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Steggie Belle & The Dream Warriors is an interesting fantasy tale which leads us into the dark world of dreams. Reminding me slightly of a darker Peter Pan, the main character and “author” of the story you’re reading is Zoofall and is hurrying to recollect the tales of his travels in the dream worlds. Tying in the concepts of lucid dreaming with mythology, Steggie Belle & The Dream Warriors is an adventure story with a Good vs Evil Battle at its heart. I liked the style of writing throughout, Zoofall’s written account is conversational in tone, giving it the feel of a spoken story. It reminded me of the style of Homer’s Odyssey, with moments when the storyteller addresses you directly interspersed throughout the plotline of events that have already happened. I also like the threads of Greek Mythology and scientific explanation which run through the book. I think that these elements make Steggie Belle & The Dream Warriors multi-faceted and adds a believable edge to the story as a whole. There’s scope to add more to this story, to discover in more detail what happens after Zoofall finishes writing. However, I also think that this book is perfectly well-rounded as it is. It leaves you with questions, but this adds to the mystery of the book and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions.
The Amazing Adventures of Jimmy Crikey is a fast moving fantasy children’s book following the many, many, many adventures of one Jimmy McGellan, nicknamed Jimmy Crikey due to people’s reaction to his unusually large feet. This is a nice story about a boy who travels to a number of different worlds where some of the characteristics that he was bullied for at school, come in handy and allow him to solve problems and overcome obstacles. A great story of friendship and teamwork at its heart with occasional but beautifully detailed black and white illustrations. I think that this book would be best for middle grade readers, the story is well-written, the descriptions of the different worlds and the characters are wonderfully clear and detailed and the plot does move very quickly. Jimmy travels to lots of different places and has a multitude of adventures in this book. In all, I think that The Amazing Adventures of Jimmy Crikey is a brilliant little fantasy story that I think would work very well as bedtime reading or simply a book for children to enjoy.
A fabulous book. Granny Franny is a great character, every child would love a granny like her. She takes her grandchildren on a big red bus to see the sights of London for a birthday treat. As a granny myself, it reminded me of playing 'buses' with my own grandchildren when they were younger. Maybe the Big Red Bus could do future trips around some other places. Big, bright illustrations and a story told in rhyme, makes this a really fun book to encourage children to make their own 'buses' and go on their own adventures. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
A group of animal friends think they have found some stars that have fallen to earth. Together they endeavour to get the stars back into the sky. Reach for the Stars is a book about teamwork and encouraging others to do their best. This is book three of a larger series however I think they could be read in any order. This is a very unusual book as it is designed to be read aloud by a group, giving 4 children the chance to be one of the characters and allowing them to read the book between them. I liked that the contribution from each character is clearly stated at the start as I think this could be a nice way to encourage less confident, or perhaps younger readers to join in. At the end of the book are suggestions for discussion and a chance to explore our feelings. I liked the illustrations, which are clear and colourful and I think that Reach for the Stars is a good book for early readers to enjoy. I think that this is a lovely book to share with friends or siblings and take it in turns to be each character.
On first glance this seems to be a short book with a very simple storyline but upon reading and reflection it offers much more. Illustrated in bright and bold colours, the story focuses upon a young boy called Eddie and his dog, Kenny. Eddie thinks about animals and their special qualities, envisaging what it would be like if he himself had those physical attributes. He transforms himself into a wondrous creature consisting of a variety of animal body parts and succeeds in avoiding dangerous situations by calling upon one of the animal traits. After his adventures, he finally decides that he would actually rather be himself. This would be the perfect story for a teacher to read to a class when celebrating the uniqueness of one's own individuality. Its fantasy element would appeal to young children, yet its underlying theme enables the opportunity to encourage self-worth and confidence. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Olive (The Little Paws Hotel series) by Clare Luther is a delightful but also very helpful rhyming story for children of 3+ years of age. It is imaginatively illustrated by Maria Floyd in colour and monochrome. The book is about Olive, the miniature dachshund, whose family are going out for the day and, for the first time, need somewhere for her to be looked after. The Little Paws Hotel is the obvious answer and Olive is booked in. Upon arrival, she is devastated to be left behind when her family leave and can't imagine how she will survive the day without them. Gradually though, the other small-pawed dogs at the hotel welcome her, calm her fears and talk to her soothingly until she ends up relaxing and even having some fun! The questions at the end of the story are designed to help young children verbalize about and overcome separation anxiety so this would be an invaluable book for those about to start at a childminders, playgroup, nursery or reception class for the first time. An altogether ideal way to get youngsters thinking and talking about their emotions. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
I am becoming very fond of Justine Avery's eclectic collection of books. She has the ability to consider issues relevant to children and young people that many adults would fail to recognise. This bright and colourful little book almost acts as a little aide-memoire reminding us that when we encounter problems, we need to trust in our abilities, thoughts and ideas and 'think outside the box'. The artwork is attractive and feels new and fresh and the text is professionally constructed. A delightful addition to an already pleasing series. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Inspired by a fantastical world imagined by the authors’ twin daughters, this educational activity book is underpinned by a belief that “children, especially girls, learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills best when these skills are approached within a storytelling context”. This brightly illustrated book certainly fulfils its aim of introducing STEM skills in an imaginative, interactive way, and its main character’s infectious enthusiasm for all things scientific will surely inspire more girls to get into STEM subjects. Lilli loves nothing more than finding things that “challenge her curious, scientific mind”. One night she transforms into her superheroine persona and embarks on a quest to help her friend fly from WooWoo Land. Young readers are invited to join Lillicorn’s quest, solving ten STEM puzzles in her vibrant world. With an appealing rhyming text, and charm tokens to collect along the way, the clear design conveniently signposts the STEM skills nurtured by each activity (including pattern recognition, abstraction, structured problem solving, sequencing, spatial perception and sorting) without detracting from the puzzle-solving or story. In some ways, the book’s structure is reminiscent of a computer game, with prompts and well-timed narrative pauses that invite readers to get stuck into the self-contained, bite-sized activities. What’s more, the tone is warmly encouraging, with the text informing readers that Lillicorn needs their help. Once the quest is complete, the solutions can be checked at www.lillicorn.com, where questers can also download a certificate and unlock additional activities.
This is an utterly charming little gem of a book which I found incredibly moving. It traces in rhyme format the joy of a mother welcoming her baby into the world and the impact that this is to have have upon her life. The beautifully detailed and nostalgic illustrations are a sheer delight and match the text so well. This would be a perfect book for a mother-to-be to place in a treasure box for her child or perhaps for a new granny to buy for her daughter. It is absolutely gorgeous. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Ballistic Kids is a lyrical picture book. Both rhyme and colourful images tell the tale of Scott, a young boy from a small village, who shows you can achieve your dreams with some hard work and Rock ‘n’ Roll. The rhyming in this book makes it easy to follow and I think it would be nice to be read aloud by either a child or a parent as a bedtime story. Scott and his best friend Matt don’t feel like they fit in, but instead of changing themselves to find acceptance, they form a band, meet new friends, have fun and work hard to be stage ready for the school talent show. The message in this book that stood out the most to me is the importance of hard work and not trying to change to fit in. However, there are a number of other themes throughout Ballistic Kids that I think are valuable in a children’s book. Scott and Matt formed a band in order to make new friends and have fun and I liked that from the start the band enjoyed playing and persevered until their sound improved. The band’s teamwork and dedication lead to recognition of their talent - a talent that is acquired through dedication and persistence. Although important to the success of the band in the story, these are messages that I think are easily applicable to a range of different situations. I think that these are themes that all children can relate to, although I’d say the writing and layout for the book are aimed at the 5+ age-range. This is a nice story for older siblings to read alongside someone younger, as the underlying themes are equally applicable to much older children too. A bonus with Ballistic Kids is the collection of six songs that are available to listen to for free online. Each song was written in connection to a different part of the story. They are punky but accessible to children. In all a cool collection and a nice accompaniment to the storyline. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
I absolutely love this book. The illustrations are beautiful with so much colourful detail. The story is very poignant, we've all been stuck in places we don't want to be, trying to find the courage to change our situation. The Fox does just that and the story ends on a positive note, a lesson for us all. The story is told in verse, but not the simple baby verse of early readers. This is much more subtle rhyming, but it flows easily. My grandchildren ( ages 6-10) all enjoyed reading this book and have asked for it a few times. A book to be enjoyed on many levels and one for the bookshelf. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This beautiful book is delightful. It's rather old fashioned in it's presentation with really clear and colourful pictures which illustrate each action in the story. It tells of a wild boar in search of truffles. However, he can't find any and when his other friends appear to be going to a birthday party, he wonders why he hasn't been invited. Lots of visual and written clues for the children to follow and discover what is going on. It's told in rhyming verse with some interesting and challenging language. Ideal to read to younger children and the illustrations provide plenty to discuss. Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill is a new adventure that develops the brilliant ideas firmly established in Grimly Darkwood’s first Vale of Strange book. Late in the summer, following Peter and Amanda’s adventures in the Vale of Strange (covered in The Shop on Peculiar Hill) it becomes clear that Peter will have to return once more with a new friend, Mala, short for Guatemala. Her father is an explorer and has gone missing. The sudden outbreak of strangeness is the first of their problems but not the last and it seems that something big is going on. Stranger Days on Peculiar Hill follows on from the end of The Shop on Peculiar Hill. However, as the book starts it recaps the previous events and there’s enough detail for it to be read as a standalone story. I haven’t read the first book but I felt that everything was explained well enough for me to know what was happening. After reading, I’m sure children will be racing to enjoy the adventure in The Shop on Peculiar Hill if they haven’t read it already. I liked the interaction between Peter and Amanda, their disagreements in the library help to demonstrate their character while also explaining the world of Peculiarshire. I also liked Mala, I thought her joke was quite funny. I like that there was a contrast in the two female characters and I enjoyed watching the three of them team up towards the end of the book. This is an exciting adventure that will certainly be a page-turner for all of those that love all things, weird and wonderful. I think that the humour throughout helps to counteract some of the scarier bits. I also found that the discussion at the end of the book about adults keeping their promises was quite poignant. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Whilst Simi's parents are away, she has the opportunity of staying with her Grandmother who lives in Lagos. There she is introduced to the world of traditional animal stories told by her grandmother. When I saw the bright and colourful cover of this book, I was keen to read on and when I read the preface which states: "I hope this book appeals to the child in you," I was enticed even further. The descriptive quality is excellent and I found myself completely engaged visually. Although the book has a traditional ambience, The themes of the benefits of outdoor play, the sense of awe and wonder and family values are increasingly valuable within our modern society. We learn a lot about everyday life in Jalingo and the animal stories which make up the bulk of the text contain messages for life. At the end of the book Simi's grandmother encourages her to go and play outdoors with her new friends in order to "make new memories", and the book concludes with "In the eyes of a child, life is always so beautiful, she thought to herself. It felt good to be reminded of that." Indeed this book made ME feel good and it is perfect for grandmothers to read aloud to their grandchildren. Val Rowe, A LoveReading Ambassador
A high-stakes quest. A magical kingdom. A boy in possession of a coveted power. This mythology-rich novel for 10+ year-olds has all the ingredients of an epic adventure. Ankido is a twelve-year-old British-Iraqi boy with a passion for words. So much so, his beloved grandmother calls him her “Word Boy”. One morning, his grandmother announces the terrible news that Ankido’s father, an eminent archaeologist, has gone missing on a field trip in Iraq. When she leaves to search for his dad, she entrusts him with a special book: “The cover was made of fine, gold-inlaid leather. The title read, The Land of Mesopo. Ankido wondered why it was so special but thought it best not to ask.” Left with his aunt and uncle, Ankido is destined to be sent to boarding school, but not before he’s forced to burn Grandmother’s special book when his aunt tries to take it from him. He knows the book is special - “When I started reading it, it felt so real. Almost as if it was calling me to step inside “ – and indeed it does turn out to be special. Rather than end up at boarding school, he finds himself in the Library of Nineveh after being pursued by “a creature of the dark” who “feeds on words. And she knows that you can make your own words.” Ankido’s quest to find his father, and to save the fantastical word-world of Mesopo as the Kingdom’s newfound Tale Smith is sharply evoked, and packed with heart-pounding peril, mysterious atmosphere and intriguing characters, among them scribes, princes and magicians. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
George is back and the Undergrounders’ series continues. The action starts in the aftermath of the dramatic ending of the first book, The Undergrounders & The Flight of the Falcon. George returns to his school, that still bears the scars of the dramatic events of book one. He dreads heading back after a brief altercation with his nemesis Liam Richardson, but he returns to find his social status flipped on its head. I liked that more usual school and teenage issues are interspersed with the high-octane action in this book. Things at school may be looking up for George but Victor, The Falcon is still at large and George has every intention of being a part of the team that stops him. But there’s a dangerous plan afoot and on a school trip to Paris not only are the lives of George’s friends put at risk but so many more people as Europe’s most wanted gang of criminals reemerge. I don’t want to go into the plot too much, for the risk of sharing spoilers, but there are dramatic twists, familiar faces reappear and there’s plenty to keep the reader hooked and turning the pages. Interspersed between the chapters there’s email communication hinting at the plans Victor is putting in place as well as a mole playing both sides. The action moves quickly and finale again leaves you with questions for the next book. Although I think you could read this book as a standalone, there are references to events and the reappearance of characters met in the first book and to get the full impact, it’s best to start with The Undergrounders & The Flight of the Falcon. Charlotte Walker A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
A beautifully written book that you read in your mind as to a child as you settle them into bed. It sets them up to have sweet dreams in a long sleep. The illustrations match the journey that the children take to go to bed. It is an ideal and most parents would be delighted if that happened every night. You can definitely hear yourself read it out loud as a bedtime story! Cathy Small, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This is a very heartwarming story about friendship. Mimi is very shy and doesn't like to speak to people. She loves to go for walks with her Nana, but when she stops to talk to her friends, Mimi hides behind her Nana. She notices that when they leave the people that her Nana has spoken to, they seem to be sad. She doesn't understand why. Her friends, Tulu and Lulu, invite her to the playground. She goes with them but wants to talk instead of playing. She explains how sad everyone seemed after they spoke to her Nana. They said, “sometimes nice words can make someone's moods much better, like saying HELLO.” Tutu suggests Mimi uses “BRAVE MAGIC”. She finds a twig which becomes a magic wand and says “1,2,3, 1,2,3, that's brave magic.” Try it and see what happens. She tried it first with Mr Mole. It worked. She tried it again and it worked again, but she forgot to use the Brave Magic. From then on, she was able to speak to everyone she met. When she tells her Nana, she gets a big hug and is told how very proud her Nana is of her and her Brave Magic. This book shows how friendship can help encourage us to do things that frighten us. With the help of friends, we can do anything. The illustrations are exceptional in this book. The colours are so vibrant. Diana Mason, A LoveReading Ambassador
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