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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Hook, Line and Singer - A Sing-A-Long Book by Cerys Matthews

Hook, Line and Singer: A Singalong Book

From Cerys Matthews, radio 6 DJ, ex-singer of Brit Pop band Catatonia and one of Britain's best known music devotees, comes Hook, Line and Singer, a sing-a-long book for all the family, for any occasion. After more than thirty years of singing, travelling and collecting songs, Cerys Matthews still finds there's no better way to spend time than singing along in good company. In Hook, Line and Singer she invites you to join her in a grand old singalong. From songs for young families through tunes for vintage-lovers, trips away, American favourites and songs for times of optimism, ending with celebration songs for Christmas and New Year, this is a book filled with Cerys' own memories and musical arrangements. A mix of the traditional and contemporary, Hook, Line and Singer presents music and lyrics clearly so the book can be sung as well as read, offering you the stories behind the songs, their ages and origins, and the reason for their inclusion. This is a life-affirming book of the most memorable, melancholy, silliest and easiest-to-sing songs that Cerys knows, designed to keep handy at home for those moments when only a song will do. Cerys Matthews is a singer, songwriter, author and broadcaster, hosting a popular weekly radio show on BBC6 Music and appearing on The Voice with Tom Jones. A collector of songs for over thirty years, she has also written and presented documentaries on subjects such as Blue Horizon (the iconic British blues label), Sacred Harp singing and Dylan Thomas. A columnist for the number one world music magazine Songlines, she is the author of children's stories Tales from the Deep and Gelert, A Man's Best Friend. She was lead singer and songwriter for the multi-million-selling band Catatonia, and duets with Sir Tom Jones on the perennial winter favourite, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside'. She lives in West London with her children.

My job is that of an Activity Worker, in a city council run Children's Centre. I work with families who have children aged 0 - 5 years. In every session that I am a part of, songs and rhymes play a part. They are important as they attract a child's attention, teaches them about words and rhyme, encourages interaction, expectation and enjoyment. The use of actions encourages movement and co-ordination and as the children get older it aids language development and can include numbers, counting and turn taking. They are just as important for parents and other carers who gain confidence in groups and in also helping their children with their language and development.

When  I saw this book I knew it would be perfect for my job. I know the traditional rhymes and some of the alternative versions but am always on the look out for new rhymes and songs to teach the groups.

The book is all about song and rhyme. The author, Cerys Matthews, female lead of pop group Catatonia, has collected together lots of songs and rhymes which  together make for a fantastic sing-a-long. There are traditional tunes along with modern day songs which children and adults of all ages with enjoy, recognising many but I am sure all will learn a few new songs to add to their repertoire.

The songs are split into eleven chapters: Action Songs; If You're Happy and You Know It; Oh Dear, What Can The Matter Be?; Nan's Tune Emporium; Let's Go Fly A Kite; Monoglots to Polygots; La, La, La, La, La, L'America; Sea Dogs and Blue Water; Creature Songs; Sweet Dreams; and Christmas and New Year. Each chapter has 10-12 songs in each. All songs have brief introduction to the song, a little of its history and include those little gems of facts which could be a winning answer in a pub quiz! There is also the music included in the book - the basic tune and chords, suitable for guitar or piano players, along with the song words. If there are actions associated with the song, they are also included along with an alternative song words.

As I have previously said I work with children and therefore know lots of songs, however I think that nearly half of the tunes were new to me - I will definitely be learning some to take with me for the new term. I really like that there was the music too as it helps with the tunes for the songs I don't know - it would of been great if a CD could have been included with the book featuring all the songs in the book - this would have made a perfect songbook, however I am sure entering the song title into a well known search engine would soon throw up the tune! There is the perfect mix of old and new tunes within the book and it is one which the older generation will see as a walk down memory lane - it would make a perfect gift. I really like this book and I can see me dipping into it alot over the coming months as I plan sessions and sing-a-longs.

I received this book through the Amazon Vine Programme.

Tal la Vie

COVER-BOOK-1a“Once upon a bat and a pirate teddy bear,
there was a cheeky little witch, her name was Darling Cher.
Darling Cher was pretty, Darling Cher was bright,
but when she had to go to bed she gave mom quite a fight!
So if this introduction makes you wonder yet,
skip this page and dive into a tale you won’t forget…”

Product Details

"Once upon some milk on a fluffy shawl (not granny's),
there was a wizard baby boy who'd had twenty three nannies. 
Darling Cher's new brother made every nanny crack,
and every single one of them swore never to come back.
"Mrs. Pretzel, are you OK? Are you well?" asked Darling Cher. 
But Mrs. Pretzel, Pierre's new nanny, wouldn't sink into despair.
Now, if you're brave enough to read Mrs. Pretzel's honest story,
skip this page and dive right in, it's there in all its glory."

Product Details"Once upon a mess and a clueless Pirate Bear,
there were two wizard kids, Pierre and Darling Cher. 
A story of two children, who loved to make a mess.
Anytime and anywhere, and they couldn't care less. 
So even if this tale might sound like a messy story,
everything will be cleared up, so you don’t need to worry.
And if this introduction is quite sloppy (though you've read it),
skip this page and dive right in, you surely won't regret it!"

Three books, written by Tal La Vie, in rhyme. They are aimed at children aged 3-8 years. The stories are based around children, their naughty behaviour and the subsequent challenging behaviour that children display.

I found the books to be very wordy. The stories are written in rhyme and are cleverly written however I believe that they are too long and complicated for children aged 3-5 years to understand and follow.  The older children will enjoy the stories however there is no repetition which children enjoy, especially in rhyming books, allowing them to join in.

The illustrations are also, I believe, more likely to attract the older children  They are busy illustrations with lots going on in each page. The design is not traditional, it has a slight eastern influence and I am not sure that they will appeal to young children.

The stories have a strong basis - that of the way children behave and react to the world around them and believes that "we all have a genuine, innate ability to foster creative dynamics with the people in our lives, and create funny, surprising, and fun solutions to !the challenges we face with our loved ones, even if we often forget about this precious ability, and tend to stay within our comfort zones.". This is evident throughout all three books where there are strong child characters with their own beliefs which guides the story. 

I did enjoy the books. They would make great books to use during a circle time at nursery or school to aid discussion in the subjects discussed. I do not, however, believe that they are suitable for very young children to understand the wordy dialogue.

Thank you to the author for sending me the eBooks to review.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Sophie's Dance Class by Angela McAllister

Sophie's Dance Class - Early Reader

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey.Sophie loves to dance. She dreams of being a ballerina, and when she receives ballet lessons for her birthday, she hopes her wish to be a real dancer one day might really come true.

An Early Reader from Orion Children's Books, a series that I really think are perfect for young readers, that will immediately loved by young dancers and ballerinas. 

Sophie is about to go to her first ever Ballet lesson and must shop for her new outfit. After dressing as a ballerina, she is ready for her first lesson which she loves and when her brother starts crying after the lesson has finished, Sophie does what she knows best, she puts on a show to entertain him!

The book is fantastic, similar in format to the other books in the Early Reader scheme (many of which are included on this blog) the story is split into manageable chunks by great illustrations and introduces the young readers to chapters. The story can be told via the pictures for children who are too young to read the story themselves.

I think this would make a fantastic read for a young girl who loves dancing and ballet and wants to read her own stories to other children or with her peers.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

The Mummy that went Moo (You, Me and Thing) by Karen McCombie

You, Me and Thing: Bk. 4: The Mummy That Went Moo

Want to know a secret? There is something very, very strange living in the trees behind my house. If you tiptoe slowwwwly and quietly (ssh!) to the bottom of my garden, you might hear it rustling and rootling and 'peh!'ing in the dark undergrowth, on the other side of the low stone wall. And if you peek over the wall - holding your breath - there's a chance you could spot two saucer-round eyes blinking out of a strangely square pening in the tree roots...Ruby and Jackson get the surprise of their lives when they discover a Thing living at the bottom of their gardens. But Thing is cute, and funny, even if sometimes when it upset it gets a bit Arrghh! And that's when the trouble starts. Like the time Ruby and Jackson sneak Thing along with them on a school trip to the museum. In case you're wondering, it goes very, badly wrong...!

This is the fourth book in the series by Karen McCombie about two neighbours, Jackson and the narrator, Ruby. I do not believe that these two were friends until they found Thing, at the bottom of the garden. They all soon become firm friends and the thing Thing likes best, is Jelly Babies!

In this instalment, Jackson and Ruby are both to go on a school trip to a museum, which Thing decides he wants to hitch a ride to. All goes well until they reach the Mummy exhibit and Thing gets mischievous!

This series of books are a great one for children who have outgrown early readers and pretty princess and sparkly fairy reads. They are books about friendship and as they are a series, readers can get to know the characters and enjoy their adventures. 

Although the series is a level above Early Readers there are still a number of illustrations, pencil drawings, throughout the book which break up the text.

A good book for children age 9+ and I think that girls will be more interested in the series, although boys could enjoy it too.

Thank you to the publishers, Faber, for sending me the book to review.

Pooh! Is that you, Bertie? by David Roberts

Pooh! Is That You, Bertie? - Dirty Bertie

Bertie can be a bit smelly! When he trumps it makes his mum cross, embarrasses his dad, upsets his gran and offends his sister. But they all have a secret, and Bertie knows it! This hilarious book with trumping noises will delight all children with its wonderfully naughty noise!

Another picture book featuring the popular children's character Dirty Bertie. However this one also features a noisy button which children will love to press at any opportunity!

I know when my children were growing up, any mention of pooh or the sound of trumping would have my children, and their friends, in fits of giggles. This book would be perfect for them as it is full of both! Who knew there were so many words for the action - but David Roberts has included plenty in the story - leading to plenty of opportunities to press the trump button.

This picture book has lots of fantastic illustrations throughout the story and they all capture the mischievous Bertie at his best.

It would make a great book to share at story time or even bedtime - however be prepared for lots of giggles and the request for the book to be read again and again. I would say that this book would be suitable for all ages of children, and make a great introduction to Dirty Bertie and his family, before children graduate onto the chapter books.

This book would make a great gift, and with the noisy button, it would be that extra special book to share with others.

Thank you to the publishers, Little Tiger Press, for sending me the book to review.

Dirty Bertie by David Roberts

Dirty Bertie

Bertie has shockingly dirty habits, from nose-picking to weeing on the flowerbed! Whenever he does anything dirty, Bertie's family shouts "No, Bertie! That's dirty, Bertie!". Will Bertie ever kick his horrible habits?

I have reviewed many Dirty Bertie books on my blog and they are a firm favourite in our house. However the books reviewed on the blog have all been chapter books, whereas this book is a picture book which will appeal to younger Dirty Bertie fans as well as lovers of the chapter books.

Dirty Bertie is celebrating ten years of making mischief this year. He has spent the last ten years amusing children of all ages with his revolting (and humorous) antics.

As previously stated this is a picture book and I believe it is an introduction to Dirty Bertie. It introduces readers to Bertie and his family and the everyday life of Bertie. It will appeal to children of all ages and will have children giggling while their parents silently repulse. 

I believe that this would make a great gift for children who enjoy being mischievous. 

Thank you to the publishers, Little Tiger Press, for sending me the book to review.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Night of the Howling Hound (Undead Pets) by Sam Hay

Night of the Howling Hound - Undead Pets 3

Joe is just an ordinary boy until he makes a wish on a spooky Egyptian amulet...Now he's the Protector of Undead pets! Joe is off on a school trip to an adventure camp, and he can't wait to put Uncle Charlie's survival tips into practice! But it's not long before he's visited by Dexter, a scruffy-looking dog, with a howling tale of woe. Dexter doesn't want his owner feeling guilty for his death, but it'll be hard for Joe to intervene this time - it turns out that the owner is Joe's headmaster, the dreaded Mr Hill! Undead Pets is full of animal zombies and pets with one last thing to do before they pass to the other side! Funny, dark and full of adventure this series is ideal for boys seeking a fast-paced and amusing chapter book.

This is third book in a new series by Sam Hay, which I have mentioned previously on my blog here. Joe is the main character who, thanks to a gift from his uncle following a trip to Egypt, can now talk to pets who have died but still have unresolved business which needs to be settled before they can rest in peace. It is a strange idea for a series of books but I have seen that it is a popular series for boys aged 7+, my son loves the series and I have passed them on to other friends of similar age.

This book is about a 'Howling Hound' who died while chasing a squirrel over the edge of a cliff. He tries to get Joe to help in but Joe is fed up with all of these undead animals visiting him. Although this is the third book in the series, it is not necessary to read the previous two books before starting this one as each book has a quick recap/summary of the back story as to why these animals are visiting Joe.  The books will appeal to boys especially, and particularly those who like to ask questions or believe the unbelievable. 

The chapters are of a suitable length for a chapter before bed, although I am sure one chapter may often become two, due to the great storytelling. The text is clear and easy to read, with the author often using different words to the usual common words to describe the scene or characters, which is great for  young readers to practice their skills and learn new vocabulary. 

There are great illustrations throughout the book by Simon Cooper. I initially thought that the cover illustration may deter young readers but everyone who I showed the covers too were very interested in them and wanting to know what the book was about or to pick it up to start to read it.  

Thank you to the publishers, Stripes Publishing, for sending me the book to review.

The Case of the Phantom Cat (Maisie Hitchins) - Holly Webb

The Case of the Phantom Cat - Maisie Hitchins 3

From best-selling author Holly Webb comes a brand new series full of mystery and intrigue following the adventures of a very determined heroine and her dog! Holly Webb fans will be thrilled to pieces to discover the adventures of Maisie Hitchins, the pluckiest little detective in Victorian London. Maisie Hitchins lives in her grandmother's boarding house, longing for adventure. She idolizes the famous detective, Gilbert Carrington, and follows his every case. Together with her faithful pup Eddie, she is determined to follow even the slightest scent of a mystery - no matter what! Maisie's best friend, Alice, has been convalescing at home for some time when her father sends both the girls to a country estate. But they are warned that the place is haunted, and sure enough, peculiar things start to happen on their arrival. With strange noises and smells waking the girls in the night and an unexpected sighting of a ghostly-cat form, Maisie knows it's time for her to get her magnifying glass out!

The third book in the new series by Holly Webb. I have previously reviewed the first two books here. Reminding me of Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven, with a hint of Victorian history sprinkled throughout, this is a great series for children who love to solve mysteries.

In this book Maisie is invited to accompany her friend, Alice, who has been ill, to stop in a country house, to assist her in her recovery. Maisie is a below stairs girls whereas Alice is the daughter of a rich man and lives in a household who has staff, however Alice and Maisie are good friends and while away at the country house Alice enjoys the household tasks, when the staff are frightened away by the 'ghosts'.  The girls spend their days carrying out the daily tasks and also try to discover what the real story is with the phantom cat. 

It is a great story and I really think this is going to be a popular series of books. Although it is has a female main character I still believe that this series will be loved by both boys and girls alike.  It is suitable for children aged 9+. There are illustrations dotted throughout the book by Marion Lindsay and these are also great - they accompany the story fantastically and also depict the Victorian era, both within the setting and also the dress. It would make a great book to read within a class who are learning about the Victorian era.

Thank you to the publishers, Stripes Publishing, for sending me the book to review.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Big Fright (Monstrous Maud) by A B Saddlewick

Monstrous Maud: Big Fright - Monstrous Maud 1

When Maud's pet rat, Quentin, escapes in the middle of science class, it's the very last straw. Maud is transferred from Primrose Towers to Rotwood Middle School - to the delight of her teacher, classmates and her perfect twin, Milly - but what is in store at Rotwood? There's something strange about the pupils of Rotwood - everyone's dressed as though it's Halloween and the school's motto is 'Because We Scare'. Is ten-year-old Maud Montague monstrous enough for Rotwood?

This is the first book in a series of books by A B Saddlewick based at Rotwood School, a school for pupils who are ...... monsters!

Maud and Millie are twins - except Millie is angelic and a ballerina and Maud is naughty and manages to get herself transferred to Rotwood School where nothing is as it seems.

This is the perfect book for girls who are fans of Horrid Henry, except I would say that it is suitable for 9+ because there are bits about vampires and werewolves which may lead to questions that younger children may not understand the answer to.

In my mind the book is perfect for girls who love Horrid Henry or for children who are beginning to show an interest in all things monsterish and vampires. 

I received this book through The Amazon Vine Programme.
The story is funny and perfect for fans of characters who are mischievousness and like getting into trouble. The only thing I can fault the book on is the lack of illustrations - although the book is for the older age group I would of liked to see a few cartoony style illustrations added.

Deadly 60 Factbook: Squads, Squid and Jellyfish

Deadly Factbook 4: Fish, Squid and Jellyfish - Steve Backshall's Deadly Series

Did you know that catfish have more than 100,000 taste buds on their body? Or that a Bull shark has an even stronger bite than a Great White? Follow in the footsteps of the Deadly team and discover the secrets of the animal kingdom as they reveal fascinating facts and killer statistics in their guide to fish, squid and jellyfish. This is the fourth Deadly factbook. Illustrated 
throughout with full colour photographs and art.

This is the fourth book in a series of books, each one dedicated to a specific animal(s). This one is about fish, squid and jellyfish. The books are the perfect size to slip into a backpack or handbag - and are great boredom busters, although be prepared for 'Did you know????' 

The books contain lots of information and little known facts about the animals and creatures - perfect for school homework or swatting up for quizzes.  There are lots of great pictures throughout the book to keep a younger child's attention. 

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Kiss! (Dirty Bertie) by David Roberts and Alan MacDonald

Kiss! - Dirty Bertie Bk. 13

Dirty Bertie - the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits - is back for another helping of comic chaos! Join Bertie as he struggles to escape from the clutches of Angela Nicely, looks after the elderly class hamster, ends up with a star solo trumpet performance, even though he's never played one before...

This is the 13th book in the popular series by David Roberts and Alan MacDonald. The main character, Dirty Bertie, is a delightful child. Where ever he goes trouble, mischief and mayhem seems to follow him. He has celebrated his tenth year in publishing this year and seems to go from strength to strength in his chaotic lifestyle

As with all Dirty Bertie books in the series, there are three stories within each book.Kiss!; Hamster! and Boast! are the titles within this book. Kiss sees Bertie trying to out dodge Angela Nicely and avoid her plan to plant a kiss on him. Hamster is the story of when Bertie is given the responsibility of looking after the class hamster over a weekend and Boast is about when Bertie boasts about his ability to play the trumpet and is asked to play in the school concert.

The stories are great for early readers who are gaining confidence in reading alone. The are short stories which have the text broken into manageable chunks by David Roberts' fantastic illustrations which show the chaos caused in Bertie's presence.

A perfect gift for children who are gaining confidence in their own reading ability or to share at story time. Perfect for fans of Horrid Henry.

Thank you to the publishers, Stripes Publishing, for sending me the book to review.

Ninja Meerkats by Gareth P Jones

The Tomb of Doom - Ninja Meerkats Bk. 5Legend tells of the Clan of the Scorpion, four mighty meerkats who are armed to the teeth with ninja-know-how. They are sworn to protect the world from their longtime nemesis, the Ringmaster...When Chuck's brother Lob calls from Egypt to request the Clan's help, the meekats leap into action. Lob tells them that a local band of robbers known as the Thieves of Cairo are planning to infiltrate the mysterious Tomb of Doom and steal its contents, including an Egyptian mask rumoured to give its wearer the power to read minds. The meerkats smell a rat...Could the Ringmaster be behind this cunning scheme? [Book 5]

The Big City Bust-Up - Ninja Meerkats Bk. 6Legend tells of the Clan of the Scorpion, four mighty meerkats who are armed to the teeth with ninja-know-how. They are sworn to protect the world from their longtime nemesis, the Ringmaster...The mystical Stone of Life has fallen into the wrong hands and an army of living statues is causing chaos on the streets of London. The meerkats are summoned to help by the Secret Secret Service, and vow to leave no stone unturned. Can they succeed before the city crumbles? Get ready to rock! [Book 6]

The Ultimate Dragon Warrior - Ninja Meerkats Bk. 7Legend tells of the Clan of the Scorpion, four mighty meerkats who are armed to the teeth with ninja-know-how. They are sworn to protect the world from their longtime nemesis, the Ringmaster. Small, deadly and furry, The Ninja Meerkats are four warriors on a mission. In Book 7 in The Ninja Meerkats series, the meerkats are invited to a mysterious island to take part in an elite fighting competition. But everything on the island is not as it seems and the meerkats suspect that the Ringmaster is plotting another of his evil plans. Do the meerkats have what it takes to become champions in the most deadly contest of all - their fight against the Ringmaster? A hilarious series for boys, featuring death-defying meerkat action! Full of comical characters, daft puns, fast dialogue and even faster action, these book are irresistible to boys aged around six to eight years [Book 7]

This is a popular series aimed at boys aged 6-8 years. They are perfect for children who are gaining in confidence in reading alone or to be read by their peers at story time. They are chapter books and the story has illustrations dotted throughout the book.

The Ninja Meerkats books have been reviewed on my blog previously and are a favourite in my house. They remind me of the retro cartoon series, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, with a group of characters working together to right the wrongs of the world and cause mayhem and mischief along the way. 

There are four Ninja Meerkats: Jet Flashfeet; Bruce 'the muscle' Willowhammer; Donnie Dragonjab and Chuck Cobracrusher, along with the master, Grandmaster One-Eye. Each have their own characteristics and specialities which assist in their missions. 

Their missions take them around the world and sometimes include historical information or visits to foreign cities, all of which may encourage readers to find out more, e.g. In The Tomb of Doom the ninja meerkats visit the pyramids of Egypt and within the story is information about ancient Egypt which readers may want to find out more about.

I would recommend this series as a great one for boys aged 6-8 to enjoy throughout these summer holidays.

Thank you to the publishers, Stripes Publishing, for sending me the the books to review.

Second Term at L'Etoile (School for Stars) by Holly and Kelly Willoughby

Second Term at L'Etoile - School for Stars

Christmas is over and Molly, Maria and Pippa are back for their second term at L'Etoile, the exclusive School for Stars. Molly, Maria and Pippa are reunited for another term full of fun and surprises. A midnight mystery, a precious lost rose, centenary celebrations, a playful puppy with a twinkle in its eyes, and a royal visit are just some of the things that make them friends for ever.

This is the second book in the new series by sisters Holly and Kelly Willoughby. I have previously reviewed First Term at L'Etoile. The series is set in a boarding school for children gifted in the arts, L'Etoile, School for Stars, ran by Madame Ruby. The main characters are twin sisters Molly and Maria Fitzfoster, who along with their best friend and room mate Pippa Burrows.

Returning to school following their Christmas break the L'Etoilettes are excited by the news that at the end of February. the school will be celebrating their 100th Founders Day. The day will be marked by an event which will be attended by an entertainment industry figure Mr Fuller (any relation to Simon Fuller, creator of The Spice Girls and friend to Simon Cowell??) and, more excitingly, a member of the Royal Family. Each year are asked to audition acts to be a part of the event and the first years decide to go with a song written by their own Pippa Burrows and performed by themselves. But will they make the grade? Who will the mystery royal be? And as they learn about the history of L'Etoile, what is The Lost Rose of L'Etoile and is it still hidden in the grounds?

This book has a bit of everything for readers: a good, school based story, with good, strong friendships being a important quality which is valued by all; an exciting event, with mystery concerning the royal guest; and a mystery to solve, under the cover of darkness. The award ceremony also shows that hard work, and dedication reaps reward and the impossible can become possible through hard work.

Throughout the story, there are interruptions throughout the story from the Storyteller, like an inner voice it adds clarity or gives idea for further thought which I think adds to the story and encourages readers to live the story alongside the characters. I know that my daughter struggled a little at school with interpreting what she was reading I think that this Storyteller helps develop this skill.

Although this book has a famous name on the cover, unlike some screen stars who have turned their hand to writing books, it is a really good read, one which I am sure that girls aged 9+ will really enjoy. It would suit younger children too but would probably be one to read alongside a peer or to have as a bedtime story, a chapter a night. 

As I said in my previous review, this series has a similarity to Enid Blyton's popular school series: Malory Towers and St Clares, and I still stand by this comment, they are a great read and I am sure that this series will continue to gain in popularity. I know that I, for one, are looking forward to the next book in the series, although there are exams ahead during the third term for the first year L'Etoille's.

Definitely a great read for children aged 9+, one I would recommend for children over the summer holidays.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

My First Dictionary (Letterland)

My First Dictionary

This colourful first dictionary introduces over 200 essential first words. Each word is illustrated and explained with a simple definition as well as a contextual sentence. There are icons to show which words can be 'sounded out' easily and Letterland phonics stories to help children learn and remember new spelling patterns. Useful extra reference pages include: colours, numbers, shapes, days, months, and words we use a lot. With the alphabet at the edge of every page and the Letterland characters' help, it is easy for children to find their way around this first dictionary.

Since my children have began to read and write I have tried to encourage them to use a dictionary when possible instead of keep asking what a word means or how to spell a word. It has helped them to learn how to use a dictionary and  following that, how to use a theasauraus. This book would of made the ideal first dictionary for them both as there are over 300 words, including 200 essential first words, included within the dicitionary: each word is contained in a 'box' and has a colourful picture of the item e.g. hat, orange, along with an easy to read definition. Each also contains a sentence using the word.

This book is part of the Letterland series, and therefore for each letter the dictionary contains the Letterland character and its spelling story, enabling parents to continue with the Letterland pronunciation of letters using these character names. Each letter is given at the start of each section of the dictionary - both the upper and lower case letter and every page within the dictionary contains a complete alphabet list down the side of the page.

At the back of the dictionary there are additional pages containing: 100 words we write a lot;the alphabet; days of the week; months of the year; seasons; shapes; colours; numbers; verbs (including a definition of a verb); a page of fun and games which help with navigation of the dictionary; and the Letterlanders.

I think that this is a fantastic first dictionary for primary school children - I would say it would be perfect for Reception and Key Stage 1 children (5-8 years), Not all schools utilise the Letterland scheme of learning how to read, my children's school didn't, however I think that this dictionary would be suitable for any child. 

Thank you to the PR for sending me this to review.

Deadly 60 Brain Teasers

Deadly Brain Teasers: Book 2 - Steve Backshall's Deadly Series

Become part of Steve Backshall's world with this 24-page DEADLY book of BRAIN TEASERS, full of crosswords, wordsearches, puzzles, codes and quizzes about wild and lethal predators - an absolute must-have for all DEADLY fans. Answers at the back of the book.

For fans of Steve Backshall or animal fans in general, this would make a great activity for any rainy days this summer holidays. It has lots of different puzzles which would be great for all ages of children: there are mazes and pair matching games for the younger children and wordsearches and scrambled words for the older children. 

The book has lots of great puzzles, although I did find that the numbers on the dot to dot are very small, which I think will make it difficult for young children to complete. There are quizes which could be a starting point for further investigation and research, and illustrations throughout the book which could be copied  by art loving children.

In summary, I think that this is a good book to have in reserve for a rainy day activity. It contains activities for children aged 5-10 and can be used as a starting point for projects or research.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Colour in One Direction

Colour in One Direction!

This 100% unofficial colouring book is packed full of the hottest pictures ready for you to colour in. With awesome stickers you can create fabulous pictures of your favourite boys. This book is the perfect way to show your love for One Direction!

If you have a daughter who is reaching their teenage years, I am sure that One Direction is mentioned at least once per hour. My daughter's room is a shrine to One Direction. Her other love is art - she loves craft, making things or good old colouring in and therefore I am sure this book will be right up her street!

This book is unofficial and therefore the pictures are quite old pictures of the boys, when Harry had his lovely locks and the other boys had more hair and less tattoos. Some of the pictures look spot on - very similar to some photoshoots I remember seeing in magazines, however other pictures look like they have been adapted and are not so realistic. There are lots of group pictures and then one of each member on their own, and a couple with just two of the boys. Something to please everyone. In the middle of the book there is also a double spread of sticker - words and icons, no pictures of the boys though.

I am sure that this would be a great standby for a rainy day activity over the summer break for fans of One Direction of any age.

Thank you to the publishers Simon and Schuster Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Pet Itch by Elli Woolard and Elina Ellis

The Pet Itch

Mossy the Monster wants a pet Itch but his family are less keen. They come up with many reasons against him having one. It takes his scheming older sister to come up with a plan that will not only get him a pet Itch but also get the adults to do all the dirty work!

A strange children's book which will capture the attention of youngsters of all ages; especially those who love monsters! It is written in rhyme and is slightly longer in length than some picture books. It is a 'wordy' story which will suit children aged 4 years +. 

I must admit that it was not a story that I could imagine reading to my child through my choice, however I think that it would appeal to small children, especially young boys who love monsters and all things weird.

Thank you to the publishers, Maverick Arts Publishers, who sent me the book to review.

Mog the forgetful cat by Judith Kerr

Mog the Forgetful Cat

New cover and format reissue of this classic story about everyone's favourite family cat! Mog always seems to be in trouble because she is such a very forgetful cat. She forgets that she has a cat flap and she forgets when she has already eaten her supper. But one night when an uninvited visitor turns up at the house, Mog's forgetfulness comes in very handy!

Mog is one of the most famous cats in storyland. Created by Judith Kerr, who turns 90 years old this year. To celebrate this milestone, Harper Collins Children's Books are re-releasing this beautiful hardback edition of a timeless classic.

I know many of my friends remember Mog from their childhood's and now they are becoming parents, they are again seeking this book to share with their children. I, however, can not remember Mog - might be because my parents never liked cats, I have many favourite books from my childhood, all of which I share with my children, but Mog was a new book to me when my children were young.  

Mog, is a very forgetful cat. The thing she forgets the most is the existence of her cat flap. She either forgets to go out through her cat flap, or most often, forgets she can come back in through the cat flap  However, one night, after a particularly difficult day where her family got annoyed with Mog, she frightened a burglar and woke the family who called the police and the burglar was arrested. 

This edition of the book has, as previously mentioned, been released in celebration of Judith Kerr's 90th birthday. It is a beautiful and colourful edition, a hardback and the event of the author's 90th birthday is mentioned on the inside cover flap which makes it a very special edition. I think that this would make a beautiful gift for fans of Mog, especially for a family who have  a child who may be born in 2013. 

Thank you to Harper Collins Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

The bunny that couldn't be found by Angela Mitchell (Illustrated by Sarah Horne)

The Bunny That Couldn't be Found

Princess Lolly is beside herself when her pet dog, Johnny Bunny, goes missing. But there is a slight misunderstanding when Princess Lolly's staff start searching for a bunny rabbit...

A comical story about a hunt for a rabbit, which is actually ............. a dog! 

The story is well written and helps children to understand that things are not always as they sound.It will raise a few laughs while the story is being told.

I really like the illustrations accompanying the story. They have a cartoon style feel and do not portray the princess as young and beautiful but as a princess who is slightly older. The policemen represent the multicultural make up of today's police force. Although the illustrations are sparsely drawn, they represent the story perfectly.

It is a good story which will amuse children, who are slightly older (4+). 

Thank you to the publishers, Maverick Arts Publishing, for sending me the book to review.

No! by Tracey Corderoy and Tim Warnes


Archie was adorable. Everybody said so. Until one day he learned a new word..."No!" Archie says "No!" at mealtimes, bath times, and every single bedtime...A hilarious tale that's perfect for parents whose toddler may be over-using the word "No!" and finding themselves suddenly tackling tantrums. The cheeky, charming Archie will win the hearts of children and parents alike. From the award-winning author Tracey Corderoy (The Grunt and The Grouch, Monty and Milli) and illustrated by the best-selling Tim Warnes (I Love You as Big as the World, I Don't Want to Go to Bed!), No! is set to become a laugh-out-loud picture book classic.

Tracey Corderoy is one of my favourite authors, not only is she a lovely lady (My daughter and I often meet up with her at her crafty book events at Waterstone's Worcester) but she writes fantastic books. Tracey's books cover a wide range of ages, with some books suitable for the very young and others suitable for 9+.  She writes about cute little animals (Willow Valley) and also horrible creatures (The Grunt and the Grouch), and some of her latest books are about a criminal gang, The Unstoppables, which are suitable for the older age range.

This book is about Archie, a cute and adorable rhinoceros, who has learnt a new word: No! It is his answer to everything - i certainly remember my son going through this stage. However, when asked if he would like a hug, he soon learns a new answer.

Archie is adorable and I loved him in his little tiger onesie.  It is a great story and the illustrations are gorgeous - they would make a great design on nursery items. The style of the book reminds me of Wibbly Pig and i am sure that Archie would make a great character for a range of books (any chance Tracey?). The story teaches children an important lesson.

The book would make a great story at story time and I can hear children of all ages shouting 'No' while listening to the story being told to them. It is a well constructed story and the words and illustrations are a perfect compliments to each other.

I would recommend this as a great gift for children up to 5 years of age.

Thank you to the publishers, Little Tiger Press, for sending me the book to review.

This book is part of Little Tiger Press' reading rocks summer campaign and more resources can be found: here including colouring pages and activities.

Eddie and Dog by Alison Brown

Eddie and Dog

Eddie is looking for a friend - a friend who likes adventure. Then Eddie meets Dog and Dog wants an adventure too. So Eddie takes Dog home and the pair have a lot of fun until Eddie's mum decides that Dog can't stay as Dog needs a garden. Will Dog stay away for long? This wonderful story with stunning artwork celebrates the excitement of a beautiful friendship. The perfect picture book for any child who loves a little adventure and especially for one who loves dogs.

A fun and entertaining book about a dog who adopts a young boy, Eddie, and however the mother tries to send him away, because they don't have a garden for him to play in, the Dog keeps on returning, finally with a plan which might just work!

This is a great book for dog lovers or  young adventurers. The story is told in simple language, with little blocks of story contained within great illustrations which will capture the imagination of young children and visually tell the story, making it a great book for children to 'read' themselves and make up the story from the pictures within the book. It would make a great bedtime story or one to share at story time.

Thank you to the publishers, Little Tiger Press, for sending me the book to review.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Horrid Henry's Homework by Francesca Simon

Horrid Henry's Homework - Horrid Henry Early Reader

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey. Horrid Henry is far too busy to bother with his stupid, boring spelling homework. He'll just have to come up with a spectacularly brilliant plan instead.

This book was originally included in the book 'Horrid Henry and the mummy's curse' but has now been given the Early Reader treatment and is a standalone book. It contains only the one story and is perfect for children who are beginning to read themselves.

The story is split into manageable chunks with lots of fantastic illustrations by Tony Ross bringing the story to life. He captures the mischief within Henry perfectly. 

I would recommend this to the younger fans of Horrid Henry, who are beginning to read alone, or to read to children, while introducing the idea of chapter books.

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review

Horrid Henry's Bugs by Francesca Simon

A Horrid Factbook: Bugs - Horrid Henry

Packed with freaky facts and random trivia, this is the perfect guide to everything you ever wanted to know (and lots of things you might never have wanted to know) about BUGS - Horrid Henry style!

How do bees keep warm?
Which bug eats its prey alive?
Are ladybirds really poisonous?
Weird and wonderful, hilarious and horrid, welcome to Horrid Henry's guide to everything you ever wanted to know about ..........Bugs.

I have seen a number of these Horrid Fact-books and they are fantastic books for children. They contain lots of facts within the book, the kind of facts which could come up in quizzes  The facts are separated by the clever illustrations of Tony Ross in typical Horrid Henry style.

This book would make a great gift to lovers of everything creepy crawly and will keep them amused for hours.  There are facts included which I can imagine will be the talk of the playground the next day. Many of the facts could make the starting point for further learning about the creepy crawly world. 

Thank you to the publishers, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Cudweed's Time Machine by Marcus Sedgwick

Cudweed's Time Machine - Early Reader

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A blue Early Reader is perfect for sharing and reading together. A red Early Reader is the next step on your reading journey. Cudweed comes face to face with Roman soldiers, dinosaurs and Vikings in this funny, quirky story, perfect for beginner readers, from the bestselling Raven Mysteries team, Marcus Sedgwick and Pete Williamson.

This is the story of the ODD and STRANGE things that happen when Cudweed discovers a time machine. 
Cudweed is about to trael where no man has gone before - to TEA TIME. But time travel turns out to be more tricky that he'd first thought .......

Another fantastic book from Orion Children's Books Early Reader series. This one I believe would be a great book to encourage boys to pick up a book. Based upon time travel, a young boys imagination and the determination of a young boy to let nothing stand in his way of his tea! 

The story is broken down into manageable chunks with great illustrations by Pete Williamson, an illustrator who has a fantastic imagination and ability to catch mischief and mayhem within his illustrations.

I recommend this book, and the entire Early Reader collection from Orion, to children who are beginning to gain confidence in their own ability to read alone. It would make a great addition to any primary school library.

Thank you to the publisher, Orion Children's Books, for sending me the book to review.

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton

Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam

'Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are two hapless robber dogs who decide on career change after one bungled burglary too many - proving that crime doesn't pay, but cupcakes certainly do!

In the dead of night when the moon yawned down, two gloomy robber dogs plodded through town.
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam are the world's most useless burglars. When their master plan for a robbery goes hopelessly wrong again, they discover that crime doesn't pay but cupcakes certainly do!

Another fantastic story picture book from Tracey Corderoy. As this is a Nosy Crow book, it also comes with the option of a free audio reading of the story, via a QR code on the inside front cover.

A story written in rhyme,with Tracey's fantastic imagination created another great story which children of all ages will love to read again and again. The story is accompanied by illustrations by Steven Lenton, which are brightly coloured and each page contains a spider, which children will love to try and spot while reading the story. 

There is a moral to the story - stealing and crime doesn't pay - which is put across really well within the story. The characters also see the error of their ways which is also an important message.

I would recommend this as a great book for children of all ages. It will particularly appeal to fans of books written in rhyme, like those of Julia Donaldson.

Thank you to the publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me the book to review.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Just Right For Two by Tracey Corderoy and Rosalind Beardshaw

Just Right for Two

Dog has everything he needs in his big blue suitcase - it's the perfect fit for all the little treasures he has collected along the way - and Dog is sure that he is happy just him and his suitcase. Until one night, Mouse comes along and Dog discovers that life is richer and more fun with a friend and his big blue suitcase is actually just right for two.

This book also offers a free audio reading of this book, accessed via the scanning of a QR code

This is a beautiful story about a dog who finds that special friend; one who can play with him or just sit with him and the day feels complete. 

I really enjoyed this story. It is written in a language that is perfect for younger children, and is illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw who has created a loveable dog, who looks well loved, although a little scruffy. It has a great moral for children and could be used as a great teacher's resource when talking about friendship and the importance of having a good friend. 

I would recommend this as a great book to give as a gift to a young child. I am sure that it is going to become a very popular story time book for many children.

Thank you to the publishers, Nosy Crow, for sending me the book to review.

Pi-Rat by Maxine Lee


Who's the most rascally rat to sail the seas? It's Pi-Rat of course! Ahoy there! Meet Pi-Rat and his swashbuckling crew. They're brave, bold and nothing scares them. Well, almost nothing...Children will love joining Pi-Rat and his crew on their adventures on the Soapy Dodger. A hilarious tale packed with mischievous pirates, cheeky fun and plenty of swashbuckling. Perfect for any little pirate-fan and full of fun for any reader, young or old, this tale of sailing the seven seas on the Soapy Dodger includes an unexpected bathtime twist!

Pirate stories appear to be very popular with children of all ages and therefore when I see a new one published I am looking for something a little bit different to make the book a hit. Pi-Rat does this very well and I am sure it will be a big hit.

The story is told in very few words, and has big, colourful and blocky illustrations, making it perfect for young children. It is a story which when read aloud will encourage the storyteller to adopt the pirate accent and become a pirate themselves.  

I believe that the story will be perfect for children of many ages, as there is limited words to the story it allows the children's imagination to run wild and make up their own storyline or to share during a story time.

This book is also part of the Little Tiger 'Reading Rocks' campaign and there is further resources available for the selected books here:

Thank you to the publishers, Caterpillar Books, for sending me the book to review.