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!
The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons By Andy Shepherd Illustrated by Sara Ogilvie Rated: 5 stars *****
Thank you to my surpise post of The Boy Who Dreamed of Dragons, sent to me by Andy Shepherd, spanning from a quick chat some time ago. So, today, I am delighted to present my review on this great story that is just 263 pages and also has some terrific illustrations throughout, within its vibrant cover. It also, when the book is fully closed, has a special look as the subtle lines going down the pages look rather smart.
We dream of dragons. Soaring, roaring, fire-flickering dragons. While we’re tucked up in bed, they light up in our sleep. Sparking, glittering, aglow.
But dreams are only the beginning of an even greater story.
Because the truth is, our dragons don’t just visit us in our dreams…
At some point, lots of children (including me when I was a child) have dreamt about flying on a dragon’s back, swooping and soaring through the sky.
Dragon races, friendships, sock puppets, a wormhole in a fridge, a jungle family, humour, warmth, a super hero squad, illustrations, this book has it all in only 263 pages that is amazingly adventurous, fast-paced and sparky. This book captures imaginations perfectly. Every page has something to make you smile.
Did you know dragons grow on trees? No? Enter this enchanting tale to find out about them and meet the beautifully coloured dragons called Flicker and Sunny. There’s a race with a difference – it’s a dragon race. It’s also used as a clever way of introducing the characters, such as Thomas and his Lolli, who have the most terrific fun with their games. There’s also great friendships within the characters.
Not everyone knows about dragons, but endearing and very fun grandad does. Grandad hasn’t been too well and had a hospital stay, but back on his feet, he’s as positive as ever with his grandchildren helping out with his vegetable patch and just having fun. I like the positivity around this part of the story.
This book is funny, heartwarming and is just perfect for sparking the imaginations of children and for reading for pleasure. It is also perfect for nature-lovers too, or just lovers of humour. On a deeper level, there is plenty about the world around you to have fun with. There’s also themes of having to move on as Thomas’s mum hears of a new job, meaning the family have to move. The emotion of having to leave what was known and loved behind is captured so naturally as it plays out and Flicker, the dragon also leaves. It’s another big theme for children, but handled so well and not completely negatively, which is thoughtful of Andy.
At school, secrets are inadvertently blurted out by Thomas himself to the new girl – Aura who proudly proclaims herself to be a dragon expert, which really throws Thomas into confusion as his emotions really take over and a chain of further events happen.
This book is great for schools, libraries and within homes. Children can have so much fun with it and within schools, there are subjects within the themes that can be discussed or used creatively within activities, as well as generally being good for reading for pleasure.
Mini Reviews and Links for Children’s Books, Spanning Across Every Age
I have reviewed a number of excellent children’s books. I have now put them all together in a small collection here for you to hopefully be inspired and try out. You will find the books at Amazon, Waterstones and some Independent Bookshops. Full reviews and extra info can be found by clicking on the relevant links, marked “Here”. I have included books for all ages of children. I have started off with a terrific chapter books and then some books for younger children. I hope this brings some inspiration for what to try next.
Blaze Dog Detective By Lin Anderson
When the famous fairy flag of the Clan MacLeod disappears from a locked room at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the police immediately call in Blaze Dog Detective. After all his scenting skills on the island are legendary. With his team of Rosa, Rory and wee brother Laoch, Blaze leads the chase to rescue this magical flag before it can be spirited away from the island forever.
A map, a castle, a secret passage, adventure, cute dogs, robbers, police, a mystery to be solved, this children’s book has it all. There is wonderful mix of mild trepidation and humour and a terrific energy throughout. With all that and excellent characterisation and plot that has red herrings, can you discover who stole the Fairy Flag in Skye? Blaze is actually a real dog in Skye and you can find out more about the book and see some more cute pics by clicking Here
She Wolf By Dan Smith
Northumbria 866. Washed ashore on a frozen English beach, Ylva’s survived. She will not cry. She’s meant to be strong. She’s a Viking.
But when her mother dies at the hand of a three-fingered man, and the wolves of the forest circle closer, Ylva will need more than the memory of her mother’s stories to stay alive. Can she shape her own legend? Will it end in revenge – or is there another way?
Quick Review – Primary Schools and Booktrust rate it highly as do I with 5 stars. Immerse yourself in a book that deals with bereavement and courage as you meet Ylva, Locki, Thor and Odin. Discover this immersive and intriguing adventure, which is excellently paced and pitched for older primary aged children. Click Herefor more info about it, plus links to Dan Smith’s website and social media.
Red Snow by Larraine Harrison
Twelve-year-old Megan though she knew everything there was to know about her mother’s death, but she was wrong.
Why will no one tell her what really happened and why has she become her father’s carer?
The boy next door has a dangerous secret that could help Megan, but will she be strong enough to pursue it to the end?
A story of danger, hope and perseverance.
Red Snow is great for 8 or 9 year olds plus. Full of atmosphere and emotion, readers meet 12 year old Megan Townsend who tries to follow her neighbour – Ryan into the woods. It is sinister and intriguing as Megan pursues the truth about her mother and was there a big cat in the woods? It is also about Megan being inquisitive and Ryan’s peculiar habits. It is sympathetically written in a child friendly manner, with themes of being a carer, bereavement, loneliness, friendship, family; with an excellent ending that will see everything resolved. Find out more by clicking Here
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
Bronte Mettlestone has been brought up in a very sensible way by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler. So when her absent parents are killed by pirates and she’s sent on a whirlwind visit to her other ten aunts, she takes it all in her stride. But Bronte’s outwardly sensible nature holds a core of steel and courage, and through her adventures, with water sprites, avalanches, elves and dragons, Bronte shows herself to be the kind of heroine we would all wish to be. This wonderful novel is witty, lively and full of magic and surprises – everything readers young and old could ask for. The kind of novel where you need to make a pot of tea (preferably cloudberry), find a really comfy sofa in front of a roaring fire, and settle in for a magical journey of your own.
Let your imagination run wild with this book and find out what the Extremely Unfortunate Events of Bronte Mettlestone are. She’s brave and courageous. She has aunts in Scotland and yet she also ends up in many other kingdoms in this wonderfully written book that children will have their imaginations captured by. There are pirates, a strange library and fantastical creatures that is all just so well pitched for children to sweep them along within exciting chapters that exceeded expectations. Find out more by clickingHere
The Treasure at the Top of the Mountain By Clive Mantle
Clive Mantle has said: “I have woven a tale of adventure in the past and present against the wondrous backdrop of Nepal and its people. I am thrilled that the story I wrote for my own son to pass on the flame has now found a wider audience, who will hopefully have their imaginations stimulated as mine was as a young boy”.
In the first of The Adventures of Freddie Malone series, The Treasure at the Top of the World Freddie receives an intriguing and unusual thirteenth birthday present from his Uncle Patrick. The ancient world map goes straight up on his wall, but Freddie fast discovers that the map is much more than just a decorative historic artefact. Freddie, and his best friend, Connor, are soon plunged into a mountainous adventure, on a path that leads to a long buried mystery, pursued by ruthless adversaries who’ll go to any lengths to get what they want.
This is more than just a tale to tell, it’s an impressively written adventure of a lifetime. This a story of (in no particular order) adventure, social and land geography, history, present day, travel and friendship and overcoming bullying. This is a book that will excite, inform and captivate children.
There are relics and treasures to be had, people to meet and a country to explore, all within the safety and comfort of your own home. This is an impressive story with adventure, once you’ve met Freddie Malone, who is celebrating his birthday and his magical present transports him to Nepal to meet mountaineers and more…
There is a lovely map and pictures and additional supporting info after the terrific story.
Find out more by clicking Here
Star Child – The Age of Akra – Book 1 –
There are 5 in the series. I have reviewed 3.
The foreshadowing of a dark future threatens the seven nations. Mai is selected to train with the mysterious elemental master Sah Dohba who will prepare her to become the protector of the desert lands. Her brother Long, steps forward to travel with her as her chaperone to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts.
A chance encounter brings them together with Akra, the Starchild. The trio travels on into a battle with the elements. Sandstorms. Deadly creatures. Starvation. Then a chance meeting with powerful earthfollower, sets them on a new path where they must each find the strength to face a terrifying foe from the Underworld.
This is the beginning of a new children’s fantasy series for children of ages 7+ The cover is exciting with its dragon, suggesting adventure and action. There are 5 in all in this series.
Covering themes such as child rivalry, there is bravery, action, adventure and emotion within these books, all suitable for ages 7/8 plus. Children who like Marvel and Ninjago and dragons and creatures in faraway lands will enjoy this. It’s an excellent series to get stuck into and to spark children’s imaginations. Check out more by clickingHere
Judy Blume books are great and have stood the test of time pretty well. I wrote an article as to why her books are still relevant and to showcase her books. Her books span right across children of all ages. Click for the articleHere
Toletis by Rafa Ruiz
Toletis is another book that is perfect for children of all ages.
Claudia and Tutan are on a mission to turn their little valley town, set deep in the mountains, luscious green again. The odds are stacked against them. Can they succeed… with some very unusual help?
This is a book that provides, within Toletis, a positive role model. He has a deep interest in the natural world and has lots of fun, whilst playing in the world around him. He meets characters like the Treene-weenies and learns Wobbegong language along the way. He also has a great friend in Tutan. There are great illustrations throughout, humour, great storytelling throughout, that this makes perfect reading for those who also like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Storey Treehouse series. Find out much more about this terrific book by clicking Here
Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure By Emma Larkin
Izzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.
Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.
One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…………….
Are you missing out on football? Whether you are or not, this is a great book of sibling rivalry and inspiration. Meet Izzy, she likes football and dreams of playing for her county one day, but doesn’t see how that can happen, until a discovery is made about relative. This is an excellent, positive book of possibilities. Find out more by clickingHere
Geronimo Stilton – Stop Acting Around By Geronimo Stilton
Geronimo Stilton is Getting into the movies when he is invited by an old filmmaker friend, director E.J. Sprocket, to visit the set Block Cheddar 4, starring Jack Vole. Convinced that this could make for an interesting article, he brings Thea, Benjamin, and Pandora along. But soon they discover that it’s not all glitz and glamour as strange happenings have been plaguing production, causing the film to go off course. Will Geronimo’s acting career be over before it starts? Is there a MOLE on the set? As E.J. would say, “That’s show business for ya baby!”
Geronimo Stilton books have been around awhile in libraries and book shops and they are nicely still going strong. They are graphic novels, with the story told in a well layed-out and illustrated form and often depict an eye-catching cover, with a good paced plot. Stop Acting Around takes Geronimo (a mouse) on-set of a big movie to meet his favourite actor – Jack Vole and reckons this would make for a great article. All is well until disaster strikes when 10 cans of film are mysteriously destroyed. The book has plenty of action and there is mild trepidation when there’s a rickety bridge to get across a ravine and down an old mine as the mystery continues as to what happened to the film reels and unexpected discoveries.
The Hidden Spaceship by Serena Lane Ferrari
When Amelia and Noah stumble across a spaceship, an out-of-this-world adventure begins. The friends have a very special mission – to help the Earth’s eco-system. They must go on a daunting journey on another planet, find a treasure chest, and complete their quest. What secret does the treasure chest hold?
There’s a song, a spaceship and humans Amelia and Noah, who embark on an adventure to a distant planet. There’s bright, bold pictures and a great story and characters like the alien Ualalumpa. The book, throughout the story, tells children about the eco-system in a way that is child-friendly and understandable. There are treasures to find that are more magical and wonderful than even gold or jewels. To find out more about this out of this world adventure, please clickHere
The Cockatoo From Timbucktoo By William AE Ford
Join Kian the cockatoo on his adventures around the world!
Can a childhood song about a shining star help him find his way home?
From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China to New York City wonders of the world are explored delightfully in this epic journey!
William has done it again! After sending children on an interactive, rhyming time travelling adventure with the award winning Timothy Mean and his Time Machine, he now sends them on a world adventure with a lost cockatoo who just wants to go home to be reunited with his mum and dad. Children just love the adventure of flying around the world in a book, the illustrations and the repetitive nature of this book, that makes it so interactive and fun. It is a wonderful and perfect book for these different days, where young children, including the early primary school years, will gain value from. Find out more by clicking Here
The Hangry Hamster by Grace McLuskey
Review and Blurb
Meet Billy. He has a hamster who is hangry and ends up running through London, past a lot of landmarks, which he ends up towering over, like no hamster ever has before. This book is action packed, very funny and brilliantly conceived. It is also about bonding with a pet. Please find out moreHere
Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic By Janey Louise Jones
When Poppy is invited to a beach party by cousin Daisy in Camomile Cove, she has to help clean up the beach first. There is so much plastic refuse. Meanwhile, her puppy Sidney chokes on a discarded bag. Poppy joins the campaign to rid the planet of one use plastic waste and comes up with an enterprising idea. Poppy is her usual energetic and passionate self as she realises everyone can do a little bit to make a big difference.
Princess Poppy is a great story with a really good mix of positive environmental messages and general fun in the characters setting. These are great books for both boys and girls alike. There’s great illustrations by Jennie Poh and humour within this story about looking after the environment. The story takes place when there’s a competition to create a poster to create an object to replace with that from a plastic one. It also shows friendship and keeping earth tidy, as well as having fun with Sidney – a dog with a bundle of energy. Please find out moreHere
Bertie the Buffalo by Wendy H. Jones
Bertie the Buffalo is based on a true story of when a Water Buffalo escaped from a Buffalo Park in Fife, near Dundee, Scotland. A rhyming book about the adventures Bertie got up to and how he safely returned home, demonstrating how important each of us is no matter how insignificant we feel. Bertie felt that no one noticed him. But he didn’t need to think that as we are all special. We are all a part of one big family.
Inspired by a true story in Scotland, children will meet Bertie and all sorts of animals, including an alpaca along the way as Bertie the Buffalo ends up straying into unfamiliar territories as he finds himself outside of his usual field. The book is about not feeling small, even if you are small in stature, friendship and family, in this beautifully illustrated book that will take children on an adventure and find some kindness along the way. It also is a story with a moral within it. This book has been read by many children, usually for 4 year olds plus, but has been used my middle grade classes up to and including primary 5 too. Find out more by clickingHere
Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution By Jordan Bell Rated:5 stars *****
Sent to me all the way from Australia, by the author Jordan Bell, I present this lovely and well-written and illustrated book about basic evolution for children. Thanks to Jordan Bell for getting in touch on my contact page, asking me to review it for her.
Are you ready for an amazing science adventure? Join Sophie and Matt as Aunt Jodie takes you on an imagination expanding journey back in time. Learn about evolution in two different species, millions of years apart: the Plesiads, ancient lemur-like creatures from 55 million years ago, and colour changing Peppered Moths from the 1800s. What happens to the Plesiads when a volcano erupts? How do moths survive when their camoflage stops working? Discover the secrets that help all creatures transform and develop when big changees happen in the world around them.
Meet Sophie and Matt and their Aunt Jodie in this beautifully produced chapter book. It’s an easy guide into Darwin for children, in story format, with great illustrations. The book is all about Darwins theories and science. It fits well into STEM.
In basic terms it walks children through Darwin’s theories of selection processes, giving, in story form, examples, through adventure with the plesaids (ancient lemurs). It also takes a journey to a volcano, where children are almost prompted to think about climate and about groups of animals as well as cause and effect. The book does it in such an easy, natural way and in a way that children will be able to understand.
The adventure with the intrepid explorers then jumps forward in time to the Industrial Revolution and how changes like that correlate with changes within evolution. Now the plesaids have been left behind, further into the past, a peppered moth emerges and its natural biology and science.
The tone of the book is just right for upper primary school/middle grade children. It’s pitched perfectly well, with the characters and the facts interacting and intertwining with each other. There’s an intense curiosity from the children within the book, that may spark curiosity within the children reading it. There is a great glossary at the back of the book that explains the words, some children may not be familiar with yet. The glossary is well produced and in such a way that I feel will aid children well enough.
The book would sit well in schools, school libraries, public/community libraries and bookshops.