#Review of First Prize For The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy #JillMurphy @CandlewickPress #ChildrensBooks #Kidslit #ReadingforPleasure #TheWorstWitch

First Prize For The Worst Witch
By Jill Murphy
Rated: 5 stars *****

What a delight to be able to review First Prize for The Worst Witch. It’s a great series set in a boarding school for witches – Cackles Academy, with its sometimes eccentric teachers, spells and the mishaps of the worst witch of them all – Mildred Hubble, each one is full of action, humour and friendship. It’s been televised many times and even most recently on the CBBC channel and also on Netflix. It’s a series that continues to entertain children and is well-worth reading.
I thank Candlewick Press for allowing me to review this latest book of The Worst Witch series.
See below for my blurb and review.


The Worst Witch First Prize coverMildred the accident-prone witch sets her sights on winning the school’s top honor (and helping circus animals in need) in the charming finale of the popular series. As seen on Netflix!

Mildred Hubble returns to Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches with a big dream: to be chosen as Head Girl! But with Mildred’s history of mistakes and mishaps, even her best friends are skeptical. Besides, Mildred’s rival, Ethel Hallow, is sure to win. Still, the new term is going well until Ethel finds out that Mildred’s beloved stray dog, Star, actually comes from a traveling circus, and Mildred is forced to return him. When Mildred realizes just how unhappy Star and the other circus animals are, she’s determined to get Star back and give his companions a better life, even if it means the headmistress won’t pick her for Head Girl. Little does she know that friendship, compassion, and loyalty might be justthe qualities Miss Cackle is looking for! With the series complete and a show on Netflix, it’s the perfect time to introduce a new generation of readers to Jill Murphy’s delightful Worst Witch series.

The Worst Witch First Prize cover


A missing circus dog, a chance of an important prize and the usual cast of Miss Cackle, Miss Bat, Miss Hardbroom, Mildred, Maud, Enid, Ethel and Druisilla make up another fun story at Cackles Academy. It’s as well and reliably written as they always have been for primary school/middle grade children with themes of school life, magic, friendship and teamwork, mixed in with humour, this series always entertains and is perfect for reading for pleasure. Whether you’re new to this series or an established reader to them, this is a book you can dive right into.

Mildred Hubble, the most haphazard witch in Cackles Academy is back for the summer term, as are her fellow witchy class mates. She still has her trusty cat – Tabby, plus a tortoise – Einstein and another addition from last term – a dog – Star.
There’s fun with trying to get a Fourth Year Firsts prize and what Mildred really wants is to be picked as Head Girl. That gets Maud giggling so much! Readers of this series will know that Mildred’s reputation isn’t exactly favourable in Cackles Academy and her witch skills leave a lot to be desired. Ethel Hallow is also bemused by her even reaching fourth year!

There’s also the addition to the school – a swimming pool with all manner of pond life in it, which causes excitement and ideas, which leads to creating spells that go wrong, leaving Miss Hardbroom (HB) to fix things out with a Selkie.

Druisilla and Ethel discovered a poster that shows Star to actually be a missing dog from a circus and Miss Cackle and Miss Hardbroom are left to deal with it, a situation, Mildred only goes and makes worse for those involved, including the Brilliantines at the circus.

Ethel and Druisilla are still up to their tricks on poor Mildred, to sabotage anything she wants to try and acheive. Maud and Enid are never too far behind, trying to keep her spirits up.

It’s another joyous addition to the Worst Witch series. I’ve read from this series since I was a child and more recently, to school children and it still never fails to entertain.

The Book Dragon Club by Lexi Rees – The Book That Gives Children Lots to Do @lexi_rees @rararesources #ChildrensBook #Review #Kidslit #SummerReading

The Book Dragon Club
By Lexi Rees
Rated: 5 stars *****

Today I am pleased to be closing this lovely blog tour for The Book Dragon Club for Lexi Rees. It is an excellent book for children to inspire them to read. It is packed with so many fun challenges and quizzes and so much more. Children certainly won’t be bored with it this summer and beyond. There is lots to do themselves, with families and friends. The full blurb and review are below as are buy links and about the author.
I thank Lexi Rees for sending me a copy of the book and for Rachel at Random Resources Blog Tour for inviting me onto this blog tour.

The Book Dragon Cover


The Book Dragon Club

Packed with awesome activities, this journal has everything a book dragon needs!

  • Tackle the fun reading challenges
  • Set up a book club with your friends
  • Host award ceremonies and parties
  • Make up games and quizzes based on your favourite books

Plus space for book reviews, reading lists and so much more. 


The Book Dragon Cover


This book is amazing and is absolutely exciting. It isn’t a story book. This is the most fun, interactive book I’ve seen in awhile that encourages children to get reading and having the most terrific fun with so many different activities. This is a book that is fabulous for both confident and reluctant readers alike. This could be used at home and within schools. It is full of lots of different types of activities linked to books and reading.
It is a book where you can record the books you have read in the most fun and dynamic way.

There are pages that give children ideas as to what books they may like to read, not by title, but by theme, such as there’s a segment to write down books that make you laugh, had an animal in it, this sort of thing; therefore could expand your children’s reading choices and expand their horizons.

The book sets tick-box challenges, which can enthuse children to read in different locations within the UK and abroad.

There are cutout membership cards as it encourages you to set-up your own book club and call it anything you want.

There are pages, encouraging children to think about the heroes and villains of the books they read and score them and write what special powers they have etc.

Why not use the cut out pages to create your own book cover or bookmarks as well as pages of who recommended what book to you and to write your own little book reviews.

There are pages encouraging children to write, such as their own ending to a book or to choose a book with a cliff-hanger and to really think about how that could possibly end.

There’s a cool section that gets children thinking what is best – the movie or the book and why?

There are party invitations, complete with a page to list your party feast and seating plan.

There is also a page encouraging to write to an author.

There is so much to do within this book, children certainly won’t be bored. Watch as their interest widens. This book is fabulous!

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Book-Dragon-Club-Lexi-Rees/dp/187288928X

US –  https://www.amazon.com/Book-Dragon-Club-Lexi-Rees/dp/187288928X

The Book Dragon Cover

About the Author

Lexi Rees was born in Scotland but now lives down south. She writes action-packed adventures brim full of witch-doctors, fortune-tellers, warriors and smugglers, combining elemental magic with hints of dystopia. She also writes fun activity books for children. 

Her fantasy adventure, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids. The sequel, Wild Sky, is available now. 

She’s passionate about developing a love of reading and writing in children and, as well as her Creative Writing Skills workbook, she has an active programme of school visits and other events, is a Book PenPal for three primary schools, and runs a free online #kidsclub and newsletter which includes book recommendations and creative writing activities.

In her spare time, she’s a keen crafter and spends a considerable amount of time trying not to fall off horses or boats.

Social Media Links –







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#Review of School Can Be Cool by Maleka Mamuji @schoolcanbecool #schoolstories #childrensbook #kidslit #shortstories #families #parents #school #edutwitter

School Can Be Cool
By Maleka Mamuji
Rated: ***

I noticed the book circulating around on Twitter and had enquired about reviewing it, of which I am delighted that they agreed I could. School is Cool, rather than a full story book as such, is one with a few short scenarios of school days. It’s one that depicts children from all different backgrounds.

About the Author

Maleka Mamuji is originally from Kenya and moved to England (UK) when she was six years old. She grew up and studied in England where she qualified as a lawyer. The author states that, “school for me was a very memorable experience, fun but tough at times”. Her book aims at providing short but inspirational stories to help children enjoy their school experience.

School can be cool


School can be Cool provides five short but inspirational stories from different students’ experiences. It shows the various challenges they face at school and how they overcome them. The main characters in the book are as follows:
•Rashida who has moved from Kenya to Manchester (UK) and is nervous of starting a new school in a different country;
•Jodie who wishes she could be like her best friend Gretchen as Gretchen is popular in school;
•Tom who always comes last in sports and wishes he could miss school on Tuesdays and Thursdays just so he can avoid doing sports;
•Milly, Peter and Leah are all very different from each other. They never talk to each other and do not even want to. They are teamed up by their Drama teacher Mrs. Clark to produce a play. How will they get along?; and
•Gemma who was led to believe that Friday the 13th is the day of bad luck; but Gemma’s luck proves different.


School initially in each of the scenarios is definitely not cool in the beginning. From Rashida to having a bad dream about being the new girl in class to Gemma who thinks will go wrong on Friday the 13th and to make matters worse, has lost something. The stories themselves set up almost matter of fact scenarios about how children may perceive things as going to go in their school day and each one is shown a more positive slant to show that the day may not necessarily play out the way they first thought. Each scenario ends with showing how school days can be cool in the end.

It is a book that has potential to be a useful tool amongst bigger resources to some parents who are perhaps having some issues on certain days in persuading their child to go to school. The scenarios are fairly simple and quick, it’s more about how the child thinks a day might go and the reality proving them wrong than anything else, to present a more positive, inspirational outlook, which can feed into their own day and thoughts. Each, relatable primary school scenario is backed up with a lovely illustration.

The book is free on Kindle Unlimited at the moment.

Go travelling with The Ship of Shadows Maria Kuzniar by @thecosyreader @PuffinBooks #childrensbook #kidslit #edutwitter #parents #families #SummerReading

The Ship of Shadows
By Maria Kuzniar
Rated: 4 stars ****

The Ship of Shadows is a mysterious vessel. Travel with Aleja from her imagination to the library to actually being on a ship, just like she always wanted. This is a great book, especially for tweens to go on an exhibition of the high seas, where not all is always as it seems. There’s a Kraken and some pirate magic about.
Thanks to The Write Reads group for inviting me to review and to Puffin Books and Maria Kuzniar for supplying a print copy of what really is a beautiful book. The cover is incredibly eye-catching.
Discover the blurb and review below.

The SHIP of SHADOWS_final (1)

About the Author

The Ship of Shadows Maria Kuzniar jpg

Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world, which inspired her debut novel The Ship of Shadows. Now she lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as she can and bookstagrams at @cosyreads. She is always planning her next adventure.



Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called The Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.

The Ship of Shadows cover.JPEG


The stunning cover is enough to feed anyone’s curiosity into picking it up. The content is enough to want anyone to want to sail away with it on a voyage. Where to? You can see on the map provided within it.

Aleja has an insatiable appetite for adventure, with an admiration for explorer – Thomas James. She has siblings – Miguel and Pablo. Where they liked doing the average things such as baking; Aleja dreamed of ships and pirates. It sounds exciting from the start.
She wishes to follow in the footsteps of intrepid explorers and sets off to investigate many books and comes to the absurd belief that girls can’t be explorers or pirates. I’m glad she ignores this momentary belief and starts to think of cozy libraries and ships; where she studies more about Thomas James and ‘The Most Dangerous Pirates Who Sailed the Seven Seas’. The ship, belonging to Thomas James is The Ship of Shadows. Cleverly, the author has written some passages of what Aleja is reading. It adds to the intrigue of it all. In someways its also championing reading books, as well as giving an insight into what is inspiring Aleja. The book also joins the raft of books over the years that gives their characters courage and independent minds.

Aleja gets her adventure as she joins the mysterious ship, full of women and meets Captain Quint on-board as they head out to sea and discovers an encrypted book, which she begins to work out what it could be from another book she has read. The Ship of Shadows seems to be, to show that girls too can be explorers, which can be encouraging to those who don’t think they can be, as it seeks to dispel that. It is also quite a swashbuckling adventure that would certainly feed into many imaginations. I think however, the book is suited for both boys and girls as boys too can enjoy the exploration of different places and creatures on the high seas.
It also shows that reading is key to knowledge that you never know can come useful.

The Ship of Shadows also holds secrets and perhaps even a curse!

The scenes with the Kraken add excitement and are superbly written, as trepidation is upped as it stretches out its tentacles and a posed threat from Francois Levasseur who wants to find the elusive Ship of Shadows

Overall it’s a very good adventure that will feed curious minds and it’s nice to see books of such adventure around. It certainly brings another element back to reading genres, which I view as being welcome in expanding choice.

Gloria – The Summer Fun Bus by Sue Wickstead @JayJayBus @rararesources #ChildrensBook #Kidslit #Edutwitter #Review #SummerReads #SummerReading

Gloria – The Summer Fun Bus
by Sue Wickstead
Rated: 4 stars ****

Today I am on a blog tour with Gloria – The Summer Fun Bus is by Sue Wickstead – Award Winning author (and teacher)  of The Wishing Shelf Book Awards Sue Wickstead. She is also an official Patron of Reading.
Gloria, the Summer Fun Bus is a super, vibrant book for children. Summer fun on a Play Bus, what can be better?

She also, according to Twitter, does school visits. Her books, although fictional, do have a factual link to a real school bus.

So come and discover the journey that will entertain your children this summer.
Discover the blurb, my review and then about the author and her social media and purchase links. Thanks to Rachel at Random Resources for inviting me on this blog tour.

Gloria TSFB - Interiors - RGB LR for Web00


Gloria the Summer Fun Bus
Gloria is a special Playbus.

She is painted with bright colours that makes her stand out. Now she is ready for a summer of fun, but will Max enjoy the adventure.

Why don’t you join in the fun, too?


This is a joyous book full of fun and perfect for reading for pleasure!
Come and join the Play Bus it calls out to children with its vibrant, welcoming cover.
Play buses in various guises have been around awhile now in real life, so this is a great story to introduce children to them or to sit with your child and just have lots of fun, perhaps reminiscing about them, or just generally have a lovely story-time together. It’s action-packed full of wonderful pictures and characters up to all sorts of activities ranging from painting to dressing-up. It could spark the imagination within kids to try something different or re-discover an activity they’ve not done in awhile.

First, the playworker Bridget needs help to re-design a plain old red bus and then she needs customers. Max and his siblings go with their parents. Max is reluctant to join in and is rather naughty. Children will have fun finding out all the activities and what Max does in the end.

All in all it’s a book that is packed full of mischief and fun with an endearing end.

This book is ideal for schools, libraries and reading at home.

About the Author

Play bus Sue picSue Wickstead is a teacher and an author and writes children’s picture books with a bus theme. She has also written a photographic history book about the real bus, which is where her story writing began.

Sue once worked with a playbus charity based in Crawley. This led her to write the photographic history book about the project. The ‘Bewbush Playbus’ book was published in 2012.

Sue then began to write a fictional tale about the bus. ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name and has now been followed by more picture books which all indeed have a bus connection as well as links to her teaching journey.

Gloria is the most recent book and is based on the summer play-schemes which operated during the school holidays providing a safe place for children to meet and to play.

Award winning author.


Social Media Links –

Website : www.suewickstead.co.uk

Facebook: – Author Page https://www.facebook.com/storiesSue/

Facebook  – Playbus page https://www.facebook.com/BewbushPlaybus/


Purchase Links



amazon.co.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gloria-Summer-Fun-Bus-Wickstead/dp/191639230X/

Amazon .com https://www.amazon.com/Gloria-Summer-Fun-Bus-Wickstead/dp/191639230X/

Waterstones https://www.waterstones.com/book/gloria-the-summer-fun-bus/sue-wickstead/9781916392304

Barnes and noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gloria-the-summer-fun-bus-sue-wickstead/1136923441?ean=9781916392304

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#Review of #ChildrensBook – My Mummy is a Monster by Natalie Reeves Billing @BillingReeves #MonstrousMe #MyMummyIsAMonster @RandomTTours

My Mummy is a Monster
By Natalie Reeves Billing
Illustrated by Lisa Williams
Rated: 5 stars *****

Vibrant, funny and a great interactive plot is contained within My Mummy is a Monster, which I have a been invited to present a review for. Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to review and to Natalie Reeves Billing for sending me the book and a lovely letter on the most fun writing paper (it has fun children’s sweets in pretty colours around it). Find out more about the author and the book and what I really thought about it, below.


Natalie Reeves Billing. Author Pic.jpegNatalie Reeves Billing is a Liverpool lass with a dark sense of humour, which often spills onto the page. She loves to write spooky, fantastical stories for young audiences, and dabbles in poetry, contemporary fiction.
Natalie spent most of her early career in the music industry as a performer and professional songwriter. This lead, almost inevitably, to storytelling.

Natalie is an Arvon Foundation friend and is a student of the Golden Egg Academy. She is mentored under the Lloyds Bank SSE program, with her Bubs Literacy project. She is published in several anthologies with her poetry and flash fiction, including the Writing on the Wall, Read Now, Write Now, and is involved in several collaborations with fellow writers across poetry, song, and scriptwriting.
Her new book, My Mummy is a Monster (part of the Monstrous Me collection) will be available in March 2020 and Carry Love in June 2020
Connect with Natalie on Twitter @BillingReeves.


 The Monstrous Me series is a split perspective book looking at situations from another point of view to help children develop a sense of balance, roundedness and wellbeing. Readers can literally and figuratively, turn the story on its head, and look at the very same situations from different angles. In this first book, ‘My Mummy’s a Monster’ an inquisitive little girl is convinced her mum is a monster. But, is she really? When we look through her mummy’s eyes, we see a very different story.

My Mummy Is a Monster Front cover.jpeg


Can you find the 7 Monstrometers hidden throughout the story. Are you a monster or is your mummy a monster? This delightful split perspective book invites you to find out. It has 2 parts to the story. Part 1 is the daughter and son reckoning their mummy is a monster and that lots of mummies have monsters hiding inside of them, especially when they suddenly turn into monsters just before 8:45am and try to comb their children’s hair and get them to brush their teeth and walk to school and shock horror, gleefully makes them walk to school. The story is something children will find, along with the colourful illustrations that support the story, just so funny! The book then invites children to draw their mummy monster in the monstrometer. Please don’t do this if the book doesn’t belong to you. The monstrometer would be easy to copy and draw onto paper.

On the flip-side, mummies see their children as monsters too and maybe even granny can see. Everything is flipped to how it is when children scream they don’t want their hair brushed and kick up a fuss over teeth brushing, all making mummy late for work and when they don’t want to go shopping and mummy is just tired.
There’s a monstometer at the end to draw themselves being the monster.

Both parts endearingly end with love.

This book is a fun story, but is also one that can open conversations about how things are sometimes and to show each other the challenges, but also that children love their parents and parents love their children really. It’s a great book for promoting wellbeing and understanding of behaviours at certain times and for developing a well-rounded, empathetic human.

There are some great activities that support this story on http://www.lollipoplodge.com

I have a paperback, linear copy, but the author has informed me that there is a hardback copy where your child can have fun actually flipping the book over when it comes to part 2 to continue with the story. I’d say that the physical act of doing this goes to serve children well in re-enforcing the stories message of their being 2 sides to the story.

Buy link: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Mummy-Monster-Children-Monstrous/dp/1916388914

Also check out your local independent bookshops too.

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