BLOG TOUR: International Yeti Collective

Morning friends and yeti alike! 

How are we all?

Today we have a post with double the whammy… author content and a book review in one go! How very lucky are you all? 

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As part of the blog tour for International Yeti Collective by Paul Mason, I was invited to share my thoughts on the book as well as share some of Paul’s top tips for how to make a change in the world. I always love when an author has the good of the world on their radar. I think it’s such an important thing to care about… if there were no world, there’d be no readers, no books and no way to spread bookish love! 

Small steps for big change: Your top 5 tips

  1. Food waste across the world creates a huge amount of climate-changing gases. Help your family plan the menu, and shop for just the things you need.
  2. On the same note: start a school compost heap, worm farm or Bokashi bin for your green waste and food scraps. Keep them out of the landfill and turn them into something useful for the garden.
  3. Encourage your parents to buy keep cups for coffee. Use a re-usable drinking bottle for water.
  4. Take string bags to the supermarket for your fruit and veg.
  5. Remember to do what you can, whenever you can. There is a proverb: if you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

I love these tips because they’re just little things we can do to make a massive difference in the world that we live on! 

The International Yeti Collective: adventure, unlikely friendship and a whole host of fun!

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“Ella is in the Himalayas with her uncle searching for yeti. But what seems like the adventure of a lifetime is cut short when she realizes that these secretive creatures might not want to be found. Tick knows it’s against yeti law to approach humans. So when some arrive on the mountain, why does he find himself peering through the trees to get a closer look? What Tick doesn’t know is that his actions will set off a series of events that threaten the existence of yeti all over the world. What can he do to make things right? Just when all hope seems lost, help comes in the most unexpected form…”

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I needed it in my life. An adventure through the mountains to look for yeti? A brave little girl who finds out secrets? Yes please. I waited very patiently for this to arrive in my house and as soon as it arrived I was besotted. It took me a little while to read because I didn’t want it to be over! 

Yeti Collective follows the story of Ella, a young girl who is spending her time off school with her Uncle Jack (a nature documentary maker). He’s been hunting for yeti for years but has had no success yet… but that’s all about to change. While in the Himalayas, Ella starts dreaming about seeing these elusive and secretive creatures for herself, but she ends up doing a lot more than just seeing them! It’s up to Ella to have to try and save them from humans, and maybe from her very own family! 

This book is also told from the perspective of Tick, a young yeti who never really felt like he fit in with his yeti group. His mum was banished for being too curious about humans. Tick has gained his mother’s curiosity and when he spots Ella, he knows he needs to find out more. When the elders in his yeti community find out about his betrayal of one of their most important rules, Tick is himself pulled in front of them. Just like his mam, Tick is banished from the sett and this brings about one of the wildest and most wonderful adventures of his life. One that’s going to make Tick’s and Ella’s worlds collide. One which is going to see Tick becoming an unlikely hero. 

Ella is a wonderful main character. She’s brave and feisty. She shows that being curious and kind is important. She shows us that it’s important to look after the world, even if everyone around you is screaming for you to think of themselves first. Tick shows us that it’s never too late to stand up for yourself and that friendship is important.  These two characters are surrounded by wonderful, and sometimes not so wonderful, influences and how they live out their story is one that’s gorgeous to read. 

I absolutely adored this book. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s kind, it’s really bloody cleverly written. The names of the yeti in this story kept me constantly chuckling. I didn’t realise I’d get so emotionally invested in this book as I did. It’s one of those worlds where being lost in it feels like you’re experiencing something for the first time. I really loved the illustrations throughout from Katy Riddell too! We all know I love a good picture to add to a story, so seeing these dotted throughout the story made my heart so happy. 

My Goodreads review:

This is a proper adventure. Humans searching for Yeti; a young yeti trying desperately to hide his curiosity and ambition to find his mam; a trip around the world. I can not wait for more! I loved all of the little jokes in the Yeti names in particular.

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A massive massive thank you to publishers Stripes for inviting me to be on this blog tour and for sending me a review copy of the book. It’s books like this that make me so glad to be reading kids books! Go check out the rest of the blog tour because there are so many gorgeous posts already! Plus, it’s publication day tomorrow! Go out and buy this book and go on a yeti adventure yourself!

Would you be a good yeti hunter?
What would you do if you set eyes on something that’s never been seen before?
What tips do you have for looking after our world?

Talk to me. I’d love to put together a post full of tips for being more eco-friendly!

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: The Ghouls of Howlfair

Hello hello hello friends!

How are you all? I know, I know I’ve already posted today… but today is one of those special days here at A Little But A Lot: a TWO POST DAY! 

I was invited to be part of the blog tour for The Ghouls of Howlfair by Nick Tomlinson and I absolutely jumped at the chance! This book is absolutely perfect for our upcoming SPOOKY time of year… and I tell you now, my kids are ABSOLUTELY devouring it! We can’t get enough of it – so much so there’s a waiting list for the book!

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Nick has been lovely enough to provide some content all about . I’m a massive fan of hearing about the inspiration behind stories, so this piece was SPOT ON for me! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

The Story Behind Howlfair

To me, Howlfair isn’t so much a place as a kind of mental scrapbook where I’ve put every silly ghost story I’ve made up since I was four.  In The Ghouls of Howlfair, it’s a very quaint, eerie tourist town nestling in the spooky Ethelhael Valley, cut off from the rest of England.  It has sinister trees and plants you won’t find anywhere else – darksbane, tangle-trees, Judas Root – and it also has more scary legends that anywhere in the world.  Every street and building, it seems, commemorates some ghastly folk tale about the Dark Days of Howlfair’s history, back when monsters (supposedly) terrorised the town.

My main character – stubborn, serious historian Molly Thompson – has lived here all her life, and she’s obsessed with finding out the truth behind the legends.  Unlike almost everyone else in town, Molly thinks that the legends might be true.  As she discovers, they’re not only true, but they’re starting to come true once more!

According to Howlfair folklore, some greedy miners came to the valley centuries ago in search of precious jewels.  They dug too deep, and supposedly exposed a secret gateway to hell.  A mysterious mist seeped from the mine and transformed locals into vampires and werewolves and zombies.  In the Dark Days that followed, the people of Howlfair formed monster-fighting Orders and Guilds to drive back waves of supernatural attacks, giving rise to vast numbers of scary camp-fire tales.

Nowadays, though, the people of Howlfair think that there must be a sensible explanation for the old stories.  The mysterious mist, they claim, was probably just a noxious gas that caused wildlife to mutate.  The creepy landmarks have become silly tourist attractions (like the infamous Loonchance Manor, home of Howlfair’s Ghoul Tour) and monster-themed gift shops.  But some people – including Molly Thompson – think that something supernatural really did show up in Howlfair centuries ago, and (more to the point) it never really left.  And because nobody in town knows the scary old stories nearly as well as Molly, she’s the only person who can figure out a way to save the town when the monsters from the legends start turning up again.

Howlfair isn’t based on any particular place – over the decades I’ve dreamt up lots of tales about hauntings and werewolves and ghouls, and the different spooky settings for them slowly formed in my imagination.  However, I’ve always been a bit obsessed with haunted places, and a few years ago my wife and I went on a tour of Britain’s most haunted hotels.  These were hotels I’d read about as a boy in a book called Haunted Britain, and I’d always dreamed of staying in them.  It turned out that I wasn’t as brave as I thought.  I spent pretty much the whole time hiding under duvets shouting WHAT WAS THAT? every time a floorboard creaked.  I’ve tried to capture some of this terror in the book; Molly and her friends aren’t exactly typical brave adventure heroes, and they have lots of WHAT WAS THAT? moments, but they know they must confront their fears if they’re to save Howlfair.  I hope readers enjoy sharing in Molly’s frights as she creeps ever closer to the ghastly secret lurking beneath Loonchance Manor!

A massive thanks to Nick for writing this brilliant piece for us to read. I can’t wait to share all of this with my class… I think they’ll find it incredible! Another massive thank you to publishers for sending me a review copy! I can’t wait to share what we think about this brilliant book in the coming weeks. 

Check out the rest of the blog tour to see what else others are saying about this brilliant, Halloween’y book!

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If you’re interested in The Ghouls of Howlfair, it is out NOW. I can’t recommend it enough! 

Are you a fan of a spooky story?
What’s your favourite thing to learn about an author?
Can you tell me your scariest story?

Talk to me in the comments… although don’t scare me too much! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System

WELCOME TO WORLD SPACE WEEK.
Settle in for a review of a book filled with stars, surprises and SUNthing wonderful!

Sorry for the cheesy opening! Today I’m here with a review of an absolutely beautiful non-fiction book I was sent! I’m honoured to be part of the blog tour to share this book because it is going down a STORM at school and I know it’s going to be VERY popular with teachers and children alike! 

Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System

“This mind-blowing book invites readers to join BBC presenter and renowned space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (MBE) on an epic journey through the Solar System – visiting planets, moons, asteroids and satellites, and travelling to places where no human has been before.

Along the way, kids can discover how we could live on Mars, learn about the hunt for a mysterious super-Earth, have a snowball fight on Mercury, climb the tallest mountain in the Solar System and much, much more. From spotting solar flares on the Sun to exploring objects at the edge of the icy Oort Cloud, this fun, action-packed title leaves no question unanswered and no meteorite unturned.”

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This book is an absolute victory in the way in which it teaches children about our wonderfully complicated solar system. It’s told as a tour of the solar system with Dr Maggie telling us everything she knows as she goes on. In recent years, there’s been an insurgence of beautiful non-fiction books and this one absolutely has a place to live in that category. There’s so much information jam packed into this book that there is always something new and interesting to be learning about the solar system. As you can see from the contents page (above), the tour takes us all around space visiting our own planet, to planets far away and gives children an insight into so much in between. 

With information packed on gorgeously laid out spread, it can be sometimes easy to be overwhelmed, but this book does it so well that the children have been loving it! It is certainly inspiration for when we do our own information books about space! This book fits perfectly into my life as the Y5 teacher as we study Space in Science! 

This book breaks down some really complicated science into bitesize chunks that children can process and use. There’s beautiful graphics and illustrations aplenty to enhance what is a BLOODY EXCELLENT science book. For teachers (like me) who feel like they don’t really know their stuff about Space, this would be a great read to maybe enhance knowledge. I certainly learned a few things about Space as I read! I loved that this book also has the potential to create some wonderful questions and talking points in a classroom!

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As a school, we are having a push on vocabulary (as I think most schools are) and I was delighted to look in the back and see an accessible and scientific glossary in the back. There is nothing better for inquisitive minds than a glossary they can read and access! I love how simplistic, yet scientific, this glossary is! 

If you’re looking for a brilliant book all about space, this is definitely one I would look out for. It’s out now and I promise you, it is brilliant!

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A massive thank you to the publishers, Michael O’Mara books, for sending me a review copy and for inviting me on the blog tour… I can already tell this is going to be a book that my children and I love for many years to come! 

Would you like to visit space?
Have you got an interesting space fact you can tell me?
What’s something you’ve always wondered about space?

Talk to me in the comments or on twitter! I’d love to know! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Helena Duggan

The Battle For Perfect: a creepily perfect ending!

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“Things have quietened down in the town that used to be Perfect. But stories reach Violet and Boy of five missing scientists. And then they discover something odd in the forest outside Town – a mirror maze hiding a huge castle. Creeping inside, they overhear a terrible plan – a zombie army is about march on Town. Can Violet and Boy save their friends?”

Anyone who has read my blog in the past will know that I am a MASSIVE fan of the A Place Called Perfect series by Helena Duggan. I raced through book 1, devoured book 2 and then when it came to book 3… I was SO NOT READY TO SAY GOODBYE that I savoured every moment. 

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For those who don’t know the series, it follows a young girl called Violet, who lives in a town called Perfect. There’s been a lot of goings on in Perfect, from brothers who try and take over, to child snatchers and all sorts. It’s Violet’s job to try and save the day. With the help of her friend Boy, she manages each and every time to save the day. These books are a wonderful mix of creepy, adventure-filled and filled with gorgeous description. 

I’d waited a long time for book 3 to come out. Once I’d read book 2, I was ready for book 3. In Battle for Perfect, we get the next installment in the series. Violet and Boy need to face off against some of their biggest, and meanest, and closest, villains. With zombies galore and some wonderful science on show, it’s up to Violet and Boy to try and save the town from once again being taken over by scheming wrong-doers. 

One of the things I love most about these books is that they’re just a little bit on the creepy side. They’re not so creepy that they give you nightmares, but they’re just on that balance between spine tingling and normal. I read this book with a slight fear in me. The whole series has been the same, like it could be really bloody scary, but it’s just the right amount of creepy. I mean eye plants??? 

Another of the things that I love so much about this series is Violet. She’s bloody wonderful. She’s a great main character to read. She’s bold, brave and a little bit scared. In Battle for Perfect, she shows that she just wants to be the best friend she can be with Boy, but she doubts things that she should be doing. I think it was lovely to see, once again, that it’s Violet and her friends that are coming to save the day again. Perfect wouldn’t be the place it is if it weren’t for Violet! In Battle for Perfect, you get some lovely reappearances from some familiar faces. Violet has her very own crew of super sleuths who are on hand to help save the day. I mean, I would need a MASSIVE band of super sleuths to try and take down an army of zombies. (I’d be rubbish at it to be honest…)

This book, like the previous 2, was the perfect mix of being fast paced, some wonderful characters and being back in the world that I love (despite the fact it creeps me out). I’m so sad that it’s now over, but it was a complete and utter ride! Shout out here to Karl James Mountford for the cover illustrations and the illustrations inside… they’re definitely a series of books that are BEAUTIFUL to look at! 

On another note… my kids are LOVING book 1 in this series and I already have a waiting list for the two copies of the book we have! I’m loving seeing them all getting lost in Violet and Boy’s world! 

My Goodreads review:

Bloody brilliant. It was a brilliant way to say goodbye to this series. Jam packed with science, zombies, the characters and the world we know and love! I’m gutted this series is over, but their ending seems more than closure.

And just like that, it’s all over. I hope you enjoyed this review!

Can you recommend me some scary/creepy books?
Have you read the Perfect series?

Talk to me, I’d love to know your thoughts!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Sophie Anderson

The Girl Who Speaks Bear: storytelling at its finest

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“Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. When she wakes up to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off into the forest to discover who she is, on a journey that takes her from icy rivers to smouldering mountains, with an ever-growing group of misfits alongside her… Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs.”

The Girl Who Speaks Bear tells the story of twelve-year-old Yanka who constantly feels out of place in her tiny village. She knows she’s different to the people around her. She was found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby and feels the tug of the forest calling out to her. When something happens to her which is unexplainable, she sets out on a journey of discovery. She’s desperate to know who she is, where she came from and how she got to where she is today. 

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Now, I must preface this review with… I read this months ago and my notes have been sitting in my notebook ever since. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because, like other books that I have absolutely adored, I worry that my review won’t do this book, this beautifuly, incredible, book, any justice. 

This review could quite easily just be a list of statements starting with “I loved” because there was so so much I loved about it.

Sophie is one of those authors who manages to weave and wind a story with so many intricacies and a beautiful narrative without you feeling like you’ve lost the path. She showed us that in House With Chicken Legs and has done it again in Bear.

In this story, there’s traditional Russian folks stories dotted throughout and this addition created for me a whole host of intrigue, and added delight and wonder to the story. I love a story which contains other stories. I found myself off researching and reading other Russian folk tales once I’d finished because I wanted to know more. It takes a special kind of author to write stories within stories and do it successfully. Beautiful storytelling is giving the reader what they didn’t even know they wanted and that’s what I got with Bear.

This is a story about love, what it means to be human, family and finding yourself. 

While I love a narrative, I’m a big fan of a character. If I can’t/don’t love a character, it doesn’t matter how good the plot is. When you think of your favourite stories, it’s the chraracters that come to me first, then their adventures. In Bear, I got a main character who I connected with. I think she’s a character that adults and children alike will love for many years to come. The way she grows and questions through the story is just brilliant. Yanka kept me wanting to read on. I wanted to know more about her because I wanted her to find the answers to her questions. She’s a wonderful main character because she’s scared, but brave. She’s curious, yet quiet. She’s also got a wonderful bunch of characters around her… I have a particular love for Mousetrap (her house weasel friend). 

This book, with its wonderful characters and beautifully written words, is an absolute epic fantasy. It’s gentle and it’s bold. It’s brave and it’s quiet. It’s winter and warmth. It’s a total adventure. It’s princesses, dragons and we even get a shout out to Sophie’s other book House With Chicken Legs (which was something I absolutely adored). Put all of these things together and you get something that I think will be a massive hit for a long time. 

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A massive shout out to Usborne for their pre-order offer that they were running. If you preordered the book, they sent you a hand stamped print of the front cover. I absolutely love it. I can’t possibly part with it, so it’s living in my Matilda frame until I get it its own picture frame. 

My goodreads review:

Storytelling at its very finest. Brilliant characters, beautiful worlds, exciting adventures and powerful messages. I just adored this. Yanka is a character that kids and adults will adore, and relate to! You can’t beat a bit of finding yourself and your people (or animals) with a good bit of story woven together. Just bloody brilliant.

And there you have it. Did you get from my review that I loved this book? I hope you did because I really loved this book. I think it’s special. 

Have you read The Girl Who Speaks Bear?
Can you recommend me any books which have stories written into them?
What’s your favourite thing about a book?

Talk to me, I’d love to know your thoughts!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Illustrated chapter books round up!

Hello there!

How are you today? 

Do you want to know a little secret? On Saturday, I read 6 books and it was JOYOUS. They were all short, illustrated chapter books and I had such a wonderful few hours just indulging in books.

I thought it would be LUSH to share with your a little round up of these books because I enjoyed them all SO MUCH. I can’t wait to take them all in to the kids at school who are just growing their reading stamina!

Isadora Moon Puts On A Show – Harriet Muncaster

“It’s almost time for the vampire ball, and Isadora can’t wait! There’s just one problem: she’s got to compete in a talent show with the other vampire children. Isadora’s talents aren’t very vampire-y, what if the audience laugh at her? The show must go on, but will Isadora be brave enough to perform…?”

I love the Isadora Moon books: they’re a perfect starting point for readers who are just taking on chapter books. They’re beautifully illustrated and Isadora is a brilliant main character. In this book, she has to take on something scary: performing in front of people! She doesn’t want to do it because the thing she loves the most isn’t a very vampire-y thing to love! When she meets a new friend, she realises that being yourself and showing people what you love is more powerful than pretending to love something else. A lush message to deliver to kids and a really bloody wonderfully illustrated book!

Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue/Kitty and the Tiger Treasure – Paula Harrison

“MEET KITTY! Girl by day. Cat by night. Ready for Adventure. Kitty’s family has a secret. Her mom is a hero with catlike superpowers, and Kitty knows that one day she’ll have special powers and the chance to use them, too. That day comes sooner than expected, when a friendly black cat named Figaro comes to Kitty’s bedroom window to ask for help. Is Kitty brave enough to step out into the darkness for a thrilling moonlight adventure?”

“Kitty can’t wait to see the priceless Golden Tiger statue with her own eyes. Kitty and her cat, Pumpkin, decide to sneak into the museum to see the statue at night, when no one else is around. But disaster strikes when the statue is stolen right in front of them! Can Kitty find the thief and return the precious statue before sunrise?”

I had seen these on Twitter and was delighted to receive copies. They tell the story of Kitty. At night, she becomes a cat-like superhero. I actually read these two books the wrong way around, but it didn’t really matter! I love when a series does that. These are really fun and beautifully illustrated by Jenny Lovlie. Kitty and her cat friends have to go on adventures to save the day: a missing tiger statue and a cat stuck at the top of a tall tower. Delivering wonderful messages about why it’s important to be brave, these books are sure to be quick hits at school!

Jasper and Scruff: Hunt for the Golden Bone by Nicola Colton

“As Jasper and Scruff prepare for a day in their new bookshop, a mysterious package is delivered, containing a rare book written by the great seafaring cat herself, Black Whiskers. Inside, they discover a treasure map, and together the friends set out on a quest to find the legendary golden bone. But little do they realize that their old enemies, the Sophisticats, might have a paw in things…”

Jasper and Scruff are two lush characters to have in a book because they’re SO different, but they are the best of friends AND they own a bookshop. I mean who wouldn’t want to see what adventures they get up to? In this book, they have to hunt a missing golden bone, but their attempts may be thwarted by the ever menacing baddies, the Sophisticats. I loved this. It’s just proper fun. This book would make a lush read aloud!  

Speedy Monkey by Jeanne Willis

“Deep in the rainforest all is peaceful, all is calm… Until Speedy Monkey comes along! Speedy can’t keep still – all day long he whoops and swoops, prances and dances. The other animals are tired of Speedy’s crazy capers and long for some peace and quiet. Then danger strikes and the animals have to act fast. But where is Speedy when they need him?”

With the beautifully illustrations from Chantelle and Burgen Thorne, this is story about a monkey who is loud and gets in his friend’s faces. He loves to play, joke and chat, while all around him his friends aren’t quite so energetic. This makes him feel like he doesn’t fit in and when one of his friends tricks him, he knows that something isn’t right. Despite all of this, when a storm comes Speedy Monkey uses his talents and saves the day! I loved that this book, as well as being really gorgeous to look at, had a great story and message too.

A Sea of Stories by Sylvia Bishop

“Whenever Roo visits Grandpa, she loves exploring the seaside cove near his cottage. But on her latest stay, Grandpa explains that he can’t go down there any more. Instead Grandpa tells Roo the stories behind the many objects that fill his house. All of Grandpa’s stories feature the cove and Roo realizes that now, even though they’re so close to the sea, Grandpa is cut off from it. Is there anything she can do to bring Grandpa to the place he loves the most?”

I bloody love a Sylvia Bishop book (if you haven’t read Erica’s Elephant or The Bookshop Girl then please get on it because they’re wonderful), so when I saw who wrote this I was PROPER over the moon. I love a good book surprise! This book is just as gorgeous as I was hoping for with the illustrations from Paddy Donnelly adding so much to the story. It tells the story of Roo and her Grandpa and how by just doing one little thing, you can change someone’s life. I loved that this book explored the importance of stories and how Grandpa shared his life with Roo through the things he’d collected through the years. 

And there you go! The 6 books I devoured on Saturday afternoon. These books would be perfect for emerging readers of like 5 or 6, or less confident readers who are slightly older. They’re going to be a total hit when I put them in the school library.

A massive thank you to the publishers OUP and Little Tiger for these review copies! We are very grateful and I can’t wait to get reviews from my own reading crew!

Can you recommend me any illustrated chapter books?
What’s your favourite kind of adventure to go on?

Speak to me! I’d love to know what you thought!

S x

What we’re reading!

Hello!

How are you all?

Today, I thought I would share some pictures of the books my class are reading… cause they’re all reading some absolute corkers.

Starting this academic year, I really wanted to get my kids excited about books and about reading. I’m such an advocate for reading for pleasure that I want my kids to know that they can enjoy reading and that it doesn’t always have to be something they’re tested on… they just get to enjoy what they’re reading.

We did a whole hour about our reading habits and our reading identities where they got to tell me about their own reading preferences, which I found really interesting. Learning so much about these new little people of mine really gave me the chance to recommend books that I knew would be right for them!

I was DELIGHTED with the range of books that they chose from my shelves. There’s some of my absolute favourite books of recent years in these piles. There’s all sorts of representation in these books. There’s stories these children might never have come across. A lot of these books are my own copies (as in they don’t belong in the school library) and it gives me such joy to know that I’ve read these books and that I can talk to the kids about these books if they want to.

I love that there’s such a mix of books in these piles. There’s well known authors and there’s indie authors. There’s an anthology of stories among some incredible stand alones. There’s 2 children starting off the Perfect series (which is a series that I adore) and there’s some books I’ve wanted to give to children in so so long. There’s a non-fiction book in among fiction books (which fills me with delight!)

My classroom is definitely the “reading classroom”. It’s where you’ll find all of the books (except the library). That’s something I’m really proud of. I’m a reader through and through and if I can help just one child find their love of reading then I’ve done my job!

Our class reader, which was voted for by the children on transition day is The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone. As I have an audible account, we’re actually listening to it on audiobook and I’m really enjoying that! It’s read so brilliantly by the narrator and it’s giving me an extra bit of time to enjoy reading and listening alongside them.

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As well as general reading, I always try and theme my Writing lessons around a book (I just think it gives everything a lot more purpose). We started the year with a letter to ourselves, so I thought we would continue with letter writing in a fun way. We’re going for letters to complain and using the amazing The Day The Crayons Quit as our model text/inspiration. A lot of people will frown at me using this text in Year 5, but I think it is PERFECT.

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I could ramble on for hours about the love I have for reading and the importance of reading for pleasure, but I won’t ramble on (if you’d like me to, then by all means let me know in the comments because that’s something I can talk about for words and words… it’s what I did my dissertation on!)

Let me know if you’d like any more tales from the classroom and I could probably make it into a series! Leave me some questions if you have any!

Speak soon,

S x

BLOG TOUR: Gangster School 3

Gangster School 3: Gruffles and the Killer Sheep – laughter, humour and just a bit of criminal activity!

“It’s Crimicon – the annual meeting for promising young criminals – and this year it’s being held at Crumley’s, the dreaded School for Career Criminals, who also happen to be Blaggard’s bitterest rivals. Can Milly and Charlie keep their school’s reputation as the best school for criminals, steer clear of Dr BL Zeebub, Crumley’s evil Head Teacher as well as keeping Gruffles out of harm’s way? Why does the animal-hating Zeebub allow a flock of weirdly large sheep to roam Crumley’s grounds? And since when have sheep been CARNIVOROUS? Milly and Charlie must use all their skills to find their way through the maze of traps and problems awaiting them at Crumley’s, to save Blaggard’s reputation and protect Gruffles from the Killer Sheep.”

Gruffles and the Killer Sheep is book 3 in the Gangster School series which sees the students of Blaggards’s school learn how to become master criminals. You follow the students in their escapades battling all kinds of funny, weird and mind-boggling things! (I’d love to think I could be a master criminal, but let’s be honest… I would be TERRIBLE!) The other 2 books in this series have been a lot of fun, so when I was invited to be part of the blog tour to review this third installment, I was over the moon!

In book 3, we are once again following the story of our mini-criminals. We follow Milly, Charlie, Gruffles and the rest of the gang in their escapades at Crimicon. They are chosen to represent the school and they must uphold the school’s reputation as being the BEST around. At Crimicon, they are set a near-impossible task of foiling the plan of an evil genius as well as fitting in many of the other tasks they are given while they are there. Fitting in taking down an evil genius can’t be easy, especially not when you have activities like ‘Creative Criminality’, ‘What makes a good stooge?’ and ‘Cooking Up Trouble – 10 quick poisonous meals anyone can prepare’ to attend. 

Let’s also not forget that there are a crazy set of sheep also running around on school grounds JUST TO MAKE THINGS HARDER!

These books are an awful lot of fun with there being mishaps and adventures all around. With the brilliant setting that is a school for criminals, it’s hard not to fall for this series of books. There’s funny characters, incredibly well thought-out plot twists and lots and lots of laughter to be had. This book, like the previous two, are sure to get kids laughing and gripped to the book. (I know I found it hard at times to put down!)

This is a series which builds really nicely as you get to know the characters really well and we all know that once you’re invested in characters, you’re sure to want to keep reading. If I were just new to this series, I would be sure to hunt out book 1! There’s plenty of intrigue and joy to be had in this series and there’s some pretty unique characters, settings and plot twists to be had: perfect for those kids who love something with a bit of dark humour.

Massive thank you to the publishers, Zuntold, for sending me a review copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. Why not check out the rest of the blog tour to see what others thought? 

GS3 blog tour

S x

BOOK BLOG: Susan Verde

I Am Love: a wonderful book exploring kindness, compassion and empathy

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“Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds continue their collaboration with the fourth book in their bestselling wellness series. A celebration of love in all its forms, I Am Love asks readers to look inward when they feel afraid. Love allows us to act with compassion and kindness, to live with gratitude, and to take care of ourselves by practicing self-love.”

I am a massive fan of using picture books in the classroom, regardless of the age of the children because I think picture books can be the key to opening children up to experiences they might not necessarily have. They can quickly grab a child’s attention and, in the space of only a few pages, teach children a whole range of things. 

One of the things that I think picture books do wonderfully is teach children the importance of empathy. It’s so important that we show children the importance of empathy and being able to use their emotions for good. So much goes on in the world today that we need to give our children the tools to show love, kindness, compassion. I am Love is a wonderful picture book that does just that. 

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It’s a very simple story about ways in which we can show people compassion and love, through very simple acts of kindness. With Peter H Reynolds’ striking illustrations and an incredibly powerful message about ways in which we can show love, this book captured my heart completely and utterly. 

This book would go PERFECTLY in a PSHE lesson about being kind and could work from EYFS all the way up. I’d love to get my children to make their own version of this thinking of ways in which we can show love and compassion to the people around us. 

I am a massive fan of the pairing of Susan Verde and Peter H Reynolds, who have combined forces to write a series of books like this. I would whole heartedly recommend these books.

i am series

A massive thank you to Abrams and Chronicle for sending me a copy for review! You guys are the best! 

Have you read any of the books in this series?
What are your go-to books for teaching about empathy?
What would you like to see from this series next?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments or on twitter, I love this series so much, I’d love to talk about it!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Bad Luck Lighthouse

Hello!

Today is an exciting day! Today I am hosting the lovely author of The Bad Luck Lighthouse, Nicki Thornton, as part of The Bad Luck Lighthouse blog tour! Nicki is here to talk to us all about where she writes and her writing process. I absolutely loved this blog post and am so lucky to get to host it! Massive thank you to Nicki!

Where I write

I admit I suffer badly from Writing Shed Envy.

All those shared pictures of beautiful inspirational places; seeing the small hut where Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman or Roald Dahl have written their endlessly brilliant stories.

It’s easy to feel you are doing it wrong if you don’t have a special place to write.

My walk to work is not a few minutes’ stroll to the bottom of a beautiful garden. From a writing point of view, the most important bit of my very small and ugly garden is my attack hedge – a vastly overgrown thing that does get pruned quite viciously every time the writing is not going well.

I actually even suffer from desk envy. I write mostly on a laptop that moves with me like a little pet, generally to wherever is warmest in the house in winter (usually the top of the house, with views of clouds), or coolest in summer (in the kitchen, where I have views of birds).

My laptop started falling apart and very few of the keys retain visible letters. My other half told me it was a bit like watching the end of the Terminator where all that is left is an eye. So I did get a new one. But that has a few extremely annoying features, so I haven’t completely given up on the old and I’m still very fond of my battered laptop.

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But I am equally happy scribbling into a notepad. All I seem to really need is quite unbelievably regular cups of tea.

I think part of the trick with writing is just to find a way of working that suits you. And everyone you talk to will do it differently, so there isn’t really a right way. I interviewed Frank Cottrell Boyce once, and he likes to write perched halfway up the stairs, because his house was in a permanent state of chaos.

But I find it’s less about where I write and more about habit, because I think it’s something you get better at slowly and with lots of practice, like playing tennis, or the piano. Like any long-term creative task, progress is better judged in years.

So my habit is to write five hundred words, or edit five pages a day, five days a week. And that is pretty achievable. It suits me because I’ve always been able to fit it in between all my other commitments of work and family.

Although I think it’s also probably true that I am also hardly ever not writing. My mind just slides into making things up when I am unloading the dishwasher. I can’t seem to help that.

And as long as I manage to get some words on the page every day, at the end of a month, a year, it’s surprising how much you find yourself able to look back and think that, yes, you have done quite a lot.

THE BAD LUCK LIGHTHOUSE – sequel to Nicki’s bestselling debut THE LAST CHANCE HOTEL – is out now, priced £6.99. Connect with Nicki on Twitter: @nicki_thornton.

Massive thank you to the publishers Chicken House for inviting me to be part of the blog tour and to Nicki for taking the time to write this insightful blog post for me!

Remember to check out the rest of the blog tour – it promises to be full of fun! And follow Nicki on twitter!

Bad Luck Lighthouse blog tour banner

S x