Do you read while in the bath?
I’m not much of a bath person, I much prefer showers. It is not recommended to read in the shower.

36. Are you a fast reader?
Other people say I am, so I guess so?

37. Are you a slow reader?
Nope!

38. Where is your favorite place to read?
On a train or a bus.

39. Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?
Concentrate on reading? No. I’m generally only focused on reading as I read.

40.Do you need a room to be silent while you read?
Ha, this is where I’m a bit bizarre. If I’m on a bus/train, I need noise. But if I’m at home, then it has to be silent.

41. Who gave you your love for reading?
I’ve never not been surrounded by books.

42. What book is next on your list to read?
I’m currently reading The Boneless Mercies by April Tucholke.

43. When did you start to read chapter books?
I remember reading Matilda and The Secret Garden when I was like 7 or 8, so probably just before then!

44. Who is your favorite children’s book author?
You can’t beat Roald Dahl, but of recent years? Maz Evans, Kiran Milwood Hargrave, Ross Mackenzie, Abi Elphinstone.

45. Which author would you most want to interview?
Anna James – I’ve had the joy of meeting her at events, but I’d love to sit down and have a chat with her.

46. Which author do you think you’d be friends with?
I’d love to be friends with Chloe Coles – she’s hilaarious.

47.What book have you reread the most?
There’s only one book I’ve ever reread… Matilda.

48. Which books do you consider “classics”?
Books written a canny few years ago. I’m not really a reader of classics.

49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?
OH THIS IS A GOOD QUESTION, which right now I don’t have an answer for. But this could be a good question for a blog post!

50. Which books should be banned from all schools?
Should any books be banned? This is an interesting question. I shall mull over it. “Banning” books doesn’t sit well with me.

 

And there we have it! I will be WELL IMPRESSED if anyone managed to stick with me through those 50 questions. Let me know if you did, you deserve a sticker!

S x

October in books!

Well hello November, you snuck up on me indeed.

I’m not sure where October went (it took half of my half term with it too!), but here we are… the end of another month, around for another bookish round up!

In October, I:

Visited Edinburgh with my favourite.
Spent most of my half term poorly.
Loved every second of being a teacher.
Got to interview David Levithan and Laura Steven at Waterstones (!!)
Went out to breakfast with my best friends.
Finished my first half term as an NQT.
Sang a lot of Livin on a Prayer.
Read 15 books (!!)

October was a pretty incredible month! I NEVER expected to have read 15 books! That’s blown my mind a little bit!

What MG did I read?

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A Chase in Time – Sally Nicholls *
Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters – Andrea Beaty *
The Dog That Saved Christmas – Nicola Davies *
Isadora Moon Makes Winter Magic – Harriet Muncaster *
Max the Detective Cat: The Phantom Portrait – Sarah Todd Taylor *
The Boy Who Lived With Dragons – Andy Shepherd *
The Truth Pixie – Matt Haig
A Pinch of Magic – Michelle Harrison *

* reviews to come!

What about YA?

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Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman*
And The Ocean Was Our Sky – Patrick Ness*
Jack of Hearts and Other Parts – L. C. Rosen*
Someday – David Levithan
Firebird – Elizabeth Wein*

Anything else?

I also read The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I am a massive Mitch Albom fan. My review of this is to come!

I’m really chuffed with how many books I managed to read last month! There were definitely some stand outs! Keep your eyes peeled this week for a round up of reviews and some more in depth reviews too!

What about my book challenges?

#BritishBooksChallenge: 104/12 (maybe more!)
#52books2018: 91/52 (just kids books!)
Goodreads challenge: 148/52

Now that it’s November, we will be in for full swing Christmas mode at school! I am also  sticking to my pledge of reading every night before bed.

How are you getting doing with your book challenges?
What was your favourite read in October?
Do you prefer my in depth reviews or my round ups?

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments/on twitter if there’s anything you want to see me read/want to see on my blog. I love your suggestions!

S x

 

S4S – Ultimate panels

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the hiatus this week… there was just a little need for my brain to take a break after a very busy half term! I am back though! And today’s #SixforSunday sees me taking on:

Dream panels/events

So, my dream panels? WELL THIS IS GONNA BE FUN. I’m gonna go 3 MG and 3 YA because LOVE.

“Contemporary YA: Why it matters” with Laura Steven, Alice Oseman, Sara Barnard and Katherine Webber.

“Writing badass characters” featuring Leigh Bardugo, Melinda Salisbury, Alice Broadway and Alwyn Hamilton.

“Writing stories that make our readers cry (we love it)” featuring C.G.Drews, Karen Gregory, Lisa Healthfield and Adam Silvera.

“Creating worlds kids want to read about” featuring Helena Duggan, Maz Evans, Ross Mackenzie and Kiran Milwood Hargrave.

“Writing incredible characters” featuring Peter Brown, Lisa Thompson, Alex Bell and Jessica Townsend.

“Books: an ode to books” featuring Anna James and Piers Torday in conversation.

Side note: I am still waiting for a Floored Seven panel

There we go! I LOVE hearing authors talk about their books, so please GET ME MORE EVENTS IN THE NORTH. I’m more than happy to host any of these *wink*

Remember to share your dream panels using #SixforSunday! I can’t wait to see what you all think! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Jan Eldredge

Hello friends!

Today I have an absolute treat for you. Jan Eldridge, author of the brilliant Witch Girl, is here to talk about weaving inspiration into a story! I hope you enjoy this post, I loved reading it and am very grateful for Jan taking time to write such a brilliant blog post! Hearing there’s a sequel to Witch Girl also made me VERY happy! 

WEAVING INSPIRATION INTO A STORY

By Jan Eldredge

Inspiration is everywhere. It can strike at any time, and often where you aren’t particularly expecting it. It’s when you take that flash of an idea, brainstorm it a little, then merge it with some other interesting ideas, that you generate an exciting new book concept. It’s a bit like weaving a magic spell, and it was this process that brought WITCH GIRL to life.

I’m a huge fan of spooky, magical stories for kids. In fact, I seldom read grownup fiction. My towering stack of books-to-be-read is made up of children’s fantasy adventures. I especially love monsters and ghosts and all such eldritch things that go bump in the night. So much so, that the shelves in my home office are filled with encyclopedias and field guides featuring mythical creatures from around the world.

A few years ago, while I was browsing through a used book store for more supernatural reference books to add to my collection, I came across an old dictionary of superstitions. As I thumbed through its pages, I was instantly captivated. Inspiration struck, and I knew I wanted to write a story incorporating some of those fascinating beliefs.

It went without saying, that this story about superstitions would have to contain ghosts or monsters. Having grown up in Louisiana where belief in the supernatural runs deep, and where strange occurrences are a natural phenomenon, my home state felt like the perfect place to set such a tale. I knew in my gut I had the ingredients for a unique and exciting book. All I needed was an interesting protagonist to add to the mix.

At the time, I’d been reading, and very much enjoying, some middle grade fantasies about young apprentices, but all the apprentices in those books were boys. The idea of making my adventurous, superstitious monster-hunter a girl was another one of those elements that just felt like a perfect fit. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do much character brainstorming. My protagonist, Evangeline, as well as her Gran, quickly formed in my mind, as though they were real people I’d already known. Even Evangeline’s sidekick, Julian Winterbourne, didn’t take much work to develop since he was heavily inspired by my son.

Armed with a cast of quirky characters, some intriguing story elements, and a strong gut feeling, I set about writing the kind of book I love: a spooky, adventure, mystery with dashes of humor, a story for kids, but one that teens and adults will love to read too.

I’m now in the process of writing the sequel to WITCH GIRL, and I’m keeping my eyes open for the next strike of inspiration that I can weave into Evangeline’s witchy world.

WITCH GIRL by Jan Eldredge out now in paperback (£6.99, Scholastic)

              @JanEldredge  www.janeldredge.com @Scholasticuk

S x

The 90s Movie Tag

Hello there!

How are we all? It’s Friday again! It is FINALLY half term. My first half term over as a teacher – prepare yourself for quite a mammoth blog post next week about what I got up to in my first 8 weeks as a teacher!

Today I’m taking on the ’90s Movie Tag’ which I saw on my brilliant friend Aoife’s blog. You should go read her post and follow her blog! I loved the premise of this tag, so thought I’d take it on.

She’s All That – Name a book couple that is an odd pairing but they still fit perfectly together

Lukas and Nell from The Hurting by Lucy van Smit. He’s pretty much a rich wolf boy and she was brought up with a drunken dad, a poorly mam and a little sister. They have an interesting dynamic. The Hurting is one of those books that pushes you to think for a while after you read it.

10 Things I Hate About You – A book/series you have a love/hate relationship with

OH MY WORD. For me, there is only one candidate. Gone Girl. I have SUCH a complex relationship with this book. I HATED the characters. So much. Man, I think I need to write a blog post about my feelings about this book. However, I did think it was so cleverly written. But yeah, this book makes me want to shake my fist (yknow, like the gif of the little girl?)

Clueless – A character who is totally clueless but you love them anyway

I don’t know that I have a character who is Clueless quite like Cher. I’ve gone for Citra and Rowan from Scythe. They had NO idea about the corruption and horrendous acts in Scythedom, but I loved them.

Titanic – Name a book that made you cry

LOLOL. Hello, do you know me AT ALL? I could list almost every book I’ve ever read. I am a crier. You’ll get used to it. However, if we’re going for books that have had a lasting impact on my emotions, I’d have to go with Countless by Karen Gregory. I can’t think about that book and not tear up.

American Pie – A book that makes you laugh

This was another one where I was like ‘I KNOW THE ANSWER STRAIGHT AWAY’. Guys, if you’re yet to read The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven, then you need to get on it. I remember reading the first chapter of that book and cackling SO SO MUCH. Izzy O’Neill is just remarkable and hilarious. Everyone needs her in their life.

Can’t Hardly Wait – A book with a crazy party

I don’t know that I can recall many books with parties in (which, considering I read a lot of YA books, does blow my mind slightly). But, after some thought, Clean by Juno Dawson features some wild parties. It must, right? It’s all about drugs and alcohol and sex.

Cruel Intentions – Name a character you can never fully trust

I 100% do not trust Mael from State of Sorrow (by the Queen Salisbury). I am still suspicious of him. I won’t say what it is, incase you haven’t read it, but if you have and wanna know… hit me up. I NEED SORROW 2 NOW PLZ THANKS.

Drive Me Crazy – Name your favourite “boy next door” or “girl next door” couple

I mean, Simon and Blue from Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda are pretty much “boy next door/boy next door” vibes for me. I adore them. I want a book of just Simon and Blue romantic fluff.

Scream – A book with a memorable villain

Every time I do one of these tags and a question about vilains comes up, I think of the SAME character. J from The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. I mean, that’s gotta be some memorable character.

The Craft – Name a book with witches

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw was my first thought. A brilliant book about witches and falling in love and being who you really are.

Why don’t you take on this tag? I’d love to know your thoughts on my choices!

ALSO, if you do a tag you’d like me to take part in, let me know! I’m loving tag life!

Speak to you soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Christopher Lloyd

Absolutely Everything: the perfect book for non-fiction lovers with an insatiable need for facts!

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“Embark on an amazing journey across millennia and continents, and learn about absolutely everything including the creation of planet Earth, the age of dinosaurs, the rise of humans, the miserable medieval times, globalisation, wars, revolutions, technology – and much more! Find out the answers to many big questions about our planet, animals, and the people inhabiting Earth. Engaging design, illustrations and photographs throughout bring to life the most remarkable true stories of all time.”

Absolutely Everything is an incredible collection of all of the facts you could POSSIBLY think of, illustrated so beautifully and told in chronological order. This book would make the perfect gift for a budding historian for Christmas. Told through interesting chapters, with a timeline to match each chapter, including a glossary and an index for those who have specific questions, this is definitely the one to want! 

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Now, I’m not a great historian, so I’ve been reading bits of this and it is genuinely brilliant. It’s told in a fun and engaging way. There’s illustrations and diagrams aplenty. It’s nothing like those history textbooks we learned from – it’s so much more than that! This is perfect for adults and kids alike! 

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The book opens to a gorgeously written contents page showing you all of the chapters and what they entail… the each chapter has a gorgeously vibrant and illustrated front page (the chapter pages might be one of my favourite things about this book!) The illustrations, by Andy Forshaw, are just lush and I think they add so much intrigue and interest to this book.

There’s history from many centuries ago, to the final chapter titled “To be continued…” which looks at what the future might hold. I love the little robot – he’s well cute! Each chapter is a different colour and the edges of the pages are coloured that way to match (this might seem like a simple thing, but I think it’s great for kids!)

There’s illustrations like these (above) all through the book – diagrams, maps, illustrations, photographs – and these add so much to the words that make up the story. As someone who loves a good picture, they make this book so much more enjoyable and therefore so much more is learned. With every question it answers, it probes you to ask more… isn’t that what we all want? To keep learning forever!

Whether you’re a budding historian, or just a bit obsessed with facts, this is the perfect present, especially with Christmas coming up!

If you could go back in time, where would you go to?
Are you a little bit of a secret historian?
What’s part of history that fascinates you most?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Lara Hawthorne

Silent Night: the classic, beautifully illustrated!

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“Celebrate the magic of Christmas with this beautifully illustrated book, based on the world’s best-loved carol. Rediscover the Nativity Story in all its glory—from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels—as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. The world’s diversity is reflected in a cast of characters with a range of skin tones. A gorgeous book for all the family to share during the festive season.”

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Christmas is coming and what’s more perfect than one of the greatest Christmas carols beautifully illustrated? Silent Night is one of those classics that everyone knows. I even know the chorus and the first verse in German (I’m not sure why!). I think Christmas is such a lovely time of year and music is an important part of that. 

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Silent Night has been beautifully illustrated in this book, with the lyrics of the book broken into little scenes of the night that Jesus was born. The book features the key people in the Christmas story – angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, kings and the stable! 

This book is going to be SO perfect to use at school. Whether kids know the song or not, it is a brilliantly simple, yet beautiful, way to teach them the story of Christmas. 

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I also love that it comes with this information page in the back all about the song. Great for older children to find out more about the song. This could inspire some of your KS2 kids to make their own book of a Christmas song and write their own “about the carol” page. 

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This would make the perfect Christmas present. I already know it’s going to go down brilliantly at school. 

A massive thank you to the wonderful Quarto for sending me a copy of this book! I do now however want to start singing Christmas songs… (but not yet… I can’t until after Halloween!)

Silent Night is out now! 

Do you have a favourite Christmas song?
Is Silent Night up there in your top 10?
What’s your Christmas rules?

Talk to me! Which carol would you like to see made into a book?!

S x