But you’re so happy all the time…

People often ask me, “how are you so positive all the time?”

Well, most of the time I am. There are times I’m not, but I just don’t show it. Maybe I should; maybe I need to show when I’m not having a good day. The people I trust know when I’m not having a good day. Today, I thought I’d share some of the not so positive. I’m human after all.

You don’t need to read on, if this isn’t your cup of tea, but if you do… be gentle. This is the first post of this type that I’ve shared here.

I worry about the smallest of things.
Sometimes my skin isn’t thick enough.
I care too much about what people think about me.
I stress over the little things.
It takes the tiniest of comments to make me doubt myself.
Some days I dwell on off-hand/negative comments too much.
Not sleeping enough is bad for my mood.
Spending too much time with others isn’t great for me.
Spending too much time alone makes me feel lonely.
Sometimes I don’t try things because I don’t want to fail.
I’m not great with rejection, so I don’t put myself out there.
I feel a lot of things.
I definitely don’t believe in myself enough some days.
I know I’m good at my job, but expressing that isn’t something I do in fear of being called cocky.
I’m not quite able to accept compliments at times cause I don’t always believe them.
I like myself 90% of the time.
I’m a perpetual over thinker.
I have more to say than I actually say.
I analyse everything.
I’m really hard on myself, but not others.
I expect a lot of myself.
Some say I’m a perfectionist.
My weight bothers me a lot at times, other times not so much.
I beat myself up over the smallest of things.
I get cross with myself.
Being single is not great for me some days.
I get sad at times.
I’m not great at looking after myself at times.

It’s things like these that make my grateful posts, the happy pages in my bullet journal, my friends and family so important to me. Sometimes these things can get to be A LOT. 

S x

Why MG?

Kids books.

I’m an adult. I read kids books. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Kids books are excellent.

Creating a culture of readers starts from me. As a teacher, a reader and a trusted human at school it’s SO IMPORTANT for the kids to see me as a role model, reading these amazing books we have.

But why do I choose to read MG books? Cause I do. 100% CHOOSE to read them. I don’t read them because I have to.

MG books are fast paced. They have the most amazing characters. They are brilliantly illustrated. They don’t shy away from tough topics. They teach me things I didn’t know (without patronising me). Their plots are wonderful.

I could keep going… I am a massive advocate for MG books. I’ve convinced a few of my pals who read YA books to read MG books and they’re loving them!

I asked on twitter why others read MG books and I had responses from bloggers, authors and teachers!

Now over to you!

Why do you read MG books?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments or on twitter. Use the hashtag #WhyIReadMG and lets start a MG reading revolution!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Laura Ellen Anderson

Amelia Fang: brilliantly spooky books with gorgeous characters too!

“Welcome to the world of Nocturnia, where darkness reigns supreme, glitter is terrifying, and unicorns are the stuff of nightmares! Amelia Fang would much rather hang out with her pet pumpkin Squashy and her friends Florence the yeti (DON’T CALL HER BEAST!) and Grimaldi the reaper than dance at her parents’ annual Barbaric Ball. And when the King’s spoiled son Tangine captures Squashy, Amelia and her friends must escape the party to plan a daring rescue! In their race against time, they begin to realise things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem . . .”

“Amelia Fang is the biggest hearted vampiress you’ll ever meet. In this adventure, she and her friends Florence the yeti (DON’T CALL HER BEAST), Grimaldi the Death and Prince Tangine (reformed spoiled sprout), along with her pet pumpkin Squashy, must brave the journey to the terrifying Kingdom of the Light to try to find Tangine’s missing mother, Queen Fairyweather. But with unicorns, fairies and angel-kittens lurking around every corner, who can they trust? And will they finally uncover the real villain keeping the kingdoms of Light and Dark as mortal enemies?”

I recently devoured both of these books in a matter of about 2 hours and my word, they’re BRILLIANT. These books would be perfect to read around Halloween time and with the 3rd book coming out soon (later this year I believe!) there’s no better time to pick these up than now!

In book 1, you meet Amelia Fang, who is not your run of the mill, ordinary girl. She’s a vampire with best friends who are also not human. Her best friends are Florence, a rare breed of yeti, (DEFINITELY NOT A BEAST) and Grimaldi, a young apprentice Grim Reaper. Amelia’s parents are hosting the annual Barbaric Ball and have invited the King and his son, Prince Tangine, to the ball. Having agreed to come to the ball, Amelia is tasked with looking after the Prince when he starts at her school. She definitely does not want this. What ensues is adventure, friendship and a whole load of acceptance. 

Then in book 2, the adventures continue with Amelia and her friends when they have to go to the dreaded Kingdom of Light to help rescue Queen Fairyweather, Tangine’s mother. Amelia meets all kinds of brilliant new characters and has to travel to a brand new land. That’s all sparkly and happy… completely different to where she comes from! She’s a brilliant friend, helping out a friend in need. Nothing could go wrong, right?

These books are BRILLIANT FUN and beautifully illustrated. I can’t tell you how much I adore the illustrations. They add so much to the books, I definitely loved seeing all these wonderful creatures and settings – they’re much better than my brain could’ve imagined! (People who can draw blow my mind, so the face Laura draws the pictures AND writes the story just baffles me! Massive massive props to her!) There’s a few copies going around the library at school at the minute because the kids are just devouring them! Book 3 can not come quick enough! I love the sense of adventure, friendship and family in these books. They deliver a message without kids necessarily realising it. 

Have you read the Amelia Fang books?
What kind of mythical creature would you choose to be?

Lets talk!

 Sx

BOOK BLOG: Lavie Tidhar

Candy: brilliantly fun adventure in a town where sweets are illegal

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“In a city where all chocolate and sweets have been banned, Nelle Faulkner is a 12-year-old private detective looking for her next client. So when notorious candy gangster Eddie de Menthe walks into her office (her dad’s garden shed) and asks her to find a missing teddy bear, Nelle takes the case. But as soon as the teddy turns up, Eddie himself goes missing. Can Nelle track them both down… before she comes to a sticky end?”

Candy tells the story of Nelle, a young detective who lives in a ciy where sweets have been forbidden. There’s definitely dealings with sweets going on. Nelle is asked by a client of her detective agency to track down a missing teddy bear. What is the relevance of this missing teddy bear? Why does she need to track it down? What does it have to do with the sweets? 

Imagine living in a city where sweets are banned. Not just chocolate, but ALL sweets. I don’t want to live there. I’m a fan of a sweet (sweets over chocolate for me pals!) Now, there’s definitely a black market situation going on in the town. There’s some turf wars going on. There’s dirty dealings and sabotage definitely happening between sweet sellers. I chuckled quite a lot at some of the scenes between rival sweet sellers. They’re like mini adults. Alongside all this there’s a missing chocolatier, some dirty dealings from government agencies and a fire. How is Nelle going to get to the bottom of all these goings on?

What I loved most about this book is that it was funny. As an adult, it’s so amazing to read kids books because they do GENUINELY make me laugh. The ridiculousness of the main character being a child detective, but that she was SO serious about her business made me chuckle. Along with the amazing main character, you have a book here filled with other brilliant characters and a plot that’s fast paced and will make you want to read on.

With a book about sweets, you’re going to get Charlie and the Chocolate Factory vibes. I loved that. Kids who read Roald Dahl will love this. Adults who read Roald Dahl as a child will also love this. You can’t get away from some of the similarities and spotting them for me was another total win. 

This book delivers a packet of fun with a sweet edge of a messagedo the right thing, stand up to bullies and be a good friend. Nelle has to certainly overcome some things, but ultimately she’s a character who lots of kids will get along with.

Shout out to Mark Beech for that amazing cover and illustrations in this book too *heart eyes* the illustrations are just wonderful. They add SO much to the story!

Check out Lavie’s post from the blog tour all about his film noir inspirations behind the book – and check out Candy to see if you can see any of the shout outs to film noir! 

Have you read Candy?
What sweet would you miss the most if it were banned?
Do you think you’d be a good detective?

Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Ed Vere

How To Be A Lion: a brilliantly illustrated picture book with an important message

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“Meet Leonard – a lion like no other. Leonard’s best friend is Marianne, a duck. But lions chomp ducks, don’t they? And what will the pair do when their way of life is threatened?”

How To Be A Lion is a brilliant tale all about the importance of being yourself, even when everyone around you is telling you you should be a certain way. Leonard isn’t a lion like the rest of the lions… he’s kind, gentle and brilliant. His best friend is a duck, and obviously the rest of the lions eat ducks. So why not Leonard? Because he’s different. But being different is a good thing. It makes you stand out. 

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I absolutely adore this book. It has such an important message to deliver, without being preachy or in your face about it. Be yourself, be kind, be different – its those things that make you special. Leonard is so different from the rest of the lions and they’re not nice to him, but he tries not to let it get to him.

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I love the illustrations in this book. They’re so simple, yet so effective. I absolutely adore Leonard. He’s such a brilliant lion. He’s gentle and kind. The kids at school have been using this page to draw some lions (I’m stupid enough to NOT have taken any pictures tho *sadface*).

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I got this gorgeous postcard with my parcel (thank you to the wonderful humans of Puffin for sending this book to me!) and I ABSOLUTELY adore the message:

“You don’t have to ROAR to be heard”.

I think this book is a brilliant empathy builder and we will be using it at school to go along with some of the other empathy builders we use. Building empathy in kids is so important, and doing it through books is such an effective way to do it. 

Go buy yourself How to be a Lion and be more Leonard. 

What books do you know of that are good empathy builders?
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
Would you like a duck as your best friend?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments. I love this book. I think it’s super special. 

S x

S4S – Metallic books

Hello my loves!

How are you? What has been going on in your lives this week? Any good books? 

Today brings another #SixforSunday post. This week is a cover type that is VERY close to my heart…

Metallic books

I AM SUCH A LOVER OF A SHINY COVER OK. They are precious to me. I am such a magpie for shiny, metallic goodness. 

  1. ALL of Sara Barnard’s books 
    These books have the most amazing metallic features on the covers. I hope her books are forever somewhat metallic, because I love her books.
  2. Rebel of the Sands trilogy – Alwyn Hamilton
    This trilogy is close to my heart and not just because they have shiny covers.
  3. Spark/Ink – Alice Broadway
    I couldn’t NOT include these could I? They’re BEAUTIES. I can’t wait for book 3 to see what it’s like… 
  4. Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo
    Shiny features on the cover of this book made me VERY happy.
  5. Clean – Juno Dawson
    THIS BOOK IS ONE BIG SHINY. I adore it massively.
  6. Fandom – Anna Day
    The beautiful shiny details on this cover make me feel such heart eyes. 

So yeah, I like shiny covers. I bet you’d never guess this.

Remember to share your ideas using the hashtag #SixforSunday! I LOVE you all dearly for joining in! 

See you next week for July – the month of the books and the feels – starting with “Books that made me cry”.

S x

BOOK BLOG: Annalie Grainger

In Your Light: a compelling and powerful read (with a GORGEOUS cover)

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“Mella Laverty had been missing for eight months, six days and eighteen hours. Seventeen-year-old Lil’s heart was broken when her big sister, Mella, went missing. Now she is ‘Lil After’ – angry, cold and dark. One especially dark and rainy night, Lil accidentally runs a strange girl, ‘Seven’ down in her car. Tiny, gentle, terrified Seven was born into the Sisterhood of the Light, a seemingly peaceful community that believes in the healing power of the sun. When a fire tore through the compound, Seven ran for her life, straight into Lil’s path. But now the Sisterhood is unwilling to let Seven go. What could she have fled that is worse than flames …? As Lil and Seven’s stories unfold and intertwine, they begin to trust each other with dark secrets. And there’s more darkness to come ..”

In Your Light tells the story of Lil, whose sister Mella has gone missing. Lil blames herself for her sister’s disappearance. As you go on through the book, you start to get pieces of the puzzle clicking together to find out WHY Lil blames herself for her sister’s disappearance. Lil just wants her sister back. It’s having an impact on so many different parts of her life. While all of this is happening in her life, Lil comes across a young girl, hurt in the road. Lil rescues this young girl, who could be the clue to Lil finding her sister. 

The story is told through two perspectives, which for me can go SO wrong, but in this book is it done SO beautifully. The perspectives keep the book moving at a brilliant pace. On one hand, you get the perspective of a scared girl desperately searching for her sister, and on the other you get a young girl searching for herself in a new world

One of the biggest hooks for me with this book was that it was about a cult, or a sisterhood, and following my love of After the Fire, I needed some more of that in my life. There are scenes from the sisterhood, where the sisterhood is talked about and it is harrowing some of the things that the sisters do. It’s compelling reading however. I wanted to keep reading because I needed to know what was going to happen. The young girl, Seven, who Lil finds is from this sisterhood and as she reveals more to Lil, it becomes apparent that there are secrets and a REAL darkness that Lil needs to save her sister from. 

There’s some pretty dark themes explored in this book, but they’re done so brilliantly and dealt with in such a caring way that you want to read on. The thread of “learning to trust” is one of the most interesting. Lil has to learn to trust Seven, Seven has to learn to trust Lil. Lil questions whether she can trust her family and friends. Mella wonders about trusting her newly found sisters. This trust dynamic makes for interesting reading. There were many moments where I wanted to scream at the book and say NO DON’T DO IT, THAT’S NOT RIGHT. (That’s when you know it’s a good book… when you want to shout at it. It means you’re INVESTED).

I also must take a moment to appreciate that cover. SUCH A GORGEOUS COVER. Some of the raindrops are tactile too… *swoon*

My Goodreads review:

What a powerful and intense book! A brilliant story told from 2 perspectives – a girl looking for her lost sister, the sister looking to be found elsewhere. Reading the “cult” bits of this book were intense. I just think this is brilliant. (I definitely didn’t cry at the end, no not me)

A massive thanks to Katherine Webber for recommending this book to me at YAShot! I bought it entirely based on her recommendation and I do not regret a single second of it! My lush friend Kelly ALSO bought it at YAShot – if you’d like to read her review, check it out here.

Have you read In Your Light?
Can you recommend any other “cult” books to me?
Has an author ever recommended a book to you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I need more books about cults in my life, thanks. 

S x

BLOG TOUR: Candy

Hello!

Today I have the absolute joy of introducing you all to Lavie Tidhar, author of the amazing ‘Candy’ released a few weeks ago (7th June) from Scholastic. Lavie is here today to talk about his brilliant novel Candy and the inspirations from film noir. I hope you all enjoy his post and go check out the rest of the posts on the blog tour! 

On Candy and Film Noir

A few years ago I watched the movie Brick, written and directed by Rian Johnson. What Johnson did that was so clever was to take the hardboiled formula – the hard-bitten detective, the femme fatale, informers and cops, corruption and mystery – and transpose it into a high school. It wasn’t played for laughs – it was perfectly straight-faced and very noir, and I thought it was great!

I love the hardboiled formula. It has certain quirks and ticks that you expect, certain beats to hit, but at the same time the fun is in somehow subverting the expectations, of using the skeleton frame to tell a story not necessarily concerned much with the plot. The point of it, as Raymond Chandler once said, is that you can read the story even if the last eight pages are missing. In other words, it really isn’t about the solving of the mystery (like in the old Golden Age English detective stories) but about the people and the place they live in.

In my adult books, I often use noir and hardboiled motifs in one form or another. The truth is, I find great delight in parodying the style. I love starting a book on a variation of the “femme fatale walks into the detective’s office”. In Candy, the detective is 12-year old Nelle Faulkner, and the client is Eddie de Menthe, a cynical candy bootlegger of the same age. Already, the expectations from the scene are turned. And I love writing hardboiled dialogue. As Nelle says early on: “The truth was I was out of pocket money again, I was behind on my luck, my hat was older than I was and I needed a job even worse than I needed a caramel fudge.” There’s a certain rhythm to the prose even – especially when – you parody it. And there’s actually a lot of humour in Chandler, too. It’s impossible to do it like Chandler did, of course, but at his best the lines simply sing.

Candy takes these adult tropes and throws them into the world of children. It’s funny – but not to the kids themselves. For them the game’s the game – to quote The Wire. For them it’s serious and real. The stakes are high. And just like in the best noir novels, the adult world is revealed as compromised.

“Growing up was serious business,” Nelle reflects at some point, “and so was candy.”

I think the very best children’s writers know this. They know the darkness that lies just out of sight, there on the edge of vision. Growing up isn’t easy. And becoming an adult means compromise. What I love about the hardboiled detective is what I love about Nelle Faulkner. She believes in doing the right thing. Whatever the cost. She believes in fairness, she believes in justice. She wants to make the world a better place.

And I had a ridiculous amount of fun packing in as many classic references as I could get away with! Not just Raymond Chandler – whom Mayor Thornton is named after (Thornton was Chandler’s middle name) – but at various points you might spot a hidden reference to The Godfather, Goodfellas, Justified, The Big Lebowski (itself a brilliant parody of Chandler, of course) and numerous others (even I forget which!). And there’s a pie fight – there should always be a pie fight!

So my hope, too, is that the book works both ways. That it works for kids, but will have an extra dimension for their parents, too. It certainly does seem to be an unusual take, or so I’m told.

But you know what? Ultimately, I just had so much fun writing it, that if nothing else I hope that’s what comes across.

Check out the rest of the posts on the blog tour! Watch this space for my review of Candy coming! Spoiler alert: I loved it!

BLOG-tour-banner

S x

BOOK BLOG: Katie and Kevin Tsang

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Sharks: laugh out loud funny and brilliantly illustrated book that kids will love!

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“Sam Wu is NOT a scaredy-cat (except when he is). And when a shark TOTALLY tries to eat him at the local aquarium, he decides he’s not going to take any more chances. So at his friend’s birthday party at the beach, Sam refuses to dip even a toe in the water. Nothing could go wrong now, could it?”

Sam Wu is a brilliant new series of books written by husband and wife team Kevin and Katie Tsang (also known as Katherine Webber, yes… her! Author of the amazing Wing Jones), illustrated by the brilliant Nathan Reed. If you’re new to the Sam Wu books, you might fancy checking out my review of the first book in the series ‘Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts’ here. Book one was a delight, so I was VERY excited when I got the opportunity to read book 2. Thank you so much to the publishers, Egmont, for sending me a review copy!

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Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Sharks tells the story of Sam and his friends, who end up going to an aquarium and (as Sam is DEFINITELY not afraid of sharks) the hilarity that ensues. Obviously, as Sam is not afraid of sharks, when one of his classmates invites him to her birthday party (being held at the beach), he is THRILLED (see: not thrilled) to be going. The beach is the LAST place Sam wants to be – but he’s NOT scared of sharks, no sir. 

I love this series so much. The books so far have both been really funny and the first book has been a total hit with the kids at school. They’re the perfect book for kids who are just starting out reading chapter books for themselves. We’re so lucky at the minute that there are many wonderfully illustrated chapter books being published, and Sam Wu fits so beautifully in that category. 

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Sam continues to be one of those really funny characters. He has some amazing people in his life. His friends are wonderful; his little sister makes me laugh. They surround Sam, who is definitely not afraid of everything, and keep him going when in reality he just wants to stay in his room all the time. There’s some brilliant moments in this book with some new characters and old favourites. On top of all of this, the portrayal of Sam’s family is brilliant – they are hilarious. 

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One of my favourite things about these books is the illustrations. I think they add SO MUCH to the story. The pages are all different and I love that. There’s so much going on in these books that you can’t get bored. The illustrations are just top notch. They add a level of humour that I adore. 

My Goodreads review:

I love these books – they’re fun, brilliantly illustrated and younger me would’ve picked them up in a heartbeat. I love the humour in the Sam Wu books, he’s the perfect MC! These books always make me laugh. I can’t wait for book 3! Come on February!

I am VERY excited for the third book in the Sam Wu series – Sam Wu is Not Afraid of The Dark. There’s a sneak peek of the cover on the back of Sharks, but I won’t spoil it! 

Have you read any of the Sam Wu series?
What are you DEFINITELY not afraid of?
Can you recommend any other books like Sam Wu?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on twitter!

S x

Spread positivity like wildfire

A LONG while back, I started following the amazing people of Doodle on twitter (@doodle_ed) and have long admired their products from afar. 

My lovely friend Kathryn bought me a copy of these 2 Doodle pads for my training year. I found them so useful that I’ve had to buy another of each pad ready for September! The thing I love about these is that you get to reflect on the day in a really fun way. As a student teacher, doing these once a week (sometimes twice) made me really think “yep, I’ve achieved something today/yep I’m making a difference”. It’s the little things in life that we need to celebrate, so much of the time we beat ourselves up as teachers – we didn’t get that done, that went wrong, this wasn’t quite right… we encourage our kids to celebrate their successes so we should celebrate our own. And I would 100% say teaching is in fact the BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about these pads, follow the links to the Doodle website:

To Do pad

Best Job In The World pad

Safeguarding pad

Doodle also do amazing postcards, that I will MOST CERTAINLY be using in my NQT year. I think there’s something so beautifully simple about postcards. They can be used for so many different purposes. Celebrating the good in schools is so important to me. Building up the kids I teach, making them proud of who they are, their work, their effort… it all matters. If I get to help them build up that impression of themselves by sending out a postcard every now and again, I’m going to do it. 

I absolutely adore the rocket one! It makes me so happy.

Follow the link to see the full range of Doodle postcards – clicky click.

Let me know if you can recommend any other websites for buying postcards, or if you’ve used any of Doodle’s products! They do “create your own exercise books” and brilliant posters too. 

How do you spread positivity in school? Shout your ideas at me. I really want to inject a healthy dose of positivity into my NQT year and would love to hear your ideas! Let me know in the comments, or share them on twitter (@eenalol)

S x