BOOK BLOG: Stewart Foster

The Bubble Boy – a touching story about friendship and helping others

img_2408

“Eleven-year-old Joe can’t remember a life outside of his hospital room, with its beeping machines and view of London’s rooftops. His condition means he’s not allowed outside, not even for a moment, and his few visitors risk bringing life-threatening germs inside his ‘bubble’. But then someone new enters his world and changes it for ever”

The Bubble Boy tells the story of Joe (the Bubble Boy in question) and his life. He’s cooped up in his hospital room because he has a condition which means he can’t leave; he can’t go out into the world; he can’t socialise like you and me; he can’t feel fresh cut grass or wander around the park like the rest of us. He’d bed bound, or rather he’s room bound. However, Joe is this extraordinary character who takes all of that in his stride, he accepts that that’s his life and he’s making a life for himself from his hospital bed – he’s amazing

Joe has this amazing spirit and joy about him that’s evident from the beginning. He knows no other, so being in his hospital room is what he makes of it. He has brilliant nurses (shout out here to Greg – the good egg nurse in the story) who look after him; an older sister who stands by him through everything and a brilliant friend, who lives on the other side of the world, who he talks to through Skype. I loved Joe’s soul and his character – he’s so likeable and wonderful. You definitely feel for him, but without pity. I wanted to help look after him.

However things start to change when a new nurse comes along and tells Joe that he can in fact go out into the world and that things around Joe are going to start changing. Initially, I was NOT OK with this, why would a nurse come and tell him that? Were the doctors lying to Joe? Who was this new nurse? What was going to happen? A lot changes in Joe’s life when this new nurse comes along and once they start changing they snowball out of control. 

This new nurse brings some fun into Joe’s life that he didn’t have before. He also brings a strangeness, an awkwardness, a silence. I’m still on the fence about this new nurse and I think I will be forever. I won’t give away the story (although, you can probably guess what this new nurse wants to do, sorry about that) because I think everyone should read this book and make a decision for themselves. I’d love to talk about your thoughts on the new nurse.

There’s friendship and love.
There’s compassion and heartache.
There’s laughter and sadness.
Comparisons of the world and Joe’s very sterile hospital room. 

Reading this book really made me think, “I’m glad I get to go out and enjoy the world because being cooped up wouldn’t make me very happy”. A few of the children who have read this book have expressed very similar thought patterns commenting on the fact that living in one room for the rest of their life “wouldn’t be very fun, especially if you’re too poorly to even talk some days”. 

I loved this story. It made me laugh, it made me cry. This is a special story that kids, especially kids in Upper Key Stage 2/3 need to read. I’ve had nothing but positive reviews about it! Stewart Foster is quickly becoming a firm favourite at school… we need more books!

Have you read Bubble Boy?
Would you like to be kept in one room for the rest of your life?
Can you recommend me any books similar to this?

Let’s talk! I want to know what your thoughts are!

S x

Advertisements

BOOK BLOG: Andy Shepherd

The Boy Who Grew Dragons: fun, fast paced and (not so) firey!

img_2482

“When Tomas discovers a strange old tree at the bottom of his grandad’s garden, he doesn’t think much of it. But he takes the funny fruit from the tree back into the house – and gets the shock and delight of his life when a tiny dragon hatches! The tree is a dragonfruit tree, and Tomas has got his very own dragon, Flicker… Tomas soon finds out that life with Flicker is great fun, but also very… unpredictable. Yes, dragons are wonderful, but they also set fire to your toothbruth and leave your pants hanging from the TV aerial. Tomas has to learn how to look after Flicker – and quickly. And then something extraordinary happens – more dragonfruits appear on the tree. Tomas is officially growing dragons…”

Imagine that! Having your own pet dragon. What more could be better? I mean me as an adult thinks that’s amazing, so I can’t imagine how excited a child would be. But also, pretty scary? I don’t know that much about dragons apart from the fact they sometimes breathe fire and that they love collecting gold (you can thank Smaug for that reference!). 

The Boy Who Grew Dragons is a fun and friendly tale of a young boy who comes across a weird and wonderful plant growing in his grandad’s garden… and obviously, when the fruit comes off the tree, he just suspects that it is a fruit. But when it explodes and it has in it a dragon, his mind is BLOWN. He has this big secret to keep and he ends up having to stop helping his grandad do the garden and hides the secret from his friends in order to protect his dragon.

Obviously, there’s the school bully who just will NOT leave Tomas alone. Poor Tomas, having to deal with this dragon and this bully. The bully is mean and calls Tomas all sorts of names. But Tomas has his trusty friends who stand by him to feed him toffees (to help him stay quiet) or to support him in his times of need. 

I really enjoyed this book. It’s full of fun and lots of laughterwhat’s funnier than exploding dragon poo all over your room? Landing in your teacher’s coffee? There’s also the really touching relationship that Tomas has with his little sister which made me really happy too (as a little sister, I think their relationship is brilliant, my big brother is definitely as much a hero as Tomas is to Lottie). 

I can’t wait to put this in the hands of my kids, so watch out for their reviews to be added to this soon!

Thank you so much to Andy Shepherd and the publishers for sending me this copy, it will sit beautifully in the school library and I can’t wait to read the next one and see what the kids are up to!

Would you like a pet dragon?
Would you be too scared of exploding poo everywhere?
What’s your ideal mythical pet?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter. I’d love to know the weird and wonderful pets you’d all like!

S x

 

S4S – Questions for my faves…

Hello! It is I, the SundaySixer again.

How are we all? What does this Sunday hold for you? Are you keeping well? Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks for part 2 of the #SixforSunday prompts to be released! I hope you guys love the prompts as much as me!

Today’s prompt is:

Questions you have for your favourite character

HAHAHAHAHA. Like I can choose just ONE favourite character. HAHAHAHA. Who do I think I am? (I chose 6 different faves… sorry not sorry!)

  1. Dear Kaz Brekker, why are you so smart?
  2. Good morrow Sorrow (LOL), what’s it like constantly living in the shadow of your brother’s death?
  3. Dearest Jin, why you so hot?
  4. Matilda, what is your favourite subject?
  5. Elliot, do you ever just want to be a kid though? 
  6. Izzy O’Neill, can we be friends forever?

HA. If you can name all 6 of these books (which you probs can if you know me at all) then you get a point. 

Remember to share your #SixforSunday posts on twitter and use the hashtag! I love all of your posts with all of my heart!

S x

Forget your troubles, come on get happy…

What’s made me smile recently?

Getting a job. Following my dreams. Working hard. Realising it’s OK to be scared and it’s OK to be afraid of failure, but not to let it take over. Reading. Bank holiday weekends. Productivity. Taking time to myself. Meals out with friends. Meals out with family. Deliveroo. Wagamamas. A bottle of Desperado’s after a long day of working. Friends who trust you. Knowing that if you’re having a bad day that people want to listen. Speaking at events. Positive feedback. More books.  Being comfortable in my surroundings. Allowing myself time to breathe. The pressure being almost over. Sunshine. Walking. Saying no. Sleeping. Reading on a morning. Laughter. Drag Race. Friends. Youtube. The Greatest Showman. Matilda. Books. Always books.

 

BOOKBLOG: Leigh Bardugo (stole my heart)

Hello, I’m Steph and I finished reading Crooked Kingdom about 2 weeks ago. I’m STILL NOT OVER THESE BOOKS. I know. I know. The fact I’ve only just read them and it’s taken me so long to get this review up. I am the most terrible bookish human ever… BUT I HAVE SUCH FEELINGS NOW. SOMEONE SEND SOMEONE TO SAVE MY SOUL (preferable Kaz, although, maybe not… I don’t think I could cope being around that man. He’s too clever for me, but we’ll get to him in a minute!)

So… for those who, like me, have not read Six of Crows or Crooked Kingdom…

“Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. 

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.”

Basically… these two books are PERFECTION. I can’t put into words right now just HOW BRILLIANT THEY ARE. There’s so much I love about this duology: the characters, the plot, the writing, the world building, the sarcasm, the darkness, the cleverness of it all.

So Six of Crows is the plan for the heist and Crooked Kingdom is the aftermath of the heist.

Who better to go and steal something that could change the course of the world than members of one of the local gangs? Obviously.

Now I can’t talk about these books too much without giving away the plot for one (Or the other), but I will tell you this… once you start you won’t want to stop. I was lucky in that I owned both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, so when I finished Six of Crows I could INSTANTLY move on to Crooked Kingdom. Had I not have owned it, I would’ve gone straight out to a bookshop and book Crooked Kingdom. The bombshell at the end of Six of Crows is THAT GOOD that you will NEED Crooked Kingdom in your life instantaneously.

(For those of you wondering, you don’t need to have read the Grisha trilogy to understand and adore this duology. You will love it anyway. The first chapter will confuse you a little, but bear with it! I’m looking forward to reading the Grisha trilogy now though… A LOT. However, I feel nothing will quite live up to the love I have for Mr. Brekker and his crew of merry thieves).

These books are so clever and Leigh Bardugo is quite clearly a genius. There is no doubt in my mind about that. 

You will 100% fall for the characters in this story. 100%. No doubt whatsoever. If you don’t love them then I will eat my hat (I don’t wear hats, sorry chaps, I’ll eat a packet of crisps or something…)

I need to take a moment to appreciate and share my love for Kaz Brekker – the leader of the gang. He’s clever, wily, suspicious, witty, brilliant. I just adore him. The way he adores one of the other characters is just incredible. His progress from the start of Crows to the end of Kingdom just made me delighted. He’s a special kind of character who comes along every now and again. Just takes your heart away with him. I miss him entirely. 

The rest of his gang have a MASSIVE place in my heart. It’s hard not to love this bunch of “losers”. They all have incredible back stories that you learn as you go through the books (this I adored, I love a bit of backstory!). There were MANY MANY times I feared for my pals’ lives. Many times where I was worried that they would not come out alive, but obviously, I do not know that well. There is always a plan. Brekker is a man with a plan. 

Guys. I just loved this book, OK? I’m sorry this review is just a ramble. There is too much to say and I have far too few words to be able to say them in. The world, the characters, the plot, the duality of lives, the magic, brutality, friendships, romance, terror, worry, laughter.. it’s everything that I need in my books. 

I mean… go check out other reviews. They’re probably far less rambling and less fangirling than mine. 

Have you read Six of Crows?
Will you be signing your life over to the Dregs and Brekker?
WHY HAVE YOU NOT READ IT YET PLZ?

OK, I’m going to lie down because it’s taken me so long to write this “review” that my brain has stopped. Talk to me, PLEASE, about these books and these characters. Let’s all join together and make Leigh Bardugo write us more Kaz and Dregs books. 

S x

 

 

Take a trip to 7 Stories

This past weekend, I was invited to speak at a Youth Libraries Group event hosted at 7 Stories and as part of the event we were allowed to have a look around 7 Stories at the exhibitions on show. So during lunchtime, I tottled off down the stairs and had a look at 2 of the exhibitions that are currently housed at 7 Stories.

If you’re not familiar with what 7 Stories is, you can check out their website here. It is full of useful information!

First up, I went to the Comics exhibition and it made my heart very happy!

From their website, it gives this information about the Comics exhibition:
“Seven Stories has gathered together an eclectic mix of original comic art to impress and inspire all comics’ fans. See Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace as they were drawn in the 1940s and 50s; find old friends like Oor Wullie, Minnie the Minx and Roy of the Rovers; imagine yourself on an adventure with Dan Dare from The Eagle. 
The exhibition features Captain America, Wonder Woman, Superman and Hulk as drawn by British artist Ian Churchill. Ian works for Marvel and DC Comics, America’s largest comic corporations.
Current British comics creators like Kate Brown, Jamie Smart and Laura Ellen Anderson have prepared storyboards, sketches and 3D models to lend to the exhibition as well as giving Seven Stories’ visitors unique insight into their creative processes.”

Then I went to the Time To Get Up exhibition, which is all about giving children stories for all times of the day and different parts of life. Information on the website says:
“The first few years of a child’s life are full of new experiences, and a lot of new routine. From getting up to going to bed, reading books together can offer reassurance and encouragement whilst sharing books can also make the everyday exciting! Time to Get Up is packed full of wonderful stories all about day to day activities. With old favourites and new titles, and amazing artwork by super-talented illustrators, get ready to look, talk, play and read together!
For the first time, we are using an entirely unique display method inspired by touch and feel boards. This enables children to explore new and exciting ways of engaging directly with the exhibition’s artwork. Young explorers can see, touch, smell and hear their way through a variety of sensory activities, all linked to the exciting new experiences and routines that every young child enjoys.  
Time to Get Up features two brand new, specially designed Sensory Backpacks, complete with a beautiful, interactive blanket, a book and a selection of sensory props to help young ones explore the exhibition. Our newest Sensory explorer Backpacks will cover two featured books from the exhibition, ‘Snug’ by Carol Thompson and ‘Me and My Dad’ by Robin Shaw.”

Both of the exhibitions were gorgeous and super inviting! I will be looking at visiting with my family in the coming weeks!

Check out the 7 Stories website for more details of events and exhibitions to come… I in particular like the sound of ‘Winged Tales of the North’.

S x

Libraries are for winners!

Recently, I have been given the task of leading the school library, and I have to say it is my utter delight to embrace it. I’m aware I am in a very lucky position that we have an actual library (it’s shelves in the corridor at the minute) and that many schools aren’t as fortunate as us. That’s another conversation to be had.

Today is Part 1 of 2 posts filled with ideas of the things I’ve tried with the library since half term and there will be some sharing of resources too – please feel free to download these and use them as you wish! We’re just starting to use them and the children are loving them so far.

The first thing I implemented was a “Blind Date With A Book” – I wrapped up 9 books, covering a range of interests and reading ability, and put these on display in the library. I’ve been doing this for about a year with the staff to encourage them to read more widely and it’s worked a treat with the staff, so I figured I might as well try it with the children. It’s amazing the feedback I’ve had from the kids! The kids are now being much more brave about the book choices they’re making because they’re learning not to judge a book by its cover!

Can you guess what any of the books are?

Over half term I also added around 60 books to our collection (thanks to publishers and my own collection!) of library books. Now this is A LOT of books to be adding, so to point children in the right direction, and give them some guidance about the kind of books that are appopriate for their age range/ability, I made some bookmarks. (These aren’t attached at the bottom of this post, but I will in due course!) These book marks have made a massive impact on the kids reading as they’re now aware of what’s new and want to talk to me about the new books they’ve read.

As you can see, there is a bookmark which also says “I’m exclusive”. I used that bookmark for proofs I had of books which were not even out yet and the kids are LOVING THAT. “Miss, how come you’ve got books even though they’re not out yet?” I’m very fortunate to be sent proofs by publishers, so passing them on to my kids so my kids can get joy from them makes my life 10x better!

A massive massive shout out to our wonderful BookBuddy, Lisa Thompson, who sent us this box of amazing books. Our kids have been poring over them and they are going down a treat. Check out my #BookBuddy post to find out more about the scheme!

img_2153

So there you go, post 1 of 2 (I think it may end up being more!) of ideas that I’ve started to implement in our school library!

What things do you do in your library?
What are your kids reading at the minute?

Talk to me in the comments and let me know if you’re going to use any of these ideas!

S x

S4S – questions for publishers

Hello there! Sunday again. Where did this week go? I’m sure someone is making these weeks go VERY quickly… the further we go, the closer it is to my teacher training being over (which thrills and terrifies me in EQUAL measure tbh). 

However, back to #SixforSunday. Today’s prompt I found HARD. However, I am a good S4S mam and will not give up on my baby. Today I will be posing 6 more questions, but this week it is:

Questions to publishers

(I don’t even know if these questions are even answerable by publishers tbh… but lets go!)

  1. Why do covers change half way through a series?
  2. Why are some books taller than others? (One of my very own bookish pet peeves)
  3. How do you decide on covers?
  4. How do you decide which books get to be printed?
  5. How many manuscripts do you get weekly?
  6. WHY DO YOU MAKE US WAIT SO LONG FOR BOOKS? (ahem)

And there we have it… I wonder if ANYONE can answer any of these questions. (I do not expect answers, have no fear!)

Share your #SixforSunday posts with me! Don’t worry if you haven’t tackled today’s prompt… it was a HARD one!

S x

Brilliant Barrington Stoke

Happy Friday everyone!

Today I am sharing some of my favourite recent reads from the people over at Barrington Stoke! Barrington Stoke specialises in ‘cracking reading’, publishing super-readable children’s books that break down the barriers that can stop kids getting into reading. Their books bring together the very best children’s authors and illustrators in the UK with a host of unique accessibility features to offer books which are accessible to more children including those with dyslexia or visual stress. If you’re interested in these books, go check out their website here. There’s more information about the books they publish and how they make their books accessible for everyone!

So what books from Barrington Stoke have I read recently? Some absolute crackers!

BarringtonStoke

Noah Scape Can’t Stop Repeating Himself – Guy Bass

“Noah Scape loves dinosaurs and spaghetti with tomato sauce. But Noah doesn’t always get what he wants and when school doesn’t revolve around dinosaur facts and lunch isn’t always his tried and tested favourite, well… enough is enough! It’s time for him to stop wishing and to decide on exactly what he needs; a world full of Noahs!”

What would you do if one day you woke up to find there are double the amount of yous in the world? Then the next day, there’s double again? And double again the next day? Noah just wants people to like dinosaurs, as he does, so he wishes for more people like him… him! He starts regretting it eventually… and it doesn’t go down well with his parents and teachers either! Real fun, great for 8+ years!

Shona, Word Detective – John Agard

“Shona has always loved words. She even has her very own strange word thesaurus! When her and her classmates learn that some languages are dying out, Miss Bates tasks them with becoming top-class word detectives, proving to themselves and their families that there are many beautiful languages still thriving, even within their own classroom.”

I absolutely loved this one. It reminded me about my love of words and language. There’s something really special about books that can do that! It’s one I’m definitely going to be keeping to use in the classroom. Great for readers 7+ years. 

Rose’s Dress of Dreams – Katherine Woodfine

“Young Rose dreams of sewing beautiful dresses for the women of Paris. But when a chance encounter with royalty changes her life, Rose must draw on all her skills to create the most breathtaking dress of them all. Based on the life of Rose Bertin, the woman credited with creating haute-couture and a remarkable pioneer of fashion at the court of Marie Antoinette.”

When I initially read this, I had no idea that it was based on a real woman in history, so reading that made me love it even more! This book is brilliant for teaching kids about the power of dreams and believing in your dreams, because they absolutely can come true! It’s beautifully illustrated by Kate Pankhurst too. Yay for brilliant women in history! Great for readers 5-8 years!

The Great Telephone Mix Up – Sally Nicholls

“When the village wires get crossed after a storm, there’s a lot of confusion and plenty of missed connections. Margaret can’t run her summer fair, Jai can’t speak to Aditi, and Will is rather happy because no one can tell his mum how much trouble he’s in! Can the villagers learn to love their neighbours and could the great telephone mix-up really be a blessing in disguise?”

Living in a village and all of the telephone wires have got crossed? Having to deliver messages for your neighbour? Imagine that. It’d be a nightmare, but the people in his village finds it brings them closer together. I really enjoyed this. For a generation who don’t use the phone much, it was nice to see a book about it! Great for kids 7+ years!

There are so many other brilliant books in the Barrington Stoke catalogue and you can read the first chapters of most of their books on the website (which I think is GENIUS btw! Be great for using in a lesson!)

Thank you so much to Barrington Stoke for sending this brilliant bookpost my way. 

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Juno Dawson

Clean: dark, delicious and deceitful

Image result for clean juno dawson book cover

“When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom. She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility. From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady. As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all … 

It’s a dirty business getting clean …”

Clean came into my life via a proof from the lovely humans of the publishers, and my word, WHAT A BOOK. This book is dark, gritty and hard to read at times. Possible trigger warnings for drugs, but it’s an INCREDIBLE book that I definitely need more of.

This book doesn’t shy away from the nitty gritty. You’re thrown into the world of Lexi’s addiction. You live it. You see it in her flashbacks. You see what she goes through. The people she hangs around with. The cocky attitude she has. The lifestyle she lives. Parties. Drugs. Men, or one man in particular. 

Brilliant flashbacks paired with Lexi’s story of rehab make for very interesting reading. Lexi is admitted to rehab by her brother. Her lovely brother. I really liked him. He wanted what was best for his sister. It’s great to read a positive brother/sister relationship. Obviously, she initially hates him because he’s sentenced her to rehab, to being better, to getting clean. He’s a constant force of good in her life. He wants to look after her, even when that looks like sending her to the hardest place in the world for an addict. 

The people she’s in rehab with are brilliantly endearing characters. They’re not all there for addictions to drugs like Lexi. There’s sex addicts, food adicts, fellow drug addicts. Learning about their own vices and their stories, as well as seeing them interact with Lexi over time, made for brilliant reading. The scenes of Lexi struggling with her first few days were hard to read, but I needed to know how she got on. Watching her learn to trust these fellow rehab patients made for intrigue. Their friendships kept my interest level up and I wanted MORE. I wanted more from their interactions. I wanted more scenes of them together.

Lexi makes some STUPID decisions – both in the past, and then in the present narrative of the book. I was on the tube reading Clean and genuinely gasped and had to say to my book “Oh Lexi, you fool” at one point (which made my friend Kelly laugh a lot!) You live the whole process with Lexiwithdrawal, pain, falling, friendship, anger, love. Watching Lexi’s growth from a complete addict at the beginning of the book to the end was touching. She does a LOT of growing, but that nagging voice of addiction is always there. That slither of want. 

A small shout out here to the romance in the book – for me it was a welcome addition and it gave me moments of warmth in an otherwise really harsh and dark book. I really want them to be happy. I’m not sure that’s what Juno has in store for me though… you’ll have to read to know who I mean! 

This book is hard to read but it is endearing and you will soon be addicted (lol soz) to it after a few chapters – I know I was! I can’t wait for more from Lexi and the crew! Bring it on!

Have you read Clean?
Do you have a favourite patient?
What do you think is next for the gang?

Talk to me! I’d love to know your thoughts!

S x