BLOG TOUR: Anna Doherty

Hello friends!

Sorry I’ve been MIA this week. This week has been an insanely busy week at work with observations and learning walks and twilights, so on Sunday I had a day off doing lots of work and blogging and spent it with my gorgeous friend. 

However, you are in for a total treat today because I have a Q&A with the amazing Anna Doherty all about her new book Michelle Obama. This book is all about celebrating Black History Month and is part of the incredible Fantastically Feminist series. When I knew I was going to be lucky enough to host a Q&A with the author, I enlisted the help of my class to ask some questions! I narrowed them down the the 8 below, but there were some brilliant questions I didn’t get to ask! 

71f34nphjll

1. What made you want to write about Michelle Obama?
A few things. I think she’s got a very interesting life story, but what drew me to her more was her personality. She’s so passionate and caring, and dedicated to EVERYTHING she does,which is so special, and I think those are amazing qualities to have and to tell children about.
2. Why is it important to you to highlight the amazing work that women have done? 
Women have so often been overlooked in history and skipped over, and while that’s getting a lot better now I think it’s still very important to keep highlighting women. On a personal level, I was a huge tomboy when I was little, because in loads of my books it seemed like the boys did all the fun and cool stuff! So I want the next generation of little Annas to realise that girls are also super cool and can do absolutely anything they put their minds to. But these books are not just for girls – I want to show that no matter who or when or where you are, you can make a difference!
3. If you could ask Michelle one question, what would it be? 
I would ask her, how does she have so much energy and positivity all the time!
4. What other amazing women do you want to write about? 
I would love to write about Katie Sandwina, a super stongwomen and suffragette from 1880s Austria. She could lift a canon above her head!
Also, I would love to write about Mary Queen of Scots, who was Queen of Scotland ages ago in the 1500s. She became Queen when she was just six days old!
5. You’re invited to have a dinner with 3 amazing women from history, who would they be and why? 
Such a hard question!
Coretta Scott King (activist – and Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife) because she was a huge activist for race and gender equality and LGBTQIA+ rights. She seemed to be so passionate, and never gave up what she believed in for a second.  She was a singer too, and she just seemed an amazing person all round!
Ada Lovelace (the first computer programmer) because I’ve been obsessed with her for a long time, and I wrote a book about her, so I feel like I know her really well and we’d get on! She was brilliant because she was determined to learn maths and science in a time when not many girls had an education.
Nellie Bly (an undercover reporter) because she was always going on adventures! She because a journalist when not many women were, and she did undercover operations to expose things that she thought were unfair (like bad working conditions, or horrible hospitals). She travelled around the world all on her own, and she seemed so headstrong and independent, and let nothing stand in her way!
6. Do you have any writing rituals? 
I get very distracted if I’m not at my own desk, I have a little studio in a spare bedroom in my flat. I like to listen to podcasts or music and drink lots of black coffee.
7. What’s the best thing about being an author?
I love every part of it, but the absolute best part is when you see your work printed into a book for the first time. Often you finished writing and illustrating months ago, so there are little things you don’t remember, and it’s like seeing a friend you’ve not met in a long time again!
8. What was the last book you read and loved? 
For children: She Made A Monster (written by Lynn Fulton and illustrated by Felicity Sala). It’s about Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein, and I think she’s so fascinating, and it’s a bit dark and creepy in time for Halloween! (So maybe so slightly older children, or adults!)  And the illustrations are beautiful.
For adults: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. It’s just brilliant, I couldn’t put it down!
71f34nphjll

OUT NOW! This is the absolutely astonishing, fantastically feminist and, best of all, totally true story of one amazingly inspirational global icon! Meet the marvellous Michelle Obama: A+ student, passionate piano player, and a girl who’s not afraid to dream big. Determined to make the world a better place, the grown up Michelle gets to work in helping the community in whatever way she can. But then she meets and falls in love with Barack Obama, who is equally passionate about changing the world and he tells her he wants to become the first African American President of the United States, Michelle knows it’s time to really find her voice…

A review of this book is coming next week… but trust me, it’s absolutely incredible! I am loving all of the amazing non-fiction that is coming out celebrating incredible women and this one sits very proudly on my shelf of non-fiction!

I’ve kicked off the blog tour, but be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour in the coming days! There is sure to be a whole host of brilliant content and maybe even a review or two so you know I’m not just telling fibs!

Michelle Obama Blog Tour (1)

A massive thank you to the publishers, and to Anna, for allowing me to kick off this blog tour! It’s always an absolute delight!

Who would you write a book about if you could choose any wonderful woman?
What’s your favourite empowering women non-fiction book out there?
What was the last book you read that you want to shout about?

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Anna Williamson

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

img_5446

“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

BOOK BLOG: Ana Seixas

Are you looking for an interactive book about the human body? Look no further than Scratch and Learn: Human Body!

img_4961

You can’t beat a good bit of non-fiction… but WHERE do you start? And how do you make it accessible to kids? How do you make it appealing? And how do you make it fun, without it taking away from the SCIENCE? 

This Scratch and Learn: Human Body book is BRILLIANT. 

Now, confession time: teaching Science isn’t where I think I excel. It scares me a bit. There’s a lot of facts, there’s a lot that I don’t know… so for me, books like this help me learn, as well as my kids LOVING them. A double win, if you will! 

JUST LOOK AT THAT.

There’s pages about all sorts of parts of the body, as well as facts and things for the kids to do as they read. (We have since scratched the black bits off and winner!) I love how all of the pages are simplistic, without being babyish. It’s totally child (and teacher) friendly!

Each double spread comes with some information (see left picture) and then some element of scratching and discovering (see right picture). This double spread on the brain I particularly enjoyed because it shows how complex the brain is without a total barrage of information.

There’s ALL SORTS of different topics covered in this book: you’ve got senses (perfect for KS1), muscles and the skeleton (KS2), digestion (KS2). 

img_4963

There’s loads of these brilliant activities jotted about through the book too. They’re such engaging, but small, activities for the kids to do to think scientifically and talk about science and what they notice. 

A massive thank you to Quarto for sending me a review copy of this – it’s a brilliant book that would sit beautifully in any classroom or home library for budding scientists! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: David Long

Egypt Magnified: the perfect book for any Egypt loving bookworm! 

img_4244

“Grab your magnifying glass and explore the sights and sounds of ancient Egypt in this fascinating search-and-find adventure, packed with over 200 things to spot.”

When I was approached by the publishers as to whether I would like a copy of this book for review, I knew instantly that I would ABSOLUTELY LIKE A COPY FOR REVIEW. I am constantly on the lookout for engaging and brilliant non-fiction books. We all know that non-fiction books of the past could be dull and just collect dust… but recently non-fiction books are becoming more and more desirable. And this book does not disappoint! This would make the perfect Christmas gift for any non-fiction loving wannabe historian in your life! 

img_4247

Egypt Magnified comes with a brilliant magnifying glass so you can play a “Where’s Wally?” type game in the book. With sections covering everything from The Nile and The Desert to Tutankhamun’s Tomb, this book is just brilliant. (Why yes, I did in fact take about half an hour of my time when this arrived to play with the magnifying glass… unfortunately, I never was any good at Where’s Wally!)

With gorgeous illustrations by Harry Bloom and JAM PACKED with facts, this book is educational and fun – a perfect mix! I learned a fair few things when I gave this book a read… and I’ve taught the Egyptians before! Each page is about a different topic, and along the top is the “10 things to spot” section. The pages are filled with information, illustration and intrigue! 

I can’t recommend this book enough – to parents, teachers, librarians and ANYONE ELSE. It has such a brilliant place in homes, schools and libraries. I can’t wait to pass it on to Year 4 for when they study the Egypians – I just know it’s going to go down SO well. (So well in fact, I’m jealous that they get to have it! If there could be a Greek edition, that’d be awesome!)

What period in history would you most like to delve deeper into?
What’s your favourite type of non-fiction book?
Can you recommend me any new non-fiction books?

A massive massive thank you to the publishers over at Quarto for sending me this absolute delight! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Christopher Lloyd

Absolutely Everything: the perfect book for non-fiction lovers with an insatiable need for facts!

img_3954

“Embark on an amazing journey across millennia and continents, and learn about absolutely everything including the creation of planet Earth, the age of dinosaurs, the rise of humans, the miserable medieval times, globalisation, wars, revolutions, technology – and much more! Find out the answers to many big questions about our planet, animals, and the people inhabiting Earth. Engaging design, illustrations and photographs throughout bring to life the most remarkable true stories of all time.”

Absolutely Everything is an incredible collection of all of the facts you could POSSIBLY think of, illustrated so beautifully and told in chronological order. This book would make the perfect gift for a budding historian for Christmas. Told through interesting chapters, with a timeline to match each chapter, including a glossary and an index for those who have specific questions, this is definitely the one to want! 

img_3955

Now, I’m not a great historian, so I’ve been reading bits of this and it is genuinely brilliant. It’s told in a fun and engaging way. There’s illustrations and diagrams aplenty. It’s nothing like those history textbooks we learned from – it’s so much more than that! This is perfect for adults and kids alike! 

img_3957

The book opens to a gorgeously written contents page showing you all of the chapters and what they entail… the each chapter has a gorgeously vibrant and illustrated front page (the chapter pages might be one of my favourite things about this book!) The illustrations, by Andy Forshaw, are just lush and I think they add so much intrigue and interest to this book.

There’s history from many centuries ago, to the final chapter titled “To be continued…” which looks at what the future might hold. I love the little robot – he’s well cute! Each chapter is a different colour and the edges of the pages are coloured that way to match (this might seem like a simple thing, but I think it’s great for kids!)

There’s illustrations like these (above) all through the book – diagrams, maps, illustrations, photographs – and these add so much to the words that make up the story. As someone who loves a good picture, they make this book so much more enjoyable and therefore so much more is learned. With every question it answers, it probes you to ask more… isn’t that what we all want? To keep learning forever!

Whether you’re a budding historian, or just a bit obsessed with facts, this is the perfect present, especially with Christmas coming up!

If you could go back in time, where would you go to?
Are you a little bit of a secret historian?
What’s part of history that fascinates you most?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet: like reading a book from your clever and caring friend

37797266

“The world is messing with our minds.
Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.
– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? 
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?
After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.”

I’m a massive fan of Matt Haig’s work (both fiction and non-fiction) so when I found out there was going to be a “follow up” to Reasons to Stay Alive, I knew I had to get my hands on it. (I use that term loosely as it’s not really Reasons to Stay Alive 2, it’s more a companion, a friend). Notes (as I will refer to this book as because it’s shorter to type and shorter to read for you all!) explores the world – our technologically savvy, somewhat dependent world – and what the crutches of social media, technology and abundance are doing to us as a world. 

You’ve probably just read that and thought ‘OH MY WORD, what a depressing sounding book’ and you’d be wrong. Notes is enlightening, it’s uplifting, it’s brilliant. As someone who has a presence online, I am aware of the fact that my phone is never far from me, that I tweet a lot, that my instagram is updated regularly… so reading this was something that I think was the beginning of something for me: awareness. An awareness of the fact that this morning I scrolled and refreshed twitter 4 times before I realised that really nothing was going to happen if I didn’t refresh twitter. That’s what this book is all about: awareness. 

There’s a chapter in this book from the perspective of the beach. Yep, you read that right… the beach. It might be one of my favourite chapters from the book. The beach doesn’t care what you look like, it doesn’t care if you have a “beach-ready body”. It’s a beach. It’s sand and water. The beach doesn’t need you to be ready, it just needs you to be there (and even then it doesn’t NEED us to be there!) 

I’d recommend this book to everyone. Whether you’re a social media fan, a Matt Haig fan or not. It’s not a book that I can sing and dance about because it’s not a book that sings and dances itself – it’s a book that’s a bit like a friend. It’s there, imparting wisdom, some silliness and some comfort – all of the things that I love about Matt Haig’s books.  

To coincide with the release of this book, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket to go listen to Matt talk about this book at Newcastle Central Library. It was a great night and Matt even read the chapter from the beach, which definitely made me chuckle. This is the second time this year I’ve met Matt and he was just as wise and charming as the first time! 

Massive thank you to Waterstones Newcastle for bringing Matt back to Newcastle! 

If you’re interested in any of my other reviews of Matt Haig books, check them out:

Have you read any Matt Haig books?
Have you read Notes on a Nervous Planet?
Do you, like me, get super nervous when meeting authors?!

Let me knw your thoughts in the comments! 

S x

BLOG TOUR: My Dad, The Earth Warrior

Hello!

Today is a very exciting day. Today you get another brilliant author guest post! Today, Gary Haq, author of the brilliant ‘My Dad, The Earth Warrior’ is featured on my blog. Gary has a passion for engaging children in talking about and learning about the environment. As a teacher, this is REALLY important to me, so I hope you enjoy Gary’s post!

On Writing

As an environmental researcher, I have written scientific papers and reports, non-fiction books and Op-Eds for the regional and national press but never fiction.

But that all changed when my mother died. Clearing out the family home I came across my Nana’s large well-worn black patent leather handbag. We had kept it for years in the back of the wardrobe, and for some reason,  the bag became a repository for all the important family documents.

Inside there were death and birth certificates of grandparents and relatives, a telegram from the Ministry of Defence informing that my grandfather was lost at sea in the Second World War, a letter of from King George honouring his service to the nation, and my primary school reports in a battered brown envelope.

In my old school report, there was a statement from my primary school teacher that said  how much I enjoyed writing stories.

As an academic researcher my career has been all about facts and referencing evidence. I had totally  forgotten the joy of making up stories.

I therefore decided to revisit the imagination I had as a child. Once I had opened that door in my mind, I was flooded ideas for a children’s book. Then one day, I was dancing around the living room being silly trying to calm my baby daughter, and thought how embarrassing she would find this if she were older.  It was then, I had the idea for a story about a boy who has an embarrassing father

Someone said that writing is about 10% putting words on paper and 90% editing – it’s true! It took me six months to write my first draft and six years editing it!

Since I have a busy home and work life, I try to find pockets of time to write and edit throughout my day. I do try to write at home but this has become increasingly difficult as my daughter grown older.  But here are a few places where I do manage to put pen to paper.

GH

ON THE BUS

Being temporarily based in Italy at a European research Centre, my workday begins by taking the bus to work, where I try and write and edit. 

 

 

GH2

AT THE CAFFE’

In Italy you can’t start the day without your morning coffee. I visit a café before work to have my morning café macchiato, write a little and watch the array of characters that passby.

GH3

IN THE CANTEEN

At lunch time, when fellow colleagues go to the canteen to eat together, I go alone so I can use the time to work on my book  although, my view is not always a concrete pillar!

What a brilliant post! Thank you so much to Gary to writing a blog post! It’s brilliant. Check out the rest of the blog tour below!

Blog Tour banner

You can also check out My Dad, The Earth Warrior out now!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Women in…

Women in Sport/Women in Science: brilliantly biographical celebrations of incredible women, from the past and the present

The amazing people at Hachette sent me these copies of these books and I was absolutely gobsmacked. 

I have been ogling Women in Science on the shelves for a while in Waterstones, so when I heard Women in Sport was coming out, I knew I’d love a copy. 

“Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more!”

“A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, Women in Sports features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women athletes from the 1800s to today including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than 40 different sports.”

What I love most about these books is their shameless celebration of women and the things they have achieved in the past and the present. There are some incredible women in history celebrated in these books, but there’s also women celebrated today. From mathematicians, to physicists to doctors, Women in Science speaks of brilliantly inspiring women to get girls into STEM. In the same way, Women in Sport speaks of rowers, archers, tennis players, all kinds of sports women, past and present to inspire girls to get involved in sport. 

I adore these books. They are SO perfect. Each page is a mini biography and illustration. There’s just the right amount of information. The illustrations are incredible. 

 I must also mention the end pages of both books. They make me make such heart eyes

I can’t wait to use these books in school now to teach the kids all about incredible women through history

What book would you like them to publish next in this series?
What would YOUR page say about you in one of these books?
Which woman from history, or from the present, do you think deserves to be immortalised in the pages of one of these books?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! 

S x

Little People, Big Dreams

In the Little People, Big Dreams series, you can discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. There are some incredible lives pictured in this series and I was very lucky that the people at Quarto sent me over the Audrey Hepburn, Rosa Parks and Emmeline Pankhurst editions to have a look at. I had initially saw these beautiful books on BookBairn’s instagram and was VERY curious about them!

img_9637.jpg

Each book tells the story of the life of this amazing person. They are beautifully illustrated and are PERFECT to use with children. At the back of each edition there is a timeline of the person’s life, with real pictures!

img_9709

Books like this are so important as they make incredible life stories accessible to children. 

The Rosa Parks edition and the Emmeline Pankhurst book are going to be so brilliant for use in school to teach the children about amazing women who paved the way for some of the most important changes in the world. 

I am so happy this series exists and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the series! I know this is definitely a series that I will have in my collection! They’re perfect for the classroom and any little people you may have running around! I will be sharing these with the kids at school and my goddaughters, to teach them about important women who have come before them! 

If you’d like to see who else is included in this series so far, the whole collection is on the Quarto website – click here to find out more. I definitely want the ones I don’t have yet! 

Have you read any of the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ books?
Are there any incredible women you would like to see included?
What is your “big dream”?

Thank you so much to Quarto for sending me these books. I absolutely love them! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive: honest, important, emotive.

IMG_4482

“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

‘I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.'”

Reasons to Stay Alive has been sat on my TBR shelf for a while. I’m not a massive reader of NF but there were lots of people talking about this book a while back, so I bought it but it just stayed on my shelf. Until just recently. I needed something a little bit different. I needed something that would hopefully inspire something in me. 

I loved Matt’s sheer frank honesty. There’s no skirting over issues. There’s frank honesty. There’s stories and anecdotes from his toughest times. There’s uplifting stories. There’s conversations he has with himself. There’s flashbacks to his darkest times. There’s the story of the start of it all. Throughout all of it, there’s honesty.

Mental health is something that is becoming more talked about but still not talked about ENOUGH. This book was brave and brilliant. Written in such a way that I devoured it in less than a day. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. I cried. I was angry. Frustrated. Sad. Jubilant. I felt everything. 

There are so many important quotes in this book that I feel I could spend a blog post quoting but I’ll choose a few:

“Hang on in if you can. Life is always worth it”
““Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.”
“Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen in Frozen.”

Image result for self help reasons to stay alive

I implore everyone to read this. Even if you don’t suffer from any MH troubles, it’ll open your eyes to those who do. You will know someone who is suffering, possibly in silence. 

My goodreads review simply said:
“It’s important that people talk about mental health and it’s important for people to know that not everyone suffers the same way. I loved this book. I cried a lot.”

Have you read this?
Do you have other NF recommendations like this?

Let me know on twitter (@eenalol) or in the comments, I need more NF in my life!

S x