Children’s Books Inspiration – Quick Reviews for All Ages #ChildrensBooks #PictureBooks #ChapterBooks #Kidslit #Reviews #LinAnderson #DanSmith #LarraineHarrison3 #JaclynMoriarty #CliveMantle #VacynTaylor #RafaRuiz #EmmaLarkin #GeronimoStilton #GraceMcLuskey #JaneyLouiseJones #WilliamAEFord #WendyHJones #Families #Parents

Mini Reviews and Links for Children’s Books, Spanning Across Every AgeBookmark pic

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

Blurb

Blaze CoverWhen 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.

Quick Review 

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

blaze fae Skye
Blaze from Skye

 

 

 

 

She Wolf By Dan Smith

Blurb

She WolfNorthumbria 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 Here for more info about it, plus links to Dan Smith’s website and social media.

 

Red Snow by Larraine Harrison

Blurb

Red Snow CoverTwelve-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.

Quick Review

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

Blurb

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte MettlestoneBronte 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.

Review

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 clicking Here

The Treasure at the Top of the Mountain By Clive Mantle

Blurb

The Treasure at the Top of the World coverClive 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.

 Review

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 Age of Akra Cover (1)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.

Review

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 clicking Here

Judy Blume FudgeJudy 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 article Here

 

 

Toletis by Rafa Ruiz

Toletis is another book that is perfect for children of all ages.

Blurb

Toletis CoverClaudia 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?

Review

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

Blurb

Izzy coverIzzy 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…………….

Review

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 clicking Here

Geronimo Stilton – Stop Acting Around By Geronimo Stilton

Blurb

Geronimo Stilton stop acting aroundGeronimo 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!”

Review

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

Blurb

The Hidden Spaceship cover

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?

 

Review

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 click Here

The Cockatoo From Timbucktoo By William AE Ford

Blurb

The Cockatoo From TimbucktuJoin 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!


Review

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

hangry hamsterMeet 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 more Here

 

Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic By Janey Louise Jones

Blurb

Princess Poppy Fantastic No PlasticWhen 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.

Review

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 more Here

Bertie the Buffalo by Wendy H. Jones

Blurb

Bertie CoverBertie 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.

Review

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 clicking Here

 

Aunt Jodie’s Guide to Evolution by Jordan Bell #ChildrensBook #Kidslit #NonFiction #parents #school

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.

Aunt Jodie cover

Blurb

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.

Review

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.

#Review of Red Snow by Larraine S Harrison – A story of life, courage and strength of a young girl. @larraineharri3 @matador #kidslit #SchoolLibraries #Bookshops #Libraries #ChildrensBooks #ReadingRocks #ReadingForPleasure

Red Snow
By Larraine S. Harrison
Rated: 5 stars *****

I came across Larraine S Harrison on social media and got interested in her book – Red Snow. The title and the cover grabbed me, so I looked further into it and the blurb interested me even more, so I figured I would chance my luck and ask her if I could review her book. Thankfully, Larraine agreed, so today, I present my review of Red Snow, which tells the story of Megan – a strong, independent girl who wants to resolve the mystery of what really happened to her mother once and for all, so that she may know the complete truth.

I thank Larrine S. Harrison for sending me a copy of her book.

About the Author

Larraine S Harrison is a retired teacher and school inspector who has written several books for teachers on using drama for learning.
Since retiring she has written two children’s novels: Red Snow and Angel’s Child.
She likes to involve children in the writing of her books as much as possible.
When she is not writing, she volunteers as a school governor and also enjoys playing tenor saxophone.
She now lives in Yorkshire.

Twitter link:

Larraine Harrison

Red Snow Cover

Blurb

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.

Review

Red Snow is atmospheric and leaps into action from the start as Megan Townsend tries to follow Ryan from next door into the woods as it would appear he has developed an interesting routine of being out each night. The curiosity of a twelve-year-old girl comes across well, because who isn’t a bit curious when someone has perceived peculiar habits when you’re a child. The story then turns more mysterious and sinister as there’s a trail of blood and possibly a big cat in the woods. It certainly would grab any child’s attention, especially those who are 8 or 9 years old plus.

The contrast between leisurely pursuits such as swimming, the sinister woods and Megan’s desire to find out about her mother works really well. Irene is an interesting character with her closely held secrets. The book becomes even more intriguing and really holds its own when Megan becomes more inquisitive about the death of her mother.

The emotions displayed by Paul – Megan’s dad and Megan herself are exquisitely portrayed. This entire book seems so natural about how each character’s personality and emotions are portrayed. It adds to this book being a really good read for children. The context, the language used and the pace makes it a book that children will be able to get into.

There are big, important themes like life and death, loneliness and being a carer, being strong, but all sensitively written and all at a child’s level of understanding and all wrapped in a fantastic story that will capture children, because, who doesn’t want to know what happened to Megan’s mum. Megan, especially is also a very likeable character. She is certainly a strong, determined girl, but also has a niceness about her. Children will be able to relate easily to this story, whether it is something they themselves have experienced in full or in-part or not as there is plenty to empathise with.

The changes in pace works well and the length means children can have a good chance of getting into it, without it being overwhelming in size (153 pages). The cover is curious. It makes you wonder what Megan is looking out of the window at and also draws you closer to her somehow. This is very much a children’s book in the way it is written and would sit very well in the children’s sections of libraries and bookshops.

The end will leave readers feeling very satisfied as the answers to the questions become apparent and there is hope.

I just had an instinctive feeling that it was going to be a good one and I was not disappointed and I am sure many readers will enjoy this book too.

*Please note that views are my own and are also unbiased.

Review of 3 Helping Hand Stories by Sarah, Duchess of York @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #HelpingHandStories #ChildrensBooks #Kidslit #Parents #Families #Schools #Libraries #SchoolLibraries #BlogTour #Review

3 Helping Hand Stories by Sarah, Duchess of York
Rated: 5 stars each *****

Sarah Duchess FINAL Helping Hands BT Poster

Sarah Duchess photo

I am very excited and honoured to be part of this blog and for the wonderful opportunity to present to you all, my  reviews of 3 children’s books by Sarah, Duchess of York, that she has written for Helping Hand for you all to read. Families and schools will seriously find them so beneficial. They have excellent illustrations with great stories and handy hints at the end. The way the stories and helpful hints are presented is excellent. There is so much to be gained out of reading them and they are an excellent tool for any household and classroom. There is so much scope as to how people can use the books.

I thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this amazing blog tour and for arranging books to be sent.

Let me show you the blurb of each book and then my review. Read further still, for an insightful and very interesting  interview about why Sarah, Duchess of York wrote the books, and then a lovely piece all about Sarah, Duchess of York herself.
I have also included the website link for the Helping Hand Stories page for you to check out for more information.

 

Blurb

Daisy Learns About Strangers

Sarah Fergusson Daisy learns about strangers front cover

Daisy gets bored in a supermarket and wanders off from her Mummy. When she realises she is amongst strangers, she feels very alone and frightened but luckily finds a security guard who soon reunites her with her Mummy. Learning about strangers is a difficult but vital lesson for young children. Daisy’s experience in the supermarket teaches her a valuable lesson.

James and the Bullies

Sarah Fergusson James and the bullies front cover

James is small for his age and some of the older boys at school have taken to pushing him around. At first, James tells no-one as he thinks it is his fault but finally he decides to tell his Mum and together they set about solving the problem. Bullying is one of the most difficult issues children and their parents have to face. James and his Mum show how it can be tackled and overcome.

Holly’s First Day at School

Sarah Ferusson Holly's first day at school front cover

A small child’s first day at school is a big step forward for both child and parents. For Holly, her worries about not being with her Mummy are soon forgotten as she meets new friends and starts to learn new things.

 

Review

First of all, these books are not just relevant, they are needed for children and families. They serve incredibly useful purposes. These are books that are really engaging to children, in the full content of the stories, the big illustrations, and  the meaning behind the books as powerful knowledge and understanding is gained.                                               They are excellent for conversation and discussion pieces. These are books that are designed to be read by adults with children.
Each book is realistic about the situations they portray and also has a positive resolution at the end.
Each story is something parents/caregivers and children themselves will be able to relate to. The layout of each is easy to follow as they flow very well from scene to scene.
The pictures and the words all go together very well too, bringing the stories to life and enhancing what has been written.
Check out the pages after the end of each story. There are excellent hints given there for parents/caregivers that are well-written and easy to follow. They really are practical and excellent ideas. The hints are written by a child psychologist and based on sound knowledge. Who knows if Sarah, Duchess of York will write any more of this series of books, but she certainly could as there are lots of topics she could write about and they are very good indeed.

 

Daisy Learns About Strangers

It is a worry for parents and caregivers that children could go off with strangers. This book has a brilliant short story with a couple of examples about a child getting lost and also later, about the same child seeing someone she doesn’t recognise. The book shows how such a thing could come about, what to do and how it can all be happily resolved. 

The story starts off in a supermarket and Daisy is being distracted by the tv whilst her mother is talking. Daisy then moves away without her mum knowing. Daisy feels lost and cannot locate her mum. She then goes to an appropriate adult to ask for help. The story resolves nicely. The story then moves onwards with her parents telling Daisy about strangers and them making up a rhyme so she remembers the rules she is taught and gives a scenario of someone who is a stranger. It is resolved nice and neatly.

James and the Bullies

Bullies – so many children are still being bullied and this story sets out how the bullied child can feel and also what action can be taken. The book is so positive that it will show those being bullied can do something about it and can take positive action. It shows that adults will listen, who to tell and what to perhaps say. This is an empowering book for children. It is also fabulous, that it demonstrates the child and adults working together to resolve the bullying and the positivity at the end.

Actually, come to think of it, this is also an excellent story if you are worried your child may be the bully, to demonstrate how the child being bullied can feel, to help set them back on a better, more positive path).

The story begins with James being worried and upset. It then shows the reason why and how 2 boys are bullying him. It goes on with James trying to hide the real reason for his minor injuries and also the internal symptom of his sore tummy and his lowering self-esteem. He does however have one good friend, who really he wants to ignore, but finds he can’t. The story continues and changes to being more positive as James then tells his mum about what has been going on and about how she and his teacher can help. It all gets resolved in the end and James starts to feel more like himself as he gains his confidence and self-esteem back.

Holly’s First Day at School

First days of anything can be challenging and hard. The first day at school is such a big milestone and one which, even the most prepared of children can find daunting as it becomes a reality. This book will help give a positive image, but also show that it is okay to feel worried and cry over it. It shows too that the first day at school can also be fun. It is a great book to use in assisting your child to prepare for this milestone in life.

The story begins with the positive, upbeat feelings of having completed the first day at school and then looks back to when the day began and how Holly had initially felt anxious. She meets up with Amy, her friend, Charlotte’s older sister and she tells them of the friends they’d make and yet she is still worried and a bit upset at the school gates. Then, follow Holly into assembly and the classroom and all the different activities she gets involved in. The story resolves nicely as after the first day, all is well again with Holly and she is now happier with going to school and ready to face another day.

Interview

This is a very insightful and very interesting  interview the Duchess of York gave about her Helping Hands stories (not conducted my me I might add).

Why did you write the Helping Hand stories?

The simple answer is that I was originally asked to by a UK pharmacy chain who felt there was a need for them. But as I started to work on the stories, listened to Dr Richard
Woolfson, the child psychologist who worked closely with us, and talked to mums with
young children, it became clearer and clearer to me that this was something I could really contribute to. If we could tackle the issues that all children face growing up by using that oldest but most effective technique, storytelling, to create something that invited young children to start understanding those issues whilst being of practical help to parents, we would be doing something really worthwhile.

Why have you decided to republish them now?

Two reasons: firstly the importance of encouraging people of all ages to talk about difficult experiences as a healthy thing to do has become increasingly prominent and accepted. The Helping Hand stories are designed to help both parents and young children to do exactly that. My hope is that parents (and grandparents) will read the books with their children and talk about the stories after they have read them. Secondly, they were extremely popular with customers of the pharmacy chain but there is a much bigger audience out there who will not have come across the books yet – and will hopefully find them just as useful.

We have brought them up to date in a bigger format with fantastic new illustrations – I can say that as I didn’t do them! They are the work of a very talented illustrator, Amit Tayal – thank you Amit for bringing the stories vividly to life. We’ve also produced ebook versions of the stories so they can be read on a tablet or laptop.

How did you choose the issues to write about?

I wanted to tackle issues that are important and universal. Take bullying for example.
According to UK research, at least two in five young people have experienced bullying in
some form in the previous year. And bullying is the most common reason for children aged 11 and under to contact Childline. ‘James and the Bullies’ is a simple story of bullying at school that illustrates how to face up to the problem and to go about resolving it. As with so many problems, being brave enough to talk about it is more than half the answer. Also, each story includes ten ‘Helpful Hints’ contributed by Richard Woolfson to give parents practical ways to help deal with the issue.

Do the stories reflect your personal experience?

As a mother, I was of course concerned about the issues that the stories cover and I would have loved to have had them to hand when I was a young Mum. But I wanted to write them, based on a broader understanding of the issues and the ways to tackle them. So the situations and solutions I describe come from both Richard Woolfson’s many years’ experience working with children and their parents and the many conversations I have had with other parents at the school gate and subsequently.

Do you have plans to write more Helping Hand stories?

I would love to. There’s no shortage of topics. For example, the growth of cyberbullying is
something I know the parents of young children I talk to are desperately worried about. It’s a problem that just did not exist when they were children so it is more difficult to grasp. I think a story that shed some light on the issue and offered advice on how to tackle it would be very well received.

What do you hope the Helping Hand stories will achieve?

I had a conversation the other day with a mum who had recently read the stories to her
young daughter. She told me that, initially, she had been a little wary of raising such
difficult topics with her innocent young child. But, equally, she knew that her little girl
would have to face such issues, probably sooner rather than later. As they describe a
fictional situation, the stories had been a relaxed way to introduce the topics and her
daughter had engaged with them. She identified with the children portrayed in them and
wanted to read them again a few days later, asking a number of questions. Mum and Dad
had felt very relieved that the topics were now ‘on the table’ and indeed the books were
now literally on the bedside table to be referred to, as and when needed. If that experience could be repeated a thousand times – or even tens of thousands of times – I would be thrilled.

Link for Helping Hands: http://www.helpinghandstories.com

About Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

Sarah Duchess photo

The Duchess of York is a global humanitarian, businesswoman, best selling children’s book author, producer and wellness advocate. The Duchess is widely admired for her “comeback spirit” and for overcoming formidable obstacles to succeed as a good mother who has worked hard to support her children, a survivor, businesswoman and humanitarian.
In 1993 she founded Children in Crisis (www.childrenincrisis.org.uk) and the charity has educated over 1.4 million children, trained over 18,000 teachers, built 57 schools and supports hundreds of schools on a yearly basis. Recently CIC merged with Street Child and The Duchess is Founder Patron, remaining active in its mission to provide education to forgotten children around the world. She has recently returned from visiting Street Child’s projects in Nepal and Sierra Leone, supporting the most marginalised into education and out of bonded labour.

The Duchess has published over 52 books including two autobiographies and titles dealing with health, empowerment, history, art, as well as children’s stories. Her children’s books include the series of ‘Budgie the Little Helicopter’, adapted into a highly successful animated series on US primetime Fox and her children’s book ‘Tea for Ruby’, published by Simon and Schuster had it’s debut at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

The subject of countless media interviews herself, The Duchess has also found success as a reporter and presenter. In America, she has been a special correspondent for NBC’s Today show and has presented specials and documentaries on ABC, FOX, and CNN. In Britain, she has presented and coproduced specials for ITV, BBC, and Sky TV. She has served as guest editor on BBC Radio 4 Today programme and has regularly contributed to BBC Radio 2’s primetime lifestyle show “Steve Wright”.
She conceived the film, and produced alongside Martin Scorsese, ‘The Young Victoria’, a period romance based on the early life of Queen Victoria starring Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend and scripted by Julian Fellowes. She has written two books on the subject, ‘Travels with Queen Victoria’ and ‘Victoria and Albert: Family Life at Osborne House’. The Young Victoria was released in the US, UK, Australia, France amongst other territories and it was the closing film at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2009.

She devotes much of her time to promoting wellness and children’s causes. The ‘Helping Hand’ series of books is designed to introduce children to the issues they all confront as they grow old, through storytelling and to support their parents with advice provided by a leading child psychologist. For 10 years she was the highly successful US spokesperson for Weight Watchers International where she distinguished herself as a wellness advocate and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. She has recently been asked to lead a campaign highlighting women and heart disease by The British Heart Foundation.

She is a passionate supporter of a number of charities including The Teenage Cancer Trust and Teen Cancer America, Julia’s House, The British Heart Foundation and The Children’s Air Ambulance. She also champions Key to Freedom, a business structure initiative set up to support the Women’s Interlink Foundation (WIF) by giving vulnerable young women a platform to sell their products. WIF works across West Bengal, India, helping these women develop skills to earn an income. She has just returned from a visit to The Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation Hospital (BASR) where, as Patron, she is spearheading a campaign to establish a cardiology department to include a heart attack centre and rehabilitation.

 

Review of The Cockatoo From Timbuktu by William A.E. Ford – Travel around the world with the Cockatoo @williamaeford #RamileMImac #Kidslit #NewBook #Education #Geography #Learning #Review #Schools #Libraries #readingforpleasure

The Cockatoo From Timbuktu
By William A.E. Ford
Illustrated by Ramile M. Imac
Rated: 5 stars *****

About the Author

William has always had a passion for books, writing and story-telling.  William’s favourite way to end a cosy evening is to spend time dreaming up and reading bed-time stories to his five wonderful children.

‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ and ‘The Cockatoo from Timbuktu’ were inspired by the spark of his children’s colourful imaginations as they tirelessly created unique, laughter filled days from even the most mundane, everyday objects and situations!

Born in England, William  currently lives in Oslo, Norway with his wife and five children.

‘Timothy Mean and the Time Machine’ won the Readers Favorite Children’s Sci-Fi / Fantasy 2019 Award. ‘The Cockatoo from Timbuktu’ is William’s second published picture book.  Timothy Mean 2 is currently in production. 

William welcomes enquiries from agents and publishers.

I am pleased to be returning to the work of William AE Ford to review his latest book – The Cockatoo From Timbucktu. A book where children have fun with the story, as well as taking in the educational elements in an inspired and fun way. This book would be great for schools, libraries or in the home. Read further to find out why…

The Cockatoo From Timbucktu

If you are a fan of Julia Donaldson, you will love William A.E. Ford’s books. They are of that calibre. They are packed full of a rhyming story, big and bright illustrations that match the stories and with something that children will take away from them – fun and just enough knowledge along the way. These book are fun to interact with at home, in a library or in school or to curl up with at bedtime. However you like to read books, this is an exciting author I highly recommend…. Read further to find out why….

Blurb

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!

Review

William has done it again! After sending children on an interactive, rhyming time travelling adventure with 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.

William A.E. Ford has shown again that his books are a valuable tool for the home, libraries and schools.

I have read it to quite a number of children and they love it. They love the illustrations, the story and the repetitive nature of the beginning of each page because they quickly grasp that they can become so involved in the story of saying those lines out loud (in unison if it is a class). The children love that they can trace with their finger across the map to follow the trail, Kian the cockatoo went. They also really like getting to know a bit about the world. I also had someone holding an atlas to show each country whilst going through the story, there are many things classes can do with this terrific story.

Follow the Cockatoo and also see if you can find the ladybird that follows on. Children have fun doing that. The Cockatoo starts off at a zoo with thoughts of home and travels through countries such as Antarctica, Australia, China, India, UK, USA, Africa, all in perfect and wonderful rhyme within this beautifully illustrated book. Each page is fully illustrated and perfect for children at home and within libraries and school classes.

This book has all the emotions and lots of fun. There is the sadness and loneliness of being lost and then lots of fun in-between. The book is also heartwarming and lovely. New books and new authors are exciting and this is one author in-particular that children from 3 to 6 years olds will enjoy.

This book is great for reading for pleasure and also for doing a bit of basic Geography with children and for talking about emotions and also for literacy – talking about the noticeable poetic rhyming.

The book also has a beautifully illustrated map before the story begins, showing where the cockatoo goes to and the animals it meets in each country. Children have fun following the dotted line around the world map. Each page thereafter takes each country individually and shows the main landmarks and animals around the world as part of the story.

There is a page of Fun Facts at the back of the book about cockatoos and Timbuktu, all very well laid out and easy to read and understand, to feed those curious minds of children.

I would like to thank William A.E. Ford for surprising me with his latest book. I had previously reviewed Timothy Mean and his Time Machine and he donated to the library I currently lead. He surprised me with the Cockatoo from Timbuktu for the library.

* My review is non-biased. I am once again impressed. It’s a very good book.

 

She Wolf by Dan Smith @DanSmithAuthor #SheWolf #Education #Libraries #NewBook #Review #Kidslit #Schools #Adventure #Historical #Vikings #Norse

Review

She Wolf
by Dan Smith
Rated: 5 stars *****

Today I have decided to publish my review of the excellent children’s book – She Wolf by award winning author Dan Smith. This is a book I highly recommend to children and already Dan Smith has quite a following from primary schools. Young teenagers would also like this book too. I hope after reading the review, you will also check Dan Smith out. Below, after my review of She Wolf, you will be able to find a few links to pages within his website. Whether he is a new to you author or one you read a lot of, this book and his website is worth checking out.
For schools, there are also resources to accompany this book (see links below for his website and Twitter).
Dan Smith’s books can be found in many physical and online shops and within libraries.

About the Author

Dan Smith is an  award winning author of adventure stories for younger readers, and thrillers for adults. He loves to hear from readers.

Growing up, he led three lives. In one, he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the paddy fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of my own, making up stories . . . Which is where some people say I still live most of the time.

He has lived in many places that inspire his writing – including Sierra Leone, Sumatra, northern and central Brazil. I’ve even lived in Spain and in the Soviet Union, but now has settled in Newcastle with his wife and two  children to keep him on his toes.

Past jobs have varied from dishwasher extraordinaire (or, perhaps, just ordinaire), social security fraud (detecting it, not committing it), to working on giant-sized Christmas decorations, and a fistful of mundane office jobs, but throughout all of those things, he always loved stories, he always loved a good adventure, and he always kept writing.

She Wolf

Blurb

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?

Review

Primary schools have rated Dan Smith highly and I can see why. His writing is terrific! It has character and he really understands that writing in historical times can also be relevant and relatable for readers in present times within the themes.
First look at the maps of the journey Ylva will take. There is also much to be learned as below one of the maps is the AD 866 place-name and the modern place name. At the back is an excellent glossary and “Did You Know” section so children can learn a bit more. This is a fictional book that is also excellent for “Reading for Pleasure” or for any reading challenges. I have seen that where this book is in primary schools, children are loving and devouring it. This is a book that all children can get into. With the chapters being short and snappy, this book lends itself so well to school teachers or parents reading it out loud and for individuals to read. This book is also rated by The BookTrust. The book can be bought or borrowed from libraries.

From page 1, there is atmosphere, placing readers right in the centre of Ylva’s life. There’s action and adventure and legends of Thor, Odin and Loki within these wonderfully written pages. This book is for all genders. It deals with bereavement and courage.

Ylva is a young, fierce, independent, strong and brave heroine . Readers will first meet her by a trader’s hut as a lost, orphaned Dane in cold England, with only her dog, Geri now left for company. Her mother has died and her initial reaction is one of revenge. There’s depth to this book, but not too complex for older primary school aged children. The book goes along at an excellent pace, nothing lingers too long.

The characters are intriguing, especially the three-fingered man and there is plenty of snow and wolves within this book. Don’t be fooled by the title “She Wolf”, this is a book to delight both boys and girls alike.

The landscape is harsh and Ylva has to decide who to trust. The question of trust is important and it is a quest with many dangers. There are pearls and people who she has to decide whether to trust or not. She does however decide to trust Cathryn enough, who is a Saxon who offers her shelter.

There are beautiful tender moments too.
This is an emotional book and one, although set in 866AD is relatable, even though the times and some experiences are different.

The end is an unexpected one that will leave readers feeling satisfied.

History and fiction are expertly woven together to create an immersive story with rich descriptions. There’s a real sense of what the atmosphere was like. This feels like it could be made into a film. The story is dark, but an adventure like none-other that has the scope of interesting so many readers looking for a new, original adventure.
Readers who enjoy adventures that conquer adversity with strong characters, vikings, Norse Gods and mythology and who want to explore history would love this brilliant fictional book. Remember to read the glossary to and the “Did You Know” section to expand you understanding of some of the words of the story and your knowledge of the viking period.

Links to Dan Smith’s Website for you to explore:

Twitter:   @DanSmithAuthor