BLOG TOUR: We’re Off To Find A Unicorn

We're Off to Find A Unicorn

“We’ve hunted for bears, elves and eggs… now we’re hunting for everyone’s favourite – unicorns! But readers will not only enjoy looking for the hiding unicorn in the pages, they’ll also learn about our world’s endangered wildlife along the way.”

We’re Off To Find a Unicorn is a gorgeously written and illustrated picture book which is reminiscent of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt! Written by Elouise White and illustrated by Cory Reid, this is going to be a sure fire hit with loads of kids and teachers alike! 

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There’s a gorgeous repeating pattern with this book. A pattern that children will be sure to want to join in with! It’s always good to read books which little ones can join in with! Lots of kids love unicorns now, so this is sure to be a hit! It’s a book that once children know it, they can go off and read to themselves because they know the pattern and they might even start to make up their own version!

The story follows a group looking for an infamous unicorn. They trudge through the cold, the warm and all kinds of gorgeous different habitats looking for a unicorn… with very little luck! I loved that it explored different kinds of habitats as it will allow for loads of discussion with children. Also, I loved that the animals the group found along the way weren’t always the obvious ones (see below)! It’s always brilliant to introduce children to knew animals!

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This book is just lush. It’s going down a storm at school and the kids are loving it! We’ve even had a few aspiring authors who think they want to write their own version of this book, so I’ll let you know how theose go!

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With gorgeous illustrations like this one, which might be my favourite, this book is filled with gorgeous detail. It is sure to keep children talking and wondering! Plus, you can’t beat a gorgeously illustrated end papers! These made us laugh a lot!

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A massive thank you to the publishers Owlet Press for sending me a review copy and asking me to be on the blog tour! What a joy! 

You can get yourself a copy of the book here: Owlet Press website.

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour to see what some fellow bloggers thought of this gorgeous fun picture book!

Unicorn blog tour

S x

BOOK BLOG: The Snow Dragon

The Snow Dragon: a beautiful story filled with hope, dreams and wonder!

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You can be late for many things in life, but you should never keep an adventure waiting…

In Griselda Bone’s gloomy orphanage, daydreaming is banned, skipping is forbidden and Christmas is well and truly cancelled. But for Phoebe and her sausage dog Herb, is it possible that, just when things seem at their bleakest, magic awaits in the swirling, snow-filled air?”

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As a massive fan of Abi Elphinstone books, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book as soon as it came out. I was in fact very lucky to get an early sneak peek at this at Abi’s Rumblestar launch and I’ve been waiting for its release ever since then! This book does not disappoint… it has been well worth the wait! This is a tale full to the brim with emotion, danger, wonder, hope, friendship and love. 

Filled to the top with magic, this book makes me so happy. We all know I love a bit of magic. It sweeps you away. It made me feel like a child again. The illustrations, beautifully crafted by Fiona Woodcock, add such a charming depth to Abi’s ever-gorgeous words. I loved exploring the pictures. There’s so much you can see and read into the pictures, without even reading the story! The words and the pictures pair together to give you a tale you want to go on. You’re swept up into this magical world of a girl, her sausage dog and a magical dragon. Who wouldn’t want to go on an adventure with a magical snow dragon?

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You can’t not fall for Phoebe. She’s a brave and brilliant character. She’s like every child. She wants something she thinks she’ll never have. She doesn’t realise how special she is. She’s a young girl full of hope and compassion. Her story is captivating and you really will root for her. She worries no one will ever hear her. I think this is something lots of children will feel at some points in their lives. Luckily, Phoebe is heard by the gorgeous Snow Dragon, who hears her hopes and needs, and takes her on an adventure of a lifetime

This book is one of those gorgeous “definitely winter-y but can be read at any time of the year” books. We all know that when it comes to winter, Christmas books take over, so this is a refreshing book to have in my arsenal of books. 

Have you read The Snow Dragon?
What would you want the Snow Dragon to grant you?
What are your favourite winter picture books?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. You need to read this beautiful picture book if you haven’t yet!

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: Christopher Pumpkin

Hi pals!

Today is an exciting day! Today I’m part of the Christopher Pumpkin blog tour and I’m sharing with you my perfect Halloween playlist! I loved the idea of doing something a little bit different when I was emailed from the publishers… and naturally the playlist was the first thing I wanted to grab! 

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Christopher Pumpkin is the latest book from Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, illustrated by Nick East publishes with us this week. This book is the absolutely adorable and brilliant. Chris is the one pumpkin from a witch’s enchanted patch who goes rogue when helping with party planning. When seeking assistance from her pumpkin patch the witch gets lots of spooky and slimy support from all except Chris… Chris loves all things pink, glittery and fluffy. Readers see how Chris makes the party planning his own, creating the scariest party the witch and her friends have seen yet!

I’ve already bought a copy of this for school to go in our Spooky Reads display in our library! 

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So… a Halloween playlist?! While I’m not the biggest Halloween fan, I love a good playlist, so I’ve put together 10 songs that I think are PERFECT for any Halloween party!

  • Thriller by Michael Jackson (obv)
  • Disturbia by Rihanna
  • Time Warp – Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Black Magic – Little Mix
  • Dark Horse – Katy Perry
  • Bring Me To Life – Evanescence
  • Superstition – Stevie Wonder
  • Ghostbusters Theme Song
  • Judas – Lady Gaga
  • Thriller/Heads will Roll – Glee version!

There’s a lovely mix of songs on there… although I don’t think anyone will be inviting me to be in charge of the playlists any time soon. 

What would you put on your Halloween playlist?
Are there any songs on my list you love?
Are you also in love with Christopher Pumpkin as I am?

Talk to me!

Massive thank you to the publishers, Hachette, for the review copy and the opportunity to be on the blog tour! Full review coming soon! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Susan Verde

I Am Love: a wonderful book exploring kindness, compassion and empathy

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“Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds continue their collaboration with the fourth book in their bestselling wellness series. A celebration of love in all its forms, I Am Love asks readers to look inward when they feel afraid. Love allows us to act with compassion and kindness, to live with gratitude, and to take care of ourselves by practicing self-love.”

I am a massive fan of using picture books in the classroom, regardless of the age of the children because I think picture books can be the key to opening children up to experiences they might not necessarily have. They can quickly grab a child’s attention and, in the space of only a few pages, teach children a whole range of things. 

One of the things that I think picture books do wonderfully is teach children the importance of empathy. It’s so important that we show children the importance of empathy and being able to use their emotions for good. So much goes on in the world today that we need to give our children the tools to show love, kindness, compassion. I am Love is a wonderful picture book that does just that. 

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It’s a very simple story about ways in which we can show people compassion and love, through very simple acts of kindness. With Peter H Reynolds’ striking illustrations and an incredibly powerful message about ways in which we can show love, this book captured my heart completely and utterly. 

This book would go PERFECTLY in a PSHE lesson about being kind and could work from EYFS all the way up. I’d love to get my children to make their own version of this thinking of ways in which we can show love and compassion to the people around us. 

I am a massive fan of the pairing of Susan Verde and Peter H Reynolds, who have combined forces to write a series of books like this. I would whole heartedly recommend these books.

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A massive thank you to Abrams and Chronicle for sending me a copy for review! You guys are the best! 

Have you read any of the books in this series?
What are your go-to books for teaching about empathy?
What would you like to see from this series next?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments or on twitter, I love this series so much, I’d love to talk about it!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: A Planet Full of Plastics

Today, I come to you sharing ‘A Planet Full of Plastics’ by Neal Layton. I was invited to be on the blog tour and I was thrilled as this is something we have been thinking about this year in school and my class and I did a whole unit of work around plastic pollution in the seas.

A Planet Full of Plastic is a wonderful picture book and is perfect for
readers who love nature and want to help the environment.

Everything is made of stuff. Some things are made of paper, like this book. And some things are made of PLASTIC. If you look around you, plastic is everywhere. Even in places where it’s not meant to be. If it drops to the ground, it doesn’t rot away – it sticks around for ever.

Our world is drowning in plastic, and it’s a big problem. Award-winning author-illustrator Neal Layton is here to explain where plastic comes from, why it doesn’t biodegrade, and why that’s dangerous for animals and humans alike. But he’s also FULL of ideas for how you can help! From giving up straws in juice cartons to recycling all we can and taking part in a beach clean, A Planet Full of Plastic will get young readers excited about how they can make a difference to keep Planet Earth happy.

I know a lot of schools who are taking plastic and recycling very seriously, and with a very quick browse of the internet, there are some wonderful and inventive ways to reuse plastic in an art lesson. Some schools take an even wider scape and use plastic as an art tool to create a whole school display.

None of the following images are my own: I am in awe of these creations and credit goes to the original creators (I wish I had the origin of all of these pictures, but I just have them saved in my ‘inspiration bank’ for lessons)

There are some amazing displays from teachers on Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram and some of them are pure envy. There are so many ways we can recycle and reuse plastic/other materials in the classroom. We all love a bit of junk modelling and it’s important to talk to children about the importance of recycling and reusing materials so they don’t end up polluting our lands and seas.

I can’t wait to use this book and some of these amazing ideas with my class next year to create some recycled art ourselves!

Massive thank you to Hachette Kids for inviting me to be in this blog tour!

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!

Plastics Blog Tour (3)

S x

BLOG POST: Morag Hood

Morning friends!

Today we have a very special post from author Morag Hood who is here to talk about how she came up with her character Sophie Johnson and how she developed. 

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I love hosting authors because it’s really interesting getting an inside peek at their creative processes. 

Where did the idea for Sophie come from and how did she develop?

The character of Sophie initially came about when I was thinking about picture books in general. One of the things I like most about the format is the tension that can be created between the words and the pictures. I’ve always especially enjoyed books where the reader knows what is going on better than the characters themselves. I think I am probably quite in touch with my inner four-year-old and I seem to remember relishing that feeling of being in on the joke and being smarter than the characters in a book. It was with this in mind that I started playing around with the idea of the main character being oblivious to what is going on around them, and Sophie started to emerge.

She has been such a fun character to write and develop. She is very forthright and certain, despite not necessarily having understood a situation, and she loves to explain everything, while in actual fact knowing very little about what is truly going on! Once I worked out her voice and perspective on life, I started to come up with scenarios in which she could shine.

My editor at Simon & Schuster, Helen Mackenzie Smith, gave me a brilliant note about thinking of Sophie as giving an interview about herself and I try to hold that in my head whenever I am writing for Sophie. The first book, Unicorn Expert, came about partly because it was the first book I was writing for someone else to illustrate and I tried to think of something I wasn’t very keen on drawing but would be fun for another illustrator! And then I had so much fun with the first one that I wanted to give Sophie some other things to do. She became a Detective Genius because, as well as having a personal love of detective stories, I felt it would give lots of room for her getting things wrong and missing some fairly obvious clues. I always enjoyed the rather hapless police officers who are outwitted by clever detectives such as Hercule Poirot, or Jessica Fletcher, so having Sophie outwitted by her dog seemed to fit well into her world.

Sophie Johnson has been such a fun character to create and work with, dancing the fine line of being over-confident while still being likeable. I think a lot of that likeability comes from Ella Okstad’s joyful illustrations. It really has been a treat to see how the book has come together with Ella’s input. The pictures are so full of life and really help to make Sophie endearing.

Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius is a WONDERFUL picture book and it has the most incredible cover. It is sparkly goodness. 

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Sophie Johnson studied very hard to become a detective and it’s a good thing she did – there has been a terrible crime!
Someone has stolen Lion’s tail. Unfortunately, this means that Sophie doesn’t have time to train her new (and not very good) assistant, Bella. However, is it possible that, while Sophie is busy rounding up suspects, she doesn’t see that Bella may be better than she thinks?
The Sophie Johnson series is perfect for bright young minds and great fun to read aloud as children spot what’s really happening in the story right under Sophie’s nose!

Sophie Johnson: Detective Genuis is out now! You should all go and pick it up!

Massive thank you to Morag and the publishers at Simon and Schuster for inviting me to share this wonderful blog post! Happy reading!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Brave Molly

Brave Molly: a gorgeous wordless picture book dealing with facing your fears

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“What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. Until finally…Molly faces her fears.”

As a teacher who is working in a world where Mental Health is rightfully a conversation that is had more openly than ever before, I am always after stories that I can use as conversation openers. Whether my children relate exactly or not, books are portals to conversations and feelings that can be so so essential to talk about. Brave Molly is yet another book in my library that I think helps to open up that conversation so beautifully. 

When I first opened Brave Molly, I was surprised by the lack of words (we all know I love a wordless picture book) but it is that exact lack of words that makes this book so powerful and so brilliant. When we’re struggling with whatever is coming our way, it’s usually our words that go first. Our emotions stay, our lives have to go on, but we struggle to talk or to give words to the things that is going on. Being a wordless picture book gives this such power and useability (is that even a word?). This book could be used with children from a young age to secondary aged children. 

The story tells of Molly who is at her happiest when she’s indoors: she’s creative, artistic and loves to read. However, as we all know, you can’t spend all of your time inside: the outside world beckons lovingly (but terrifyingly for some people). She’s afraid. Her fear monsters follow her whenever she leaves and goes into the world. Her fear monsters loom in the background like shadows: we can never really get away from our fears, they’re always there… we just have to learn to live with them. Molly’s monsters manage to ruin many a situation she is put in. 

One of my favourite images in the book is when Molly shows that she is in fact a very brave little girl. We ALL fear things. We all struggle with things. Squaring up to them and saying, “You have no power over me” is TERRIFYING, but with the help of our friends and our own selves, we can do it. 

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I really love this. It ticks so many boxes for me. With beautiful illustrations, a powerful message and a good story, this book is one that I can’t wait to use with the children I work with. It’s going to end up being one I use over and over. (If you’re after something along the same vein, Ruby’s Worry is similar, but not entirely the same).

A massive thank you to the publisher, Abrams and Chronicle for sending me this book. You guys are awesome!

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Sarah Roberts

Somebody Swallowed Stanley: a beautiful story to teach children about the importance of looking after our oceans!

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“Say hello to Stanley! He’s swimming around in the sea, but he’s no ordinary jellyfish. Most jellyfish have dangly-gangly tentacles, but Stanley has two handles. Other jellyfish have a magical pearly glow, but Stanley has colourful stripes. Lots of hungry fish in the sea are looking for lunch, and all of them have a taste for Stanley. But plastic bags don’t belong in the sea – or in other creatures’ tummies…”

I’m gutted that I’ve only just found this book now because I’ve done my plastic pollution topic in my class this year! But next year… next year! 

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Somebody Swallowed Stanley is a brilliant picture book telling about the tale of Stanley – a jellyfish unlike other jellyfish, because he is a plastic bag – and what happens to him when creatures of the sea try to eat him. Some manage to spit him back out, but one of the creatures isn’t so lucky, until a brilliant young man comes along and saves the day. 

There’s some incredible messages in this book about the importance of being kind to the environment and recycling. Stanley is recycled at the end of the book to be a kite and this would be a great thing to get children thinking about what we can do with our plastics once we’re finished with them, so that they don’t end up in the sea!

One of the lovely things about this book is the riddle type verses that describe the animals which eat Stanley. This would be a great thing to use with children to get them to come up with their own riddles about animals under the sea! This could be an activity you do with children from as young as KS1 all the way to Upper KS2. 

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I love this book and it will be a firm fave that I bring out every year when we talk about plastic pollution. I don’t think picture books should be reserved for only EYFS and KS1 – my Year 5s this year have LOVED being read picture books! 

What are your favourite picture books to use around this issue?
What activities do you do to raise awareness of plastic pollution?
Are you any good at writing riddles?

Talk to me. I wanna know what activities and stories you use to teach kids about the importance of lookinga fter our world!

S x 

 

Ollie’s Magic Bunny Blog Tour

Happy Tuesday!

Today I have the utter joy of hosting author Nicola Killen and we’re getting a tour around her studio. I’m really nebby so I absolutely adored reading this post when it dropped into my inbox! 

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Hello and welcome to my studio tour!  This is the place where I worked on the story and illustrations for Ollie’s Magic Bunny.  

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I share a space with two other artists – it’s a converted garage on the side of a photographer’s studio.  The door to the studio is very grey and boring so it’s hard to imagine what’s inside!

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Tada! Here’s my workspace. I’m quite embarassed to be showing you round when it’s SO messy.  I’m always untidy, but when I’m in the middle of working on a new book (like I am now), it gets even worse!  As you can probably see, I’ve got two desks: one for sitting at my computer, and one for standing at when I draw and paint.

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On my computer desk I have an iMac, and I use a wacom tablet with it.  I also have a very comfy chair and most importantly, there’s a heater next to my desk!  As it used to be a garage, the studio can get very cold at times. I always have lots of lists of things to do on my desk – I like to be able to tick things off!  

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I usually stand up when I’m painting or drawing.  I have a drawing board in the middle of the desk, which is hidden by my lightbox at the moment.  There’s an A3 scanner tucked underneath this desk, as well as sketches, boxes of books and some portfolios too.  I used to have lots more postcards and pictures up on the wall, but they keep falling down and it’s very hard to reach to put them back up!  You may also have noticed my Studio Stegasaurus which lives on this desk – it roars when you squeeze it. I’ve had the anglepoise lamp since I was at school so it’s lasted a long time!

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This is all the brushes, dip pens and inks which I’m using for the book I’m working on.  

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Then, squeezed into the corner, is my bookcase.  It’s got lots of my books in it, as well as reference, sketchbooks, paperwork and some of my childhood favourites too!

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I’m not sure I should show you this photo! When I opened the cupboard, I was worried that everything was going to fall out . . . It’s chock full of materials, inks and paper. Tidying it is on my lists of things to do!

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That’s all of my space, but we also share an area just inside the door where there’s a big plan chest with a very useful cutting mat on top.  I store a lot of my artwork and paper in the drawers here. I’m preparing some Ollie’s Magic Bunny themed activities today so have been using the cutting mat – but I will need to clear it up later in case anyone else wants to use it!

Thank you for letting me show you around my studio space – I hope you’ve enjoyed having a look around and sorry about the mess!

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I hope you guys enjoyed that as much as I did! It’s fascinating to see where people work and their process! I’d love to snoop in everyone’s workspaces! Check out my review of Ollie’s Magic Bunny here: BOOK BLOG: Nicola Killen

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Dinosaur Department Store

Today is my stop on The Dinosaur Department Store blog tour and I am delighted to share with you my review! 

The Dinosaur Department Store Cover

The Dinosaur Department Store: a brilliantly illustrated picture book with a gorgeous nod to looking after animals! 

“Eliza Jane was an unusual child. Some called her wilful, some called her wild! Our feisty heroine Eliza Jane isn’t your average child. Instead of a cute, fluffy bunny, she has her heart firmly set on a prehistoric pet. Join Eliza Jane and her parents on a marvellous magical tour of their local dinosaur department store. From huge, stomping sauropods stretching their necks to a pair of loved-up Ankylosaurs called Maud and Frank, there are plenty of amazing dinosaurs for Eliza Jane to choose from. But this wild child is hatching a fantastic plan of her own.”

The Dinosaur Department Store tells the story of brilliant Eliza Jane who doesn’t want a fluffy bunny for her birthday. Oh no, she wants a dinosaur… obviously! Her parents take her to the perfect place for her to shop for a dinosaur… but when she gets there, she realises that what she really wants is the dinosaurs to all be free!

I LOVE that Eliza has parents of different races – which was something that one of my children noticed when I read it to them. This created a lovely talking point for some of the children in the class I read it to. I think it’s SO important to introduce children early to different families, so a massive thumbs up from me for this!

It’s such a brilliant thing to see a girl in a book who loves dinosaurs too! She’s a very determined young girl, who most definitely loves dinosaurs… which I KNOW will go down well with lots of parents of girls who love dinosaurs! Girls can love them too! This again created conversation about who can play with what toys!

I absolutely adore the bright and vibrant illustrations in this book. My eyes were constantly caught on the pages looking at all of the detail. Each page gives you something else to look at and search for. A particular shout out to the back page for its BRILLIANT pronunication guide (it certainly helped me to practice saying the names… being the dinosaur novice I am!)

Massive thank you to the publishers for sending me this gorgeous picture book – I think it’ll go down so well for so many reasons! So many brilliant things to talk about and look at in this book! This book went down SO well with the group of children I read it to! I can’t wait to read it to more children to see what their reactions will be.

Why don’t you check out the rest of the blog tour to see what some other amazing bloggers thought of this book?

DINO QUOTE CARD

S x