The Big Bird Spot by Matt Sewell

This is a fun spotting book focusing on birds in a variety of different habitats across the world. Each page is a glorious explosion of colour & shape making it a joy to study while endeavouring to find all the birds. 

My experience of bird hides with the children involve unsuccessful attempts at being quiet, an inordinate amount of time getting binoculars into focus followed by 10 seconds of watching & declaring there are only ducks. 

No such drama with this book! The pages are awash with birds & while some pages trickier than others, spotting 22 Ibis amongst flamingoes was no mean feat, it has kept us thoroughly entertained. 

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

Chapter Books April

A couple of favourite Nosy Crow reads this last month have been the fabulously funny Werewolf in my Tent by Pamela Butchart with illustrations by Thomas Flintham & the thrilling Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge.

Werewolf in my Tent is the 6th book featuring Izzy & her friends. While B was already a firm fan of this series it was new to F & me. We read it together over the course of a week with regular cries of “please don’t stop, just one more chapter”, clearly a complete hit.
As camping trips go this was filled with plenty of strange goings on including spooky howling noises, missing sausages, scratch marks & a big poo (you can just imagine the giggles this induced). Izzy & her friends draw their own conclusions leading to plenty of excitement & adventure.
There is lots to enjoy about this book, the fabulous illustrations, the wonderful voices of the children, the great friendships, laugh out loud moments & the simple style of writing making it perfect for confident early readers. 

The Jamie Drake Equation is for older readers & was quickly devoured by B (9yrs). I thought this was a great example of science fiction for children & B declared he “liked how the book taught you about space & technology through an emotional story”. 
B summarised the story as “a novel about a boy who’s father is an astronaut. His dad goes on a mission to the international space station to launch some space probes but when his mission goes wrong its up to Jamie to save the day”
We both enjoyed this book, I liked how the family drama intermingled with the out of this world adventures. B however was very much taken with the science aspect & was quick to include an equation is his own science fiction story. An inspirational & engaging read.

Thanks to the publishers for providing a review copies.

The Secret of Black Rock

The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton

Photo of book coverThis is a fabulous picture book featuring an adventurous feisty heroine, Erin. Erin is determined to discover more about the legend of Black Rock. After sneaking onto her mums fishing boat she soon gets her wish when she comes face to face with Black Rock & uncovers the real truth. 

A marvelous ‘modern folk tale’ touching on issues of the environment & the dangers of rumours based on fear.

Photo of play do model of Erin

Play Doh model of Erin made by daughter

During the Easter holiday the children fell in love with paddling in the sea & scouring rock pools for sea life. The Secret of Black Rock proved the perfect end to their own coastal adventures night after night. 

Pictures by the children

Scratch Art Black Rocks

Thanks to the publishers for providing a review copy. 

Easter Colouring from Nosy Crow

We are very excited to try out these gorgeous high quality activity books from Nosy Crow. They are also proving to be excellent in keeping the children entertained over easter.

With the Press Out & colour books the children loved choosing their favourite birds. Both the birds & eggs are made from nice quality card which meant we could colour from feltips to pencils. 

The Press Out & Colour Easter Eggs book has been a useful source for easter activities including bonnet making. I am also looking forward to hiding a few for the Easter Egg hunt on sunday (hoping it will help reduce the amount of chocolate!)

Something else we are looking forward to doing is filling these beautiful gift boxes.

There is more to colour with these boxes and I found them not as robust as the press out eggs or birds book. The patterns however are very beautiful & perfect for spring. 

I may fill a few uncoloured boxes with some small crayons as the ideal activity when we are out & about.

Thanks to the publishers for providing these review copies. 

Christmas Books

One of my favourite times of the year is early December when the Christmas books come out of the loft. A couple of fabulous additions to the pile this year include, The Princess and the Christmas Rescue by Caryl Hart & Sarah Warburton and The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig & Chris Mould.

This gorgeous rhyming picture book was an instant hit, not only because of the fabulous illustrations, the fun rhymes,the charming story featuring festive favourites; Santa, Elves, Reindeer & the important decorative ribbon but mainly because of the main character Princess Eliza. The princess is an intelligent and kind inventor who’s wonderful creations help save the day. Reading this with Freya, an aspiring inventor, was a joy. The only downside was the last minute addition of a workshop to Freya’s christmas list.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas is from the duo who created one of my top books of 2015, A Boy Called Christmas. It was great to see some familiar characters again but also meet a host of new favourites including the heroine Amelia. Set during the victorian era this is another exciting tale full of christmas spirit, hope & warmth. The story begins with trouble brewing in both London & Elfhelm but when nearly all hope is lost the magic  of Christmas is rediscovered through courage & honesty. Sharing these books is fast becoming a new christmas tradition in our house & the perfect illustrations are now the only way I picture chrismas.

Hilda and The Stone Forest by Luke Pearson

We are so pleased to see Hilda back in a new adventure, Hilda and The Stone Forest. The Hilda graphic novel series is a firm favourite amongst the young & old in this house. We’ve enjoyed her adventures in the country & her move to the city, meeting a host of fantastical creatures along the way. In even more exciting news Hilda will soon be on screen with an upcoming cartoon series for Netflix.

Of all the Hilda books I am especially fond of this one because Hilda’s mother gets to be part of the adventure. Both mother & daughter (& not forgetting Hilda’s faithful pet Twig) demonstrate courage & determination when they find themselves lost in the land of trolls. After a narrow escape they find their way home. However the story ends on a huge cliffhanger leaving us desperately waiting for the next Hilda instalment.

With the help of the fabulous Hilda toy, we created our own Hilda fan-fiction to help pass the time while we wait for the next book.

Thanks to the publisher, Flying Eye Books, for the review copy.

Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam The Spooky School

Recently we’ve been reading Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam: The Spooky School by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton. 

This is a collection of 3 stories featuring ‘everyone’s favourite robber-dogs-turned-bakers’, Shifty McGifty & Slippery Sam. Like the picture books they are full of adventure, funny puns & fab illustrations. 

The first story is a perfect halloween read involving a spooky ghost. The second, our favourite, features an ingenious weather device & a dastardly, villainous yet hilarious, red panda called Red Rocket (fingers-crossed he will return in future stories). In the final story the duo are on the tail of a gang of thieving racoons providing an opportunity for a fantastic undercover disguise. 

While reading the stories the kitchen inspired gadgets the duo used to help crack the mysteries captured the kids imagination. They were soon equipped with their own gadgets; a jam (sp)ray gun, a swiss army muffin, insta-jam-splat toast, an evidence  analysis whirrer and a freeze ray for instant ‘Hats Away’ slides.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

Michelle Robinson Books

Over the summer I was lucky enough to win all of Michelle Robinson’s picture books to date, what a wonderful haul. 

My intention was to donate them all to the local school so they get to experience the magic of her books. The majority did get to the school but when I realised Michelle was willing to sign them I had to pick out 4 for the family.
Over Michelle’s many fantastic picture books her marvellous writing has been teamed up with glorious illustrators including Kate Hindley, David Roberts, Jim Field,… the list goes on. These great pairings have led to some amazing creations so picking 4 was pretty tough.

The first book I chose (for me) was How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth, illustrated by Kate Hindley. Many of Michelle’s books are fantastically funny whether its the witty writing, farcical situations or just plain ridiculous scenarios and this is one of my favourites.

For O I choose Odd Sock, illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown, as an old romantic I couldn’t resist a tale, told in rhyme, of 2 socks destined to be together whatever life throws at them.

For B I chose Michelle’s latest book The Forgetful Knight illustrated by Fred Blunt. B was keen to read this to us but found himself overcome by fits of giggles at the turn of each page. 

For F I chose A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting illustrated by David Roberts which appealed to her dark sense of humour.

Whether its a soothing bedtime read, a heartwarming read or a rib-tickling read that you’re looking for I guarantee you’ll find something to suit from Michelle’s books. Don’t forget to check her out next time you are in a library or bookshop.