Sherlock and the Baker Street Curse by Sam Hearn

Sherlock and the Baker Street Curse by Sam Hearn is the second book in the series. We reviewed the first book Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond a while ago.

Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Curse by Sam Hearn
Sherlock and the Baker Street Curse by Sam Hearn is the second book in the Sherlock series. The books are written from the perspective of John Watson’s diary, following him and Sherlock Holmes through school and any mysteries or cases they need to solve.

In this book, they go to Baker Street Academy, where the caretaker says he spotted a ghost. They try to solve the mystery, which involves finding out what the curse is and working out what was happening. Was it a ghost or not? Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have to find out.

The book has plenty of pictures and is laid out in a comic strip style, which is fun to read. H really enjoyed it, she says it felt like it made the story fun to follow and got her thinking about the plot and things that were going on a bit more than if it was a straightforward story.

There are also journal entries, letters, newspaper clippings and a detective dossier. Essentially it is Dr Watson’s casebook in junior form – ideal for younger readers who need an introduction to the world of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson and of course Martha Hudson.

It gets yet another thumbs up in this house!

Sherlock and the Baker Street Curse by Sam Hearn is published by Scholastic. It is suitable for age 8+ and is available now from all good bookstores. You can also buy it online here – but please support your local bookstores if you can.

We were sent this book for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own. Thank you to Scholastic for sending us a copy!

Cyberhawks Versus Stormtroopers by Mark Logie

It has been a while since we’ve done a book review and H has had her head firmly stuck into all of my Harry Potter books! We have a new book to read and review, so here’s H’s opinion about Cyberhawks Versus Stormtroopers by Mark Logie.

Cyberhawks Versus Stormtroopers by Mark Logie is a cyber thriller for children age 12+. Knowing how well H does with her reading, I knew it would be okay – and it was. She really enjoyed reading the book, but don’t take my word for it, this is what she had to say.

Cyberhawks versus Stormtroopers by Mark Logie

“It was a good book, my only problem is that it wasn’t long enough!” she tells me. So I’m wondering what makes it a good book.
“It’s an enjoyable read! The story was exciting and I couldn’t put the book down”. Sounds fair.

So what is the story about?
“Cyberhawks are a group of three friends, the Stormtroopers are an organisation for brain damaged children. The Cyberhawks are Ty, Kess and Corey. One day Ty receives an email written in code. Luckily he knows about computers and Ty cracks the code. He finds out that terrorists are going to attack the London Underground and it will be the worst attack the world has known.”

So what do the Cyberhawks do about it and do they tell anyone?
“Nobody listened to them, so they had to do it all themselves. I’m not going to say any more as I don’t want to give away the plot!”

H hopes there will be more books in the series as she really enjoyed reading it.

Cyberhawks Versus Stormtroopers by Mark Logie is available now from all good booksellers – order a copy here! (affiliate link). Mark Logie has a YouTube channel with songs that inspired the book here.

We were sent this book for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.

Double Felix by Sally Harris – Our Review

We’re participating in a book tour for Double Felix by Sally Harris this week.

Double Felix by Sally Harris is a new book, also illustrated by Maria Serrano. It tells the story of Felix, an eleven year old boy with OCD. He does things in twos. This is from skipping on every second step to tapping door handles twice. Or even just placing everything in pairs.

Double Felix by Sally Harris

A new girl starts in school, Charlie Pye. She has cereal for lunch and lives on a boat – and more importantly hasn’t grown up with rules in her life. It’s a whole new world for Felix. How can he possibly deal with someone who has no rules or order in their life?

It’s safe to say, Double Felix has become one of H’s new favourite books. She’s on her fifth or sixth read already.  (whispers – it might have even replaced Jaqueline Wilson’s ‘Katy’ as the new-favourite)

So what was it about Double Felix by Sally Harris that made H go back and read it again? Here’s H (age 8)’s opinion :

I like it. Felix does things twice, he’ll say things twice. He goes to see Hugo Fielding, a counsellor at school which helps him. He’s taught to fight back against the thing in his head – Basil the Bully (named after the Basal Ganglia in the brain).

A girl arrives at school, she doesn’t wear the correct uniform and that annoys Felix to start with. They become friends, and that helps him a lot. He has someone to talk to and play with. They don’t seem to have anything in common, but their friendship grows. I really liked that. 

I asked H what it was that she liked. She couldn’t really pinpoint what it was, but liked that it had a happy ending.

She breaks the rules and to start with Felix can’t deal with that. His life revolves around the number two – he doesn’t like odd numbers, he doesn’t like to get odd numbers on things. Only even. Even the chapters are in even numbers! The only odd number chapter is Chapter 27. This is because it’s the last chapter in the book, and Felix has learned to accept odd numbers I think. 

It’s a really good book and I’ve really enjoyed reading it. I feel like I’ve learned about people who have OCD a little bit by reading this book. 

Sally Harris’ website is over here

Sally Harris

Double Felix by Sally Harris is available to buy now over here. (affiliate link). We were sent the book for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.

Double Felix by Sally Harris Banner

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker and Rosaria Costa

Have you ever wondered where swifts go when the seasons change, and they fly away? In Bill and the Little Red Plane, Bill wonders just that. We have been sent a copy of the book to review.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker

Bill and the Little Red Plane tells the story of Bill who is playing outside watching the swifts fly away. He’s wondering where they go, when he sees a little red plane in the sky which does a loop the loop.

He’s taken to an airfield, where he gets to ride the little red plane. The pilot, Edward, wants to know one thing – where would Bill like to go? Bill says he’d like to follow the swifts.

So Bill and Edward keep flying, following the swifts and seeing the different countries they fly over from their plane. Eventually the swifts end their journey in a rainforest in Africa, and it’s time for Bill and Edward to head home.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker illustrations

Bill and the Little Red Plane is a lovely book for nature lovers, written by Jonathan Walker and illustrated by Rosaria Costa. This is a great way to introduce children to birds. There are lots of facts about swifts once the story has finished too.

I would put this book at Reception-age children upwards. It’s one which can be read aloud easily but is also good for a first longer reading book as well.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker swift facts

Bill and the Little Red Plane also has a Story Monsters Approved patch and a five star badge from Readers Favourites. Both awards are voted for by children.

You can find out more here, Bill and the Little Red Plane is published by Chirpy Stories and is available now!

We were sent a copy of Bill and the Little Red Plane for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal

BookTrust have a scheme, The Letterbox Club who send out books to children in care throughout the year. The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal has just launched. Please read on and if you can, please donate.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal is happening now. For £10 a child in care will receive a book and gift this Christmas. Here’s an example of the kind of package they receive through the year.

Book Trust Letterbox example
We visited the BookTrust offices a while ago, and while there learnt about The Letterbox Club – a service they provide which sends children in care books to keep. Children are sometimes taken from their parents with very few possessions, and until they’re placed with adoptive parents, often have just a handful of toys and very little that truly belongs to them.

The Letterbox Club sends them a book package throughout the year and is put together specially for them. Often it can be the first item of post the child has ever received.

Then I heard about The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal via a friend on Facebook. By donating £10 you can give a child a book, somewhere they can escape and enjoy, hopefully making their days a little bit easier. BookTrust have selected six hardback books which will be sent to children aged 3-13 years. The Books are picked according to the age of the child and each child will receive a specially- created festive poster and postcard by illustrator Adam Stower.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal

BookTrust CEO Diana Gerald said:
Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for children in care. Books have the magical ability to transform children to different worlds and to make them feel a part of something special. Why not donate today and help make a child in care’s Christmas that bit brighter.”

H and I have donated, and I hope you will take time out to as well if you can. There are 9,700 children in care in the UK.

Case study 1: Emma Norry, aspiring author, Bournemouth.
When you’re a child in care, you have very little control over what happens to you and the choices you make are often limited. To be able to choose which fictional worlds to explore, enter and escape to is invaluable.

“Books are a way out of and into what you may be experiencing. They are a chance to make new friends, access new worlds and to realise that you might not be alone after all. Books took me places I needed to go. No matter who came and went, books were always there showing me how similar we all were inside.

“For me, I knew that between the pages of a book was a place I was always welcome. Books didn’t mind who I was or wasn’t, where I had come from or where I might end up. Books remained the same even though all around me
was constantly changing. I clung to my books like a life raft. Books were my constant home and I carried words inside me, as armour and protection and comfort.”

Case study 2: Darren McCartney: “I spent some time growing up in care it was sometimes difficult. It wasn’t a particularly unhappy time but sometimes I
would struggle. I felt like I needed an escape and I found that in books. Reading gave me a method of forgetting about what was happening. You don’t realise at the time that’s what you’re doing, but looking back if it hadn’t been for a good book I realise now my time in care would’ve been a lot more difficult.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal is something which is so easy to donate and give back to. If you head here £10 will send one book to one child, £50 to five children, £100 to 10 children.

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

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. 

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.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat

As a child I loved reading the Owl and the Pussycat. It had a charm to it that gave me such vivid pictures in my head as I read. Coral Rumble has created a new version of the story – The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat cover

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat starts with them going to sea “In a box on the living room floor, They sailed away for a year and a day, And these are the things that they saw…

Two children play ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ in their front room and this is their imagination. They’re playing in a cardboard box and whatever toys they have handy are part of this game – and it’s wonderful.

It reminds me a lot of when H was little and we made a boat from a large box. We kept it for a good couple of years – at one point it turned into a car, then a spaceship until finally it was recycled. I loved that it had so much play, and most of that was thanks to H’s imagination.

cardboard car and boat

If I was able to write a book for young children, this is the kind of book I wish I could have created.

It’s a beautifully illustrated book by Charlotte Cooke (who is in fact, Coral Rumble’s daughter). The story rhymes which is ideal for primary school aged children discovering poetry.

Coral Rumble and Charlotte Cooke

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat is based on the Edward Lear poem, but has its own direction.

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat was originally published by Parragon Books, and is now published by Wacky Bee books. You can order it from Amazon as well as all good booksellers.

We’re part of a blog tour – check out all the other bloggers taking part!

 

The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat blog tour

We were sent a copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 

Check out The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat on Goodreads too!