Archive for the ‘Early Readers’ Category

Rage Has a Hold on Sammy

Angela Wiggins

Rage Has A Hold On Sammy is the story of an eight year old boy named, Sammy. He and his father are very close, even though his parents are divorced. Then one day, his grandmother calls; Sammy’s dad passed away. After the initial shock, Sammy’s behavior changes into a defiant, disrespectful child. How can he get over this terrible feeling that has a tight hold on him? Children that experience the loss of a parent have a difficult time? Some of those children become angry and hostile like Sammy. This book will help children in the same situation realize their not alone.

Rage Has a Hold on Sammy is a strong, moving book which could help a lot of children suffering with grief. In the story, Sammy is told by his mother that his father has passed away. Being close to his father, Sammy does not deal with his death very well. He ends up feeling angry, and betrayed, thus no longer caring about how his behaviour is affecting others. Throughout the story, it is easy to connect with Sammy and the people around him and in such a short book, Angela Wiggins did a wonderful job of bringing the story to life and really getting across how important it is to understand and recognise our feelings instead of letting them manifest and brew underneath the surface.

Along with an easy-to-follow story, the book is also full of very well depicted images of what is happening and how Sammy is feeling throughout. It would be the perfect book for children who are dealing with grief but also for those who may know someone who is acting like Sammy and cannot understand it. It’s a wonderful book for bringing empathy into children’s lives for sure. My only complaint, and it is very minor, is simply that I had hoped it would be a little bit longer and look a little bit more about how Sammy goes on to deal with his new emotions. Instead, I’ll simply have to hope there will be a sequel!

Publisher: Angela Wiggins Publishing
Publication Date: September 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 36
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Bertie the Buffalo

Wendy Jones

Bertie the Buffalo is based on a true story of when a Water Buffalo escaped from a Buffalo Park in Fife, near Dundee, Scotland. A rhyming book about the adventures Bertie got up to and how he safely returned home, demonstrating how important each of us is no matter how insignificant we feel. Bertie felt that no one noticed him. But he didn’t need to think that as we are all special. We are all a part of one big family.

This is such a sweet and lovely little picture book that I would definitely recommend! It tells the story of Bertie, the smallest Buffalo in the farm he lives. He’s the fastest – except for Emu and he loves playing Hide and Seek. Though he fears deep inside that as he is so small, he won’t be missed. Thus when the opportunity to explore arrives, he follows a little blue butterfly out into the world. It’s a fun adventure as he meets new creatures and new places. But then he begins to feel sad and miss home quite a lot.

It’s written in a rhyming verse with easy words for those who are just learning to read along with a lovely story. It is also a good book to talk to young children about running away from home – although there aren’t many consequences for Bertie but then he is a buffalo! The book also celebrates differences within a family which is really lovely too. On top of all of that, the illustrations are wonderful and easy on the eye with light pastel colours used throughout.

Overall, I found this book to be very enjoyable and absolutely adorable. I am certain that it will be loved by lots of children as they follow Bertie on his adventures both inside and outside of his home. I would definitely be happy to read more books with the main character of Bertie at the centre!

About the Author
Award Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer’s Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer’s Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2107. There are now six books in this series with Killer’s Crypt being released in August, 2017. The Dagger’s Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.

Publisher: Sarah Grace Publishing
Publication Date: November 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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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
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Childrens
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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My Name is Not Refugee

Kate Milner

A young boy discusses the journey he is about to make with his mother. They will leave their town, she explains, and it will be sad but also a little bit exciting. They will have to say goodbye to friends and loved ones, and that will be difficult. They will have to walk and walk and walk, and although they will see many new and interesting things, it will be difficult at times too. A powerful and moving exploration that draws the young reader into each stage of the journey, inviting the chance to imagine the decisions he or she would make.

There is something very powerful about picture books. They can sometimes be some of the first books that your child or even you, yourself, will remember reading. I know that I recall strongly my favourite picture book. So it is really wonderful when picture books also start educating children – not about Maths or English or other school subjects – but about different parts of society. If it teaches children that while there are many different walks of life, we’re all human despite our differences in our skin colour, body shape, social background and sexuality, then it’s going to give them a good start to life.

Thus I always love stumbling across picture books that manage this. So when I heard about My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. I needed to read it and see what the book is all about. And it is everything I love about picture books.

It’s entertaining, informative, and full of imagination too. The book follows a child who has to leave home behind and then learn a new language and a new culture and learn not to be terrified of the experience. It asks the reader questions along the way, such as: “What would you pack in your backpack of possessions?” This allows the reader to understand what the other child may be going through. Would they choose their favourite book or their favourite teddy bear if they can’t pack both?

On top of that, Kate hasn’t identified where the child has come from or where they’ve ended up. So it’s a way for refugees of any culture to identify themselves in the book which is absolutely fantastic and is exactly what makes this book so very powerful. It’s inclusive – just as every book should be.

All in all, this is a very powerful, imaginative, and relevant book that is a must read for adults and children alike to understand society further.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: The Bucket List
Publication Date: May 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Under 5s
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
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The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat

Coral Rumble

Two children and their imaginations set sail from their living room on a voyage around the world! Read along as they spy an extraordinary array of characters doing even more extraordinary things…? With bright, fresh illustrations and a playful style, this rhyming book, based on the classic Edward Lear poem The Owl and the Pussycat, is a wonderfully quirky adventure.?

There can be something so magical about a picture book. It has the ability to really capture a child’s imagination and keep them entertained as they hear the words, see the pictures and put two and two together. But it’s not that easy to create a book that does this. Writing good picture books is a lot more difficult than it sounds but sometimes an author just manages to do exactly what we all want from a picture book. This is what has happened with The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat. Inspired by the original poem, this book follows a boy and a girl as they sit in a cupboard box and imagine what they would come across if they were the owl and the pussycat in a ship. It is imaginative and inspirational.

While I sadly did not get a chance to test this book out on my niece, I am certain that she would have absolutely loved it. At the moment she is completely obsessed with Finding Nemo and so I am positive that this sea-faring adventure book would have been well-received. But I also believe that she would have loved it because it contains an exciting plot. It is about another girl and boy having imaginative play – something that she absolutely loves doing herself. It is a book that simply celebrates being a child.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, this book is also covered in absolutely stunning illustrations. Charlotte Cooke has done a fantastic job of bringing this story to life with vibrant and colourful images that every child will love looking at. In each one there is an owl and a pussycat watching either from afar or from up close and I can imagine that it will be a lot of fun for the child reader to work out where they are and what exactly they are up to! This extra addition to this picture book is really what brings it into it’s own and makes it such a wonderfully magic book to read.

This book gets my thumbs up and I am very much looking forward to sharing it with my niece in the coming days!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books
Publication Date: May 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 2+
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Dougal Daley; It’s Not My Fault!

Jackie Marchant

I, Dougal Daley, am dead! Ok I m not actually dead. But if I m not careful I soon will be.

In this first book, football-loving Dougal Daley finds himself at risk from the mysterious creature living in the garden shed. Nobody believes him but as a precaution, he sets upon writing his will – rewarding those who help him and disinheriting those who get on his bad side. Meanwhile, as limbs and windows alike are broken by rogue footballs and unhinged canines, Dougal finds himself in all sorts of trouble. . .and NONE of it is his fault!

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
I read this book in one sitting. It was funny, addictive and emotional too. I really felt for Dougal throughout the story. The whole narrative worked really well and I am one hundred percent sure that any kid who reads this book will also agree. From parents and sisters who don’t listen to you and blame you, to friends who get caught in the middle of things, this book is full of real-life situations surrounding a very hilarious thing. I loved the ending of the book too. This whole book is full of personality and I cannot wait to read the next one!

Who was your favourite character and why?
The best character is actually one that I can’t really talk about without completely and utterly ruining the story – I know, right? – So instead I will talk about my second favourite character; Dougal. He’s a really interesting character to read about. A true klutz who has a great voice too. I am definitely intrigued to see what happens to him in future books!

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely! Especially to any kid aged between 6 to 10 as they’ll really enjoy everything that happens. The book is written in a diary format with a few chapters that are notes from other characters all intermingled with amazing illustrations which really helps to make this book readable, addictive and fun – everything that books for children should be! If you or your child is looking for a fun and funny book that is similar to the Wimpy Kid books, make sure you give this book a try!

One Sentence Summary (verdict)
A really fun and kid friendly book that has a brilliant main character and a story that is full of personality and creativity.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books
Publication Date: April 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 180
Genre: Comedy
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by publisher
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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Author Interview: Emma Barnes

We are delighted to welcome Emma Barnes author of Chloe’s Secret Princess Club( illustrated by Monique Dong ).
Chloe's Secrete Princess ClubChloe never means to get into trouble but sometimes her plans get a little out of control. With her two best friends, she forms a Secret Club dedicated to making their dreams come true – but fantasy and reality don’t always mix!

Where did the idea come from for Chloe’s Secret Princess Club?

There were a few different things that came together. I’d really wanted to write about a very imaginative, dreamy little girl – somebody who tended to get carried away by her own fantasies. So that was Chloe. And so many girls go through a “princess” stage – I thought it would be really fun to see a group of girls trying to act out their princess fantasies in real life and the kind of disasters that could follow on from that!

What was your favourite book to read as a child?

There were so many. One was Harriet the Spy, which was maybe the inspiration for the fact that Chloe and her friends write things down in a secret notebook, just as Harriet did. I also loved the Narnia books, including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – which Chloe also loves and which leads her into trouble in chapter one.

What is your favourite thing about being a children’s author?

Working in my pyjamas! Coming up with crazy ideas in my head, and trying to get them down on paper in all their craziness. I also love meeting children and seeing how they respond to the books – even when they mistake me for Enid Blyton, which actually happened once.

Are you a planner or a panther?

I do both. Typically I do plan, but then a lot of the story changes when I write (and rewrite) the book.

What are your top three places to write?

Libraries. Trains. And I love cafes – my favourite is the Opposite Cafe in my hometown of Leeds.

What are you currently working on?

That’s a secret! It’s too early to tell anyone – it needs nursing a bit longer.

What is your favourite fairytale?

Cinderella. It’s such a classic.

If you had to describe your book in a tweet (140 characters), what would you say?

Chloe is determined to be a princess – and she isn’t going to let ordinary life get in her way!

Interview questions by Faye

Emma is the author of several books for children, including JESSICA HAGGERTHWAITE: WITCH DISPATCHER, for which she was nominated for the Branford Boase award, and the WILD THING series. As well as writing, she enjoys spending time working in schools and libraries. You can learn more about Emma and her work by visiting her website (here),Facebook Page (here), or her Twitter account (here)

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Author Interview: Sylvia Bishop

We are delighted to host an interview with debut author Syliva Bishop as she talks about Erica’s Elephant
erica's elephantWhen Erica Perkins wakes up on the morning of her tenth birthday, the last thing she expects is to find a very confused elephant sitting on her doorstep. So begins an unlikely friendship. But can a small girl and a rather large elephant learn to live together in a tiny terraced house? And when the dastardly owner of the local zoo plots to steal the elephant, will Erica be able to outsmart him?

Erica’s Elephant is such an adorable and charming story, how did the idea for the story come to you?

Thank you! The initial idea came from a friend texting me to say thanks for something-or-other, and promising to send an ‘elephant festooned with tea’. The idea of an elephant turning up on my narrow residential road made me laugh, and that was that. Some later ideas came from facts I later read about elephants, like their amazing long-distance communication. For the most part though, it was a matter of curating ideas I’ve accumulated over Life In General. For example, I’ve always been obsessed with ants, and Miss Pritchett’s ant collection wasn’t so much a new idea as a well-worn dream.

When writing, do you have any particular habits that you do? (i.e. sitting in the dark, listening to music, etc)

Ideally, I will work sit and Think in my favourite armchair first thing in the morning, with tea and porridge, and write my first pages for the day; then turn on the anglepoise lamp on my desk last thing in the evening, and write some more there. But the rest of my life has a bad habit of getting in the way. I wrote a lot of Erica on the bus between Oxford and London: it’s hard to cultivate any habits that are bus-friendly.

Before you wrote the book, did you do a lot of research into Elephants?

I did it as I went along, really, as I was only ever a chapter or two ahead of myself in terms of figuring out the plot. Researching elephants gave me some crucial breakthroughs. It showed me how to get the Elephant into trouble, and how to get him back out again.

Are Elephants your favourite animal? And if they’re not, what is?

Actually, my favourite animal has always been the Noble Rhinoceros. But books and documents about rhinos by themselves are hard to come by: they are always the support act to elephants. So as a child I ended up learning about elephants, whether or not I wanted to!

What advice would you give to a child who wants a pet Elephant?

When I wanted a rhino, I adopted one that was being looked after in a sanctuary. They sent me a video (mostly featuring elephants), a soft toy, a certificate and regular letters. That was really great.

Or maybe you could attach the nozzle of your hoover to a cat.

(Don’t do that).

When it comes to writing, do you plan your books in advance or just pen to paper and see where it takes you?

With Erica, I was generally sketching out plans a chapter or two ahead of my writing. In general I like to know what the ‘problem’ will be, and find out as I go how it will escalate and resolve.

If you had to describe your book in a tweet (140 characters) how would you do it?
Girl gets elephant, or he gets her.

Do you have any plans for another book?

My second book will be coming out with Scholastic in 2017 (hurray!). I have a couple more ideas simmering along – I find it helpful to have more than one, so that one can brew a bit for a while I’m writing some of the other.
Information about the Book

SYLVIA PHOTOSylvia Bishop is 23 years old and has recently graduated from Oxford. She is one half of the brilliant improvised comedy duo Peablossom Cabaret ( ERICA’S ELEPHANT is her first book, and she intends it to be the first of many quirky stories for young readers.You can learn more about Sylvia and her work by visiting her website (here), her Instagram account (here), or on Twitter

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The Three Little Witches

Georgie Adams and Emily Bolam
three witchesHubble Bubble!
Meet Zara, Ziggy and Zoe.
The three little witches are having a party, but naughty Melissa is out to make trouble!

This book is about is about three little witches. They made funny spells like this…

“Splitter, splitter, splatter
Sausages and batter
Bake them in a dish for tea
For Ziggy and Zoe and me!”

The story is about the fun the adventures that the three little witches have with their friends.

My favourite part is when they flooded the kitchen because it looked like a swimming pool. I didn’t like when Melissa was always cross, I preferred it when there was lots of fun and laughing.

I was able to read this book by the swimming pool on holiday on my own. I understood most of the words. The spells were written using wriggly letters which were difficult to read, I had to ask Mummy to help me read those bits. The story words were fine though as the lettering used was straight.

Verdict:I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend other children my age to read it.

Review by Avilee Gillett age 6 ½

Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: September 2003
Format: Paperback
Pages: 96
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
Age: Early reader
Reviewer: Avilee
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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