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.

Bright colourful reads

Here are some books we have been enjoying recently;

Spyder by Matr Carr

Spyder is the perfect fun-size adventure.

When the worlds smallest secret agent is given a special mission she has to use all her smarts to save the day. The bright illustrations instantly attracted the children as did seeing the world from Spyder’s point of view.


With its punchy humour, sweet story & a sprinkle of spider facts this was a treat of a read.

Pirates of Scurvy Sands by Johnny Duddle

Matilda & the Jolley-Rogers are back in this swashbuckling sequel to ‘The Pirates Next Door’ and this time its Matilda’s turn to feel out of place. This mirrors the first story offering a sense of familiarity as you spot the many references to the original. 

The children are huge fans of Jim & Matilda & quickly devoured this book. They especially enjoyed the reversal of roles like the pirates being shocked at Matilda good table manners.

A rollicking rhyming riotous pirate adventure with plenty of detail to spot, this helps make the constant re-reads always feel fresh.

The Knight Who Said “NO!” by Lucy Rowland & Kate Hindley

This is another brilliant rhyming story of a young knight Ned who always says Yes until the day he gets cross & decides to say No.

The kids thought both Ned & the dragon looked polar opposites but were actually very similar & just in need of a friend. The story also touches upon the message that everyone can get cross sometimes & thats ok, who hasn’t felt ‘all hot inside and cross from top to toe”

The books is also wonderfully illustrated & the kids were especially keen on the parents who they thought were ginormous.

A heartwarming story that leaves you smiling.

I Do Not Like Books Anymore by Daisy Hirst

When this book arrived from the publisher for review the kids whisked it away & decided to take over this post!

B (10) & F (7)

“Weve been reading Daisy Hirsts I Do Not Like Books Anymore. Its about Natalie & her inquisitive little brother Alphonse. Natalie is struggling to learn how to read and in the story she gets frustrated and wants to give up because she thinks she cant do it until she remembers how she likes making up stories. I think this book is all about not giving up. 

B: What was you favourite part of the book?

F: I liked the end when Natalie reads the book that she made with her brother.

B: Why do you like that part?

F: Because Alphonse is so funny asking is it terrapins!

B: Which character did you like in the story?

F: I like Miss Bimble because she is kind & helpful.

B:If you could write a book like Natalie what would it be called?

F: The crayons that came alive.

F: Who is your fave charcater?

B: I liked the parents because they were encouraging but also let Natalie find her own way.

F: What is your favourite part & why?

B: I liked it when they were making up their story because they invented a cool story & used their toys to act it out.

F: What was the funniest part in the story?

B: Alphonse’s interjections to the story 😂

We would give this book 5 out of 5 stars, everyone will like reading it.

We decided to be like Natalie & Alphonse and make our own story”

Neon Leon & Firefly Home

We have been reading Neon Leon & Firefly Home by Jane Clarke & Britta Teckentrup.

In Neon Leon we meet a chameleon who doesn’t change colours like the other chameleons and is looking for somewhere he can fit in. In Firefly Home we meet Florence the firefly who needs help finding her way home.

I think these are perfect read aloud books as the children can join in either counting to 10 before turning the page, tracing the bright firefly trails or answering the simple questions to help Florence or Leon. As well as having fun joining in & feeling part of the story the books also teach the importance of kindness & helping.

These beautifully bright eyecatching books have you glowing inside & out.

The books also inspired us to get creative. We added our own twist to the Hot & Cold game. While one of us hid a see through chameleon who could blend into any background the other (with Leon & Florence) had the tricky task of finding them.

We were kindly sent these books from the publisher.

Tin by Pádraig Kenny

A review by my 10yr old

“Tin is set in a world where mechanicals are self aware. Engineers who make these mechanicals use a combination of metal & magic runes.

Christopher is an ordinary boy who lives with Mr Absalom, a greedy engineer, and his mechanicals; Jack, Round Rob, Grippa & Manda. 

Christopher is involved in an accident which uncovers an alarming secret & leads to him being taken away. His mechanical friends & Estelle, a “skin maker”, go on a daring rescue mission enlisting the help of one of the greatest mechanics of all time.

This is a sentimental book focusing on friends & family alongside an exhilarating adventure. I enjoyed how the adventure brought the friends, with their different personalities closer together. I also thought the human characters were always quick to anger and I felt the mechanicals showed more humanity, which made me think about how the humans could learn from these robots. 

My favourite mechanical in the story is Round Rob, with his barrel shaped body he was always rolling around & losing his head which made me laugh.

I would recommend this book to anyone who liked Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart (another good read), likes adventures and likes stories that make you think. “