BOOK BLOG: Sam Usher

Snow: the perfect addition to your shelves for the wintery season!

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“Every child loves a snow day—no school and snowball fights galore! But Sam has to wait for Granddad, even though all the other kids have already gone to the park . . . and all the dogs . . . and all the zoo animals! Only when the two finally arrive does Granddad see why Sam was in such a hurry—and they have the best time playing with everyone in the snow.”

As a massive fan of the book Storm, when I saw there was another Sam Usher book (with a very festive snowy theme) I knew I needed to treat myself to it! I mean, just look at that cover. Who wouldn’t want to know more about the penguin casually strolling down their street? 

Snow tells the story of a very impatient young boy who wants to go out into the snow, while his grandfather thinks they should stay in for a little while. There’s so much joy in the young man’s face when he sees the snow. We’ve all been there. Wanting to be the first one to stand on snow – is there anything more irresistable than a patch of freshly fallen snow? 

When they do eventually get outside, they wander down to the park and end up having an awful lot of fun with a new bunch of friends. It’s all a bit silly, but this would make a perfect readaloud. Kids will love this story. What’s more fun than snow ball fights? Snowball fights with animals… obviously! 

With gorgeous illustrations, characters who are realistic and a brilliant portrayal of family (I loved seeing this story of a young man and his grandfather, rather than a mam/dad or sibling), this book is going to be a great one to read aloud to kids (and adults alike!). I am loving this Weather series from Sam Usher and can’t wait to get even more! I would recommend wholeheartedly getting on the series! I own Snow and Storm so far, I need to check out Rain and Sun. 

Have you read any of Sam Usher’s books?
What’s your perfect wintery read aloud?
Are you a snow lover, or not a fan?

Let me know your thoughts! Speak to you soon… fingers crossed the snow stays away! I don’t want to run into a bunch of animals throwing snowballs at me! 

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Emma Yarlett

Dragon Post: a whole lot of fun and friendship! 

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I’d seen this on my friend’s Instagram and as I’m a lover of The Day The Crayons Quit and the trusty The Jolly Postman, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. With beautiful letters inside and an endearing young main character, Dragon Post was an absolute delight to read! 

Alex finds a dragon living under his stairs and knows that the most sensible thing to do would be to write to different people to get their advice on the whole situation. (Alex is very sensible, in my opinion! I don’t know what I would do!)

This is where the humour for adults comes in. There’s puns a plenty with the names of the people Alex writes letters to. I read this book aloud to my mam, and she and I had many a chuckle! Not all of the letters are positive… with one suggesting that the writer of the letter would like to eat the dragon. Most of the letters Alex receives give him good advice however! 

The final letter Alex writes is to his best friend (who he calls one of the best people he knows) and I absolutely adored this! I love the idea that the person Alex thinks is the smartest person in his world is another child – I think this can have quite a profound effect on kids. The very last letter Alex receives is from a very special someone indeed and I know kids are going to ADORE seeing the letter to Alex! 

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This book, just like The Day The Crayons Quit and The Jolly Postman, is going to be taken in my classrooms and children alike. With the inclusion of the letters, the incredible illustrations and the brilliant story, this is one that will inspire writers of letters, stories and illustrations (I only wish I could come up with something this brilliant!) I can see this working in so many houses, minds and ways. As a Y5 teacher, I’d love to use this book, but it equally has a very important place in every classroom. I know the KS1 teachers in school will love this book… and I can’t wait to read it to Reception for their Advent Story time! 

Would you like a dragon as a pet?
Have you read Dragon Post? 
Who would you write to if you found a dragon under your bed?

Speak to you all soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Lara Hawthorne

Silent Night: the classic, beautifully illustrated!

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“Celebrate the magic of Christmas with this beautifully illustrated book, based on the world’s best-loved carol. Rediscover the Nativity Story in all its glory—from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels—as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. The world’s diversity is reflected in a cast of characters with a range of skin tones. A gorgeous book for all the family to share during the festive season.”

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Christmas is coming and what’s more perfect than one of the greatest Christmas carols beautifully illustrated? Silent Night is one of those classics that everyone knows. I even know the chorus and the first verse in German (I’m not sure why!). I think Christmas is such a lovely time of year and music is an important part of that. 

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Silent Night has been beautifully illustrated in this book, with the lyrics of the book broken into little scenes of the night that Jesus was born. The book features the key people in the Christmas story – angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, kings and the stable! 

This book is going to be SO perfect to use at school. Whether kids know the song or not, it is a brilliantly simple, yet beautiful, way to teach them the story of Christmas. 

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I also love that it comes with this information page in the back all about the song. Great for older children to find out more about the song. This could inspire some of your KS2 kids to make their own book of a Christmas song and write their own “about the carol” page. 

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This would make the perfect Christmas present. I already know it’s going to go down brilliantly at school. 

A massive thank you to the wonderful Quarto for sending me a copy of this book! I do now however want to start singing Christmas songs… (but not yet… I can’t until after Halloween!)

Silent Night is out now! 

Do you have a favourite Christmas song?
Is Silent Night up there in your top 10?
What’s your Christmas rules?

Talk to me! Which carol would you like to see made into a book?!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Susan Verde

I Am Human: a beautiful picture book, delivering an important message of empathy

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“I am human
I am a work in progress
Striving to be the best version of ME

From the picture book dream team behind I Am Yoga and I Am Peace comes the third book in their wellness series: I Am Human. A hopeful meditation on all the great (and challenging) parts of being human, I Am Human shows that it’s okay to make mistakes while also emphasizing the power of good choices by offering a kind word or smile or by saying “I’m sorry.” At its heart, this picture book is a celebration of empathy and compassion that lifts up the flawed fullness of humanity and encourages children to see themselves as part of one big imperfect family—millions strong”

This book is the 3rd in a series from this pair, with the other two being I am Yoga and I am Peace. These books explore things which children could see as complex, and puts it into words and sentences that children can relate to and use in their lives. 

Something which I loved about this book is there’s a lot of positive, but there’s also the important thing to explore with children about when things don’t quite go right – when you make mistakes, get hurt and hurt others. These things are all human. These things make us human and these are things that children need to develop an understanding of in order to become empathetic. 

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This book explores fear and sadness – some things that as teachers, or caregivers, we can be afraid to explore. Books are excellent pathmakers (that’s not a word!) so that these conversations can happen. These conversations are essential. 

It’s important that children learn the importance of making choices and through this book, children (and adults) can see that making a choice matters. What you say, what you do, what you think… it all matters. Choosing to keep going, choosing to have hope, listening, being generous. 

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The illustrations in this book are quintessential Peter H Reynolds and I love it. If you’ve seen any of the books he’s illustrated before, your kids will instantly recognise his style. I love the fact that the characters are all multicultural and that children will feel seen by this. This book is full of colour – from happy and vibrant colours, to sad and dull colours. We, as humans, attach meaning to colour and this is used brilliantly in the book. 

As a teacher, it’s important that I help my children to understand themselves and to understand others. By creating empathetic people in my classroom, I’m enabling them to be kind, loving, compassionate, thoughtful, not only to each other, but to themselves. This book would fit BEAUTIFULLY in any classroom, regardless of how old the children are and would create some incredible talking points around behaviour, choice and what it means to be human. I can’t wait to read it to my kids to get them thinking and talking. It’s going to be one of those fail-safe books I have around. 

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A massive thank you to the people of Abrams & Chronicle for sending me this book, I am so grateful and I know my kids (and the people I work with) will love reading this! 

Have you got any books you use when talking about empathy?
What’s one piece of advice you give children when exploring empathy?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

S x

BLOG TOUR: Daddy Hairdo

Hello! Today I have the pleasure of hosting Francis Martin (of Daddy Hairdo fame!) on my blog as part of the Daddy Hairdo blog tour, talking all about the inspiration behind the gorgeous picture book Daddy Hairdo!

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Daddy Hairdo is a bit of family history that mutated into a picture book.   As a young father I had had to take on the role of coiffeur to my infant daughter whenever I took her to nursery.  For years I thought I had acquitted myself admirably and that the plaits, buns, ponytails and top knots I created were a match for any of the other parents’ hairdressing skills. It was only years later that my grown up daughter revealed to me that  the nursery nurses at the playschool were laughing at my  efforts and would immediately take them apart and do something a little more conventional.  My creations were called “daddy hairdos”.

Even more years later I am a mature student at Cambridge School of Art working for my MA in Children’s Book Illustration, desperate for a story. I have always thought that a good title is half the battle when creating a picture book. I recalled the daddy hairdos. I knew it would make a great starting point for a story. A dad who creates fantastical hairstyles for a daughter who won’t get her hair cut. I went into a writing and drawing frenzy. I explored ideas, researched hair styles and threw my own male pattern baldness into the mix. 

Initially I created the images but realised that the text would benefit from another artist. My own artwork wasn’t wasted. It worked as a guide for the text.  It always seems pointless if the text and the images just echo what the other says.  I try to get text and image to feed off each other create surprises, alternate narrative duties, tell jokes.  Being aware that there is a power in images, I can be confident enough to hold back on the writing and let the visuals do their job. I think that the Daddy Hairdo text works because I developed it with a visual context. Claire Powell’s pictures then lifted it even further.

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You should go check out the rest of the blog tour and get your hands on a copy of this gorgeous picture book if you get the chance! It’s out now! 

S x

BLOG TOUR: Maybe The Moon

Hello, happy Monday everyone!

Today I have the absolute joy of being part of a blog tour. When I was originally approached about this blog tour, one of the things that interested me most was that I was given 2 questions to use as inspiration for my post – rather than just posting a review, should I not wish to. I love that! I could choose between:

  • Tell us about a friend you treasure
  • Tell us about a significant journey in your life

And I’m going to try and incorporate both into my post.

I’m going with a career journey rather than a physical journey (I’m quite boring, I’ve not taken many physically interesting journeys in my life yet!) As you all know, my journey to becoming a teacher has been a long (and arduous at times) one. It’s taken quite a long time to finally get here. But get here I did. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of a LOT of people – my colleagues, my family, my friends, the online community – and I am ever so thankful.

I have 3 very special friends that I think have been imperative to this journey being as successful as it has been. I’m very lucky to have so many supportive people in my life that I could be here for hours.

We all need best friends. I have 3 people in my life I would consider my best friends. They’ll love me even when I’m being a troll. They’ll laugh at me, with me, for me. They’ll hug me. They’d be prepared to give me a reality check if I needed it. They’ve listened to me cry. They’ve been here for me throughout this rollercoaster of a life that I’ve been through. 

It’s amazing how quickly people can become important to you. I never imagined that I would make a best friend who would be willing to travel the length of a country to see me host an event. Someone who makes me laugh. Someone who inspires me every single day. Kelly, I think you’re an absolute shining star in this life. 

The people you work with can very quickly become some of the people you see the most in your life. I definitely see some of the people I work with more through the week than I do my own family (and I live in the same house as them!) I’ve been super lucky to work alongside someone who makes me laugh, gives me hugs, supports me even when her workload is ridiculous. Gemma, I definitely wouldn’t be here if you weren’t there for me everyday at work.

I think family are the first friends you make. I was brought up around my family. We have an amazing bond. Is it always perfect? No because that’s family. I am surrounded by family members who support and love me no matter what. I’m lucky to have someone who will invite me out, who believes in me enough to trust me to be her daughters’ godmother. Someone who will ALWAYS be here to give me wise words of wisdom. Someone who pushes me to be the best me I can be. Kate, you’re one of the best people in my life and I love you forever.

Maybe The Moon is a GORGEOUS picture book, beautifully illustrated to tell a tale of how friendship, community and beauty can come in many different forms. I absolutely love it! The illustrations are gorgeous and it has such an incredible message – it is definitely one I will be using in the classroom. It’s released in a few days (20th September) so not too much longer to wait!

Blog Tour

BOOK BLOG: Ed Vere

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You don’t have to ROAR to be heard”.

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

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

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

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

S x

BOOKBLOG: Simon Philip

I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat: a funny and charming exploration of importance of names

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“Every cat needs a name. One name, one word, just a sound… It should be easy to choose one, right? WRONG!!! I just don’t know what to call my cat! Choosing the right name for a new pet is very important! Find out just what this cat’s name turns out to be in this clever and witty story from an exciting debut author and talented young illustrator.”

I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat explores the story of a young girl who gets a pet cat and worries about all of the things that come with owning a pet, but mostly… what can she call the cat? She goes through a whole host of names, with no luck. Then the vet throws a spanner in the works, highlighting the fact her cat is in fact a tomcat and not a queen. Her cat disappears and she gains a pet gorilla, named Steve, obviously. Now she has a pet who has a name, but she misses her cat. Whatever will happen? Will the cat ever have a name? 

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I absolutely adore the illustrations in this book. They’re so beautiful and a particular favourite of mine is the one below. LOOK HOW UNIMPRESSED THAT CAT IS. It made the kids at school proper chuckle: “Miss, that cat looks SO STUPID” “Miss, why would you dress your cat up as a Queen? Cats aren’t meant to have crowns!”. So yes, the illustrations are definitely a hit!

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This book is full of humour and has gone down an absolute pleasure with the kids at school! We thought about pets and names, and our names after reading this book. The kids loved thinking of their own new pet and what name they’d give it! 

PLUS. Look at those end papers man *heart eyes*

Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book! It’s a firm favourite in our school!

What would you call your cat if you got one?
What’s your favourite cat name? 
(I’m fond of human names for cats).

Let me know your ideas in the comments or on twitter! Speak soon!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Lucy Rowland

The Knight Who Said No: a fun and light hearted tale about finding the right time to say no

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“Ned the knight ALWAYS does exactly what he’s told. When his parents ask him to pick up his toys, dig up the cabbages or go to bed on time, he does it all with a smile. And when the dragon swoops into town every night, he always runs inside just as he’s asked. But one morning, instead of saying,”yes,” he says, “NO!” He will NOT help his dad find his shield, his arrow or his bow, and he will certainly NOT let the butcher go past. That night, he refuses to go inside, and in doing so he confronts the dragon, making a very unlikely friend . . .”

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The Knight Who Said No tells the tale of Ned who starts the story as a very pleasant young man, always saying yes to his mam and dad. He’s polite to everyone in his town. He always lends a hand. He always goes in when the dragon arrives, every night. He always says yes, until one night he realises that the dragon is just lonely. Ned changes and learns to say “no”. He goes round saying no to EVERYONE, to EVERYTHING. This shocks the people of his tbown. Eventually though, he finds his “yes” again and he finds a friend in the dragon.

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This is a brilliant story that would go down really well in the classroom and at home! It would make a brilliant bed time story or it’ll find an excellent place in your reading corner! It could definitely create a lot of chat about when it was the right time to say yes and no! 

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I absolutely love the illustrations in this book. Illustrated by Kate Hindley, the pictures are beautifully done and the recurring colour scheme of blue makes me very happy. There’s lots of intrigue in this book and kids will love reading this by themselves or with grown ups. I can’t wait to take this to school and share it with the kids at school.

Thank you so much to the lovely humans at Nosy Crow for sending me a copy!

Would you like a dragon friend?
Would you say no to a dragon friend?
What’s the best thing you’ve ever said yes to?

Talk to me! I’d love to talk about dragons with you!

S x

BLOG TOUR: Have you seen the sleep fairy?

The Sleep Fairy: a great bedtime story!

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“Have YOU seen the Sleep Fairy? This is the story of a sleep deprived mother and father who are rescued by this shyest of fairies, who only comes out at night when all the children in the home are asleep. She helps children get into the habit of sleeping through by leaving tiny items of interest under their beds for a few days until she can trust them to sleep through on their own. “

This is a great book that would go down well in any household with children, especially those who don’t sleep!

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This book tells the story of a mam and dad who are trying to encourage their children to go to sleep. They teach them all about the sleep fairy, and through a bit of gentle coaxing and persuasion the children believe there’s a sleep fairy who helps them sleep all night!

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It’s brilliantly pitched for children: it could be read by them or by parents at bed time. There’s nothing more incredible than having a bedtime story! There’s lots to look at in this book too. The illustrations are brilliant. They’re unique and very colourful. Kids will love them!

You probably won’t need t convince your children of a sleep fairy once they’d read this!

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Purchase from Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Have-You-Seen-Sleep-Fairy-ebook/dp/B078H9MNZW/

About the author: Living in Chelsea, London with his wife and four children author T.K.R is no stranger to sleepless nights. When not writing children’s books, he runs his own business, Captivate Marketing (Pty) Ltd which focusses on the tools and tactics associated with amplifying his clients’ global brands.

S x