Author Archives: damyanti

Summer Reading Map

In the summer son decided to read books set in different countries. So after drawing & painting a map of the world, asking our local bookshop & twitter for suggestions he was ready to set off.

It was an epic journey discovering new authors, trying different genres, hunting out books set in exotic locations & remembering to write a postcard from each book. 

Books read:

ANTARCTIC – Below Zero by Dan Smith

ARCTIC – Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers

BRAZIL – Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

CANADA – Spynosaur in The Spys the Limit by Guy Bass

CHINA – Ghosts of Shanghai by Julian Sedgwick

EGYPT – Jake Atlas and the Tomb of the Emerald Snake by Rob Lloyd Jones

FINLAND – Big Game by Dan Smith

FRANCE – Gommer Goof:Mind the Goof (Gaston Lagaffe) by Andre Franquin & Jerome Saincantin

Peril in Paris by Katherine Woodfine

INDIA – Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

INDONESIA – Kick by Mitch Johnson

IRELAND – Midnight (Skullduggery Pleasant) by Derek Landy

ITALY – Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

MEDITERRANEAN SEA – Illegal by Eoin Colfer

MEXICO – Jake Atlas and the Hunt for the Feathered God by Rob Lloyd Jones

PAKISTAN – I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban By Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

RUSSIA – House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

Spirou & Fantasio in Moscow by Tome & Janry

UK  -Itch by Simon Mayo

The Whispering Mountain by Joan Aiken

USA -Wonder by R J Palacio

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil by E. Frankweiler

Pony on the twelfth floor by Polly Faber and Sara Jennings

This week we have been reading Pony on the Twelfth Floor by Polly Faber illustrated by Sarah zjennings
This is a story about a girl called Kizzy who’s dreams come true when she discovers a pony in her local supermarket. Looking after a pony when you live in a tower block without your mum finding out is however not without its problems. 

We were not pony mad when we started the book but by the end Kizzys unwavering love of all things horses & her dedication to caring for Flapjack completely won us over. 

Kizzys schemes to keep flapjack & fulfil her dreams of learning to ride kept us completely hooked & often in fits of giggles, anything relating to horse poo were a particular favourite with daughter (luckily this featured a lot)

This funny read with its tremendous heart depicts the power of friendship & community in helping realising your dreams. (Another key message is drawing horses takes lots of practise)

Summer Adventure Books

Here’s the perfect solution to summer moans of ‘I am bored’, two recently released chapter books

A Chase In Time by Sally Nicholls & illustrated by Brett Helquist is the first in a new timeslip adventure series. The story is about Alex & his sister Ruby who, while staying at their Aunts house, are pulled through a mirror back to 1912. Luckily they are befriended by Dora & Henry and it isnt long before the four children fall headlong into a mystery that needs solving & criminals that need catching.

This is a fast paced exciting quick read with heaps of action & plenty of historical detail. Finding themselves in Edwardian times Alex & Ruby are continually amazed at how things have changed and are often comparing modern life with the past which I thought was a great way of bringing history to life. 

I also liked the way the story while set in the past had ties to the present. Alex & Ruby were not only fortunate enough to meet their ancestors but in helping them they also get to help themselves making for a fulfilling read.

Packed with adventure, including a gripping car chase, and a great cast of children & adults there is plenty to enjoy in this book.

In Knights & Bikes,  by Gabriella Kent illustrated by Rex Crowle & Luke Newell, we head off to the Island of Penfurzy for more adventure although this time with a touch of the fantastical & strange (but in a good way). 

This book is based on an upcoming video game, of the same name, and now having met the main protagonists Demelza & Nessa am in no doubt that whatever the format these two rule.

This was another excellent & exciting read with a budding new friendship, a goose called Captain Honkers, a town full of eccentrics & a knight worthy quest. Daughter was keen on wanting to read more adventure stories and this more than fitted the bill.

Demelza & Nessa are on a quest to uncover the mysteries of the Penfurzy Knights which leads them to perilous situations & dangerous obstacles to overcome. They are determined to find the treasure and save the day.

There is much to celebrate in the book especially the two heroines whose courage & loyalty drive the story as they battle with diggers, statues & even a castle. Their tendency to dive in regardless of the danger or risk is why I am in no doubt that these are the role models that my daughter has been waiting for.

For me part of the fun of the book was in the quirky setting & in spotting 80s pop culture references.

This is the perfect summer read for when the children are taking a break from their own amazing madcap adventures and the good news is it looks like there is more to come!

Fabulous Picturebooks

Lately we have been reading 3 picture books which I would urge you to seek out & enjoy too.

This beautifully poetic book by Chitra Soundar & Poonam Mistry is the perfect bedtime read. Mama Elephant (who according to daughter reminds her of me, am hoping more for my comforting nature & less for my size) is helping a group of young animals get to sleep. Out in the wild they are kept awake by noises such as the wind, thunder & rushing water. Luckily Mama Elephant has comforting words of wisdom weaving the perfect soporific atmosphere. With hypnotic words & illustrations we were all ready for a good nights sleep after reading this. 

From the sleepy to the exuberant next up is New Neighbours by Sarah McIntyre where we meet a tower block of characterful creatures. 

News reaches the young bunnies at the top about the arrival of new neighbours. They race down to tell the others but joy soon turns to worry as each neighbour adds their own concerns & prejudice. Unsurprisingly their neighbours arent all they feared. 

This is a gem of a book full of fun but with an important message too. Both children instantly understood the dangers of jumping to conclusions & the value of being welcoming. They were pleased that the neighbours learnt this lesson too. 

Daughter was very taken with the young rabbits whose enthusiasm to meet the new neighbours wasnt dampened by the others. Using the activity sheet created by the author she started her own comic, featuring versions of the rabbits, titled the ‘Magic Portal’, hopefully a portal to a generous & understanding world.

Our last read introduced us to our new favourite heroine, Billy in Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen. With donuts in her hair, compassion & intelligence whats not to love! 

Billy & Fat Cat are walking in the woods one day when they meet a big hairy hungry beast. Fortunately with some quick thinking  Billy is able to save the day. There is plenty of fun to be had in outwitting the Beast & we are Team Billy forever.

Ghouls & Giggles

This week we’ve been reading two hilarious books. 
Izzy and her friends are back with a new adventure in The Phantom Lollipop Man by Pamela Butchart illustrated by Thomas Flintham. When the lollipop man seemingly disappears the gang soon believe they are being haunted by his phantom.

There were plenty of laughs in the book for both me and the kids, I was especially tickled by the Office Ladies. 

School life, while exaggerated, is excellently observed making it a comfortable read for the kids. They always enjoy how quickly the gangs plans escalate into tricky & sometimes embarrassing chaotic situations. 

In amongst the humour the book also deals with important themes of friendship & loneliness. 

Daughter tells me this was as good as the other books in the series and that she was going to re-read them all, clearly another hit

In Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Ghosts by Katie & Kevin Tsang illustrated by Nathan Read we meet another group of friends who get caught up in a little mayhem & silliness.

After an embarrassing school trip Sam Wu is on mission to prove he is no scaredy cat. Believing his house is haunted Sam, with a little help from his friends, family and favourite TV show , is determined to defeat the ghost king.

This was a super fun read and there was plenty I adored about this book. I loved Sams home made costumes as it is exactly what my kids get up to. I liked the layout of the book with its mix of illustrations, expressive fonts & funny little side notes. I empathised with Sam’s anxiety about his friends seeing his home life & culture. Mostly however I smiled, grinned & laughed out loud.

A perfect read full of of heart, excitement & laughs. Both kids picked this up, devoured it independently and declared it was brilliant.

Splendid Sleuths

This week we have been reading a couple of fabulous detective stories aimed at early readers & both highly illustrated.

In Fabio The Worlds Greatest Flamingo Detective by Laura Janes & illustrated by Emily Fox, we are introduced to a suave flamingo detective with the adorable sidekick Gerald, who as a giraffe struggles to be a master of disguise. With an animal cast of rhinos, snakes, vultures the mystery of a missing rhino is diligently tackled with a list of suspects & interviews ending with a big reveal. 
The book is brightly packaged & we loved the neon pink & green bursts of colour in Emily Fox’s illustration. An appealing read which once we started had to finish in one sitting as like Fabio we were keen to find the culprit. 

We were also very pleased to discover the return of our favourite tie wearing skateboard riding plant detective in Inspector Flytrap: The Goat Who Chewed Too Much by Tom Angleberger & illustrated by Cece Bell.

The inspector is on the case of a stolen Pickle Paperweight but before long his case list grows as more things are stolen including the priceless painting ‘The Mona Spaghetti’ 

Another hilariously madcap adventure with wonderfully comic illustrations from Cece Bell. It was Nina the Goat & her constant refrain of ‘Big Deal’ however who was the star of the book for my daughter. She thought Nina was hilarious. 

Here are a few of our family favourite detective reads

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

I recently read Aru Shah and the End of Time, which is the first book from the ‘Rick Riordan Presents’ imprint. As with Rick Riordans Percy Jackson books this is also packed with adventure, puzzles to unravel & plenty of humour in seeing demons & gods in a modern day setting.

Aru finds herself cast into role of hero as she accidentally frees an ancient demon who can stop time. On her quest to save her mum, friends & ultimately the world she is helped by a ‘wise cracking pigeon & her long-lost half sister’.

I enjoyed reading a story with two young indian girls, Aru & Mini, as the main protagonists, battling their own demons as well as real ones. With common concerns of making friends, trying to fit in & having self confidence there are plenty of real life concerns amongst talking palaces & a demon beautician.

I also loved the pantheon of hindu gods & demons the story introduces you too and luckily this is just the start, with more half-sisters to meet & a demon still to catch this promises to be a thrilling new series to get stuck into.

Here are a couple of family favourites on hindu gods & myths.

Fun Inspiring Reads

This week we have been enjoying

Ten Fat Sausages by Michelle Robinson & Tor Freeman

This book had us running a gamut of emotions, from hope, fear, concern to stifling the giggles. A fantastically funny twist on the 10 Fat Sausages rhyme for those with a slightly dark sense of humour. 

For the sausages getting out of the frying pan might seem like the easy part but navigating the kitchen is like jumping into the fire, will any of them make it free?

An instant hit in the house with everyone this book is bursting with personality, silliness & heaps of fun.

Little Red Reading Hood by Lucy Rowland & Ben Mantle

A wonderful book celebrating imagination & the creativity stories can inspire. 

In this story Little Red Reading Hood is off to return some library books but meets a wolf who encourages her to strays of the path. As the story proceeds down the familiar route, of the wolf plotting to eat up our clever heroine, she is left to rescue not just herself but the wolf as well. 

I loved the illustrations especially the spreads of her reading, showing the magic & wonder of getting lost in a good story.

An inspirational & fun story which had my daughter creating new fairy tales as soon as we finished reading the book!

The Man Who Loved Libraries: The Story of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Larsen & Katty Maurey

This is a story about the philanthropy of Carnegie who was responsible for creating public libraries around the world. With painterly illustrations depicting Carnegies life from boy to man and showing how through the opportunites provided by a library he was able to build a successful business. While the footnotes hint that not all Carnegies actions were so generous the story does however highlight the power of public libraries in helping people realise their potential & provide opportunities for all. 

With the UK suffering widespread under investment in libraries leading to closures and/or reduction of services & skilled staff opportunities are sadly being removed from those who need them the most. 

Juniper Jupiter by Lizzy Stewart

This is a sweet story about friendship. 

Juniper Jupiter is a super-hero but ‘its no big deal’ on a mission to find a side kick. A story focusing less on the super hero tricks of flying & more on what makes us all heroes, being brave, strong, smart & funny. 

Juniper eventually finds her sidekick right under her nose & she doesnt need to look to far to find another superhero, her mum of course.

The Wonderling by Mira Bartók

This week I have been reading The Wonderling by Mira Bartók, an atmospheric & enthralling story. 

The hero of the story is a one eared groundling, a mix of fox & boy, of many names who embarks on a quest full of adventure & peril where heart wins out.

The story starts at a miserable orphanage, Miss Carbunkle’s Home For Wayward & Misbegotten Creatures, where we meet Number Thirteen, a shy foxlike groundling. With the help and courage of friends such as Trinket he escapes the orphanage and goes looking for his past but soon discovers he has a much bigger destiny to fill.

As with any quest there are villains to battle, obstacles to overcome & friendships to discover. Although the story rolls forward at a gentle pace the wonderfully realised world with its mix of magical fantastical characters against a steampunk background meant I was happily captivated throughout. 

This is a book to get easily lost in & a reminder of the healing power of music, hope & dreams.

Thanks to the publisher for sending this review copy

Unicorn Academy by Julie Sykes and Lucy Truman

“Imagine a school where you meet your own unicorn and have amazing adventures together! That’s what happens for the girls at Unicorn Academy on beautiful Unicorn Island.”

I was hooked on the premise alone, unicorns & a school story! Things only got better when I saw the sparkly covers. I thought this would be a fun, heart warming easy read & it didnt disappoint.

In this series you get to meet different pupils & unicorns of Unicorn Academy as they face familiar school tropes alongside mini adventures.

In Sophia & Rainbow, we meet Sophia on her first day at school. She soon settles into school life, makes new friends and bonds with Rainbow her unicorn. When magic starts to go wrong, can Sophia & Rainbow save Sparkle Lake?

I think this fun series is the perfect comforting read when you are in need for something gentle and sweet. I can see F devouring these easily & luckily we have Scarlett and Blaze to read next.

We were kindly sent these books from the publisher.