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Monday, 28 December 2015

Seasons Come, Seasons go Tree by Britta Teekentrup

Explore the beauty of the changing seasons in this timeless peek-through book with beautiful artwork from Britta Teckentrup and accompanying rhyming text. Following the life-cycle of a tree through spring, summer, autumn and winter, children will easily learn to recognise the signs of the seasons with this simple yet striking picture book.

Publisher: Little Tiger Press Group
ISBN: 9781848691810
Britta Teckentrup is a favourite author of mine. Her books are cleverly constructed and filled with beautiful illustrations.
Seasons come, Seasons go tree tells the story of a tree throughout the seasons. With cleverly planned 'windows' on each page, the reader can follow the inhabitants throughout the year. Children will adore looking through this book and spotting all of the animals hidden within the tree and during the time it is possible to talk about the seasons, the changing weather and changing colour of the leaves on the tree.
This is a beautiful book which should be treasured and shared.
Thank you to the publishers, Little Tiger Press, for sending me the book to review in return for an honest review.

The Amazing Human Body Detectives by Maggie Li

Our body is an amazing thing and there's so much more to discover about it than meets the eye. The Amazing Body Detectives is a fun and informative insight into the inner and outer world of our bodies. No nook and cranny is left undiscovered, no goosebump left unexplored. We all know that we all have unique fingerprints, but did you know that we also have a unique tongue print? Did you know that when you are awake, the human brain has enough electricity whizzing about to power a light bulb? Our eyelashes have little creatures living on them - come and take a look at them! Following on from BUG DETECTIVE, this follows the same interesting, fun and informative look at different parts of the body. Hidden elements appear on every page making this interactive and enjoyable. Taking a more lighthearted approach than many other books on the market, this book covers the key facts with fun and humor, as well as dispelling the myths.
Publisher: Pavilion Books
ISBN: 9781843652977
As a child I loved any books about the human body and I think this one would have been a popular favorite of mine.
As soon as the reader opens this book they begin a journey through the human body. Each topic has a double page spread which is jam packed full of information, facts and challenges which will keep readers busy and interested for some time. The pages are cleverly laid out to maximise space but also provide lots of information for inquisitive children or for inclusion of those school projects! 
This is a must have book for school age children as the starting point for many projects or revision. It is a great book about the human body and will capture a child's imagination when they ask how do we see, what happens to food when we eat it, or how can i feel?
Thank you to the publishers, Pavilion Books, for sending me the book to review.

Aliens (Dirty Bertie) by David Roberts

Aliens! - Dirty Bertie 26 (Paperback)

Calling all Dirty Bertie fans! Dirty Bertie - the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits - is back for another helping of comic chaos! With ever-increasing madcap schemes and crazy capers, Bertie continues to delight his legions of fans who revel in his revolting ways. Join Bertie in Aliens! his 26th adventure, as he prepares for an alien invasion, has a go at bird watching and tries to improve his school report! Dirty Bertie is a hugely popular series created by award-winning illustrator, David Roberts (Tyrannosaurus Drip, The Wind in the Willows, The Troll, Eddie Dickens Trilogy). With each hilarious story approximately thirty pages long and split into chapters with illustrations on nearly every spread, Dirty Bertie is ideal for confident readers to enjoy by themselves, or for sharing with your child.

Publisher: Little Tiger Press Group
ISBN: 9781847155122

This is the twenty sixth book in the popular Dirty Bertie series of books. Dirty Bertie is a lovable little boy, who has nose-pickingly disgusting habits,  who children adore reading about. Each book contains three stand alone stories and tell the tales of Dirty Bertie at his disgustingly worst.

Aliens tells the story of Bertie as he visits the local library to listen to a talk about UFO's and which leaves Bertie certain he has met with real aliens! 

These books are perfect for young readers, who are developing their reading skills, and are wanting more than basic story picture books. The three stories within each book are split into manageable chapters which are perfect to be shared at bedtime or for a child to read themselves. There are a number of illustrations throughout the book which break up the text but leave the young readers proud that they have read a 'proper' book.

Dirty Book is a great character which is loved by both girls and boys alike and I remember my son falling in love with reading through both Dirty Bertie and Horrid Henry. For young girls who like these sort of characters, David Roberts and Alan MacDonald have also written books about Angela Nicely too.

I received this book in return for an honest review from the publishers, Stripes Books. 

Apple Pigs by Ruth Gary Orbach

Some ate cores,Some ate peelings,Some ate apples from the ceiling. Soon the apples were no more We'd gobbled up our whole great store. A timeless classic, loved by a generation, reissued to be enjoyed by today's children. This beautifully illustrated tale of an apple tree that grows too many apples is delightfully told in rhyme. A little girl finds a withered apple tree surrounded by rubbish. To stop the tree being chopped down for firewood, she clears the rubbish to help the poor tree grow. When Spring arrives, the tree bursts into blossom and produces a glut of apples. But as the little girl's family try to eat, cook and hide the apples in rugs, blankets, wagons and jugs, the apples continue to grow! There is only one answer: an apple feast! A wonderful tale published in time for Apple Day, its charming illustrations and story will amuse and educate a new generation, giving them an appreciation of nature's bounty and the importance of sharing. The book includes a guide to making your own 'apple pig' (a fruit sculpture that looks just like a pig!).
Publisher: Pavilion Books
ISBN: 9781843653028

This book, at first glance, is a strange poem all about apples. However, when I read it again, I decided that it is a beautiful written poem which is a perfect celebration of harvest and growing ones own produce to share during harvest time for both humans and animals alike to eat from the land.

The story is told in verse, a beautiful poem, which gives lots of thoughts from which many discussions can be had but the illustrations which accompany it are also very good. They would make great discussion starters for circle time and are great to look at with younger children as there are lots of individual components which make up the larger scene.

I would say it is a perfect book to celebrate harvest time.

Thank you to the publishers, Pavilion Books and The National Trust Books, for sending me the book to review in return for an honest review.

The Village Show by Alexandra Brown

The Great Village Show (eBook)

The warm and witty new novel from bestselling author Alexandra Brown, perfect for fans of #GBBO. For fans of Jenny Colgan and Carole Matthews. Tindledale is in a tizzy . . . The Village Show competition is coming around again and after last year's spectacular failure, the villagers are determined to win. Meg, teacher at the local school, is keen to help and to impose some much-needed order. After a terse encounter with a newcomer to the village, Meg discovers that it is celebrity chef and culinary bad boy, Dan Wright. Meg thinks he is arrogant and rude but rumour has it that Dan is opening a new restaurant in the village which could really put Tindledale on the map. As things come together, villagers old and new all start to come out of the woodwork, including new arrival Jessie who seems to have it all. But first impressions can be deceptive and Meg discovers that when it comes to Tindledale – and Dan – nothing is ever quite as it seems . . .
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780007597406

Alexandra Brown's back catalogue includes her debut series of books based in Carrington's department store and her last book introduced us to a new series of books based in the fictional village of Tindledale and was based in the local haberdashery shop, Hettie's House of Haberdashery, entitled The Great Christmas Knit Off.

The Great Village Show takes us back to Tindledale and we follow Meg, the acting head teacher of the village school, as she organises the village ready for the annual village show, which last year was a disaster. Although the main focus of the book is Meg's life, Brown also includes the characters who readers met in the previous book, and also other villagers as the story progresses. Tindlesdale appears to be a lovely English village which I would love to visit or maybe even live in and the likeable characters all add depth and reality to the village and leave readers wanting to meet more. 

Brown's writing style is easy to read and leaves readers with a warm and cosy glow. They are easy reads which can be devoured over a weekend.  Tindlesdale is a village which I hope to be visiting again as I am sure there is much more village life to retell in Brown's next novel. 

Thank you to the publishers Harper Collins, who sent me the book in return for an honest review.

The Beachside Guest House by Vanessa Greene

The Beachside Guest House (Paperback)

When Rosa and Bee get together in the run-up to Bee's wedding, they reminisce about the holiday they took together as teenagers to the beautiful Greek island of Paros. They remember the sandy coves, the guest house in the converted windmill where they stayed with their friend Iona, and the gorgeous local men. As memories of that long-forgotten holiday resurface, they are forced to confront the turns their lives have taken - and the guilt they both feel about letting Iona slip away from them. When they learn that the windmill guest house is going bust they form a plan: why not go back to the island and take it over themselves? And so begins a life-changing journey - because it turns out that opening a guest house and reliving their teenage dreams isn't that easy ...Full of romance and friendship, love and life, laughter and tears, The Beachside Guest House is an uplifting novel about the magic of starting over with friends by your side.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 97807515522
Vanessa Greene's books are always a fantastic read. They transport the reader to a lovely setting and while on the face of it they might appear to be an easy read, there is a great story within. The Beachside Guest House is no exception and I think this one has the best storyline so far!
While readers can loose themselves in the beautiful Greek scenery, the storyline is about three girls, who had visited the island in their teens, when they were best of friends, and who now have lost touch with Iona but decide to, following a breakdown in relationships, return to the island and renovate the windmill and return it to the guesthouse glory they remember. 
Greene's storytelling is beautiful - the characters are life like and believable and the tales they tell within the story all interweave to give the readers a story they want to read more of. 
This is a great read, and one which will leave the readers basking in the Greek sunshine and itching to get on a flight to visit the windmill themselves.
Thank you to the publishers, Sphere, for sending me the book to review in return for an honest review.

Old bear's bedtime stories by Jane Hissey

Old Bear's Bedtime Stories - Old Bear (Hardback)

A beautifully-illustrated classic picture book treasury from popular author-illustrator Jane Hissey, featuring the beloved characters from the Old Bear series in a variety of charming and enchanting adventures from winter picnics to theatrical performances. Perfect for bedtime reading.
Publisher: Salariya Book Company Ltd
ISBN: 9781910706152
This is the perfect book to give to a child to celebrate their birth, for their first birthday or as a book to share at any time. It is an heirloom which can be stored on a book shelf to pass on to their own children. In fact it is a beautiful book for any occasion.
Jane Hissey's Old Bear stories are books which I fondly remember from my own childhood and looking through this book has bought back many happy memories from that time.
This book features twenty one of Hissey's fantastic stories and throughout the book are featured many of her beautiful illustrations which are so life like that the reader could be forgiven for believing the teddy bears could be lifted from the page and cuddled. 
The stories are timeless classics which will continue to be loved by children of all ages and this book will make a perfect gift to share them with others.
Thank you to the publishers, Scribblers books, for sending me the book in return for an honest review.

Shopaholic to the rescue by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic to the Rescue (Hardback)

To Las Vegas...and beyond! Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is on a major rescue mission! Hollywood was full of surprises, and now she's on a road trip to Las Vegas to help her friends and family. She's determined to get to the bottom of why her dad has mysteriously disappeared, help her best friend Suze and even bond with long-time enemy Alicia Bitch Long-legs (maybe...). As Becky discovers just how much her friends and family need help, she comes up with her biggest, boldest, most brilliant plan yet! So can she save the day just when they need her most? Becky is setting out to make things right in this laugh-out-loud, feel-good conclusion to her American adventure that beglan with Shopaholic To The Stars.
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9780593074626
I have read all of the Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series and have enjoyed them, however I am beginning to feel that the series has run its course and over the past two-three novels I have found that the enjoyment is beginning to fade.
At the end of the last book, Shopaholic to the stars, Becky Brandon was begininng a road trip to find her father and best friend's husband, who they fear may have been brainwashed by a Hollywood sect. This book follows them on this road trip and in true Becky Brandon style things don't go quite according to plan.
What I did like in this book was that Becky is beginning to 'act her age' and is not the centre of attention - there are times in the book where she has the oppurtunity to spend, spend, spend but she doesn't and is beginning to retalise that other things are more important. I would like to see if Kinsella continues with this new way of thinking for Brandon and takes her down the family route - as her daughter is definitely taking over the Becky Brandon mantal!
Kinsella is a fantastic writer and I do enjoy reading her books, although I would love to see her write more of her standalone novels and leave Becky Brandon on the shelf for a few years.
Thank you to the publisher, Transworld Publishers, for sending me the book to read in return for an honest review.

Star Teacher by Jack Sheffield

Star Teacher (Paperback)

It's 1985, and as Jack returns for another year as headteacher at Ragley village school, some changes are in store. It's the year of Halley's Comet, Band Aid, Trivial Pursuit, Dynasty shoulder pads, Roland Rat and Microsoft Windows. And at Ragley-on-the-Forest, Heathcliffe Earnshaw decides to enter the village scarecrow competition, Ruby the caretaker finds romance, and retirement looms for Vera the secretary. Meanwhile, Jack has to battle with some rising stars of the teaching profession to save his job and his school...Readers love Jack Sheffield: "Wry observation and heart-warming humour in equal measure." (Alan Titchmarsh). "Overflowing with amusing anecdotes." (Daily Express). "Amusing adventures at the North Yorkshire village school." (Choice). "Jack Sheffield's in a class of his own." York Press).

Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9780593075067
I have read and loved every one of this series and each year look forward to dipping back into the lives of Ragley village school and reminisce about years gone by. 
Star Teacher takes us back to 1985 and it is another jam packed school year for Jack and his pupils and staff. The book is a mixture of both fact and fiction and Sheffield's clever storytelling makes the book a great piece of social history. The storyline is full of a cast of village residents from the very young to the very old, each of whom has their own backstory and who readers might recognise in their own families or neighbours.
One thing I love about these books is the attention to detail. They are a walk through history, in this book alone Halley's Comet, Band Aid, Trivial Pursuit, Roland Rat and Microsoft Windows are introduced and the villagers all have their own views and concerns which are similar to those felt by many at the time.
The school children of Ragley village school are fantastic - the dialogue the children have throughout the book is priceless, out of the mouth of babes ...... There are some great one liners which leave the readers laughing out loud on many occassion. 
This book, similar to others, leave the readers on a knife edge - the beginning of the next book is going to be one I am going to be itching to read,I want to know where Jack goes next but as they are usually released around the last quarter of the year, I still have a long time to wait - however readers who are discovering Ragley for the first time have plenty of time to catch up on the history of the school.
Another fantastic book by Sheffield and a series I continue to recommend to all who love a good series to loose themselves in. 
Thank you to the publishers for sending me the book to review in return for an honest review. 

How to be a cowboy by Alice V Lickens

How to be a Cowboy: Activity Book (Hardback)

The ultimate guide to becoming a cowboy. This activity book contains maps of the cowboys' favourite stomping grounds, a dress-your-own-cowboy paper doll (with cut-out clothes, colonial spurs, woollies and batwing chaps), a talk-like-a-cowboy guide, a sheet of super-cool stickers, and real-life cowboy recipes to try cooking at home. And for when you're ready to become a cowboy, you can pick and choose your own ranch name. Beautiful illustrations and fun activities from illustrator Alice Lickens, who was awarded the prestigious Sendak Fellowship in 2012, make this an exquisite gift book to treasure, ideal for aspiring cowboys and cowgirls of all ages from 3 to 83. 

Publisher: Pavilion Books
ISBN: 9781843652410

Firstly, I feel that I must make a confession, I love anything to do with cowboys! As a teenager I spent my weekends at Country and Western events and loved the history, the attire and regalia. And now back to the book - I loved it!

Lickens has created a fantastic book, filled with history, geography and fashion lowdown, teaching you how to walk, talk and dress like a cowboy and  all accompanied by lots of related craft activities. There is a good old fashioned paper cowboy doll to dress and recipes to try.

The book is interactive - there are paper dolls to pop out, stickers to decorate the pages or other media, pages to open out to discover hidden facts and lots of fun activities to try.

I really do love this book - it would be a great gift to give to a child but is also one that would be a good starting point for any school project on the Wild West. I hope that the author, Alice Lickens, continues with this fantastic format to publish more books on different topics in the future. The illustrations are briliant - Licken has a distinctive style which I think would be great on stationary or decor for walls (oh and I would love to own a pair of cowboy boots designed by Licken).

I received this book in return for an honest review from the publishers, Pavilion Books.

Happy by Pharrell Williams

Happy! (Hardback)

Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams' super-hit song "Happy" is now a picture book nominated for an Academy Award, "Happy" was the best-selling song of 2014 in the United Kingdom, and has topped the charts in more than seventy-five countries worldwide. Now Pharrell Williams brings his beloved song to the youngest of readers in photographs of children across cultures celebrating what it means to be happy. All the exuberance of the song pulses from these vibrant photographs of excited, happy kids. This is a picture book full of memorable, precious childhood moments that will move readers in the same way they were moved by the song. "Happy" has had the world dancing ever since it first hit the airwaves, and now the irresistibly cheerful tune will come to life on the page with Pharrell Williams' very first picture book! This is a keepsake and true classic in the making.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780141365282
As soon as I picked up this book I couldn't help but start humming the song. It was one of those infectious songs of recent years and is still popular now.
The book is the song words and they are accompanied by photographs of children clapping and dancing along. The photographs have been cleverly selected, featuring children from all cultures and backgrounds and all with fantastic smiles.
Although I can't say this is one of those children books that I would give as a gift and that I would imagine being treasured and reread each night, and saved to pass on to their children in years to come, it is one that would be great for circle time in settings to assist discussion about feelings etc.
I received this book in return for an honest review fro the publishers, Puffin Books.

I love you more and more by Nicky Benson and Jonny Lambert

I Love You More and More (Hardback)

I Love You More and More is a touching celebration of the endless love and the very special relationship between a parent and child. With a lyrical, rhyming text, stunning illustrations by Jonny Lambert and a beautiful shiny silver title and trees on the cover, this sumptuous tall-format picture book would make the perfect gift for any child or new parent. Ideal for fans of Guess How Much I Love You and I Love You to the Moon and Back. As a bear leads his cub on a breathtaking journey through sparkling starlit nights, past misty blue mountains and gushing waterfalls, he shows him just how special and loved he is.

Publisher: Little Tiger Press Group
ISBN: 9781848692114

This book has it all - beautiful illustrations, fantastic rhyming verse and an enduring message throughout. 

Every parent or carer loves to tell their child how much they love them and there are many books on the market that reinforces this message and this book is one of them, however after reading this one I think this is perfect for a slightly older child with a love of nature.

The illustrator, Jonny Lambert, is very talented. I think his illustrations throughout the book are beautiful and have a unique style - they remind me of finnish scenery and I would love to have these prints on my walls.

This is one of those books that I would love to give to a child as a special gift and to think that it will be kept on their shelves to be passed on to their own children in years to come.

I received this book in return for an honest review from Little Tiger Press.

Dream a little Christmas dream by Giovanna Fletcher

Dream a Little Christmas Dream (Paperback)

Sarah's life is great.
Okay, her dreams might still be totally bananas, but her real life is definitely back on track. She's got a fantastic job, amazing friends and she’s planning on spending all Christmas wrapped up with Brett, her handsome boyfriend.
But after another night of increasingly bizarre dreams, Sarah wakes to find her lovely housemate suddenly announcing she's moving out. Then later that same day, Brett begins to act strangely. It’s clear he’s hiding something – but what?
Soon Sarah can't help but wonder if she's living out her own festive nightmare. Will any of her dreams come true in time for Christmas?
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781405925877

Giovanna Fletcher is back with a new novella which follows on from her summer novel, Dream a little Dream. Although it is a follow on, I am sure readers will love it if they pick it up as an introduction to Fletcher's fantastic reads. There are references to the novel and it is great to return to these characters and the plot is a great one. 
I love Fletcher's writing style. She is one of those authors who I have seen on the television and love her humour and she is able to capture this and weave it throughout her written work. There are definite laugh out loud moments within Dream a little Christmas dream, and add to those a few places where I may have shed a little tear and the book is complete. 
I am already looking forward to Giovanna's next release - although I know she is expecting a second child, so sending lots of good wishes for baby number two and I hope the next release will be out later in the year.