#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

SHELL BT Poster

#BookReview by Lou of Fireborn @flowler_aisling @HarperCollins @The_WriteReadsTours #UltimateBlogTour #Fantasy #Adventure #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade 8-12years #ReadingForPleasure #PrimarySchoolReading

Fireborn
By Aisling Fowler

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Fireborn is an immersive and exciting adventure into a fantasy world for 8-12 year olds. Go on an adventure down to the blurb and the rest of my review to find out more. Thanks to The Write Reads Tours for inviting me and to this group and Harper Collins for gifting me a book.

Fireborn banner

Blurb

Set in the snowy northern forests of an imagined prehistoric world, Fireborn is the middle-grade debut of the decade. At turns exciting, funny and heart wrenchingly sad, it marks the introduction of an unstoppable new voice in children’s storytelling.

Twelve has spoken the Pledge and now she is a Huntling. She has given up her name to train in the art of fighting monsters and keeping the peace, and she won’t get to choose a new one until she has earned it.

But when the Lodge’s walls are breached for the first time, and a little girl is taken, Twelve is the only one interested in going after a child . . .

Teaming up with Dog, the Stone Guardian of the Lodge, Twelve ends up on an epic adventure that will change her life, her name – and her entire world.

Review

Fireborn coverFireborn is an epic adventure for 8-12 year olds. It has twists and turns and great characterisation, but with a difference. The characters are known by numbers, it sort of works to bring about something different to fiction, but once into the story, it isn’t the names that matter quite so much as the world of Ember takes over as do the characters lives. I think children will get into it though because above the giving up of names is a world for adventurous middle-grade readers can step into. For a debut novel, this is an author children would want more of, after reading this one. It has humour and breathtaking excitement as well as some of the saddest storylines. All this in one book makes it totally full on and the deeper you read, the deeper children will want to go into Ember, a fantastical world that builds on the page in wide ranging, indepth descriptions. It means readers can be totally immersed in Ember whilst reading it.

There are heroes and villains. The heroes are characters who have given up their names. They are known as Five, Six, Seven and Twelve. The villains are an array of monsters. There is the lodge where the young trainee Hunters go to hone their skills. These trainees land themselves a mission which takes them on a trail to The Fozen Forest. There are clans, who the Hunters have to act as protectors of, but it isn’t an easy task.

Twelve is the most promising Hunter but has issues and is far from friendly or a team-player as a result of making more enemies. The others also have their own issues. The book, in a way, shows that even heroes are not perfect and are not infalliable. This, even in such an all encompassing fantasy tale, this brings a bit of realism to it as the characters all find out a bit more about themselves in many ways, sometimes positive, other times negative and in some ways, in being resilient in times of trouble. It brings added interest to the otherwise, adventureous book, with a bit of magic within it. There’s a lot for children to dip their toe in and to be entertained.

#Review of Curious Tales – Hector by D.M. Mullan @DM_Mullan @TinyTreeBooks @BomerHarris @LoveBooksGroup #ChildrensBook #KS1 #KS2 #ReadingForPleasure #STEM #KidsHumour #RhymingStory

Hector
By D.M. Mullan
Illustrated by Kirsteen Harris Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Curious Tales

Hector is a curious tale by D.M. Mullan and is perfect for primary school aged children 5-6/7 years. It looks like a picture book for younger kids, but the content is so much more and is great for feeding their curious minds. The content is actually more perfect for KS1 plus. This book is exciting for this primary age group. It has humour, inventions, emotions, why we need friends. I’m pretty sure it can be used around some sort of STEM activity. It is also great for just reading for pleasure and tells a story of a modern fable.
I can see it being a hit with many children.
Thanks to Love Books Tours for inviting me and for Tiny Tree Children’s Books for gifting me the book.
Please follow through to the blurb and the rest of my review and also discover more about the author and very successful illustrator after that…

Curious Tales cover

Blurb

Curious Tales coverIf something is missing, and you’re feeling blue, you could learn from Hector, who feels this way too.

This little genius lives in an upside down boat, and he grunts from his hill like a grumpy old goat:

“Hector van Groat needs no one but Hector, because he is a genius, a crazy inventor!”

Book #1 in the D.M. Mullan’s Curious Tales series.

D.M. Mullan’s Curious Tales is a series of peculiar modern fables from author D.M. Mullan and illustrator Kirsteen Harris-Jones.

With a classic rhyming style and wonderfully quirky illustrations, each book centres around a unique little individual and tells their story.

Review

Curious Tales 2.jpgHector is full of humour and I must say, impressive rhyme. There is a map at the beginning and from that page, it absolutely draws you in as you set sail. It literally invites curiousity and anticipation from that first page!

Hector Van Groat is the main character and he is a boy who is feeling blue. He’s a genius inventor of crazy inventions, so enters his invention room to create something new to cheer himself up. He discovers it just isn’t as fun as he thought it would be, without a friend. He is however a bit big headed, until the end.

Along the way, Hector’s inventions and antics add much humour to this curious tale. The illustrations enhance this a lot. 

Hector is a boy who many children will be able to relate to and have fun with. There’s much they will learn and much they can empathise with and laugh at. This is just absolutely sublime and the language that is used also makes it perfect for KS1 plus. It is also much fun for reading for pleasure in the home too. Reading this book aloud is perhaps the most perfect way to treat it. There’s so much more that children can enjoy then, to give them reading pleasure.

This book, as well as being great for reading for pleasure, I am sure could fit somewhere into STEM, in a wider topic as it involves science within the story that can feed their imaginations as to what they perhaps would want to invent. It would also be great to feed into Lego Clubs and can provoke discussions for PSHE too and friendship topics.

About the Author

D.M. Mullan is a world-travelled author from County Derry, Northern Ireland. Now living in Belfast with her family, the author will launch the ‘D.M. Mullan’s Curious Tales’ series in 2021; her first work for children.

About the Illustrator

Kirsteen Harris-Jones is an illustrator with a colourful past. She’s worked at a variety of creative, graphic and animation studios since 1990. Her work has been published by Random House, Egmont, Bloomsbury, Little Tiger, and more.

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#BookReview by Lou – Zoey The Smart Donkey by Sugandha Arora Illustrated by Soumyajit Dasgupta @sugandhaaiesec #ChildrensBook #PictureBook #Families

Zoey The Smart Donkey
by Sugandha Arora
Illustrated by Soumyajit Dasgupta

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Cute, short and rhyming for your little ones, Zoey The Donkey is available now. Thanks to Sughanda Arora for inviting me to review and gifting me a copy of the book. Discover more in the blurb and review below.

Zoey The Donkey

Blurb

This story is an inspirational journey of Zoey and how she smartly defies the norms to be whom she wants to be. Find out what Zoey chooses to be, if not a donkey…

Review

 It tells a rhyming story about a baby donkey called Zoey, who realises that she just might not be like the other donkeys. She meets a monkey and a magical transformation occurs…

It’s a short book that would be nice for a bedtime story. It is short and quick, with just a few lines per page, with big, bold illustrations, which makes it fun for pre-school children, including babies and toddlers. Before reading it, parents/carers etc could have a guessing game as to what the Donkey could be at the end. Children, more than anything will just have fun with the rhyming and the surprise at the end. It makes for a cute bedtime story, or a quick read in the nursery school library corner.

#BookReview by Lou – Remnants of Magic By Alicia R. Chapin @ChapinAlicia @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #Fantasy #Ad #Gifted

Remnants of Magic
By Alicia R. Chapin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Time to enter Etharum and meet all sorts of characters and explore this new and exciting, richly imagined, fantasy land. Thanks to Love Books Tours for gifting me the book. Discover more about this fantastical adventure that is Book 1 in the blurb and what I thought about it in the review.

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Blurb

The Master Sword Bryan is an elite warrior on the Prince of Shelkite’s council. When Shelkite is threatened by Ret, a wizard-king, the Master Sword is ready to fight. However, his plans are spoiled when he discovers his assignment is as the personal guard to the young half-blood witch sent to their aid—Alexandra.

Alexandra is determined to prove herself to the skeptical Master Sword. Though her powers haven’t fully manifested, she’s ready for anything, as long as she has her faithful mount, Zhan, and her trusty bow. As the quest deepens, she knows she must press on. For whether she does or not, she’s the key—for either good or evil.

Review

RoM-V1-EBOOK (1)Remnants of Magic welcomes readers into Etharum, a place where the Haiprian Mountains rise majestically up and holds an ice palace, and Charad Forest grows below. There are many places inbetween, with Kaltraz split between east and west by a stream and its tributories borne out of the mountains and finishes in the Faded Sea in the east side of the forest. 

Bryan is the first character to stumble upon and is Prince Alkin’s personal guard, who meets Lady Evelyn – ‘The Goddess of Chaos’ each week. Bryan also hangs out with the friendly folk of Fordorn. Pretty pictures of happy folk and a unicorn is painted well in writing. He can’t stay long though as debate of adventure with Keavin Sword ensues and whether a nymph in the Faded Sea of Carthorn can be trusted or not. The pace mounts up and readers learn of other people in this kingdom, including a wizard masquerading as an innkeeper and many more. 

This is a book that is rich and has a good drive in plot to keep readers invested and a whole fantastical world is soon built up, with the assistance of a map at the very beginning and a world full of characters ranging from a wizard, a stallion called Dragon, a unicorn, a prince, half-bloods, a witch, a warrior and more…
There is high adventure and missions and a slow-burn romance in this mystical land that uses its powers to suck you into its mysterious depths, of which there is much to travel through and tread carefully into parts of trepidation and danger.

Readers who enjoy Lord of The Rings and fantastical creatures and grownups are now searching for whole new land to explore, will enjoy this.

About the Author

RoM author pic
I enjoy the outdoors, reading, spending time with my family (that includes pets!), hanging out with horses, and archery. I graduated from Michigan State University in Equine Management and love to incorporate my love of horses into my stories. I’m a huge Star Wars fan (original trilogy), Lord of the Rings fan, Harry Potter fan….and Jane Austen fan. A couple of nerdy facts, I love John Wayne movies and collect the vintage My Little Ponies from the 80s.