The Book Corner: Trouble Next Door by Chris Higgins (#WorldBookDay)

Seen as it’s World Book Day today, I thought it an appropriate day to publish a review of a new children’s book for you all. I was kindly sent a copy of it to review but, because I am lucky to know a lovely little book worm (called Lily, who is aged 8) I asked her to review it for me. Needless to say she did a wonderful job and thoroughly enjoyed the book (and look a that gorgeous handwriting! You’re destined for a writing career Lily!)

Well, the 8 year old has spoken – and she has begged you to read it. Don’t let her down people!

Thank you as always Lily for such a lovely little write up!


cover of trouble next door

‘Trouble Next Door’ is the first novel in a brand new series aimed at 5 – 7 year olds, written by Chris Higgins. It’s a relatable and carefully thought out story about two little girls navigating their way through a new friendship, which is something children have to deal with all the time.

The book tells the story of Bella, who has just moved house and is feeling a little bit lonely, and Magda, her new next door neighbour. Higgin’s takes readers on a friendship journey which young readers are certain to recognise and want to discuss. I think it would be a very helpful book to have at home, or in any classroom or school library. Sadly all children will have friendship issues at some point so reading a book about it, realising it is normal and part of growing up, can help make it less daunting and sad.

Bella is a good girl, she’s quiet and thoughtful, but Magda is bold and outgoing and always looking for ways to have a laugh. This sometimes that causes trouble and, unfortunately, it’s not Magda who gets the blame…

What starts out as a story of an unlikely friendship, quickly blossoms into the kind of adventure story that I can recall loving to read when I was little. It’s not about children in a fantasy world, it’s about real children in a real life situation – I can recall my younger self as being just like Bella in fact. Quiet, shy, nervous and scared of getting in trouble (totally unlike my 3rd child however! He would very much fall into the Magda camp!). The story explores the issue of making new friends (one of the greatest adventures in life I would say) whilst also keeping it entertaining with a bit of mischief making. There’s certainly a lot of fun to be had whilst reading this book and I think there is a lot of potential for discussion with your little readers once they have finished. It certainly gets you thinking.

I think this story is funny, realistic, heartwarming and witty. It’s an excellent book to share, especially as a class when exploring friendship issues and how to resolve them, and the excellently comedic mishaps of Bella and Magda are guaranteed to make the reader giggle. Trouble next door celebrates the joy of childhood and the idea of friendship. It reminds us that;

“No matter who we are, sometimes what we need most in the world is a friend”.

The book is printed in a fairly large font, making it easy to read, and it also has lots of pictures in it to help visualise what is going on in the text.

trouble next door book

I would highly recommend this book for all young readers, girls and boys alike.

Oh, and Lily gave it 5 Stars out of 5. High praise indeed!

*****

You can buy ‘Trouble next door’ by clicking this link.


Disclosure: I was sent this book for the purpose of this review. All words, thoughts, opinions and images are my own (oh, and Lily’s!)



To be or not to be – a Review of Children’s Shakespeare Books (#shakespearesunday)

“Nothing will come of nothing”. (King Lear)

Not everyone’s favourite Shakespeare quote, but it is one of mine.

I have to be honest and say that, as much as I enjoy reading and English Literature, I have always struggled to fall in love with reading Shakespeare. The language isn’t particularly accessible for a mere mortal like me and the translation of the story can sometimes get lost as a result.

I remember pulling apart, ‘A Midsummer night’s Dream’, for GCSE at school. Romeo and Juliette by Baz Lurhmann was also a huge film of my teenage years (thanks mainly to good old Leonardo Di Caprio being in it) so this did help pique my interest a little too.

I know how important Shakespeare’s works are and how they shaped our literature, so when I was offered the chance to review some Children’s Shakespeare books, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to get my kids started on the books. I would never have considered ‘getting them started’ on Shakespeare at such a young age, but I suppose it makes perfect sense to!

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The books come in a set of 20 and include the titles:

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Twelfth Night

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Winter’s Tale

Timon of Athens

The Tempest

King Lear

The Taming of the Shrew

Romeo and Juliette

Julius Caesar

Othello, The Moor of Venice

Much Ado about Nothing

The Merchant of Venice

The tragedy of Macbeth

Cymbeline, King of Britain

The comedy of errors

As you like it

Antony and Cleopatra

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

All’s well that ends well

The books have child friendly pictures on almost every page, they are no longer than 60 pages long and they have large, easy to read text. They’re also really colourful which my boys loved.

My 8 year old happily read, Macbeth, in under an hour and was able to tell me what the story was about and who the main characters were. This is another feature of the books, the main characters are introduced to you at the start so you know who is going to appear and it also gives you some background information on each of them. My 7 year old has also made a start on reading one, he went for A Midsummer Nights Dream (one of my favourites!) and seems to really be enjoying the story. He is a reluctant reader too so it was lovely to see him pick up a book of his own accord and start reading it.

I think that these books are a wonderful way of making Shakespeare less daunting and I will be reading them too to refresh my brain box. You’re never too old to learn something new and I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t know what all the stories are about!

I think the Children’s box set of Shakespeare would make a super gift for any book worm this Christmas or for a birthday. They are also a real worthwhile investment for the bookshelf just to broaden your child’s literary horizons. I would never have thought of reading my kids Shakespeare as a bedtime story but we do now.

I clearly could have done with a set myself as a child, then I wouldn’t be so clueless!

You can buy the books online from Boolino in most good book shops.

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 Disclosure: I was sent this box set of books for the purpose of this review. All words, thoughts, images and opinions are my own.




The Book Corner: The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (a Book Review)

“There are a whole lot of things in the world of ours that you haven’t started wondering about yet…”

The Old Green Grasshopper, James and the Giant Peach.

 Front cover of the wolf wilder book by katherine rundell

For some kids, reading a book can be a bit of a chore. I found that with my eldest until recently. Despite my best efforts to help him and to encourage a love of reading, I wasn’t having much luck. This changed however, when he picked up a book about a young Wizard we all know very well. He has read 4 of the books so far and is keen to read the others. And that is what I think the secret is with some children, capturing their imagination. If you have that, that’s half the battle won. I still wouldn’t say he is a book-worm, not like I was at his age, but he is getting there.

My friends daughter however, Lily, is a book fiend. She loves them! So much so, she has to be torn away from her book at bedtime to make her go to sleep. I think it is wonderful, and her mum does too to a certain extent but I can see how it becomes a bit of a nightmare and it must also seem completely bonkers to have to demand your child to stop reading!

Because Lily is such a book-worm, when I was sent a new book to review, I asked her if she would like to read and review it for me, which she jumped at, obviously!

So, here is a very comprehensive and articulate review of a new book (it is out now) called, The Wolf Wilder, by Lily. Age 8.

Thanks Lily, my new book review assistant!


 Rundell’s Amazing Book: The Wolf Wilder

By Lily, age 8.

A child's handwritten review of a book called The Wolf Wilder

What is the book about?

Lily: “Feo and her Mother, Mama, tame Wolves to be wild again but, one night, Rakov’s men burn down Feo’s house and take Mama to jail. With her new friends, Ilya and Alexei, can they get Alexei’s town to start up an army and get Mama back? Find out more in the book…”

Life is Knutts: As Lily says, The Wolf Wilder is a book about a young girl called Feo, who lives with her mother, Mama, in the woods. The book is set in Pre-Revolutionary Russia and is written by Katherine Rundell, and illustrated by Gelrev Ongbinco. We are told the tale of how the rich upper classes in Russia loved to have wolves as pets, as wolves are thought to be precious and magical animals. To kill a wolf, is to damn the person who did so to a fate worse than death. Sadly, because Wolves are wild animals, they inevitably end up going mad in the confines of their aristocratic homes and end up hurting people. Because the wolves are too precious to be killed, even if they have killed a human, they are sent to the wolf wilder in the woods (Mama) who attempts to re-teach the wolves how to  be wild again. The book is full of mystery and almost feels like a Gothic fairy-tale.  It’s a story about standing up for yourself and what you believe in (a very important life lesson) and takes the reader on an adventure in a truly gripping way.

What did you think about the book? Did you have a favourite part?

Lily: “It’s a really interesting story of how Feo and Mama keep wolf wilding a secret, but how long will it last? I liked the drama and how Feo survived the weather whilst she was on the run. I also liked reading about how she escapes Rakov’s men. Halfway through, poor Feo meets Ilya and then a young boy called, Alexei. They make an army, set Mama free and escape. But what about Rakov? Read the book to find out more…”

(She is good Lily, isn’t she?! Is she making you want to go and buy the book to find out what happens for yourself? I think she definitely has a future career in book reviews or sales…)

Life is Knutts: As Lily has said above, her favourite parts of the book seem to be the parts where there is action and suspense aplenty. It certainly made Lily want to keep reading and she finished the whole book in 3 days. Pretty impressive, eh?! 

Thank you for your lovely review Lily! I am really glad you enjoyed the book.

The back cover of the Wolf wilder book.


 On a personal note, I loved the illustrations in this book. There were just enough of them to break up the text and to help the reader visualise what the author had in mind for that particular scene in the book. They were all black and white, but I loved that about them. The book is set in the depths of the Russian woods in the bleakest of winters and this is really portrayed in the atmospheric and wispy ink/pencil sketches you see dotted throughout. They completely draw you in…

 In conclusion, I would say this is a wonderful book for anyone aged 8 upwards to read. I loved it and Lily loved it too. It captures the imagination, it sucks you in (making you want to read it all in one go) and it also teaches you a bit about Russia history in the process. An adventure book with a twist, which is sure to be a hit, regardless of your age.

The descriptions are so vivid by Rundell that you can almost feel the snow and ice under your feet. To be able to make a reader feel such emotion and so at home in a story is quite a feat. I truly believe this book, in time, will become a modern classic.

The perfect book to snuggle up with under a blanket this Winter, or perhaps to fill a young person’s christmas stocking.

I know I would be happy to receive it from Father Christmas.

You can buy your own copy of The Wolf Wilder in all good bookshops and online.


Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of The Wolf Wilder to review. All words, thoughts, opinions and photos are my own…oh, and Lilys’!



The Book Corner: A Review of Timmy Failure – Number 4

 “I don’t have a lot of time to tell you this next part, so I’m going to be brief. Corrina Corrina is so evil she could scare the tail off a beaver. She is ruthless and diabolical and cunning and immortal and destructive and malicious and vicious and dishonorable and corrupt and fraudulent and vile and nefarious and sordid and smelly and apparently one time I kissed her.

And with all that said, I’m now running out of time. So the point is this: Corrina Corrina stole the money. And I will hunt her down and get it back or my name is not Failure. And that means going wherever she goes.

And so, when my mother got to my hotel room that afternoon, she could not get angry with me, for I was already gone”.

Back page of the book cover for Timmy Failure. It tells you he is a detective destined for greatness...apparently.

A few weeks ago we were sent a book for my eldest lad to review.

It seemed right up his alley and, as a reluctant reader, I was really keen to see how he got on with the book and also what he thought of it.

The book is called;

Timmy Failure. Number 4. Sanitzed for your protection.

It is written by Stephan Pastis.

It is the 4th book in the Timmy Failure series and charts the crazy antics of a young chap called Timmy, who has his own detective agency….but sadly he is a pretty terrible detective!

It’s a really funny book that I would say is suitable for children aged 7+. My eldest is 8 and managed it perfectly, with just a little help here and there, and was heard giggling his head off most nights whilst he was reading it. A good sign that a kid is enjoying a  book…

If your child liked reading Tom Gates or The Wimpy Kid books, the Timmy Failure series is definitely up your U-bend…

In this particular book in the series, Timmy is using his detective skills to find out who stole the money from, ‘Yip Yap’. Yip Yap is the name given to a group of children from Timmy’s school, who are trying to raise money for a boy called Yergi Plimkin who sadly has no books. One week, they had a whopping 120 dollars but the next week, they only had 12 cents!

Suspicion!

Conspiracy!

Intrigue!

…and some really very funny jokes ensue.

Timmy would usually be on the case, sleuthing his way to find out who is responsible for such a terrible crime but this time, there is a problem. Timmy can’t investigate because he’s being dragged off on holiday to help his Mum’s new boyfriend, Doorman Dave, move into his new house in Chicago. On the way there, Mum’s car breaks down so her new friend Esther takes him and Total the Polar Bear (Timmy’s best friend and ally who loves to eat) to Chicago while Mum waits for the breakdown truck. His Mum’s friend, Esther, just so happens to be the Mum of a young lady called, Molly Moskins. And unfortunately, according to Timmy, Molly has committed many crimes, and is a prime suspect in the theft of Yip Yap’s money. He’s now riding in a car with a criminal mastermind, who also happens to like him…

Could life get any worse?!

Can he find out who stole Yip Yap’s money?

Can he survive this investigation with Molly Moskins fluttering her eyelashes and demanding to dance?


 My 8 year old LOVED reading this book.

He had lots of favourite bits, but he really loved the end, which I can’t tell you about because that would spoil the whole book, but lets just say, the ending hits all the right notes and gives your child a little life lesson in the process.

Luke, my eldest chap, said of the book;

I loved reading Timmy Failure! I now want to read the books before this one so that it makes a bit more sense to me because I wasn’t sure who some of the characters were to start off with. It made me laugh lots and I really liked the drawings on the pages, some of them were really funny. The chapters weren’t too long so if I just wanted to read a little bit I could and then read some more another day. I think all my friends would like this book and I want to ask school to get them in the library because then we can all read them.”

So, I think it is pretty safe to say, he loved the book and from what I read of it, I can completely see why!

It’s silly, funny, imaginative and not at all patronising to it’s audience. The language used in the book is appropriate and challenging (I’m not ashamed to admit that even I learnt a new word in the form of Nefarious!) so the perfect fit for a newly independent reader.

You can buy the Timmy Failure books here, as I say there are 4 in the series so far.

He also has his own website with games and other fun stuff on! Do give it a visit.

My eldest gives the book 10 out of 10!

High praise indeed!

Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of Timmy Failure to read and review. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.



The Book Corner: A review of, Spot Goes on Holiday

Image from funwithspot.com

Growing up in the 1980’s, I was a HUGE fan of the Spot ‘lift the flap’ books and watching the animated version on TV.

Written by Eric Hill over 35 years ago, Spot has become a firm family favourite all over the world. The books have been published in over 50 languages and are now also available in sign language and Braille editions.

His toddler-like behaviour, getting up to mischief and exploring the world around him resonated with children and parents alike, making him the superstar pup he is today.

I vividly remember sitting with my Nan at her house and her reading the book, “Where’s Spot?” to me as I sipped a cup of warm Ribena and chomped on a packet of Quavers (we only ever got a treat like Quaver’s at my Nan’s house…). In fact, when I think of Spot, more often than not, I think of my Mum and my Nan. Precious memories.

The novelty of having a flap to lift on a page, to encourage you to investigate and find out what was hiding behind it, was always so much fun. I was a very careful child and I always ensured I was gentle with my books. I liked things ‘just so’ and that’s something that hasn’t really changed. My youngest cousin however, well, she was a bit different. When she came along, I can recall one of the flaps getting ripped out of the book and having to be stuck back in with sticky tape. I was very upset, she thought it was funny. I still love her though and I suppose I will let her off now after over 20 years… 😉

Teaching children how to handle books is a very important life skill in my opinion. To be careful with the pages, to treat the book gently, to learn the fine motor skills required to turn the delicate pages over without tearing them. A life the flap book is another, fun way of teaching the children how to do this.


When I was offered an opportunity to review a re-release of a Spot ‘lift the flap book’, I jumped at the chance.

We don’t actually have any Spot books (all my childhood ones are lost somewhere in the abyss of my parents loft) so I took this as a wonderful opportunity to pass my childhood love of these books on to my youngest boy, Ben. He’s 2.5 and the perfect age to enjoy a Spot story.

The book we were sent was, Spot goes on Holiday. Again, this is a book I remember well from my childhood and it’s delivery was timely as were were due to go off to Wales on a Camping holiday that same week. Perfect! It would help explain to Ben what we were going to do and what he might see on our trip to the Welsh seaside.

Every night that week, me and Ben sat down together at bedtime and read the book. He loved it as much as I recall loving it.

We also ended up taking the book with us camping as a bedtime read because he loved it so much and he even recognised some of the pictures in the book from our own days out.

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He turned the pages carefully, he was excited to see what was hiding under the flaps on each page and was actively seeking out the part on the page where the flap might be after just a couple of pages. He was repeating the names of things back to me as I said them and he also began pointing at Spot and saying his name on each page when he found him. It was just adorable.

The story lines are simple, the characters are lovable, the illustrations are really colourful and child-friendly and there is a kindness about the books that I can’t quite explain but I know is there. Like seeing a friendly face, someone familiar, someone you know.

The book simply tells the story of Spot being told he is going to the beach for the day by his Mum and Dad. It shows them getting ready for their day out and it also shows what adventures Spot has at the beach. Ben thought it was really funny when Spot took the wrong persons towel near the end, this part has him giggling his head off most nights at the moment, accompanied by some mummy sound effects of a disgruntled hippo of course 😉

 I cannot recommend the Spot books enough if you have a little one. I would hazard a guess and say any child up to the age of 5 or so would love these books, and then, even once they are 6 or so and reading for themselves, I am sure they will still enjoy it to a certain extent. My middle one did, because the books are fairly simple language with bold print, he was more than capable of reading it to his little brother by himself. He then prompted his little brother to lift the flaps, to seek out the characters in the pages and loved sharing the story with him and was really proud of himself afterwards for being able to do that on his own.


 

Colouring Sheets

Image from funwithspot.com

 

Spot has had a bit of a rejuvenation online too and now has his own website!

We didn’t have that in the 1980’s! 😉

You can find the link to the new website here.

Once on there, you are able to download and print off some Spot colouring sheets, play a dressing up Spot game and find out more about the world’s most lovable puppy! My middle one loved playing the online game and we took some of the colouring sheets away camping with us.

If you are local to Cheltenham, UK, there is a Spot event being held at the Cheltenham festival in October 2016. Details can be found here.


 *Competition time*

If you would like to get your hands on your own Spot ‘Lift the Flap’ book, just enter my competition!

All you need to do is enter this Rafflecopter!

Competition closes Friday 19th August.

Winner will be announced on Saturday 20th August on my Facebook page so do swing by to check out if it was you who won!

I will then be in contact to organise sending the prize to you.

Spot says good luck! Woof!

contact-us

Image from funwithspot.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Do follow me over on Facebook to see if you’ve won!