And the winner of the June Giveaway is…
There were over 500 entries in my June Giveaway for the 5x Famous Five colour short story books and I heard from lots of raving Enid Blyton fans. It was so nice to meet you all.
I’ll be sorry to part with these books, but the mighty KingSumo has chosen a winner. And it is…
So, well done to Jackie and sorry to everyone else.
The summer sun is burning down here in sunny Wales. Hope it’s shining with you but just in case it isn’t, here’s a photo of Aberystwyth beach.
Book review: Where’s the Dragon by Richard and Jason Hook
We have a new favourite story in our house. Where’s the Dragon?, written and illustrated by father and son duo Richard and Jason Hook, is a book with gorgeous pictures full of hidden dragons.
With over 70 dragons hiding in trees, mountains and lakes, this is the Where’s Wally of the dragon world. It has fantastic embossed pages and shiny spot laminations which makes the dragons really pop. My grand-daughter loves the ‘bumpy’ feel of this book. At £9.99 it was quite expensive but it is a hardback and doesn’t show any signs of wear after our many, many readings. I think it was well worth the money.
The story tells of George and his grandfather who go on a ‘dragon hunt.’ George can see dragons everywhere but grandfather doesn’t see any… even after they eat his boat. (Grand-daughter loves that part).
Where’s the Dragon has a quaint old-fashioned feel and the dragon is super cute.
Where’s the Dragon would make a great birthday or Christmas present.
The Tale of Mummyhood
Billy has a Birthday
Very often we see bullying in a school setting, but in this first book our hero, ten year old Billy has to deal with two older boys who demand money from him. Unsure how to handle the situation, Billy gives them the birthday money he has just received from his Grandad. Luckily, Billy’s friend Max tells Grandad what has happened. Together they hatch a plan to get the money back and stop the bully’s.
Billy and his friends are great characters. The bullying incident comes relatively late in the book by which time we’ve got to know Billy well. He’s ten years old, trying to be grown-up but not really there yet: it’s a struggle we can probably all relate to.
My favourite character is Billy’s Grandad. He’s awesome; knowing just how to make Billy feel special. I especially liked that it was Grandad who foils the bully’s. It’s not often grandparents come out as the hero’s.
A special mention should go to the illustrator, Helen Rushworth. There is a picture at the start of each chapter and I thought they were just right for the narrative.
The story gives a clear message that you should always reach out and ask for help when facing bully’s. There is free activity book and some teaching notes to go with the book which will make talking about the issues raised easier either with your child individually or in a classroom setting.
I’m going to leave you with the dedication from the book, which says it all.
To those who think bullying and aggression are the way to go through life; you are so wrong.
The British Books Challenge
I’m including Billy has a Birthday as my June book in the British Books Challenge.
Although James Minter has only been writing since 2009, he has already penned fourteen books.
This is a well-written story that deserves success.
The Tale of Mummyhood
Wow, there were nearly 700 entries in the “Win 5 Classic Picture Books” contest. Kingsumo made the draw and the May Giveaway Winner is …
… cue awesome drum explosion from my daughter …
… and the May Giveaway Winner is Katie.
Commiserations to everyone else. In the meantime, there are eleven awesome ebooks for children to download for free, including my own Better BuckIe Up. You can read on your Kindle, your phone, your tablet or on your computer; just download the file type you’d prefer.
Congratulations to Katie.
Happy Reading everyone.
Win 5 Famous Five colour Short Stories
You could Win 5 Famous Five colour Short Stories in the June Giveaway. With up-to-date illustrations, these books are a perfect introduction to a world of Enid Blyton adventures for readers aged 6 – 9.
Titles in the giveaway include:
- Five and a Half-term Adventure
- Well done, Famous Five
- Good Old Timmy
- George’s Hair is Too Long
- A Lazy Afternoon
All you have to do is answer one simple question below.
I’ll be drawing the winner on the 1st of July.
Good luck everyone.
I grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton. Oh, how I wanted to be one of the Famous Five; solving mysteries and having adventures.
The first book, Five on a Treasure Island, was published in 1942. It’s a product of a different age. Even though the oldest of the children is just 12 years old, they roam about the countryside unsupervised; they attend boarding school and have parent’s rich enough to own islands. But that doesn’t take away the fact that our heroes still outwitted criminals, solved crimes and had loads of fun.
What I didn’t know was that Enid Blyton also wrote a series of Famous Five short stories for publication in magazines. These have now been released as books in their own right by Hodder. As I’m working on a middle grade book at the moment, I got hold of a few of the books to see what they were like.
Famous Five colour Short Stories
At 80 pages long, they’re not too long for beginner readers and I was happy to find that they have lost their cutesy 1950’s image and look current and fresh for modern kids. Inside, the illustrations are full colour too, giving them an almost comic book feel.
I did worry whether the 1950’s language might jarr alongside the contemporary artwork but I think it stood up admirably.
Readers of my blog will know I’m a BIG fan of text that complements the illustrations and tried to incorporate that into my own picture book design. Jamie Littler, the artist on the Famous Five books, does this really well.
What are the books about?
Five and a Half-term Adventure
George’s dog Timmy sniffs out an adventure when he spots some suspicious-looking passengers on a train. He is very interested in one of them, but what has he spotted? Can the Famous Five solve this mystery?
Well done, Famous Five
The most famous racehorse in England is being trained in Kirren, and the Famous Five are eager to watch. But when the horse bolts the Famous Five need to think quickly to make sure he isn’t lost or injured. The whole of England is depending on them.
Good Old Timmy
After the Five see a boy being kidnapped at the beach, they set out to find him. But where have the kidnappers hidden the boy? Will Timmy lead them to the answer?
George’s Hair is Too Long
Borrowing some scissors is the beginning of an adventure for the Famous Five, as George manages to get mixed up with some burglars. Julian, Dick and Anne are too busy eating ice cream to realise that George is in trouble! Will the Famous Five manage to catch up with the burglars and save the day?
A Lazy Afternoon
It’s so terribly hot, the Famous Five are having a lazy afternoon…but the gang don’t get the peace and quiet they imagined! What are the men on the motorbikes up to? Can they be stopped?
I really liked this new series. I’m sure they’ll be a hit for children transitioning from early readers to ‘real books’ and reluctant readers will love the colourful pages. They are a great introduction to Enid Blyton’s classic series.
I’ll be giving away copies of the 5 books in my June Giveaway, just answer the easy question below.
Thanks for reading
Check out the latest book review of Things Evie Eats
It’s always exciting when you get a book review so I wanted to share the awesome review of Things Evie Eats that I received from the lovely Karen over at The Next Best Thing to Mummy.
This is a delightful book with fantastic illustrations
Especially useful to parents and carers who have a fussy eater
Reviews are like gold dust to authors. You can read the full review HERE while I do my happy dance.
Book review: Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane
I was really happy to win a copy of Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane recently in a giveaway on GetKidsIntoBooks. I thought it looked like a great story to share with the grandchildren. Here’s how we got on.
My grandson is into planes at the moment. His favourite toy is “Dusty Crophopper” 🙂 So he was excited to see a new book about a plane. He wasn’t bothered that the plane was pink and flowery in the slightest but I was a little surprised by it’s colour given the books clear attempt to challenge gender stereotypes.
The illustrations are bright and colourful with enough detail for us to talk about, and I loved the characterization of Pilot Jane. Grandson is also a big fan of rhyming text, so that was another point in the books favour.
The Pilot Plot
The story tells how Pilot Jane and her plane, Rose, go on lots of exciting journey’s. They earn such a great reputation that the Queen asks them to fly her to a party. Unfortunately, Rose eats ‘cake fuel’ the night before and wakes up with ‘plane flu.’ which means that Jane has to take the Queen in ‘Mighty Mitch’.
Naughty Mighty Mitch is cross that his new pilot is a girl.
Mitch groaned: “A girl pilot! Bother and drat!
I’ll bet she’s slow – or a big scardey cat!”
He starts to behave badly to scare her and to show off. (Grandson liked that he was naughty lol) But there’s a storm coming and that’s where things start to go wrong. Happily, Pilot Jane has the necessary skills to bring the situation under control and the pair ends up working together and becoming friends.
The story kept grandson’s attention the whole time. He insisted on a second and third reading straight away and asked, “Where’s the new book about the plane?” on his next visit. That makes Pilot Jane a definite hit.
Despite the message – girl’s can be pilot’s too – the last line was particularly good.
Whatever the weather, we work together,
Hurray for Girl – and Boy – Power Forever.
After the ‘girl bashing’ in the book I reviewed last, it was nice that the story fostered some much needed gender co-operation. In fact, I grew to like the pink plane. This was a book that showed girls can be girly, as well as strong and able.
British Books Challenge
Potions in the Pizza: Book Review.
I received a copy of Potions in the Pizza, the first book in The W.H.O Files, a middle grade fantasy by Mikey Brooks. It’s a fun read about a family of witch-hunters… think, a kids version of Supernatural.
Brooks is an illustrator as well as an author and this cover screams, “read me I’m an exciting book.” Once again, I wish I could draw *sighs*
10-year-old twins Ethan and Emmy’s parents have never told their kids what they do for a living. Then just before Halloween, while their parents are away on an emergency business trip, Ethan, Emmy, and their best friend Jax discover a HUGE secret: could the twins’ parents actually be . . . witch hunters?
Meanwhile at school, a new team of glamorous lunch ladies arrives on the scene, serving meals that taste way too good to come from a school cafeteria. There’s only one logical explanation: they’re witches, and the meals they serve are spiked with a dangerous potion! Why have witches come to Roosevelt Elementary? Where have Ethan and Emmy’s parents gone? Can it be a mere coincidence that their parents left just as the witches arrived? Whether they’re ready or not, Ethan and Emmy have only one option if they want to save their school and find their parents: become witch hunters themselves.
I love the idea of dinner ladies being witches (I think they may have been witches when I was at school too!)
First off, Potions in the Pizza is very American and, whilst I have watched enough American TV to understand ballpark, wieners and blacktop (actually, I had to Google that one to be sure), British ten-year olds might not. Of course, if you’re from the US this is not a problem.
Obviously I am far from the target audience for this book and I found the first part was a little slow and tied up with ‘school issues.’
Also, I didn’t warm to Ethan and Emmy straight away. Ethan is a bit whiny and ineffective and Emmy is rather self-opinionated and selfish. But it did give them plenty of room for improvement and they both had great character arcs. Once the book gets down to the nitty-gritty of dinner ladies being witches and Ethan discovers the truth about his parents real job, the story cracks along at an enjoyable pace and by the end I was totally rooting for the twins as they battle to save the day.
And that brings me to a niggly issue I had with the plot. Why on Earth did Ethan and Emmy’s parents not come up with a cover story about their job? Even real-life secret agents usually have some pretend-legitimate occupation that they use to explain their long trips out of town to their family and friends. Saying you work in the ‘family business’ is surely the quickest way to induce wild speculation with your children or their class mates. What were they thinking?
Also, I felt the dialogue was trying too hard at times, but again I’m somewhat older than the target age-range, so maybe the language would be ‘cool’ if I was younger. There are also some fight scenes but they are not gory and are suitable for the target audience.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It is a ‘witch-hunting’ story with a lot of twists and turns and I did not expect the ending. (No, I’m not telling). I will be looking out for Book 2 to see how the story unfolds.
Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including BEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURES series, and author of the middle-grade fantasy-adventure novel, THE DREAM KEEPER. He spends most of his time playing with his daughters and working as a freelance illustrator. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.
Love the bio. Would like to see Mr Brooks dancing the funky chicken lol.
I received a copy of The W.H.O. Files: Potions in the Pizza from Future House Publishing in exchange for an unbiased review.
Ever mistaken a bear for a dog?
Come on, it’s an easy mistake to make.
Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower is a very funny book that always makes my grandchildren laugh.
The story goes:
Lily, sees something in her garden.
It was big, brown and hairy. It had four legs, a tail and a big, wet nose, and Lily had ALWAYS wanted one…
Oops! My grandchildren love pointing out she’s got it wrong.
Lily does all the usual ‘doggy’ things with her new pet. She takes it for a walk, tries to teach it tricks and gives it a bath. But Lily’s parents put notices up around the neighbourhood and find the bear/dog’s owner. (Yes, really)
Lily is upset but the great twist at the end of the story is when she looks out in the garden and see’s…
Yep, she’s got it wrong again. Cue hilarious laughter from grandchildren.