BOOKBLOG: Kate Jane Neal

Words and Your Heart: beautiful, poignant, perfect for teaching children about kindness.

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“Your words are amazing! This book is about your heart. The little bit inside of you that makes you, you!”

I love a picture book (as regular readers of my little blog will know), so when I come across a new picture book that I have never seen, that makes such a big impact on me, I know it is a winner. I came across Words and Your Heart in a supermarket. I’m not going to lie, I picked it up for the incredible cover, but when I read it, it struck a chord. 

Since this week is Anti-Bullying Week in the UK, this book is absolutely PERFECT resource. This book is all about how words have power and that the good and the bad words we say have an impact on people. I’m going to be taking this book and reading it to Year 6. However, this book is PERFECT for Key Stage 1 – I have a firm belief that picture books shouldn’t just be for one Key Stage though. 

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The illustrations in this book are gorgeous too. 

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There are so many things you can do with this book, with such a wide range of classes. This would be a perfect book for an assembly, story time or PSHE lesson. 

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It’s important that children know that their words matter, that their words have power. This book is the perfect book to use to highlight this.

I am so glad I found this book. It came at the perfect time. 

What are your favourite books for teaching kindness?
When you think of “kindness”, what do you think?

Let’s talk!

S x

 

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BOOKBLOG: Oliver Jeffers

So… Oliver Jeffers everyone. If you know him and his books, you probably love him. I know I most certainly do. Most teachers I know do. I could talk about his books forever and a day and not quite get across how much I adore his books.

But anyway, his newest book ‘Here We Are’ is published next week and it is amazing. It is everything I want in a children’s book AND SO MUCH MORE.

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“Insightfully sweet, with a gentle humor and poignancy, here is Oliver Jeffers’ user’s guide to life on Earth. He created it specially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet’s terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it’s big), or a guide to all of humanity (don’t be fooled, we are all people), Oliver’s signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.”

‘Here We Are’ is one of the kindest, most beautiful picture books of the year (and yes that is a BIG claim, but I truly believe it). It’s a book filled with information about the world, filled with messages that are important for us to deliver to our children. I didn’t realise it was a book he had written for his son, and then last few pages absolutely made me crumble. I think that is an incredible idea

This book is filled with all of the usual charm of Jeffers’ books – they’re beautifully illustrated, poignant, meaningful and uplifting – with an added extra little something. You learn from this book, you yearn to read more, you’ll smile (if you’re sentimental like me, you’ll cry) and you’ll want to share this with anyone and everyone you come across. 

This book is special. This is a book that I want to share with all of the littles in my life. It sounds like a conversation, like he is talking to his son, so reading it aloud is beautiful. I know it had the children at school gripped and they all adored it. It has been in some very gentle hands ever since, with the idea that I will most definitely buy another copy

There’s some brilliant science-y bits in there too! 

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This book is an advice manual written for Oliver Jeffers son, but it is most definitely a manual that ALL of us can take on board. 

Look after each other, look after our world, look after your world.  

I cried. I smiled. I had my heart warmed.
That’s what I want from my picture books!

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How cute is this dude too? (He’s hidden inside the dust jacket!)

Thank you so much to the wonderful people of HarperCollins Children’s for sending me this book… I just adore it. 

Have you read any of Oliver Jeffers’ books?
What is one piece of advice you want to leave for our next generation?

Let me know in the comments, or tweet me (@eenalol). I would love to make a post with all of your wonderful pieces of advice!

S x

BLOG TOUR: Chris Priestley

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Curse of the Werewolf Boy: friendships, time jumps and hilarious Latin women. What more do you need?

“Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom­laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!
But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?”

I saw this book floating about on the Bloomsbury twitter so when I was asked to be part of this brilliant blog tour I jumped at the chance! Any book that looks as good as this one does is a winner with me.

In the book you’re introduced to Mildew and his best friend Sponge, two typical boys looking for a bit of adventure and fun in their school days! They go to a pretty fancy school, Maudlin Towers, and one day the infamous School Spoon goes missing. OH NO. So obviously the two boys make it their mission to try and track down the spoon. OBVIOUSLY while they’re on their mission things start to go awry. Strange ghosts appear, a Viking man is found wandering, there’s a mysterious time travelling machine left by a dead member of staff. All these things club together to make a very pacey and fun story!

(Plus, look at these illustrations! Love them!)

The friendship between the two boys was so spot on. It’s great to see a positive frienship at any time, but to see one written so well is a bonus! There’s some brilliant non-words (detectivating is a brilliant example), which definitely had me giggling. I really enjoyed the humour in this book. One of my favourite people is definitely Miss Livia – kids will love her situation, she’s ridiculous yet hilarious. There were some moments of absolute ridiculousness that I loved. All of the time jumping started to hurt my head, but I was hooked. I wanted to know what was going to happen, because come on WHO DOESN’T WANT TO TIME TRAVEL? This book would be perfect for the boys in my class: it’s totally down their street! If you’ve got an 8+ year old in your life, then get one of these for them! It’s perfect. 

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury and Faye for inviting me on this book tour! If you’d like to know more, check out the links below and check out the rest of the blog tour, it’s been great!

Goodreads Link: clicky
Amazon Link: go on, treat yourself (or someone else!)

Author Information

Chris P Author Pic 2016 MID RES (C) Martin Bond

Ever since he was a teenager, Chris has loved unsettling and creepy stories. He has fond memories of buying comics like Strange Tales and House of Mystery, watching classic BBC TV adaptations of M.R. James’ ghost stories every Christmas and reading assorted weirdness by everyone from Edgar Allan Poe to Ray Bradbury. He hopes his books will haunt his readers in the way those writers have haunted him.

Website: http://www.chrispriestleybooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/crispriestley
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrispriestleywriter/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christopherpriestley/

Blog tour

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Spoooooooooky boooooooooks…

Hello there! 
It’s Hallowe’en tomorrow! 

Today I thought I would share a few of the brilliant Hallowe’en-ish books I’ve either been sent or bought over the past few weeks! I’m featuring picture books and MG books today and would love more recommendations!

First up the lovely people of Puffin sent me ‘Hortense and the Shadow’. A gorgeous picture book, written like a brilliant fable. It’s dark and beautiful. The kids at school absolutely loved this. The art work is just brilliant

“Hortense is a kind and brave girl, but she is sad–even angry–that her shadow follows her everywhere she goes. She hates her shadow, and thinks her shadow must hate her too. But one cold, dark night, when bandits surprise her in the woods, Hortense discovers that her shadow is the very thing she needs most.”

Next up, I saw this gorgeous ‘First Day at Skeleton School’ in a bookshop and I’m not going to lie, I bought it purely for the amazing skeleton teacher on the front cover! Just look at him! It’s a fun book incorporating starting school and the characters we associate with Hallowe’en! Looking forward to passing this on to one of the younger classes to read!

“Listen … can you hear it?
There’s a creepy noise …
‘Welcome!’ smiles Mr Bones.
‘Meet the spooky girls and boys.’
At Skeleton School they howl in assembly, fly broomsticks in the library and learn how to float through walls! Join in the fun with this comic caper from a bestselling author/illustrator of Calm Down, Boris, Mr Pusskins and First Day at Bug School – it’s perfect for back to school and Halloween.”

The final picture book is another the brilliant humans of Puffin sent me – Hide and Seek by the incredible Anthony Browne. His books all have a little bit of dark and deception about them and this one is no different. Despite it not actually being a Hallowe’en book, I think the illustrations in this book are PERFECT for this time of year! This book is one which definitely kept my kids engaged. Lovers of Anthony Browne will NOT be disappointed.

“When their dog goes missing, Cy and Poppy play hide and seek to distract themselves. Poppy counts to ten and looks for Cy – but she can’t find him anywhere. But then there’s a rustling from the woods – maybe someone else can help her find him…?”

Now, some MG books. 

First up, I have had my eye on Amelia Fang for a while. That cover is EVERYTHING about Hallowe’en to me. There’s a pumpkin, it’s orange and black, she’s clearly a witch, there’s a bat: all of the Hallowe’en. It’s absolutely spot on for this time of year and I can’t wait to get to read this!

“Welcome to the world of Nocturnia, where darkness reigns supreme, glitter is terrifying, and unicorns are the stuff of nightmares! Amelia Fang would much rather hang out with her pet pumpkin Squashy and her friends Florence the yeti (DON’T CALL HER BEAST!) and Grimaldi the reaper than dance at her parents’ annual Barbaric Ball. And when the King’s spoiled son Tangine captures Squashy, Amelia and her friends must escape the party to plan a daring rescue! In their race against time, they begin to realise things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem . . .”

Another beautifully orange book is the brilliant Jack Beechwhistle: Rise of the Hairy Horror by Kes Gray. When I saw this on the Puffin list, I knew I needed to get my hands on this for the kids at school – they love these books. This book has been in the hands of a few of my kids and they’ve all loved it! It’s grizzly, fun and “miss, it’s just brilliant!”. 

“The world’s a dangerous place. Luckily, Jack Beechwhistle is around to protect it. He might look like an ordinary boy, but really he’s a junior secret agent. He’s tackled all sorts of missions – exploding conkers, zombie sweet-shop owners, and man-eating giant slugs – with a bit of help from his best friends and sidekicks, Colin and Harry (as long as it’s not past their bedtime). Then Jack notices something strange and suspicious about the hairdresser in town, Valentino. Every time Valentino cuts someone’s hair, he sweeps the hairs up and collects them in a big plastic bag. But what is he using them for? Everything points to Valentino being an evil enemy agent! And Jack Beechwhistle’s on the case . . .”

The last book I’m going to feature today is an anthology of sorts – Stories of Wizards and Witches by Enid Blyton. As a child, I loved Enid Blyton books and when I saw this in the supermarket, I picked it up. It’s brilliant and packed full of short stories all about wizards and witches. These short stories have been brilliant to read at the end of the day or during down time in school!

Get ready for broomstick rides and bubbling cauldrons in these magical short stories from Enid Blyton – ideal for reading aloud, or for children over 7 to read alone! This bumper collection of 25 short stories is populated by every sort of magical and mysterious creature, from a grumpy wizard who is outwitted by an elf to pixie who rides on a rabbit. The stories are the perfect length for reading aloud in a classroom or at bedtime. With lots of humour and fantastic characters, these will appeal to newly confident readers to read alone as well as to younger children being read to.”

And that’s the books I’ve collected this year! 

Can you recommend any more spooky reads?
Do you have a favourite time of year?
What are your plans for Hallowe’en?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Sarah Millican

How to Be Champion: canny lush and proper champion

(thank you Waterstones for your exceptionally gorgeous table as the background of this picture… it’s my favourite table!)

“Part autobiography, part self help, part confession, part celebration of being a common-or-garden woman, part collection of synonyms for nunny, Sarah Millican’s debut book delves into her super normal life with daft stories, funny tales and proper advice on how to get past life’s blips – like being good at school but not good at friends, the excitement of IBS and how to blossom post divorce.

If you’ve ever worn glasses at the age of six, worn an off-the-shoulder gown with no confidence, been contacted by an old school bully, lived in your childhood bedroom in your thirties, been gloriously dumped in a Frankie and Benny’s, cried so much you felt great, been for a romantic walk with a dog, worn leggings two days in a row even though they smelt of wee from a distance, then this is Your Book. If you haven’t done those things but wish you had, This Is Your Book. If you just want to laugh on a train/sofa/toilet or under your desk at work, This Is Your Book.”

Hello, you know me. I’m a Geordie. I am a very proud Geordie. I love being from where I’m from. I also love Sarah Millican. I think she’s hilarious, she’s got a potty mouth and she’s just normal – she’s relatable

When I knew there was going to be a Sarah Millican book, I knew I needed to get my hands on it. I love autobiographies, I think they can show you so much about a person. I love autobiographies by people I like even more, so this was one I had to get my hands on. I knew it was going to be funny. I knew I would love it. I didn’t know just how much I would love it. 

It made me laugh.
It made me cry. 
It made me happy to be a northerner. 
It made me proud to be a woman.
It made me glad that I support this wonderfully funny woman.

The way it works is there’s a chapter and then at the end there’s a little “tip” from Sarah. These tips are easily my favourite thing about the book. They give you tips on being champion. For those who don’t know, being champion is being lush, it’s being good, great, brilliant. It’s a brilliant Geordie word. 

When I saw this chapter heading, I knew this was the book for me. I am awfully fond of stationery. This chapter is the most me thing I’ve ever seen in a book. 

There’s some bloody brilliant messages delivered throughout this book, and I think they’re important:
– Be yourself
– Work hard
– It’s OK to not be OK
– Don’t be afraid to say something isn’t your cup of tea

Please go and buy this if you can. It’s such a brilliant book. I loved it so much that I had to finish it in a day. I didn’t want to put it down.

Do you like autobiographies?
Whose book have you loved most?

Talk to me, I’m champion.

S x

BOOKBLOG: Sharratt/Goodhart

You Choose In Space: the most perfect Space themed book to get kids talking and expressing opinions!

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“Zoom off into space for an adventure where YOU CHOOSE what happens next. Which alien would you most like to be friends with? And what fantastically freaky food will you decide to munch for lunch?

The possibilities are infinite in this mesmerising creative toolkit which will inspire children from 3 up to make their own stories time and again – a spectacular sequel to the bestselling You Choose – it’s out of this world!”

The You Choose books are a firm favourite in schools, so when I heard there was going to be a new one, I knew I needed to snap it up! Thank you so much to Sarah from Puffin for sending me a review copy. It is certainly a very popular book at school.

These books are brilliant to use with children of all ages, they are a brilliant stimulus for talking or writing. The EYFS team at school in particular are very fond of these books! They’re attractive and they’re brilliant for vocabulary. This space themed one fits in brilliantly with a space theme too! 

If you’re unfamiliar with these books, the way they work is that each double spread is something else to choose from, for example the pages below encourage children to talk about the outfit they would wear on a new planet:

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This page asks the children which job they would like to do aboard the ship:

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These books are so brilliant for getting children to talk and not just with the little ones, the older children (my KS2 children) love talking about it! Brilliant for justification and description.

Most importantly though, these books are brilliant for enjoying reading! 

Which outfit would you choose?
Would you like to visit space?

Thank you so much to Puffin for sending me a review copy of this book! It is going down very well at school! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Anna Day

The Fandom: unique, exciting and brilliant.

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“Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands…”

I was very lucky that the lovely Jazz over at Chicken House sent this over to me a while back and it’s sat in my TBR ever since, so when I finished a book and saw it staring at me, I knew it was time to finally pick up The Fandom. I am so very glad I did pick it up in the end! 

The Fandom tells the story of Violet, Nate, Katie and Alice, 4 bookish people (just like me) who go to Comic Con and something happens and they’re magically transported into the world of their favourite book – The Gallows Dance. Imagine that, your favourite book, and you’re transported into the story, the setting, the characters and you have to live it. The characters can barely believe it and don’t believe it at first… until things start to get real. There are moments of disbelief in the beginning, with the characters just thinking they’re on the movie set, but then they come to the realisation and panic sets in. (They certainly react better than I would!)

What I loved about this book was the duality of Violet carrying out the story versus the way that Rose lived out the story. The man Rose falls in love with versus the man Violet falls in love with. The characters in The Gallows Dance versus the characters that Violet and co meet. How things have so much more depth than just on the page. There’s back stories of The Gallows Dance that Violet didn’t even know about, that she discovers having been thrust into this life.

Another thing I loved about this book is that you get 2 books in one. You learn the story of ‘The Gallows Dance’ through the story of ‘The Fandom’ and I have never come across that before. I absolutely loved it. Seeing the evolution of one book within another. Using Violet’s knowledge of The Gallow’s Dance to get her through The Fandom. So so clever. 

I loved the characters. They made the story for me. I want to marry Ash. I want Katie to be my best friend (she’s sweary and I love it). Violet is fierce and bold, without realising her own brilliance. Saskia is one of those dark, mysterious characters. Nate is just the lushest thing ever, I really loved him. The characters and their relationships with each other are pretty incredible.

I met lovely author Anna at YALC this year and she’s a Geordie. This makes the book even better for me. I am the proudest Geordie you will ever meet, so for there to be this incredible book written by an incredible Geordie makes it even better! (I am not biased or ANYTHING). 

I hope there’s a sequel to this. I really want to see what happens next!

If you had to be thrust into your favourite book, where would you end up?
Are there any books you’d hate to be thrown into?

Talk to me on twitter (@eenalol) or leave me a comment! I would love to find out the books you love!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Roger McGough

I received this gorgeous piece of book post from Puffin books recently and it is just brilliant. It’s a beautiful book filled with 80 different poems written by Roger McGough and it will be so perfect to use in the classroom!

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Now, I am no poetry aficionado whatsoever so any time poetry is brought in to my life I am always astounded by how brilliant it is! There was no difference with this book. When it arrived, my mam and I spent 15 minutes picking random page numbers to read the poems from and we had a little chuckle all the way through. The poems in this book are all irreverent, ridiculous and very funny. This book would make a brilliant addition to a classroom poetry collection, or even a personal poetry collection. 

I’ve picked out a few highlights to share with you all, so you can see how wonderful the poems are!

Thank you so much Puffin Books for sending me this collection! Can’t wait to read some of these poems to the kids! 

Do you have a favourite poem?
Which of my 3 choices is your favourite?
Can you recommend some poetry to me?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! 

S x

Stories for Homes book tour

Published and unpublished writers come together to create an anthology of stories about what ‘home’ means.
55 writers are included in a second charity anthology that brings issues around housing, poverty and crisis to life through the power of storytelling. Volume One of the Stories for Homes Project raised over £3K for housing charity Shelter and raised awareness of housing issues.  Volume Two of the anthology includes stories, poems and flash fiction and again all proceeds will be donated to the charity.

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I’ve just recently found a fondness of anthologies and when I was contacted about getting involved in the blog tour for Stories for Homes, I was most intrigued. Not only is it a brilliant anthology, showing off talent established and new, but the book also aims to raise money for charity. The money raised goes towards helping Shelter, in response to Grenfell Tower. I’m all for something that will help the world, as well as be a really good read.

The book comes in an eBook format, which is great if you’re a reader on the go! There are a multitude of brilliant stories included all centred around the theme of ‘home’. We all know that homes and our home lives can be complicated and messy, and this anthology doesn’t shy away from some of the hard hitting topics at home. As well as this, there are some beautiful stories about the love and compassion of home life. 

Some particular titles that stand out are ‘The Tiger Who Came Back to Apologise‘ (as a teacher, seeing something related to a kids book made my heart so happy!). I really enjoyed it and it made me nostalgic about ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea, so naturally I picked up my copy and read that having finished ‘The Tiger Who Came Back to Apologise’. There’s also a brilliant, and moving, poem called ‘Map of the Streets‘ which I really loved. 

If you’re a lover of anthologies and you’d like to support a good cause, please check out ‘Stories for Homes’. It’s such a brilliant anthology. 

If you check out the Stories for Homes WordPress there is some brilliant online content. 

If you’d like to buy it then check it on Amazon: clicky click

Last of all, if you’d like to check out the rest of the blog tour, check out the incredible bloggers involved below:

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S x

BOOKBLOG: Emma Carroll

Letters From the Lighthouse: spies, sea and secrets

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“February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees. Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.”

Letters from the Lighthouse tells the story of a brother and sister pairing who are evacuated due to the war and the impact war has on so many lives. War is punishing and hard on life. Olive and Clive lose their sister one day during a bombing on the city. They eventually are told it is too dangerous to live in their city and are sent away. Olive and Cliff are taken from their homes to a little village by the sea – initially living in the post office, but when trouble comes a-knocking they end up living with the lighthouse keeper and his dog. They find it hard to fit in, especially when there is another young girl evacuated to the same little village who insists on making Olive miserable. This young girl however has such an incredible back story that eventually, you see she’s also struggling. As you go through the story there are revelations made and incredible new characters appear. 

This book shows the overwhelming impact that war has on everything – from massive cities, to tiny villages by the sea. The lighthouse is both useful and a problem. It is guiding German planes along the shore but it is saving the lives of so many people who are taking refuge in Britain away from the warring countries and clutches of Hitler and his armies. 

The special thing about this book is it shows the absolute light of the human spirit. There are so many atrocities going on in the world at the time of the story, yet there is compassion, love and acceptance shown aplenty from all sides in this book. There’s no moment where the characters give up on each other. They fight for what is right and they know deep down that, they may be doing “the wrong thing” but it is the right thing to do. People will always be helpful in times of need. 

There’s the lovely surprise of where Suki has gone too. But I won’t spoil that. 

I loved this book. I am partial to a book centred around the war. I didn’t expect to fall for this story as much as I did. I loved it so much that I bought a copy for the school library and for our Y6 teacher – it is such a perfect story to use in Year 6, or alongside studying World War 2 in KS2. Please, go out, buy this. Put it in your school library, put it in someone’s hands who loves brilliantly woven characters and stories, put it in the hands of someone who needs a good bit of escapism, put it in the hands of a child who loves history. Just get a copy in your school. You won’t regret it. 

Have you read Letters from the Lighthouse?
Can you recommend any other war stories?

Let me know in the comments! 

S xx