#BookReview by Lou Fantastic Fin Faces His Fears by Jessica Bowers It’s a book with #ClassroomResources @rararesources #JessicaBowers #ChildrensBook #KS1 #KS2 #FacingFears #ChildrensWellbeing

Fantastic Fin Faces His Fears
by Jessica Bowers

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fantastic Fin Faces His Fears is suitable for 4-7 year olds. It has a pages at the back for parents and teachers to support children through this story. There are also resources available for the classroom. Thanks to Rachel Random Resources for inviting me to the blog tour and for gifting me the book. Find out more in the blurb and my review.

Blurb

Fantastic Fin CoverCome and join Fantastic Fin as he grows his courage by embodying various inspiring characters and animals to face his fears!

Teachers, Parents and Carers can access the free Fantastic Fin Teaching Resource Pack available from the author’s website.

This is the first book in a series supporting children’s mental health by well-being author and psychotherapist Jessica Bowers. Ideal for children age 4-7.

Fantastic Fin Cover

Review

Fantastic Fin Faces His Fears tells the story, in rhyme, of a boy called Fin, or rather Fantastic Fin. He is a shy and anxious boy who finds a lot of life challenging. He then imagines he is different things like t-rex, a spy, a shark and many more to help him feel brave and overcome these life challenges he is experiencing. The pictures are big and bold with a hint of humour around the hope they provide as Fantastic Fin transforms and feels braver to confront his fears with all his might. At the end of the story there is a page of “Fantastic Fin’s Factfile”. It gives children some practical tips and there is also a page they can draw on themselves, to show how they feel when they face their fears and perhaps conquering them.

The book provides positivity and enough story that can also be woven into a greater conversation and topic of wellbeing or positivity. It can also be used as a conversation opener to find out what your children fear most and how they may face them and overcome them in a fun way. It can, as the story is also fun, be a way of also bonding and finding out more about your child and their emotions in a gentle manner.

About The Author

Jessica is a well-being writer with an extensive background in supporting both young people and adults with their emotional well-being and mental health. Jessica is a qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist who trained at the Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute. Prior to this, she worked for over 10 years with young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Jessica consults with and writes for the wonderful Storytime Magazine, for their emotional well-being and mental health content. She has written a collection of well-being themed children’s picture books for 4-7 year olds, and Fantastic Fin Faces his Fears is her debut book. She has also developed some school workshops which offer emotional education aswell as offering author visits to read her books and poetry to EYFS and KS1 children. Jessica develops free activity and teaching resource packs around emotions and well-being themes which are available from her website at www.jessicabowers.co.uk .

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/jessicabowerswellbeingwriter

https://twitter.com/bowerswellbeing

https://www.instagram.com/jessicabowerswellbeingwriter/

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fantastic-Fin-Faces-His-Fears/dp/1527298868/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Fantastic-Fin-Faces-His-Fears/dp/1527298868/

 

#BookReview by Lou – Science by #FranciscoLlorca – Great for #STEM to learn about #Scientists #Science @AllisonandBusby #ChildrensBook #ChildrensNonFiction #PrimaryReads #JuniorScience

Science
By Francisco Llorca

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Great for primary school aged children to learn about different scientists. It would sit well in a child’s own book collection or school library or the children’s area of a public library and if that’s not enough, it would contribute very well to S.T.E.M for a lovely introduction to some prominent scientists around the world.
Thanks to publishers Allison & Busby for gifting me the book in exchange of an honest review. Please do find more info in the blurb and the rest of my review below.

Science cover

Blurb

For those who loved Little People, BIG DREAMS, this new series showcases the lives and achievements of amazing men and women.

   This fun and informative book tells the fascinating stories of remarkable scientists behind ground-breaking discoveries such as penicillin and DNA. From the fall of Newton’s apple, Ada Lovelace’s imaginative step into the future of computing, to Stephen Hawking’s work exploring the origins of the universe, Science shows a new generation of scientists that the greatest leaps in understanding start by asking the smallest questions.

Review

From Sir Isaac Newton and his theory of gravity to Ada Lovelace and her cards that are considered to be the first computer programme to Alexander Fleming winning the nobel prize to Valentina Terechkova being the first woman to travel into space; these are just a few scientists who are named in this book. Each page, in this short book, has someone different who is deemed prominent in the field of science, and a short paragraph about who they were  and what they achieved, accompanied by bright illustrations, almost in story form, in the way each paragraph starts, in this is a great introductory guide for children. The way each page is written, is gently informative and puts each person into context and then adds the information about them. It manages to stay away from being dry. Rather, it is educational fun and written in a way that is easy for children to understand. The entertaining headings and illustrations for each page are also sure to grab children’s attention.

In snappy paragraphs they will learn much and there’s enough to spark curiousity.  The book also concludes what the 12 prominent scienists in the book looked like and also reiterates where they originated from. The book not only shows UK male and female scientists, but those from around the world.
This book would be ideal for S.T.E.M activities to introduce children to the people behind the technologies, space, gravity, medicine etc that they are so familiar with.

#BookReview by Lou of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett Retold by Geraldine McCaughrean Illustrated by Margarita Kukhtina @GMcCaughrean @NosyCrow #ChildrensBook #ChildrensClassics #TheSecretGarden #PrimaryReads #Kidslit

The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Retold by Geraldine McCaughrean
Illustrated by Margarita Kukhtina

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A beautifully designed book brings the magic and depth of The Secret Garden to a new generation. Find out more in the blurb and more of my thoughts in my review.
Thanks to Nosy Crow for allowing me to review and for gifting me an e-book of The Secret Garden.

The Secret Garden

Blurb

A favourite bedtime classic, beautifully retold by bestselling and award-winning author, Geraldine McCaughrean

This beloved childhood classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett is now available in a sumptuous gift book edition with dazzling new art.

When Mary Lennox is sent from India to live with her uncle at gloomy Misselthwaite Manor, she is the most spoiled and contrary child you could ever meet. But she is also extremely lonely. Until one day, she discovers a walled garden that has been kept secret for years. With the help of a little robin, Mary unearths the key and unlocks the wonder that lies beyond the garden walls – and finds that making friends can be every bit life-changing as a magical garden.

A captivating picture book retelling for young children by acclaimed author Geraldine McCaughrean, who has won, among many others, the Carnegie Medal twice, the Whitbread Children’s Book Award and the Smarties Bronze Award.

Review

The Secret Garden was a childhood favourite of mine, so with great joy and delight, it is all ready again for a new generation of readers. What I really wanted to know, was how well this re-telling would be and if all the important parts would be therThe Secret Gardene or not. I needn’t have been concerned. It is actually pretty faithful to editions before-hand, as far as I remember it, without digging my older copy out.

The story starts in India with Mary Lennox becoming an orphan and being sent to England, where she would be brought up in Misslthewaite Manor, quite a foreboding building, where she meets Mrs Medlock and the kindly servant, Martha. There is quite a culture shock for Mary as she was used to being pampered in India and she’s a pretty angry young girl.

When she does enter the garden, she meets Ben Weatherstaff, the elderly gardener, whose friend is Mr Robin. She later finds a key and is on a mission to find The Secret Garden. She also, however has to contend with Mr Craven back at the creeking, draughty old manor. During her time, she also meets Dickon and then Colin, the polar opposites to each other in manner.

Children can be easily transported into The Secret Garden, with its pacy story of light and dark as people’s lives change. The illustrations and descriptions are both rich and tell the story well. It is a lovely book and one that really does stand the test of time really rather well. The main elements of the story are still there, as you would expect and there’s certainly enough from the magic of the garden, the spookiness of the the manor, the emotion of upheaval and more… and getting to know the character’s pasts, presents and see a glimpse into their futures, there is plenty to engross children today.

#BookReview by Lou by Billy Plonka and The Grot Laboratory by Ian Billings @mrianbillings @VentorrosP @LoveBooksGroupTours #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade #PrimaryReads #Humour

Billy Plonka and The Grot Laboratory
By Ian Billing

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Billy Plonka and the Grot Laboratory is fun for children familiar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the deliciously dark sense of humour of Roald Dahl.

Find out more below ikn the blurb and rest of my review. Then find out about the author – Ian Billings and the comedy he has produced in prestigious places famed for such entertainment and the famously entertaining children’s tv programme he wrote for.

Billy PlonkaBlurb 

Billy Plonka – the Prince of Stink, the Monarch of Muck, the Sultan of Slime, the Duke of Dregs and the King of Kak. He’s the most extraordinary maker of GROT in the entire world, and he’s invited 5 individuals (Orson Ploop – An overweight kazoo playing protégé; Victoria Scabb – 259th in line to the English throne; Viola Mudguard – 11-year-old, ex-Wollywood star; Spike Peecee – A self-obsessed dweeb who can never disconnect from the Internet; and Marley Suckett – An anti-hero), to visit his world-famous Grot Laboratory, and step into an adventure they will never forget!

Your tour is about to start. Don’t wander off . YOU! Yes, YOU! I’m talking to YOU! Mr. Plonka would hate to lose you along the way… READ IT!!! 
BILLY PLONKA AND THE GROT LABORATORY- the 100% unofficial official parody of one of the greatest children’s stories of all time.

This modern re-telling of the Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ stays true to the wonderful wit of Dahl, but brings the tale into the modern age with a lovely twist at the end. Each character meets their grotty fate as they go on their tour of The Grot Laboratory – as the name suggests, a disgusting place full of scumpiddlinoxious fumes and materials. Words reminiscent of Dahl fill the pages – Whi-ffi (it’s like wifi only smellier), whazzplop and picklescooper to name but a few.

Review

Billy PlonkaFans of Roald Dahl will understand perfectly well, the parody of his works in here, especially of course, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There’s a family, not the Bucket family, but the Suckett family, which this tale is all about. Marley Suckett is the worst school pupil ever!

The characters of the children readers meet are:
Spike Peecee, Victoria Scab, Orson Ploop,Viola Mudguard and Marley Suckett.
Scratch Cards have replaced Golden Tickets and these main characters all love Plonka and his inventions, including the Queen.

The author clearly had fun writing it. After a first page that made me almost wonder about its age group, it improves and really settles well into Middlegrade genre. Readers would do well to know the story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory pretty well to get all the references. If you do pick this up first, then it is best to read Willy Wonka instantly after. It is full of Roald Dahl(esque), dark humour for children and nonsense words that he made up. Middlegrade readers from Primary 6 and 7 or, if in rest of the UK – Year 5 and 6 would find this book humorous and understand the parody well.

Each chapter early on, introduces a character, so children get a feel for their personalities and what they like, and look like in the pictures. They are recognisable to those in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but brought into the 21st century, but still precocious and so much more along that ilk…
The Oompa-Loompas have turned to being The Grumpy Trumpers who had a Grumpy Trumper Island, which Plonka recalls, he had found himself on.

The factory doesn’t have chocolate in it, but junk and all forms of rubbish and flavoured cat litter. Instead of a Great Glass Elevator, it has the “Great See Through Loo”. Toilet humour abound. Replacing the tv room is Plonker’s Internet Cafe and an enormous printer and there’s so much more…. There’s also an ending to surprise and yet quite perfect.

About the Author

Ian Billings was born at a very young age. He has done many things in his time and some of them he’d like to tell you about. He is an ex-juggler, a pantomime writer (fifty productions!), an actor, TV extra, a theatre technician, a university lecturer, a model and a general dabbler in many areas.

He has written episodes of BBC TV’s Chuckle-Vision and his stage plays and pantomimes have been performed in Wolverhampton, Northampton, Hastings, Nottingham, Weston-Super-Mare and on a ferry to Spain. He has a Masters Degree from Birmingham University and two goldfish from Petworld. He is five feet and seven inches in length and avoids cheese.

Ian began performing stand-up comedy for kids at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (whilst also presenting his own radio show for Festival FM!) and now he tours theatres and schools throughout the UK, Cyprus, Germany, Australia, Uganda, Kenya, Russia, Switzerland, UAE, Oman, Vietnam and Thailand. He was described by one young audience member as “the most imaginative adult I’ve ever met!”

Caboodle Books reprinted SAM HAWKINS AND THE POINTY HEAD LIGHT HOUSE followed by sci-fi poetry collection, SPACE ROCKS!

Ian has edited an anthology of children’s poems for Save the Children called “Born to Giggle!” and his latest book is “BILLY PLONKA AND THE GROT LABORATORY.”

2020 saw re-issues of his classic children’s comedies “Sam Hawkins and the Cutglass Cutlass” and “Chocolate Meltdown” from Tiddley Pom Books together with new versions of “The King’s New Space Suit”, “I’ve Got Your Nose” and two brand new books, “There’s a Vampire in My Bedroom” and “Boooo!!!”

Find him at www.ianbillings.com

Follow him at @mrianbillings

Billy Plonka (1)

#Review of Curious Tales – Hector by D.M. Mullan @DM_Mullan @TinyTreeBooks @BomerHarris @LoveBooksGroup #ChildrensBook #KS1 #KS2 #ReadingForPleasure #STEM #KidsHumour #RhymingStory

Hector
By D.M. Mullan
Illustrated by Kirsteen Harris Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Curious Tales

Hector is a curious tale by D.M. Mullan and is perfect for primary school aged children 5-6/7 years. It looks like a picture book for younger kids, but the content is so much more and is great for feeding their curious minds. The content is actually more perfect for KS1 plus. This book is exciting for this primary age group. It has humour, inventions, emotions, why we need friends. I’m pretty sure it can be used around some sort of STEM activity. It is also great for just reading for pleasure and tells a story of a modern fable.
I can see it being a hit with many children.
Thanks to Love Books Tours for inviting me and for Tiny Tree Children’s Books for gifting me the book.
Please follow through to the blurb and the rest of my review and also discover more about the author and very successful illustrator after that…

Curious Tales cover

Blurb

Curious Tales coverIf something is missing, and you’re feeling blue, you could learn from Hector, who feels this way too.

This little genius lives in an upside down boat, and he grunts from his hill like a grumpy old goat:

“Hector van Groat needs no one but Hector, because he is a genius, a crazy inventor!”

Book #1 in the D.M. Mullan’s Curious Tales series.

D.M. Mullan’s Curious Tales is a series of peculiar modern fables from author D.M. Mullan and illustrator Kirsteen Harris-Jones.

With a classic rhyming style and wonderfully quirky illustrations, each book centres around a unique little individual and tells their story.

Review

Curious Tales 2.jpgHector is full of humour and I must say, impressive rhyme. There is a map at the beginning and from that page, it absolutely draws you in as you set sail. It literally invites curiousity and anticipation from that first page!

Hector Van Groat is the main character and he is a boy who is feeling blue. He’s a genius inventor of crazy inventions, so enters his invention room to create something new to cheer himself up. He discovers it just isn’t as fun as he thought it would be, without a friend. He is however a bit big headed, until the end.

Along the way, Hector’s inventions and antics add much humour to this curious tale. The illustrations enhance this a lot. 

Hector is a boy who many children will be able to relate to and have fun with. There’s much they will learn and much they can empathise with and laugh at. This is just absolutely sublime and the language that is used also makes it perfect for KS1 plus. It is also much fun for reading for pleasure in the home too. Reading this book aloud is perhaps the most perfect way to treat it. There’s so much more that children can enjoy then, to give them reading pleasure.

This book, as well as being great for reading for pleasure, I am sure could fit somewhere into STEM, in a wider topic as it involves science within the story that can feed their imaginations as to what they perhaps would want to invent. It would also be great to feed into Lego Clubs and can provoke discussions for PSHE too and friendship topics.

About the Author

D.M. Mullan is a world-travelled author from County Derry, Northern Ireland. Now living in Belfast with her family, the author will launch the ‘D.M. Mullan’s Curious Tales’ series in 2021; her first work for children.

About the Illustrator

Kirsteen Harris-Jones is an illustrator with a colourful past. She’s worked at a variety of creative, graphic and animation studios since 1990. Her work has been published by Random House, Egmont, Bloomsbury, Little Tiger, and more.

Curious Tales Hector (2)

#BookReview by Lou – The Runaways by Victor Canning #RandomTTours #ChildrensBook #Kidslit #MiddleGrade #Adventure

The Runaways
By Victor Canning

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Runaways, has it really stood up to the test of time? Absolutely and this is a gorgeous re-release of this wonderful page-turning adventure story. It even has a great quote by favourite children’s author – Dan Smith on the cover.

It’s a very memorable story, which is great for reading for pleasure. I snapped up the opportunity to review it because even I remember it and all the creative things our primary school teacher (primary 7, Scotland/year 6, England), came up with so we could write creatively and create our own plays. It lends itself beautifully to imaginations that run wild. It is just perfect for children who are reading books at Middle Grade level to escape into. Victor Canning, the author had quite a story to tell too. There’s a short paragraph about him after my review.

Find out more in the blurb and then onto my review. Thanks to Random Things Tours and publishers Farago for inviting me to review and for gifting me the book.

The Runaways Cover

Blurb

On a night of wild storms, two troubled figures escape from captivity. One is a 15-year-old boy, Samuel Miles, a.k.a. ‘Smiler’, wrongly convicted of theft and sent to a young offenders institution. The other is a cheetah, Yarra, a restless resident of Longleat Wildlife Park.

Both are in danger from the outside world – and each other – but somehow their lives become inextricably bound up as they fight for survival on the edge of Salisbury Plain.
A fast-moving and compassionate adventure story, The Runaways is the first book in Victor Canning’s classic children’s trilogy.
Praise:
‘Victor Canning is one of the world’s finest story-tellers’ Good Housekeeping
A delightful tale by a brilliant thriller writer’ Daily Mirror
‘Smiler proves himself to be a resourceful, resilient and very likeable leading character.’
Dan Smith, author of Big Game and Boy X

Review

The Runaways Cover Smiler (Samuel Miles, 15 years and 5 months old) isn’t into school. It just doesn’t appeal to him, so he runs away.  He does get himself into some trouble here and there, starting in Bristol, England, where he lives.

The adventure takes readers to Longleat Safari Park, which is vast and beautifully described and really, all the writing throughout is excellent. The safari park is also where intrepid readers meet Yarra, who is a cheetah, who also wants to escape his confines and explore the great big world. There’s excitement and much trepidation in The Runaways that makes it quite the page-turner, that takes readers on quite the adventure and not just in the safari park, but also to where the army are and onto grounds where land wardens are.

The book is absorbing with great characters that I believe children will really like, and it was many years after its first publication when I first read it and reading it again, it is as relevant and as gripping as it ever was, with likeable characters who have to survive out in the wild. It’s relevant because it shows resoucefulness and resilience in times of trouble and having to do that or I guess the alternative would be to crumble, is as steadfast and necessary now as it ever was and will be, even in the future.

There is a spot of nostalgia for any adults reading this by way of Woolworths, which of course doesn’t exist in the UK in physical stores anymore, but essentially, it is wonderful that this book has been republished for a whole new generation of children, who I believe will get a lot out of it too.

Book 2 is Flight of the Grey Goose, where Smiler is still on the run and jumps on a train to Scotland and sounds just as exciting and another great adventure for readers to persue.

About the Author

Victor Canning Author PicVictor Canning was a prolific writer throughout his career, which began young: he had sold several short stories by the age of nineteen and his first novel, Mr Finchley Discovers His England (1934) was published when he was twenty-three. It proved to be a runaway bestseller. Canning also wrote for children: his trilogy The Runaways was adapted for US children’s television.