Letters to… my people

I haven’t written a letter to, in my ‘Letters To’ series, in a while, so I thought now would be a great time. Today’s letter is to my clan, my friends, my people… you probably ARE one of those people if you’re reading this… so to you:

Hello lovely person reading this letter,

Today I am writing a letter to you, yes you. You’ve probably come to read today’s blog post because you follow me, because you’ve said something kind to me, because you’re one of my friends, because you support me: for whatever reason you’re here today, this letter is for you.

A year and a half ago, I started this little blog of mine and I never imagined that it would be the blog it is today. Blogging was something I did for me, because I’d done it for work and because I thought it would just be a great opportunity to get my thoughts into the world. Never did I imagine that I would get from blogging everything that I have. From blogging I have the best bunch of friends I have ever had in my life: you are all supportive, incredible, inspiring, hilarious and lovely. You listen to me rant on about whatever it is, you put up with my ridiculousness, you support me on the days I’m feeling a bit rubbish. My blog, and my love of blogging, wouldn’t be what it is now if it weren’t for you. Thank you for the support – however you’ve supported me, it means the world.

It’s also so weird to think that a year and a half ago I didn’t know many of you. In fact some of the most important people in my life, I didn’t know a year ago.Fast friends are the best friends. Whoever said that online friends aren’t real friends, hasn’t met MY friends. I think you are all incredible. I’m very lucky to have both teacher friends and bookish friends, who have been with me through a pretty stressful year and a half. I know it’s not going to get easier, but I also know that each of you will be here for me. That means the world. It makes me a bit choked up. All of you wonderful people amaze me. If I’ve met you, I probably miss you. If I haven’t met you, it makes me sad to have not met you and we need to change that soon ok?

I don’t want to name everyone, because I will undoubtably miss someone out and I would be here forever, but know this.. if you’ve supported me, been nice to me, challenged me, made me laugh, you’re part of my clan. For me, I need to surround myself with people who support me and cheer me on for all of the MANY MANY times that I don’t support myself and cheer myself on, and you have done that. Yes you. Whether you realise it or not.

So thank you. Each and every one of you. Whether you realise I’m talking to you or not. I probably am. You’re all wonderful. I owe you a drink, the next time (or the first time) we meet.

S x

 

 

December books

As December occurred and is now over I thought I would look back at some of the books I read, bought for myself and gifted. December is a funny month for me. There are still books I want to buy but I know that Santa is coming so I have to stop myself! 

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These are all of the books that I acquired in December (I decided to not show the picture books!). It is quite an impressive pile, even by my standards! What can I say?! I love all of the books!

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These 4 beauties I was gifted by Secret Santa people and my wonderful friend Aimee – my copy of Winter Magic is signed and it is SO WONDERFUL. I think I might be greedy and read it all to myself before I share it with the kids at school! I was very lucky to be included in the Maximum Pop Secret Santa and the SundayYA Secret Santa too and my secret Santas were so spot on with their book presents! I can’t wait to read them all!

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These 4 gorgeous books are ones which I read for #SundayYAthon (which happened between Christmas and New Year) for which there is a blog post for AND separate book reviews for them are coming… because I have ALL OF THE WORDS to say about them! 

Books are absolutely my favourite gift to receive and my favourite to give too! I gave away so many beautiful books this year, for my Christmas presents AND in my mystery box for work! I hope all of the recipients enjoyed their books as much as I enjoyed giving them!

Did you guys get many books for Christmas this year? My 2017 reading list certainly keeps on getting longer! This bodes well for my reading challenge of 2017!

S x

#good2016

Y’know what, 2016 is getting a lot of stick (and probably RIGHTLY SO, so much bad has happened this year) and I think it’s important to remember good things, positive things, lovely things that have happened this year. I’ve had a weird year, it’s been both good and tough… but even through the tough you need to remember good. So here we are… here’s my favourite things about 2016 (in no particular order really!)

Blogging
I have absolutely loved EVERY SINGLE second of becoming a blogger. This is a total and utter passion project of mine that I never thought would get off the ground, but here I sit 4 months down the line and I am a blogger. I don’t do this to get 1000s of hits, to get 100s of comments… I do it because it gives me somewhere to talk about what I do and what I love. Blogging has opened so many doors, it has enabled me to do so many wonderful things and has opened me up to some absolutely incredible people in this sometimes horrible world and I am so grateful. If you read this because I make you, because you’ve come across this blog by accident or because you’re one of these new wonderful people in my life who support then I thank you forever and ever. I love my blog. I love my blogger friends. I love that this is my corner of the world. I do this for me. It certainly made 2016 more bearable to talk about things I love, rather than reading lots of negative. 

Bookish twitter friends
Becoming a blogger, and becoming more involved in the incredible twitter community has meant that I’ve made and met so many amazing friends. The little corner of twitter that I reside in, that houses me and my friends is wonderful. There are some people that I’ve had the luxury of working with, there are people that I’ve had the luxury of meeting and there are people who I am lucky enough to get to talk to daily on twitter. One of my favourites places to reside on twitter is with the SundayYA crew. My wonderful Rachel
(@_sectumsemprah) looks after us so wonderfully and I am so so lucky that she’s allowed me into the bookish community of #SundayYA. There are so many people that I’ve become friends with on twitter that it astounds me… 6 months ago I was just a reader, now I’m a reader and a blogger and friends with these amazing people who blog and have important things to say. If you’re ever on my twitter just have a look at the people I talk to and you’ll find my wonderful friends… 

Amazing publicists
One of my favourite things that has happened as I got more involved in blogging and books and twitter and being all over the place is that publicists open their doors and pass on their books. I have had the opportunity to read and review some absolutely incredible books this year. Mainly thanks to my wonderful friend Sarah
(@xpectopatronerd). She has thrown so so so many wonderful books my way this year. I have loved reading each and ever single one of them to myself AND then to the kids in my school. The kids love when I come in with a new story. There have been so many other wonderful publicists letting me read their books, especially on Netgalley… (thanks to my wonderful bookish friends for introducing me to Netgalley!)

Communicating with authors
Maybe this post should just be a twitter appreciation post? Ha. I think twitter might be my favourite social media platform as it gives you such opportunity to communicate with people you might not necessarily get to otherwise! I was introduced to so many wonderful authors on twitter, and keep in contact with some of my faves (coughQueenMelcough) through twitter. It has been lush being able to just share with them that I loved their book/that the kids at school loved their book. Authors are wonderful people. They work hard and we should tell them we love their books!! Go on, find an author whose book you loved and tell them. 

Bookish events
I was lucky enough to get to go to 2 bookish events this year! Having never been to one I was NERVOUS as anything to go to my first one.. UKYACX, which was in Newcastle this year (See my reviews here
:
 UKYACX Take 1! MG editionUKYACX Take 2: YA edition!). It was absolutely amazing. I loved everything about it! I was so lucky in that I was asked to be involved in the blog tour for 2 different authors (UKYACX blog with Gabrielle Kent!UKYACX blog tour: Sara Grant). Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass are absolute machines organising and orchestrating the whole day. It was amazing! A few months later I got the chance to go to London and go to YAShot. I was HELLA nervous. Here was a massive bookish event, held in London with so so many authors and bloggers and people I admire that I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like. I had amazing people watching after me though… my wonderful friend Cora (@Corazzz) looked after me! I got to meet so many incredibly talented people that weekend… bloggers, authors and vloggers alike. My personal highlight was getting to see Melinda Salisbury again! She is my queen. Special mention to Chris from YAfictionados for being Irish, handsome and the sweetest. I had the best time at YAShot. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.

University
This year was the year in which I passed first year of uni and started my second year! What? Who would’ve guessed that?! It’s been a passion of mine for a long long time to become a teacher but I wasn’t ready for uni at 18 when I left college so I kinda had to put that dream on hold for a while. I never stopped trying though. After years of pushing and prodding from my colleagues, I had the moment where I knew I needed to get my ass to uni. So I did. Here I am a year and a half down the line with my first year under my belt, my dissertation to write and only 1 more module before I graduate. This is unreal. But I am pretty proud of myself. It is HARD working full time and studying. I’ll get there. 

SCITT
Yep. There we go. I got on a SCITT course. I will be (providing I get my degree) training to be a teacher from September 2017. What even. I am SO SCARED but SO READY. (See: Follow your dreams! for the full story.)

My job
I think by default my job is always going to be one of my favourite things in a year. But I couldn’t go without mentioning it. I get to work with some of the most incredibly supportive, kind and funny people in the world and I get to work with kids. I’ve never not wanted to teach. It’s all I’ve wanted to do and I am so so lucky that I get to do it every single day. I love my job, I love the kids and the colleagues I get to work with. I can’t wait to keep that positivity into 2017. Teaching isn’t easy. It’s not the holidays and the playing that everyone thinks it is. It’s long days, emotionally draining, sleep depriving (the amounts of nights you’ll spend lying awake thinking about your next lesson, or your lesson that didn’t go so well is unreal) but it is so rewarding. I talked about how much I #loveteaching in this post: #loveteaching.

Tweacher friends
Not only has twitter enabled me to communicate with bookish people but it has opened up a world of tweachers (teachers who tweet). There are some incredibly inspiring people out there on twitter and getting to tweet with them and share ideas and thoughts with them is wonderful. We even have a growing teacher book community! I will get the people around me reading! It is my mission! 

Books.
Obviously. I have read some absolutely incredible books this year. Some people may say it is ridiculous to have one of your favourite things about a year being books, but I don’t. Books are transformative. They take you away from whatever is going on and transport you to a whole new world. They’re just majestic. Well done to all of the authors and book sellers who managed to convince me (let’s be honest, it’s not hard) to buy your book. I love books. SEND ME THEM ALL. I have a best books of 2016 coming up tomorrow! Keep your eyes peeled! 

There we have it. My favourite things of 2016. I rambled on a bit. But you get the idea. 2016 wasn’t all bad. 

S x

BOOKMAS: 12 Days of Christmas

Picture the scene… sitting by an open fire, drinking hot chocolate, some soothing music playing in the background and a festive favourite in your hand… how idyllic. Imagine something like this… (thanks Pinterest!)

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I can’t provide you with this scene… but I can provide you with a book to read as you IMAGINE that is where you’re sat, drinking your hot chocolate (which may have a tiny sip of peppermint vodka in!), listening to Christmas carols or something equally soothing… Thank you to my book fairy Sarah for sending it to me! It was VERY GRATEFULLY received.

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Beautifully illustrated, eye catching and a new take on tradition. A book that young, old and everyone in the middle will love. 

‘On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .’

The V&A’s Twelve Days of Christmas is a stunning book filled with hand-picked patterns from the V&A’s collections. Featuring art work by William Morris and Charles Voysey, this is the perfect Christmas gift for any fan of art and design.”

Once again Penguin have produced a stunningly gorgeous book. Retelling the traditional rhyme of the 12 Days of Christmas with some absolutely gorgeous illustrations and patterns throughout the book. 

This book came at a perfect time for us at school as our school play this year is based on The 12 Days of Christmas, so I am going to take it in to school and make sure they all get the chance to read it before they do their performance. 

Thank you Sarah at Penguin books for this perfect start to the festive season!

Now where is my cosy fireplace, blanket and hot chocolate?!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Will Mabbitt

Funny, simple and effective.
Kids loved it. I loved it.
Buy it. Go on.
(It’s not out yet though).
Buy it when it comes out.

“This book is about worms. I can only draw worms.

You might think worms are boring – but you’d be wrong. These worms have INCREDIBLE adventures!

I can’t draw those bits, though, so you’ll have to imagine them.”

When my wonderful friend Sarah asked me if I wanted a super exclusive version of a new book I knew I would. Puffin’s very own Fantastic Beast. Let’s be honest, she knew I did too… This was a VERY special copy. It was a pre-release sneak peak… HOW FANCY. Only 15 of them around! I felt very honoured and accepted in minutes! 

The illustrations in this book are so brilliantly simple. They don’t take anything away from the humour in this book. It made me laugh out loud. It made the children laugh out loud. They asked me to read it twice in the same day. The worms are far too cute to be scary Fantastic Beasts, but they’re fantastic nonetheless.

In essence this is a counting book. There are 10 worms, well kind of. Maybe 10 worms. The author’s pretence is that he can only draw worms. Full worms, half worms, worm heads… just worms. I love the illustrations. The colour scheme is everything too! It’s not often you find a yellow/pink and blue book. 

The words are the making of this book though. It’s that kind of humour you find in a Jon Klassen book. I loved it. It made me proper chuckle. It’s humour which is accessible to children and adults alike. I love picture books like that. Picture books I get something from are picture books I am more likely to go back to time after time. 

This book can be read for humour’s sake, to just entertain your children but it can also be used for numbers! I absolutely cannot wait to take it back into school to read it to another bunch of children. I can’t wait for more from Will Mabbitt. If this is to go off then I will be buying his books for a long time to come! 

Thanks Sarah and Puffin Books for sending me this super pre-release copy! Can’t wait to get my hands on an actual proper copy! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: V&A FASHION MASH UP!

Growing up I was a massive fan of all things fashion – I’m not exactly a fashionable person but I was obsessed with Project Runway and watching Lauren Conrad (who is my forever woman crush) become a fashion designer on The Hills (I can go into detail about my love for LC and The Hills, but now and here are not the correct outlet)made me want to follow in those very fashionable footsteps! I wanted to go on and design clothes like that, alas I have absolutely NO artistic bone in my body. I am much better at teaching! When I heard that Penguin Random House were teaming up with Victoria and Albert to create a hands-on fashion pop-out book, I knew I had to get my hands on it! I could finally live my incredible dreams of being a fashion designer!!

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The press release tells you what it’s about way better than I could…

“A deluxe fashion press-out dress up book that combines the very best of fashion from the V&A and style trends throughout history. Featuring six press-out models illustrated by Daisy de Villeneuve, press-out clothes, shoes and sticker accessories (all from the V&A’s eclectic collection), this is the ultimate fashion workbook for children and adults alike.”

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Inside there are pages dedicated to different styles with pop outs to build an outfit and stickers! STICKERS! How exciting! I love a sticker! Not only is it a beautiful book to read but it’s informative too! It’s such a great book to read to learn more about fashion throughout the years. I tell you I learned a fair few things from this book. There were sections dedicated to dresses, trousers, fashion over the years and so many more!

If like me you think you’re a bit of a fashion designer wannabe, then get your hands on this book if you can! It’s such fun to play with and create my own designs… because let’s be real I’m never going to be a fashion designer, so living vicariously through this book is as good as I’m going to get!

 

 

Thanks to my wonderful friend Sarah from Penguin Random House for my copy!! And credit to Penguin for the bottom two pictures in this post!

S x

Follow your dreams!

For those of you who have been following my journey to becoming a teacher, thank you so much for taking the time to read about what’s been going on! For those of you who sent me positive vibes, a message, a tweet, a prayer… whatever you sent me they worked!

As my last blog post about this whole journey told you I was in the midst of being interviewed by the head of the SCITT course and one of the Catholic heads in Newcastle. It was terrifying, I was really nervous but I was outwardly really well composed! When I got to the school I was being interviewed in I had to wait for a while (because obviously I was early… no surprise for those of you who know me!). I met one of the wonderful members of staff who took me up to the sixth form common room and I had to do a literacy task – there was a piece of text for me to edit. It was explained to me that there were no right or wrong answers, just very much what I thought! So I did that and then I waited for the interviewers to arrive. When they arrived, I was taken into an office and we had an informal chat about why I wanted to be a teacher etc. If you’d like me to share the questions I was asked (those that I can remember anyway!) then I am more than happy to, just shout! My interview lasted about 25 minutes and then I was taken back down to the reception. I was told that I’d hear as soon as possible about the judgement that was made. As it was a Thursday I had to go to uni, and I was just not in the mood. I got on the bus to go back to town and I just burst in to tears… the relief, the anticipation… it just took over

Cut forward to Friday morning and I was just a barrel of nerves. I couldn’t concentrate. But I had to power on, Friday is one of my teaching days! At about 9:30 I got an email inviting me to take part in the second part of the process! How exciting! I was to do a reading task with a group of 6 Year 3 children. My boss then proceeded to tell me it would happen the following Wednesday! No time to beat about the bush, but also… no time to worry. For me that probably helped massively!! I had a think over the weekend and asked my wonderful Y3 pals which story would be good to do and I decided to do The Tunnel by Anthony Browne and to focus on the skill of prediction – hot in the Y3 curriculum!

Flip forward to Wednesday and I was again a barrel of nervousness. I couldn’t cope. I had an hour of teaching in the afternoon before my interview. I could get through it. Everyone at work was so lovely to me, my friends were all texting me wishing me good luck… I was as prepared as I could be. The lady observing me (alongside my head) was a little bit late, so by this time I was climbing the walls, but when it came to the actual task of reading to the Year 3 children I was calm. Reading is my thing. I love it. There’s such a power in stories. I got through the task unscathed I like to think! I got a big thumbs up from my boss, he seemed to be really proud of me. I was told that I would hear back as soon as possible about whether I was successful on getting on the course.

Thursday morning came and there was no email yet. 
Thursday lunch time came and there was no email yet.

I wanted an email before I left school for uni. It was getting closer and closer. Then I checked my emails and there it was! An email from the SCITT course offering me a conditional place. Me. A place. What. How. I felt like crying. I firmly accepted. I was over the moon.

I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet though. It still kinda feels like a bit of a fib. But there we have it. I need to kill this degree and then I will be on my SCITT course. How insane. How utterly bonkers. Finally. My hard work is starting to pay off. It’s so so so so good. And everyone has been so incredibly good to me. I am eternally grateful.

S x

BOOKBLOG: Cinderella Colouring?!

I would label myself as a self confession COLOURING IN LOVER. There is no part in me that doesn’t love colouring in. I will colour in with pens, pencils or any implement that is put in front of me… I do love colouring in… pens however, those would be my medium of choice! I have any number of colouring books in my drawer and often get a new one at Christmas. I don’t remember not having a book to colour in. Part of me loves that it is now  a socially accepted thing that adults colour in, but part of me is also like NOOOOOOO THIS IS THE THING I LOVED NOW EVERYONE IS STEALING MY LOVE. I am an adult though and realise that it is an incredible way to calm my mind and does so much good for me, so it must do so much good for others. It’s very good for my soul colouring in because at the end of the day it is only me I need to please with my picture, no one else!

So in pops a press release saying there was to be an old school Ladybird story book to colour in? WHAT? Was this designed for me? YES SIR. How exciting. I will take one in all of the stories! img_2996

These 2 gorgeous books were sent to me and I just can not bring myself to colour them in. I don’t want to spoil them! However I know that if I need them then I will take great pleasure colouring them in!

The Cinderella book is the story of Cinderella but none of the pictures are coloured in. So I can make all of the colours in the story the other way round, or whatever colours I want. How awesome. Why didn’t these exist when I was younger?

The other book is A Ladybird Book of Colouring: each page has a different Ladybird cover on in black and white, with the original should you wish to copy it! I look forward to switching up the colours of some of the old school covers!

If you’re a fan of the colouring and a fan of Cinderella then I absolutely implore you get your hands on this book! It’s sweet. I might have to get a copy for Poppy for Christmas, she loves colouring and she loves princesses…

Thanks to my lovely publicist friend Sarah at Penguin Random House for my copies!

S x

p.s. typing the word “colour” incorrectly throughout this post really hurt my head seeing so many red lines… silly American WordPress!

BOOKBLOG: Nightmare Before Christmas

Having just recently (as in in the past few months or so) seen The Nightmare Before Christmas, I have been in a very Jack place! He’s adorable, and scary, and cute and just I adore him. 

When my publicist friend Sarah (who’s absolutely amazing FYI) sent round a press release for The Nightmare Before Christmas as a book I KNEW I had to have it. I emailed Sarah straight back saying I would love to see a copy if there was one for me! IT ARRIVED. And it is majestic.

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LOOK AT IT. IT IS BEAUTIFUL. Look at Jack in his amazing Santa suit. It is incredible. I love it. 

The book tells the original story which inspired the screenplay, which has never been available to us poor folk in the UK (lucky America!). It has been released to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Jack Skellington and his weird bunch of friends.

img_2999The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous. It is written and illustrated by Tim Burton himself, and my word can you tell.  He has a very unique style, very true to Jack and the illustrations are just incredible. There are some exclusive illustrations that have never been seen in print anywhere else! How exciting. I loved all of the different pictures. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone! Go out and buy it!

Illustrations are one of my favourite things about children’s books because I think they bring so much extra to the page. Children are very lucky that they always get illustrations to accompany the words. Just look at this picture from one of the first pages! It is so amazing. Look at tall old Jack there, in all his Halloween-y goodness.

Suffice to say when this book arrived I was super excited and I decided that I needed to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas again. As I’m just a new fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas I have much to say about it! But I would absolutely recommend this beautifully illustrated, amazing story to everyone. I may need to buy another copy to share with my cousin and my twiglets! I am not sharing this copy… it’s too pretty!

S x

Three weeks down…

Welcome to week 3! Really? Is that it? Is that how long ago the summer holidays were? MY word. They feel so much longer away! This week was MANIC. OF the 5 days in school, I taught for 4! 3 full days and then 2 half days… my usual timetable calls for me only doing 1 full day and then 2 half days but I have to say I LOVED IT. I felt like a proper teacher!

Mondays are generally spent supporting in Y2. I go in to support for Maths and English in the morning (after assembly and phonics). Monday PMs are spent in Y6 doing Guided Reading, French and Science. We’re doing Evolution and Inheritance in Y6 for this half term. We started with Pokemon… I debunked the myth that Pokemon evolve! My Y6s can tell you that they actually go through the process of metamorphosis! How cool. The kids loved that lesson, the boys especially were super engaged. Which is good, because that class is a CHALLENGE. After school on Mondays I run badminton club, I loved it. I have a great group of kids. I look forward to enhancing their skills.

Tuesday was spent in Year 1. Our KS1 classes and 1 of our KS2 classes go swimming every Tuesday so most of my morning was taken up taking the children swimming, after phonics. Swimming is always a big manic, getting 30 little people changed and ensuring they haven’t lost a shoe or a t-shirt or SOMETHING. We managed. After lunch we did some maths and a bit of writing – they’re creating their own superheroes. It was super fun!

Wednesday was a bit more of Y2 work (+ phonics). Weds PM is spent in Y4, doing topic work (Ancient Egypt) and some French, then assembly (every other Wednesday). We looked at daily life in Egypt, having found a great video on the BBC website. The kids loved it! 

Thursday AND Friday I spent with Year 4. I felt like a real teacher. It was so nice. It showed me that I can’t wait to have my own classroom. I usually get to spend a Friday teaching them, but getting to spend 2 days with them was an absolute delight. We did some innovation writing in our English lesson – the children changed a newspaper article about the death of Tutankhamen (for which I received a lovely text from the Y4 teacher telling me I worked wonders with them because their writing put a smile on her face while marking it!). Then we got to do a bit of singing and then a music lesson with our resident music teacher, Mr Miller. I never get to see music lessons so it was lovely to be involved in one! Some maths happened too! We did some self portrait work on Friday (using these templates). As you can see my not so great self portrait in the pictures below! I decided to display them on the windows for a bit so the children could discuss them with their parents!  

So yes, last week was manic. But it was great. I loved it. I can’t wait to be a teacher. For reals.

S x