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.

 

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century #Article #LibraryMatters @CressidaCowell @PhilipArdagh #libraries #education

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century

Why, you should ask, when there are Kindles and other online platforms, do libraries matter now in the 21st Century. I have heard people saying that they may be becoming a thing of the past and don’t really matter. There are also people who don’t realise, even after the existence of libraries for many years, that they are free. That is one of the beauty’s of libraries – they are free. Whatsmore books can be borrowed and new books can be obtained for free. Librarians can also introduce you to a whole new author based on what you like. If you don’t know what you like, they can find out by different means through a nice chat.

Libraries have the latest books and follow the latest trends. Pick up a book and escape into different realms, away from reality for a bit, whatever age you are. Some adults think libraries are only for children, they are for every age. Reading for Pleasure isn’t just a trend however, it is for all ages and all it requires is time to be made to relax and unwind with a book. Books are proven to help de-stress after a hard day at school or further education or work.

Books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction all have something that can expand people’s knowledge, language, imagination, exploration of the world, expand tolerance, understanding and well-being.

Libraries have computers and apps with the latest technologies as well as WI-FI. There are also often great study areas within them for all ages.

Libraries offer more. They offer sanctuary through tough times and a source of joy when times are good. They also offer times to socialise and meet you friends. They offer places to unwind. A library is many things.

Libraries offer more even still:

They offer Bookbug Sessions in Scotland and equvelent of sessions such as Rhyme Times south of the border.

Libraries look at STEM and Lego Clubs and Builders Days are popping up across the country.

Libraries give people exciting opportunities to meet an author, get a book signed, hear a talk. In Scotland it is Bookweek Scotland coming up week beginning Monday 18th November. Check your local library to see how they are celebrating it and keep a look out to see how your child’s school is celebrating. Events happen nationally within schools and public library and some community libraries throughout the year, check with your library to see what is planned and how to attend (usually with consumate ease and most are free).

Think Netflix is the greatest thing? The next greatest thing to follow at libraries is Bookflix, cropping up in libraries and school library/book corners.

Books are lovely to share, whether they are children, young adults or adults and there are many benefits from doing this, including forming new friendships.

Libraries and their books and events really are for the youngest of babies to the oldest of adults.

School libraries have been disappearing, but Cressida Cowell and Phillip Aardagh seem to be on the case to work on getting them re-instated because they matter. School visits to local libraries also matter and count. Experiences matter as does making them as positive as possible.

Libraries in both the public and school domains matter. They need people to support them by using them. There seems to be a swath of people who still think libraries are lifeless and are all about stern librarians telling them what to do or not do etc. Libraries changed quite a number of years ago and are ever evolving. Yes, they suffer from lack of funding too, but passionate librarians work many hours to deliver a great service and are always striving to do their best for the public. Support them and enjoy them! They are not a luxury, but a necessity after all and not something to be taken for granted.
So, instead of walking by a library, whether at school or in an area that has a library open to all, why not pop in and see what is going on and what is on offer, you may be pleasantly surprised.

What I worry about the future of libraries is that one day in some places, people may wake up to their being no library in any form. Once something is lost it can be forever. Let’s try and keep libraries for the present and the future. Enjoy them by using them, having a chat with your librarian and seeing what is on offer.

Your library may have closed down already. My local library has and now sits within the third sector. I used to work for the local authority libraries. Jobs go though don’t they. I ironically only worked a couple of times in the library where I actually live. I now work there a lot, bringing it up to scratch and using every inch of experience to lead it and to bring it as close to the local authority run libraries as possible. I and other in other community libraries that try to compliment a council run library ensure we have a great selection of books, in every genre and that they are new, have school class visits, have (in Scotland) Bookbug sessions (I was trained under the council run libraries when I worked with them and the Bookbug co-ordinator for the area allows me to continue). Authors also kindly visit too.

Am I still passionate about libraries, even though I do not get paid anymore? Yes, although it is rather a worrying trend because always, I, anyway am wanting to deliver the absolute best possible library to people because libraries really do matter and can make a difference to people’s lives in many forms. Community libraries can be less recognised where and when it matters and I hope that changes soon, or people may find community libraries also ever more challenging to run, if they want to do it to compliment a local authority library. I feel that’s a whole other subject for another time.
Enjoy libraries and support them and reap the benefits from them before there is nothing left to pass on to present people and future generations.

What is Blue, Blue, Blue – What is Blue to You? @crystaljch1547 #education #librares #kidslit #learning #kindergarten #nursery #parents #iamlearning

What is Blue, Blue, Blue – What is Blue to You?
By Crystal Horton
Rated: 5 Stars *****

 

This is a children’s book that has a lot of value to it, more than you would ever think.

This is a charming book. It has lovely illustrations. It is however more than that. It is an educational book. It is a good and fun book for teaching colours for a start. It is however also more than that too. It is visual in the way it has pictures relating to their colours, such as the banana is in the yellow section and is coloured yellow and the same with a blue bird, a black whale and so on. This would really assist children learning colours and encourage them to explore the world around them.

The book would be great for teaching to read colours too as each colour is said in it’s particular colour, for example Blue, Green and so on. So there is colour association with the words.

In each little section of colour it asks the open-ended question – What does (and then the related colour), mean to you ie “What does Pink mean to you? and so on. This will encourage children to think about the various colours and to learn a bit about the world around them, by colour association. Parents, teachers, librarians, story-tellers etc can then take it further to enhance their exploration of the world around them. By having set questions, the book marks some of its purposes very well. It encourages interaction and conversation. The interaction with the book can take many forms, depending on the age of the child.

The book at the very beginning, in a simple form, invites children and their parents/caregivers to share. This is very much a book to bond over together (as all books are really), and to learn in a fun way in a one-to-one situation or in a group situation. It would work well with either.

This is honestly a book that would suit both pre-schoolers up to 5 year olds. It has something in it that would suit each stage of understanding and growth, educationally. This isn’t just a book to idly read, this book is designed for absolute interaction with in such a positive way.

I very much rate this book, because it looks appealing and on first glance, it may come across as any other colour learning book, but with a little bit of thought and realisation of what it is actually doing and encouraging, this little book has a lot more for children to gain from it. It’s a great asset to the book world for both at home and educational establishments.

With thank you to the author – Crystal Horton for sending me the book in e-book form.