The River By Tom Percival @TomPercivalsays @simonkids_UK #PictureBook #ChildrensEmotionsBook #Feelings #ChildrensWellbeing #ChildrensBook #Kidslit

The River
By Tom Percival

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I am reviewing a book that covers emotions, nature and seasons in its picture book story – The River By Tom Percival. It would be great for any classroom, home, library. Thanks to Simon and Schuster Children’s UK.
Discover more in the blurb and my review below.

The River cover

Blurb

An exquisite, thought-provoking book to help children understand the idea of ever-changing emotions.

Rowan loves the river; it’s just like he is. On some days, it’s quiet and calm, on others it’s light and playful, and then there are the days when it roars along, wild and angry. But when Rowan goes through a particularly difficult winter, the river freezes – just like Rowan. Can Rowan find a way to release his frozen feelings, and allow the river to flow freely once more?

The wise and reassuring new picture book from the creator of The Invisible and Ruby’s Worry.

Review

The River provides a great story that has a unique way of showing different emotions. It uses the river and the main character – Rowan to convey them. Follow Rowan along the river and through the different seasons. It shows the path and behaviours of the river, such as freezing over winter, before becoming free again in the summer. The illustrations are beautiful and carry the story along very well, in a quiet, engaging manner.
The story conveys the message that the river is always changing, it can be angry and it can be calm and humans, such as Rowan also change in their moods too. The river is a clever tool in this story to illustrate that children have many emotions and that is also shown through Rowan.

It’s a bright, thought-provoking story that is short and sweet, pitched perfectly at young children from at least nursery into primary school. It would also be great for libraries and homes. It’s one that I highly recommend and can be used as a great story and discussion.

Other books by Tom Percival:
The Sea Saw
The Invisible

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#ChildrensBook #Review by Lou – A Day In The Life of A Caveman, A Queen and Everything In Between By Mike Barfield and Jess Bradley @TheMikeBarfield @BusterBooks  @VenkmanProject @lovebooksgroup @lovebookstours

A Day In The Life of A Caveman, A Queen and Everything In Between
By Mike Barfield and Jess Bradley

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Children will have so much fun with this non-fiction book. Find out more in the blurb and my review. First, thanks to Love Books Group for inviting me to review on the tour and for gifting me a book.

A Day in the Life (2)

Blurb 

A Day in the Life (2)A colourful and comical tour through history from cartoonists Mike Barfield and Jess Bradley.

The hilarious minds behind A Day in the Life of a Poo, a Gnu and You have teamed up once again – this time to give a taste of the daily lives of the people, animals and objects who made history.

Featuring a day in the life of early humans as they paint mammoths on the walls of a cave, a fierce gladiator battling in the Colosseum and the first woman in space. And not forgetting the animals of history – from an Egyptian cat (worshipped as a god, of course) to an albatross flying over Rapa Nui and a dog in the trenches of the First World War.

Readers can also discover the stories behind famous constructions, including the Great Wall of China and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and delve into the secret diaries of a Viking, Isaac Newton’s cat and the wooden panel that became the Mona Lisa.

With over 90 entries told in the friendly, informative style of Mike Barfield and brought to life by Jess Bradley’s brilliantly funny illustrations, this book will have children learning and laughing as they go.

Review

This bold and vibrant book is split into 3 sections – Ancient History, Middle Ages and The Modern Age. The author and illustrator have this book pitch-perfect. Together they have mixed fact and humour to create a book that children will just love and learn something too. The layout is in comic/graphic comic layout, which is inspired for today’s generation. It’s fast and entertaining and cleverly has history sit side by side by the modern. There are the facts, but also then a page for a “Newsflash” and a page called “The Bigger Picture”, all corresponding to the main topic, before swiftly moving onto the next topic.

Children are naturally inquisitive, so have many questions and a lot of them are answered in this book.

This feels modern and is totally eye-catching. Children who like Horrible Histories will get much enjoyment out of this as they learn.

Schools could also use this as one of their resources for topics to engage children. There’s certainly plenty to be inspired by.

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#ChildrensBook #Review by Lou The Primrose Railway Children By Jacqueline Wilson #JacquelineWilson @FansofJWilson @OfficialJWMag @RHKidsUK #ChildrensBook #ClassicsAdaptation #MiddleGrade

Today I have a review of The Primrose Railway Children by bestselling and hugely popular children’s author  – Jacqueline Wilson. Her books have included series such as Tracy Beaker, Hetty Feather and many more, tackling many subjects in the present and past. Now she is also tackling children’s classics. So, this is her revamped, modern take of E-Nesbitt’s The Railway Children.
I’ve talked many times about Jacqueline Wilson and her books to children, so it is an honour to actually be able to review one.
Discover more in the blurb and my thoughts about it in my review below.
Firstly, my thanks goes to the publisher – Penguin Random House Children’s UK for gifting me a copy of the book to review.

The Primrose Railway Children

Blurb

An unbelievable talent’ – David Walliams

From multi-million bestselling author Jacqueline Wilson and inspired by E. Nesbit’s timeless classic, The Primrose Railway Children is a gorgeous, heartwarming story of family secrets and new adventures.

Sit back and enjoy the journey!

Phoebe Robinson loves making up stories – just like her wonderful, imaginative Dad.

When he mysteriously disappears, Phoebe, Perry, Becks and their mum must leave everything behind and move to a small cottage in the middle of nowhere.

Struggling to feel at home and missing her Dad terribly, Phoebe’s only distraction is her guinea pig Daisy. Until the family discover the thrilling steam trains at the railway station and suddenly, every day is filled with adventure.

But Phoebe still can’t help wondering, what is Mum hiding and more worryingly is Dad okay?

Review

The Primrose Railway ChildrenJacqueline Wilson has been inspired by E. Nesbitt before with her retelling of the story Four Children and It, which she called 4 Children and It. This time she has been inspired by The Railway Children by her. My hope is that children reading these, will be also inspired to go to the original versions too and see the similarities and the differences and appreciate both authors and their talents. Let’s face it, Jacqueline Wilson is enormously talented and I honestly was amazed to be given the priveledge of reviewing her book. Not only am I a fan of The Railway Children, but I also totally appreciate in wonderment what Jacqueline Wilson brings to children literature. The big question is, however, is this re-inspired story actually any good and will it hit the mark?

The timing of this book is quite perfect, just ahead of a sequel to the film of The Railway Children. I myself love trains and adventure and The Primrose Railway Children is sure to spark this in those middle-grade readers who devour Jacqueline Wilson’s books with their eyes and imaginations.

The Primrose Railway Children is made up of Phoebe, Amelie, Perry and Becks and then there’s their mum and dad. It’s written in a way that brings everything bang up to date. This, a bit like the original, isn’t a sugary sweet book, but there are cute animals. There is still upheaval, financial difficulties, technology issues and family secrets, which brings depth and intrigue. There’s some great humour within the story, so it isn’t too heavy, although there are some weighty themes, but they, as ever with a book by Jacqueline Wilson, are treated well and with children in mind.

The book mixes the past and present in a way that may well feed children’s curiosity as the book mentions the Edwardians and steam trains that would have run then on lines like The Primrose Railway, which is gently encouraged through the characters in the book having a desire to find out more. There’s something respectful about this and also makes it sound okay for children to do this. The book also mentions other classic books too in a way that is so clever and again gently encouraging the next generation to read these too, especially with all whilst putting her own spin on things and creating a pleasurable story, that is also well illustrated, but not overly so.

With dad mysteriously gone, the void this leaves can be sorely felt through the family, but none more so than Phoebe. The intensity of the bond between her and her dad can be keenly felt. There’s the whole worry that he may be dead, but they don’t really know if he is dead or alive and readers see the children process this between their humour and their seriousness in conversations and behaviours.

There’s adventure around the trains, the train station and make a new friend in the station master, which is delightfully written, with so much to discover about The Primrose Railway. It’s also a story that talks about differences between urban and rural life, differences in families as a whole and growing up.

This is overall a book many children will find engrossing and is relatable, and also as respectfully done as it possibly could be as she also puts her own slant on the family she creates and their different characterisations and the reasoning for their dad to be away and all ends in quite a twist.

There are some nods to E. Nesbitt’s original story – The Railway Children and so beautifully done, Jacqueline Wilson has acknowledged her and written a bit at the back of the book about her and her stories and I like that she also encourages children to read them too.

Jacqueline Wilson has written a number of books now, that have revamped the children’s classics and hopefully children will like hers as well as then discovering the original authors and reading what they wrote too. The two combined would now be pretty powerful and children could gain a lot from reading both versions, and perhaps discover the joy of reading and trains too.

#BookReview by Lou by Billy Plonka and The Grot Laboratory by Ian Billings @mrianbillings @VentorrosP @LoveBooksGroupTours #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade #PrimaryReads #Humour

Billy Plonka and The Grot Laboratory
By Ian Billing

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Billy Plonka and the Grot Laboratory is fun for children familiar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the deliciously dark sense of humour of Roald Dahl.

Find out more below ikn the blurb and rest of my review. Then find out about the author – Ian Billings and the comedy he has produced in prestigious places famed for such entertainment and the famously entertaining children’s tv programme he wrote for.

Billy PlonkaBlurb 

Billy Plonka – the Prince of Stink, the Monarch of Muck, the Sultan of Slime, the Duke of Dregs and the King of Kak. He’s the most extraordinary maker of GROT in the entire world, and he’s invited 5 individuals (Orson Ploop – An overweight kazoo playing protégé; Victoria Scabb – 259th in line to the English throne; Viola Mudguard – 11-year-old, ex-Wollywood star; Spike Peecee – A self-obsessed dweeb who can never disconnect from the Internet; and Marley Suckett – An anti-hero), to visit his world-famous Grot Laboratory, and step into an adventure they will never forget!

Your tour is about to start. Don’t wander off . YOU! Yes, YOU! I’m talking to YOU! Mr. Plonka would hate to lose you along the way… READ IT!!! 
BILLY PLONKA AND THE GROT LABORATORY- the 100% unofficial official parody of one of the greatest children’s stories of all time.

This modern re-telling of the Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ stays true to the wonderful wit of Dahl, but brings the tale into the modern age with a lovely twist at the end. Each character meets their grotty fate as they go on their tour of The Grot Laboratory – as the name suggests, a disgusting place full of scumpiddlinoxious fumes and materials. Words reminiscent of Dahl fill the pages – Whi-ffi (it’s like wifi only smellier), whazzplop and picklescooper to name but a few.

Review

Billy PlonkaFans of Roald Dahl will understand perfectly well, the parody of his works in here, especially of course, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There’s a family, not the Bucket family, but the Suckett family, which this tale is all about. Marley Suckett is the worst school pupil ever!

The characters of the children readers meet are:
Spike Peecee, Victoria Scab, Orson Ploop,Viola Mudguard and Marley Suckett.
Scratch Cards have replaced Golden Tickets and these main characters all love Plonka and his inventions, including the Queen.

The author clearly had fun writing it. After a first page that made me almost wonder about its age group, it improves and really settles well into Middlegrade genre. Readers would do well to know the story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory pretty well to get all the references. If you do pick this up first, then it is best to read Willy Wonka instantly after. It is full of Roald Dahl(esque), dark humour for children and nonsense words that he made up. Middlegrade readers from Primary 6 and 7 or, if in rest of the UK – Year 5 and 6 would find this book humorous and understand the parody well.

Each chapter early on, introduces a character, so children get a feel for their personalities and what they like, and look like in the pictures. They are recognisable to those in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but brought into the 21st century, but still precocious and so much more along that ilk…
The Oompa-Loompas have turned to being The Grumpy Trumpers who had a Grumpy Trumper Island, which Plonka recalls, he had found himself on.

The factory doesn’t have chocolate in it, but junk and all forms of rubbish and flavoured cat litter. Instead of a Great Glass Elevator, it has the “Great See Through Loo”. Toilet humour abound. Replacing the tv room is Plonker’s Internet Cafe and an enormous printer and there’s so much more…. There’s also an ending to surprise and yet quite perfect.

About the Author

Ian Billings was born at a very young age. He has done many things in his time and some of them he’d like to tell you about. He is an ex-juggler, a pantomime writer (fifty productions!), an actor, TV extra, a theatre technician, a university lecturer, a model and a general dabbler in many areas.

He has written episodes of BBC TV’s Chuckle-Vision and his stage plays and pantomimes have been performed in Wolverhampton, Northampton, Hastings, Nottingham, Weston-Super-Mare and on a ferry to Spain. He has a Masters Degree from Birmingham University and two goldfish from Petworld. He is five feet and seven inches in length and avoids cheese.

Ian began performing stand-up comedy for kids at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (whilst also presenting his own radio show for Festival FM!) and now he tours theatres and schools throughout the UK, Cyprus, Germany, Australia, Uganda, Kenya, Russia, Switzerland, UAE, Oman, Vietnam and Thailand. He was described by one young audience member as “the most imaginative adult I’ve ever met!”

Caboodle Books reprinted SAM HAWKINS AND THE POINTY HEAD LIGHT HOUSE followed by sci-fi poetry collection, SPACE ROCKS!

Ian has edited an anthology of children’s poems for Save the Children called “Born to Giggle!” and his latest book is “BILLY PLONKA AND THE GROT LABORATORY.”

2020 saw re-issues of his classic children’s comedies “Sam Hawkins and the Cutglass Cutlass” and “Chocolate Meltdown” from Tiddley Pom Books together with new versions of “The King’s New Space Suit”, “I’ve Got Your Nose” and two brand new books, “There’s a Vampire in My Bedroom” and “Boooo!!!”

Find him at www.ianbillings.com

Follow him at @mrianbillings

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#BookReview SHELL – Episode 1 – The Horse Awakens by Chris White @chriswhitepoet @VentorrosP @VentorrosPress #Shell #TheHorseAwakens #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade #primaryreads #readingforpleasure

Shell – Episode 1 – The Horse Awakens
By Chris White

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Shell Graphic 5

Action and humour with themes of team-building and thinking for yourself is what is in this great novel for middle-grade readers of 7 years old plus.

Find out more in the blurb and review below as well as its author who has been to the Edinburgh Book Festival, Schools and so much more… Thanks to Random T Tours for the invite and to Chris White for the  book.

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Blurb

Shell PR‘Star Wars’ meets ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ in this sparkling, actionpacked, highly original galactic adventure with a feel-good vibe. Sure to inspire young readers to be their own person; to embrace team values; to balance thinking and feeling with action; and to reach for the good in all their endeavours.
S.H.E.L.L. – Episode One – THE HORSE AWAKENS is wonderfully cinematic and world-building, and
contains characters that will make a lasting impression. It’s an action-packed, rip-roaring
adventure story about a bunch of action heroes who have one thing in
common – They all have shells. When the universe goes crazy, the team assembles to find out who, or
what, is making the population of every planet act in a really grumpy
mood.
Humorously illustrated throughout; yet SHELL is filled with serious themes about fitting-in and thinking for yourself.

Review

Shell CoverSome Middle Grade fun here. This is practically a parody and a  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and StarWars mashup. Here and there is some Sponge Bob Square Pants humour too, but it sits squarely at Middlegrade readers and those who have been introduced to StarWars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and know them reasonably well, will understand and see the parody.

There’s Commander Sky Crawler, Butt Dazzle, Clam, Snail, Shell Agent and more to meet. There are planets to explore such as Planet Sands and Planet Unicorn. There is a lot of action. Planet Wibble has declared war on Planet Wobble and a planet has declared war on itself; there’s unrest on other planets too. 

The world-building is full and great for jetting you into, which is sure to grab children’s attention.

Children will just love this book. It’s full of jokes and font types to bring certain words deliberately to the forefront to add to the humour and drama. The fonts make it comic like, so reading it won’t feel like any sort of chore to children, but it is a great step-up from books that have pictures on every single page. That isn’t to say there aren’t any illustrations, there are and they are great!

It has a great ending and there are bits of other fun, like a Shakespearean reference in the last chapter, that I’m sure can be explained to children or just left as is.

The themes of team-building and having to also develop some independent thought to do tasks is also good.

This is an entertaining book that has the feel-good factor for children.

About the Author

 

Chris White is a writer. Illustrator an performance poet. He has sold thousands of books world-wide due to his constant appearances at festivals, schools and libraries across the globe.
His last book was ‘The A to Z of Completely Made Up Dinosaurs.’

Chris has featured at many literary festivals , including The Edinburgh Fringe, The
Edinburgh Book Festival, The Doha Book Festival and The Cheltenham Book Festival.
His poetry performances and writing workshops have taken him all over the world, visiting schools in places such as China, Russia, Vietnam, Jordan, India, Germany and even The Congo, where he held a poetry and illustration workshop in a cave! Chris was recently writer in residence at the Qatar National Library

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#BookReview by Lou – The Boy Who Couldn’t by R. Coverdale @RLCoverdale #RandomTTours #TheBoyWhoCouldn’t #InternationalFriendshipDay #8-12yearolds #ChildrensBooks #PrimarySchool #Nature #Badgers

The Boy Who Couldn’t
by R. Coverdale

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Boy Who Graphic

The Boy Who Couldn’t is a positive story that is perfect for 8-12 year olds, that is great for the home and for school, with highly relevant and teachable themes.
School Resources are available and there is also a fun quiz at the back of the book.
Find out more in the blurb and review below. There is also fascinating information about the author after that too, as well as website and social media links for her and the Badger Trust.

Blurb

The Boy Who FINAL CoverThe school bully is the only one who can save them.

James’ life has been turned upside down and now the local bully has made him a target. So why would his mother insist he should invite him over? Especially when they’re hiding a secret badger clan at the bottom of the garden.

Now the badgers are under threat from a gang with fighting dogs and the badgers aren’t the only ones in peril.

Danger is approaching and it will make the most unlikely of heroes.

A story about becoming the person you can be, not the person you are expected to be.

Review

The chapters go between James and Greg, beginning with James, who is in the middle of a real life drama, he didn’t expect to be in and his parents are in some financial trouble. It is however his 11th  birthday and is a home with love in it and fun. His dad is into adventures and wildlife and home life is quite stable. He’s quite inspirational and takes time with his son, teaching him about badgers and they build a badger sett with Ahmed. Older children and young adults may be inspired to get into the outdoors and create dens, learn about wildlife and nature and have fun along the way.

When readers meet Greg for the first time, he is just turning 13. His parents are also having some issues, as does Greg himself, but finds being amongst nature calms him down. His homelife is, in complete contrast the James’s homelife, more unstable, and where he feels rather invisible to his parents, and his dad has been in prison, but he does have Uncle Kev, who shows him different things and pays him attention, when he visits.

James and Ahmed come from better off backgrounds than Greg does and different places, Greg from an estate and the other 2 boys not. They do however meet in the woodland, even though they feel awkward and Greg can be a bully, plus there are just differences because of their circumstances.

The book deals with bullying and what Greg feels like when he is the one who is frightened and James and Ahmed are showing bravery, instead of how it used to be the other way round, but in the end it is Greg who also has to show some courage when men come and start capturing badgers with their dogs, even though he initially freezes. There’s much trepidation and so much that will have children gasp and have them gripped. There are twists and turns as human and badger lives are put in danger. There’s also courage of a different kind, which is turning your life around for the better…

It has the absolute best of endings that will have everyone smiling by then.

Children will either be able to relate or they can empathise with people who’s home lives are perhaps similar or different from their own. It also shows how families can be different from each other, which encourages this empathy and understanding, as well as how very different people can end up in friendships, even when it doesn’t seem it would be likely due to life circumstances. It also encourages care for wildlife, in-particular, badgers. It also really highlights wildlife crime too.

At the back of the book, there is a True or False Quiz that readers can do for fun or in a classroom setting, that will enhance their understanding of what they’ve just read. In addition to this, there are also teacher resources that can be obtained, so it can be used in depth in schools.

There is a website at the back of the book, I’ll also include here, for The Badger’s Trust, for those interested.
www.badgertrust.org.uk
The author is also responsible and has included info about what to do if children/young adults do ever find themselves in danger in the UK and also the number for Childline: 0800 1111

About the Author

Rachel Coverdale Author PicRachel Coverdale was born and bred in the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside in North East England. Raised with copious amounts of animals but without the distraction of a modern TV set, she turned to books and her own imagination for entertainment. Animals were and still are a huge part of her life and inevitably they made their way into her stories. Believing strongly in fresh air, nature and outdoor play to give children a sense of fun and freedom, Rachel uses her books to encourage children to connect with nature and venture into the countryside.

Having taught as an English teacher for many years and now settled happily into the role of school librarian, Rachel ensures all her books are not only creative, imaginative and exciting, but also of great educational benefit. Teaching resources and a scheme of work are available for “The Boy Who Couldn’t”.

Rachel is regularly featured on BBC Radio Tees Book Hour with Bob Fischer and Shack discussing and reviewing her latest reads. She also travels her native North East England paying visits to Primary and Secondary schools, giving talks on her books and about the importance of nature and the environment they live in.

Social and Website Links

Twitter @RLCoverdale

Instagram @rachellouisecoverdale

Website: https://www.rachelcoverdale.com Facebook: rachellouisecoverdale Twitter: @RLCoverdale

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