BOOK BLOG: Lisa Thompson

Owen and the Soldier: a brilliant tale about the importance of feeling heard 

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Owen and his mum are struggling. It’s just the two of them now and they’re finding it difficult to ask for the help they need.
When Owen discovers a crumbling stone soldier in a memorial garden in the local park, it feels like he finally has someone he can talk to. But the town council can’t see how important the soldier is and they want to remove him. Owen’s so scared that he’ll be left on his own again, but can he find the courage he needs to save the soldier before it’s too late?”

The brilliant publishers of Barrington Stoke had heard how much of a Lisa Thompson fan I was, so asked if I wanted a proof of her newest book… I OBVIOUSLY SAID YES. Lisa is one of my auto-buy authors… she’s just brilliant. 

So… Owen and the Soldier. This book tells the story of Owen, a young boy who is struggling a bit with everything that’s going on in his life. His mum is poorly, he’s not having the best time at school – he’s just not having a wonderful time and he feels really lonely. The one person who always makes Owen feel better, who always listens to him, is a stone statue of a soldier in the local park. Owen visits the soldier every day to talk to him. One day however, it is revealed that there are plans to move Owen’s soldier from the park… and Owen needs to find his voice to help do something about this. 

I REALLY REALLY loved this book. It made me cry, a lot (I know, I know, you’re all shocked that I cried at a book). I think Owen is one of those brilliant characters who come along in MG books. He’s also another character that Lisa does so brilliantly: boys who are going through things. It’s something that I think we need more of in MG books. Here, you have a young boy who is struggling and trying to be strong because he’s the “man” of the house, when in reality his silence is him screaming out for help. A brave decision is made and he eventually gets the help that him and his mam so desperately need. 

I also love the fact that despite the fact he doesn’t WANT to be heard, he ends up doing something which MAKES people listen. He finds something he is very passionate about and it helps him find his voice. Making a stand for something and fighting against his fears to talk about why it’s important to remember those who have gone turns things around for Owen. 

This book has since been read by a few of my Y5s and they just adored it:

“This is a short book but it has such a big meaning. You’ve gotta stand up for something if you want something to change.”

“I loved Owen because he was scared of something at the beginning, but then he changed and it made everything better. We all need to be a bit brave sometimes”

“I loved that this book was a brilliant story in such a short story. You don’t need loads of pages to tell an important story. All stories are important because everyone deserves to be heard – just like Owen”

My goodreads review is SHORT, but says it all:

Really bloody enjoyed this. Owen is a BRILLIANT MC and this story is proper touching. Man, I’m definitely not in bed crying… NOPE.

A massive massive thank you to the publishers for sending me a review copy! I can’t wait for the finished copies, because I ADORE that cover so much and I think this is a story that children should read. 

S x 

Mini reviews – wrap up!

Hello friends!

How are we all? What is everyone reading at the minute? 

I’m currently reading Someday by David Levithan (in preparation for the event I’m hosting with him and the AMAZING Laura Steven. If you’re knocking about Newcastle on October 30th, come along… you can get tickets from Waterstones or click this link to get your ticket! I know… I don’t know how this is my life either. Come along and see me fangirling so hard)

Anyway… I’m here to wrap up some books I’ve read recently! I had a day last weekend where I just read non-stop and I managed to read like 5 books, so I decided to write a wrap up with mini reviews of them all for you! I want to share these books cause they’re great! 

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Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson
Released: September 15th 2018
Publisher: Barrington Stoke

I’m starting with this one because I absolutely adored it. This would be an INCREDIBLE book to use in the classroom for explorers/biographies. It’s definitely more aimed for Y5/6 but would be readable from Year 4. I loved the story this told – a black man whose achievements were ignored, due to the colour of his skin. This book tells of his life from childhood to old age, focusing on the hardships he faced as a black person in America during the late 19th and early 20th century. I found this a touching and moving story, which outraged me and made me cross at some points. I think this is the point though – it’s a book that is meant to make you feel things. It would be brilliant to use for Black History Month. This book would also open many doors for discussions about racial prejudice and bias in history. Would recommend wholeheartedly.

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The Treatment by C.L.Taylor.
Released: last year
Publisher: HQ 

I’d seen a lot of people talking about this book, so I decided to pick it up. It’d been sat on my TBR for a little while, but I was very much in the mood for something a little bit “scarier” than my usual. I started reading this and I was instantly gripped. A story all about a girl going to save her brother from being “brainwashed”? Yes please! Also, it really helped that Newcastle was mentioned (shush man, I love it, it doesn’t happen very often!). This book is well paced with moments where I was actually pretty scared. The characters are brilliant – there’s a character for everyone! I never want to find myself in the centre!

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The Lost Diary of Sami Star by Karen McCombie
Released: 15th September 2018
Publisher: Barrington Stoke

This story is about Hannah. A young girl who is feeling left out. At home, at school, she doesn’t feel like anyone is paying attention to her. She finds a diary in the park and instantly feels like she’s made a new friend. She really likes the person in the diary and makes it her mission to find this person, to reunite this person with their diary. I really enjoyed this book. It’s super readable (as all of Barrington Stoke books are) and it had a lovely message – look for the good in people, and yourself. 

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The Littlest Witch – Bianca Pitzorno
Released: 1st October 2018
Publisher: Catnip Books

I loved this book. It was a great tale all about the downfalls of greed. A story about a young man who has been left a fortune, but he has to marry a witch and the greed that blinds him! Reading this was a whole load of fun. This will be great for children who love a magical story. There’s some crazy antics with the sisters and the little bit of magic left me with a warm heart.

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Lavinia and the Magic Ring – Bianca Pitzorno
Released: 1st October 2018
Publisher: Catnip Books

Another book by Bianca Pitzorno I read very swiftly! This book has a bit of an Oliver feel about it, a young girl who is poor. Throw in a Cinderella feeling of the “fairy godmother” who blesses Lavinia with a magic ring and you have a tale that kids will love. Lavinia makes some brilliant moves in this book and she ends up outwitting quite a few adults! I really enjoyed this, it made me chuckle at points! There’s some very funny moments involving a lot of poo!

And there you go! 

Have you read any of these?
Would you like to hear more about any of them?
Can you recommend me any books based on these reads?
Do you like these mini review/wrap up type posts?

Talk to me! I’d love to hear from you! 

S x

Brilliant Barrington Stoke

Happy Friday everyone!

Today I am sharing some of my favourite recent reads from the people over at Barrington Stoke! Barrington Stoke specialises in ‘cracking reading’, publishing super-readable children’s books that break down the barriers that can stop kids getting into reading. Their books bring together the very best children’s authors and illustrators in the UK with a host of unique accessibility features to offer books which are accessible to more children including those with dyslexia or visual stress. If you’re interested in these books, go check out their website here. There’s more information about the books they publish and how they make their books accessible for everyone!

So what books from Barrington Stoke have I read recently? Some absolute crackers!

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Noah Scape Can’t Stop Repeating Himself – Guy Bass

“Noah Scape loves dinosaurs and spaghetti with tomato sauce. But Noah doesn’t always get what he wants and when school doesn’t revolve around dinosaur facts and lunch isn’t always his tried and tested favourite, well… enough is enough! It’s time for him to stop wishing and to decide on exactly what he needs; a world full of Noahs!”

What would you do if one day you woke up to find there are double the amount of yous in the world? Then the next day, there’s double again? And double again the next day? Noah just wants people to like dinosaurs, as he does, so he wishes for more people like him… him! He starts regretting it eventually… and it doesn’t go down well with his parents and teachers either! Real fun, great for 8+ years!

Shona, Word Detective – John Agard

“Shona has always loved words. She even has her very own strange word thesaurus! When her and her classmates learn that some languages are dying out, Miss Bates tasks them with becoming top-class word detectives, proving to themselves and their families that there are many beautiful languages still thriving, even within their own classroom.”

I absolutely loved this one. It reminded me about my love of words and language. There’s something really special about books that can do that! It’s one I’m definitely going to be keeping to use in the classroom. Great for readers 7+ years. 

Rose’s Dress of Dreams – Katherine Woodfine

“Young Rose dreams of sewing beautiful dresses for the women of Paris. But when a chance encounter with royalty changes her life, Rose must draw on all her skills to create the most breathtaking dress of them all. Based on the life of Rose Bertin, the woman credited with creating haute-couture and a remarkable pioneer of fashion at the court of Marie Antoinette.”

When I initially read this, I had no idea that it was based on a real woman in history, so reading that made me love it even more! This book is brilliant for teaching kids about the power of dreams and believing in your dreams, because they absolutely can come true! It’s beautifully illustrated by Kate Pankhurst too. Yay for brilliant women in history! Great for readers 5-8 years!

The Great Telephone Mix Up – Sally Nicholls

“When the village wires get crossed after a storm, there’s a lot of confusion and plenty of missed connections. Margaret can’t run her summer fair, Jai can’t speak to Aditi, and Will is rather happy because no one can tell his mum how much trouble he’s in! Can the villagers learn to love their neighbours and could the great telephone mix-up really be a blessing in disguise?”

Living in a village and all of the telephone wires have got crossed? Having to deliver messages for your neighbour? Imagine that. It’d be a nightmare, but the people in his village finds it brings them closer together. I really enjoyed this. For a generation who don’t use the phone much, it was nice to see a book about it! Great for kids 7+ years!

There are so many other brilliant books in the Barrington Stoke catalogue and you can read the first chapters of most of their books on the website (which I think is GENIUS btw! Be great for using in a lesson!)

Thank you so much to Barrington Stoke for sending this brilliant bookpost my way. 

S x

 

BOOKBLOG: Vivian French

I am a MASSIVE FAN of picture books. 

I am a MASSIVE FAN of books which promote a love of reading. 

Pair these two together and you have a book I KNOW I need to read and own and tell everyone about.

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The Covers of my Book are Too Far Apart is a PERFECT book for classrooms. I would implore every school to have a copy. 

“I’m too old for bedtime stories!”

“That’s a GIRLS’ book!”

“Reading’s rubbish!”

Find answers to these and many more reading grumbles in this joyful celebration of all that’s brilliant about books and reading. For book lovers, book haters and everyone in between!

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This book is just incredible. Each page deals with ANOTHER excuse for not reading (This is a girls book, only clever people read) and retorts from a variety of characters about how that isn’t true. I love it. 

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I absolutely love the idea behind this book and will be championing it for a long time! 

S x