Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Little Owl's First Day by Debi Gliori and Alison Brown (Children's, Picture Book, 10E/10E)

August 2018, Bloomsbury Children's, 32 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Summary from Bloomsbury 
It's a big day for Little Owl. His first day at school. Little Owl doesn't want a big day though. He'd rather stay at home and have fun with Mummy and Baby Owl.

But at school he gets to build a rocket, learn to fly and even make a tiny new friend. Maybe big days spent with friends can be lots of fun after all!

Nayu's thoughts 
As soon as I saw this I fangirl squealed because I adore Debi's books so much. The stories are cute and are always teamed up with warm and fuzzy feeling making illustrations, with Little Owl's tale no exception. I really feel that Little Owl's behaviour sums up how scary school came seem compared to being at home with his mummy and younger sibling. Little Owl always seem to think that what he should be doing back home is better than any of the activities offered at school, but his reluctance does fade when he ends up enjoying himself, eventually. His attitude reminds me so much of the story how when I was young I refused to put on an apron at playgroup to do painting so I simply didn't do any! 

The expressions of Little Owl's mummy are priceless as she let's him push Baby Owl all the way to school in a hair-raising ride, even when it's hard she helps out subtly, knowing it's one way to help get him to school and not stay at home. I have a great respect for teachers and what they do, most especially the early year teachers who have to coax children out of their shells if they are shy and teach them things through play. If only every student could have a teacher as good as Miss Oopik. 

Find out more on Debi's website

If you go onto the Bloomsbury website through the link provided above there's a cute Little Owl activity kit! 

Suggested read

Kids Vs Nature Surviving Books 1-3 by Karl Steam and Jashua Lagman (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

May 2018, Karl Steam, 70-80 pages long, Ebooks, Review copies,

Book Summary
#1 Surviving Moose Lake 
Getting placed in a lousy group for a class assignment is bad enough, but it’s a thousand times worse when you get stranded in the wilderness with that group. Will Josh and three of his sixth-grade classmates have the skills they need to survive the wilderness? Will they all make it home alive?

#2 Surviving Desert View
Josh and three of his sixth-grade classmates find themselves stranded in the wilderness, again. Surviving in a forest was one thing. Can they survive a desert too?

Their situation takes a turn for the worse when they realize that their previous wilderness adventure was not an isolated experience. Not only do they need to complete another mission to get back home, but they need to find a way to prevent any more missions from happening.

#3 Surviving Horse Island
Josh and three of his classmates have proven they can survive a forest and a desert, but what about an island? Can they finish a third mission and make it home alive?

Nayu's thoughts 
Here's a fact which I haven't talked about much if at all on this blog: when I was little I devoured survival books. I was fascinated about how to stay safe if you were stranded in a particular environment, how to make shelter, gather clean water to drink, how to make a fire, and if needed how to get food. I believe my love of survival facts came from being fairly obsessed about reading an  adventure book series by Usborne which had puzzles within the story to solve, like Journey to the Lost Temple

and Agent Arthur's Jungle Journey. 

There were some quite creepy books in the series, I know I had almost most of them at one time, those I didn't have I borrowed from the library over & over! 

That's why I was eager to read the Surviving series, because it sounded so much fun! It truly was. I loved the pictures because they highlighted the danger the classmates got into thanks to the curious app, which varied depending on their location. By the end of book 3 I still don't know much about the app's company, why or how they are sending the children on bizarre missions which become life threatening in a few situations. I had to use my hand to cover up the snake picture *shudders*, but the way that cartoon style images are put against photographic backgrounds worked well and added to the realness of the stories. 

There's a good selection of characters forced on the adventure together: they aren't all necessarily friends to begin with and there are a fair few disagreements on what do to during the adventures, but slowly they tolerate each other. They have no choice but to band together when situations get tough: I like how health issues arising from particular environments and certain animal encounters are explored further once the story ends, making my survival loving side extremely happy. I want to know who the mystery company is! Even when the group do their best to eliminate the app on their phones, they still get whisked off and eventually returned without anyone around them noticing they had gone. These are already on my reread shelf, and I hope they make it to yours too! 

Find out more on Karl's website

Suggested read
For time travel with a little less danger check out Judi Curtin's series which includes You've Got A Friend by Judi Curtin (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)

Monday, 19 November 2018

The Secret Lives of Fruits and Veggies: The First Batch by Symone Marcella and A. J. Cosmo (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)

September 2018, Symone Marcella, 152 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Book summary
Can you keep a secret?

Did you know there’s a secret world right under your nose? It’s a world full of wit and adventure, mishap and mayhem. It’s a secret world of fruits and vegetables, each with their own personalities and preferences.

After closing time, fruits and vegetables clash in the supermarket, with disastrous results. Time is ticking. Can they overcome their differences before the store opens or will they end up being... discarded?

Tammy Tomato longs for adventure. She hates being stuck in a box all day, waiting to be bought and taken home by The People. All Tammy wants is to escape so she can go explore the supermarket and then travel the world. Her brother, Tom Tomato, thinks she’s crazy for seeking freedom. Tammy is determined to have her adventure but gets more than she bargained for when she encounters the dreaded, cantankerous Curtie Cauliflower. Tammy soon realises her troubles are just beginning…

Nayu's thoughts
You'll never look at a supermarket in the same way after this gem lettuce of a read (bad pun, sorry). I like it when objects come to life, and while it is a bit disconcerting how eager most of the fruit and veg is to be eaten by us humans, their characterisation is absolutely hilarious. Certain fruit and veg have specific personalities, be they grumblers, whiners, sticklers to the rules, and everything else in between. 

Most of the book is hilarious, although there are some perilous moments when it looks like some of the produce is done for. I mean why would you willingly enter a freezer when you know you will get spoiled if you don't get out quickly? The idiots! There's a military section to try and keep order in the chaos that started when Tammy the tomato wants more from life. Not everything that happened was her fault, and she was pretty instrumental in setting things right, but her dreams instigated everything. While this included chaos, Tammy also helped form a sense of community, even with the fruit and veg who didn't like mixing with other species.

I actually quite liked the names of fruit and veg starting with whatever letter their item began with: while it can sometimes be overused in children's fiction it helped make it easier to remember which fruit or veg each character was: there are only a few type of fruit and veg for each letter that are used in the story. The illustrations elevate the fun of the engaging story, are super cute to see and I looked forward to each one: they are on most pages, not quite every page. If only they could be in colour...

I've emailed Symone a few times (which has not influenced the grade of this review - it really is an awesome read!) and I'm certain her hopes include readers being willing to try out new fruit and veg because they like the characters of them. Quite often if you haven't liked the taste of a fruit or veg you simply need to have it cooked in a different way, like being roasted or in a stir fry. I say quite often instead of always because no matter how they are cooked I detest parsnips and marrow. 

I like almost all other veg, which can easily be combined in soups and stirfries for quick and easy meals, blitzed in a blender with fruit to disguise the flavour (no I haven't tried this method with parsnips: I don't want to either! Eat enough other veg that I can skip this one). It took me years to like pear and plums which I hated when I was a child. Current favourites include avocado, and a variety of berries. Oh & grapefruit ^u^ 

Find out more about the story on Symone's website

Suggested read 

The Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michelle Clark McConnochie (Children's, 9 years +, 10/10E)

Adore the outfit, bit scared of the scary looking creature, hence the grade just missing perfection!
August 2018, Morgan James Publishing, 200 pages, Ebook, Review copy

The first in a trilogy, The Uncooperative Flying Carpet tells the story of Sabrina Summers, her brother Rory, and her friends, whose lives are turned upside down when Sabrina’s father marries someone she suspects is a witch. Accidentally sent to the strange land of Dralfynia and turned into old-fashioned fairytale characters, Sabrina, Rory, Olive, and Persis must battle bats, witches, and goblins, deal with betrayal and mistrust, and get back home before they’re grounded for life. To do that, they’ll need to work as a team, but with only an uncooperative flying carpet and a unicorn with gas to help them, will they ever get back to Melas? And when they do, what will they find waiting for them?

Nayu's thoughts 
I adore fairytales, and loved the Tangle Rapunzel inspired outfit on the cover, so it was a no-brainer saying yes to review this book. What makes it extra special was that one of Sabrina's travelling companions is her brother! I adore siblings in books, as there's usually entertaining scenes involving them getting along/not getting along, and this was true for this story. I liked how Sabrina had to protect her brother even when he was annoying, because he was their brother and they were a long way from home. 

How the pair get to be far from home was fun to read about, there are elements of classic fairytales that are given an inventive twist which had me both laughing and on the edge of my seat not knowing what was going to happen. Who wouldn't want a magic carpet for transport? Or super long hair like Rapunzel's? Well, the hair part had it's problems, so how a fairytale sounds doesn't always mean it would be comfy for practical in everyday life, as Sabrina discovers. And unicorns aren't always as polite as you'd expect them to be!

I'm pleased this is the first book in a series because I really enjoyed reading it. It made me laugh a lot. Even though I hadn't met Sabrina before in other books, I felt like I knew her pretty quickly. I'm not saying which fairytales get touched upon in this book because that's a fun part of the story. There is a good mix of humour, great peril, sibling disagreement, and some aww moments too. It's gone on my digital reread bookshelf! 

Find out more on Michelle's website

Suggested read There's a great twist on the Rapunzel tale on this Young Adult read The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson (Young Adult, 10E/10E, NetGalley, short 'n' sweet review) 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Rad Girls Can by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl (Non-fiction, 10E/10E)

July 2018, Ten Speed Press, 112 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Book summary
You might know the stories of Malala Yousafzai, Anne Frank, Jazz Jennings, and Joan of Arc. But have you heard about Yusra Mardini, a Syrian refugee who swam a sinking boat to shore, saved twenty lives, then went on to compete as an Olympic swimmer? Or Trisha Prabhu, who invented an anti-cyberbullying app at age 13? Or Barbara Rose Johns, whose high school protest helped spark the civil rights movement?

Nayu's thoughts
There are occasions when you think about a review, believe you've written it when in fact it's still only in your head, and this book is one of those instances. Really sorry! It's here now, which is the main thing, because of how important this book is. There are so many strong women who have defied cultural/political/environmental/anything else you can think of so-called norms to be their true selves, stand up for what they believe in and chase their dreams. I know that there are many more women than those who got into this book, so maybe there will be a sequel at some point. For now this book showcases strong female role models that all girls (and women) can look up to for their values. 

I am not going through every single girl's story: that would be too long of a review. All I will say is the facts are clearly laid out and easy to read. It's not all about modern girls like Anne Frank (who ended up dying in a concentration camp because she was a Jew, and who wrote a famous diary while in hiding) and Malala Yousafzai (the girl who got shot in the head and came to England for medical treatment, and to live once she survived, simply for standing up to rebels and wanting girls to be educated). 

Someone who caught my interest was a girl who became a princess for her service to her country, Princess Ping Yang who lived in Ancient China well over 1500 years ago! The girls come from all walks of life, from all over the world. The book highlights the struggles they faced, including prejudice, and how they overcame them and became a role model. 

This is an essential must-read for any girl or boy's bookshelf, and definitely should be a key book in schools. 

Suggested read 

Little People, Big Dreams: Coco Chanel (Children's, Non-fiction, 10E/10E)

Little People, Big Dreams: Amelia Earhart by Ma Isbael Sanchez Vegara and Mariadiamantes, translated by Raquel Plitt (Children's, Non-fiction, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review) 



Pokemon the Movie: The Power of Us (2018)

I get a lot of emails inviting me places to various art exhibitions which I turn down as I'm not an art fan. I'm blessed to get invited to blogger events, but I never go because it's not practical with my health issues. That's why despite being invited to a premier of the latest Pokemon movie, The Power of Us out on November 24th 2018, it was with sadness I had to turn the opportunity down: travelling to London isn't easy among other things.

I've watched about 2 episodes of Pokemon since getting into the game series a year ago, and fully enjoyed it. I will watch more in the future (possibly), but other anime tends to get priority. This post is simply to make you aware of the movie, I haven't seen it so I can't review, but as a Pokemon fan I recommend you check it out. It's Pokemon!!!! Enjoy the trailer below.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Dara the Dormouse and Online Danger by Fuschia Phlox (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

 August 2018, 55 pages, Ebook, Review copy

Book summary
Dara the Dormouse lives with her family in Finlay's Forest. She learns about Internet safety and escapes a Pine Marten.

The Dara the Dormouse stories are sweet but cautionary rhyming tales designed to educate children about bullies, stranger danger and road, swimming and online safety and use their imaginations and English language skills. 

It also teaches the traits of resilience and empathy and introduces children to wildlife and flowers. 

There are quiz activities in the back of the books encouraging kids to make up stories, pick up an instrument and think about nature and wildlife.

Nayu's thoughts
I'm a sucker for adorable pictures, and the moment I saw Dara I knew I had to read her tale. She and her family are so cute guys, the illustrations made my heart warm and fuzzy, even if the story had some unpleasant danger in. The internet is a large place, and like any physical place in the world unfortunately the internet has it's own dangers. Dara's experiences show readers, especially younger ones with less experience, that being online can be dangerous, and they must always tell an adult if they see something they don't  like. Simple measures like only going online with an adult around is one way of reducing potential unpleasantness, as is an adult using a family friendly programme which won't let users go on anything inappropriate. 
I grew up with the internet, really being interested in it when I was a teen. Even then it was back in the days of dial-up, not broadband, where going online meant the telephone line couldn't be used. It was one or the other, not both. My grandfather was forever grumbling when he couldn't get through because I was online! Back then I was able to search on Amazon with my parent's permission on my own to choose books I wanted to read. Now I wouldn't necessarily let young teen me do that, because unfortunately even with filters against adult content I still see things that I'd rather not see, and that's on what should be an innocent shopping experience. As an adult it can be hard to take in what I see, I can't imagine what it must be for a child, which is why books like Dara's tale are so important to spread the word on internet safety and help younger users be aware of how to stay safe in the vast online world. 

Suggested read
Other internet safety themed reads include a book I haven't reviewed here but have read many times: Polly Plays her Part by Anne-Marie Conway