#Review of Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi – A Beautiful book about family, love, civil-war and more #PaperSparrows @EzziAbi @HhouseBooks #Fiction #libraries #readingcommunity #writingcommunity #readingforpleasure

Paper Sparrows
By Nathalie Abi-Ezzi
Rated: 5 stars *****

Thank you to Holland House Books for trusting me and my blog enough to approach me to choose a book to review. I chose 2 and one of them is Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, which is highly praised by The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Sunday Business Post, The Financial Times and more… The book is definitely, in my humble opinion worthy of such people praising it. It’s a fabulous book that will take you on a journey out of London to Lebanon to Beriuit. It will also take you on a journey of a perhaps, different life, but one that will have some resonance. It is emotive, powerful and yet subtle at the same time about what was going on in 2006. The book was published early March 2020.

About the Author

Nathalie Abi-Ezzi was born in Beirut, and has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.
It was while working on her PhD in English Literature at King’s College London that she realised that she wanted to write her own novels, rather than just analyze other people’s. So, while working variously with an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust, was widely praised, and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and te Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the liBeraturpreis in 2011.

Blurb

Back to Lebanon – to family, love and war…
Layla, a 19 year old music undergraduate, travels from London back to Lenanon for the summer holidays, only to find that her brother has gone missing. Without a second thought, she sets off to find him in Beirut. On her way, she picks up a stray dog, falls in love with Joe, another student, and sees her country through entirely new eyes. But just as she is beginning to pick up clues about where her brother might be, the July war breaks out and turns everything on its head.

Paper Sparrows

Review

What can I say? Amazing, Must Read, Beautifully written. The author captures music, love, civil war, family strains, compassion, warmth, anger incredibly well. I thought I would take a chance on this book and I am so pleased I did. Discover Layla, her family, the country she grew up in and what happens in her life and to the place she called home, all within this fantastic book. This is one of those books I hope many people read. It is more than what you may initially think it is. It is gently written, but the themes are anything but gentle. This is a book with substance and one I find myself hoping everyone takes a chance like I did and read it.

I cannot help but mention is the wonderful cover art. I absolutely love it, with the sparrow and pattern. It is so fitting for this book as, apart from it being called Paper Sparrow, it is set in London, Lebannon and Beirut. From the outset, this is a beautifully written book . It’s a book I felt caught up in and really hope others try reading this amazing and lovely book. This isn’t to say it is a cosy read. The words may drift easily along, but there is bite in this book as the plot builds and builds. It’s a book I highly recommend.

There is life, music and love in the air with the backdrop of civil-war. The way it is all written and joins together is encapsualting, beautiful and sensual. Wherever you live in the world, there is something that people will find relatable or familiar to what they’ve seen on the news, but written so much more subtly as this is also about the spaces in-between the war, where ordinary civilians lives go on.

19 year old Layla is the main character in this book. She is an under-graduate at the Royal College of Music in London and returns to Lebannon to attend a wedding. Imagine being away from your home country and returning to find things are just not quite the same? Layla did. She has been away for quite some time and people have changed. The book pronounces these changes and the feelings about them empathetically. There are also some wonderful and warm memories from her childhood that she reflects on from time to time, especially music.

Ziad – Layla’s brother goes missing. There’s been the pressure of exams put upon him, on-top of a worrying job-market situation and he may or may not want to take over the pharmacy. Something everyone, the world over can relate to, perhaps not the pressure of taking over a family business, but the rest of it. So, Layla goes on a road trip to Beirut to find him, picking up a stray dog along the way. It sounds trivial, it isn’t. The dog becomes more like a friend and she needs it. There is the desperate worry of what could have become of her brother.

This however is no ordinary story about growing up and life changing, this is a story taking place when there is civil war.
It is so well told and a great demonstration of how life can seem quite average and yet have different challenges from many other western countries as there are checkpoints to contend with, soldiers around and the news of what Hezbollah’s leader will do next and where his army will encroach on. This isn’t also your usual political story either. Find out the effects of civil war and family has on a person and find out where Layla goes and her geographical and life journey here. The book may be fiction, but the conflict in 2006 was very real.

There is something for most readers in this book.

In this very different time, let me take a moment to write a short note:

Bloggers care…As I write this, my thoughts also turn to everyone who is now experiencing very different times, possibly more challenging times as the Corona Virus and its effects unfold. Be Kind to Each Other and Take Care. More reviews and extracts will come on many of our blogs. Most of us bloggers have stepped up to support readers, authors and publishers and much more when we can. I want to let readers know still, what is coming soon or is newly published and independent bookshops also provide delivery services. I also know that this may be an isolating time for some and it is recognised that books can go some way in dealing with that as they can give people an outlet when they cannot go anywhere and a bit of release for a little while from these uncertain times. Books can provide the perfect escapism and are also good for wellbeing. It is lovely to see that so many Bloggers, Readers, Authors, Publishers are all trying to support each other, because we are all in it together. Take care and I hope you are all well. Thank you!

#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 Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic @janeyjones23 @JenniePoh @Zoologist_Jess #EdenCooper #Cbeebies #PrincessPoppy #FantasticNoPlastic #Kidslit #ChildrensBooks #Environment #SchoolReadingList #Libraries #Bookshops #Newbook

  Princess Poppy – Fantastic No Plastic
By Janey Louise Jones
Illustrated by Jennie Poh
Rated: 5 stars *****

I return to reviewing for very successful children’s author – Janey Louise Jones. She is doing a great job in bringing the environment to the forefront in her popular Princess Poppy series of books. I previously reviewed Princess Poppy – Please, Please Save the Bees and this time I am pleased to present my review of Princess Poppy – Fantastic, No Plastic. These books are perfect for the times when people of all ages want to know how to look after the earth and what they can do in a practical way. Princess Poppy is also a strong young girl who girls and boys enjoy. The books are endorsed by Environmental Education Consultant – Paul Lawston and by Head of Nature and Biodiversity for Scottish Government – Hugh Dignon. This book also has a quote given by Dr. Jess French – as seen on Cbeebies channel.

janey louise jones author

Janey Louise Jones has been writing the Princess Poppy series for fifteen years. She lives in Edinburgh. She has three sons.

Click for links:
Twitter – Janey Louise Jones
Twitter Link for Princess Poppy

Princess Poppy Fantastic No Plastic

Blurb

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.

Review

Princess Poppy is a great story with a really good mix of positive environmental messages and general fun in the characters setting.

Fantasic No Plastic is the latest in this revamped Princess Poppy series of books. Poppy has been turned into an eco-warrior princess who has a wonderful caring and determined attitude. First came the brilliant Please, Please, Save the Bees – now available in paperback and now there is the new addition – Fantastic, No Plastic. These books are absolutely great for boys and girls alike as their main focus is on the environment and conservation. I can confidently, having read it to both boys and girls, both do really get into these stories about Princess Poppy and gain knowledge and have fun with the story. They are great for the home, libraries, bookshops and the classroom.

With both of these books, the stories have been well-researched to create a great story with a great environmental message, all there for both pre-school and school aged children to enjoy, as they are all on their level of understanding and enjoyment.

The illustrations are as fabulous as ever by Jennie Poh. They are big and assist really well in communicating the story to children.

The story begins with Poppy and her grandpa looking over a poster that’s for a competition to create an object to replace a plastic one. This gets me thinking that this could be an awesome and fun school project. There’s a list of some things that are made of plastic. The story then moves onto the beach with Poppy hanging out with friends, where there is lots of plastic. The book also shows the consequences of there being litter left on the beach. This again could open up brilliant discussions during storytimes in libraries or in classrooms or at home. There is certainly plenty of scope and things to ponder over. The story does also return to the competition and gives examples of plastic replacements for some items.

This is a really positive story about how action can be taken by everyone in a
non-complicated way and has a fantastic end.

There is humour to be found within the book. The balance between getting the environmental message across and some fun is right and works really well together. The humour and fun comes in, primarily in the form of Sidney – an energetic dog; and Princess Poppy and her friends playing on the beach.

I highly recommend that people do get these books in classrooms, school libraries, public libraries, community libraries and in homes. Climate is an important topic. It has been for many years and still is. There are lots for children to both enjoy and learn from in these books in a non-intimidating way. It has become obvious that the way the environmental issue is presented is completely on a child’s level and is so well-thought out. All of the content is relatable and can all be used for Reading for Pleasure and
in-conjuntion with environmental/climate activities.

I thank Janey Louise Jones for giving me the opportunity to review for her again and for sending me her paperback book of Princess Poppy, Please, Please Save the Bees (and again for last year’s hardback copy of this) and for a paperback copy of Fantastic, No Plastic.

        Paperback Princess Poppy please Save the Bees            Princess Poppy Fantastic No Plastic

 

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.