NYALitFest

This past weekend, I attended a bookish event in the North. Listen again, A BOOKISH EVENT IN THE NORTH. (I know, I know, they’re becoming more frequent BUT IT’S SO NICE TO BE SOMEWHAT NORTH AND CELEBRATING THE BOOKS).

I was attending Northern YA Literature Festival, which was held at the University of Central Lancashire. It promised to be an interesting day, filled with incredible talks and even more amazing authors. Big shout out to my friends Charlotte and Cora for putting up with ALL DAY. Loved spending the day with #NorthernBookBloggers too!

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First up was a great chat about getting into published. Anna Day, Teri Terry and Danny Weston chatted all about their routes into publishing, writing and gave out some pretty stellar advice! 

“You don’t need to study creative writing to be a writer!” – Teri Terry
“Read your work aloud” – Danny Weston
“Get someone else to read it and give you feedback” – Teri Terry
“I get my dad to proof read your work” – Anna Day (this caused quite a giggle… with the rest of the panel asking how much he would charge!)

Next up was Feminism in YAa talk I had been REALLY looking forward to hearing! There was a surprise little 5 minutes from Laura Steven (author of the incredible The Exact Opposite of Okay), who retold the famous Monopoly board story (if you’ve not heard it, hit me up!) and talked about feminism in her book (it’s brilliant, please read it!). She introduced Katherine Webber, Matt Killeen, Annabel Pitcher and Lauren James. It was a brilliant panel talking about what it means to be a feminist and why we need to keep talking about the issue.

“You can’t be a bad feminist” – Katherine Webber
“Being a feminist means giving people the freedom to do whatever it is they want to do” – Annabel Pitcher
“Feminism in The Loneliest Girl came from feeling like an imposter during my science degree” – Lauren James
“If you want something, it’s OK to ask for it” – Katherine Webber
“You don’t have to write every day to be a writer” – Lauren James

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Next up came Alwyn Hamilton, who was originally going to just talk to us about the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, which I love BTW, but she managed to convince Samantha Shannon to come on stage and ask her a few questions! I could’ve listened to Alwyn talk about Rebel for hours. It’s a series I love…A LOT. 

“Not knowing the ending to your book is like reading a map without knowing your destination” – Samantha Shannon
“When wrtiting, don’t think about it being original, think about it as being creative” – Alwyn Hamilton
“Use your background, knowledge and passion to help you with your ideas” – Alwyn Hamilton

The final event of the day was Samantha Shannon chairing a talk with Holly Black, who I must say has the most incredible hair ever. Her passion for fairy tales and faerie spurred me on and I definitely will check out The Cruel Prince now. The highlight of this chat was most definitely Holly talking to us about her favourite fairy tale: the White Cat. The entire audience was gripped! A funny, interesting and charming chat. I really enjoyed it! 

“Never astral project” – excellent advice from Holly Black’s mam
“Getting the right name for your characters can give them a completeness and just feel right” – Holly Black

Take a peek at some of my other personal highlights of the day: drinking a Desperados in the train station, watching Melinda Salisbury’s unboxing of FairyLoot, chips in the train station, Taken Moons candles, chocolate and having reserved, front row seats like VIPs!

Thanks for dropping by! NYALit Fest was SO SO GOOD. I can’t wait for next year!

S x

 

BOOKBLOG: Peter Brown

The Wild Robot – an incredible story, encompassing a brilliant mash up of nature and technology

“When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….”

I picked up The Wild Robot because of its cover and due to the fact a few of my primary twitter pals recommending it to me. Recommend it they were absolutely right to! It is wonderful. I finished it feeling so brilliant.

The Wild Robot tells the story of Roz, a robot who ends up stranded on an island. She knows no different. This is her life. She’s a robot. She’s woken on this island. This must be home. Right? Home? What ensues is this incredible discovery of nature, technology, life, love and family. 

The animals of the island are initially VERY apprehensive about Roz’s arrival, they meet it with suspicion. Watching their relationships change and warm was just gorgeous. Roz ends up becoming an absolute asset to the islandlooking after the animals during the winter, helping them out and looking after an orphaned gosling. There’s incredible moments of shows of humanity from this very definite robot. She warmed my heart a lot of times.

As well as being a gorgeously sweet book, there’s an incredible humour about the book. I remember vividly reading and laughing OUT LOUD. I’m an emotive reader. I will laugh and cry. I will gasp. I love books that make me feel things. When kids books can make me (an adult) laugh, that’s something special. This book has humour and charm in the bucket loads. I need to take a moment to mention the illustrations too. They add so much to the story. If the cover was what I had to go off, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed! They are just brilliant.

It’s charming, it’s funny, it’s sweet… there’s this incredible balance of all things wonderful in this book. There’s a MASSIVE chunk of science thrown into this book which I thought was brilliant. So much science learning could go along side this book. It is absolutely spot on for primary schools. Our kids have taken this book entirely under their wing and they can’t get enough of it.

When I heard there was going to be a sequel, I was delighted. However, I am SO SO SO VERY SAD that the sequel isn’t out here until August though… what’s that all about!? (Lucky America getting it first!!)

Following my review on twitter, the author tweeted me after I posted that I’d read it to link me to a blog post he wrote himself about the story. I thought it was fascinating! Check it out here.

Have you read The Wild Robot?
What would you do if you found a robot emerged where you lived?
What would you do if you woke up on a strange island?

Let me know your thoughts, and we can talk about how far away August is together. *weep*

S x

 

Wildest Dreams Book Box – March!

The other day, a box arrived at my house. It was a cardboard box… with THIS amazing logo on it… 

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I knew what this meant… WILDEST DREAMS BOOK BOX OPEN TIME. 

What an exciting life. 

If you are unfamiliar with Wildest Dreams (have you been living under a rock?!)… Wildest Dreams is a monthly subscription service started by my wonderful friend Zoe (of NoSaferPlace fame), which delivers a newly released book and other book related products, straight to your door. As well as the newly released book, the boxes come with a tea personalised to the book of the month (perfect for the tea lovers among us!) and a bookish bath/body product. There will be a few extras supplied every month too! You can sign up monthly, or buy a 3/6/12 month subscription! 

If you’d like to find out more and perhaps subscribe, check out the website here

I’ve been subscribed to Wildest Dreams Book Box for a few months and it’s always a pleasure opening the box to see what goodies lie in waiting for me! 

This month’s box had the theme of Family Ties.
So a book to do with families? 

Do you wanna see what’s in the box? If you don’t want spoilers, look away now!

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The first thing I opened was the tea – inspired by the Carters (from The Hate U Give). It’s English Breakfast, which for me is an EXCELLENT thing because breakfast tea is my JAM. I am looking forward to giving this a try!

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The next thing I spotted was this bottle of body wash/bubble bath. Inspired by the brilliantly ginger Weasley family. This is a brilliant full sized bottle of orange zest scented bath product. I’ve not used it yet, but I’ve heard brilliant things. I’m excited to use this as orange is one of my favourite scents!

The final thing I had was some tissues, and the book… (confession time, I didn’t remember to take a picture of the book, but I did open it!) I worry for my brain if I need tissues to read this book… SEND HELP. I am looking forward to checking out this book. I’ve heard lots of great things! 

And there you have it!
What a great box.

If you’re interested what was in February’s box, my wonderful friend Kelly (of Kelly’s Ramblings fame) reviewed the February box over on her blog: clicky click.

Do you subscribe to any book boxes?
What are your favourite products to receive in boxes?
Are you a Wildest Dreams subscriber? Do you have a favourite box so far?

Let me know in the comments, or over on twitter: I’d love to talk Wildest Dreams Book Box with you all! 

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Ross Mackenzie

The Nowhere Emporium – magical, fantastical and sheer brilliant.

“When the mysterious Nowhere Emporium arrives in Glasgow, orphan Daniel Holmes stumbles upon it quite by accident. Before long, the ‘shop from nowhere’ — and its owner, Mr Silver — draw Daniel into a breathtaking world of magic and enchantment. Recruited as Mr Silver’s apprentice, Daniel learns the secrets of the Emporium’s vast labyrinth of passageways and rooms — rooms that contain wonders beyond anything Daniel has ever imagined. But when Mr Silver disappears, and a shadow from the past threatens everything, the Emporium and all its wonders begin to crumble. Can Daniel save his home, and his new friends, before the Nowhere Emporium is destroyed forever?”

You know you’ve read a special book when you just keep asking the children at school if they’ve read it yet. Most of them are like “OBVIOUSLY MISS”, but when I come across one who hasn’t read it yet, my general reaction is “GET IT READ NOW IT IS SO GOOD MAN”. 

The Nowhere Emporium tells the tale of Daniel and his weird and wonderful run in with The Nowhere Emporiuma place people visit, but don’t remember anything about it. It’s a place filled with magic, imagination and sheer wonder. When Daniel first discovers the Emporium, it’s just a normal building… but once he’s inside the world you see this incredible magic and fantastical world that Mr Silver has created

(Side note: as a MASSIVE fan of The Night Circus, this book is like a kids’ version and that made my heart SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY. I’m always on the lookout for books like The Night Circus… so please holler if you have any!)

I don’t know that I have the words quite yet for how much I loved it. There’s so much that makes this book ABSOLUTELY incredible. The characters, the plot, the Emporium itself, the back story, the remarkable world, Daniel’s journey… so much and SO FEW words to talk about how much I loved it. 

Inside the Emporium is just room after room of sheer wonder. People come in, leave their imaginations and their incredible visions behind, and then have NO idea they were ever there. The Emporium never stays anywhere too long. It’s like a mysterious circus. It’s like it’s very own incredible caravan that can move around.

(How I write this review without just going PLEASE JUST READ THIS! I’M SO SAD I WAITED SO LONG TO READ THIS! SERIOUSLY THOUGH! READ IT! is beyond me!)

The characters are all interesting – from the people who work at the Emporium, to mysterious Mr. Silver, Ellie, or the infamous baddie. The thing I loved most was that you actually got to know the history of the characters. You find out Mr. Silver’s history (there’s a pretty tragic story that comes with his story, that did leave me pretty gutted!)

There’s a scene towards the end of the book that just blew me away. I don’t want to spoil it, but the imagery, the imagintion and the clever manipulation of the Emporium just made my heart really happy. 

This book is clever. Like properly clever. I would LOVE to use this as a class novel. I think you could get SO SO much from it. There’s so much potential for some incredible description and some brilliant art work that could come from this! I’d love to see what kids would create as their own room in the Nowhere Emporium. Seeing the creations would be amazing! 

(I realise my review is SO RUBBISH at conveying the things I actually loved about this book, but I genuinely did love it… wholeheartedly).

My goodreads does this book SO MUCH MORE JUSTICE, in far fewer words!

Absolutely incredible. I just don’t have the words for this. The evil villain, the tragic back story, the brilliant background characters, magpies, friendship, family… ALL INCREDIBLE. Throw in a massive dollop of magic and a writing style that you just can’t help but devour and you get this special book. I need more NOW.

PLUS… there’s a sequel coming out and I GENUINELY CAN’T WAIT. Bring it on. I love a sequel. The Elsewhere Emporium, guys. I’m excited.

 

What would your room in the Nowhere Emporium look like?
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR THE ELSEWHERE EMPORIUM?
Can you recommend me any other books (kids or YA) that are swimilar to The Night Circus?

Please share all recommendations or thoughts in the comments or on twitter, I’d love to squee over this book with someone! 

S x

 

 

 

Taken Moons Candles

This month I have the absolute pleasure of being a rep for my friend Rebecca’s new, amazing candle company! I’m so so very proud of her and she is KILLING the candle game. 

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Taken Moons produces the most incredible smelling candles, and they’re all bookish! So far on the shop there have been Harry Potter houses, Cursed Child, Extinction Trials, Cruel Prince and a Fandom inspired candle! Rebecca is so brilliant and will take ideas for other bookish inspirations to make candles. 

Check out the Taken Moons social media too!

Twitter: @TakenMoons
Instagram: @takenmoons

I received my gorgeous (technically Derek’s) rep package the other day, and it made me SO SO happy!

In the package were 2 candles… and man are they GORGEOUS.

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The first was Just and Loyal – a Hufflepuff inspired candle. Being a massive Hufflepuff, I knew this was the candle for me. Just and Loyal is a beautiful scent, which smells even better when burning, of honeysuckle and green tea. Perfect for the warmth of the common room and a cup of tea to go with it! If, like me, you’re a Hufflepuff and you’d like to purchase the candle… follow the yellow brick road!

Next up is Two Continents, One Planet – inspired by The Extinction Trials. Just like the rest of the gorgeous candles in the shop, this candle smells lush. It’s inspired by the forests on the dinosaur island and is evergreen forest scented. Perfect for Jurassic Park fans! 

Look how chuffed Derek is with his package man! Thanks Rebecca!

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This past weekend, the Northern YA Literature festival was being held in Preston and Taken Moons had a stall and JUST LOOK AT IT. The candles were a total hit! I absolutely loved seeing all of the customers smelling the amazing candles… and buying them too! Rebecca is an absolute star and I can’t wait to see what comes next! 

Now… if you’ve got this far, you deserve a treat! 

I have a rep code for the next month… so if you want a candle from Taken Moons, and fancy a little 10% discount, just apply the discount ALITTLE10 and you’ll get 10% off! Don’t say I don’t treat you guys! 

Which fandom would you love to see a candle for?
Are there any fandoms you feel are under represented?
WHICH CANDLE ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO SMELL?

Let me know in the comments! Go share the Taken Moons love! 

S x

S4S – Besties or baddies?

HOLA.

Sunday again. #SixforSunday again. Six more characters again. 

This time we’re talking

Characters I would NOT like to be friends with

Last week, I shared 6 characters I think would make BRILLIANT best friends… this week, 6 that I personally would not enjoy thanks.

  1. The Sleeping Prince – The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy
    LOL. Him. He’s a disaster. He’s pretty mean too. He scares me a bit. There’s a fair few Melinda Salisbury character that are SINISTER. 
  2. Reban Don – Extinction Trials
    This dude is sneaky and sly and I do not approve. I think he’d be the kind of friend who would go behind your back and smile at your face. 
  3. Simon – One of Us Is Lying
    IDK, he’s just a bit sinister and manipulative for my liking.
  4. Phoebe – Freshers
    I just didn’t blend with this gal well. 
  5. Scarlett – Caraval
    Oh man. I mean it might just be my opinion of Caraval reflecting on this choice, but no thanks. I’m not sure I’m a fan of this girl.
  6. Katniss – The Hunger Games
    I think we all know I don’t like her. I could write quite a long blog post on this, but I won’t.

An interesting mix there of people I don’t like because they’re sneaky, and people that I just didn’t click with as characters. 

I’d love to see who you wouldn’t like to have as a friend! It’d be interesting to see if you’ve got any the same as me! Share your choices using the hashtag #SixforSunday and I’ll happily check them out! 

S x

Q&A with Katherine Webber!

Katie Webber is one of my favourite authors, one of those MUST BUYS MUST TRY TO ACQUIRE BOOKS FROM. Wing Jones is one of those just incredible books that comes along and smacks you in the face. When I was asked if I’d like to do a Q&A with Katie as part of the NYA Literature Festival celebrations, I JUMPED AT THE CHANCE
Enjoy guys! 
1. Where did the inspiration for Wing Jones come from?
The idea of writing about a girl runner had been bouncing around in my brain for years. I ran track and cross country in high school  and while I loved parts of it, I also found it very difficult! I used to fantasize about being a naturally talented runner, and it just coming effortlessly. So when I finally sat down to start what would become WING JONES, I had all these questions about this girl runner character. Who was she? Why was she special? Why was she running? Why didn’t she know she was a talented runner? Wing’s brother Marcus came next, and then her grandmothers, and the whole story went out from there. 
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2. What is your writing process? Do you go for a set number of words a day? Or do you just write as and when you can?
It depends if I’m drafting or editing! When I’m drafting I try to just get as much written as I can, but when I’m editing it is a slower process. Sometimes it will take me days to perfect a certain scene, and most of that time I’m just thinking and trying to work it out. I like to write at home in my office or in my living room with writer friends or at the British Library. 

3. There’s an incredible sense of “believe in yourself” in your books, is this a message you want your readers to take from Wing?
Absolutely! My biggest message would be to believe in yourself, and that you are stronger than you think you are. I hope this comes across in my next YA book too. 

4. You’ve written for children and young adults, how were the two processes different?

It was a completely different process! I really enjoyed doing something so collaborative. Working with my husband Kevin was a lot of fun, and I think for this particular project I couldn’t have written it on my own, so it was great to have a partner.  The whole process is very different from how I write YA, and I think it was good for my brain to work a different way. It is definitely difficult at times co-writing it, but worth it in the end! 

YA is where my heart is, but I loved writing for a different age range. And it was really great to work on something so collaborative. And I LOVE having a book with illustrations.

The planning process is very different. Writing collaboratively requires a lot more structure. Kevin and I spend a lot of time brainstorming and then we write a very structured outline that we don’t deviate too much from. For my YA novels, I rarely have an outline, and when I write a first draft, I tend to see where it takes me. I’m writing to find the story.  After my first draft, sometimes I’ll make an outline or write a synopsis that I can use as a reference while editing. My YA books require more rounds of edits, and SAM WU requires more planning and outlining. 

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5. How has your debut year been?

I’ve had the best debut year! I’m so grateful to my wonderful publisher Walker books, to all the readers who have supported the book, to all the authors who have been so welcoming and wonderful! And of course to all the amazing bloggers who shouted about the book and got behind it–it makes a huge difference to a debut author. I’m so grateful to be an author and try to enjoy every part of the experience. 

6. What’s next?
My next YA novel is out this August with Walker books. The title is ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART and it is set in the Palm Springs desert. It’s about a beautiful, popular girl named Reiko Smith-Mori who has secrets and cracks in her heart, the boy who thinks she’s perfect, and what happens when they both want something the other one can’t give them. It’s about family, friendship, and finding yourself. 
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As a reader of all of these 3 books, I can say that they are all wonderful in their own ways. I would recommend them HIGHLY. The kids at school are loving Sam Wu, and I know so many of my blogger pals are a fan of Wing Jones. I can’t wait for them all to meet Reiko!
Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it’s free!

S x

Y6 SATS Survival

Yes, We’re getting to that time of year again.. SATs time.

Now, they don’t HAVE to be stressful. I know schools all deal with them differently. There is no right way for the collective, there’s only a right way for your school, for your kids.

For us, we bring the kids in early, ensure they get into school, have a good breakfast (there’s a full English offered to the kids every morning of the SATs) and some air before they sit down to do their tests. We find it works. The staff all help and there’s a brilliant sense of community built up. The kids all remember it too!

This run up to SATs can be stressful for everyone who works with Y6 (so everyone), but it’s amazing when you find a resource that works for your classMornings are a brilliant time to use for a bit of quick revision. When the kids are coming in, waiting for the register, that’s a brilliant bit of time that can be used.

Recently we’ve been using a few different Twinkl resources to help us with the time, using resources that are engaging and fun.

These powerpoints are a brilliant start of the day thing – slap them on the board, the kids work through them (you get 10 weeks of powerpoints – 5 slides per week, working on Arithmetic, Reasoning and Problem Solving). By the time the register is done, they’ve finished and you can go through it quickly. These have helped us find children who all have similar needs and can get support for them when necessary. Just like in Maths, there are SPaG morning PowerPoints which are great to use for some quick revision!

These Maths mats are great too! These can be put out and the children can just have a go at them straight away. They come in differentiated sheets too! (You’ll find these for all year groups from Year 1 to Year 6 for Autumn, Spring and Summer! They’re brilliant, we are a big fan of them!) Not only are there Maths mats, but there’s some excellent SPaG mats too! Again, like the Maths ones, these are differentiated AND you get the whole year. They all follow a similar pattern and kids very quickly get used to how they work. We have the answers printed out too and the children self mark, or peer mark. 

One of the things we’ve noticed recently is that pace of reading is something the children need to work on, so when we found that Twinkl were starting to do 60 Second Reads – focusing on different elements of reading – we were keen to give them a go to use these for some Guided Reading focus lessons. The kids loved doing the 60 Second Reads: WW2 cards, with some brilliant responses too! These fit in lovely with our WW2 topic. There’s a whole host of different topics out there in the 60 Second Reads!

These resources are all great, and they get the kids’ brains working through a short, sharp burst of revision. There’s a whole host of resources on Twinkl to help with SATs. There’s a load more that I’ve not mentioned too! There’s stuff for SPaG, Reading and Maths! What more do you need?

What resources do you help for your Y6 prep for SATs?
Do you have a go to website?
Is there anything for revision you’d like to see that you can’t find anywhere?

Talk to me! I’d love to talk SATs prep in different schools!

S x

Playlist: The Exact Opposite of Okay

Hello!

I’m trying something new today. While reading The Exact Opposite of Okay (which you can find my review of here), I was like “OMG, IZZY! A PLAYLIST”. So here we are, with my very first at an attempt at a list of songs inspired by The Exact Opposite of Okay. (If this goes well, I may try other books and songs… but I’m not sure!)

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Some of these songs are songs I think Izzy would love. Some are songs I’d like Izzy to hear. Some are songs that relate to my feelings throughout the book.

Can’t Hold Us Down – Christina Aguilera

Survivor – Destiny’s Child

Part of Me – Katy Perry

Titanium – Sia

Respect – Aretha Franklin

Bleeding Heart – Regina Spektor

Power – Little Mix

Sorry Not Sorry – Demi Lovato

There’s a brilliant guest post featuring Izzy and her very own playlist over on my friend Cora’s club. Check it out here!

S x

#BookBuddy

'Book Buddy' by Emma Reynolds(Picture courtesy of Book Buddy website)

HELLO.

I’d like to take a little moment today to talk about the amazing movement #BookBuddy, started by the incredible Maz Evans (yes, that Maz Evans, author extraordinare!).

What is #BookBuddy?
The aim of this site is to help schools match up with interested donors to get books into their libraries. For some children, school is the only access they have to reading books and it is vital to keep new books coming in so that all children see books and reading as an activity that they can (and are allowed) to participate in.

Are you a school teacher/librarian/head that would like to the chance to be involved in an incredible movement that gets books into your school? Are you a brilliant human who has books lying around in your house that you’d like to donate to a school? Then sign up for the #BookBuddy website. It is SO simple. Follow this link. School or donor, you can sign up. 

I am VERY lucky in that my school was paired with the absolutely gorgeous Lisa Thompson (author of The Goldfish Boy, The Light Jar) and we have already had one box of books from her. The books have been GRATEFULLY received by my kids and they are LOVING them. Some of them are even pretty gobsmacked that a REAL author sends us books. 

It’s an absolute joy looking through the hashtag #BookBuddy on twitter – so many incredible people sharing books with Primary schools and Secondary schools. So many school libraries are underfunded (or unfunded) so to see people sharing books with these libraries makes me so happy. As someone who wants all school libraries to have the most high quality texts, and for kids to grow up as readers, this scheme makes me so so so happy

If you want to know more, you can check out the website: BookBuddy.org.uk and check out the hastag on twitter to see some of the amazing parcels that have been sent so far!

S x