Six for Sunday: 14th April 2019

Good evening! I’m back today with another Six for Sunday post after a very busy week! I joined the gym and am so proud of myself! Anyway, back to books…this week’s topic was so so hard to narrow down to six! Six for Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by A Little But A Lot! Today’s theme is:

Kid’s Lit Represent: Books From My Childhood

  1. Midnight For Charlie Bone – Jenny Nimmo
  2. First Term at Malory Towers – Enid Blyton
  3. The Great Good Thing – Roderick Townley
  4. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
  5. The Doomspell – Cliff McNish
  6. The Prophecy of the Gems – Flavia Bujor

Have you read any of these? I can’t wait to reread them all!

kayleigh

 

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Books I’ve Unhauled

I own a lot of books.

However, that number has decreased a fair amount over the past month or so as I’ve had several book unhauls! I started off small, just removing titles that were duplicates or proofs I’d never read, then I started to go through books with a bit more thought – would I ever actually read it? Did I dislike it when I read it? I’m so proud of how many I’ve got rid of so far; if you’ve read my previous post on unhauling, you’ll know how difficult and at one point inconcevable this was for me! Whilst I can’t remember every book that I’ve unhauled (which probably says something…), there are some that stand out. Linking in to some thoughts I’ve enjoyed reading about on other blogs (Jenn‘s springs to mind!) on negative reviews, the two seem to go hand in hand for me.

First up, one of my least favourite books in the world:

Image result for paper butterflies lisaPaper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. I received this book back in 2016 when I was a longlist reader for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Whilst Lisa’s writing style is lovely, and probably is the only reason I made it through this book, the story is horrendous. It’s the first and only book where my mum has even noticed how much I was hating reading it and told me to stop. It was traumatic. I know the topic is supposed to be hard hitting, but it was uncomfortable and I just didn’t get it. When it was shortlisted, I was gutted; there was no way I could recommend this book to anyone! So yeah, unhauled.

Image result for optimists die first

Next, Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen. This book, I did give three stars; it made me laugh and it was entertaining. However, the anxiety representation in it let it down so so badly; it was awful! Who knew that anxiety could be totally cured by romance?

Image result for the journey picture book

I also got rid of a fair few picture books which I either disliked the illustrations or the story of. These included The Journey by Francesca Sanna (just wasn’t for me; whilst it’s beautiful, I found the story tedious and not really the kind of thing I’d read at storytime), Little Red by Bethan Woollvin (simple but bright illustrations with a weird retelling of Little Red Riding Hood going alongside it…not good) and Nara and the Island by Dan Ungureanu (dull illustrations, dull story).

Have you read any of these? Would you agree with me unhauling them?

kayleigh

 

THE STAR-SPUN WEB – Sinéad O’Hart

the star-spun web5/5

RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Stripes
GENRE: Middle Grade, Magical Realism

With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins. But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Norton F. Cleat knows more about Tess – and the strange device left with her when she was abandoned as a baby – than he’s letting on. And when Tess discovers that the Starspinner is the gateway between her world and a parallel world in which war rages, she realizes she may be the key to a terrible plan. A plan she must stop at all costs…

Sinéad O’Hart stormed into the Middle Grade scene last year with her fantastic debut The Eye of the North, so there were high expectations riding on her second book, The Star-Spun Web. Aside from the fact that Sara Mulvanny and Sophie Bransby have done a stellar job on the cover again (it’s BEAUTIFUL!), this book was just as engaging and enjoyable to read as book one!

50210701_324361354859487_5763330421077364150_nThe Star-Spun Web is a mysterious story full of magic, science and wonder…and, despite my intense dislike of spiders, I actually began to warm to Violet, Tess’ pet spider! It’s a book that I was always excited to get back to reading; I genuinely cared about the characters and was rooting for Tess! As a character, she is one of my favourites I’ve come across in middle grade books; she’s just the right amount of feisty, vulnerable and intelligent. It’s refreshing to have a female character who is so independent and inquisitive. That said, she also relies on other people at the right times, showing how we can think we can do something alone but actually we need other people sometimes to help, whether that’s from our family or friends.

I’m not sure whether this book is going to be a stand-alone; there is a lot of potential for a sequel in this world! I’d love to revisit Tess and all her friends, and discover what happens to the villains of the story too!


Thank you to Leilah at Stripes for sending me a copy of this book!

 

 

BLOG TOUR: THE STAR-SPUN WEB

the star-spun webFINDING HOME

I’m very excited to be the hosting final stop on the blog tour for Sinéad O’Hart’s The Star-Spun Web! The Star-Spun Web is a gripping middle grade book, full of mystery, science and magic (my full review publishes tomorrow!). Today, I’m working with the prompt “Finding Home” for which Sinéad has answered two really important questions:

All the children in this book don’t have a conventional ‘mum-and-dad’ family set-up. There are girls like Millie who work in servitude away from their family, orphans in the care of Ackerbee’s two kind female senior staff, and our main characters in the charge of shadowy, distant guardians.

Is it important to show unconventional families? How important is it that all of these children find a place to call home?

Of course it’s important to show unconventional families; I love that none of the kids has a conventional setup, and I hope I portrayed them effectively. My character Millie, who works in service in Roedeer Lodge many miles from her mother, is based on my own grandmother’s reality: my grandmother was in service from the age of 12 or 13. She was sent to Dublin to work, leaving her family behind in County Laois (in the centre of Ireland). The other kids’ situations are imagined, and I hope the limitations of my own experience (I was raised in a two-parent home) doesn’t cloud my depiction of their reality. I wanted to depict Ackerbee’s as a working children’s home, but without any shade cast by unhappiness or bad management; from the start, Miss Ackerbee and Rebecca love the children they care for and treat them the way children should be treated. You often see ‘bad’ children’s homes in fiction so I wanted this to be different. I also wanted to show that family isn’t always defined as ‘the people you’re born to’; Tess’s found family loves her just as deeply as her birth mum and dad would have.

I come from a very dysfunctional family, and so I’ve always felt that it’s important to show families with all different sorts of set ups in children’s and young adult fiction. For me, a nuclear family is a very odd concept so for me books with two parents tend to form a bit more of an escapism feel. On the other hand, for someone who has grown up with a stable home environment, a character with none or one parent can be an eye opener and provide a different reading experience. That said, I love reading about all kinds of families be they nuclear or dysfunctional and it’s the bonds that are expressed in the book that are important. Found families and friendships are as vital to a character’s development and sense of belonging as blood relations, and I think that books like The Star-Spun Web really do highlight that.

The Star-Spun Web is available now from Stripes Books:

Amazon
Foyles
Waterstones

Check back tomorrow for my review of The Star-Spun Web, and, in the meantime, why not check out the other stops on the tour?

 


Thank you so much to Leilah for having me on the blog tour and for sending me a copy of The Star-Spun Web, and to Sinéad O’Hart for providing me with some really interesting content for this post!

OH NO, GEORGE! – Chris Haughton

oh no, george!5/5

RELEASED: 01/03/2012
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Picture Book

It’s hard work being good all the time. And it’s especially hard for a dog like George! Harris is off to do some shopping. “Will you be good, George?” he asks. George hopes he can. He really wants to … but chocolate cake is just so very delicious and he does love to chase cat… What will George do now? Chris Haughton’s distinctive artwork perfectly accompanies the innocent charm of affable George, a dog trying to be good – with hilarious results!

Oh No, George, like all of Chris Haughton’s books, is full of humour and bold illustrations, with an adorable dog as the our main character. It’s impossible not to love George with his good intentions. But sometimes eating that cake or chasing that cat can prove just too much, and no matter how hard George tries he just can’t help himself!

This book is such a brilliant story to help children learn the difference between right and wrong and about making good choices. Although George doesn’t always get it right, we see how he learns about how doing the wrong thing makes Harris sad or cross so he tries very hard to make amends for his behaviour when he meets all those temptations again! The book ends on a decision for George which leaves it open to either scenario and it’s quite fun to wonder which choice George makes.

I have had the pleasure of meeting George, and I must say that he was behaving very well in the Waterstones tent considering how many wonderful books and snacks hanging about. He did very well to resist the temptation!


Thank you to Jo at Walker for sending me a copy of this book.

YOUR MIND IS LIKE THE SKY – Bronwen Ballard, Laura Carlin

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RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Frances Lincoln
GENRE: Picture Book, Mental Health

Your mind is like the sky. Sometimes it’s clear and blue – but sometimes a raincloud thought comes along and makes everything seem dark. So what can we do about rainclouds? This beautiful picture book, written by child psychologist Bronwen Ballard and illustrated by award-winning artist Laura Carlin, shows children that worries and negative thoughts are normal and helps them develop healthy thinking habits. Tips on mindfulness and extra resources for parents are included at the back of the book.

As someone who struggles with controlling my thoughts, I was very intrigued when I heard about this book. Mindfulness is something that I haven’t found useful in the past, much as I’d love it to be! So, I was really hoping that a picture book aimed at children may help me a little bit more…

Luckily, I was not disappointed.

Your Mind Is Like The Sky is a beautiful book with a powerful message; whilst you can’t control your thoughts, you can accept them and learn to deal with the different types. I love how thoughts are personified into clouds; this makes them seem less scary, and shows that, despite how dark they can be sometimes, they are only thoughts and they will pass. Unlike many books that focus on mindfulness, there isn’t too much text which made this book stand out even more. It reads just like a normal story and is just the right length to make it useful but not overwhelming.

At the back, something that’ll make this book more useful for parents and teachers is the breakdown of how mindfulness works and what you can do to help children. That said, I think that this book is useful for people of all ages who struggle with raincloud thoughts making this an essential addition to your collection of books about mental health.


Thank you to Ellen at Quarto for sending me a copy of this book.

THE BOOKSHOP GIRL – Sylvia Bishop, Ashley King

the bookshop girl5/5

RELEASED: 06/04/2017
PUBLISHER: Scholastic
GENRE: Young Reader, Middle Grade, Mystery

This story is about a little girl named Property Jones, so-called because she was left in the lost property cupboard of a bookshop when she was five years old. Property loves living in the bookshop, but she has a whopper of a secret … she can’t actually read! So Property doesn’t see the newspaper article announcing the chance to win the Montgomery Book Emporium, the biggest and most magnificent bookshop in the world! When her family win the competition, Property finds herself moving to the Emporium, a magical place filled with floor upon floor of books and a very bad-tempered cat. But all is not at it seems at the Emporium and soon Property Jones finds herself in a whole heap of trouble.

I would happily be abandoned in a cupboard if it meant that I could live in a bookshop, just like Property Jones.

From the fantastic duo Sylvia Bishop and Ashley King (Erica’s Elephant…one of the best books of 2016) comes a brilliant new story full of mystery, fun and, most importantly, books! We meet Property and her family as they leave their little bookshop after winning Montgomery’s Book Emporium, an incredible bookshop full of wonder, but all is not as it seems and soon they encounter a dastardly villain with a cunning plan! It’s up to Property and Gunther the Cat to save the day…but will they be in time?!

Again, Sylvia has created a heroine who you immediately love with a story that captures the imagination from the word go. Her writing style really is engaging and helps the plot to move along at the perfect pace. Coupled with Ashley’s illustrations which capture the characters, story and magic of the Montgomery Book Emporium perfectly (check out page 73…BEST. ANGRY. FISH. EVER.), this really is a story for all ages to love!

 

SHH! WE HAVE A PLAN – Chris Haughton

shh we have a plan5/5

RELEASED: 06/03/2014
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Picture Book

The winner of the 2014 Association of Illustrators’ Award for Children’s Books, Shh! is the covetable new picture book from Chris Haughton, one of the most exciting new voices in children’s literature. From Chris Haughton, the multi award-winning author-illustrator of A Bit Lost and Oh No, George!, comes a picture book about a beautiful bird, four friends and plans gone wrong… The friends are out for a walk. Suddenly, they spot it – a beautiful bird perched high in a tree! They simply must have it and – shh!- they have a plan. So they tip-toe very slowly, nets poised – “Ready one … ready two … ready three … GO!” But, at the turn of the page, we find a ridiculous bunch of very tangled characters and a blissfully oblivious bird, flying away. One hilarious foiled plan after another and it’s clear that this goofy gang cannot catch that elusive birdie! But the littlest of this group, a quiet spectator up until now, knows that a bit of kindness can go a long way… Will his friends follow his gentle lead or will they get themselves into even more trouble?

Such a simple concept, and yet it is absolutely perfect! This book makes me so happy and is so much fun to read aloud; it’s very repetitive, full of expression and is beautifully illustrated (like all of Chris Haughton’s books let’s be honest!).

Shh! We Have A Plan is one of my number one picks for storytime and is one of those stories that you can really make your own with actions and the different volumes, and is also a great choice for beginner readers due to the repetition. Whilst recently re-reading this, my little sister (although capable of reading much trickier books) had so much fun reading it confidently out loud and did all the actions and different SHH!s. It was brilliant!

I can’t recommend this book highly enough if you are looking for a quiet bedtime or fun read that will keep little ones engaged!


Thank you to Jo at Walker for sending me a copy of this book!

snailycanflyy Book Award 2018

Last year, I hosted my first snailycanflyy Book Award, where I narrowed down my top books of the year, and after a fab reading year the award is back for 2018! Last year saw some tough competition from some amazing books featuring amazing authors and illustrators with the overall winner being the very worthy The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson which still stands out as one of the best books I’ve ever read!

The award is split into three categories – Best Picture Book, Best Middle Grade and Best Young Adult, with a winner in each category and an overall winner. The criteria is simply that it has to be a five-star rated book published in 2018 and one that I want to talk about, one that has stuck with me since reading and one that I would recommend wholeheartedly. So, without futher ado, here are the category nominees:

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BEST PICTURE BOOK:

Oscar the Hungry Unicorn – Lou Carter, Nikki Dyson
The Bear, The Piano, The Dog and the FiddleDavid Litchfield
Ruby’s Worry – Tom Percival
Space Tortoise – Ross Montgomery, David Litchfield
The Story Orchestra: The Sleeping Beauty Jessica Courtney-Tickle

BEST MIDDLE GRADE BOOK:

The Truth PixieMatt Haig
Death in the Spotlight – Robin Stevens
The Eye of the North – Sinead O’Hart
The Light Jar Lisa Thompson
The Secret Seven: Mystery of the Skull – Pamela Butchart

BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK:

I Was Born For ThisAlice Oseman
To Kill a KingdomAlexandra Christo
LegendaryStephanie Garber
Sunflowers in FebruaryPhyllida Shrimpton
The Exact Opposite of OkayLaura Steven

AND THE WINNERS ARE…drumroll please!

oscar the hungry unicornBEST PICTURE BOOK
Oscar the Hungry Unicorn

death in the spotlightBEST MIDDLE GRADE BOOK
Death in the Spotlight

to kill a kingdomBEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK
To Kill a Kingdom

OVERALL WINNER
The Truth Pixie

A massive congratulations and thank you to all of the authors who’s books made it to the shortlist! All of these books are so incredible and I’ve loved reading them in 2018!

kayleigh

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS – Kes Gray

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RELEASED: 04/10/2018
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Picture Book, Children’s, Christmas

A brilliantly funny Christmas picture book from the bestselling author of Oi Frog!

It’s the day before Christmas Eve and Santa is ever so busy … he’s got presents to wrap, reindeer to wake and a sleigh to start. But has he forgotten something? And, more importantly, will he be ready in time?

Inspired by Clement C. Moore’s classic festive poem, this hilarious, rhyming picture book is sure to have you ho ho ho-ing!

As soon as I saw Kes Gray’s name on the cover of this Christmas book, I just bought it, and I’m so glad that I did! Along with his typical fun rhymes in a story that’s both fun to read and listen to, Claire Powell’s illustrations are beautiful and really bring the story of Christmas Eve Eve to life!

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas is an enchanting book that’ll bring fun and laughter to everyone’s Christmas preparations, telling the story of how Father Christmas gets ready for a busy night! I can’t recommend this book highly enough and it has immediately become one of my festive favourites!