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Tag: Books for children

And the winner of the June Giveaway is…

And the winner of the June Giveaway is…

Win 5 Famous Five colour Short Stories

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…

fireworks photo

… Jackie!!

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.

June Giveaway

Happy reading

Suzie  xx 

Book review: Where’s the Dragon

Book review: Where’s the Dragon by Richard and Jason Hook

Where's the DragonWe 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.

Where's the Dragon

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.

Where's the Dragon

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 The suggested age range for the book is 4 – 7 years but grand-daughter loves it and she’s only two.

Where’s the Dragon would make a great birthday or Christmas present.

Happy reading

Suzie xx

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Billy has a Birthday: a book about bullying, by James Minter

Billy has a Birthday

Billy has a Birthday

Billy has a Birthday is the first book in the eight book Billy Books series by English author, James Minter. Aimed at children between 7 and 9, they deal with the important issue of bullying.

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 has a BirthdayThe characters.

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.

Billy has a Birthday

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.

Final thought

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

British Books Challenge 2017I’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.

Happy reading.

Suzie xx

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5 Classic Picture Books May Giveaway Winner !!!

May Giveaway Winner

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.

children's ebook giveaway

Choose your free books Here

Congratulations to Katie.

Happy Reading everyone.

Suzie xx

Win 5 Famous Five colour short stories in the June #Giveaway
Win 5 Famous Five colour short stories in the June #Giveaway

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.

Suzie xx

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Book review: Famous Five colour Short Stories

Famous Five

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.

Five on a Treasure IslandThere were twenty-one Famous Five novels in all. Enid Blyton could write a book in a week!!! (Excuse me while I have an “Oh, how I want to write as fast a Enid Blyton” moment.)

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

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.

famous five short stories

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?

Five and a Half-Term Adventure

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.

Well done Famous Five

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?

Good Old Timmy

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?

George's Hair is Too Long

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?

A Lazy Afternoon

My verdict.

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

Suzie xx 

PS There’s still time to enter my 5 Classic Picture Books May Giveaway

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Check out the latest book review of Things Evie Eats

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

Things Evie Eats

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.

happy dance photo

Thanks, Karen.

Suzie xx

Book review: Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane

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.

pilot jane and the runaway plane

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.

Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane

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.

Pilot Jane and the Runaway PlaneThe 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.

Final verdict

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.

Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane

British Books Challenge 2017

British Books Challenge

Pilot Jane and the Runaway Plane is written by Oxford-based writer, Caroline Baxter so it was a perfect choice for my British Books Challenge.  You can read my previous reviews here.

Suzie xx

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Book Review: The W.H.O Files – Potions in the Pizza

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.

The Cover

potions in the pizza

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*

The blurb:

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!)

My Review.

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.

My verdict

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.

Aboutmikey brooks Mikey Brooks

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.

Suzie xx

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Ever mistaken a bear for a dog? Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower. Book Review.

Ever mistaken a bear for a dog?

silly doggy

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…

Silly Doggy

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)

Silly Doggy

Lily is upset but the great twist at the end of the story is when she looks out in the garden and see’s…

Silly Doggy

Yep, she’s got it wrong again. Cue hilarious laughter from grandchildren.

British Books Challenge 2017Adam Stower is an award winning UK Author/Illustrator who has published books with such awesome titles as The Diary Of A Monster CatcherSlam!: A Tale of Consequences and Grumbug!

Silly Doggy! was my March book for the British Books Challenge 2017. It’s a fun book about mistaken identity and I will be looking out for more by Adam Stower.

Suzie xx

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