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This section - the first part of the story - introduces us to Maisha and her family and focuses upon the main message that she has learnt at school; she is so traumatised by the fact that her species is in danger that she needs support to communicate it to her herd. The section ends with her being teleported back to the school with the prospect of her partnering with another wild animal in order to work towards their protection. There is a lot to like about this introductory part of the story. It is well written and focuses very clearly upon the lifestyle of elephants and the danger that is facing them by man's intervention. I especially enjoyed the dedication to living creatures and the fun element of the 'Note to Big 'People'. The illustrations are delightful and match the text well. If the story continues as positively, I can envisage that this would be a good text for teachers to read aloud to their lower junior aged classes or to be used in themed assemblies on wildlife protection. I look forward to reading the rest of the book! Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
It's a lovely, sweet story and quite unusal. The illustrations were very good, although they would be better in colour. Ferdinand is a very friendly dragon and this comes across both in the story and in the illustrations: I don't think any child would perceive him as being scary. My only concern is that the language is a little grown up in places and doesn't always flow although I don't think that a child would necessarily notice this because they would be too interested in what is happening in the story. As well as being an entertaining story, I think it teaches a child about sadness and hope and the importance of friendship. I think adults will enjoy reading this story too, I certainly did. Pauline Braisher, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
A cracking Christmas presentation box comprising a seasonal storybook and snow globe gift. This fully-illustrated seasonal storybook plus snow globe looks like a real labour of love, with no corners cut on the smart gift box packaging that comes replete with golden cloth lining. The story tells how Mrs Claus allocates a personal elf to each child, and it falls to the elf to watch over the child to determine whether they’ve been naughty or nice so Mrs Claus and Santa can “decide what gifts you will receive from your list”. The tale is told from the point of view of Gabriel, an almost-ten-year-old, who’s lost all sense of the magic of Christmas now his dad has a new family who have “everything I could ever want”, while he and his mum will be stuck making their own Christmas decorations and eating chicken. Monumentally disgruntled, Gabriel disobeys his mum and flees to find his dad’s new town. Then, in a strange and initially terrifying turn of events, he encounters one of Santa’s reindeers and – wait for it – his very own elf! The elf certainly has his work cut out persuading Gabriel that Santa is real, but with the help of a magical snow globe and through showing Gabriel the true spirit of Christmas much like the ghosts in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, he manages to do just that. With its mix of real-life worries and seasonal magic, this captures the feeling of being on the brink of not believing in Father Christmas and is underpinned by the message that love is the best gift of all. Joanne Owen, 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
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
'Picco Puppy Loves Football' is a simply written tale about a puppy who finds things difficult, doesn't give up and who's perseverance is rewarded by success in the end. It is written in a way that small children will be able to understand. There is a suggestion in the introduction that Picco faces specific challenges which make keeping going more difficult for him but these adversities are left vague, allowing the readers to apply the message of the book in all circumstances. The illustrations are clear and uncomplicated, portraying a diverse collection of characters; I think they will appeal to small children - as will the charming story. Jane Welby, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
In 'The Traveller's Stone', S.J.Howland has created a wondrous fantasy world, inhabited by the creatures of myth and fairy tale. Any fan of J.K.Rowling, C.S.Lewis or Philip Pullman will immediately feel at home in this fantastical place called Haven. Haven is a world parallel to ours, where giants, fairies, hobgoblins, fauns and brownies co-exist, more or less amicably, alongside humans. Amongst the humans, it is only the Travellers who are gifted with the ability to pass between the two worlds. The book recounts the story of Xander King, a 14-year-old Londoner, who is transported to Haven by a Traveller's stone in the British Museum. But why has he ended up there? Is he really supposed to save this ailing, alien world from both external and internal attack, when he has no knowledge of it's history or culture, where he doesn't feel he can belong? This is a classic rite of passage story, well written and beautifully describing the feelings and emotions Xander goes through as he faces no end of trials to gain his place in this multifaceted society before returning home, a much stronger and more confident person. I really enjoyed reading this novel and was so pleased to discover that this will not be the end of Xander's adventures. 'The Traveller's Stone' is only the first of a planned series of five books and I personally can't wait for the next one in 2020. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
My five year old son and I absolutely loved Don't Drink the Pink. In fact, he made me read it to him twice, one straight after the other, partly because he loved it and partly because he wanted to read it the second time after taking on board what happens in it. The book begins on Madeline's first birthday. Her beloved grandfather is always busy in his workshop cooking up, as it turns out, wonderful potions that give Madeline a superpower. Each year, on her birthday, she gets to choose a new potion but each time her grandfather tells her "just don't drink the pink". She gets to be tiny, to be a giant, to be able to move faster than a locomotive and, my personal favourite, to be able to build rollercoasters for herself and her friends. So many things about this book make it special. Firstly, it all rhymes which I think gives it a rhythmical flow that really keeps children (and their grown ups) interested. Secondly, the rhyme about not drinking the pink is the same for every birthday and it gave my son the opportunity to join in with the "just don't drink the pink" line with a big smile on his face. He can read perfectly well himself but it made it a nice joint endeavour. Thirdly, the story is fun and magical. There's a sad element to it but it's tempered by an uplifting ending. Finally, the illustrations are gorgeous and complement the story perfectly. They're colourful and give an accurate depiction of what is happening in the story. I really can't praise this book highly enough. Be aware, it does deal with the death of a relative but it's sensitively done and although my son did feel a bit sad at that bit, he bounced back with the ending. It's a fabulous little read for the 3-8 age group.
The story follows little Turtus as he hatches and makes his way towards the sea along with the other little turtles. However, he does not feel that he is like his brothers and sisters and this is confirmed as his journey continues. Eventually, he encounters his mother who explains that his father was in fact a giant land tortoise and assures him that he will meet him one day. This is a charming picture book using an effective, fairly natural and simple rhyme format which tends to appeal to young children. The illustrations are varied and appealing and match the text extremely well. Intrigue draws us in at the onset with the mystery of what is a 'Turtus' and reappears at the end of the tale when the reader is left with the expectation of eventually meeting Turtus' father in the next book. The story is also effective on other levels with its educational value and as an introduction to the fact that we are all different and can have a variety of different family situations. My granddaughter is 7 and really enjoyed this story and wants to know what happens next! Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This blast of a book represents children’s non-fiction at its finest. It’s packed with inspirational interstellar facts about the first moon landing, all delivered in a well-considered, scrapbook-style design that enhances the subject matter, from the retro typewriter font, to the easy-on-the-eye information boxes. Covering everything from why the moon mission happened in the first place, to astronaut training, lift-off preparation, life on board, exploring the moon, and much more, the book’s USP is its emphasis on how it felt to be in Neil, Buzz and Michael’s moon boots. It provides answers to questions all space-obsessed kids will devour: how did the astronauts get to the moon? How did they go to the toilet? What did they eat? What were their space suits like? What work did they have to do on board? How did they actually land? With an inspiring introduction by Helen Sharman, the first Briton to travel to space, this is perfect for fact-loving young readers to launch into, and should be on the shelf of every school library.
This vibrant inter-planetary picture book sees mini Mercury, the smallest planet closest to the sun, fulfill his mythical job as a messenger when he warns his fellow planets that a sun storm is approaching. Mercury’s message makes its way to each planet in turn – loving Venus, lively Earth, warrior Mars, giant Jupiter (who “farts a lot”, due to being such a gaseous planet!), singing Saturn, ice-giant Uranus, before finally reaching freezing Neptune. Thanks to Mercury’s thoughtful warning and the planets’ varied ways of preparing for it, everyone stays safe from the storm. The story imparts an underlying message of friendship and support through the entertaining and educational personification of the planets, and the page of planet-themed questions at the back is a great extra. All in all, this is a fun way to introduce 4+ year-olds to the solar system. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading Ambassador
The Wrongful Death is the third book in the Great Devil War series – and yet again I raced through it. I don’t think it could be read easily as a standalone, and I would recommend reading the previous books before anyone dives into this one. Philip is back in Hell, this time searching for the school bully, Sam, who shouldn’t be there (yet). This book goes ‘beyond’ Hell though, as Philip (with his friend Satina) journeys into Heaven and also Hades, providing a contrast between all of the ‘after-life’ worlds. The relationship between Lucifer and Jehovah, in particular, is very entertaining. I can tell that the author has had fun creating each setting and the characters within them – his vivid imagination driving the plot forwards through great world building and character development. Trouble is brewing in Lucifer’s kingdom, providing the backdrop for Philip’s search and the start of the ‘Great Devil War’. Yet again the book features strong themes and also an unconventional (though not disrespectful) view of religion – Heaven versus Hell, punishment and retribution in the afterlife and creation of the world (explained as six years in Heaven is a couple of billion years on Earth). There’s plenty of dark humour alongside some gruesome descriptions (so, as with the previous books, this may not be suitable for younger teenagers or for the faint-hearted). There are several familiar biblical and historical characters to watch out for (I’ll leave these as a surprise), and the inclusion of Hades also introduces Greek mythology. This provides not only entertainment but also an educational slant. The Wrongful Death doesn’t end as neatly as the two previous books – in fact, there is a huge cliff-hanger, so be prepared for it. I won’t give anything away, but it is clear that there is more to come (as there’s a teaser for the next book at the end). I’m looking forward to it!
The Unnamed Beast is a tale that follows are creature of the forest that is so shunned and lonesome, it is never had a name. As it braves it’s first steps into a world it has never known, it soon experiences tragedy, friendship, heroism and bravery in saving it’s world from destruction. Written in entirely in iambic couplets, the story seeks to set a grand and cinematic narrative world while exploring complex emotions.
This eighth book in the Riverdale Pony Stories series is packed with peril, mystery and high-octane action as pony-mad Poppy McKeever goes into detective mode to track down the dog that attacked the sheep on her friend’s farm, while also preparing for a big riding competition. While the writing is pacey and has an urgency to it, at times the somewhat dense descriptions could benefit from a little trimming. But, overall, this gripping, entertaining adventure rings with authentic dialogue, strong evocations of the countryside and Poppy’s indomitable spirit.