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! 

Ollie blog tour

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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 

There’s nothing quite like a good cup of tea…

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you will know that I am a massive fan of treating myself to a breakfast ever now and again.

In Newcastle, we are spoiled for choice of places to go… but I will ALWAYS go back to the same place. And I recommend that you guys start going too:

Quilliam Brothers Teahouse

img_5374(Look at that cute little tea cup man, and my own pot of tea!)

For those of you who have no idea what Quilliam’s is, it’s a teahouse in the centre of Newcastle and it’s just majestic. When you go in you are handed a menu, but it’s no ordinary menu… it’s a tea menu. There are tens of choices you can choose from (I literally have only breakfast tea, or lately I’ve been having a vanilla black tea which is delicious) and there are teas for ALL tastes. The first time I went I had NO idea what I was doing/wanted, and the staff were MORE THAN HAPPY to recommend and help me make a decision. You get a cute little Quilliams tea cup and your own pot of tea (for someone who was a newbie like me, this was a PROPER revelation… not only was I able to choose from 10s of teas, but I got my own pot of tea!)

Now, I mostly go to Quilliams for breakfast (those of you who follow me on Instagram will see that mostly!) and, as the pictures above show, the breakfast is something that is well worth grabbing. You can get a whole host of different breakfasts: eggs, pancakes, granola, sandwiches, full English. There’s options for those who are gluten free and dairy free too! Just ask the people who work there and they’ll be happy to help. I always get the Eggs Claremont (poached eggs on toast with sausages) without hollandaise sauce. I would recommend this 100%. Everything that comes out looks and smells delicious… I’m just a stick with what you know kind of gal ha! 

Quilliams doesn’t just do breakfast though… 

There’s a MASSIVE range of cakes and treats you can get as snacks! Pictured above is the mini egg brownie, chocolate banana bread and orange cake (gluten free). Recently some friends and I went and we all have pretty different tastes in life, but we all managed to find something to eat AND ENJOY. We all had some food, some cake and some tea. It was a majestic day. The other picture shows the nachos they do on a night time and man… they’re just DELICIOUS. 

If you’re in Newcastle, or ever in the North East, I would completely recommend visiting Quilliams. It’s one of my favourite places to eat and just have a little me time. The vibe is really chill and the staff are always more than happy to help! 

Check out their website here where you’ll find more information about their menu, where they are and other essential information! 

What’s your go to breakfast food?
Do you have one place you ALWAYS go for a little treat?
Can you recommend somewhere for me to go and try out in Newcastle?

I can’t wait to hear what you all think! This wasn’t quite books… but Quilliams is another love in my life! 

S x 

 

Books I Want To Read tag

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be doing the Books I Want to Read tag, which I found on my friend Amy’s blog. When I read it, I knew it was something that I’d like to tackle – it’s not often I think about my TBR!

The Rules

• Link back to the original tag
• Complete the questions with books you want to have read, but don’t want to read
• Tag some people at the end to do the tag next.

Question One: A book you feel you need to read because everyone talks about it

SO MANY THO. I’m not a big fan of hype, so if EVERYONE is talking about a book I am so much less likely to pick it up… until the hype dies out!

Question Two: A book that’s really long

Length is one of the reasons I don’t wanna often pick up books! Strange the Dreamer is one that does slightly intimidate me – it’s not in reality THAT long tho haha. It might need to be one that I buy on my kindle.

Question Three: A book you’ve had on your bookshelf or TBR list for far too long

I’m quite good with my books. If I’ve got them/bought them and not read them within like 6 months (haha) I generally just get rid of them. So A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy is probably the books I’ve had the longest that I’ve not got round to reading (Kelly, if you’re reading this, I promise I WILL get round to them!)

Question Four: A book that is ‘required reading’ (e.g. a school text or popular classic – something you feel obligated to read)

Well… my answer for this is THUG – it’s neither a school text OR a popular classic, but EVERYONE IN THE WORLD has read it apart from me. SO I should probably get on it… I’m just scared!

Question Five: A book that intimidates you

Priory of the Orange Tree. I started it and read quite a chunk for when I interviewed the brilliant Samantha Shannon, but then once the event was done my brain has just been like OMG I CAN’T PICK THAT THING BACK UP THANKS.

Question Six: A book you think may be slow

Genuinely no idea… I don’t think about books as being slow?!

Question Seven: A book that you need to be in the right mood for

Cuckoo Song. I’ve heard MANY things so I know that I’m going to have to be in the right mood to read it.

Question Eight: A book you’re unsure you’ll like

Legendary! I read Caraval and it just didn’t spark my love. I’ve been dubious about buying/getting the next ones because I just don’t want the disappointment of the first book to happen again!

Having now done this, I could’ve used the same 3 or 4 books for all of the questions haha!

I’m not going to tag anyone, but feel free to do this if you see fit!

S x

Half term happy post

Happy Monday! Despite the fact I’m back to work today (we only had one week for Easter holidays), I thought I’d post one of my favourite posts: a happy post! I’m going to list all of my happy things from half term! 

Reading every single day. Sleeping in until I wanted to wake up. Having an alarm set for a good reason. Seeing my twiglets. Doing some tidying. Running. Wagamamas with my fave. Finally getting my ass back to the gym. Going to see people that I love most. Bullet journaling. Cute Snapchat filters. My book bitchez. Quilliams for me. Quilliams with my friends. Just having time to breathe. Looking forward to going back to work. Relaxing and not needing to worry. That feeling of waking up and being able to go back to sleep. Accidental naps. Exciting opportunities with teachers I properly admire. Sunshine and walks. Spending time just wandering because I have time. Texts from friends. Texts from colleagues. Texts from teacher friends. Book post. Laughing. Laughing so much you cry. Not feeling pressured to write blog posts. Starbucks and reading. Banana bread. Light mornings. Light nights. New trainers. New lipstick. Picking up books and devouring them in a matter of hours. Falling in love with characters and worlds. That feeling of tiredness before you crawl into bed. Bookish events with my faves. A bottle of Rekorderlig. Hugs from the twiglets. Texts from my brother. Books. Always books. 

What are your half term wins?
How do you enjoy spending your half term holidays? 

Talk to me! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Anna Williamson

How Not To Lose It: a brilliant book to use when talking MH with kids

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“The go-to mental health guide for kids!
Exam stress? Friendship issues? Panic attacks?
How Not to Lose It will help you be the boss of all of this, and more.

It’s not just your body that should be fit and healthy – your mind needs to be, too! How Not to Lose It is the go-to guide for achieving a balanced mind and strong emotional well-being. With immediate, heart of the matter advice and a chatty yet honest tone, Anna Williamson addresses all of the key issues affecting children today.”

As a teacher, it’s so important that I have resources available to me for talking to kids about their mental health. We are seeing more and more that MH is something that is talked about in schools – and rightly so. There are more and more books becoming available to help kids learn about and talk about their MH and How Not To Lose It is a brilliant example of a book that’s going to do that! Aimed at 9-14 year olds, this book covers a wide variety of topics and is filled with empowering advice, delivered in a honest and chatty tone. 

How Not To Lose It covers such a wide variety of topics that you can find advice based on almost anything. The contents page kicks off in the way the book continues – friendly, colourful and it doesn’t feel like your typical “self help” book. There’s a handy index in the back too – always useful when you just want ONE specific thing. The topics covered in the book are:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • stress
  • friendship
  • bullying
  • relationships and sex
  • family life and bereavement
  • phobias
  • peer pressure
  • self-harm
  • self-esteem and confidence.

I love that this book is approachable. If a kid (this book is aimed at 9-14 year olds) picked it up, it’s appealing to them and it’s not just pages and pages of words. There’s agony aunt letters aplenty and there’s these brilliant “myth busting” boxes throughout. The illustrations are perfect for the age range that it’s aimed at and I read through as an adult and I learned things! The language used is chatty and honest, which makes it brilliantly readable for kids without sounding patronising.

This book is BRILLIANT. Properly brilliant. I love the variety of topics that it covers. These ‘To sum it all up…’ pages are my favourite pages throughout – there’s some proper sound advice on them. (This one about friendship is one of my favourites!) 

Anything that empowers our kids and helps them deal with anything they’re going through is a proper winner in my books and this one is brilliant! 

What are your favourite resources to use in the classroom about mental health?
Would you find this resource useful in the classroom?

A massive thank you to the publishers, Scholastic, for sending me a copy. I am going to have this at hand in my classroom. This book is out now and I would recommend UKS2/KS3 teachers to check it out!

S x

April bujo

Well hello there!

How are you today? 

Today, I’m here to show you April bullet journal set up! 

I’ll be honest… I went off the boil a bit in March – I had a weekend away in London and it just totally knocked me off kilter, so I stopped updating. However, I’ve got back on the bujo bus and I’ve done my bujo for April and I quite love it! As usual, I scoured google images for inspiration and magpie’d some ideas, adapted others and then came up with my own! 

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This is my title page (yes, I know. It bothers me that the a isn’t a capital, but it just didn’t look as nice with a capital letter… I’ll deal with it ha!) The example I saw and used as my inspiration just had black fletchings, but I decided to make mine green to match my green theme going this month! 

Next up, we have a quote page (we all know I love a good quote page) and then the monthly calendar (which now looks very different – I coloured in holidays and such like!) I really like starting the monthly bullet journal off with the monthly calendar – I can write important dates on and such like! April is a considerably quieter month than March though!

Over the page, we have my little mood tracker and my grateful page. I found this little cup and leaf dude while I was looking at examples of mood trackers and I just thought he was ADORABLE. I matched my quote to the theme of plants too. In terms of colours, I went back to using different colours this month (last month I used shades of blue and I found it a bit of a pain in the arse tbh). I realise it would’ve looked better with just shades of green, but hey ho! The other page is just a very simplistic grateful page… a line a day with a little quote!

The next double spread you come across is my bookish double spread – book post and books I’ve read this month page! On the left hand page is my book post – I’m still playing around with this page because I’m not sure how I best make this work. I’ve tried a few different ways to catalogue them and I’m just yet to find one that I love using. On the right, you’ll find the books I’ve read this month. By the time I remembered to take pictures, I had read 3 books! The yellow highlighter shows me a MG book: the green highliter shows YA books read. As it’s half term, I’m aiming for a good chunk of reading this month! I try to alternate between MG books and YA books. 

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The last double spreads are my weekly spreads. This week was half term… hence the blankness. I’ve got a “next week” and the blank space beside it is for a “to do list”. I’ve got rid of my daily mood tracker but I’m doing it within my days. I get 3 smily faces – one for morning, one for afternoon, one for night time – and I just draw them in the daily box somewhere. It’s interesting to watch the patterns form! 

And that’s it! April in bujo! 

Do you like a colour scheme?
What are your must have bujo pages?
Which of your pages are your fave?

Talk to me! I’ll happily talk bujo all day! 

S x 

2019 releases…

Well hello… happy Friday to all you lovely people of the world!

Today I’m here to shout about 2019 releases I’m excited for. Some of my 2019 releases I’ve already read and I’m gonna give them a bit of love, but I’m just gonna shout about them all. 

Here goes nothing… 

Let’s start with 2019 releases I’ve read and LOVED:

2019 loves

Now some 2019 releases that I can’t WAIT to get my hands on:

2019 wants

Add to that list these books:

And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid – Laura Steven (Laura Steven is diving into the world of MG with a mermaid book… yes please!)
The Toll – Neal Shusterman (The 3rd book in the Scythe trilogy)

I could keep going… but I should probably go and do something productive!

What are some of your fave 2019 books?
What 2019 books can you not wait to get your hands on?
Are you still reading books from 2018? (yes haha I am!)

Let me know in the comments – I don’t need more books to add to my list, but I DO. 

S x 

Mini reviews: MG edition

Good morning! 

How are we all?! Today I come to you with some mini reviews. I’m going to keep them short and sweet, but these are some books that I’ve read recently that I want to shout about that I’ve just not had a chance to yet!

march mini reviews covers

The Fire Maker – Guy Jones

“Alex loves magic – its glamour, tricks and illusions. He’s good at it, too: he’s reached the semi-finals of a prestigious competition for young magicians. But when he stumbles into eccentric Mr Olmos’s back garden while running from his former best friend, Alex sees something he can’t explain: three tiny flames floating in the air. Fire magic. Real magic. Soon, Alex and Mr Olmos are swept up in a great adventure of secrets, genies and an ancient, bitter rivalry…”

I loved this book. It’s a quick but brilliant story about Alex, a magician, who ends up stumbling across a mysterious old man and his mystifying magical flames. They spring up an unlikely friendship and Alex makes a mistake: one which has some pretty bad consequences! A brilliant tale of magic, friendship, secrets and lies. With interesting charactes and an interesting plot, this is perfect for KS2 readers! 

Good Boy – Mal Peet

Sandie has been battling it since childhood: the hulking, snarling black dog of her nightmares. For years, her precious pet dog Rabbie has kept the monster at bay, but when he is no longer there to protect her, the black dog reappears to stalk Sandie in her sleep … Illuminating the undeniable power of Mal Peet’s pared-back prose, Good Boy is an evocative examination of fear and anxiety that will leave you guessing long after its final page.

I’m not going to lie – the first chapter in this had me a LITTLE bit scared. This book is probably more suited for teens than younger readers, but there’s nothing particularly horrifying in it. It’s a complex and interesting story all about a young girl and her nightmares. It’s an interesting portrayal of what our nightmares look like and what they can do to us. It really made me think and has definitely left a lasting impression. There’s some wonderful illustrations too!

Amelia Fang and the Half Moon Holiday – Laura Ellen Anderson

It’s the half-moon holidays in gloomy Nocturnia which means no school for Amelia and her friends! Instead they are going to spend it with their Rainbow Rangers troop, (lead by unicorns Ricky and Graham) earning badges on Sugar Plum Island. But whilst exploring, Amelia and the gang stumble upon an ancient curse – and are shrunk to the size of bugs! How will they make the bloodcurdlingly BIG journey to break the curse when they are all so very TINY?

I’m a massive fan of the Amelia Fang series! You definitely need to get on this series if you’re a KS2 teacherthey’re fun and filled with great messages! Amelia Fang is such a polite character and these books are filled with humour. This latest installment of the series sees Amelia and her friends going on a camping trip as part of Rainbow Rangers (think Brownies/Rainbows/Scouts). Shout out here for Ricky and Graham – the unicorn leaders of Rainbow Rangers. These books are jam packed with illustrations that add so much to the story. I hope this series just goes on and on. 

Hotel Flamingo – Alex Milway

When young Anna inherits a dilapidated once-grand hotel from her Great Aunt Mathilde, she’s determined to restore it to its former glory. But this is no ordinary hotel – all of her staff and guests are animals! Anna soon rises to the challenge. Whether it’s a flamingo, a penguin or a hippo knocking at the door, Anna is ready to welcome them all – with the help of her trusty sidekicks T Bear the doorman, Squeak the friendly elevator mouse, and Lemmy the lemur receptionist … As she soon finds out, though, running an animal hotel is no easy task. Can Anna make Hotel Flamingo a success once more?

I’m always on the look out for slightly longer books that are perfect for Y2 readers and I can look no further than this! With beautifully illustrated pages and an interesting story, this book is perfect. Here you have a story about the importance of team work, hard work and acceptance. A story about a young girl who needs to do up the hotel she’s inherited (which is in a state of sheer disrepair) and her friends who she helps to give the hotel a new lease of life! I really loved this book. I hope there’s more to come from this author! 

And there we go! 

Let me know in the comments if you’re a fan of a mini review, or if there’s anything you’d like to know about these books. 

S x 

March in books…

Hello April! How are you doing?! 

I’m not really sure where March went (it marched out of here, haha, I’m hilarious, sorry not sorry!) but I am here to share with you my round up of March books! 

In March, I:

Had a lot of very tired weeks
Had a very lovely Parents Evening with my Y5s
Read a lot of brilliant books
Received some excellent book post
Failed at being a bujo Mam!
Loved the fact the sunshine was up for much longer
Started walking to work FINALLY
Read 9 books!

So what did I actually read in March?

Let’s start with YA books!

march ya 2019

Three VERY different YA books but all 3 equally incredible. The finale of the Ink trilogy, a new book from Juno Dawson which blew my mind and the hotly anticipated book from Lucy Powrie!

Scar – Alice Broadway
Meat Market – Juno Dawson (review to come!)
The Paper and Hearts Society – Lucy Powrie (review to come!)

Now the MG books

march 2019 mg

A group of 6 BRILLIANT MG books… I was SPOILED in March with kids books!

Rumblestar – Abi Elphinstone (watch out for review coming next week!)*
Amelia Fang and the Half Moon Holiday
Good Boy – Mal Peet*
Wildspark – Vashti Hardy (watch out for my review coming next week!)*
The Fire Maker – Guy Jones*
Pog – Padraig Kenny*

And that’s it! 9 books… not as many as the past few months, but still chugging on there! 

How am I doing for my book challenges?

Goodreads challenge: 34/52
#52books challenge (just kids books): 12/52

I don’t track the picture books I read… but I’m going to post a picture books I’ve read this year post in a few weeks time so watch out for that – it’s jam packed with recommendations of ALL KINDS of picture books!

How did you do with your reading in March? 
What was your favourite read of last month? 
What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Let me know! Lets talk books! 

S x