I reviewed a number of children’s books right across the ages from 0 to teenagers. Here are some I highly recommend. Starting with young children’s books, working up in age range. I have also provided links to the blurbs and full reviews as you wok you way down.
The Picture Books – 0 to 6 years
Trains, Trains, Trains! Is a fun-packed picture book that works on different levels. It encourages thought, speech and language as kids choose their favourite trains. It also has fun with counting and speed and provides children, including babies with a certain comfort in its train like rhythm of the words. It’s a book that adults can have fun with reading to children. Here is the link: Trains, Trains, Trains
Tilda Tries Again By Tom Percival was recently on CBeebies, read by Rob Burrows. It has fantastic illustrations, which really goes towards aiding the story along. It’s a positive, encouraging story that takes children into Tilda’s world, where it’s okay to give things another try. Here’s the link to the blurb and full review Tilda Tries Again
David’s Bathtime Adventure By Sue Wickstead is great for kids who love or dislike bathtime alike. It’s full of imaginative fun. It’s also got great tips for adults after the story too. Here’s the link to the blurb and full review: David’s Bathtime Adventure
The Fairy In The Kettle By Pauline Tait is a sweet story about friendship. It is also fun with a fairy who lives in a kettle and plenty goes on in this short adventure. Check out the blurb and review here: The Fairy In The Kettle
What The Ladybird Heard at Christmas By Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks is full of adventure and trepidation in this fun poetic story. Find out more in the link here: What The Ladybird Heard at Christmas
Daddy’s New Shed By Jessica Parkin sees him needing a new one, but who will get to use it? It has much humour. Here’s the link to the review and blurb: Daddy’s New Shed
Where Is My Smile? is charming and about a boy who has lost his. Is there a solution that can be found? The book promotes talk of feelings and wellbeing. Here’s the link to the blurb and review: Where Is My Smile?
The Middle Grade Books – 7 plus years
The Ultimate Guide to Growing Dragons by Andy Shepherd shows you too can grow dragons. The book is great for the adventurous and for young gardeners and the curious. It’s part of the excellent The Boy Who Grew Dragons series. This one also has fun pages set out like collection cards and so much more, as well as the story. Find out the blurb and full review in this link: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Dragons
Benji And The Gunpowder Plot By Kate Cunningham gives children a great time travelling adventure to the time of Guy Fawkes. It’s the first book in The Time Tumblers series. Find out more in the link for the review and blurb: Benji and the Gunpowder Plot
Jump By J.G.Nolan is a football story where old and young come together. They each learn something about football and a particular footballer. Here is the blurb and full review: Jump
Dread Wood By Jennifer Killick, author of the successful Craters Lake, is middlegrade horror at its best, on a par with Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. It’s atmospheric and twisty with mystery and dark tunnels… also a detention to boot. Why then is a teacher underground and a caretaker acting strangely? Here is the link to the blurb and full review: Dread Wood
Which Way To Anywhere By Cressida Cowell – author of How To Train Your Dragon and Wizard of Once, is exhilarating with a terrific cast of characters, including a robot assassin and trees not being quite how you would expect in this new magical world. Here is the link to the blurb and full review: Which Way To Anywhere
Young Adult/Teens -12 years plus
Being is Better and Beyond Invisible is a duology of books. Meet Amber and her friend. Both have quite different backgrounds and yet find each other. The book highlights teenage loneliness, grief, parental divorce, health issues, friendship. It is relatable and essential reading for teens/young adults. Here is the link to full blurbs and reviews of both books – Being Is Better Duology
Meet several people from history in a fast-paced adventure through time. It is a page-turner! This is perfect for ages 9 to 12 years old. Thanks to Random T. Tours for inviting me to review.
Benji hopes that a trip out on Bonfire Night will add excitement to his normally ordinary life.
However, when he accidentally falls down a time hole he has a lot more adventure than he expected. Who are the strange men in the Duck Inn? Who can he trust What is so important about the letter he has been asked to deliver?
Events will take him to the Globe Theatre, down the Thames rapids and into the heart of Parliament. London in 1605 is darker, dirtier and more dangerous than home, and Benji has no idea how to get back.
Meet Benji Vent in the first adventure of the Time Tumblers series.
Benji is on the biggest adventure of his life, where his decisions will affect the course of history, and he will find out a lot more about the people in his life, including his mysterious father.
As the name suggests, the scene is set for time travelling back to 5th November. Before readers reach chapter 1, there is a cast list of some fictional characters and some who are real and then a quote by William Shakespeare – “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” Rather atmospheric and apt for what unfolds. Then readers are thrust into chapter one about a bonfire and join Benji and friends Jacob and Ellen as they recite “Remember, Remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason should ever be forgot” and having a good time. In a turn of events he finds himself stumbling travelling back in time to and suddenly life is very different as he lands in the year 1605.
What readers get from this book is history amongst a great adventure through time and meet many people, including William Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre as they follow Benji through the streets of London in 1605. Some people he meets are nice, but others are rather unsavoury. There are many moments of trepidation, including sword fights. It is a story children can well and truly be immersed in, with illustrations throughout accompanying it. At the back is an Afterword which tells the real facts that are highlighted within the fictional story in an easy to read bullet pointed list. I think books like this are invaluable to children as they get something to learn from that may pique their interest as well as a story. It may be of interest to both those who enjoy fiction and/or non-fiction alike.
About the Author
I was a primary teacher in large London primary schools for ten years after having initially worked in a development charity.
Being married to a historian I was constantly discussing the most amazing stories; sometmes large incidents that changed the politcal landscape, but often small personal tales that gave a glimpse of the life of our ancestors. My writing became more and more influenced by these events and the ripples we still feel from them.
My books now reflect that, sometmes directly in the picture books, but more as an influence, showing how people behave when caught up in events like in the pandemic in MARY.
I have three sons — my eldest, Sam, is an illustrator who works with me on the Vlad flea picture book series, and I visit schools (often in a kirtle) and create resources for parents and teachers.
Otter’s Coat: Real Reason Turtle Raced Rabbit Cherolachian Tortoise and Hare By Cordellya Smith Illustrated By Blueberry Illustrations
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Rating: 1 out of 5.
Rating: 1 out of 5.
Today I am on the blog tour for Otter’s Coat. It is a sweet, fun and engaging story, suitable for 5-7 year olds. Thanks to Random T Tours for organising the tour and a copy of the book. Discover more about the book in the blurb and review below, as well as the author.
When Rabbit hears the animals talking abut what a beautiful coat Otter has, he becomes jealous and tricks Otter totake it for himself.
Follow along as Turtle races Rabbit to the top of the Black Mountain to win back Otter’s coat and make sure it is returned.
Instantly the book is recognisable as a take on Aesop’s famous fable – The Hare and the Tortoise, so it mixes something a bit new with a timeless classic and a lovely story is told once again that will be engaging for 5-7 year olds.
Throughout the story is a game of hide and seek, whereby children have to hunt out the chipmunk along the way to the end.
The book nicely takes children to a nut moon festival and then sneakily into the rabbit’s trick with the otter in its bright bold illustrated pages, in what unfolds into a fast-paced chapter book. It is great for those lessons on fables and their outcomes for schools or for reading for pleasure and is well-designed for its targeted age group, as well as being engaging, with themes that are familiar that create a fun story, which can also be used as discussion pieces, like you would with Aesop’s Fables, which this book could be easily paired up with.
At the end, there is a note for parents that explains what a Cherolachian is, which is added interest and adds roots.
About The Author
Originally from the mountains of Kentucky, Cordellya Smith is a storyteller who loves to share stories that provide children with versions of beloved tales that reflect her Cherokee and Appalachian roots. A first generation college graduate, Cordellya works to promote literacy and a lifetime love of reading.
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.
Come 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to Katherine at School Poet who has sent me video clips, links to the School Poet website and more…. The poems sensitively and sometimes with a bit of humour and all done in a supportive way as they talk about Corona Virus and what children have endured so far. It is all very relatable to them and is written perfectly for KS1 and KS2 classes in a way that is at their level of understanding and without freaking them out. It could spark some conversations, some further understanding and more… There are accompanying resources that go with the poems (more info on that below.
The Arts Council has also funded this project so a film can be made.
Do read more about this below for further info and and then scroll back to explore the website.
A New Kind of Normal is an interactive poem in 8 parts to help primary school children discuss, process and flourish from their experiences of the Covid-19 lockdown. At 5 points during the poem there are moments to pause, with question prompts, so children can talk about their own ideas, worries, and hopes for the future.
The poem is attached to this email – please feel free to share it with friends and colleagues. In addition, the Arts Council has supported me to make a beautiful and inclusive animated film of it (including deaf actors). You can see clips of the video on my website www.schoolpoet.com.
There’s also an accompanying teacher resource pack for KS1 and KS2 pupils, with 5 different literacy and poetry lesson plans and printable pdfs. The whole school can get involved and get creative!
The resource was produced to help children:
Discuss the strange and confusing time during lockdown in order that they can process their experiences in a nurturing and supportive way;
Explore the ways in which we all can harness this difficult event and use it as an opportunity to learn, grow and rebuild our society even better than it was before.
Gain a greater understanding of important themes such as: mental health, wellbeing, society, disability, the planet and humans’ place within it, the science of germs (with tips on how to keep safe), and – most important of all – the power of creativity;
Feel inspired to get creative, write their own poetry and take control of their future!
I hope you enjoy the poem. If you know of schools that would be interested in the film and teacher pack I am asking for £35. And there are discounts for group buys. Do get in touch if you have any questions, and I’d love to hear feedback!