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Read with Rhino Launch Day

Read with Rhino Launch Day

It’s been a crazy busy, exciting day for me with all three Read with Rhino books hitting the Amazon Hot New Releases in several categories at number 1, 2 and 3!!!!

Amazon Hot New Releases

I’d like to thank everyone who has downloaded the books. You are all awesome.

I’m off to put my feet up and celebrate.

Suzie xx

PS It would be great if you’d consider leaving a review. Authors love reviews. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, just a line to say ‘loved the illustrations’ or ‘the book made me laugh’ or something is great. Thank you soooooo much.

Storytime Live: Things Evie Eats
Storytime Live: Things Evie Eats

I just did my first ever live post on facebook! Yikes, it was super stressful because I thought I’d never get the streaming thing to to work, but finally it did. Phew! Although there are some things I need to note for next time, like turn-your-phone-onto-silent-before-you-start, and don’t-set-the-timer-to-go-off-on-the-cooker-in-the-middle! *sighs*

Anyhow, Storytime was in conjunction with the Indie Author Week 2020 Online Festival.

There are some fantastic events for both authors and readers streaming from the festival including a bedtime story from a different author every night this week, so please do go and check it out.

You can get a copy of Things Evie Eats here. Evie is free for everyone on the 14th and 15th of June, and permanently free for members of Kindle Unlimited.

Thanks for watching.

Suzie xx

Don’t forget my new series of early reading books, Read with Rhino, launches on the 16th of June.

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Book review: Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons

Want to teach your child to read?

I did.

But learning to read is a complex skill and I worried I’d do something to confuse them, which could do more harm than good.

My grandchildren had nailed the pre-reading skills; letters of the alphabet, how to hold a book and turn the pages the correct way etc. But how could I help them make the leap from single letters to words?

The Biff, Chip and Kipper series were recommended to me. The first set came with a ‘Teach your Child’ booklet as slim as the reading books themselves. Surely the knowledge I searched for couldn’t be condensed into a booklet so small?

After much research, I settled on Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann as the main book I would use. Siegfried Engelmann was an American educationalist who has written 456 books, so I figured he might know what he was talking about. There were other resources I used which I will get to in another post, but for today here’s the reasons I chose the Englemann book.

What I liked:

  • This book has very detailed instructions. You will need time to prep a lesson before sitting down with your child, especially at the beginning. There is a lot of reading before you get to Lesson 1, but you don’t have to remember everything as the ‘teachers instructions’ are on the page of the lesson in red.
screen shot of instructions from Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons

Using the book gets easier as you go along, just make sure that you do actually read the instructions as they can change subtly to get your child to practise slightly different things as the lessons progress.

  • The lessons included practise in writing too, which I felt reinforced the letters and words the children were learning.
  • The way Englemann differentiates between letter sounds was slightly unorthodox to me. For example an ‘a’ sound (as in ate) had a line over the top, while an ‘a’ sound (as in apple) did not.
showing different sounds of 'a' in Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons

It did make things easier at the beginning, as the child knows exactly how to sound out the word, but I worried this would confuse things when we switched to ‘normal’ books without this help. Happily, the kids took it in their stride, so I needn’t have worried.

What I didn’t like:

  • Each lesson ends with a little ‘story,’ which increases in complexity, but many of them were terrible stories. I mean, I know you can’t expect much from the simple ones.

But some were just completely random, and the pictures are not inspiring at all to modern day children used to all-singing, all-dancing graphics on everything.

We ended up getting to lesson 78 and moved on to Biff, Chip and Kipper books because a) they were more interesting, b) the kids had got the hang of the basics and c) I was more confident I could teach them.

  • UK parents also be warned that some of the words use the American spelling, for example ‘mom’ instead of ‘mum’. I did think of tippex-ing the word out and writing the English spelling, but I explained the book had been written by someone in America (which my grandchildren thought was super-cool) and they’ve obviously watched enough US television to not be phased by this, so in the end I left the words as they were.

Did it work?

Yes, it did.

teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons

Grandson was five when we started and we were able to work through at the rate of one lesson a day. However, by lesson 78 we switched over to Biff and Chip, as his interest in the ‘stories’ began to wane, but that didn’t matter. He could read. Yay!

Grand-daughter was only three and I never intended to do the book with her, but she had a real interest in reading and she wanted to be like her brother, so we gave it a try. She wasn’t as proficient in her alphabet at the beginning and we spent several days repeating one lesson so initial progress was slow. Then all of a sudden, things clicked into place and we were speeding through.

Success!

The verdict

This is a great book for homeschooling, or for using if your child is struggling at school.

Happy reading

Suzie xx

P.S check out Read with Rhino, my new series of early readers launching 16th June 2020.


read with rhino level one books


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5x Funny Picture Books #giveaway
5x Funny Picture Books #giveaway

Have you read every book to your child during lockdown so many times you no longer need to look at the text?

We’re on lockdown here in the UK, which means we can’t make visits to our local library for new books – a disaster in my house. It’s not that we haven’t got books, but even our favourites are getting old. If you have the same problem, fear not. My ‘5x Funny Picture Books Giveaway’ is here to help.

About the books.

All illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees, these books are bright, colourful and will (hopefully) survive being retold until the end of lockdown.

Titles on offer are:

The Chimpanzees of Happytown

Chimpanzees of Happytown

Story by Giles Andreae

Life is no fun for the chimps in Drabsville – the mayor demands that all their houses look the same and that no one should have a good time. But things take a more colourful turn when Chutney the chimpanzee arrives, carrying a tiny seed in a box…

With all the craziness in the world at the moment, I think we all deserve to escape Drabsville and find a piece of ‘Happytown.’

Down by the Cool of the Pool

Down by the Cool of the Pool

Story by Tony Mirton

Join sprightly Frog and his energetic farmyard friends frolicking down by the cool of the pool – flipping and flopping, splishing and splashing in the watery wonderland. 

If you’re missing a trip ‘down by the cool of the pool’, this is the book for you! (Gotta stop with the lockdown puns)

All Afloat on Noah’s Boat

All Afloat on Noah's Boat

Another story by Tony Mitton

Noah’s amazing Rainbow Ark is busy and noisy, and it’s not long before the animals begin to get cabin-fever. Clever old Noah hatches a plan for an incredible creature cabaret to get the Ark swinging again.

Did someone say cabin fever! Arrghhh!!!

Ants in your Pants

Ants in your Pants

Story by Julia Jarman

Leopard is having a party, but he hasn’t invited Aardvark. When naughty ants start biting bottoms at the birthday bash, it isn’t long before all the guests are throwing their pants in the air to get rid of them! Only Aardvark can eat the ants and save the day, but will he make it to the party?

I dedicate this book to all the children out there with birthdays who will have to wait to invite their friends and family to their parties.

Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus

Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus

Another great Tony Mitton/Guy Parker Rees collaboration.

Shake, Shake, Shudder…near the sludgy old swamp. The dinosaurs are coming. Get ready to romp.

Join in with Triceratops, Stegosaurus and their friends as the dinosaurs stir up a dinosaurumpus! 

Perfect for dinosaur fans – and not a lockdown joke in sight for this one ha ha ha.

Entry is simple, just answer the ridiculously easy question below, and these books could be on the way to you very soon.

Hope you’re all surviving lockdown, and Good Luck with the giveaway.

Love Suzie xx

PS Look out for ‘Read with Rhino,’ my new series of Early Readers launching 5th May.

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Read with Rhino coming may 5th


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Book review: Frostheart by Jamie Littler

Book review: Frostheart by Jamie Littler

Frostheart by Jamie Littler, book review graphic

I really, really, really wanted to love Frostheart by Jamie Littler.

How could you not love a book about a boy with magical powers on a quest to find his family in a weird and wild place?

The Blurb

Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea.

There, a boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them… and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.

But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash.

When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he’s whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family . . . ?

The cover

Oh my! Frostheart has a beautiful cover!

Sorry to go all Fan Girl here, but there’s a cutout on the front, there’s gold embossed writing, there’s cute and stylish artwork.

I love it! I want it!

I would pick up the book on the cover alone.

Frostheart by Jamie Littler, book cover showing cutout cover

The artwork

The awesome illustrations don’t stop with the cover. Just to show what a talented chappie Jamie Littler really is, there are black and white line drawings throughout the book, which, along with some clever typesetting makes Frostheart a very special book.

Frostheart by Jamie Littler, interior photo showing beautiful illustrations and typesetting

Characters and writing

The writing style is lyrical and the descriptions vivid. Littler’s imagination has run wild with the world-building. It’s gorgeous prose.

There are a cast of colourful characters and the protagonist, Ash, goes on the ‘hero’s journey’ to discover, use and ultimately come to terms with his powers.

To love, or not to love, that is the question.

So, why did I keep reading a few chapters and then putting the book down?

Did I not care whether the boy with the song-weaving powers found his parents or not?

Well… kind of.

Was I not on the edge of my seat to find out if he would survive exile from the only home he’d ever known with his mentor?

Umm…

Even if the mentor is a warrior-yeti?

OK, a bit.

Seriously, it took me weeks to get through this book. I finally figured out the problem.

Pacing

The book starts off pacy enough with Ash using his song-weaving power for the first time to save his friend, but then the whole thing slows down while the villagers get freaked about the song-weaving, reject him and the Frostheart arrives. Then he has to decide to go on the Frostheart, and it just seems to take f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

No spoilers, but things do speed up for Ash to save the day, but on the whole, the pace was slower than I would have liked.

My verdict

Frostheart is aimed at the 8 – 12 year old audience, the one’s who enjoy ‘How to Train your Dragon’ and ‘Frozen.’ It’s lovely writing, really imaginative, and don’t forget that to-die-for cover. I was really sad that I didn’t love it. It was a just bit too slow for me.

Have you read Frostheart? Do you agree with my verdict?

Let me know in the comments.

Suzie xx



Book review: Ghosters by Diana Corbitt

Book review: Ghosters by Diana Corbitt

Kicking off the 2020 book reviews here on my blog is Ghosters, a middle-grade novel, by Diana Corbitt.

Ghosters, a middle grade novel by Diana Corbitt

The Blurb

Filled with scares, mystery, and plenty of humor, Ghosters tells what happens to twelve-year-old Theresa Martinez and her autistic brother, Joey, when their mom suddenly dies and money problems force the family to move into a creepy old mansion.

Her dead grandmother’s creepy old mansion.

Enter Theresa’s new ghost-obsessed friend, Kerry. Eager to use her ghost-hunting technology, Kerry suggests they enter a reality TV show’s video contest. “If we win, we both get what we want,” she tells Theresa. “You earn money for your family. I record an actual ghost.”

And why not try? The place is definitely haunted.

Hey, what could happen?

My random thoughts on Ghosters.

Ghosters was a surprising story in many ways.

This is not a book about silly children chasing what they think is a ghost and it turns out to be shadows at the window, or something equally boring. Ghosters turned out to be an actual ghost story.

As this is a ghost story, there are some spine-tingling scary passages, although there are some funny bits too. However, it is the cast of well-rounded characters dealing with very real issues of grief and living with Asperger’s syndrome that makes this book stand apart from others: it wasn’t really what I was expecting.

I also didn’t see the twist at the end coming, and this added another (unexpected) layer to the story.

Whilst not wanting to give spoilers, I did wonder whether it would have been possible for the protagonist’s father to have kept the ‘secret’ without her suspecting, but I’m considerably older than the 9 – 12 years target audiences, so they probably wouldn’t be as skeptical as me.

Ghosters a middle grade ghost story by Diana Corbitt

All the characters were flawed and believable. Theresa was especially well-written. One minute she was taking on the role of care-taker for the family, the next she was doing things that made you remember she was actually only 12 years old. Good stuff.

Final notes

This is a great ghost story that I enjoyed. Diana Corbitt has three other books in the series too, so young readers can follow Theresa, Kerry and Joey on their adventures.

Happy Ghosting!

Suzie xx


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“MOG” May Giveaway

mog may giveaway

“Mog” May Giveaway

Regular readers of my blog will know that Judith Kerr’s ‘Mog’ series has a special place in my heart (and on my bookshelf). I’ve read the stories of the lovable, and just a little bit naughty, cat to my children and now to my grandchildren. And they love them just as much as I do. So, here’s your chance to win 4 ‘Mog’ books in my May Giveaway.

Titles up for grabs this month include:

Mog the Fogetful Cat

Mog the forgetful cat

Mog always seems to be in trouble. She forgets that she has a cat flap and she forgets that she has already eaten her supper. But, one night, Mog’s forgetfulness comes in very handy…

Mog in the Dark

mog in the dark

One night Mog’s imagination takes her on a hilarious twilight adventure to a land of fantastical creatures, but true to form, all Mog really wants is her supper!

Mog on Fox Night

mog on fox night

One evening Mog refuses to eat her food and Mr Thomas decides he’s had enough and outside she must go. In the snow Mog feels cold and alone until she wakes from a snooze to find some young foxes are playing with the rubbish bags.

Mog and the V.E.T mog and the vet

One day Mog was chasing a butterfly when something happened to her paw. “She’ll have to go to the vee ee tee,” said Mrs Thomas. But Mog hates going to the vet and before her paw can be made better, she causes great confusion in the vet’s surgery…

Every child deserves to read ‘Mog’ so if you’d like to win these four stories, just enter on the form below.

The winner will be drawn on 1st June.

Good luck.

Suzie xx



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Children’s Easter Book Bonanza

Easter Book Bonanza

Children’s Easter Book Bonanza

A very quick post today from a wet and windy Wales. I’ve teamed up with ten authors to bring you the Children’s Easter Book Bonanza. Yay!

Go to the Children’s Easter Book Bonanza
There are books for children between 0 and 12 years… and they are awesome. So, head over to the giveaway and download yourself a bargain. But be quick as this is a Four Day Event and the discounts end on the 2nd of April.

Even if the weather is as bad with you as it is with me, you’ll have your Easter reading sorted 🙂

Happy reading.

Suzie xx


 

Book review: Ten Sheep to Sleep by Nidhi Kamra

 

Ten Sheep to Sleep

I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog recently but I thought you might like to look at some of the books I’ve been reading. I’m starting with Ten Sheep to Sleep by Nidhi Kamra.

The Blurb

Sammy Jo counts ten sheep to put her to sleep, but tonight, ten more sheep appear. The new sheep are creating a ruckus. Sammy Jo has to find a way to calm the sheep down, count twenty sheep, and ensure everyone is happy so they can get a good night’s sleep.

The Story

There was a lot I liked in Ten Sheep to Sleep. For a start, the title is wonderful and the grandkids ran about chanting it after we’d read it.

I liked that Sammy-Jo was pro-active in problem solving to help the sheep and it was fun seeing the things that the other people in the story counted to help them fall asleep.

Ten Sheep to Sleep screenshot 1

I’m not an artist but the illustrations have a painted-in-watercolour effect that adds to the dream-like feel. I did worry that my grandson might complain the book was a bit ‘pink’ but it didn’t seem to offend him.

What the grandchildren thought.

At 3 and almost 5 years old, my grandchildren are below the suggested age range for this book of 5 – 8 years. The idea of counting sheep when you couldn’t get to sleep was not one that they’d encountered so we had to discuss this. Grandson promised he’d try it at bedtime.

They had no problem counting to ten with Sammy-Jo, however they’d not tried counting in two’s. The concept went over the head of the 3 year old but the older one was very interested and we had to try out the idea with his Lego blocks. Older children would probably understand the maths already but the book was a nice way to introduce them to little ones.

Ten Sheep to Sleep screenshot

 

The final verdict.

Ten Sheep to Sleep is an unusual book which created some interesting talking points and learning opportunities with my grandchildren. It would be equally useful for early readers or as a picture book.

Love Suzie xx

PS Don’t forget about my March giveaway. Enter below.



 

March giveaway – 5x Guy Parker-Rees Picture Books

Announcing my March giveaway, 5x Guy Parker-Rees Picture Books.

March giveaway

If you’ve been reading my blog, you will have noticed that I often wish I could draw. OK, I can do stick people and things with straight lines, like houses, aren’t too shoddy, but anything more?  Forget it.  One of my favourite book illustrators is Guy Parker-Rees. I love his bright, bold artwork… and kids do too. So, I’m excited to have five of his picture books up for grabs in my March giveaway.

Here are the books you can win.

Come to Tea on Planet Zum-Zee

alien tea on planet zum zee

If you take your rocket to the outer edge of space, you’ll come across a funny little alien place. The alien peoples call it Planet Zum-Zee, and they’re meeting here today for a special picnic tea. Join the space party on Planet Zum-Zee! Meet the crazy creatures and share their deliciously funny food.

The Jungle Run

Here come the animals, one by one.
They’re all getting ready for the Jungle Run.
Cub turns up to take her place 
but the others say, ‘You’re to small to race . . . ‘

Cub may be little compared to the other animals, but she’s quick and clever and she knows just how to show the rest of the jungle what a winner she is.

Spookyrumpus

Bong! Goes the bell in the rickety tower, Twelve times…that means it’s Spooky Hour. 
Listen! Hush! Oooh, what’s that sound? The midnight spooks are coming round. 
The creepy countdown has begun, so get ready to giggle at funny, floaty ghosts, clickety-clackety skeletons and terrific tromping trolls! A real rollicking, romping, rhyming story with hilarious illustrations.

Jolly Olly Octopus

Jolly Olly Octopus

When Jolly Olly Octopus gets the giggles, it isn’t long before the waves of bubbly laughter have spread to all his friends and the whole sea bed is awash with sea creatures chuckling away. But, oh no! Here comes Shark! Suddenly things aren’t quite so funny any more.

K is for Kissing a cool Kangaroo

K is for Kissing a cool Kangaroo

From juicy jellybeans to kissing kangaroos, children will love learning and remembering the letters of the alphabet in this fun-packed ABC book with vibrant illustrations

If you’d like to be the proud owner of these great books, enter the competition below.

Good luck peeps.

Love Suzie xx



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