#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)

#BookReview SHELL – Episode 1 – The Horse Awakens by Chris White @chriswhitepoet @VentorrosP @VentorrosPress #Shell #TheHorseAwakens #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade #primaryreads #readingforpleasure

Shell – Episode 1 – The Horse Awakens
By Chris White

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Shell Graphic 5

Action and humour with themes of team-building and thinking for yourself is what is in this great novel for middle-grade readers of 7 years old plus.

Find out more in the blurb and review below as well as its author who has been to the Edinburgh Book Festival, Schools and so much more… Thanks to Random T Tours for the invite and to Chris White for the  book.

Shell Graphic 2 (1)

Blurb

Shell PR‘Star Wars’ meets ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ in this sparkling, actionpacked, highly original galactic adventure with a feel-good vibe. Sure to inspire young readers to be their own person; to embrace team values; to balance thinking and feeling with action; and to reach for the good in all their endeavours.
S.H.E.L.L. – Episode One – THE HORSE AWAKENS is wonderfully cinematic and world-building, and
contains characters that will make a lasting impression. It’s an action-packed, rip-roaring
adventure story about a bunch of action heroes who have one thing in
common – They all have shells. When the universe goes crazy, the team assembles to find out who, or
what, is making the population of every planet act in a really grumpy
mood.
Humorously illustrated throughout; yet SHELL is filled with serious themes about fitting-in and thinking for yourself.

Review

Shell CoverSome Middle Grade fun here. This is practically a parody and a  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and StarWars mashup. Here and there is some Sponge Bob Square Pants humour too, but it sits squarely at Middlegrade readers and those who have been introduced to StarWars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and know them reasonably well, will understand and see the parody.

There’s Commander Sky Crawler, Butt Dazzle, Clam, Snail, Shell Agent and more to meet. There are planets to explore such as Planet Sands and Planet Unicorn. There is a lot of action. Planet Wibble has declared war on Planet Wobble and a planet has declared war on itself; there’s unrest on other planets too. 

The world-building is full and great for jetting you into, which is sure to grab children’s attention.

Children will just love this book. It’s full of jokes and font types to bring certain words deliberately to the forefront to add to the humour and drama. The fonts make it comic like, so reading it won’t feel like any sort of chore to children, but it is a great step-up from books that have pictures on every single page. That isn’t to say there aren’t any illustrations, there are and they are great!

It has a great ending and there are bits of other fun, like a Shakespearean reference in the last chapter, that I’m sure can be explained to children or just left as is.

The themes of team-building and having to also develop some independent thought to do tasks is also good.

This is an entertaining book that has the feel-good factor for children.

About the Author

 

Chris White is a writer. Illustrator an performance poet. He has sold thousands of books world-wide due to his constant appearances at festivals, schools and libraries across the globe.
His last book was ‘The A to Z of Completely Made Up Dinosaurs.’

Chris has featured at many literary festivals , including The Edinburgh Fringe, The
Edinburgh Book Festival, The Doha Book Festival and The Cheltenham Book Festival.
His poetry performances and writing workshops have taken him all over the world, visiting schools in places such as China, Russia, Vietnam, Jordan, India, Germany and even The Congo, where he held a poetry and illustration workshop in a cave! Chris was recently writer in residence at the Qatar National Library

SHELL BT Poster

#BookReview by Lou of Fireborn @flowler_aisling @HarperCollins @The_WriteReadsTours #UltimateBlogTour #Fantasy #Adventure #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade 8-12years #ReadingForPleasure #PrimarySchoolReading

Fireborn
By Aisling Fowler

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Fireborn is an immersive and exciting adventure into a fantasy world for 8-12 year olds. Go on an adventure down to the blurb and the rest of my review to find out more. Thanks to The Write Reads Tours for inviting me and to this group and Harper Collins for gifting me a book.

Fireborn banner

Blurb

Set in the snowy northern forests of an imagined prehistoric world, Fireborn is the middle-grade debut of the decade. At turns exciting, funny and heart wrenchingly sad, it marks the introduction of an unstoppable new voice in children’s storytelling.

Twelve has spoken the Pledge and now she is a Huntling. She has given up her name to train in the art of fighting monsters and keeping the peace, and she won’t get to choose a new one until she has earned it.

But when the Lodge’s walls are breached for the first time, and a little girl is taken, Twelve is the only one interested in going after a child . . .

Teaming up with Dog, the Stone Guardian of the Lodge, Twelve ends up on an epic adventure that will change her life, her name – and her entire world.

Review

Fireborn coverFireborn is an epic adventure for 8-12 year olds. It has twists and turns and great characterisation, but with a difference. The characters are known by numbers, it sort of works to bring about something different to fiction, but once into the story, it isn’t the names that matter quite so much as the world of Ember takes over as do the characters lives. I think children will get into it though because above the giving up of names is a world for adventurous middle-grade readers can step into. For a debut novel, this is an author children would want more of, after reading this one. It has humour and breathtaking excitement as well as some of the saddest storylines. All this in one book makes it totally full on and the deeper you read, the deeper children will want to go into Ember, a fantastical world that builds on the page in wide ranging, indepth descriptions. It means readers can be totally immersed in Ember whilst reading it.

There are heroes and villains. The heroes are characters who have given up their names. They are known as Five, Six, Seven and Twelve. The villains are an array of monsters. There is the lodge where the young trainee Hunters go to hone their skills. These trainees land themselves a mission which takes them on a trail to The Fozen Forest. There are clans, who the Hunters have to act as protectors of, but it isn’t an easy task.

Twelve is the most promising Hunter but has issues and is far from friendly or a team-player as a result of making more enemies. The others also have their own issues. The book, in a way, shows that even heroes are not perfect and are not infalliable. This, even in such an all encompassing fantasy tale, this brings a bit of realism to it as the characters all find out a bit more about themselves in many ways, sometimes positive, other times negative and in some ways, in being resilient in times of trouble. It brings added interest to the otherwise, adventureous book, with a bit of magic within it. There’s a lot for children to dip their toe in and to be entertained.