Archive for March, 2017

The Positive Birth Book: A New Approach to Pregnancy, Birth and the Early Weeks

Milli Hill
Work out what kind of birth you really want, and learn how to maximise your chances of getting it, in this refreshing, warm and witty guide to pregnancy, birth and the early weeks. Packed with vital and cutting-edge information on everything from building the ultimate birth plan, to your choices and rights in the birth room; from optimal cord clamping, to seeding the microbiome; from the inside track on breastfeeding, to woman-centred caesarean, The Positive Birth Book shows you how to have the best possible birth, regardless of whether you plan to have your baby in hospital, in the birth centre, at home or by elective caesarean. Find out how the environment you give birth in, your mindset and your expectations can influence the kind of birth you have, and be inspired by the voices of real women, who tell you the truth about what giving birth really feels like.
Challenging negativity and fear of childbirth, and brimming with everything you need to know about labour, birth, and the early days of parenting, The Positive Birth Book is the must-have birth book for women of the 21st century.

What are your overall thoughts?
It’s rare for Big Book Little book to feature a non-fiction book, even more so to feature a pregnancy book. For the most part, while I love to indulge my passion for all things birth, I rarely read pregnancy and parenting books, my tastes tend to be a little less mainstream-parenting handbook, more evidence based textbook. Despite my own leanings I realize that for the the number of BBLB readers who would be interested to read an entire book on the hormone oxytocin are likely to be fewer than those who are interested to hear my thoughts on the latest speculative fiction offering from Maggie Stiefvater!

However, when I heard about The Positive Birth Book, I just knew that I was going to have to make an exception, I just had to take a look to see if it lived up to its promise- a no nonsense, factual evidenced based, relatable book about birth with a positive birth slant.

It is fair to say that I started reading The Positive Birth Book with high expectations. On finishing the book I have to confess to feeling torn. On the one hand, The Positive Birth Book completley fulfilled its promise as the new birthing bible. On the other hand, I feel as though the book so successfully covers all of the essentials in the lead up to birth and the birth itself, that my job as an antenatal educator is now redundant!

Hill beautifully manages to balance a humorous and relaxed approach to birth with her informal chatty and friendly tone while managing to clearly explain and explore complex biological, scientific, political and legal issues.

Not only is The Positive Birth Book filled to the brim with evidence based information, explained in clear lay language, Hill also explores exactly where that evidence comes from and provided reliable resources for the reader to obtain further information should they wish to.

The book has a fabulous practice element, in addition to providing an excellent explanation to the well known decision making “BRAIN” mnemonic, Hill has created HEART, a wonderful concise tool to help couples who births might not be following plan A.

She strongly encourages couples to research and develop their own unique birth plans (and plan B’s and C’s…) providing different examples for illustration, and she has co created some beautiful iconography for couples to use when developing their very own visual birth plans.

One of my favorite element of this book is the fantastic use of content from experts. From obstetric consultants, midwives and lactation specialists through to the biggest experts, mothers, Hill has found birth story’s, experiences, tips and examples across the birthing spectrum and in all settings to inspire and reassure any kind of birth can be a positive birth. This liberal sprinkling of women’s lived experiences is very reminiscent of the inspirational stories in Ina May Gaskin’s 1975 Spiritual Midwifery, but with the language and sensibilities of 21st century couples.

Would you recommend this book?
This well written and well-researched book aligns so well with my professional philosophy of care and information provision as a Midwife and antenatal educator, that I am happy to recommend this book with no hesitations. In fact I have already gifted a copy to a soon to be birthing mother!

The Positive Birth Book is a wonderful resource for all pregnant women, whether they are setting out on their pregnancy journey and getting to grips with all of the birth choices before them, or have already developed a strong sense of where and how they wish their birthing experience unfold.

It would also be a valuable resource for birth workers starting out in their career and experienced even for birth workers looking for inspiration for way to effectively communicate complicated ideas.

Verdict: Spiritual midwifery for the 21st century mother

Reviewed by Caroline

*I need to take a quick moment to disclose that although I have never met the author Milli Hill personally I am aware of her work though The Positive Birth Movement (see website here), for which I am a group facilitator. It is through the Positive Birth Movement that I first became aware that Mill was working on and later publishing this book. This has no way affected my review.

Publisher: Pinter and Martin
Publication Date: March 2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 352
Genre: Non-Fiction Pregnancy, Birth
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Harper and the Night Forest

Cerrie Burnell

Total fantasy bliss! Magical birds, dark forests and fairytale cities: there’s no better book to get lost in. Harper is on a mission! Rumours tell of the mysterious Ice Raven who lives among the ebony trees, singing a magical song that can melt hardened hearts. Now the Wild Conductor wants to capture this mythical bird and create the greatest orchestra ever known. So Harper and her friends set off to find the bird. Their journey takes them from the mysterious Night Forest to the City of Singing Clocks. But soon Harper realises she faces a dilemma. Should a wild, free creature like the Ice Raven ever be tied down?

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
This book is one of those lovely, cute and entertaining reads that I absolutely wish that I had as a child. Harper and the Night Forest is the third book in the Harper series but it was by far my favourite one. Cerrie Burnell’s imagination knows no bounds and I really loved reading about Harper and her friends on their journey into the Night Forest. It was not what I was expecting and I found that to make the book even more interesting to read. I loved the fairy tale aspect and how it all came together in the end. Along with the wonderful story, came the beautiful illustrations by Laura Ellen Anderson. These really brought the story to life in a magnificent way. A truly perfect match between words and pictures.

Who was your favourite character and why?
While I am sure most people would probably choose Harper, I think that my favourite character is actually Nate. He is such a fascinating character and I think it is wonderful to find someone with a sight impairment in a children’s book. Nate can only see shadows and because of it he has a companion wolf who helps to guide him. It means that he can never see the expressions on his friends faces but he can feel when they’re happy or sad. He knows who is near by how they walk and he is excellent at leading his friends when it is dark as it is always dark for him. I really, really loved him as a character and would love to read more.

But really one of the best things about these books are that all of the characters are so vibrant and all work together as a team. Including the “villain” of the books. By the end of each adventure he is always shown why his ideas aren’t so great after all. I think that Cerrie has down a smashing job of creating realistic and likeable characters in all of the Harper books.

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely. These books are magical, and quite literally full of magic. They’re lovely stories. They have heart and emotion and a wondrous childish feel to them. I am certain that both adults and children alike will be blown away by both the adventures that the children go on and also the characters and how they all react. Cerrie has truly created an interesting world for these books to take place in and I just cannot recommend them all highly enough. If you haven’t yet read these books, what are you waiting for?

Summarize the book in one sentence. (Verdict)
Harper and the Night Forest is a splendid book that will steal your heart and fill you with hope all at the same time. It is magical, cute and full of adventure and fun too.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 240
Genre: Fantasy
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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The Fairy Tale Hairdresser and Aladdin

Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard (illustrator)

The Fairytale Hairdresser is having a long-overdue holiday — but in no time at all she is tangled up in a world of flying carpets, mysterious jewels and magical lamps. Can she rescue Aladdin, free the genie and save the day?

I like this book because Kitty actually travels to a different part of their magical land and I’ve been very interested in what other parts of their land exists. Aladdin has also been my favourite Disney film.

I also love the book because it’s like a re-written story. I really like Aladdin especially because of the Genie; it’s a girl!!!!!

Verdict: I really enjoyed this book and I hope you do too!

Reviewed by Tianna aged 9

Publisher: Picture Corgi
Publication Date: March 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Fairytale retelling
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Tianna 9
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Five Fabulous Beauty and the Beast Re-imaginings

fab-five-logo-e1397403514389Five Fabulous Books is an original feature here at Big Book Little Book. The aim of the feature is to showcase fabulous books and bookish things, with connecting themes, there by promoting reads we have enjoyed and sharing recommendations for similar books. We love to share contributions from fellow bibliophiles, bloggers, vloggers and twitter users. We love to hear from you too, so don’t forget to comment with your favourite themed books. You are very welcome to use the Five Fabulous feature on your own blog just be sure to link back to Big Book Little Book and leave your link in the comments below so we can check out your recommendations! Feel free to copy and paste our Fabulou5 graphic or create one of your own.

I’m a huge fan of Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast. It is my favorite Disney animation and the Disney film I related too most growing up. Not only is Belle a brunette and a bookworm, she was the first Disney “princess” I recall who seemed to have a choice about who she would go on to marry.

I loved that the beast and her developed a relationship rather than being victims of the insta love- I’ve met you once, you’ve saved me and now ill marry you- that Disney’s early incarnations had suffered from. While its wonderful to see Disney developing more realistic relationships and fewer teen brides, for me it started with belle. Even now I can’t get enough of the slow burning misunderstanding and dislike to love and respect romance trope.

Of course my daughter and I just had to go and see the movie on opening weekend and I have to say that we did not leave disappointed. If you are reluctant to see the movie as a big fan of the animation, let me reassure you that the story line pretty much follows its animated predecessor with the exception of clearing up the large plot holes from the original. Add to that some original songs, beautiful costumes and ensemble dance numbers, it reminded my of my childhood curled up on the sofa with my mum on a Sunday afternoon watching elaborate Technicolor musicals. I loved sharing the experience with my own daughter.

I have to admit that I’ve never actually read the original story, my love for all things Beauty and the Beast originates from the Disney classics, never the less this love has led to a passion of one of my favorite sub genres- the fairytale retelling- and today oday I would like to share with you five of my favorite Beauty and the beast reimagines.

Beastly by Alex Flinn
I am a beast.
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…
But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Wish List
My obsession doesn’t stop there. I have many Beauty and the Beast inspired titles on my wish list. At the top of the list is Hunted by Meagan Spooner which is being released on the 20th April in hardback
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronesses…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Posted by Caroline

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Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane

Caroline Baxter

Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!

As someone who works in a library, I am often reading picture books to young children and know that some books work well and some just do not. Fortunately, upon reading Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane, I knew instantly that this was a book that would go down well with children. With colourful pictures to keep their attention, wonderful rhymes to keep them entertained and a brilliantly powerful story full of friendship, girl power and fun.

What first drew me to this book was the bright pink plane on the cover and I know that this will also attract the attention of young girls as well. But what I absolutely loved about this book was that it really shows how powerful and effective teamwork is, as well as showing how much strength and intelligence girls can have. It’s a wonderful book to share with children because of this.

Pilot Jane is a really fun, entertaining and ultimately educational read that I really enjoyed and guarantee that it will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It reads well and slides off the tongue with all of its rhymes too. It’s colourful and full of adventure – and even the queen pops up during the story which was a fab addition. I am certain that this is a book that will touch the hearts of many while it gets read again and again!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Big Sunshine Books
Publication Date: March 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 2-4
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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