THE STORY ORCHESTRA: FOUR SEASONS IN ONE DAY – Jessica Courtney-Tickle

4/5

The beautiful first title from The Story Orchestra series.

This book is simply gorgeous, with a lovely story to accompany Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. It is a bit more of a wordy book, but it’s fun to be able to press the buttons and hear different parts from the music which correlate to what’s happening on that page – this makes it a really good introduction to music for little ones and for the understanding of how music can tell a story. It’s definitely more of a gifty book and older children will probably appreciate the music leading the story and the facts about the orchestra and score itself a lot more than younger children.

Personally, I really hope that there are even more stories to come from The Story Orchestra (Beethoven please!) as it is something different, I’d have to say it’s probably the best noisy book available (it’s not just sounds…I can deal with my sister pressing all the buttons. It’s good!), and it can help to spark a love of music as well as reading!


I received this book when I was a bookseller from the publisher, Quarto – thank you!
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HOW TO BE A LION – Ed Vere

5/5

The roarsome story of Leonard the lion going against the norm.

With a crunch and a chomp, this story of a poetry-loving lion will have you hooked as we learn that you don’t have to be what people expect you to be; it’s okay to just be yourself.

I can’t wait to see this book with the illustrations; I love Ed Vere’s work, especially Grumpy Frog, and I really want to see his story of Leonard come to life! However, just going on the text alone, this is a fantastic book that little ones will love. I can imagine that reading it aloud is great fun with all the rhymes!

I really enjoyed reading How To Be A Lion and am definitely going to be adding it to my collection of favourite picture books!

 

MONTY AND SYLVESTER: A TALE OF EVERYDAY SUPER HEROES – Carly Gledhill

3/5

A fun book all about how you don’t need a vacuum hoover to be a super hero!

I’ve been looking out for exciting new picture books lately; this year has seemed fairly quiet, so I was very happy to see one up on NetGalley that looked like it had illustrations I would love. I was not wrong because the illustrations throughout this book are so cute and engaging. Whilst I felt like there was just something missing from the story, I did enjoy this book and can definitely see youngsters loving it. I need to try it out on my little sister!

I’m looking forward to seeing what Carly comes up with next because I did like all the little bits of small print that brought the pictures to life and the style of illustration!


Thank you to Hachette via NetGalley for the ebook of this title!

ALMOST ANYTHING – Sophy Henn

5/5

A beautiful story about the magic in not giving up.

You know that a picture book is something special when you can read it prior to publication without the illustrations and still simply adore it! Almost Anything is hands down Sophy Henn’s best book to date with its simple message of the magic being within ourselves to be able to do almost anything; we don’t need a magic hat in order to do things that our friends can do – all we need to do is to believe that we can do it. This book is perfect for little people (and older ones!) to teach the very important lesson of trying and not giving up.

*UPDATE: I have now seen the illustrations and THEY ARE ADORABLE! I stand by everything I said above; it’s a beautiful book!

Almost Anything is publishing on 1st March 2018


Thank you very much to Puffin via NetGalley for the eBook of Almost Anything!

THE SMOKING HOURGLASS – Jennifer Bell, Karl J Mountford

4/5

The eagerly awaited sequel to The Uncommoner’s takes us back to Lundinor!

I can’t begin to describe just how excited I was for this book; book one, The Crooked Sixpence, was one of the best debuts I’ve ever read and so I couldn’t wait to see what Jennifer Bell has in store for us with book two.

When The Crooked Sixpence came out, many comments were thrown around about how it does a good job of filling in the void left by Harry Potter and I can’t disagree with that. Bell’s writing is exquisite and she has crafted a fascinating world that can only continue to grow. I remember being up until 2am reading the first book, being kept on the edge with the suspense of what was to come and being fully drawn into the world of Lundinor.

So, that brings us to The Smoking Hourglass. In all honesty, I did find that this one started off a bit slower than I had hoped BUT, once again, as soon as we’re taken to Lundinor I was lost completely in the world of the Uncommoners. This time, we get to visit Lundinor in Spring and the descriptions really bring it to life – it sounds incredible! The story really began to pick up pace at this point as we discover that Lundinor is once again at the mercy of a dastardly villain and it’s up to Ivy and Seb to get to the bottom of it, but will they be in time to save themselves and the entirety of Lundinor?

Finally, this would not be a proper review without a mention of the simply STUNNING cover and illustrations from the incredibly talented Karl J Mountford. I could sit and admire the cover for hours – it’s full of such detail and beautiful colours that bring the idea of a Spring Lundinor to life! As I was very very lucky and received a proof copy of this book, I have yet to see all of the inside illustrations but, from the one I have seen, they are wonderful and I can’t wait to see them in the finished book and see how my imagination matches up to them!


Thank you very much to the Penguin Huddle for sending me a proof copy of this book!

 

WITCH FOR A WEEK – Kaye Umansky, Ashley King

4.5/5

A funny and entertaining book for younger readers and grown-ups alike full of magical mayhem!

I was so excited to get my hands on this one; witches, magic and fun – need I say more?! This book was fantastic, engaging, and I can see why it’s lined up to be one of the biggest children’s releases this year. Because I received a proof copy, I’m yet to see the finished book with King’s illustrations – I honestly can’t wait; if his previous books with Sylvia Bishop are anything to go by, we are in for a real treat with this one. Just from the cover image, you can see how he’s captured the characters perfectly! (UPDATE: IT IS ABSOLUTELY STUNNINGLY ILLUSTRATED. I may have had to buy a finished copy; it’s beautiful!)

The book is full of brilliant tips such as:
“1. be friendly, even to rude people (in fact, especially to rude people.)
2. Pretend that the customer is always right, even when they’re clearly wrong”
It’s also full of little relatable facts such as: “People can be so unreasonable, can’t they?” and “I’m all for good Customer Service, but some people just don’t know when it’s closing time.” These rules and facts ARE SO TRUE and are sure to make anyone laugh a little, especially people who have worked in customer-facing jobs!

Obviously, this book isn’t actually marketed at this audience – it’s aimed at a slightly younger one and it certainly doesn’t disappoint on that front either! I managed to read two chapters in one sitting to a restless class of year 1 students, and they all really enjoyed the beginning of this tale.

Everything in this story was slightly strange and wonderful. A particular favourite has to be the raven, Corbett. “Does the tower really have an ancient rule about ravens never doing the washing up?”…NO HE’S LYING.” and “I am completely self-sufficient and I prefer my own company.” really sum up why he was so entertaining – like a sassy, moody teenager!

I think my one criticism would be the, at times, excessive use of exclamation marks in places where I didn’t feel that they were necessary. It made reading it out-loud a bit of a ‘! and then ! and then !’ experience which took away a little bit of the enjoyment of the story for me.

Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see what story is in store next! Elsie was such a sweet character, and, whilst she wasn’t in it as much, Magenta “Her Witchiness” is easily one of my favourite fictional witches!

“I’m a great believer in letting people have a go at things. How else will they know if they’re any good?”

There’s a lot of potential here for this to become a beloved series among younger readers and older alike.


Thank you very much to Ashley King and Clare at Simon and Schuster for sending me a proof copy of this book! (and for the limited edition print of Elsie!)