BOOK BLOG: Susan Verde

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

img_0112

“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. 

img_0111

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 

July in books

Hi friends!

How are you? Sorry for the random hiatus… last week just got ahead of me and then I was away for YALC (post to come in the next week or so about that!) and now here we are. 

I’m here today to share my July in books! 

In July, I:

Finished my NQT year!
Broke up for the Summer holidays.
Enjoyed a lot of sunshine.
Watched a load of Terrell videos.
Cried a bit.
Was exhausted for a lot of the time.
Read 10 books.

Let’s start with YA books (cause there’s more of them!):

july 2019 books ya

There’s a whole range of books here that could appeal to ALL OF THE PEOPLE. Whether you want a twisted, dark Disney World esque story (The Kingdom), a wonderfully moving story about the power of friendships and mental health (All The Things We Never Said), a boarding school who did it story (Dead Popular) or a Beauty and the Beast retelling (A Curse So Dark and Lonely), there’s something in this pile for you! 

Heartstream – Tom Pollock
Dead Popular – Sue Wallman
Eliza and her Monsters – Francesca Zappia
A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer
The Kingdom – Jess Rothenberg
All The Things We Never Said – Yasmin Rahman

Reviews to come for all of these!

Now to the MG:

2019 july books mg

The kids books I got round to reading this month were A DELIGHT. From books that aren’t even out yet, to books that are continuations of my favourite series, July had it all! I would recommend each and every one of these: funny, enchanting, adventure filled and exciting! 

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Spiders – Katie and Kevin Tsang
Evernight – Ross Mackenzie
Shadows of Winterspell – Amy Wilson
The Dragon in the Library – Louie Stowell

Mini reviews of these to come in the next week. I need to talk about these!

And there we have it… all the books I read in July! I’m hoping August can be a wonderfully productive reading month since it’s still the holidays! 

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 80/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 41/52

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to me!

How did you do with your reading in July? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Speak to you soon!

S x

June in books

Hello friends!

How are you?

Sorry for my quietness recently. I’ve just been feeling VERY tired. There’s been a lot going on and I’ve just needed time to get my head into those activities and get them out of the way. Now that these things are out of the way, I should be able to be blogging more regularly.

Today I’m here to share with you my June reading! As you’ll see, it was a quiet reading month!!

In June, I:

Loved the sunshine!
Felt a bit like I was struggling to stay afloat, but I managed.
GOT MY REPORTS FINISHED.
Took my kids on residential and it was lovely.
Started getting things prepared for YALC.

Read 4 books.

So let’s get started with kids books!

Matt Haig – Evie and the Animals
Emma Read – Milton the Mighty

It seems June me went for an animal themed kids book reading theme. Loved both of these books a lot. Matt Haig is one of my utter go-to authors and he smashes it out of the park every time. Milton the Mighty actually made me a little less afraid of spiders! Would recommend both of these books!

Now my 2 YA books!

Lisa Williamson – The Art of Being Normal
Adam Silvera – They Both Die at the End

I read both of these books in one day and let me tell you friends, that is NOT a wise idea. I CRIED SO HARD ALL DAY. If you’ve not read these books, please do. PLEASE. They are both ABSOLUTELY magnificent. I just want to hug all of these characters.

And there we have it… all the books I read in June! I’m hoping July can be a more productive reading month, but sometimes you’ve just gotta let your brain do what it needs to.

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 70/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 37/52

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to me!

How did you do with your reading in June? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Speak to you soon!

S x

BLOG TOUR: A Planet Full of Plastics

Today, I come to you sharing ‘A Planet Full of Plastics’ by Neal Layton. I was invited to be on the blog tour and I was thrilled as this is something we have been thinking about this year in school and my class and I did a whole unit of work around plastic pollution in the seas.

A Planet Full of Plastic is a wonderful picture book and is perfect for
readers who love nature and want to help the environment.

Everything is made of stuff. Some things are made of paper, like this book. And some things are made of PLASTIC. If you look around you, plastic is everywhere. Even in places where it’s not meant to be. If it drops to the ground, it doesn’t rot away – it sticks around for ever.

Our world is drowning in plastic, and it’s a big problem. Award-winning author-illustrator Neal Layton is here to explain where plastic comes from, why it doesn’t biodegrade, and why that’s dangerous for animals and humans alike. But he’s also FULL of ideas for how you can help! From giving up straws in juice cartons to recycling all we can and taking part in a beach clean, A Planet Full of Plastic will get young readers excited about how they can make a difference to keep Planet Earth happy.

I know a lot of schools who are taking plastic and recycling very seriously, and with a very quick browse of the internet, there are some wonderful and inventive ways to reuse plastic in an art lesson. Some schools take an even wider scape and use plastic as an art tool to create a whole school display.

None of the following images are my own: I am in awe of these creations and credit goes to the original creators (I wish I had the origin of all of these pictures, but I just have them saved in my ‘inspiration bank’ for lessons)

There are some amazing displays from teachers on Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram and some of them are pure envy. There are so many ways we can recycle and reuse plastic/other materials in the classroom. We all love a bit of junk modelling and it’s important to talk to children about the importance of recycling and reusing materials so they don’t end up polluting our lands and seas.

I can’t wait to use this book and some of these amazing ideas with my class next year to create some recycled art ourselves!

Massive thank you to Hachette Kids for inviting me to be in this blog tour!

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!

Plastics Blog Tour (3)

S x

May in books

Hi friends!

Sorry I’ve been a bit sporadic posting the past few weeks… it’s been half term and to be honest I’ve just beenb enjoying being off. Normal service will resume from now: I promise!

Today I’m here to wrap up my May reading! 

In May, I:

Spent some time on half term enjoying books.
Loved the sunshine!
Had a few wobbles, but kept on my feet.
Finally started getting excited for YALC.
Started running.
Spent time on the beach with my class.
Started a mystery book in the classroom and my kids are LOVING it. 
Read 10 books.

So let’s get started!

Let’s start with YA because that’s the smaller of the two!

In May, I read 4 YA books!

2019 may ya

Some absolute bangers this month. Watch of for reviews of all of them in the coming weeks. Man, I do love a good mix of books!

The Deathless Girls – Kiran Milwood Hargrave
Shadowscent – P.M.Freestone
Alex in Wonderland – Simon James Green
The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

Now to the MG books!

2019 may mg

This collection of kids books sees some of my favourite kinds of books. I can’t wait to share my reviews of these in the coming months! Massive massive shout outs for Jemima Small, Can You See Me and And Then I Turned Into A Mermaid: brilliant female voices and ALL so different.

Can You See Me – Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
The Good Thieves – Katherine Rundell
Jemima Small Versus the Universe – Tamsin Winter
And Then I Turned Into A Mermaid – Laura Kirkpatrick
Not My Fault – Cath Howe
The Unexpected Find – Toby Ibbotson

And there we have it… all the books I read in May!

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 65/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 35/52

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to me!

How did you do with your reading in May? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
Do you agree with any of my faves from May?

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

See you soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Brave Molly

Brave Molly: a gorgeous wordless picture book dealing with facing your fears

img_5902

“What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. Until finally…Molly faces her fears.”

As a teacher who is working in a world where Mental Health is rightfully a conversation that is had more openly than ever before, I am always after stories that I can use as conversation openers. Whether my children relate exactly or not, books are portals to conversations and feelings that can be so so essential to talk about. Brave Molly is yet another book in my library that I think helps to open up that conversation so beautifully. 

When I first opened Brave Molly, I was surprised by the lack of words (we all know I love a wordless picture book) but it is that exact lack of words that makes this book so powerful and so brilliant. When we’re struggling with whatever is coming our way, it’s usually our words that go first. Our emotions stay, our lives have to go on, but we struggle to talk or to give words to the things that is going on. Being a wordless picture book gives this such power and useability (is that even a word?). This book could be used with children from a young age to secondary aged children. 

The story tells of Molly who is at her happiest when she’s indoors: she’s creative, artistic and loves to read. However, as we all know, you can’t spend all of your time inside: the outside world beckons lovingly (but terrifyingly for some people). She’s afraid. Her fear monsters follow her whenever she leaves and goes into the world. Her fear monsters loom in the background like shadows: we can never really get away from our fears, they’re always there… we just have to learn to live with them. Molly’s monsters manage to ruin many a situation she is put in. 

One of my favourite images in the book is when Molly shows that she is in fact a very brave little girl. We ALL fear things. We all struggle with things. Squaring up to them and saying, “You have no power over me” is TERRIFYING, but with the help of our friends and our own selves, we can do it. 

img_5907

I really love this. It ticks so many boxes for me. With beautiful illustrations, a powerful message and a good story, this book is one that I can’t wait to use with the children I work with. It’s going to end up being one I use over and over. (If you’re after something along the same vein, Ruby’s Worry is similar, but not entirely the same).

A massive thank you to the publisher, Abrams and Chronicle for sending me this book. You guys are awesome!

S x

 

BLOG TOUR: Boot

Boot: a fun and friendly story all about finding yourself!

43706076

“When toy robot, Boot, wakes up at a scrapyard, it has no idea how it got there and why it isn’t with its owner, Beth. Boot is scared but tries to be brave, which is hard when its screen keeps showing a wobbly, worried face. Luckily Boot meets Noke and Red – other ‘advanced’ robots who have learned to survive in secret. With its new friends by its side, Boot is determined to find Beth and the gang set off on a dangerous adventure.”

Very occasionally a book comes along that makes you just SMILE and feel buoyed up by things in life. This book is 100% one of those books. 

Boot tells the story of a robot, who lives in a world where his kind have been replaced by newer, fancier and more up to date models. Boot wakes up in a scrapyard and is very confused. It only has two and a half glitchy memories which don’t really help it to find out where it is, who it is or where it should be. These memories tell it that it was once loved, which means something important to humans. Through these memories, you see that it has once lived a happy life with its human, Beth. It knows instantly that it needs to get back to Beth, but getting out of the scrapyard and across the city with only a glitchy memory and no help is harder than it seems. 

Boot manages to find friends who will help him along the world. Early on in his adventure, Boot realised that it is different. Boot feels emotions and thinks differently to other robots – other robots who just function and don’t think. This makes Boot feel alone, until it meets other robots, and other friends, who are just like Boot is.  

I really loved this story. It was one of those stories that made me smile. It reminded me of the power of friendship, adventure and not giving in, even when things get tough. Boot goes through the story from a very scared and lonely robot, to someone who finds his friends, his family and his purpose: you’ve got to be brave and a special robotto find these things. You can’t beat a good story that will make you laugh, make you feel good about the world and make you appreciate your friends! 

As well as having a gorgeous story, this book has some stellar illustrations. They are SO SO LUSH. I’m a BIG fan of an illustrated book, so Boot ticks off so many boxes for me! 

This book would sit beautifully from Year 2/3 up. It’s a slightly longer chapter book, but it’s such fun.

My Goodreads review reads:

This is fun, friendship and finding yourself. I loved Boot and his bunch of merry robot friends! Imagine waking up one day with only 3 memories and a sense that you need to get home! Boot needs to find his way back to Beth and to himself. I chuckled a lot at this!

Boot was quickly picked up by a few of the children in school and they ADORED it:

“This is a really fun story. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have only a few memories, but Boot shows that you can do anything you put your mind to”

“Stories about robots are funny because they’re not real humans, but Boot is like a human. I’d love to be his friend”

“I loved this story because it was like seeing the future through the eyes of someone really fun and really brave. I would love to be brave like Boot”

Massive massive thank you to the publishers, Hachette Children’s, for sending me a review copy and inviting me onto the blog tour! This book is Boot-iful! Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! 

Boot Blog Tour2

S x 

April in books

Hello!

As if April is over already… this Summer is very quickly approaching and it’s INSANE! Anyway, you’re here because you’re nebby and wanna know what I read in April? I know… me too! I LOVE seeing what other people have been reading! April was quite a brilliant reading month for me tbh! Let’s get on with it!

In April, I:

Spent many morning having breakfast in Quilliams
Got to spend time with some of my favourite humans in the world
Had a few ups and downs
Loved MG books
Had a lot of fun in the sunshine
Ate satsumas again for the first time this year (I love satsumas ok?)
Spent a lot of time laughing
Found my working out mojo again (not massively so… but at least it’s back!)
Spent a lot of time crying at books
Read 20 books (I KNOW RIGHT!)

TWENTY BOOKS THO? How bloody bonkers.

I had better start with MG books, because that takes up the majority of my reading over the month!

2019 april mg

JUST LOOK AT THAT COLLECTION OF KIDS BOOKS!

I am very lucky that I’ve been sent some proofs, sent some finished copies and bought some myself. Most of these have made their way into my classroom now and are being devoured by my children. I enjoyed all of these books… you really couldn’t go wrong reading any of them. There’s something for everyone here: magic, history, science, folk tales, detectives, mystery, funny and adventure. Seriously: get on these books!

Some stand out books from this month:
The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson (out in September);
The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum;
Malamander by Thomas Taylor;
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby (out in August)
High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson. 

Not only did I manage to read a FAIR FEW MG books, but I also read a canny few YA books too! I know… look at me! (Thank half term for all of this reading!)

2019 april ya

I feel very very blessed to be able to read some of these books. Again, I had bought some, were sent some by publishers and some friends shared others. Just like my MG books, there’s something for everyone in this pile.
Love pirates? Get on Viper.
Want a brilliant feminist tale with a massive dollop of history? Pick up The Burning.
Looking for something a bit more mystery? The Truth About Keeping Secrets is your book.
Want something to look forward to later in the year? The Places I’ve Cried in Public is your gal. 

My stand out YA books this month:
No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (not out til August);
Viper by Bex Hogan;
The Fandom Rising by Anna Day (book 2 in The Fandom: out tomorrow!)

GUYS. SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENED IN APRIL.
I read an ADULTS book. I know. I don’t know who I think I am. You can blame Melinda Salisbury for this. She never shuts up about it, so I KNEW I needed to read it. 

Circe

Of course I read Circe. Of course. Of course I loved it. 

Who knows… it might become a thing in my life. But don’t worry, I won’t give up reading MG and YA books. They are  very much my jam.

How am I doing for my book challenges?

Goodreads challenge: 54/52
#52books challenge (just kids books): 24/52

In reality those numbers are higher cause I don’t track non-fiction and picture books… but I’m going to post a picture book something or other in the coming weeks – so keep your eyes peeled for that!

How did you do with your reading in April? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
Do you agree with any of my faves from April?

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Let me know! Lets talk books! 

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Sarah Roberts

Somebody Swallowed Stanley: a beautiful story to teach children about the importance of looking after our oceans!

img_5592

“Say hello to Stanley! He’s swimming around in the sea, but he’s no ordinary jellyfish. Most jellyfish have dangly-gangly tentacles, but Stanley has two handles. Other jellyfish have a magical pearly glow, but Stanley has colourful stripes. Lots of hungry fish in the sea are looking for lunch, and all of them have a taste for Stanley. But plastic bags don’t belong in the sea – or in other creatures’ tummies…”

I’m gutted that I’ve only just found this book now because I’ve done my plastic pollution topic in my class this year! But next year… next year! 

img_5597

Somebody Swallowed Stanley is a brilliant picture book telling about the tale of Stanley – a jellyfish unlike other jellyfish, because he is a plastic bag – and what happens to him when creatures of the sea try to eat him. Some manage to spit him back out, but one of the creatures isn’t so lucky, until a brilliant young man comes along and saves the day. 

There’s some incredible messages in this book about the importance of being kind to the environment and recycling. Stanley is recycled at the end of the book to be a kite and this would be a great thing to get children thinking about what we can do with our plastics once we’re finished with them, so that they don’t end up in the sea!

One of the lovely things about this book is the riddle type verses that describe the animals which eat Stanley. This would be a great thing to use with children to get them to come up with their own riddles about animals under the sea! This could be an activity you do with children from as young as KS1 all the way to Upper KS2. 

img_5593

I love this book and it will be a firm fave that I bring out every year when we talk about plastic pollution. I don’t think picture books should be reserved for only EYFS and KS1 – my Year 5s this year have LOVED being read picture books! 

What are your favourite picture books to use around this issue?
What activities do you do to raise awareness of plastic pollution?
Are you any good at writing riddles?

Talk to me. I wanna know what activities and stories you use to teach kids about the importance of lookinga fter our world!

S x 

 

Ollie’s Magic Bunny Blog Tour

Happy Tuesday!

Today I have the utter joy of hosting author Nicola Killen and we’re getting a tour around her studio. I’m really nebby so I absolutely adored reading this post when it dropped into my inbox! 

Ollie blog tour

—–

Hello and welcome to my studio tour!  This is the place where I worked on the story and illustrations for Ollie’s Magic Bunny.  

bty

I share a space with two other artists – it’s a converted garage on the side of a photographer’s studio.  The door to the studio is very grey and boring so it’s hard to imagine what’s inside!

bdr

Tada! Here’s my workspace. I’m quite embarassed to be showing you round when it’s SO messy.  I’m always untidy, but when I’m in the middle of working on a new book (like I am now), it gets even worse!  As you can probably see, I’ve got two desks: one for sitting at my computer, and one for standing at when I draw and paint.

bty

On my computer desk I have an iMac, and I use a wacom tablet with it.  I also have a very comfy chair and most importantly, there’s a heater next to my desk!  As it used to be a garage, the studio can get very cold at times. I always have lots of lists of things to do on my desk – I like to be able to tick things off!  

bdr

I usually stand up when I’m painting or drawing.  I have a drawing board in the middle of the desk, which is hidden by my lightbox at the moment.  There’s an A3 scanner tucked underneath this desk, as well as sketches, boxes of books and some portfolios too.  I used to have lots more postcards and pictures up on the wall, but they keep falling down and it’s very hard to reach to put them back up!  You may also have noticed my Studio Stegasaurus which lives on this desk – it roars when you squeeze it. I’ve had the anglepoise lamp since I was at school so it’s lasted a long time!

bty

This is all the brushes, dip pens and inks which I’m using for the book I’m working on.  

bdr

Then, squeezed into the corner, is my bookcase.  It’s got lots of my books in it, as well as reference, sketchbooks, paperwork and some of my childhood favourites too!

bdr

I’m not sure I should show you this photo! When I opened the cupboard, I was worried that everything was going to fall out . . . It’s chock full of materials, inks and paper. Tidying it is on my lists of things to do!

bty

That’s all of my space, but we also share an area just inside the door where there’s a big plan chest with a very useful cutting mat on top.  I store a lot of my artwork and paper in the drawers here. I’m preparing some Ollie’s Magic Bunny themed activities today so have been using the cutting mat – but I will need to clear it up later in case anyone else wants to use it!

Thank you for letting me show you around my studio space – I hope you’ve enjoyed having a look around and sorry about the mess!

——

I hope you guys enjoyed that as much as I did! It’s fascinating to see where people work and their process! I’d love to snoop in everyone’s workspaces! Check out my review of Ollie’s Magic Bunny here: BOOK BLOG: Nicola Killen

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! 

S x