BOOKBLOG: Oliver Jeffers

A Child of Books: inspiring, engaging and essential

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“A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next?”

A Child of Books is one of those wonderful books that comes along every now and again and isn’t about anything other than the power of imagination and the power of books. Throughout the story you see the girl and her friend invent and create a world based on their imagination. In a time where children’s imaginations are not the focus of their writing, this book is an incredible look at what writing should be about – how using your imagination can inspire a story, generation and the world

The illustrations in this book are absolutely spot on. They are so beautifully drawn and tell the story incredibly well. I love the use of words to create different parts of illustration (the wave in the picture above is made solely of words) and infusing books into as many pictures as possible (the trees in the forest are books, a lovely feature I didn’t realise until one of my children pointed it out!) My favourite illustration however is this one:

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The stark comparison of this picture compared to all of the others gave me great joy. It sends a brilliant message about building your world around stories and how anyone can build worlds, using stories

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The end papers are gorgeous. They’re titles of famous children’s books. I would love to sit and go through them and try to figure out which ones I’ve read and which I haven’t. All of the books seem to be ones which inspire and have created their own world. Books written by authors who have used their imagination to create a new land, a new world – somewhere new for the readers to explore

I have a massive place in my life for Oliver Jeffers; I think his work is outstanding. All of his other books are absolutely wonderful and all have a place in my life as a teacher and a reader. When I heard of this book, I knew it was one I had to own. Again you have a complete hit from Jeffers – the man who writes hit after hit. All classrooms and homes should have place for Oliver Jeffers books. From books for tiny little people to books for children a little older, they’re all wonderful. 

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Have you read A Child of Books?
What do you make of Oliver Jeffers?
Are there any other picture books like this you’d recommend?

I’d love to know what you think! Let me know in the comments, or on twitter – (@eenalol).

S x

BOOKBLOG: Vivian French

I am a MASSIVE FAN of picture books. 

I am a MASSIVE FAN of books which promote a love of reading. 

Pair these two together and you have a book I KNOW I need to read and own and tell everyone about.

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The Covers of my Book are Too Far Apart is a PERFECT book for classrooms. I would implore every school to have a copy. 

“I’m too old for bedtime stories!”

“That’s a GIRLS’ book!”

“Reading’s rubbish!”

Find answers to these and many more reading grumbles in this joyful celebration of all that’s brilliant about books and reading. For book lovers, book haters and everyone in between!

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This book is just incredible. Each page deals with ANOTHER excuse for not reading (This is a girls book, only clever people read) and retorts from a variety of characters about how that isn’t true. I love it. 

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I absolutely love the idea behind this book and will be championing it for a long time! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Karen Gregory

Countless: heartbreaking, eye-opening and gut-wrenching.

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“When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time…”

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I had heard lovely things from my good friend Rachel about this book and knew that I needed to get my hands on it and get it read and I don’t regret it. It broke my heart but it was incredible.

It’s the story of Hedda, who suffers from an eating disorder which has caused somewhat of a breakdown in her family situation, who finds out she is pregnant. This book talks about the very complicated relationship between sufferer and their body and mind; doing it in such an incredible way. Hedda is a complicated young lady, who suddenly becomes thrust into a life she doesn’t want – she has a reliance on her eating disorder for control – but has to live it regardless. She has to learn to eat, she has to learn how to be a healthy body for the sake of her baby. She struggles and her struggle is so brilliantly written, it seems authentic. You’re also introduced to Robin – Hedda’s neighbour. I have a complicated relationship with Robin. You’ll see why when you read. He’s like that unreliable narrator that people are never sure how to react to. Her relationship with her body, for a time changes for the sake of her baby, but once the baby comes is that the way that it is going to stay?

I was hesitant to read this book at first. Books centred around eating disorders walk a fine line and there are so many which are not written with enough care, that it makes them tough to read. I never felt that through this book. I had enough knowledge about what was going that I didn’t feel like it was about an ED, it was about living and coping and adapting to life with an ED. The one thing that stood out to me was that there was never numbers in this book. There was never the mention of sizes or weights. Just that she was struggling with an eating disorder. 

I won’t spoil this any more than I already have, but the ending absolutely killed me. You’ve read this, watched this incredible young lady struggle with her mind, her body and her emotions for the past 9 months and then she has to then become a mam. She has to become the person this baby relies upon and she finds it hard. Very hard. The last page broke my heart. 

Have you read Countless?
What did you think of it?
Can you recommend any books similar to this?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter!

S x

Release launch

I have been in the bookish world for about a year now, like properly in the bookish world. I’ve always been a bookish person, always loved the ways of the books, but it wasn’t until last Summer that I really started going to book events (I had been to a few at Seven Stories, an incredible book loving venue in Newcastle, including my first meeting of my Queen, Queen Melinda Salisbury, but I am going off on a tangent here). I’ve been to UKYACX, YAShot and a few other bookish events but when I heard that Patrick Ness was going to be in Newcastle I knew I HAD to go. I have admired this man’s work from afar for a while. A Monster Calls absolutely broke me in two. So I hurried to Waterstones Newcastle and got myself a ticket and man am I glad!

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I was lucky enough to get to go with one of my favourite blogger friends, Cora, and another lovely twitterer who alerted us at the last minute that she was going and asked if she could tag along. Another thing I love about the book world is that we are all so lovely and friendly that bookish people flock together and have a love of books together! 

The event was held in the Tyneside Cinema in one of the actual screening rooms and as it is such a beautiful venue I spent a lot of the waiting time just looking around. I never get bored of being in the Tyneside Cinema. If you’re ever in Newcastle, get yourself down there, it is so gorgeous. 

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The event was chaired by the lovely Anna James and she was such a brilliant chair! I’m lucky enough to have met Anna before so it was a lovely surprise to meet her again and see she was chairing the event. When the chat started Patrick began with a story about England football and congratulated Newcastle on winning the Championship, which I thought was a lovely touch (being a massive football fan that I am!) It’s always interesting going along to events like this because you get to learn new snippets of things about authors that you never knew before. Patrick revealed to us that he starts with the first and last line of a book and then puts the rest in – I’d never thought about writing a book like that before but I guess it makes sense! He also talked for a little while about A Monster Calls the film and told us that he’d written the screenplay before he knew whether it would be a film or not. He also talked to us about the Doctor Who show Class – which I have not seen, but as chatter went on to talk about some big plot twist in one of the episodes I am most tempted. He made some really interesting comments about authors needing to earn the right to be frank about sex and sexuality – that authors can’t just write sex for the sake of sex, your readers have to know that this has purpose and meaning. He also mentioned that authors should write the book they want to read – to tell the story that you’ve not read, which I found really true. Who wants to read another Hunger Games? Give us something new!

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After the chat, there was a Q&A section where the audience were given a chance to ask questions and then there was a chance to get books signed by Patrick. I was nervous as I had 5 books in my bag to be signed and I know some events are really funny about the amount of books you’re allowed to have signed, but he was more than accommodating and said he was happy to sign all of the books I had with me! 

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He had heard me telling one of the people working the event that I was a teacher and had some lovely things to say about teachers! Anyone who respects teachers is a big hit in my books! 

I had a wonderful night and it was so lovely to finally meet him. He was an absolute delight – frank, honest, intelligent and funny. Just the kind of person I love. 

S x

What We’re Reading!

I haven’t done a ‘What We’re Reading’ post for a while, so thought it was time to share once again the books that my Year 4 class are reading! The last one is here: What We’re Reading…

There’s a wide variety here! And there’s a few books missing

I’m reading Goodly and Grave, which the publishers kindly sent me, during silent reading on a Friday. The kids love me reading alongside them! 

There are some books in this lot that I’ve never heard of that I would LOVE to read. Highlights include:

  • Chris D’Lacey books (ours have been passed around so often that these ones are falling apart!)
  • Mr Stink – we read Demon Dentist together at the start of the year and the kids loved it, so it’s great to see other David Walliams books going round the class! 
  • The Mr Gum books are very popular in this class! I might have to borrow one over the holidays to see what all the fuss is about.

We are currently reading The Island at The End of Everything together and the kids are LOVING it. My kids love story time at the end of the day and regardless of what has gone on I always try and make time for it. You have no idea how many times they’ve asked for more story. With the Island it is posing some very interesting moral dilemmas with the children and it is causing some excellent talking points. There is some absolutely incredible vocabulary in this book too, which my kids are loving adding to our New Vocabulary wall! I have read it already – find my review here: BOOKBLOG: Kiran Milwood Hargrave.IMG_4317

If you’ve any book recommendations for my kids I will happily take them!

S x

How do you read?

Recently I was thinking about the way in which I read, about how different my reading atmosphere is at home versus when I’m reading and travelling. When I’m at home I like to read in silence, but when I’m travelling I need to have my iPod on, playing music. I have no idea why there is this difference at all – it just is. If I have music on at home I just can not concentrate, yet when I’m travelling and it’s silent I can not concentrate at all. This got me thinking, and wondering about how others work it out. So I thought I would ask twitter via the medium of trusty old poll and I got some very interesting responses!

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I was really surprised at the response! I didn’t realise so many people would vote silence! 

I asked for some feedback and some of my lovelies were happy to share opinions!

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I did not know about author playlists until my lovely LittleHux shared this with me and I now want to hunt out all of the playlists and listen to them alongside the books! Let me know if you have any faves! 

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I loved the variety of responses here! My gorgeous friend Lucy shared the very Snape-esque answer of silence! Whereas Kelsey was all for the playlist lifestyle – I will have to check this out. A few people have suggested playlists or soundtracks. I need to try this. I think Jess is very much like me, some noise, some silence – it depends what she’s reading!

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Much like the poll suggests Lauren was with the majority of people, voting silence (although it seems she has to put up with football!) Steph and Darran were both the fan of “some noise“. Obviously, we all have THAT FRIEND who is just READING ALL OF THE THINGS ALL OF THE TIMES, Cora is my that friend. 

So there, I found out my answer. Most people like silence. Interesting. 

Thank you to all of the people mentioned in this blog post! Go give them a follow for all things bookish – they’re all wonderful humans. I would recommend. Thank you also to all the people involved in voting for the poll, there were an awful lot of you!!

Let me know in the comments below about your reading habits! I am fascinated by them all! 

S x

More #AskMissElliott

Hello! Back to some school talk! 

I took a few weeks off doing #AskMissElliott to give the kids a chance to come up with some new questions but after requests to bring it back I knew it was time! If you’re curious what #AskMissElliott is, it’s a chance for the kids in my class to ask me a question about me! They are allowed to ask me anything they want: I’m very lucky that I have a bunch of kids who I’ve built a lovely relationship with and as it stands I’ve not had any stupid questions – they’ve all been quite normal! (if you’re interested in seeing my previous #AskMissElliott posts – Ask Miss Elliott#AskMissElliott 2#AskMissElliott 3)

So here we go with some of the questions this time round!

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What is the most annoying song for you?

So many. But Pen Pineapple Apple Pen is HIGHLY irritating. 

 

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These kids love asking me questions about languages! I think my favourite language to listen to is Spanish, but my favourite languages to speak are probably French or German – they’re both very different! (I can’t speak Spanish, so if anyone wants to teach me… I’m willing!)

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Do you like university?

I kind of touched on this in Student-ing but on the whole I did enjoy the process. It was exhausting but educational. I learnt a lot about myself through the process. I would definitely recommend it to people, it takes a lot of commitment and drive.
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What is your favourite month? (Mine is Winter)

(I think this child meant “season”) Definitely summer. Give me sunshine, warmth and beer gardens over cold, snow and hot chocolate any day!

 

IMG_4542Did you have any jobs before you were a teacher? If so what were they?

Retail and bar work! I worked in a shoe shop for a lot of my working career. I was just an evening and weekend girl initially, but then I worked my way to supervisor/cover manager. I also worked in St James’ Park for a season, on match days, in one of the bars. 

So those were some of the questions this time round! The kids are definitely getting braver with their questions and I am loving the fact they requested to have this back! It’s a lovely rapport builder with the kids – we know so much about them that sharing some little answers with them is great for our classroom atmosphere! I would totally recommend people try it, even if just once!

Have you tried this in your classroom?
Have you tried something similar?
Would you try this?

I’d love to know what other little things you do with your class! Let me know in the comments or on twitter (@eenalol) I am always open to a chat, or a question!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive: honest, important, emotive.

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“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

‘I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.'”

Reasons to Stay Alive has been sat on my TBR shelf for a while. I’m not a massive reader of NF but there were lots of people talking about this book a while back, so I bought it but it just stayed on my shelf. Until just recently. I needed something a little bit different. I needed something that would hopefully inspire something in me. 

I loved Matt’s sheer frank honesty. There’s no skirting over issues. There’s frank honesty. There’s stories and anecdotes from his toughest times. There’s uplifting stories. There’s conversations he has with himself. There’s flashbacks to his darkest times. There’s the story of the start of it all. Throughout all of it, there’s honesty.

Mental health is something that is becoming more talked about but still not talked about ENOUGH. This book was brave and brilliant. Written in such a way that I devoured it in less than a day. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. I cried. I was angry. Frustrated. Sad. Jubilant. I felt everything. 

There are so many important quotes in this book that I feel I could spend a blog post quoting but I’ll choose a few:

“Hang on in if you can. Life is always worth it”
““Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.”
“Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen in Frozen.”

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I implore everyone to read this. Even if you don’t suffer from any MH troubles, it’ll open your eyes to those who do. You will know someone who is suffering, possibly in silence. 

My goodreads review simply said:
“It’s important that people talk about mental health and it’s important for people to know that not everyone suffers the same way. I loved this book. I cried a lot.”

Have you read this?
Do you have other NF recommendations like this?

Let me know on twitter (@eenalol) or in the comments, I need more NF in my life!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Coral Rumble

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The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat: fun, beautifully illustrated and imaginative!

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Release Date: 4th April 2017
Publisher: Wacky Bee Books

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea, in a box on the living room floor. They sailed away for a year and a day and these are the things that they saw… Join two curious children on a quirky adventure, loosely based on the classic Edward Lear poem, The Owl and the Pussycat.

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I absolutely loved this story! It was such a gorgeous take on the original poem of the Owl and the Pussycat. There’s such gorgeous illustrations throughout and it’s such a great portrayal of a journey through wicked and wonderful lands, meeting all kinds of creatures and characters with adventures that it would be perfect for children and in classrooms alike!

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There’s a beautiful sense of fun throughout this story. The rhyming pattern and the rhythmic style of this make it a gorgeous story which children love to sit down and listen to. Indeed the children I read it to absolutely loved it and wanted to hear it again! They loved looking at the pictures and looking for different elements of them! There’s so many lovely little details in this book that as both the reader and the listener it was gorgeous.

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I can just imagine lots of teachers using this to go alongside a Pirates or Islands topic. There’s lots of references to under the sea animals, which are sure to ignite and inspire any children! It would be brilliant for older children to use as a comparison to the original poem. The pictures are so beautifully illustrated that they could easily be used in reading sessions. I would really recommend this to schools!

Thank you so much to Faye Rumble for inviting me along on the blog tour! Go check out the rest of the blog tour posts, there’s some brilliant ones already and some more to come! Thanks to Wackybee too for sending me a copy of the book to share with the children! 

S x

Go check it out at:

Amazon

Goodreads

Coral Rumblecoralpic

I have worked as a poet and performer for many years and I’m proud to have my work featured in Favourite Poets (Hodder). I have three published poetry collections of my own and have contributed to more than 150 anthologies. I am also one of the writers of the popular Cbeebies programmes ‘Poetry Pie’ and ‘The Rhyme Rocket’. I have given workshops in some fairly unusual venues as well…the grandest of which being
Buckingham Palace!

Website: http://www.coralrumble.co.uk/

Charlotte Cooke

I was thrilled and proud when my picture book The Adventures of the Ocharlottepicwl & the Pussycat was highly commended for the Macmillan Children’s Prize in 2010. Since then I have gone on to illustrate many other picture books and I enjoy making the occasional card too. When I’m not in my studio I’m usually outside running or playing referee to my two kids.

Website: http://charlottecookeillustration.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charlottecooke

Check out all the brilliant blogs in the blog tour and maybe go check a few of them out! I know I will be! 

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Student-ing

So it’s now May 5th and I have HOPEFULLY handed in my dissertation. Hopefully, it went yesterday. (I write this the Sunday before and I’m MEGA stressed about it).

So yeah, that’s that done. 2 years of my life building up to this. I can’t lie. I haven’t been a great student. I’ve left things til last minute because I work better under a bit of pressure. I’ve been a stressy group member. I was a much better Year 1 student than Year 2. I don’t know what happened in Year 2, I think my whole “don’t try, don’t fail” attitude hit a bit harder and I’ve just spent this year internally stressed. I don’t think the modules helped either though. I think I do better with someone hounding me. With the pressure. This year was a lot more lax than last. I should have had much better self motivation to be fair. But hey ho. It’s almost over now. I have 1 more submission in and then that’s it, that’s me done with my degree.

That’s pretty terrifying. 

Had you said to me 3 years ago that I would have a degree I would’ve said you were a complete liar. Me? A degree? No way. 

But look at me now. I am almost there. I made it happen. No one made it happen for me. I made it happen. I ahd some incredible support throughout the process though. If I hadn’t had that, I don’t know that I would’ve got all the way through without going insane. But I did it, myself. I pushed myself. I motivated myself. I took myself off to Starbucks (either at Haymarket or Monument) and made myself read articles or write assignments. To say I’m proud is a slight exaggeration, but I’m pretty pleased. Come back to me after graduation and I’ll talk more about it. Right now I’m not sure it’s going to happen!

It’s not been easy doing a degree and working full time. I take my hat off to the people on my course who have worked full time, studied and been parents. I don’t know that I could do it. They are superheroes in my mind. I’ve developed a good sense of studying over the past 2 years though. I’ve found my weaknesses and worked with my strengths. I never would’ve guessed that I worked better under pressure, but here I stand 2 years later knowing that I do. I work better to a deadline. I’ve learned that I have opinions on things and will stand for them. That education absolutely is the thing I want to do and that I have a total passion for it. I don’t want to be a student forever. I want to be in front of kids. That being in front of the kids is the place I flourish. I don’t flourish being a student. I thrive for the knowledge that I gain hands-on. That’s how I learn and how I have been learning over the past 8 years. But being a student has helped me hone my skills. 

I’ve learned SO much about education doing this degree. I knew NOTHING about FE or apprenticeships before I started my degree. I don’t think I was naive to the rest of the education world, but I certainly wasn’t in the know. I wouldn’t say I’m a font of knowledge now about education in all its forms but I’m certainly more educated and it has made me think about education as a whole, not just schooling. Being the only person on my course in primary was a challenge, no one else was fighting the same fight as me, but it opened my eyes to a whole other world and a whole other fight. I have such respect for all of the others on my course. They have become some of my best friends. We have grown, changed and challenged each other over the past 2 years. I will miss seeing them every Thursday, having inane and in depth conversations with them. I’ll miss learning about their section of education, about their struggles, about their lives. I’ll miss their questions about my life, my sector of education and my struggles. 

I’ve grown, changed and learned a lot over the past 2 years. This isn’t the end of my status as a student. But this is almost the end of being an Education student. The next challenge is being a teacher training student. That’s a whole other barrel of thoughts. For another day. 

S x