Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Beautiful Board Books from Nosy Crow

27 Feb

Bright, beautiful, innovative and durable. Nosy Crow have aced it again with their latest board books. Forget about ripped and creased flaps, these editions are designed to be enjoyed by little bookworms over and over again. 

Where’s Mr Lion and its sister book Where’s Mrs Ladybird by Ingela Arrhenius are gorgeous new board books with bright felt flaps. Using felt rather than card makes the flaps easier for little fingers to handle and much more durable.

With a new animal to discover on each page and bold bright illustrations, this is the perfect series for very young children who are beginning to learn about the world. The last page has a mirror behind the felt flap, bringing the book to life for babies. 

You can get your copy here.

The latest addition to the ‘Can You…?’ series, Cheep! Cheep! by Sebastien Braun, has recessed flaps to make it easier for little fingers and ensure sturdiness. 

With lots of animals to discover and noises to make and a surprise double flap on the last spread, this is sure to delight the youngest of book explorers. 

You can get your copy of Cheep! Cheep! here.

For slightly older readers, Littleland: All Year Round by Marion Billet combines the durability of a board book with a spotting book format to meet the increasing curiosity and expanding vocabularies of toddlers. 

Loosely following the months of the year, the book follows the little ones through the seasons as they visit familiar locations such as the farm, nursery and the park. 

With lots to spot, find and match and talking prompts on each spread, the Littleland books encourage young children to engage with the book and supports their learning and development. Also look out for Littleland: Around the World. 

You can get your Littleland copy here.

Flip Flap Dogs by Nikki Dyson is a joy to share with pre-schoolers. Split pages invite you to create your own crazy canine combos. Younger children will love flipping through the book and giggling at their creations, while the funny rhymes will appeal to slightly older children. 

Ring binding and sturdy card pages give the book enough strength to withstand a nursery book corner and the accompanying app gives the book an additional level of fun.
You can get your copy here

Source – kindly sent for review by Nosy Crow

Let’s Find Fred by Steven Lenton – giveaway

23 Feb

I’ve been a fan of Steven Lenton’s work since I first came across his illustrations for the Shifty McGifty books. I love that there’s always so much going on in his illustrations, and the way he uses soft lines to create a pastel texture look that makes his art look so strokeable. It’s a beautiful combination.

I certainly want to stroke the eponymous Fred – but I’ll have to find him first! Fred the panda has decided that having an adventure is much more exciting than bedtime and he’s disappeared over the wall of Garden City Zoo. Stanley the zookeeper is in full chase mode, but Fred is a master of disguise.

As we follow Fred on his adventure, each spread has lots to look at and tons of humour. As well as spotting Fred among all the panda red herrings, and Stanley in hot pursuit, there’s a white butterfly on each page, some wonderful panda-fied references to popular culture, plus a few cameo appearances to discover. The 4 year old I shared this book with had great fun spotting all the ‘nearly-panda’s and laughing at my inability to tell a panda from a ghost.

Let’s Find Fred also boasts a brilliant interactive cover – which we had riotous fun with – and a wonderful pull out party page. Apart from all the giggles we had while sharing this book together, the thing that made me smile the most was Steven’s beautifully diverse characters. Bravo for that, Steven!

You can win your own copy of Let’s Find Fred by following Fred over to Twitter here.

Thanks to Steven and Scholastic for inviting me to take part in this blog tour – and for a fun afternoon of giggles with this book. It’s so perfect for cheeky pre-schoolers that my review copy has been pilfered by my young helper and proudly taken in to her nursery to be shared with all her friends.

Steven Lenton is a highly-acclaimed artist whose bestselling titles include the Shifty McGifty series by Tracey Corderoy and The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Steven has also worked as an animation director in children’s television. Originally from Congleton in Cheshire, Steven now splits his time between Bath and London where he works from his studios with his little dog, Holly. @2dscrumptious

Source – kindly sent for review by Scholastic, who invited me to take part in this blog tour.


The Book of Beasts – Colour and Discover

6 Dec

The Book of Beasts is part colouring book, part non-fiction book and completely stunning.

Split into four sections- Earth, Wind, Water and Fire – the book covers a diverse range of mythical monsters. ‘From gryphons and dragons to wicked werewolves and snake-haired Gorgons, there are over 90 creatures to discover.’

Angela Rizza’s illustrations are detailed enough to keep the most proficient of artists busy whilst also allowing larger areas for slightly younger children to colour. What makes this book really stand out is the brilliant balance of colouring and fact-finding. Children can colour the creatures then turn the page to read the legends behind them. It has really caught the imagination of my seven year old.

The Book of Beasts is beautifully designed. I love the large size, the paper quality, and the gold on the cover. It is certainly special enough to make a beautiful gift – and would make a great companion to a certain JK Rowling book that is sought after this Christmas. (Yes, there’s a hippogriff).

Not just for kids – I can’t wait to get the gel pens out and get stuck in to this page:

Source – kindly sent for review by the publisher, Buster Books.

There May be a Castle – Piers Torday

6 Dec

This is a beautiful book for snuggling up with on a wintery day. A wonderful celebration of the power of imagination and storytelling, There May be a Castle by Piers Torday is warm and funny and has the feel of an old friend and a future classic.

‘Eleven-year-old Mouse is travelling to see his grandparents on Christmas Eve with his mother and two sisters. But it’s snowing, and visibility is bad, and the car goes off the road, and crashes. Mouse is thrown from the car. When he wakes, he’s not in his world any more. He meets a sheep named Bar, who can only say Baaa, and a sarcastic horse named Nonky, who is a surprising mix of his beloved toy horse and his older sister.

So begins a quest to find a castle in a world of wonder – a world of monsters, minstrels, dangerous knights and mysterious wizards; a world of terrifying danger but also more excitement than Mouse has ever known. But why are they looking for a castle? As the cold grows, we realise it might just have something to do with the family he’s left behind; and that Mouse’s quest is more important than ever.’

I particularly enjoyed the mix of humour and nods to the crazy political world we live in where education has become all about endless testing and form-filling. I also want to raise a glass to the design – it’s just beautiful. Bravo to Rob Biddulph and Nicola Theobald.

One word of warning; there is a small section near the beginning of the book that mentions the non-existence of a certain festive someone. Possibly not the best book to give to a newly-doubting child. But, saying that, probably a helpful book for those newly-knowing.

This is a book I will pull out again and again at this time of year and I fully expect it to become a firm favourite in many homes.

Source – kindly sent for review by the publisher, Quercus Children’s Books

A writer begins – book recs and kidlit advice please!

8 Nov

Right you lovely lot, I need some reading recommendations. My lovely friend @timesforrhymes is embarking on his children’s book writing journey. Mr Tree is a lovely, smiley, brightside person who believes in the power of books and words and reading, of imagination and children and change… He’s going to fit right in! 

Naturally my first response upon hearing his news was to throw loads of books at him ‘for inspiration’! I love sharing my favourites and he has been a captive audience. But now, as he ponders with pen in hand, he has come across the questions we all ask ourselves – as readers, writers, reviewers, publishers, teachers, and librarians – Where do I fit? Where do these words belong? Who is my audience? What is a ‘children’s’ book anyway? 

He has written a post about it here, asking for advice and for people to share their hurdles and how they overcame them. (Please do pop over and join in) It’s made me really sit back and think about my own writing journey. About all the incredible books I’ve read in the last few years, of how we really are living in a golden age of children’s literature and how lucky we are to be able to immerse ourselves in such inspirational and top quality works that move boundaries and push against conventions of age and genre. I want to share All The Books with Mr Tree, but as he starts his new venture and tries to find his place I want to share the books that will help him to do so. He is a poet, a word bouncer, a rhyme and rhythm kind of guy. So far I have shared some Caryl Hart, some A.F. Harold, some Rabbit’s Bad Habits and Wigglesbottom Primary. Next on the list are the wonderfully word bouncy works of Elli Woollard, Sarah Crossan and Katherine Rundell. Then Nuts In Space and Nibbles the Book Monster, combined with a splash of Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve. And this is where you come in… 

I’m looking for books that cross genres, break conventions, use awesome rhymes and rhythms and play with words and language. What would you recommend? What can you share with a fellow booky – or a booky fellow -? Let us know in the comments here or on Mr Tree’s blog here. And maybe pop over to twitter and join him on his journey @timesforrhymes

The Beginning Woods

7 Oct


Oh this book! This book, this book. I almost want to leave the review there. Because how to tell you about this book?

The Beginning Woods by Malcolm McNeill (Pushkin Children’s Books)

The Vanishings started without warning. People disappearing into thin air – just piles of clothes left behind. Each day, thousands gone without a trace. Max was abandoned in a bookshop and grows up haunted by memories of his parents. Only he can solve the mystery of the Vanishings. To find the answers, Max must leave this world and enter the Beginning Woods.

This is a book that is deep and rich and layered. It explores that messy grey area where science and imagination collide and overlap. It looks at what it means to be human, what it means to live. The power of creativity and storytelling is here. The divisive fear of Other is here. It is a book that is far bigger than it appears to be, with whisperings of the past and the feel of an instant classic. It is beautiful. I wanted to both devour it and savour each word.

Did I mention it is Malcolm McNeill’s debut?

Zoe at Playingbythebook has written a wonderful interview with him here.

You can grab your copy of The Beginning Woods here.

Source – purchased copy.

Books for Brexit fallout

7 Jul

Two books to help you talk to your kids about this crazy world we live in at the moment. The Journey by Francesca Sanna(Flying Eye Books) is a stunning picture book that tells the story of migration in a beautifully child-friendly way. 

For older children, Girl with a White Dog by Anne Booth (Catnip) is an exceptional book that deals with immigration, inclusion, and what can happen when people demonise difference. 

In my eyes they are both perfect and belong in every school, every library, every home. 

An Intergalactic Activity Book

5 Jul

Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book by Zelda Turner and Ben Newman is an activity book with a difference. Filled with facts, activities and science experiments, this will keep kids busy for the summer holidays. 

This is a brilliant companion book to Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, with Flying Eye Books’ incredible eye for design and detail. 

The range of activities is outstanding. Whether they fancy designing a new space station, inventing alien codes, making star gazers, exploring space dust, experimenting with meteor craters, or keeping a moon journal, there is something here for every potential astronaut. 

There’s enough detail and information in Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book to appeal across a wide age range. There really is something for everyone.

You can order your copy here.

Source: kindly sent for review by Flying Eye Books. 

Writers give hope to future author

14 May

A year 6 boy dreams of becoming an author but SATs week threatens to squash him with rigid theory testing and endless pressure. Across social media, authors rally round to offer encouragement and advice. Authors prove themselves to be very awesome folk!

On Friday morning I sent this message out to Twitter and Facebook friends:

‘Friend’s yr6 pupil in bits over SATs bc he wants to be an author. Any authors out there with message of hope? I’ll collate & send. Pls share’

Well what a response! Authors really don’t like the SATs! And they really do like being kind and supportive and encouraging and creative. The messages I’ve received for him have been so fab that I want to share them with everyone. For anyone going through SATs or feeling squashed by our current education system, or needing a bit of a boost. 

I’ve put together a storify of the responses from Twitter. There is such a lot of love and hope here. 

Writers give hope to future authors – storify

The Facebook replies are at the end of this post and are equally full of joy and hope. I will be printing everything off and passing it on to the future author on Monday. A huge thank you to everyone who took time to show him that he can be whatever he wants to be. Want to add your message of support? Add it in the comments and I’ll pass them on.

Here are just a few of the books by the fab authors who responded. Imagine the confidence boost he will get from seeing all these examples of achievement by authors who don’t give a damn about the SATs. 

And here are the very delicious messages of support from Facebook. 

Keris Stainton– Oh gosh. Well, I’ve had nine books published and I got 40% on the online test (and guessed probably half of the answers). You really don’t need to know the technical terms to be an author. Imagination is so much more important.

Anne Booth – Tell him no agent or publisher has ever asked for my exam results in anything – the only thing they care about are the stories I write – and that will be the same for him. Tell him to keep reading good stories and learning his craft of writing, and to keep listening to other people’s stories, and to pay attention to and value his own life, his experiences, his sensations, his feelings and thoughts, and file everything away – even his fear of SATs – because the great thing is that a writer can transform every experience, good or bad. Tell him to get a notebook and pen and write in the notebook every day (or often anyway – he is not to get stressed about it!)- and tell him Good Luck!
Chloe Hope – I’m a playwright (and author of one book!) and I got 3/10 qs correct… And they were guesses! As Keris said, you don’t need to know the names technical terms to use them. My advice would be to spend as much time playing 🎉🎈 as possible to get creativity and imagination flowing. Far more important than tests 😜

Keren David – SATs and exams in general have nothing to do with being a writer. I failed my A levels but have had a career as a journalist and author. Government ministers know NOTHING about writing.

Liz Dexter – I’m a writer and editor and I have scored poorly on those SATS tests. As an ex-librarian I’ll say this: in real life, you don’t need to know everything off by heart, you need to know where the rules are kept and how to look them up. You don’t need to know the posh words for thins, you need to keep using words. Keep writing and if you have trouble with the grammar stuff in your career, your editor will make the mistakes go away without you needing to stress over them. Keep reading, keep writing.

Polly Faber – SATs have as little relation with being an author as dehydrated kale does to a packet of crisps. Personally I found the physical act of writing hard as a child. It was proper labour forming letters and words with a pencil and I was the last allowed to go ‘joined up’ or use a pen. But I was always telling stories- or perhaps more accurately playing stories- great complicated adventures out in the playground with my mates. That’s authoring too. So blow your nose and a raspberry at those stupid exams kiddo and get back out there. And imagine stuff. That’s all you need.

Susie Day – I think everyone’s said it all brilliantly already, but just to add to the chorus: I got 40% in an online version of the English SATS, all by guessing – and my tenth book comes out this year. I did English at Oxford too! And I didn’t need to know what a modal whateveritis is there either, because they were interested in the kind of big wide ideas that can’t easily be marked as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Life is not about ticks and crosses and percentages – not in Year 6, not ever. I’m so sorry that some adults who ought to know better have let him down by making him sit through horrible tests that mean nothing. And I hope he has an awesome summer doing much more important things like making stuff up and mucking about, which is what I spend my grown-up time doing. (Incidentally, Pea’s Book of Big Dreams has literally this situation in it: Pea does appallingly on an English test, assumes she can’t be a writer and is distraught, at the end the teacher reveals that the test was designed to be impossible – might not be to his taste of course!)

Julia Williams – Tell him most of the writers I know can’t do those questions, including me. They have nothing to do with writing. He should continue to read and read, and use his imagination, and make up stories anyway he can. That’s what we all do 🙂

Shelley Harris – Tell him from me: I’m a novelist AND former English teacher. I got that way by loving books and loving writing – nobody’s ever taught me what a subordinating conjunction is (and I’ve never taught anyone what it is, either!). X

Jo Fox – I was the above teacher’s student and can confirm that I was never taught what a subordinating conjunction is…thankfully. I also have a degree in English. I still couldn’t tell you what one is…

Jo Bloom – I share Shelley Harris editor at WN. I got 3/10. I found the test ridiculously hard. The tests bear ABSOLUTELY NO RELATION to creativity. Tell him to get writing stories and keep writing. He mustn’t give up now, just as he’s about to begin. I failed an A level, then dropped out of uni, then, years later, went back to college in the evenings and have an MA distinction in politics. The point is – the road isn’t always straight but in the main, tenacity and stamina will count for a lot more than any tests and exams.

Virginia Moffatt – Writing is about playing with language not memorising obscure grammar rules. A test at 11 is no measure of his ability to write. The best way to respond to it is to write to his heart’s content this weekend.

Caryl Hart – I have no idea what a subordinate conjunctive is, or if it even exists. We learn grammar intuitively by reading and writing and listening. You don’t need to know what things are called. Nor do you need to know about writing technique. The best writing comes from the heart. It does not follow set patterns or formulae. Being an author is about getting hold of your feelings and putting them down in writing. It is not about naming parts of sentences or knowing what a gerund is (I have no idea what a gerund is). I’m not saying grammar is irrelevant, it’s important to write grammatically, but if you read plenty, you will learn grammar without even trying. So. Don’t stress about SATS. I have a degree and no one has ever asked to see my certificate! Your writing will speak for itself. The best way to become an author is to BE an author. So yeah.

Can you end an essay with “So yeah”? Well I just did and I’ve got loads of books published. So. Yeah. YEAH!!

Jo Baker – Hello; I’m a novelist, and I have a PhD in English Literature and I don’t know the stuff they are testing for in SATs. And you know what? It has not caused me any probelms whatsoever. If he just keeps reading books he loves that’ll see him through. wishing him good luck with his writing!

Hurrah for the power of social media to spread positivity and hope. A huge thank you to everyone involved. You’re all heroes!

Too Close to Home : Aoife Walsh

24 Apr

You know when you read a review and *know* that you *need* to read that book…. Well here’s one for you, courtesy of @chaletfan:

Did you ever stop to think and forget to start again?

Too Close to HomeToo Close to Home by Aoife Walsh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I described this on Twitter as one for the ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ crowd. And it is; it’s a book full of complicated and complex and Casson-esque characters, all of them bumping against each other in their complicated and complex lives. Too Close To Home isn’t really about much on the surface (except, in a way, it’s about everything and perhaps that surface stillness is so very metaphorical for the book itself) but underneath it’s peddling away like mad. There’s Minny; central character (and oh I am full of semi-colons and punctuation in this review, but that’s this book – thoughts and movements and emotions and people all jumbling against each other and trying to find their space in life).

So. In an attempt to be precise:

1. Walsh’s prose is very classic…

View original post 276 more words