BOOK BLOG: Abi Elphinstone

Jungledrop: exciting, filled with heart and adventure!

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“Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember. Only one of them will inherit the family fortune and so a race is afoot to save the dwindling Petty-Squabble empire and win the love of their parents. But when the twins are whisked off to Jungledrop, a magical Unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world’s weather, things get wildly out of hand. An evil harpy called Morg is on the loose. And if she finds the long-lost Forever Fern before the twins, both Jungledrop and our world will crumble. Suddenly, Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples. But, with the fate of two worlds in their hands, will the twins be able to work together for once to defeat Morg and her dark magic?”

Jungledrop is the second book (technically third) in Abi Elphinstone’s incredible Unmapped Chronicles series (Rumblestar being the other novel length one and Everdark being the other one – a World Book Day book!). This series gives me SO MUCH JOY. 

When the amazing humans at Simon and Schuster emailed me asking if I wanted a proof copy, I couldn’t refuse. I am a massive massive fan of Abi’s writing. She writes such incredible stories which are always adventure filled and magnificence that I needed to get my hands on it (plus, my Year 6’s would have lynched me if I had turned it down… they are also massive fans!) 

eq0otw6waaeqkceJust look at this proof man… HOW SHINY AND GORGEOUS. 

Jungledrop tells the tale of the two obnoxious and rude twins (Fox and Fibber) who have an awful lot to learn about themselves and about the world. They’re not the kindest or friendliest protagonists to start with and when they begin their quest to save their world and the Unmapped Kingdoms, you find that in fact, they’re going to have to grow and change to get through it. They have to learn to be kind, to show humility and be brave. They are of course on the quest to save the world from Morg (cruel, mean Morg, who is set on taking over the Unmapped Kingdom with her dark heart). 

This book is a total adventure with an awful lot of heart. Abi Elphinstone writes new worlds and new characters with such brilliance that is hard not to fall in love with the stories straight away. It’s rich in language, setting, characters and messages. 

One of the things that always stands out to me about Abi Elphinstone books is the messages that are delivered through brilliant storytelling. This one delivers a gorgeous message about the importance of being kind and being brave. Bravery comes in all forms in this book. It comes from small acts of kindness and massive acts of a heroic nature. The twins learn a lot about how unkind they can be and how kindness can actually help them to learn about themselves and each other. 

This book is so jam packed with wonderful characters. New and old.

The twins are not very likeable at first: they’re mean, selfish, obnoxious and just plain spiteful. They’re very self-obsessed. They’re not very compassionate. They’re not kind to each other. But when they realise they need each other and they need to be vulnerable and trust other people, they really start to change. They’re devious and conniving at times. You definitely warm up to them in the end though. 

Of course, mean, power-hungry Morg is back and she’s up to her old funny business again. Trying to destroy the world of Jungledrop. Trying to capture the people. Trying to grow stronger after the happenings of Rumblestar. As much as she terrifies me, it was great to be back with her. She’s one of those deliciously evil characters (a bit like Maleficent).

In the lands of Jungledrop, the twins meet a wonderful array of characters. When they end up in their adventure, they are accompanied by Heckle the parrot. He’s very aptly named and he definitely kept the laughs coming. He sticks around despite all rebuffs from the twins (Fox in particular is mean). In these magical lands, the twins come across many other magical animals who lend a hand, even though the twins try and avoid this happening (they’ve been brought up to be hardy and get on themselves!).

There’s another familiar face that appears in this book that made my heart so happy. I loved seeing them again. I’m glad they reappeared. 

My Goodreads review:

Blooming magnificent. A book, like all of Abi’s others, filled with adventure and heart. You can’t read one of her books and not be swept away with the lives of her characters, the depth and richness of her worlds and the brilliance of her baddies. I loved the twins and the journey they go on: kindness really is the bravest thing in the world. As much as Morg terrifies me, it was great to be back with her dastardly ways. And Heckle is a brilliant character (with a perfect name!) bloody bravo Abi Elphinstone!! 

And that’s it! If you like the sound of this, why don’t you consider preordering it?

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

A massive thank you to the gorgeous Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of Jungledrop – it’s in the possession of one of my Year 6s as we speak! They’re planning to send it around each other! Speak to you all soon! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

Hello!

Now… for those of you who are new around here, there is an important message I need you to take from today:

I am a MASSIVE Matt Haig fan.

I think he writes BRILLIANTLY. He’s one of the few authors who I read ANYTHING they release (non fiction, adult, MG). In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve read ALL of his books… I may even OWN them all (if not all of them, MOST of them!) I’ve reviewed quite a few of his books on here, but I recently read Evie in the Jungle (the Worls Book Day 2020 book by him) and thought this was the opportune moment to FINALLY review Evie and the Animals and Evie and the Jungle!

Evie and the Animals: a great story about the importance of kindness

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“Ten-year-old Evie has a talent. A SUPERTALENT. Evie can TALK to animals and HEAR their thoughts. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? One day at school, Evie sets Kahlo the rabbit free from her too-small cage. Evie knows she’s done A Good Thing . . . but it lands her in BIG trouble. Evie’s dad and Granny Flora say her talent is a curse; she must never use it again. Until a year later pets on her street – including Lady Gaga the cat and a hamster named Cheryl – start disappearing. Evie is determined to find them. But it’s dangerous for her to help. Because the villain has a talent of their own, and only wants to use it for evil… Can Evie save the pets before it’s too late, even if it means DARING TO BE HERSELF?”

Evie and the Animals is a gorgeous story where Dr. Dolittle meets modern day issues to do with conservationism and activism! 

Evie has a special talent: she can understand other species. She can talk to them and she can hear what they are saying. Whether it’s the dogs of the neighbourhood, the school rabbit who wants to be set free or even scarier animals, Evie can hear them and talk to them. For so long she’s been ignoring them because she doesn’t want to be different (don’t we all worry about this!?), but when they start to go missing, Evie knows she needs to do about something about it. She knows she needs to use her power to try and help. 

This book has one of those brilliant things that kids are instantly hooked into. It’s exciting and enticing – who wouldn’t like to talk to animals?! We’ve had loads of chats about what animals the children would talk to if they had Evie’s powers (with answers ranging from tigers, to worms and pets, it’s been a topic of hot debate in the classroom!)

This book is full of elements that kept me wanting to read. There’s mystery, talking animals, scary moments (scary big cats at the zoo), bad guys and powers.

Evie is a brilliant main character. She’s full of heart and gusto. She’s got a brilliant message to deliver to children about being kind and the power behind those acts of kindness. She’s caring and gentle to both the people around her and the animals she encounters. Plus, she’s on her way to solving a mystery! 

My Goodreads review of Evie and the Animals:

A lovely story about the importance of being kind (to humans AND animals), being yourself (even when everyone tells you not to be) and looking after the world. I bloody love Matt Haig SO much.

Evie and the Jungle: a new adventure into the Amazon!

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“Twelve-year-old Evie has a talent. She can HEAR what animals are thinking and she can TALK to them with her mind. When Evie goes on a trip to the Amazon rainforest, her powers are put to the test. She makes friends with pink river dolphins, must save an injured sloth, and discovers the secret life of a jaguar. Soon she sees that the jungle is in serious and deadly danger, and comes up with a rather risky plan to help save it…”

Evie in the Jungle is a wonderful addition to the Evie family of books. She’s a brilliant protagonist that children might know from the first book, but I don’t think you NEED to know her as this book stands by itself if necessary.

This second adventure takes us on a fascinating (and sometimes a little bit scary!) trip all the way to the Amazon Rainforest, where we hear about Evie’s adventures in Peru with her dad. Evie and her dad have the chance to meet all kinds of incredibly exotic animals, including an adorable sloth, some very rude monkeys and a downright rude Scarlet Macaw. They go to help save so many of these animals who are affected by the destruction of the rainforest. 

One of the things I loved about this book is that there are so many facts jam packed into it that it appeals to my wonderfully science loving class! I learned that pink dolphins exist (no, I didn’t know that!) There’s some pretty shocking facts to be learned in this book too: humans are destroying enough rainforest to fill 30 football pitches every minute; 35 species of the Amazon Rainforest become extinct every day.

This book is an exciting and fun story, with lots of very important messages about looking after our planet, being kind to each other and the importance of doing good things. It’s got wonderful messages about compassion and honesty too. It’s a perfect length for new readers without being intimidating! 

My Goodreads review:

I really enjoyed this short story about Evie, the girl who can talk to animals. It’s got important messages about saving the rainforests, the importance of nature and kindness. 

And that’s it! Completely and utterly recommend these books (and the rest of Matt Haig’s catalogue of books too, if you’re after some recommendations!)

Have you read any of Matt Haig’s books?
Can you recommend me any more books with similar messages?

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Emma Carroll

The Ghost Garden: Historical fiction done splendidly

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“SUMMER 1914. When Fran unearths a bone in the garden of Longbarrow House on the same afternoon that Leo breaks his leg, it must surely be just a coincidence. But Fran can’t shake the uneasy feeling that the events are somehow connected, and there is a shift in the atmosphere that leaves her troubled and anxious. Roped into keeping wheelchair-bound Leo company, Fran is forced to listen to his foolish theories about the looming threat of war in Europe. But as the pair start to uncover more secrets buried beneath the garden, they dredge up threatening shadows of the future, and Fran begins to fear that Leo’s dire predictions might be coming true…”

The brilliant squirrels over at Barrington Stoke sent me one of their brand new titles and I couldn’t have been more over-joyed to receive it. They have collaborated with Emma Caroll (Queen of all things historical fiction) and created an absolute winner!

Set at the start of World War 1, The Ghost Garden tells the story of Fran: a young girl whose family works at Longbarrow House. She ends up digging up a bone in the garden of the house and then something happens to one of the grand-children of the rich family. She worries that these things are connected (she’s not the biggest fan of Leo and his siblings) and is concerned that there is more to it than just coincidence. She ends up being roped into looking after Leo as he is wheelchair bound and his siblings don’t look after him well. As they spend more time together and go deeper into some well-kept secrets, they discover there’s more to Longbarrow House than they first knew!

I absolutely adored this story. It was one that I picked up and then gobbled up in a very short space of time! Something that I love about Barrington Stoke books is just that: they’re readable and brilliant. Their books are perfect for reluctant readers… and this is one that I would recommend whole heartedly!

Throughout the story, there’s an over riding sense of bad omens and a lot of tension is built up in very subtle but effective ways. I can see a lot of children loving this book for that sense of fear and tension.

I also thought the characters were brilliant too. Fran is a great main character and I think a lot of children will like her! She’s definitely pretty brave – I don’t think you’d find me going on adventures through the gardens of Longbarrow House in search of secrets and history! 

My Goodreads review

This is great! Properly classic Emma Carroll: historical fiction done well. I loved the apparent bad omens and tension throughout. Fran is a great main character. I’d love to visit Longbarrow House. Although I definitely would be as brave as Fran was!

Another massive thank you to Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this fantastic read! It’s out in July! You’re all in for a treat!

S x 

World Book Day: what’s the big fuss?

What’s the big fuss?

WHAT’S THE BIG FUSS?

WHAT’S THE BIG FUSS?

I’ll tell you what the big fuss is: 

Tomorrow, we have one of my favourite days of the year: World Book Day. World Book Day is a celebration of everything bookish. It’s getting people together to celebrate books. It’s a chance to read new books; chat about old books; discover new favourite characters; learn new ways to listen and hear others’ stories. World Book Day is a day for us all to go YAY BOOKS and it actually mean something. It’s a day for us booknerds to be around everyone else and just to SPEW everything bookish at them. It’s a chance for teachers to celebrate being bookish teachers. It’s a chance for the world to see that books, stories, characters are important. It’s a chance for us, as a community (regardless how big that is), to just revel in the beauty of books. 

I love World Book Day. Not for the dressing up: I’m not a fan of dressing up personally. I just feel like a bit of a dick dressing up, but that’s just me. I’m not here to talk about whether schools should encourage children to dress up or not; whatever works for your community is what you should do. If there’s one thing I think schools should be doing on World Book Day, they should be celebrating books. They should be celebrating reading and stories. Picture books, novels, wordless books, non-fiction, poetry, newspapers, graphic novels: whatever it is, celebrate it. Show children that books are brilliant; show children that books can open their minds to others. Show children that books are necessary. Show children that books can teach them things that we can’t always teach them. Show children that reading is fun.

For all I’m not a fan of dreessing up, I will always try to get involved! 

(The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the little boy from Lost and Found; Stitch Head)

This year, I’m going as the Rainbow Fish.

I work in a school where World Book Day is a day of bookish fun. We start the day with a parade of our costumes and the best dressed/most creative costumes in each class get a book. Then the children are put into mixed groups (Nursery-Y2 and Y3-Y6) and they take part in a carousel of activities for the entire day (KS2) or the afternoon (EYFS/KS1) which celebrate the joyousness of books. 

In previous years, we’ve had book quizzes, French story time, a reading cafe, bookmark creating, books and music, trailer making for their favourite books, sandwich creating for the Tiger Who Came To Tea and so many other different activities. 

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This year, I’m doing poetry with KS2. I’m going to read A Little Bit Brave (which is a gorgeous picture book if you’ve not read it!) and get them to come up with a poem about what it means to be brave. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. We have planned for every class to go down to Waterstones to spend their token on the £1 books (I did this last year with my class and it was one of my favourite days of the year!) We’re actually having a reading MONTH in my school this year… which obviously delights me! 

However you choose to celebrate World Book Day, whatever your opinion is of dressing up, remember to share your favourite books with the people around you. Tell your favourite author/illustrator you think their books are great. Whether you’re in an office, or lucky enough to share the day with kids like me, talk to people about books: your favourites, the ones you didn’t like, the ones you just read, what you’re excited to read. Let’s get the world sharing stories! 

I am team World Book Day is great. I’d love it if you were too! 

Tell me all about how you plan on spending tomorrow! 

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Kirsty Applebaum

Troofriend: a little bit creepy, a little bit scary, but SUCH a good story!

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“Imagine having the perfect friend, one who never steals, lies or bullies. Now you can, with the TrooFriend 560, the latest in artificial intelligence! What can go wrong with a robot buddy? Especially one that’s developing human characteristics and feelings, and who has just run away with her human?”

I AM A TROOFRIEND.
I DO NOT BULLY. I DO NOT HARM. I DO NOT LIE. I DO NOT COVET OR STEAL OR ENVY.
I AM YOUR PERFECT FRIEND. YOUR ONE TROOFRIEND.

Troofriend is the second book from the brilliant Kirsty Applebaum, author of The Middler, which was one hell of a book. I had high hopes when I saw there was a new book and I really enjoyed Troofriend. It was the perfect mix of creepy and thought provoking. 

Troofriend tells the story of a world set in the near future where parents can buy a Troofriend for their child. A Troofriend is the “perfect friend” for their children. They don’t bully, harm, lie, covet, steal or envy. What could go wrong? Sarah is a young girl whose parents do just that: they buy her a Troofriend because they’re very busy and she wants a puppy. When things start going wrong with other Troofriend Mark IVs like Ivy (Sarah’s Troofriend), we see an exploration of what it means to be human, what it means to be friends and some interesting talking points about robots! 

I really enjoyed this book. The story is told from Ivy’s point of view and I found that really endearing. You got to see into the world of the robot. You got to watch as Ivy changed and became something different to what you’re originally led to believe. Sarah isn’t convinced about Ivy to start with – she has Ivy turned off a lot of the time at the beginning, but as she starts to warm to Ivy, things start to change. Sarah wants to use Ivy to show off to her friends at ‘Bring Your Tech To School Day’.

I loved the ending. I thought it was very touching!

I read this book with a very ominous, tense feeling throughout. It was sold to me as Black Mirror for children and I can totally see it! There was always a feeling that something was going to go HORRIBLE wrong with the robots. This is the kind of book that I can see kids absolutely loving. I can’t wait to put it in the hands of some of my Year 5s and 6s.

It is going to create some real good talking points. This book lends itself to some brilliant converstaion starters/PSHE lessons about friendship, is it ever OK to lie and the future of the world with robots and AI becoming more and more prevalent. 

 My Goodreads review:

I really enjoyed this! Lots of brilliant talking points and I really loved the characters! I was tense a lot of the time. A lot of gripping reading!

Are you excited for Troofriend?
Would you want a Troofriend?
Can you recommend me any books like this?

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

Massive thank you to the publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me a proof copy of Troofriend for review! It;s sat in my classroom waiting to find a new friend after half term! 

S x 

Books and my classroom…

Why do you love books so much?

Well that’s a loaded question and a half. It’s a question my children (despite the fact I’ve taught them for 2 years now) have asked me. It’s a question my colleagues have asked me. I don’t have ONE answer for them. I don’t have one blanket answer. I probably give a different answer every single time I answer that question and that’s OK. The reason I love reading and books is deeper than just one reason.

Reading and in particular encouraging children to read for pleasure is a BIG part of my motivation and identity as a teacher. I know a lot of teachers in my twitter bubble would also say this, but I also know there are teachers who wouldn’t say this. I definitely identify as a reading teacher. A teacher who reads. My Year 5 classroom had a dedicated reading area because I think it’s important that children see that I am a reader just as much as they are. However, when I moved into my Year 6 classroom, there wasn’t a reading area as such (because for all it’s a wonderfully big classroom and I’m VERY blessed to have it there isn’t really space for book shelves), so I made one. And I very much loved it.

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Every week, there’s a new ‘Miss Elliott’s Recommended Read’ and one of my boys in particular is always the first one to take this book then return it! Yes, there are a multitude of different coloured stars to match whatever colour the covers of the books are… don’t judge me! I like things to look aesthetically pleasing haha. So far, my recommended reads have been:

  • Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick
  • Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray
  • There May Be A Castle by Piers Torday
  • The Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll 
  • Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

I love leaving a book out on the recommended read spot because it gives children a starting point if they’re a bit intimidated by the selection!

READING AREA

Also in my reading corner are these two books. The brown one says ‘Miss Elliott’s Recommended Reads’ on the outside and the ‘Reading Journal’ is for them. Inside my recommended reading book is just that: my reviews of some of the books I’ve read lately. It was something I saw on twitter and then I decided to magpie. It’s great for the kids who are undecided, but trust my reading tastes! The ‘Reading Journal’ is their chance to shine and do just that: recommend books to their friends. The Reading Journal has just recently taken off as it took one or two children writing in it before they weren’t afraid to! I think it’s so important to get children talking about the books they recommend. (Letters from the Lighthouse was our whole class read last half term and I was super lucky to have 15 copies! The kids ADORED it!)

I also have these baskets which are jam packed FULL of high quality and wonderful stories. Any of the books I get sent normally end up in my classroom first and then they go into the school library for the rest of school to enjoy them – that’s adults and children alike! There’s a lot of books in these baskets that will stay in Year 6 because I either bought them or I know my kids will love them! A lot of these books have been read by multiple children and some of them are falling apart already! But that’s the sign of a well-loved book in my classroom! Some of the firm faves from these baskets include:

  • Wildspark by Vashti Hardy
  • Patina/Sunny/Ghost (not pictured because someone’s reading it) by Jason Reynolds
  • Pages and Co by Anna James
  • The Storm Keeper’s Island/The Lost Tide WQarriors by Catherine Doyle
  • High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson
  • Who Let The Gods Out series by Maz Evans

I decided to subscribe to First News this year just to give a bit of variety in my reading area and I have to say, my Year 6s are very taken by the newspaper! My Year 5s also loved them, but my Y6s are very partial to a bit of newspaper reading in our reading time! There’s never many left on the table when we are reading. There’s also this little box of postcards/bookmarks for my kids – if publishers ever send me postcards or bookmarks, they go in here for my kids to have a look at/use! We’re keen users of bookmarks and postcards as bookmarks!

And that’s it! A whistlestop tour of my reading area as it is at the minute. I’m a massive lover of books (if you hadn’t guessed) and getting my children access to new, high-quality books is so important to me. I love that being a blogger helps me to do this, but I’d do it even if I weren’t a blogger… I daren’t tell you all how much money I spend monthly on books!

Have you got a reading area in your classroom?
Is there anything else you’d like to see from my classroom?

Speak to you all soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Jennifer Killick

Crater Lake: a wonderfully scary, but fun book!

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“Who is the mysterious bloodstained man who stops their coach? Why is no one around when Lance and the rest of Year Six arrive at the brand new Crater Lake activity centre? But this is just the beginning of the school trip from hell; a fight for survival that sees five pupils band together to save their classmates from an alien fate far worse than death. But whatever happens, they must Never. Ever. Fall asleep!”

Crater Lake tells the story of young Lance and his classmates who are going on their Year 6 residential. We all know residentials are a brilliant time for teachers and kids alike to have fun and get to know each other as people, create memories and just relax for a little bit. Lance and his friends all hope that Crater Lake is going to be that residential for them. They’re excited. When things start going a bit awry on the bus to their residential place, Lance and his friends start worrying that maybe it won’t be this wonderful thing they’ve built themselves up for.  

On their drive up to their residential location, the bus is met by a bloody man who looks a bit like a zombie which makes Lance and his friends start to worry. The teachers seem to be not too bothered by it. They carry on their journey despite worries, but when they get to Crater Lake nothing quite seems right. There’s not many staff, it’s boiling hot and the meals aren’t even worth looking at never mind eating. Add this to the fact there doesn’t seem to be much to do: none of the typical residential type activities and you’ve got a very confused Lance. When bedtime comes around, Lance and his friends stay awake, which is a good thing because a lot of their classmates QUICKLY seem to be different people. It is up to Lance and the few remaining classmates who managed to stay awake to save the day – but they MUST stay awake… not an easy feat when you’re exhausted. 

This book has quickly become a favourite in my Year 6 class. It was my ‘Recommended Read’ a few weeks ago and word of mouth has spread that this is a little bit spooky, a little bit funny and a lot brilliant, so almost half of my class have read it! We’ve had a few children even comment on the fact they hope we don’t all get possessed while on residential in the Lake District haha! There’s a wonderful balance in this book between a little bit scary, funny and a brilliant story which made me devour this book in a matter of hours. It’s not scary enough to terrify children, but it’s spooky enough to make them want to read on! It’s a brilliantly fast paced and clever book that is going to have a big fan base! I can’t wait to see if Jennifer Killick writes more books like this because this is a proper hit! I devoured it in a matter of hours and that’s a testament to the brilliant characters, plot and clever writing. 

Words from my Year 6s:

“I loved this book because it was scary but it didn’t make me too scared. Also, the characters were like me and my friends”

“We can’t go on residential like this miss. I don’t wanna go there. This book tells the story of a proper bad residential, but it was loads of fun. I’m glad that Lance and his friends talked about his secret – it’s good to have great friends like this”

“This was a good story because it shows that children can be really brave and they come up with brilliant plans – even better than teachers (haha)” 

My Goodreads review:

Brilliantly fun and paced. I don’t wanna visit Crater Lake. It’s a bit scary for my likes but if I get to go with Lance and his friends, I think I’d be ok! I’m definitely going to have dreams about wasplike humans now though!! Great MG sci fi book!

Have you read Crater Lake?
Where did you go on residentials?
Can you recommend me some other books for my Y6 class?

Talk to me in the comments! I’d love to know your thoughts and recommendations! Massive thank you to the publishers Firefly Press for sending me a review copy!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Louie Stowell

The Monster In The Lake: mermaids, magic and handsome librarians… what more could I need?

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“Kit is a wizard. The youngest wizard in the world, in fact. But her magic keeps going wrong, and all kinds of weird stuff has started happening – exploding fireballs, animals talking when they shouldn’t be, and a very strange new arrival in a nearby park. So Kit and her two best friends – along with their local librarian – set off to investigate, and to save the world… again.”

Having read Louie Stowell’s first book ‘The Dragon in the Library‘ I knew I needed to read this as soon as I spotted it in Waterstones. I won’t lie, I got SO excited when I saw it on the trolley that I had to pick it up and then I excitedly went over to talk to the booksellers about how glad I was they had copies in! 

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Monster (we’ll call it this for ease!) follows the story of Kit, a young magician who is still learning all about her magic, and the adventures she gets up to when she has to help when magic starts to go awry. It all starts when her practising of magic goes completely wrong (but others write this off as her being new to the whole thing, but she knows) and then animals start to talk. With the help of her friends, her mentor and a rather dashing mobile library magician, Kit helps to save the day! 

Just like Dragon, I thought this was such a brilliantly fun book. The plot is brilliant. Which kid doesn’t want to learn about mean mermaids, a monster who is in the wrong lake and a bunch of children who all have their own talents? This books is jam packed with some of the best characters around. Kit and her friends are a great mix. Plus, there’s a dragon that they have to keep asleep by going down to read tales to. And a magical library. 

Everything about this book appealed to me. 

Add all of these wonderful story telling things to a book which is SO BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by Davide Ortu and you’ve got a book that is as visually appealing as it is with its words. The illustrations add so much to the book that I often find myself just looking at them to learn more! 

This book is jam packed with nods to the importance of books and stories too… I mean what’s not to love?! 

This is going to be a perfect read for Year 3s. It’s got the perfect mix of illustration, plot and message to grip them! Plus its part of a series… who doesn’t love a series? (I know I can’t wait for the next book in the series… bring on September!) 

My Goodreads review:

I really enjoyed this! A lot of fun, magic and bookish references. What would you do if your magic was going awry and you were needed to save the day? I love Kit and her bunch of friends – they’re such great people. And I’m a big fan of Duncan!

S x 

p.s. Just here to say I think Duncan is wonderful *heart eyes*

 

BLOG TOUR: Respect

Respect: an informative and approachable way to teach children all about the importance of consent.

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“Your body belongs to you and you get to set your own rules, so that you may have boundaries for different people and sometimes they might change. Like when you hi-five your friends and kiss your kitten, but not the other way round! But consent doesn’t need to be confusing. From setting boundaries, to reflecting on your own behaviour and learning how to be an awesome bystander, this book will have you feeling confident, respected, and 100% in charge of yourself and your body.”

Due to changes in the curriculum and the importance of conversations around consent, it has been added to the PSHE curriculum which all schools must teach. Respect is a wonderful little book which ties in so beautifully with that: it’s child friendly, doesn’t shy away from some tough topics and deals with them with great respect (lol) and isn’t patronising at all. 

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One of the things that I loved most about this book was how it managed to bring to life some of the toughest conversations we might need to have with children around these themes. Using the incredible illustrations, children learn quickly all about these things. It’s fun, it’s playful and most importantly it’s smart: it teaches kids at their level. It’s certainly been a big hit in my Year 6 classroom with quite a few of my children picking it up and then having some tricky conversations and asking some big questions. 

For parents and teachers alike, themes like consent can be really bloody daunting, so teaching them, when appropriate, about these things is an absolute necessity. When you’re able to do it through the medium of a book which children find engaging, that’s when you’ve hit a winner. 

I really do think this book is brilliant and I think it’s an important one for parents and teachers alike to think about. Our kids are a lot more savvy and clued up than I certainly was when I was younger, so we need to equip them with the tools for the world they live in now and this book, while it couldn’t have all of the solutions, is a brilliant tool for kids to have at their disposal. 

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A massive thank you to the publishers for inviting me to be on this blog tour! This book is already a hit at school and I’d love to see more books like this available to children, parents and teachers alike. 

Can you recommend any books around these themes?

Speak to you all soon!

S x 

Fabulous non-fiction

Recently, I’ve received a few brilliant non-fiction titles in the post and I thought I would share them with you! 

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I am LOVING how gorgeous and well-thought out non fiction books are becoming. For so long they weren’t very appealing to look at, but with so many of the new titles out now, that is all changing! It’s certainly helping children to pick up more non-fiction books! 

Colossus – Colin Hynson

Have you ever wondered how the Golden Gate Bridge was built? Or how workers with basic tools created enormous monuments in ancient times? And how do you build a flying laboratory in space? This fascinating book reveals some of the greatest feats of engineering in history. From enormous bridges and tunnels that run for hundreds of miles, to towering skyscrapers and massive space stations, discover how some of Earth’s most colossal structures were made in beautifully illustrated detail. 

This book is BLOODY magnificent. It’s full of facts, gorgeous illustrations and it kept me entertained for a good while learning all about different feats of engineering around the world. Whether you’re a lover of engineering and construction or not, this is definitely one that you should get your hands on. It’s just brilliant! 

Earth Shattering Events – Robin Jacobs

We humans take our domination of the planet for granted, but sometimes nature reminds us that this is an illusion. Tectonics rip open the earth, vast waves sweep away coastal towns, magma spews from volcanoes and hurricanes lay waste to entire countries. This book explores nature at its most destructive. Clear, coherent explanations break down the science behind phenomena including hurricanes, tornadoes, avalanches, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, alongside fascinating facts about the biggest and the worst. 

This book would be PERFECT for any kind of natural disasters topic in Upper Key Stage 2. It’s SUCH  spot on book. The explanations are scientific enough to educate, but clear enough to not baffle kids. I loved looking through all of the different pages. This might be one of my favourite books I’ve received lately because I learned SO MUCH. This is perfect for a geographer in your life! It’s not only informative but it is BRILLIANTLY illustrated by Sophie Williams: the illustrations add so much to it! Just spot on!

Gut Garden – Katie Brosnan

A visual exploration of the universe that exists within our own bodies. Within our bodies hides an entire world of organisms called microbes. They boost our immune systems, digest our food, regulate our metabolism and even impact on our mental health. This book follows the digestive process from the moment the food enters our mouths to the moment waste leaves our bodies. Along the way we learn about this fascinating scientific frontier and gain an insight into the vastecosystem that exists inside us.

This is another example of a book which is PERFECT for Upper Key Stage 2. This book is JAM-PACKED full of information for children to take in, talk about and thenprobe further. I love the way this book is presented and the information is in small chunks, which is easy to digest (ha). It’s so wonderful to read something which has been so well thought out and flows so well. Kids are going to love this because it covers things that we don’t talk about so much – it’s a bit gross, but fascinating! 

Unseen Worlds – Helene Rajcak and Damien Laverdunt

Discover a hidden universe of microscopic monsters right before your eyes. Travel to locations both familiar and strange as you search for the smallest creatures on Planet Earth. You’ll never see the world the same way again! Unfold each page to reveal stunningly detailed illustrations bursting with jelly-like amoebae, predatory centipedes, ravenous mosquitoes, and more mites than you could imagine. From the murky ocean depths to your kitchen cupboard, and even inside your nose, you’ll travel to locations both familiar and strange as you search for the smallest creatures on Planet Earth.

With fold out pages and a wonderful range of facts to learn, this book is one that I personally learned a lot from. I’m not a big fan of creepy crawlies and the likes, but this can’t hurt me so I am ALL about it! It’s wonderful that you get to explore places you never get to through a book, and in this you get to see microscopic things that your eyes never could and learn about them! What can I say? I’m a big fan of learning and books like this fascinate me because this is something someone knows a lot about! 

A massive thank you to the publicists from What on Earth Books, Templar Books and Cicada Books for these incredible additions to our non-fiction collection!

S x