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Books we've read through our Indie Author Review System. If you're looking to give an independent author a chance, look no further.
Absolutely beautiful! First of all, the illustrations are superb. They are bright, colourful and draw the eye wonderfully. They help to tell the story well and I adored them. The animals all came to life through the vibrancy and lines of the illustrations. Now to the story. I read this book with three hats on. First, my mum hat, second my primary school teacher hat and finally my bibliophile hat. This book ticked every single box. It was written well, using simple enough but engaging language. It made you want to turn the page to see what was going to happen next. It made you think about possible scenarios, for example what sorts of things might other animals be asked to do? And most importantly, it ended with a big happy smile on my face and a little chuckle. This is definitely a book I would read to my children and also to my class. I love the fact that some of the proceeds go to helping literacy in the Caribbean as well. Amanda O'Dwyer, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The Little Red Kite is not only a beautiful little story but one so wonderfully illustrated. With a simple premise at its centre, the heart of this book is immense. A basic premise, the tone is happy and the rhyming flows off the tongue and so naturally throughout. This is a joy to read out loud but is also manageable enough for emerging readers to grasp and read alone. A tale of friendship and the mere pleasure of just being happy with life, I had initially felt a little apprehensive about reading about a kite as the main character! I did wonder how you could actually build enthusiasm and indeed empathy with such a choice – but I was proved wrong. This is a lovely book that I’m sure readers will want to return to time and time again. Perfect as a pick me up, and a book for the shelf, it’s also a great comforting bedtime read. Clair Chaytors, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
With its soft, atmospheric illustrations of the countryside and comforting messages around finding confidence and overcoming fears, this sweet picture book is accompanied by a very special extra - a real piece of tartan kilt is tucked into a page near the end, a soft fragment of fabric that will “make the scare go away”. So, what of the story? Scotch is a “sad and lonely scarecrow” who wears a tartan kilt in place of trousers, on account of him having no legs. Scotch’s life takes a brighter turn when a messenger rabbit brings news that he’s been chosen to be a Scare-go. As the rabbit explains, this means that rather than chasing crows away, his job is to help scared children. On his very first mission, Scotch finds his feet (literally) when he helps a little girl. The story is short, but sweet, and the larger-than-usual size of both the physical book and text makes it suitable to read aloud and share with little ones. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids
The Cloud Children is a fantasy story for I’d say younger children. We meet brother and sister Simon and Katie and they are quickly whisked away on a cloud to start their year of adventures as Cloud Children. I found that everything moved quite quickly at the beginning, and I think there is some room for more detail early on, I would have liked to know more about Simon and Katie and their personalities as the story started. The interesting quirk to this storyline is that the siblings are chosen to serve as Cloud Children for a year, but when they arrive back home no time has passed at all (think Peter Pan but time stops so the parents can’t miss them?). I think that this has been included in the storyline as a reassurance for younger readers about Simon and Katie disappearing for a year of adventures. Part of their role as Cloud Children is to travel the world and help people. I think that this aspect of the novel is nice and allows for morals to be integrated into the story. There are also illustrations dotted throughout the book which I thought were a nice touch. In all, I think it is a nice adventure story. It’s a chapter book, although the chapters are quite short and I think that the story itself would appeal most to younger readers. Perhaps this is a book for readers looking to gain their independence, with some support from a parent or teacher.
Necropolis is a Young Adult dystopian fiction with a thrilling concept. In a time where society is becoming more restrictive and segregated, Wyn embarks on a perilous quest to prove the gender divide imposed by her society wrong, as she goes undercover in the army. Will the challenges she faces as a recruit on top of her fight to remain undercover derail her ambitions before she’s had time to achieve her goal? With mention of ‘The Breakdown’ and the illusive nature of the Necropolis, you are immediately drawn in to a different world. As I read I was keen to learn more about this world and Wyn’s journey. The plotline progresses quickly and this is a story that you could enjoy easily over a weekend. In a society that is quite this strict about the gender divide, I think that there could have been a bit more tension built as Wyn enquired about joining up, and I found Mrs Clay’s critical outbursts in History and eagerness to help Wyn a little bit overzealous and at odds with my expectations of a restricted society within a dystopian novel. Regardless of this I found the plotline enjoyable and Wyn very endearing. This is an interesting story.
'Grandpa and the Robin' is a moving picture book for children of 4 to 8 years, written by Eva Applecross and beautifully illustrated by Shelley Ashkowski. Dedicated to her late Grandpa Richard, it's a tale of loss and loneliness but also of joy and pleasure. Grandpa lives in a remote country farmhouse and is devastated by the passing of his wife, Doris. His only remaining relative, his granddaughter, Ana, lives too far away to visit regularly. But grandpa makes good use of his time and keeps busy tending his garden and watching the birds coming to feed. One in particular, a robin, visits often, which cheers grandpa up immensely. After being scared away for a time by a stray cat, the robin returns on Christmas Day and, even better, grandpa is blessed by a surprise visit from Ana and the two of them have great fun feeding the robin mealworms from grandpa's hat. This story is lovingly told and brings home the plight of many elderly people who live alone and far from their families. In a few short pages we find we care about grandpa as the story immerses the reader in a rollercoaster of emotions as grandpa loses what brings him hope but then finds it again in what we sincerely hope is a happy ending. A wonderful book to share with youngsters. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
'Dancing Shapes-Ballet and Body Awareness for Young Dancers' was created by Once Upon a Dance, a group formed during the Covid-19 lockdown by Konora and her mother to encourage youngsters stuck at home to join ballerina Konora on a journey of movement and dance for exercise and meditation. All profits from the sale of this book help support beleaguered ballet companies hit by the pandemic. The book is divided into four parts. The first is about Konora, her early interest in ballet through to her present status as a Professional Division student in the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company and is accompanied by many wonderfully colourful action photos. The ballerina reveals here that lockdown has freed her imagination, allowing her to appreciate that dance can take place anywhere and everywhere, not just in a formal performance space but that warming up is vitally important wherever you choose to dance. We are next taken through the five basic ballet positions in the second section, then in the third, entitled 'Thinking about Details', the reader is encouraged to think about what each part of the body is doing from the head to the toes, whilst copying the many shapes shown in silhouette in the following pages. Konora encourages the use of mirrors or a camera so the shapes can be compared to those in the book because 'self-observation and feedback are valuable parts of practice'. The final part,'Saying Thanks', is not only about the obvious thanks due to all those who support those involved in the arts but also the importance of thanking our bodies, through diet, sleep and safe choices, if we expect it to work hard for us...and believe me, ballet dancing is very hard work! I enjoyed this book very much, having had a lifelong interest in dance. I found it informative, practical and inspiring. Hopefully it will help to keep the spark alive in all our future performers until the world returns to some kind of normality. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Wesley Fogel's second book, 'I might lose a tooth today' is a fun and light-hearted look at this experience that everyone has been through and can relate to. It's humorously and colourfully illustrated by Cristian Bernardini. The story chronicles all the ways a little girl might bring about a final separation from her first tooth and evaluates each one, all in rhyme. Her methods include eating a variety of crunchy foods, attaching it to a door handle or car bumper, even a rocket! But it also examines the emotional side of losing that first tooth versus the promise of a reward from the tooth fairy. There's even a chart at the end of the book for the reader to record the date of their first and all subsequent tooth losses. This would be a lovely gift for a child about to enter that period in their life when they start to get their grown-up teeth, about age 6 to 8. I know my grandchildren would have found it very amusing and it would help them forget any slight discomfort that might have come along with the experience. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Fool’s Gold is an entertaining family based adventure story that follows Lottie Baxter, a 12 (and a half) year old girl and her eccentric but loveable great Grandad, ‘Cheddar George’ as they race to stop bully and business man Timothy Pinkerton from swindling everyone in Alum Bay, Isle of Wight in order to make himself rich. The story is filled with humour and vibrancy. There’s magic and gadgets and I think that this would be a good book for 9 year olds to enjoy, perhaps with a parent who will also enjoy the amusing descriptions, particularly of Cheddar George’s movements and actions. There’s also cultural references that will appeal to parents and guardians as they read, including Showaddywaddy references and rock ‘n’ roll chapter titles. This book has a lot to offer, with something for a variety of different interests too. The plotline includes stories based in WWII as well as the modern plotlines focusing on school, friendships and bullying. I very quickly found Lottie endearing and I enjoyed the relationship she has with the great granddad. This is the first in a proposed series for Lottie Baxter and I’m sure it will be a popular one.
A bright and colourful book, packed with illustrations. The story of Mia, a little girl who is afraid of the dark at bedtime. Her mum gives her a 'magical' idea to help her overcome her fear. She goes to bed each night and when the lights are turned out, she imagines lots of lovely things and soon overcomes her fears. I found the book a bit overlong in its message, and think it would be ideal to read a section each night, otherwise there is too much information for a child to process at one reading. I imagine this would be helpful in dealing with a child who has night fears, but it is a good story nevertheless. At the end of the book there’s a summary of the different things featured in the book as well as questions to inspire discussion about the colours, animals and food included in the book. These could be useful if the book isn’t being read at bedtime. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This delightful little tale follows a traditional format which has always been loved by children. When Ariel visits the park, his scooter becomes stuck and none of the animals he asks is available to help him as they are all busy. Fortunately his friends Noel and Sam are able to do so and the three have fun together alongside the animals. I was immediately struck by the unique art work. I found it not only attractive but quite enticing as I never knew what I was going to see next. I especially liked the illustrations of a variety of characters on different scooters at the beginning and end of the book, the changing font styles and spotting the little animals who were making their sounds. Although it is a simple storyline, there are elements such as the fact that the animals Ariel encounters are not those that would be found in parks, adds to its enjoyment and success. The story ends with the positive reminder that friends are always there to help us. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
'Delivered' is Sylvia Hehir's sequel to 'Deleted'. I haven't read the first book but I don't think that detracted one bit from my enjoyment of this absolute gem of a book. The title is so significant and clever, as it refers to both the birth of a child and the saving of family and personal relationships and maybe even a life. Our heroine, Frankie, hasn't seen her older sister, Keira, for over three years, after she walked out of the rather dysfunctional family home. She returns to her home area unexpectedly, obviously in need of a lot of help and support but Frankie has just arranged to gig with a band in Glasgow for a few weeks, along with her new partner, Alec. Keira refuses to have their parents involved, and, unable/unwilling to get out of her commitment to the band, Frankie leaves her sister and throws herself into Crazy George's struggle to get themselves heard and known. The story is very readable, exciting and completely engaging. It contains such a range of emotions and conditions, from panic, disappointment and addiction to affection, love and pure elation, with the atmosphere portrayed at the gigs and festivals electric and the ending hopeful. I would really love to read the first book in what I hope is to become at least a trilogy. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Little h Dog longs to do what other dogs do but his weak muscles, which are becoming increasingly weaker, prevent him from doing so. His owner, Big H, is determined to support him and does so by seeking out the best canine experts, holding charity events and featuring on TV programmes. He eventually receives help from the Supervet who constructs a special set of wheels for him, enabling him to run about in the fresh air. It is difficult to read this little book and not feel moved. It is dedicated to a special boy whom the reader surmises is Harrison. In the story Harrison is the 'real little h dog' and his father, Alex is the 'real Big H'. 100% of the profits are going to Harrison's Fund, a charity that is dedicated to research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Cartoon-like illustrations are used, together with bold and distinctive font that focuses upon the visual aspect of words such as 'sniff their bottoms', 'run rings' and 'hope'; this has quite a powerful effect upon the reader. At the end of the story, we are encouraged to share reviews and visit the charity website. There is also the incentive of a free colouring book. My heart goes out to all those who were involved in the production of this book and I do hope that it is well supported. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This book ticks all my boxes for a good story for younger children. The story, about a trip to the zoo, unfolds well and is beautifully illustrated. The language is clear and simple. It's written in rhyme which flows nicely and isn't contrived. I'd enjoy reading this story to my 5 year old grand-daughter. Pauline Braisher, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
I Miss You Most by Cassie Hoyt is not only a very timely book for lockdown but also a timeless book for all, like myself, who are separated from loved ones by distance, work commitments or legalities. Aimed at children of 4 to 8 years, it is insightfully written in rhyme and colourfully illustrated. The story evokes memories of activities undertaken with loved ones who can no longer be met with and imagines new adventures for the future. The shared experiences and the pictures are diverse and inclusive, so that all may find relatable content and the heartache of separation is very sensitively dealt with. This book is a great way to bring loved ones together in spirit and I can imagine it would bring great comfort, especially to a child, when it is shared at bedtime, to enable sleep with fond memories. I just wish this book had been around when my grandchildren were younger, I would definitely have gifted them a copy! Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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