Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 Shortlist

We’re a bit late to the party this year, but we’re still here and supporting! The fantastic Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist has been announced – and there are some great books in there.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 logo, unveiled with the Blue Peter Book Awards Shortlist

The Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist has been announced! Wizards, warriors, wabbits, weird worlds, leper colonies and creepy things take the 2018 top spots. They’re all competing to win the Best Story and Best Book with Facts.

The contenders for Best Story are ‘The Island at the End of Everything’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, ‘Wed Wabbit’ by Lissa Evans and ‘The Wizards of Once’ by Cressida Cowell. Each of these nominations have strong girl characters who must undertake dangerous journeys in their quest to triump over evil. But who will triumph from the Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist?

Battling to be crowned Best Book with Facts are ‘Corpse Talk: Ground- Breaking Scientists’ by Adam Murphy & Lisa Murphy, ‘Real-Life Mysteries’ by Susan Martineau, illustrated by Vicky Barker and ‘Beyond the Sky: You and the Universe’ by Dara Ó Briain, illustrated by Dan Bramall.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 Shortlist

BookTrust are again managing the Blue Peter Book Awards. All the books are published in the last 12 months. They are voted for by over 500 children from 12 schools across the UK. The winners will be revealed on World Book Day on the 1st March 2018.

The judges are ‘Kid Normal’ authors Greg James and Chris Smith, Poet and ‘Darcy Burdock’ author Laura Dockrill. School Librarian of the Year 2016 Amy McKay and Blue Peter editor and non-voting chair Ewan Vinnicombe make up the panel. They also selected the shortlist.

Greg James said. “Chris and I love Blue Peter SO much so to be asked to judge their Book Award was a total dream. It was brilliant to lock ourselves away and get lost in the entries. It was an incredibly tough choice but we are confident we’ve chosen books that will inspire a new generation of young readers.”

Amy McKay said: “It was a massive honour and pleasure to judge the Blue Peter Book Awards, I loved every minute of it! There were many fantastic books to choose from and I’m very proud of our eventual shortlists. I’m already eagerly awaiting hearing which books children vote as the winners.”

Blue Peter editor, Ewan Vinnicombe said: “In Blue Peter’s 60th year the Book Awards will play a key role in our celebrations. The shortlist is just so exciting and shows the creative strength in children’s publishing at the moment. With a diverse mix in both categories, I can’t wait to find out what school children in the UK decide are their favourites.”

The Blue Peter Book Awards have been celebrating children’s literature since 2000. BookTrust has managed the Blue Peter Book Awards since 2008. The 2017 winners were Kieran Larwood and David Wyatt who won Best Story with Podkin One Ear and David Long and Kerry Hyndman who won Best Book with Facts for Survivors.

Laura Dockrill explained. “I adored judging the Blue Peter Book Award. The nominated list was incredibly strong and made judging the prize so difficult. Which I think is a very good thing for the world of children’s books! I met wizards, talking toys with speech impediments, and was flown across the globe to marvellous new landscapes. I met big foot, uncovered mysteries
and had my head blown off by space facts. It was a wonderful privilege and the shortlist is stunning!

Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust commented. “The Blue Peter Book Awards are a brilliant way to celebrate children’s literature and get youngsters excited about reading. BookTrust is honoured to be involved in such prestigious awards and hopefully inspire even more children to become lifelong readers.”

Keep up-to-date with the Awards at www.booktrust.org.uk/bluepeter and on Twitter by following @Booktrust and #BPBA

H earns her first Blue Peter badge

Friends for All at the Polka Theatre

Friends For All comes to the Polka Theatre 20-22nd October 2017 – featuring rapping, dancing and far-out video projections. A story about standing up for what you believe in.

Friends for All by Simon Mole

Friends For All is London-based rapper Simon Mole’s creation. He brings his interactive spoken word performance for families to the Polka Theatre from Friday 20 October – Sunday 22 October.

Friends For All is a story about having the confidence to be yourself and stand up for what you believe in. It features rapping, dancing and far-out video projections for ages 5-11 and their grown-ups.

8 year old Lexi doesn’t make friends as easily as some. If only her school would allow a non-school uniform day then she could be herself and find others like her. Inspired by Grandad’s hippy stories from the swinging 60s, she decides to fight the powers that be, namely her class teacher, Mr Marsh, and the class bully, Suzy.

Poet and rapper Simon Mole performs in this humorous and moving piece, co-created with theatre maker Peader Kirk. The show features Simon Mole’s trademark poetry, rap and storytelling style. There are video projections courtesy of Andrew Crofts, an original sound track composed by Jonny Wharton and lighting design is by Phil Clarke.

Friends for All is one of several productions that form part of Half Moon Presents, the producing arm of Half Moon. Half Moon supports the promotion and development of theatre for young audiences at a national and international level.

Simon Mole says: “I wanted to create a piece of theatre that wasn’t dumbed down for young audiences; something that was exciting and complex enough that they could be an active and creative audience. Friends For All feels like a wide-screen cinematic experience. It features an array of virtual performers and it’s incredible to see how the young people react to them. But there’s also an important message, to empower them to understand that they are able to make change within the world they live.”

Friends For All was originally commissioned by the V&A as part of the Family Art Fun Programme and inspired by their You Say You Want a Revolution exhibition and developed with support from Apples and Snakes, the Albany, University of Bedfordshire and Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre. Arts Council England are funding this production.

All tickets are £13.50 (£10). You can buy at the Box Office or by calling 020 8543 4888. Tickets are also available online at www.polkatheatre.com

 

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

I still can’t believe my little girl is 8. But being that bit older means she’s enjoying reading books which are a bit older in tone too. We are reviewing Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren, and are taking part in a blog tour.

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren is a book for older readers. H is 8, and I wasn’t sure if this would be age-appropriate for her. Then I realised she had stolen all my Harry Potter books. In addition she has read them way more times than I had, so actually, she would be absolutely fine. Silly me!

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

Once H started reading Prisoner of Ice and Snow she would switch off from what was going on around her – completely engrossed!

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

I asked H for her opinion about Prisoner of Ice and Snow.

“I liked it, it’s a good book. Valor, the main character, does something bad and is put in prison. She tries to help her sister escape. It’s an adventure story, I think it’s a good book for 8-12 year olds. It was good as it had two main characters that were girls.

I liked that Prisoner of Ice and Snow had more girls in it that boys. It was an exciting story too! It had a happy ending. I didn’t want to put the book down when sad things were happening in case something went wrong. 

“Valor is a bit older than me – she’s 13. It always snows and is cold where she lives. Both her parents are still alive and well. They’re outside the prison, but her twin sister Sasha is inside. Sasha is accused of stealing a magic box. If you haven’t read the book it seems like is a little thing to be imprisoned for. However, the music box belongs to the royal family!

Valor goes to prison for attempted murder on the prince. She wanted to get into Demidova to help her sister escape. Valor didn’t want to murder the prince, it was all about getting her sister. She tries to shoot the prince with her crossbow but misses him on purpose. 

At the start I struggled a bit, though once I got into the book it was very exciting and a good read. I couldn’t put it down sometimes!”

So there speaks H. She has really enjoyed the books – check out the other blogs on this tour, and big thank you’s to Faye Rogers for organising it!

Ruth Lauren’s site is here. You can buy the book at Amazon here (Affiliate link).

Prisoner of Ice and Snow Blog Tour

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival – Our Review.

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival

We’re part of a book blog tour for Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival, a wonderful book which is out now!

Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival celebrates individuality in a really lovely way. Norman has always been perfectly normal until one day he grows a pair of wings. He has a wonderful time flying around, but doesn’t want anyone to know about his wings.

So he keeps a large coat on all the time. But that then stops him from having fun. He’s too hot to play in the park, and it’s very impractical when you’re having a bath too.

Eventually one day he decides to remove his coat. So do a lot of other people at the same time, and they all have wings too which they’ve been hiding. “the sky was filled with flying people! Norman had never felt so happy!”

Which in turn makes Norman realise there is no such thing as perfectly normal – just Perfectly Norman!

We’ve reviewed one of Tom Percival’s books on here which we also loved – he gets the message across to young readers really well.

Perfectly Norman is a lovely book, which has a great message in there too. There is no such thing as being normal like everyone else, because everyone is their own kind of normal.

As the back of the book says, ‘A bold and uplifting book about daring to be different and having the courage to dance to your own tune. Perfect for soothing even the biggest worries.”. I think it sums the book up perfectly.

We’re back from our holiday, where we did loads of fun stuff, including a National Trust trail at Dyrham Park which set a challenge of trying to fly like an eagle. It had a beautiful carved pair of wings in a tree trunk and while I didn’t quite get a photo of H mid-flight, she loves the idea of recreating a bird in flight and wishes she had wings of her own.

H flying at Dyrham Park

You can buy Perfectly Norman now, available in a softcover version from all good booksellers and of course places like Amazon too (affiliate link).

Perfectly Norman Banner

We received a copy of Perfectly Norman for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own. 

We’re in the Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack!

A Brownie Lottie doll has just been launched, and we’re a part of it. We’re joining in with the launch of the Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack!

The Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack is a group of former Brownies from various eras, some of us have children who are also now Brownies. How brilliant is it to be working with someone who has launched something we’re doing in real life?

Lottie Dolls need no introduction in this household. H has five of them – and a Finn, her little boy-chum. The Lottie’s and Finn live in our little cardboard dolls house which lives in H’s bedroom.

Lottie Dolls are suitable for children aged 3-9. I like that they’re normal little dolls. They have simple clothes and do fun things that most children will also do. They’re very relatable – and I think that’s why H loves them so much.

Back in the seventies I had similar with Amanda Jane dolls. I loved them SO much! My favourite was my Brownie Amanda Jane – I was delighted to discover there is now a Brownie Lottie doll.

H has just finished her first year at Brownies and loves it! In the year she has done Brownies she has done SO MANY BADGES. Seriously. Even better, she’s doing quite a few on her own. I love the independence Brownies is giving her and hope that we’re encouraging the girls to find things out and do more for themselves.

What I like the most about Lottie dolls is how they’re normal girls like H. They wear normal clothes and do normal things that H and her friends would do.

Having a Brownie Lottie is wonderful! H plays with her Lottie collection a lot – so having a Brownie one is ideal. I love that there are activity sets alongside the launch, and even better, you can buy the Brownie clothes separately, so brilliant if you already have Lottie dolls and don’t want to buy a new one.

How would I sell Brownies to someone who didn’t know? As a Brownie in the seventies I learned life skills – I think everyone did the Hostess badge, learning to make someone a cup of tea. Or learn how to tie various knots that might come in useful (then promptly forget them)?

My favourite thing was learning about Brownies around the world. I think that’s what makes me the happiest about Brownies. It is a worldwide organisation designed to make young girls have better skills in life and allowing them to grow.

Having Lottie team up with the Brownies is in my eyes, a perfect match. Over the coming weeks if you keep an eye on my Instagram feed or follow the hashtags #LottieBrownieDoll you’ll see lots of people sharing their pictures.

Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack, Brownie Throwback pic

Of course, there’s the obligatory #BrownieThrowbackPic – and happily I have just the one which I love! It would be around 1977-1978, though I didn’t seem to have many badges on my uniform. The first badge I did was the Brownie Friendship badge (which was really hard!) – apparently I was the first girl in York to do it.

Looking through a copy of the old Brownie handbook I can’t remember which other badges I did. I do remember having a brilliant time while making friends.

As the packaging says “The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the largest voluntary Movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world. Our diverse Movement represents ten million girls and young women from 146 countries. For more than 100 years Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has transformed the lives of girls and young women worldwide, supporting and empowering them to achieve their fullest potential and become responsible citizens of the world.

We are delighted we are in the Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack! Now if only there was a woven badge to add to our camp blankets….

Lottie Brownie Pack Badge, Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack

Mix It Magazine – A New Fun Magazine Out Now!

Mix It Magazine is a new monthly magazine suitable for 4-9 year olds. We received a copy of Issue 1 & 2 to share our opinion with you!

Mix it Magazine

Mix It Magazine doesn’t have one particular subject, it has many. Issue 2 is out now and just checking inside I thought it was excellent.

If I was to mention the following brands to you and you nod your head in agreement, Mix It Magazine is one your child will love.

Rainbow Magic…. Shopkins… Minions…. DC Super Hero Girls…. Lego Friends… Masha and the Bear…. LOL Surprise…. Glimmies…. Lalaloopsy…. Puppy in my Pocket… Miraculous…. Little Miss…. and my favourite…..

The bit I loved the most was having a whole page of Powerpuff Girls stickers! Shaun and I both love the PPG and love that since the relaunch they have a new audience with H’s age range. Beyond the stickers there are activities too. Issue 1 has some great Powerpuff cutouts with the Townsville background. I can’t think of many magazines that would feature them, Mix It Magazine feels a great match!

Mix it Magazine Powerpuff Girls

Mix It Magazine is targeted at girls without being too girly. There’s an element of kick ass cartoons in there too as well as lots of different puzzles.

Each issue has branded cover gifts – Issue 2 has a Miraculous dance wand, hair bands and lip gloss set. H is enjoying putting the lip gloss on! Issue 1 had some nail files, nail stickers (which we’re saving for the summer holidays), toe separators and some nail varnish which H has already decorated her toes with..!!

Mix It Magazine is multi character, so you’re never sure who you’ll get in the next issue, but you get a good idea looking at the covers.

Mix It Magazine also features YouTube vloggers Creative Celeste and Emily Tube with a page about all the things they like. They’re a similar age to H, so that appeals to her.

H’s favourite part of the magazine was Lego Friends. One thing (apart from football or Harry Potter) you can always rely on her doing is sitting in the corner playing on her Lego table creating things. We had Merlin Passes for a couple of years and visited Legoland several times. H spent a lot of that time in the Lego Friends area.

There’s plenty of Shopkins bits too. She has a few bits which make good props for her dolls house. (which currently houses five Lottie dolls and a Finn) Mix It Magazine covers a lot of topics that would cover a wide range of girls.

Mix It Magazine Issues 1 and 2

Mix It is available now – Issue 2 has just come out, and you can still order Issue 1 here. Issue 3 will be on sale on the 10th August 2017. You can buy Mix It Magazine in all good newsagents and supermarkets!

We were sent Mix It issues 1 & 2 for the purpose of review – this is paid content and all opinions are our own.

Amazing Magazine – Learning While Having Fun

Amazing Magazine

H is almost 8, and finishing Year 3. She’s about to head into Year 4 and is still loving school – coming out with a glowing end of year report. I’d like to think that a lot of her learning is due to the extras we find along the way. When Amazing Magazine asked if we’d like to review a copy I jumped at the chance. Amazing Magazine is an excellent magazine which combines learning and fun.

Amazing Magazine is for 6-11 year olds, so is ideal for H – she’s nearly 8. We were sent a copy of Amazing Magazine for H to try. It fits in with the national curriculum, covering topics that they’re likely to cover at school.

The issue of Amazing Magazine we received was an Oceans themed one. Inside it contains puzzles like a crossword (not too tricky) and some maths puzzles which wouldn’t be out of place with H’s current homework. Add to that a bit of decoding messages and a wordsearch, a section on languages and Moby Dick in cartoon form over two pages, and you get the idea.

Amazing Magazine Moby Dick

H says “I like the Great White Shark poster, and the facts about it are pretty cool.”

“some of the puzzles are easy, but I did find a couple a bit tricky” (good, we need to get those braincells working!)

“the writing is nice and clear and I enjoy reading it”

” I learned how to say ‘look, a dolphin’ in Italian too – that was cool! and ‘I feel sick’ in Mandarin. Oh, and ‘watch out for a shark!’ in Spanish.” (in fact, she repeated them all really well – I found out later there’s a handy pronunciation guide with it!)Amazing Magazine How Do I Say

There’s a section about illnesses when you’re diving which H found quite interesting too.

Amazing Magazine Health
I like that there’s a theme in each issue. It’s the kind of magazine you would keep, knowing that the topic may come up at school over the next year or so and that you have additional activities which your child has found helps them learn. It doesn’t feel like it would ever go out of date.

H and Amazing Magazine disappeared upstairs for a while and there was a lot of quiet. There was more than enough inside to keep her occupied! I’m looking forward to reading more.

H and Amazing Magazine
For more information about Amazing Magazine, please head to their website. A 12 month subscription with Amazing Magazine currently costs £49.00. Each individual issue is £6.99. We have been gifted a year’s subscription to Amazing Magazine. We received a copy for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.

How to be a Scientist by Steve Mould

We received a copy of How to be a Scientist by Steve Mould. It encourages exploring, investigating and figuring out how things work. I like the sound of that; a book that isn’t about experiments and makes science about what it should be – everything around us.

how to be a scientist by steve mould

How to be a Scientist by Steve Mould breaks each part of science into easy chapters. Natural World, Human Body, Chemistry, Earth, Physics and Space.

This is where I like it. When I was at school, science was never presented as being interesting to me. When I had to choose one science as a subject it was between chemistry (too hard), physics (too many potential dissections) or biology (too much writing). How sad does that sound? I wasn’t interested and there weren’t books like this to help me see that science is everywhere.

H enjoys it, and I’m doing my best to make sure she keeps enjoying it. I would say How to be a Scientist is a good way of keeping the enthusiasm going. Steve Mould has his own YouTube channel where he regularly uploads videos, and this is his first book. He’s enthusiastic and interesting too.

How to be a scientist - make a tornado
How to be a Scientist encourages children to think like a scientist rather than reading about it like you would a textbook.

I liked the taste test in the human body section. Trying different fruit while holding your nose to show how simple your tastebuds are. Actually, almost all the tests are along those lines. The book clearly explains everything which meant H was able to work through the book with minimal help from us parents.

She has tried a couple of activities. I like that she’s bringing them to us with enthusiasm and a new found knowledge.

We tried the ‘make a tornado’ activity which was really easy – putting washing up liquid into a jam jar and turning it in a certain way to watch the bubbles created turn like a tornado.

Making a tornado - how to be a scientist

Each section also mentions other scientists to back up the learning, which in turn will help when she covers them at school.

How to be a Scientist is a book for 7-9 year olds. This is exactly the right kind of book for her. She’s a strong, confident independent reader who wants to be able to do things on her own. H is working through some Brownie badges and I feel like this book will be ideal for the Science Investigator badge too!

How to be a Scientist is available now via DK Books.

We were sent How to be a Scientist for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.

Scotland Yard – National Unplugging Day

On the 25th June it’s National Unplugging Day – a day when you avoid your tablets and spend some quality family time together. Maybe playing a board game or two? We received Scotland Yard from Ravensburger games, a board game which has been around for a while now. Read on to find out more!

scotland yard from ravensburger

Scotland Yard is a board game which has a few ways to play. It’s definitely a lot more fun when there are more than two of you playing, though I’d recommend doing the easier version first to get the hang of what to do.

For review purposes, assume there are three of us playing. One person is Mister X. The other players are detectives. The purpose of the game is to move around stops in London to track down Mister X. That’s a really simple way to explain it, as there are different ways to move around London.

Mister X wears a visor – after all, he doesn’t want the other players to know where he is.

Scotland Yard Mister X

You have a taxi which covers every stop, a bus which covers quite a lot of stops and finally when playing the difficult version of the game, you have the underground which moves you around the board faster.

scotland yard board game

The easy version of Scotland Yard has the counters on the board at all times, except for Mister X when he’s doing invisible moves. All of Mister X’s moves are tracked on this handy board. When you’re Mister X it’s handy as I kept forgetting where I was.

When you’re doing the difficult version of the game, Mister X only appears on the board three times. This is where the strategic play comes into it – Scotland Yard is quite clever. If you know where Mister X passed through, you also know the way he has travelled. So there’s a good chance you will be able to work out where he could be – each form of travel covers up the move on the board like so.

The detectives take a card from the blue pile to find their starting spot – then it’s about tracking down Mister X with limited clues.

Scotland Yard gameplay

When you’re playing the difficult version of the game you can control two other counters which are the police. You discuss with the other player who isn’t Mister X where those counters go.

The other part of the game are the travel tickets. There are a set number per game to use – lots of taxi ones, a few for the bus and even less for the underground. So you’re having to use them wisely as the object of the game is to land where Mister X is.

Scotland Yard Mister X marker board

We enjoyed playing it – at first I thought the game seemed like Cluedo, but if you think that you’re wrong. Scotland Yard is a game that could go really quickly or could take a really long time. There are ways to escape the detectives and police, but you need to think carefully. It’s really good fun!

Scotland Yard is suitable for age 8+ and for up to six players. For more information head here!

The 25th June is National Unplugging Day, when families are encouraged to Go Gadget Free – we’re going to give it a go!

We received Scotland Yard for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals Panini Sticker Book

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book
Rejoice, rejoice! Panini have brought out a UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals sticker book! It’s out now, available in stores.

Panini have brought out the first ever UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals sticker book – and it’s available now! This is a REALLY big deal, as it has never happened before.

Back in the 80s I used to subscribe to Shoot! magazine – a football magazine famous for its League Ladders and facts about footballers across all clubs. My favourite week was always the one that featured the Tottenham team, obviously. But you had to wait…

My other favourite week was getting a free Football League Panini Stickers album – plus a few stickers to start you off. I’d spend my pocket money on Jukebox 7″ singles at our local supermarket alongside several packs of Panini stickers to complete my collection.

H is now at the age where she gets enough pocket money she knows to save it up to spend it on something she really wants. When I spotted that Panini have launched a UEFA Women’s Euro finals sticker book I had to buy it as a treat – start ’em young, right?

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book Norway team and badge

The sticker book covers all clubs from the forthcoming European finals, plus has a team badge and full team photo on each page. I found a book in Sainsbury’s. The book contains six stickers inside plus a couple of packs. I bought six more packs, you can never have too many.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book starter pack

The collection consists of a 40 page album with 334 stickers to collect. There are 22 special stickers to look out for too. The starter set costs £2.99 and consists of the book and 24 stickers to start you off. Each pack of stickers is 60p for five. Panini also offer you the option to order up any spaces online. That means no more having to save the backs of your old stickers before ordering.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book switzerland page

There are familiar names from the 2014 World Cup alongside players we’ll get to learn about. There are familiar names from the games we’ve seen, predominantly the England Lionesses of course, but also some Dutch players.

UEFA Womens Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book England page

This leads us onto our next ‘can we do it?’ moment. We’re going to try and fly out to The Netherlands to catch a game if the flights are reasonable. We don’t even mind not seeing England, it’ll be something fun to do. The games are affordable, so it wouldn’t cost us a lot. We have a friend who lives in The Netherlands who we could stay with… very tempting!

We bought our Panini UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals book ourselves, let us know if you get any doubles!

that familiar Panini sight

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