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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.
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
Beautifully written, The Unnamed Beast is a story of courage, friendship, strength and hope. When a fire breaks out, and starts to destroy the Wood, the unnamed beast is upset to see his beloved home on fire, but when he finds out from a Badger, that it's a dragon, he thinks it's his fault, and he is responsible for the destruction, after being told this isn't so, and so he decided to confront the Dragon and put a stop to it, as he starts on his journey, he meets other creatures of the wood, and friendships to start to form. I found this book had a touch of Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and Julia Donaldson. Throughout, the story was enriched with illustrations and I think that The Unnamed Beast could easily become a children's classic. The story was told beautifully with the use of rhyme and I can see that it will have the readers smiling and children laughing as they follow the unnamed beast on his journey. Angela Rhodes, 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
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
With an engaging rhyming text that’s ideal for reading aloud, this picture book is a warm-hearted way for Muslim pre-schoolers and those of infants school age to understand and celebrate what it means to be Muslim. It would also make a great tool for teachers and parents to introduce all children to the principles of the faith. It’s underpinned by a warm message of inclusivity – “we don't all look the same”, Muslims are “different colours, shapes and sizes” – and accompanied by soft, fuzzy illustrations of all kinds of toddlers enjoying each others company in harmony and a spirit of kindness.
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
A mysterious art thief, a 12-year-old undercover agent and a Parisian patisserie. Simone La Fray is a unique character, old beyond her years and discreetly training as a covert agent, with the support and encouragement of her mother, a successful operative. Simone also works to help her Father at their patisserie, what a busy life! The descriptions of all the delicious confections made me very hungry as I was reading. The other descriptions throughout were nice and detailed and I could believe I was following Simone through the streets of Paris on the hunt for the Red Fox. I liked this story and I was intrigued at how Simone's first field operation would go. I also thought that the other characters in the book were detailed and it would be interesting to see if Simone and her mum team up in future books, would her sister Mia ever find out about her secret life? I don't quite know when this book is set, it appears quite modern and I did briefly wonder why Simone didn't seem to go to school, but I enjoyed the story nevertheless. I think that this book is just the right amount of believable and exciting spy adventure and I feel that younger readers will like this book and be interested in finding out more about Simone’s adventures in later books. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Written for children but will appeal to young adults and adult readers also. The author tells the story of two differing boys and what brings them together, they both have an interest in habitats and badgers living in a wood near to where they live. It shows how friendship is important regardless of status or where they have come from. I found myself in the treehouse whilst the boys looked into the badgers and the beautifully drawn illustrations added to this. The author writes well and has a great understanding of nature and the natural world, and I literally could not put the book down and boy was there an ending. Moralistic which again will apply to both young adults and grown-ups. Recommended read. Jane Brown, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
This first book in the Yin Yangs Odyssey series is a kaleidoscope of emotion and outlandish adventure. Eleven-year-old Freddie isn’t “exactly Mr Popular at the secondary school he attended,” which is no surprise given that his dad is “not only a science teacher but also the new deputy headmaster”. But it’s not long before feeling like an outsider is the least of his problems… When his dad doesn’t return from a trip to Egypt, Freddie is sent deeper into limbo. While left in the care of his tyrannical Nanny Maureen (a woman who reminds him “of that grandmother in George’s Marvellous Medicine), a strange mullet-haired alien being materialises in his room: “It could have easily been mistaken as human, but it wasn’t. The skin was a cold ice blue. Its eyes were twice as big as any man’s and radiated a piercing red.” The alien comes in peace, though and transports Freddie to planet Modeerf where he makes new friends and embarks on a voyage of discovery that might just lead him to work out where his dad has gone. With plenty of high-stakes hijinks and peppered with humour, this is a pacey blend of alien adventure and real-life emotion. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids 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
Suspenseful YA spy thriller that throngs with gaming, guts and deadly risks. Teenager Jack is up to his neck in trouble. His brother is about to be imprisoned for a crime Jack plotted and, on top of that, a secret agency is using this intelligence to force him to join them. Jack’s mission? To infiltrate the manufacturer of a hot new game to discover what’s really going on there. Caught between more than a few rocks and hard places, Jack is forced to make a near impossible decision. While the premise is strong and the story packed with action, the tendency to over-wordiness and repetitive descriptions slow down the plot in places. Having said that, there’s enough pace-turning peril to recommend it to fans of Alex Rider and Young Bond.
I read this book twice. The first time I read this on my own and found it a delightful read. It was entertaining and filled with a fun adventure. The Halloween Parade is about a girl called Trixie Grimble who is sent to a boarding school even though she doesn’t want to go. The boarding school is not your average boarding school, this one is full of Vampires, Ghosts and Werewolves and the only normal thing about the school is Trixie. I really liked how the books shows that we can all be different but can go through the same feelings when we are bullied or left out. The second time I read this book it was with my 5-year-old nephew. He's a big fan of helping me reading children’s books, but he normally struggles to sit through the bigger ones like this one. But not this one. He actually reminded me that we need to read a few more chapters. Together we finished this whole book in a few days. When I asked him what he liked about the book he said: “It was really funny, we have to read it again next week”. This was a big hit with both me and my nephew. A very enjoyable read, suitable for all ages young and old. Manisha Natha, 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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