Posts Tagged ‘Publisher- Puffin’

Katy

Jacqueline Wilson

katyKaty Carr is a lively, daredevil oldest sister in a big family. She loves messing around outdoors, climbing on the garage roof, or up a tree, cycling, skateboarding, swinging…. But her life changes in dramatic and unexpected ways after a serious accident.
Inspired by the classic novel, What Katy Did, Jacqueline Wilson creates an irresistible twenty-first-century heroine. Fans of Hetty Feather and Tracy Beaker will fall in love with Katy and her family too.

I was a huge fan of the original What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge and read it many times as a child. However looking at my own children I can see how far away it is from the world they live in, and although I would whole heartedly encourage them to read it I was interested to see this re-working of the story and discover if Katy could be brought to life in a fresh way for a new audience. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.

Obviously I read this mentally comparing it to the original, but many today would come at it with fresh eyes and the story holds its own. Katy is the oldest of a string of six children. She is the leader of the pack, full of great ideas and an exciting imagination. She is also full of good intentions in regards to looking after her brothers and sisters, but somehow things don’t always work out the way she plans. Katy has a loving relationship with her father and a strained one with her step-mother whom she struggles to get on with whilst missing her own mother who died years before the story begins. Katy also finds her step-sister Elsie difficult to get along with, not really understanding Elsie’s need to be accepted by her at all. We get to know Katy as she goes through ups and downs of modern family life and her experiences at school with friends, starting to like boys and dealing with not so nice girls. All the memorable incidents from the original are there and given a new slant with humour and little twists.

Then Katy’s world is turned upside down as she has a terrible accident that completely changes her life. I felt that Jaqueline dealt with this part of the story extremely well. It has all the shock of the original but in today’s world medical problems are dealt with so differently. Through Katy’s eyes we experience the trauma of going to hospital, coping with treatment, with different people, with the diagnosis itself and with her family’s reactions to it. There are lots of emotions and it could be difficult reading for a sensitive child, or one to young. But it is a great way for children to learn about how life can be changed at a moments notice, and to see the aftermath of this.

As Katy has to learn to come to terms with her new life in a wheel chair Jacqueline depicts her struggles and her triumphs, this is a long process and Katy goes through so much, but I loved the way that the book ends on such a positive note. It’s great to see disability looked at in a way that doesn’t diminish the difficulties but focuses in the end on the good things that can come out of it and the things that Katy can still do rather than those that she can’t.

Also as the family draw together to try and help Katy deal with all that is happening to her there is a brilliant depiction of the complicated nature of family relationships where everyone does not always understand the needs of another and yet they all keep working at it. I really enjoyed the way the relationships evolved through everything that happened.

Verdict: This is agreat update of a classic novel and now, although I will still be encouraging my girls to read the original this will definitely be on my list of must read books for them as they grow up.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: July 2015
Format: Hardback
Pages: 480
Genre: Retelling, Fiction
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

Lynley Dodd

Hairy Mc ClaryHairy Maclary goes off for a walk in town, followed by a few friends. All is uneventful until they meet Scarface Claw, the toughest tom in town, and run for home.

I can remember this Hairy Maclary book from when I was very small, so as I am determined my little monkey WILL relive my literary childhood this was on the must have list!

Hairy Maclary is a cheeky little black Scottie dog who Lynley Dodd introduces us to using the most rhythmic rhymes! In 256 deliciously selected words we are sung the tale of how Hairy Maclary goes for a stroll and collects his friends; Hercules Morse (the Great Dane) as big as horse, Bottomley Potts (the Dalmatian) covered in spots, Muffin McLay (the old English Sheepdog) like a bundle of hay, Bitzer Maloney (the grey Whippet or Greyhound – I really need to pay attention to Crufts this year!) all skinny and bony, Schnitzel von Krumm (the brown dashund/sausage dog) with a very low tum. After walking through town this proud pack of poochy pals are startled by Scarface Claw, the toughest tom(cat) in town whose scary yowl sends them all back home sharpish with their hairy tails between their legs!

My two year old loves rhyming books and this was no exception. His favourite part is the excitement of the confrontational yowl “EEEEEOWWWFFTZ!” of Scarface Claw! Also the way the names of the doggy friends are repeated throughout like a endearing canine version of ‘In my bag I packed’, gives the familiarity he likes from a story/board book and also sets a fun challenge for us parents to try and learn off by heart too!

In addition to this delightful story there are 17 beautiful pictures also created by the author which accompany a few short lines. Seeing my son’s eyes light up when we flip the page to see which character is coming up is so heartwarming, especially that glint of delight and excitement when Scarface Claw appears and he is fully anticipating the menacing cat yowl on the next page!

I can see this being a favourite the older he gets and is even more engaged with the books as he’ll quite happily leaf through the pages now without the story being read, which is behaviour I just love and fully encourage! And the detail in the pictures could easily lead a discussion about the characters in the story, pointing out the numbers of the houses, colours of doors, letter boxes and gates etc. Also as the number of dogs increase I can see the fun of spotting the tails sneaking onto the edge of each picture also being a great source of fun!

Verdict: An excellent board picture book and a must have for your nursery collection. It has retained the ability to encourage toddlers into reading and is a pleasure for all adults to read to them. Quite often this story is read in stereo by Mummy and Daddy at bedtime as they are die hard Hairy Maclary fans! (we’re also pretty sure our family dog Freddie enjoys it too!)

Reviewed by Sam

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: July 2002 (originally 1983)
Format: Board book
Pages: 36
Genre: Picture book, Animals
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Sam
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Meg and Mog

Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski

Meg and Mog is the first in the long-standing series about a witch (Meg) and her cat (Mog). Meg is a cute well-meaning witch who lives with Mog and her owl. In Meg and Mog, we are introduced to a witch wardrobe and a witch’s breakfast. Later Meg flies off to meet her witch friends for some spell-making at a Halloween Party. Unfortunately the spell does not go exactly to plan…

Meg and Mog is the first in the long-standing series about a witch (Meg) and her cat (Mog). Meg is a cute well-meaning witch who lives with Mog and her owl. In Meg and Mog, we are introduced to a witch wardrobe and a witch’s breakfast. Later Meg flies off to meet her witch friends for some spell-making at a Halloween Party. Unfortunately the spell does not go exactly to plan..,

It’s been so lovely to see the Meg and Mog books regain their popularity – if indeed their popularity ever waned! I loved these books as a child was so happy to see them gracing the shelves of the book shops again of late. It gives me a warm and cosy feeling to be reading them again with my children now.

The stories are simple and enjoyable. Although Meg is a witch she isn’t scary or unlikeable in any way and, although I’m not a fan of Halloween or any scary stuff in general, Meg and Mog make for enjoyable and fun reads for pre-schoolers and even those a little older who will like to read the books to themselves.

Verdict: With fun little stories and wonderful illustrations these are a welcome addition to our bookshelf!

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 1972
Format: Paperback
Pages: 31
Genre: Picture book, Magic
Age: Early readers
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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The Enormous Crocodile

Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake (illustrator)

The Enormous Crocodile is incredibly hungry-and incredibly greedy. His favorite meal is a plump, juicy little child, and he intends to gobble up as many of them as he can! But when the other animals in the jungle join together to put an end to his nasty schemes, the Enormous Crocodile learns a lesson he won’t soon forget. Dahl’s wicked humor is as delightful as ever in this new, larger edition of a hilarious favourite.

Now in my early 30’s, trying to remember what books were read to the class at the age of 7 years old is quite a stretch, except for this one. I think it’s fair to say that the whole class was captivated and then the weeks of fun afterwards trying to scare each other by pointing out where this monstrous croc was probably hiding; in the playground, classroom etc. This was my first experience of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake and I have been chomping at the bit to share this wonderful author and illustrator combo with my own children.

The ‘Enormous Crocodile’ is perfect for my soon to be primary school age child. It’s just the right size to be considered a proper storybook but still just short enough that you can finish reading the book with your child in one sitting. The illustrations, even in this 2008 edition is still in Quentin Blake’s witty and captivating style and quite rightly so, dominate each page. As it’s a much loved book of mine, its also one of the few books that I can genuinely say that I don’t mind reading again and again.

Of course that’s all very good but does this story still captivate children 25+ yrs later?

You betcha. I remember the first time I read this to my daughter. I knew I had her entranced at the very first page when the enormous crocodile talks about eating ‘a nice juicy, little child’. She stopped me reading to make sure she had heard right. To try and balance out all the princesses and fairies paraphernalia I do make sure that we read ‘non- fluffy’ text but I can’t recall many children’s books where the main protagonist is the ‘monster’ who doesn’t try or isn’t forced to redeem himself in anyway.

It was then a pleasure to explore each page where the cunning croc annoys the local animals and then his ingenious plans, pretending to be various objects to get close enough to the children to munch, are always thwarted at the last minute by the other animals. Then there is the rather unusual but delightful ending where the nasty croc gets his comeuppance!

Verdict- A nostalgic delight that’s timeless in it’s appeal to children and a great introduction to the delights of Roald Dahl.

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: March 2003
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book, humour
Age: Early readers
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book
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Carnegie and Greenaway Awards: Between Shades Of Gray


Ruta Sepetys

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.
An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.
Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose…Will hope keep Lina alive?

Lina lives a happy life in Lithuania, the daughter of a university professor she enjoys life as any teenager her age would at that time. But now Stalin has annexed Lithuania and all people who pose any kind of threat to his regime must be dealt with. Lina, her brother and Mother are woken one night by Soviet Guards, put into cattle cars on a train as their lives as they knew them will never be the same again.

This is a beautifully written story and I defy anyone not too need tissues at the ready by the end. The subject matter is bleak, undeniably, but there is such strength and hope held within the book too. Although the conditions within the work camps in Siberia are horrific and described as such, the focus within the book is on how people will band together and help each other, even when they have very little themselves. A book such as this could have quite easily focused on the darker side of human nature, yet here you are even left feeling some level of sympathy for one of the guards in the camp. The quality of the writing really brings the story alive and it is very obvious that a huge amount of research was done in writing the book, as it feels very real.

Lina is a really strong central character. She is very real and hasn’t been romanticised in any way. She is far from perfect and doesn’t always do the right thing. This only serves to make her more believable.

The only aspect that I found slightly disappointing was the ending. The theme of hope is carried through right to the end and the ending does give the reader hope that there is life at the end of the tunnel for these characters. I don’t feel that the epilogue was needed though. Those two pages on their own raised questions that I wanted answering, questions I wouldn’t have had had it not been included. I don’t know if there are plans for a second book, if there are it could explain the epilogues inclusion.

Verdict: Haunting and beautifully written. A bleak book that at the same time highlights the better side of human nature.

Reviewed by Alison

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: April 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical fiction
Age: YA
Reviewer: Alison
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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Cinder

Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I didn’t know what to expect from Cinder. It’s certainly very unique – the idea of a futuristic Cinderella as a cyborg! I enjoyed it for the most part but felt at times that there was something lacking.

Cinder is set in New Beijing, after the 4th World War. For me there wasn’t enough background or world building for me to grasp what New Beijing was like. There was hardly any mention of anything remotely Far Eastern which is the part of the world I assumed the book was set given the city name. From the lack of description, cultural information, customs etc it could have been set anywhere. I guess I expected a bit more of an oriental feel to things.

This book has all the elements of the fairy story we know so well; the evil stepmother, the two sisters – although one of them is lovely and a real friend to Cinder, and of course, the handsome prince. Although in this story there is a hefty dose of a dangerous life threatening plague – Letumosis, which Cinder’s sister falls ill with and which, unbeknownst to her, Cinder will be central to the cure for.

Cinder is a skilled mechanic working in the Market place. As a cyborg she is pretty much a second class citizen and more or less lives to serve her step mother and sisters. However as the story progresses we see that in fact she may have a far greater purpose than she could ever have imagined.

As it’s based on a well known fairy tale it does mean the story is fairly predictable, however I think there is a great potential for Cinder’s story – as ‘Cinder’ is the first in a series of The Lunar Chronicles. I liked Prince Kai and I’m intruiged by the dangerous Lunar people and their deadly but interesting skill of being able to ‘glamour’ the people and hide their true selves. The book improved as I read it and I much preferred the last third or so, when I felt it started to get going a bit.

While it’s certainly not in the category of, say, The Hunger Games, it has good potential and I will buy the next book in the series to find out what happens to Cinder as there are a lot of loose ends left to tie up.

Verdict: A largely enjoyable read, a bit slow to get going but good potential as a series. I look forward to the second instalment

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Puffin Books
Publication Date: January 2012
Format: eBook
Pages: 455KB
Genre: Dystopian, Fairytale retelling, Sci-Fi
Age: YA
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Debut Author
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Harry and The Dinosaurs: Romp In The Swamp

Ian Whybrow

Harry is not happy. Today he has to go to Charlie’s house and he doesn’t want her to play with his dinosaurs. But when Charlie builds a primordial swamp, Harry gets drawn into an exciting adventure. Together they must rescue Tyrannosaurus from the giant swamp snake!

This is another great ‘Harry’ book. Not to be confused with the great Mr Potter, this Harry is busy learning about life with his favourite dinosaur toys. I really enjoyed reading Harry and the Dinosaurs with my daughter and this one continues the pleasure. In the first story Harry discovers a bucketful of dinosaurs and is astonished when they come to life, running away from him and getting up to mischief. I love the fact that (as an adult at least) you can see that this could be Harry’s imagination as he plays with his toys and sees them as real and alive when in fact they are not.

In this story Harry has to deal with visiting a place he is not sure about and possibly having to share his beloved dinosaurs. This is so resonant of conversations we have had at home about both visiting and sharing and the concerns that children can have about it. It is great that Harry overcomes his reservations through imaginative play with his dinosaurs and his friend.

All the books we have read in this series show how the dinosaurs help Harry with various situations he finds himself in, coupled with the colourful and attractive drawings they make lovely books to just read, or to talk about.

Verdict: An enjoyable story to make your little one think without even thinking about it!

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: August 2003
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

Giles Andreae

When Flinn discovers a pirate hiding in the school supply closet, it’s all aboard, me hearties, for a real live pirate adventure! Captain Stubble needs Flinn’s help to find his stolen ship, but there are some mean pirate dinosaurs on the loose, and Flinn and his friends soon sail into trouble….Will fearless Flinn be able to captain the ship and defeat the pirate dinosaurs?

Like most children, my daughter is fascinated by both dinosaurs and pirates so a book that has ‘Pirate Dinosaurs’ was certain to catch her eye! Along with, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: Missing Treasure and Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: Magic Cutlass this book made up the Story Treasure Chest compilation.

All three books start off with Flinn and his friends at school or on a school trip when, through natural curiosity they get warped into a world where Pirate Dinosaurs rule the seas bullying the rather wimpy human Pirates and planning to eat them on a barbeque with far too much tomato ketchup. This is where they (the human pirates) then require the help of the very brave Flinn and his friends.

These books are very well done, you can’t help but put on your best Pirate voice whilst you sing a shanty or loudly ‘ROAR’ when the Tyrannosauraus Rex makes an entrance (which, after months of reading still makes my daughter jump in delighted terror!). The narrative and comic style illustrations are witty and engaging and potentially ‘darker’ than your average younger childs book, but deliciously so.

Verdict: A delightful and amusing read that you won’t mind reading again and again, let alone your children!

Reviewed by Karen

Publisher: Puffin Pictures
Publication Date: May 2006
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Early Readers
Reviewer: Karen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle

Exuberantly coloured artwork and favourite animals make this rhythmic story the perfect introduction to looking and learning about colours.

This book about animals and colours was in our ‘Bookstart’ pack that we received earlier this year and it’s my almost 3 year old’s book of the moment. It’s read at least half a dozen times a day and is the book of choice for bed time. I’ve found Joshua on the stairs, ‘reading’ it to himself having memorised much of the text which is very simple rhyming and captures and keeps his attention: ‘Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me’. We can talk about the picture and learn about the colour of the animals but often though, Joshi just can’t wait to get on to the next page and so we keep the flow of the rhyming text going.

My 14 month old loves to listen along to my voice, smiling and laughing as the tone changes and then repeats. He also enjoys pointing and laughing at the pictures. I love Eric Carle’s illustrations, which are large, very fun and brightly coloured.

Verdict: This is a really fun book. It’s great for learning about different animals and colours, but we’ve also enjoyed the rhyming aspect and the fact that Joshua has been learning to ‘read all myself’ due to the simply written text.

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Puffin Books
Publication Date: April 1999 (new ed.)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Picture Book
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle

A Much-loved classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has won over millions of readers with its vivid and colourful collage illustrations and its deceptively simple, hopeful story. With its die-cut pages and finger-sized holes to explore, this is a richly satisfying book for children.

This charming little story makes a regular appearance during our family’s bedtime routine. The book is the perfect length, long enough to promote pre sleep wind down and short enough to tolerate the request for an encore!

The story is simple, with lots of the repetition that young children enjoy. In addition to promoting numeracy we have used the book to explore night and day, colours, days of the week and even healthy eating.

Ava(3 ¾) has shown a renewed interest in The Very Hungry Caterpillar story since studying and observing the life cycle of butterflies at preschool. She delights in relating the plot to her experiences.

Although our book shelf houses both the paperback and board book version, it is the sturdy board book which gets the most attention. While all of the additions contain the die cut pages and the irresistible finger holes, the size of the board book version and the thickness of the pages promote independence.

Seth (22m) delights in being able to hold the book himself and turn the pages, sometimes at the determent to the story as he races to his favourite page to point out the “cake, cake, cake”! As a parent I’m happy to allow him to explore without the fear of torn or creased pages. Safe in the knowledge that the book will withstand the attention of the baby wipe the inevitable sticky fingerprints will necessitate.

Verdict: This colourful classic is an essential addition to any young family’s bookshelf.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: Sept 1994 (new ed.)
Format: Board Book
Pages: 26
Genre: Picture Books
Age: Picture Books
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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