See the good in the world…

A while back I posted my first post about things I’m thankful for/things that make me happy (check it out here: Happy things…) inspired by my gorgeous friend Grace. Today we have post 2 of things that make me happy… it’s important to remember good things! I beat myself up often so having posts like this are brilliant for me.

Things that have made me happy recently:

YALC announcements. Sunny days. Coffee. Spending time with friends. Road trips. Kids lit. YA books. Rainbow bookshelves. Trips to Waterstones. Brilliant lessons. Unexpected great lessons. University results. Texts from friends. Tweets from friends. Looking forward to the future. Working hard and seeing the results. Listening to the rain. Texts from my brother. Ed Sheeran tickets. Ed Sheeran lyrics. Buying books as presents. Ariana Grande songs. Friends buying me amazing books. Countdown to summer. Trampolining. Sebastian Roche. Despacito. 

What about you?
What’s made you smile recently? 
What would make your happy list?

Let me know in the comments, or share a link to your own post! I would love to see more happy positivity going round. 

S x

5 YA Everyone Should Read

Welcome to another wonderful guest post from my wonderful friend Kelly – who is here to talk about YA books that everyone should read. Enjoy! Go follow Kelly, she’s wonderful! 

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5 YA Books Everyone Should Read

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Hi everyone! I’m Kelly from Kelly’s Rambles and I’m here to take over my dear friend Steph’s blog with my guest post. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a secondary school teacher with a huge passion for reading and YA books are where my heart lies. One of my favourite things about reading is sharing my experience, be that with my lovely bookish friends or with my many enthusiastic pupils. I’m not an English teacher (WHAT? I hear you say) but who said that reading must be confined to English teachers? I love to talk about books with the teenagers I teach and I’ve had some of my favourite bookish discussions with them.

The five books I’ve chosen to feature today are all books that I’ve shared with my pupils. They are also all books that I truly believe everyone should read, regardless of age. These books made a change to my life, my emotions, my outlook and my being because they are wonderful and carry such important messages. Without further ado, here are 5 YA books I think EVERYONE should read!

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Goodreads link

I can’t imagine there are many people left out there who haven’t at least heard of this wonderful book, especially since the movie was released (I highly encourage seeing this after reading the book!). Reading A Monster Calls was an experience I will never be able to forget. My heart ached, tears spilled down my face and I felt empty of all emotion by the end – feelings only a truly powerful book can evoke. I love the way this is written and having worked with children who are living through the grieving process I can tell you now how much of an impact this book can have on your life. Grief affects all of us, no matter what stage of our life we are in, and this book will resonate with everyone. Such a poignant, heart breaking yet beautiful book.

 A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

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Goodreads link

“Reading this book can only be compared to being trapped in a joyous, wonderful, beautiful whirlpool of raw emotion.” The opening line to my exceptionally long review of this book really does say it all. Reading A Quiet Kind of Thunder is such a unique and wonderful experience and it is such a diverse book. Steffi is such a fantastic character, she is a selective mute, she suffers with anxiety but this story is not about those things. This is Steffi’s coming of age story, it is about her first romance, her relationships with those around her and learning to love herself. This book really touched me especially in the way Sara Barnard talks about anxiety. She portrays such a positive message: anxiety is difficult, it is horrible, but it can and will be okay. I am also super in love with the BSL throughout this book. My words cannot do this book justice, especially in such a small paragraph, but please read this. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will hurt your heart, it will warm your heart, but most importantly, it will enlighten you.

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

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Goodreads link

When I picked up Wing Jones at the beginning of the year, I was completely clueless as to what would happen next. This book absolutely captivated me, it took an issue that was close to my heart and tackled it head on. It has such raw emotions to it, on so many occasions I wanted to wrap Wing in my arms and tell her it would be okay. Wing Jones is packed full of diversity, it is beautifully written and emotionally driven. Whilst dealing with the consequences of her brother’s drunk driving, Wing embarks on a journey of self-discovery and self-love. To this day I still feel inspired by Wing and her strength and I’m sure that thousands of other readers can take something from Wing and learn. Not only was the issue of racism tackled, but this book also contained a very realistic portrayal of grief, bullying, guilt, self-belief, love. There is something here for everyone to relate to and learn from. On a personal note, I have been completely overwhelmed by Katherine’s kindness and it’s thanks to her that I’ve met one of my best bookish buddies. This book means a lot to me and I’m sure it will mean something to you too.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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Goodreads link

I absolutely adore reading Alice Oseman’s books and Radio Silence was the first one I picked up. There are so many experiences in here for young people to learn from and relate to but I also think that as an adult looking back this book is still very relatable and teaches valuable life lessons. I love how diverse this book is with characters of different sexualities and races. I loved the relationships in this book and Oseman writes in a way that makes everything feel so real. A great coming of age story full of love, laughter, sadness and teenage angst. There is something in this book for everyone, I highly recommend it.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Goodreads link

If at this point in 2017 you haven’t heard about The Hate U Give then you really must have been living under a rock. It was possibly one of the most highly anticipated books of the year and I am not at all surprised why. I struggled for weeks after reading this book to put my words down in a review. Struggled because this book is so powerful and inspiring that I knew I couldn’t do it justice. Angie Thomas tackles racism and police brutality like it’s never been tackled before. This book holds nothing back and will make you check your white privilege if you haven’t already. Reading The Hate U Give is like being on a rollercoaster of emotions that you can’t get off. I felt extreme anger, sadness and hatred and then found myself smiling and laughing a few pages later. Angie Thomas has a powerful voice and isn’t afraid to use it. This book and this wonderful woman are literally changing lives and paving the way to brighter futures for so many young black people who will be nothing but inspired by Angie. This book is life changing and will evoke emotions in you that you didn’t know you possessed. Incredible.

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Phew… I got super emotional just thinking about those books and how much they have affected me personally. These books are excellent examples of why YA books don’t have to be just for teenagers because they can teach so much to adults too. Knowing how hard life can be for teenagers these days I am so grateful that such wonderful books exist to support and inform our young people. I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts on the books above or any recommendations for me! (Find me at Kellys Rambles on twitter)

I’m going to leave you with one of my 2017 highlights: the moment one of my pupils who is a selective mute came to see me after my recommendation of A Quiet Kind of Thunder with a huge smile and tears in her eyes to say the words, ‘I could see myself in Steffi and I’ve never had that before. I love this book, it means so much to me”.

 

Happy things…

So a few days ago my gorgeous friend Grace posted a brilliant blog post about things that made her happy, and spurred everyone to do the same… so here we go.

Things that made me happy in the past week. 

Getting so into a book that you lose track of time. Sunshine and shade. Sitting, drinking iced coffee with a book. Smiles from strangers. Meeting incredible authors. Intellectual conversations with friends. Stupid conversations with friends. Calling Twitter friends “friends”. Reading with kids. Reading to kids. Going to work, knowing its what I want to do forever. Kindness. Emails about books. Pictures of the twiglets with stupid Snapchat filters. Good morning texts. 

There are so many other things which make me happy. I quite often get bogged down by the things that make me sad. I’m very in my own head at times. I might make this a semi-regular thing, to remind myself of the positive things in life. 

If you want to read Grace’s post: click, click, click.

I’d love to see other people joining in this! It’s such a lovely idea. 

What makes you happy?
What things do you do to put a smile back on your face?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! Share the happy joy! 

S x

Book snatching?!

Hello, tis Wednesday guest blog time again! This time you are very lucky to be in the hands of my lovely Irish friend Aoife, blogger extraordinaire over at Pretty Purple Polka Dots and Twitterer to the max at @PrettyPPD (you should probably follow her, it’s a good idea kids). 
She’s going to talk to you all about the books on my shelves that she wants to get her hands on! 
Without further ado…
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Steph and I are in a vicious cycle where we recommend each other books and then probably never end up actually reading them. This time, it’s time to break the chain and actually read something she has.

I took a peek at Steph’s (well stocked) personal library and picked out five tomes I’d love to get my hands on. All I have to do is turn up at her place and demand them. Simple.

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Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick
 
I love Anna Kendrick  – she’s hilarious in Pitch Perfect, and when I found out she was releasing a book I knew I had to get my hands on it.
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Flawed – Cecelia Ahern
 
I love Cecelia’s more grown up work and I’d really love to give her YA fiction a go.

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The Graces – Laure Eve
This was read by my book club in Dublin and they all loved it. I missed the meeting because I was in Wales at the time doing an MA, so I think I have a little catching up to do.
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The Scarecrow trilogy – Melinda Salisbury

Steph has been singing the praises of this series for months, so I’m really tempted. This is one that’s going straight on my TBR.

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Silence is Goldfish – Annabel Pitcher
 
Cheating a little – Steph actually sent me this book a few months ago. 
 
Aoife

Pretty Purple Polka Dots
@PrettyPPD 
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Thank you so much Aoife! Consider these books on their way to you once they’ve been read! 
S x

Disney sidekicks!

Continuing my Disney week, today I’m going to share my

Favourite Disney sidekicks

Now, to me a sidekick can be the thing that makes or breaks the main character. There are SO MANY brilliant sidekicks in Disney films: from animals, to humans, to robots… all kinds of everything. I have a fondness for lots of different sidekicks in Disney films. 

In no particular order (although, I definitely have a favourite on this list!), here goes: 

Lumiere and Cogsworth – Beauty and the BeastImage result for lumiere and cogsworth
(and probably all of the furniture in the castle)

Like everything else in Beauty and the Beast, I love these two. They’re the perfect mix. The two of them make me laugh a lot. Lumiere and his incessant optimism and Cogsworth with his tendency to worry. These two, for me are excellent additions and make excellent sidekicks. The Beast and Belle are lucky to have them around. (Their portrayals in the live action movie were absolutely spot on too!)

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Genie – Aladdin.

C’mon. Who wouldn’t want a genie? Granting you wishes and being sassy. He’s hilarious, loyal and full of attitude. Plus he can sing. What more does a film need? I love Robin Williams and this portrayal of Genie is one of my favourite Disney characters.

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Pascal – Tangled

This dude may only be a chameleon but he’s full of attitude and he looks after Rapunzel brilliantly! He’s funny and sassy – a perfect combination for a sidekick.

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Baymax – Big Hero 6

Hello, my name is Steph and I love Baymax SO MUCH. He’s funny, unintentionally, reliable and caring. I love him so much. Big Hero 6 is one of those films I can watch over and over again and it’s because of Baymax – he just makes me laugh. 

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Zazu – Lion King

Bossy and sarcastic. Zazu makes me laugh. He’s got a great manner – he doesn’t like to stand for Simba’s attitude. Plus, he’s voiced by Rowan Atkinson – a very funny man!

 

Honourable mentions:

  • Abu and Magic carpet – Aladdin
  • Little John – Robin Hood
  • Dory – Finding Nemo
  • Maximus – Tangled
  • Phillipe – Beauty and the Beast

So there you go! Again, don’t hold me to this list in like a day/a month/a year… it will have changed! 

Do you have a favourite sidekick?
Is your favourite on this list?
Is there anyone you think deserves a spot on my list?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! 

S x

Disney songs!

This week there’s going to be 3 Disney posts, because every now and again a girl needs to send some love Disney’s way. After the success of the recent Beauty and the Beast live action and it’s incredible EVERYTHING, I thought I’d do a post about my favourite Disney songs. (There won’t be any Beauty and the Beast songs, because I’ve done a blog post for those already: Beauty and the Beast, so it’s time to give the rest of the Disney universe some love! 

These are in no particular order, just my 10 favourite (not counting Beauty and the Beast) songs!

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Mulan – I’ll Make A Man Out of You

Admittedly, I hadn’t seen Mulan til about a year ago. This has always been one of my favourite Disney songs – I just never particularly understood its meaning until I saw the film.

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Frozen – Let It Go

I have to admit, I was kind of anti-Frozen for a while. Then I saw it and I was like, yep this is alrite. Now this song I can’t NOT sing along to. It’s SUCH a good song. I don’t think it’s the BEST Disney song ever, but it’s a good singalong song!

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Robin Hood – The Phoney King of England

In my opinion, Robin Hood is one of the mos underrated Disney films. I proper love it. I love this song. It’s so full of character and rebellion, but in a lovely way. 

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Toy Story 2 – When Somebody Loved Me

Now, I’m not a MASSIVE Toy Story fan. Toy Story 3 destroyed me emotionally though. But this song just hits me hard. I can’t listen to it without getting emotional. It just hits me hard and makes me weep.

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Brave – Touch The Sky

Brave is one of my favourite Disney films and I love the folky sound of this song. It makes me smile. It’s such a song of I WILL BREAK FREE AND I WILL BE AN AWESOME PERSON. Brave needs more love.

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I Just Can’t Wait To Be King – The Lion King

Lion King is such a good song film but this one for me stands out as one I ALWAYS sing along to. There’s nothing better than this coming on and BLASTING out in voice. We’ve all done it, admit it.

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Aladdin – Prince Ali

Anyone who knows me (my friend Gemma in particular) knows this is one of my favourite Disney songs. It just gets stuck in my head and it’s there for days. PRINCE ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII FABULOUS HE. How you can’t love it is beyond me. I love Robin Williams.

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How Far I’ll Go – Moana

When I saw this film I was blown away. It’s SUCH a great film, with an INCREDIBLE soundtrack but this song is one I often find myself looking up on Youtube for a good singalong. 

 

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Hercules – I Won’t Say I’m In Love

This is another one where you can have a good singalong. We’ve all felt like this at one time so Meg’s song is perfect for that time when you just need to get it out. 

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Princess and the Frog – Almost There

I love the message with this one, plus it’s a proper singalong one. It’s one you can PROPERLY sing along to. Her voice is great and the vibe of the song is spot on. 

 

Honourable mentions:

  • Friend Like Me – Aladdin
  • Scales and Arpeggios – Aristocats
  • Go The Distance – Hercules
  • You’ll Be In My Heart – Tarzan
  • Mother Knows Best – Tangled
  • I See The Light – Tangled

So there you have it… I must say, this list will probably change in about a month so don’t hold me to it! It seems I love the songs you can have a proper belting sing along to the most!

What are your favourite Disney songs?
Are there any on this list you disagree with?
Is the song you love the most on this list?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I’d love to know if anyone’s done a post like this too! Send your links to me! 

S x

Favourite YA authors

Hello! It’s Wednesday! You know what that means, guest post Wednesday (I really need to think of a new name for this, that’s better! But hey ho, we’ll go with guest post wednesday for now!) 

Without further ado, I welcome my lovely friend Amy (links at the bottom of the post) who is here to talk about her favourite YA books! You can check out my post on Amy’s blog too in the next few days! I would love to see what you all think about our choices!

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Thanks for having me Steph to discuss my favourite YA books! When we decided to do this, I didn’t realise how difficult it would be. I eventually narrowed my list down and realised the books that have really stayed with me are set in vivid fantasy worlds, with characters that made me care about what happened to them.

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Northern Lights by Philip Pullman was the book that got me into fantasy. I’ve seen the play, travelled across the country to meet Philip Pullman and read it more times than I can count. There aren’t many books that I was able to read as a child and still get so much out of as an adult. I’m not sure it’s technically a YA book but I’m including it because it has something for everybody.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is my ultimate YA book. I can still remember the first time I read it, how I had no idea what was coming and really loved those characters. Karou and Akiva are my ultimate OTP and Laini Taylor’s writing is beautiful.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna Marie McLemore is one of those books that engages all of the senses. The descriptions are lyrical and gorgeous, and this is my favourite example of magical realism.

The Forbidden Game by LJ Smith was my favourite book as a teenager. I read it so many times that I almost knew it by heart and I think Julian was my first book crush. I reread it recently and it has definitely stood the test of time.

These are my other favourites: a mixture of high concept fantasy; believable, thought-provoking contemporary and even a little horror.

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires) by Rachel Caine
  • Am I normal yet? by Holly Bourne
  • The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  • The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
  • Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

If you want to read more of my YA recommendations or chat about books, you can find me on Twitter (@yaundermyskin) and on my blog (www.yaundermyskin.co.uk).

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As you can see a lot of my personal favourites are on Amy’s long list, but to see my list of favourite YA I would love you to go over to my post at YA Under My Skin to find out my choices!

Thanks Amy for your guest post, I loved it! 

S x

HALF TERM?

It’s that lovely time of year again when us teachers get some down time. My school elected for 1 week at Easter and 2 weeks now, so here I am with 2 weeks off and I’m sure there’s loads of things I can fill my time with!

Seeing the twigletsalways top of “half term to do” list. I love half term cause it means I can get to see my favourite two humans and spend time with them. I even might get to sneak a school pick up in my second week off… that’d be wonderful! I’ve only ever been to their school once!

Reading – I will OBVIOUSLY be spending a lot of time reading. I have already finished 2 books and am half way through a 3rd. I would love to think that I can get through 10 books? Maybe. I love reading and will try and do it any chance I get! I’m currently reading Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green. It’s pretty funny!Image result for noah can't even

Doing some exercise – it’s lovely outside at the minute, so even if it’s some walking, I’d love to just get out and about again. I need to get back to the gym – now that uni is done I will have a spare evening, so hoping I can find my inspiration again!

Going to the seaside – the seaside is my FAVOURITE place in the world (any sea side, I’d love to visit a hot one, but the North East coast will have to suffice!) I find it just relaxes me and is a brilliant place to just chill and enjoy a day off. If you need me on a sunny day, you’ll probably find me at the beach with a book!

Buying books – my book buying ban is over in June and I am looking forward to being able to buy books again! Mind, I’ve received lots of books in the post (thank you all you wonderful people in my life) so there’s not been a shortage of reading material! It’ll just be lovely going into a book shop again knowing I can BUY something! I have missed Waterstones!

Packing – the day we go back to school I am going with the Y6s on a residential to London, which is super exciting. We’re going to see Wicked, visiting Harry Potter Studios and doing some lovely touristy stuff in London. It’ll be awesome, so I definitely need to get packed!

Relaxing – just relaxing; spending some time reading and drinking tea and coffee and not being in a rush. Having lazy mornings, not having to be up early, not having anywhere really to be. Just taking life at a slower pace

Now, being a teacher, there are naturally 73927429 things to be done. I do have work to do and I do have planning to do, marking to do, but I want to be able to have a good balance of things for me to do and things for work to do. I sometimes struggle being on holiday from work – I love my job, it gives me great purpose – but I’m hoping this time I can just chill and enjoy the sunshine (if it stays!)

Fellow teachers:
– What are your plans for your half term?
– Is there anything you love doing during half term?
– What is your work/relaxing balance like during half terms?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter (@eenalol). I’d love to hear what everyone else gets up to!

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. 

 

What is your favourite language?IMG_4538

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: 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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