Archive for the ‘Little Book’ Category

Jackson Saves an Owl

Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Jackson Superhero might not be a real name, but it is a story about a real boy, and as the name suggests, Jackson is far from ordinary. By day, a rare disease limits his ability to move freely, but at night he is far from grounded. When the sleeping hours come around, and weightlessness takes over, Jackson takes to the skies. He knows what it means to need the support of others, which is why when he hears a call for help, he is quickly there to lend a hand.


Darren Questions (author)

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
These stories are so personal to me and my son, but I want these stories to be bigger than us, and so when I hear from readers, and parents talking about how Jackson Saves an Owl is the new favourite book in their house, that is amazing. So my favourite part about writing really is the joy it can bring to readers.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I have plenty of bad habits, but I do try to keep them away from the writing.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? (I guess this means do you plan or just let the story flow out)
I usually have a rough idea of a story and I play with the plot in my head for quite a while, but then when I feel like I have the plot in place I just let the story flow off the cuff

Aside from your own, what is your favourite children’s book and why?
Peace at last – Jill Murphy as its Jackson’s favourite. He laughs at the ending

With your own book, what has been your proudest book moment so far?
Well this all started with Jackson and with me wanting to help him dream. He loves being read to and he loves books. He knew the Jackson Saves an Owl Story as I had been telling it to him for ages, but getting the real hardcopy in my hand felt really big and it was amazing to read the actual book to him. I do still read him his other favourites, of course, but I love reaching for the Jackson Saves an Owl book for him, and he loves it too.

Jackson Superhero is obviously written for your own little boy who is terminally ill, in what ways is he like a real superhero?
When Jackson was diagnosed he was given a life expectancy of two years and he is now four, so he is defying all the odds on a daily basis. But more than that, he is caring, he loves the nature and the earth. But he really loves a cuddle, and what superhero don’t like a cuddle?

Who or what will Jackson Superhero save next?
He saves a desert island and the local animal residents from pollution

If Jackson was to team up with any other superhero who would it be and why?
It would have to be banana man, as Jackson loves bananas

Carl Questions (illustrator)

What’s the best thing about illustrating a superhero?
The best thing about illustrating a superhero is that I can turn any kid into whoever he wants to be. With Jackson there was no limit to the powers he can have.

Aside from a cape, what is the thing every superhero needs in his costume?
Every superhero needs an identity and a signature piece that separates him from the rest. In Jackson’s case, it’s the ‘J’ on his chest.

How did you go about choosing the costumes colour schemes?
The costume colours came from Jackson’s favourite PJs, and the socks are based on his favourite teddy, a puppet called Melvin.

You open the story with an illustration of Jackson in his bean bag, which due to his illness is pretty much as he is in real life. What was behind that decision?
Well, I have known Darren for years and I know Jackson and I just didn’t feel I could ignore the reality, to be honest. It sounds stupid when I say it, but I don’t think there’s always enough reality in children’s books. Many, many kids grow up in tough lives and books are a way to help with that. They are a way to say, you are not alone. Look at this little boy or girl and look how well they do. Roald Dhal did it well, not reality, or course, but more than once he killed off the parents on the first page.

How was it illustrating a real boy, did Jackson’s family have a lot of feedback?
There was a little bit of pressure, to be honest, but I presented Darren and his wife with a few different versions of how Jackson Superhero could look, and they took bits from this one and that one. But they helped with all kinds of things that I didn’t know about, choosing colours based on Jackson’s favourite teddy bear, also his hair. I needed some pointers on his hair style.

Publisher: Untold Books
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game

Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler

An enigmatic racing driver. A bunch of kids. One hell of a ride …
Sam Wheeler may be the new boy in Bunsfold, but he’s got a feeling that all is not well either in the town or at Bunsfold High – and he’s not just talking about the maths teacher with the unfortunate flatulence. A local boy, Buster Mustang, has recently gone missing, and no one seems to care – they’re all too busy playing the highly addictive video game Xenon or getting the town ready for its very first TT race. Both are the brainchild of mysterious local billionaire PT Cruiser. Besides global domination, PT Cruiser wants nothing more than to destroy his nemesis The Stig once and for all – and his TT race is just what he needs to tempt him on to the big stage again …
Sam sets out with his new friends Minnie Cooper and Ford Harrison to uncover the truth behind all the strange goings-on in Bunsfold – but danger has a habit of showing up wherever they do, and soon all that stands between our heroes and disaster is … a taciturn man in a white suit.
Perfect for fans of ALEX RIDER and CHERUB


About the Authors

Jon Claydon
Jon wrote sell-out shows at Edinburgh while at university before plumping for a career in advertising and technology investment that has seen him become a fixture on the Sunday Times ‘Britain’s 500 Most Influential People’ list. One day, while attending to one of many sidelines – as a columnist for Top Gear magazine – Jon had a moment. Alone in a lift, he met The Stig, who non-verbally communicated that it was high time someone wrote a book for his many younger fans. Jon called Tim, they fired up their flux capacitor and returned, sliding-doors-style, to the career they’d always thought they should have had in the first place.

Tim Lawler
Tim Lawler wrote sell-out Edinburgh shows at university before spending many years in ventures such as building and filling a fringe theatre, performing stand-up poetry, living in various parts of the globe and working as an advertising brand planner.

Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages:
Genre: Adventure
Age: MG
Reviewer: N/A
Source: N/A
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Double Felix

Sally Harris

He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules. Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?


What is your favourite thing about writing books?
My favourite part of being a writer is that I get to make things up and get paid for it! I also love the challenge of trying to be relentlessly entertaining in the way that I tell a story and getting to create characters to take on adventures. The hardest part about being a writer for me is creating characters that I really like and then having to give them problems. In my ideal world, everyone would be happy all of the time, but that would make for some very boring stories!

What is your favourite thing about being a MG author?
My favourite thing about being an author for Middle Grade readers is that they are discerning. As a writer you’ve got to respect them as readers or they won’t go along with the journey you have planned for them. There is no talking down to them or trying to pull the wool over their eyes and this really tests you as a writer. Once you have them hooked, however, you can take Middle Grade readers along for the ride to anywhere and they will come along with you. I also love that MG readers enjoy a good laugh and a rip-roaring adventure, yet they are mature enough to tackle some big issues too.

Why did you choose to write a character with OCD traits?
I think that it is really important for readers to be able to see themselves in the characters of the books they are reading. There are lots of children who struggle with various mental illnesses like OCD and I think that they are unrepresented in stories. I wanted to share Felix’s story as a way of showing readers that they are not alone and as a way of helping other students to empathise with their peers. I’m hoping that once someone has read Double Felix, it will help them to understand people around them who are different to themselves and help them to connect in a really positive, inclusive way.

What is your favourite moment in Double Felix? (Without any spoilers!)
That’s such a hard question to answer! I have lots of favourite moments in Double Felix, so I’ve narrowed it down to my favourite three scenes to write:

1. Chapter Two when we meet Felix ‘improving’ Mrs Lovejoy’s Office – because who wouldn’t enjoy messing up their Principal’s Office!

2. I loved writing the scene where Felix and Charlie visit her ‘home’ as I’ve always wanted to live somewhere like that myself.

3. I really enjoyed writing the scene where Felix wants to get into the Library but the door is locked. The image of his bottom wiggling in the air as he tries to squeeze through the window will never leave me!

Where is your favourite place to write?

If I am writing at home, I love to be cosy. Right now it is winter here in Australia, so I’m under a woolly blanket with my dog at my feet acting like a fluffy hot water bottle and my computer on my lap. I also love to get out of the house and write when I can. Taking my laptop to a local cafe for an hour with a cup of coffee is a great way for me to get some words onto the page. Bonus points if I can avoid connecting to the Internet while I’m there and extra extra bonus points if the cafe is in a bookshop!

About the Author


Sally Harris grew up in rural Australia and after graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Children’s Literature, Sally has been busy writing and working as a primary teacher, in both Australia and the UK. Her first book, Diary of a Penguin-Napper, sold over 10 000 copies and her second book, Ruby Marvelous, has inspired children all over the world to try their hand at cooking exploding finger buns! Sally loves animals, including penguins, and, as she can’t have one of those as a pet, she has found that a dog is definitely the next best thing.

Website. Twitter.

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: MG Contemporary
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Adventures of Eric the Spider

Elaine Madle

Eric may only be a little spider, but that doesn‘t stop him from having some big
adventures!
When a spider, with big, long, spider legs, is spotted behind a curtain he seems a little scary. Luckily, he is quickly caught in a box full of socks and named Eric.
But when Eric steals the socks (and a bike!) and goes on the run it is up to a diligent policeman to find the right sock-footed spider, stop Eric and rescue the bike!
Join Eric on his adventures as he escapes with some socks, flees from a birthday party, and goes camping on a very, very wet day in this beautifully illustrated rhyming book.


I am not going to lie. I do not like spiders. Not even a little bit. They make me itch and squirm and I just dislike them in every single way. And I am aware that this is not an uncommon feeling either. However, Eric the Spider is definitely a different kettle of fish! Somehow I actually found Eric to be a really wonderful protagonist for this book and cannot wait to read more of his adventures! Elaine Madle has done a fantastic job of taking a creature that is often feared and turning him into a lovable character!

Throughout this book, I found myself smiling and chuckling to myself as Eric gets up to quite a bit of mischief! I think this really makes the book that much more entertaining and I know that this is what will definitely draw in children. They can point at Eric on the page and laugh as he continues to be a naughty little spider before feeling pleased with how everything works out in the end.

Elaine and Shaun have done a wonderful job of creating a picture book that will keep the little ones entertained and may even help for people to find spiders less fearful and more interesting! Although… I don’t think I’ll be friends with a spider anytime soon! If you’re looking for a fresh, new and enjoyable picture book to share with your little one, I would definitely recommend giving this book a read!

Verdict: A funny, adventurous read that will definitely have you “itching” to read more!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Mr Snuffles’ Birthday

David Greaves

‘It was a wonderful day for snuffling for truffles,
‘What a birthday treat!’ thought Mr Snuffles…’
Adults and children of all ages will delight in following Mr Snuffles’ frustrating woodland quest for his beloved truffles. But is Mr Snuffles on the right scent?
Beautifully illustrated by Emily Wallis, David Greaves’ Mr Snuffles’ Birthday is a glorious celebration of language, friendship and truffles: a tale to be treasured and to read aloud together time and time again.


I am going to admit that I absolutely love rhyming picture books. I think they’re much more fun to read to kids and make the books that much more entertaining – not that non-rhyming picture books aren’t entertaining! That being said, you can understand why I was very pleased that Mr Snuffles’ Birthday was a rhyming book! It made it a really lively read and really brought the story to life for me. I didn’t get a chance to read it to my niece but I am certain she would have loved it too.

Mr Snuffles’ Birthday tells the tale of Mr Snuffles and how he cannot seem to find any truffles because they appear to have been stolen. Upon seeing his friends on the trail, he explains what has happened but they all have to rush off to a surprise party. Consider Mr Snuffles feeling ruffled for he has NOT been invited and it is, after all HIS birthday. It is a story which has repetition but it works so well as it shows just how agitated Mr Snuffles becomes.

This book is a very lovely book to read and one that I very much enjoyed. As an adult, I could see what was happening and I think it would be so interesting to see if the children cotton on too. It’s a book that I would happily re-read over and over again too which is very important in picture books! Add to that, that the illustrations are absolutely beautiful and you can probably see why I would highly recommend this book. It has everything you could really want in a picture book.

Verdict: A fun, entertaining and lovely story filled with beautiful and informative pictures that I am sure little children would absolutely love!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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My Digger is Bigger

Lou Kuenzler (Author), Dan Taylor (Illustrator)

Rex Rhino roars along in his digger, Charlie Cheetah zooms by in his super-fast motor, and Holly Hornet whizzes right up to the sky in her jet, as the animals compete to find out whose vehicle is best. But it is little Jack the Gerbil who really wows the crowd with his gravity-defying scooter tricks. A riotous rhyming picture book with a fantastic fold-out finale!

One of my favourite things about working in a library is being one of the first people to open up the boxes with the new books inside and getting a look at the books that have been sent to us. Then if anything grabs my eye, I get to have a quick peek through it. When I saw this book, I was instantly intrigued and found myself diving in. I was expecting it to be a little bit fun perhaps but I ended up thoroughly enjoying the book. It was full of fun and interesting characters, lots of rhyming words and I was absolutely sure that it would be an absolute smashing hit with the kids.

In this book, the animals all have different things that they use to compete with their friends. Rhino’s digger is bigger but the Cheetah’s car is faster. I thought this was wonderfully clever and brilliant. It showed that we’re all different and unique and have our own things and talents that make us the “best” and which make us who we are. It does this by using animals that are all different and I just found it so fascinating and I hope that it helps to show to children that everyone is different but that doesn’t make any one less worthy.

Alongside a fantastic rhyme that flows really well, this book is full of bright vibrant pictures and a lot of things happen on each page which is perfect for keeping the children entertained. I am positive that this is a book that would be read over and over again and one that would be quite fun to share with your little one as well. I feel that it is the perfect book to inspire both girls and boys and I am just absolutely positive that this book will be a big hit with the young children who can then go off and play with their toy trucks and cars – as I am sure my niece would!

Verdict: A fun, rhyming, interesting and fascinating picture book which will capture the children’s imagination and inspire them to be better and play together.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: August 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Under 5s
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Library Copy
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One Button Benny

Alan Windram (Author), Chloe Holwill-Hunter (Illustrator)

One Button Benny is a story about heroes and the unlikely places you find them. With strikingly beautiful retro-style illustrations by Chloe Holwill-Hunter. This colourful, fun tale for three-to six-year-olds, sees loveable robot Benny becoming a surprising hero when the hairy, scary collectors try to take over his planet.

Benny has always been different. An outcast. He can’t do the cool things that all of his robot friends can do. All he has is one button that he is not allowed to use except in an EMERGENCY. He doesn’t know what it does. But all of his friends can do amazing things with THEIR buttons. Thus they tease Benny a lot and treat him differently, often poking fun at how boring he is. I felt very sorry for Benny but I loved that he still tried to find ways of using his emergency only button within the book.

But then a REAL emergency happens and while all the other robots flee, Benny finally gets to press his button! And it is the coolest button of ALL the robots. Within moments the robots all apologise and all decide that they want to be Benny’s friend and Benny feels welcome and happy. He’s not just ordinary after all, he’s EXTRA-ordinary.

This book had a very “ugly duckling” feel to it but I did not mind this at all as I just really loved the book. I loved the way the words were easy to say out loud, I loved all of the amazing illustrations by the ever talented Chloe Holwill-Hunter and how they related so well to the story as well. I loved how all of the robots looked different from each other and were all really unique and yet how despite that it still managed to reflect our world really well.

Verdict: A very entertaining, fun and quick read that celebrates diversity and being a little bit different.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Little Door Books
Publication Date: Jun 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Under 5s
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Miriam’s Secret

Debby Waldman
In 1930 nine-year-old Miriam travels by train from Brooklyn to her grandparents’ farm in upstate New York. Her grandparents are kind, generous people, but they aren’t exactly ideal playmates for a lonely girl. When Miriam is not doing homework in the kitchen with Bubby or helping prepare meals for the migrant workers that Zayde hires to help out on the farm, she plays with the barn kittens born just before she arrived. Those kittens are her only friends, until the day Miriam discovers a young girl hiding in the barn. Cissy and her brother, Joe, who’s one of Zayde’s farm hands, are on the run from an abusive uncle back in Mississippi. Miriam and Cissy hit it off immediately. But their friendship is tested when Miriam is forced to choose between keeping a promise and doing the right thing.What were your initial thoughts on the book?
My initial thoughts about the book were that this book was a totally different style and by a totally different author to what I usually read, which means that I may not like it, but I was wrong.

I really did enjoy the book more than I thought, it is one of my very favourites, and despite it having 25 long chapters I finished it in only 2 days. I wish I had cheeked how many chapters there were so I could have savoured each sentence carefully instead of reading for hours and hours like I always do!

Who was your favourite character and why?
I have two favourite characters, Mariam and Cissy, because they are both very easy to like. They are brave, kind and funny but their lives are very different. Mariam has a great life in a warm house with food to eat whenever she is hungry however not all of us have a home, food or water and one of these people in this book is Cissy.

Mariam and Cissy might have opposite lives but that makes them perfect for each other.

Would you recommend this book?
I would recommend this book to older readers around the age 10 or readers that enjoy books set in the past.

Summarize the book in one sentence.
A nice book about unexpected friendships that you will enjoy.

Reviewed by Jimena (11)

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 192
Genre: Hystorical
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: None
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Poppy Pym and the Smugglers Secret

Laura Wood
Poppy is thrilled that they’re spending the summer at Smuggler’s Cove. It might even take her mind off the mystery of her past. But Poppy is about to make some amazing discoveries – and solve more than one mystery…

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

Another great adventure with Poppy and her friends and I think this one is my favourite mystery so far because there are actually 2 different mysteries, could they be linked together? I really enjoyed reading it especially after the cliff-hanger in the second book about Poppy and her birth mother.

Who was your favourite character and why?

My favourite character is still Poppy because she is brave in every possible way. She handles mystery very well, especially the really scary ones, she listens to her friends even if she is the leader of the group, takes their ideas into the adventure, even if she might not agree with them and, most importantly, she stays a loyal friend to them even in the hard times.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys adventures and mysteries from ages 9 up, especially if they aren’t scared easily because this one is a bit scary.

Summarize the book in one sentence.

A great adventure that leads to more mysterious events in every chapter.

Reviewed by Jimena (11)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: May 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena (11)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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Chasing Danger: Mystery at the Ice Hotel

Sara Grant
After surviving a pirate attack in the tropics, teens Chase and Mackenzie escape to an exclusive resort in the Arctic Circle. But just after they arrive, suspicious accidents begin to occur. It seems like someone’s trying to scare away the guests. When the accidents turn deadly, it’s up to the girls to figure out whodunit … before they become the next victims.
This holiday’s going to be killer!

What were your initial thoughts on the book?

My initial thoughts about the book were “I am going to love this book like I did with the first”, and I was right. I enjoyed this one even more than the first, because this one has more mystery, and it is longer!

Who was your favourite character and why?

My favourite character or characters in this book are still Chase and Mackenzie because they are both very different, opposite characters one could say, and from time to time they have to do what the other one wants which is the opposite of what they would have done in the first place.

Would you recommend this book?

I would recommend this book to older readers (10 upwards) who enjoy frightening bits, because it is a little bit scary, especially the murder or murder attempts.

Verdict: A scary adventure that you will enjoy. You won’t be able to wait to see what happens next!

Reviewed by Jimena (10)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Genre: Mystery
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jimena
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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