#BookReview By Lou The Wild Before By Piers Torday @PiersTorday @QuercusKids #MiddleGrade #NaturalWorld #ClimateStory #ChildrensBook

The Wild Before
By Piers Torday

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Wild Before is a great story that encompasses animals in the natural world and the climate. It is suitable for older middle-grade readers.
Thanks to Quercus Kids publisher for gifting me the book to review. Discover more in the blurb and rest of my review below and the eye-catching cover.

The Wild Before cover

Blurb

Can one hare alone change the world? The captivating animal adventure destined to be loved by readers of all ages. A stunning hardback edition from the bestselling, much-loved author, Piers Torday.

One stormy, snowy night, a pure silver calf is born on an ordinary muddy farm by the light of the moon. This is the legendary Mooncalf, whose arrival has been foretold since the dawn of time.

According to a dream passed down from animal to animal, if the calf dies, a great Terribleness will come – rising seas, a plague, skies raining down fire, the end of all things… and Little Hare vows to persuade all the animals to protect Mooncalf, whatever the cost.

But it’s easier said than done, and soon Little Hare realises that he is the only one who can save the world…

A stunning prequel to the award-winning, bestselling The Last Wild trilogy, touching on timely themes of climate change, friendship, and above all, hope.
‘Piers Torday is the new master of books for children’ The Times

Review

The Wild Before coverThe Wild Before starts off illustrating different sorts of moon for the whole year. A different name per month. There’s also a glossary so children can totally understand the animals.

Readers get to know Little Hare first, who runs ever so fast to find where Dandelion Hill was. From the start you can tell there is something not right. Little Hare is on a mission to find the wild and to pass on an urgent message. Wildeness is in charge, but he encounters wolves who claim to be guardians of Wildeness in the north…. The book then goes onto the first chapter and beyond. It’s absolutely beautifully written and captivating by the tension created and trepidation. In an instant you care about Little Hare and what she has to say and hope he survives. There is also Bite-Hare, Sist-Hare and Run-Hare.
The book is cute in its storytelling and in its illustrations, but also shows some of the hardships that wildlife has. There are also dogs and humans to fear and to watch out for as the hares try to leave the farm they are on to go to try and travel northwards to get to speak with Wildeness. They also comes across Brock who is a badger and a harvest mouse, who has lots of songs. The mission also means trying to find a specific flower and that may require a human as the race is on to stop a virus.

The book highlights climate change and the sea levels rising and the hardships humans and animals have. The book also shows the natural world in action in all its magnificence and also the life and death within it and that concern animals have that their prey may capture them that day. The book also shows heirarchy in animals and Wildeness being at the top.

The Wild Before is like today’s Animal’s of Farthing Wood and Watership Down. It fits very well with these books in its themes and desire to read about the natural world and to care about it. It may be an emotional read for children, but one that they’ll find compelling to say the least.
It has, amongst the adventure and all the dangers, an important message to convey to readers too.
Classes in schools are already reading this. There’s much to read and discuss, but in saying that, it can also be read for pleasure at home too as middle grade readers will like being swept up in the storytelling and the adventure of it all.

#BookReview by Lou of Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City: from the creator of Draw with Rob by Rob Biddulph @RobBiddulph @MacmillanKidsUK #MiddleGrade aged 8 plus #ChildrensBook

Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City: from the creator of Draw with Rob
By Rob Biddulph

 

Imaginative and entertaining with absolutely amazing illustrations that will blow you away a wonderful story to boot. Children aged 8 plus are sure to love this.
Discover more in the blurb and my review. Thanks also to the publisher – MacMillan Children’s Books for allowing me to review.

Peanut Jones Illustrated City

Blurb

Peanut Jones Illustrated CitySuperstar, author and illustrator Rob Biddulph dazzles in Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City, the first title in an adventure series for boys and girls of 8+. Fizzing with magic, danger, friendship and art, this exciting, funny, middle-grade debut is from the bestselling creative genius behind #DrawWithRob.

Some legends are born, some are drawn . . .

Drawing feels like magic to Peanut Jones. But art can’t fix her problems. Her dad has gone missing, and she’s stuck in a boring new school. Until the day she finds a unique pencil turbo-charged with special powers. Suddenly she’s pulled into a world packed with more colour, creativity, excitement and danger than she could ever have imagined. And maybe, just maybe, she might find out what happened to her dad.

‘A wildly imaginative, big-hearted celebration of creativity’ – Anna James, bestselling author of the Pages & Co series

‘Look at this utter beauty . . . This book is EPIC’ – Laura Ellen Anderson, bestselling author of Amelia Fang

Review

Rob Biddulph was known in the height of the pandemic for his “Draw With” sessions online. Now you can read his latest book – Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City.

Pernilla Anne Jones is otherwise called Peanut Jones and is in school detention when readers meet her, then we meet her friends and other people around the city, such as her mum, Rockwell and Lillibet, otherwise known as Little Bit.
The book has amazing illustrations. Nothing too out of the ordinary – people, cars and the like, but the way they are drawn makes them pop out from the page, like you could reach in and pick them up. They are some of the best children’s illustrations I’ve seen in a while!

Amongst the illustrations is where the story is occurring all around them, not always in a traditional words then picture kind of a way, but almost more in a synergy kind of a way. It’s all eye-catching.

Accompanied with the amazing illustrations there is a seriousness in the story itself as Peanut’s dad, who is an artist, is missing and memories of him flood back every so often and this captures emotion.

There is science and art as topics within the book and they interact in interesting and magical ways.

Children will gain a lot of knowledge about art, that’s cleverly integrated into fun the fun of this enchanting story of magic, mystery and adventure into a city she explores – Chroma – The Illustrated City, which is magical and yet isn’t without its trepidation. Peanut and Rockwell are sent on a mission to save someone and there is much in jeopardy and much at stake along the way and codes to work on and more…
There’s much action, including heroes and villains of the piece to keep children hooked and immerse them into the city and build up their excitement as they read.

At the end of the book is a fabulous glossary about the artists who feature in this book. Each has a small paragraph about them, which builds children’s knowledge in a fun way and backs up who they’ve come across in the story.

#BookReview by Lou of Journey To The Moon And Other Stories By Ed Goodwin @whizoap @ConradPress @RandomTTours #JourneyToTheMoon #ChildrensBooks #MiddleGrade #9-12yearolds #Humour #Fantasy #Unicorns #Space #Humour

Journey To The Moon
And Other Stories
 By Ed Goodwin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

3 stories in 1 provide adventure, fantasy, humour, realism all for 9-12 year olds. Find out more in the blurb and my review below…
A little later than planned due to unforseeable circumstances.
Thanks to Random Things Tours and Conrad Press for the book and invite to review.

Journey to the Moon Cover

Blurb

Fantasy, reality and humour are blended in three adventures. Nothing is as it seems as two young girls go to the moon, present a unique style of Punch and Judy and try to look after a unicorn.
In ‘Journey to the Moon’, with the help of a possibly over-optimistic dad and practical mum, two young sisters make their dream visit to the moon and back despite numerous setbacks. In ‘Punch and Judy’ the question of what would happen if violence was banned in Punch and Judy shows is explored. In the story ‘Unicorn Tale’, looking after a unicorn presents more challenges than expected, especially when it disappears into a dream world.

Journey to the Moon Cover

Let’s start with the cover. It’s just so eye-catching and fun. This is a book where children can go and have adventure that will send their imaginations soaring. 3 stories in 1 also makes this fun and rather special.

This hits some trends for children, including unicorns. There’s much fun and humour to have in these stories. The puppet shows that the family perform is great and may well spark the imaginations of its readers. That is possibly one of the best bits as it brings puppets back into the modern sphere again.

The family is one that I think children will have fun within this book during quiet times or bedtimes. It’s great for wherever you want to read.

Each story brings something different. From an adventure to the moon, which brings about a touch of reality to the realms of fantasy, such as in working out how to look after a unicorn. Each story provides entertainment in different ways. that are sure to surprise and give children space to have a laugh.

Journey To The Moon BT Poster

#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.