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!

The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen

Imagine if you had access to a machine which could make anything at all. The first thing you get your machine to do is make sweets, of course. A neverending supply of sweets. The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen is a story where this happens. But it wouldn’t be much of a story if it was about a machine that made sweets, so here’s our review.

The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen

The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen comes from Scholastic and is out now. In the book we meet eleven year old Olly, who receives a special delivery – a 3D printing machine. There’s a problem though, the machine has stamped on it ‘PROPERTY OF M.O.D and BRITISH SPACE AGENCY. WARNING. DO NOT TAMPER’ which when you’re eleven means you may as well have a go when nobody is around, right?

The Everything Machine blog tour banner

Even better, it prints anything Olly asks it to. So that’s a constant supply of sweets, a swimming pool for the shed and one other thing that Olly wants – his dad. His parents have separated and his dad moved out of the family home. So Olly with his brother and sister, Stevie and Bird created a Dad-bot.

H enjoyed reading The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen. We received the book when she was ill from school, and she had finished it by the end of the day.

H says “I liked this book because it’s funny but also dramatic.”

I asked her how it was dramatic, what happened?

“Bird tells Olly and Stevie to stop when they’re creating the Dad-bot. She warns them but the boys decide to carry on. She thinks she has added too many wires.”

What about the funny part – which bit did you find funny?

“At one point the Dad-bot ruins Stevie’s room when he asks him to tidy it up – that bit was quite funny!”

Would you recommend The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen to any of your friends?

“It would appeal to 7-10 year olds. I hope there will be more books about the Everything Machine!”

You can follow Ally Kennen over here, or over on Twitter here. This is Ally’s first book for younger readers, as she has written several books for teens – we’re hoping there’ll be more!

Ally Kennen


We’re part of a blog tour – check out the other reviews. Thank you for letting us join in – H had lots of fun reading the book – and also left a review in her own words over at Toppsta! The Everything Machine by Ally Kennen is available at all good bookstores and Amazon (affiliate link)


Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond by Sam Hearn

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond is the first fiction series that Sam Hearn has written and illustrated. We are taking part in a blog tour, here’s our review.

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond is a story about John Watson starting the Baker Street Academy. While there he meets Sherlock Holmes and Martha Hudson, and the three of them try and solve a mystery.

The story tells through various ways which appealed to H. She liked the comic book illustrations and detective notes. You also read the story through school assignments, media reports and Watson’s blog.

Holmes and Watson go on a school trip to one of London’s top museums which is home to the world’s most famous jewel, the Alpine Star. But, someone has stolen the jewel.

They find the jewel, and the police close the case. Yet Sherlock Holmes isn’t so sure that it should be. John and Martha work with him to try and solve the mystery.

Our copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond arrived on a day H was off sick from school. Until the postie had arrived she had been ambling from one activity to the next, not focused on anything. Since she started reading the book she hasn’t put it down. It’s a winner here.

It’s a nice easy read, and with the pages laid out like they are, it makes it a good attention-grabber. There’s plenty going on inside.

H says “I like that it’s like a comic strip, but also like a book. It’s half comic strip, half book. I like the detail in the pictures and how everything is in a logical way”

I asked her what she means by logical

“so it makes sense” she replied. “I like the blog part too.”

I asked her about the story

“They find the jewel, but it’s a fake. I like how Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and Martha Hudson all realise this and work out how to find the real one.”

I like how the start of the book has a few pages of character introductions. That kind of thing helps me a lot!

In summary, Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond is a good, fun read which she hasn’t put down. H recommends it for 7-10 year olds who like books that have mysteries in them which get solved.

We have one final question. Who is Sam Hearn….?

Just Who is Sam Hearn

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond is published by Scholastic. You can buy it now from all good booksellers, plus of course, Amazon. (affiliate link)

Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond Blog Tour

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club by Emma Barnes

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is the first in a new series of books from author Emma Barnes.

Chloe's Secret Princess Club with H

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is an easy read, and an enjoyable one too. H didn’t put it down, and by the end had demanded that we make some Princess jam tarts. There’s a recipe as well as some other cool bits at the back of the book.

So what is the story about? Chloe is a normal girl in Year 5, so nine or ten. Her mum tells her she can be anything she wants to be. She decides with her friends Aisha and Eliza to start a Secret Princess Club after school one night.

So what is a Secret Princess Club? It has a few rules: Princesses must stick up for each other, Princesses must call each other by their princess names (e.g. Princess Clarinda (Chloe), Princess Araminta (Aisha) and Princess Elisabetta (Eliza)). The Princess Club is SECRET.

Chloe's Secret Princess Club

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is a fun story with the girls acting like princesses and making plans to make jam tarts (which they do). The girls set themselves Princess Challenges which involve kissing frogs! They also do ultra-important stuff like saving kittens too.

In the book Eliza wishes that they could learn about princesses during Tudor times, as they wear lovely dresses!

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is quite a girly book, says H. The girls try to be princesses and do quite well. I like that at the back there’s a little section ‘The Secret Princess Club Notebook’ which has all the kind of things I could see H plotting with her friends if they had their own secret club. There’s also a ‘Which Princess are you?’ quiz too (H came up as Chloe).

H enjoyed reading it – and loved making the jam tarts afterwards. I loved that the book inspired her to make them (and they were delicious too!)

Chloe’s Secret Princess Club has a rrp of £4.99 (affiliate link) and is published by Scholastic in the UK. Emma Barnes website is over here. We received the book for review, all opinions are our own.  We’re part of the Chloe’s Secret Princess Club blog tour – check out the other reviewers on here!

Chloe's Secret Princess Club Blog Tour

Bella Broomstick by Lou Kuenzler

Lou Kuenzler has a new book, Bella Broomstick, published Friday 7th January 2016. H is a big fan of her books, so when we were given the chance to review and feature Lou on Mum Friendly, she was super excited!

Bella Broomstick by Lou Kuenzler

Bella Broomstick is a witch, but a pretty hopeless one. Her nasty Aunt Hemlock sends her to live in Person World, and she isn’t allowed to do any magic ever again. However, Bella finds a kitten she names Rascal, who gets into a bit of bother – and somehow she finds herself helping the cat by using magic – oops….

The book has plenty of drawings accompanying the story, as well as being broken into chapters which are ideal for young readers moving into longer books.

H loves Lou Kuenzler’s books. She discovered Shrinking Violet Really Loves Ancient Egypt on a trip to the British Museum, and now has the whole set. She also has all four Princess Disgrace books – and loves them all. What I like the most about Lou’s books are the way they’re laid out – they were great at encouraging H to read expression aloud which I think is really important when a child learns to read – especially in longer books.

Bella Broomstick doesn’t have as many pages as the Shrinking Violet books – an ideal size for a bookworm like H to finish in ONE DAY! Like I said before, she’s a big fan. In fact, she’s on her fourth or fifth read of the book now – it’s safe to say it’s another favourite.

I met Lou in 2014 at Blogfest, and she kindly sent H a selection of Shrinking Violet goodies, where we also chatted about Princess Disgrace and how she has to go to school to learn how to be a princess, doing such things as training her unicorn and learn not to be clumsy. As a parent, I’ve found Lou Kuenzler’s books to have the right amount of humour for a child H’s age to understand – and I like how her characters get up to fun adventures – and most importantly, talk in a way she can relate – and they make her laugh. If you’re familiar with Lou’s previous books, then Bella Broomstick needs adding to your must-reads list!

H was really excited to get to ask Lou Kuenzler some questions too – and Lou herself tells us more about Bella Broomstick.

Lou Kuenzler

Questions for Lou Kuenzler from H Age 6
What is Bella Broomstick about? I’m excited to read this book!

Bella Broomstick is about a young witch who is so hopeless at doing magic she is expelled from the Magic Realm and sent to live in the Person World where is fostered by human beings instead. Luckily for Bella, her new foster parents are much kinder than her mean, old, witchy Aunt Hemlock (who always served frog’s spawn porridge for breakfast). Now Bella discovers ice cream and hot chocolate and finds a talking kitten too. There is just one rule: she must not do any magic, ever again. So, you guessed it! The first thing she does is … Whoops! MAGIC! And that is where the fun really starts …

Thank you for my Shrinking Violet poster and things, I love them! I am thirteen fish fingers tall! Do you have any more Shrinking Violet books planned?

I am so glad you like the fish finger poster. When I do school visits, children often come up with brilliant ideas of things they could measure themselves in. Chocolate biscuits is one of my favourites … but I don’t think I could be trusted not to eat a few while I was doing the counting! Ants are another good one, but it might take a while to train them all to stand in a nice neat line while you measured yourself against them. Perhaps they would have to balance on each other’s shoulders. If ants have shoulders …? Either way, it would take a lot of ant training! Maybe spaghetti would be easier. But should it be cooked or raw?

Oh dear, maybe fish fingers are best after all.

I would love to write another Shrinking Violet book. Perhaps one where she shrinks at school. It is definitely something I am thinking about but, at the moment, I am working on the next two books in the Bella Broomstick series.

I love Princess Grace. How many Princess DisGrace books are you going to write?

There are four Princess Disgrace books already. But, again, I would definitely like to write more when I have time. I think it would be wonderful to take Grace right through to the end of her studies at Tall Towers. That way, there could be a wonderful Princess Graduation ball and we could see Grace ready to face the royal world beyond the magical shores of Coronet Island …

How do you say your last name please?

Kuenzler is tricky, isn’t it? It is originally a Swiss name. Try saying Koons-la. But I tell you what … it’s probably easier if you just call me Lou.

Do you like writing books?

I love writing books. I get to sit at my big red desk (with my dog by my feet and my two cats peering over the top of the computer – they think they are very helpful). Then I just make stuff up all day long – it is like playing the best imaginary game ever … and I get to share it with readers and see my books for sale in the shops. I am hopeless at drawing, so other people always do brilliant illustrations for me. That is one of the most exciting bits … seeing how somebody else imagines the characters might look. Now, I can’t think of Violet or Grace or Bella looking any other way.

Shrinking Violet is Violetta Winzig in Germany. Do your characters have different names in other countries? What is Bella Broomstick?

My books have been translated into lots of other languages. It is always very exciting – and slightly strange – to know these are the same words I wrote but not be able to understand them. Shrinking Violet is known as Minik Violet in Turkish for instance. And Princess Disgrace is Princesse Catastrophe in French. As I have only just finished writing Bella Broomstick in English, it has not been translated into any other languages yet. But my husband, who is Swiss, says that she would be Bella Besenstiel in German, which I think sounds brilliant.

Will you be writing any more Bella Broomstick books?

I have almost finished the second book in the Bella Broomstick series – where we see her go off to school and make a new best friend. There is a bit of bother for Bella with some multiplication sums and a lot of magic rabbits! Once that one is done, I will start on Book Three which is going to be all about celebrating Halloween for the first time in her new human village. There is some magic trouble from Bella’s mean, witchy Aunt Hemlock. I am looking forward to that one, as writing horrid characters can be really fun.

Thank you so much for asking me these brilliant questions, H. I hope you find the answers helpful. You have really made me think!


Let’s leave the final word for Bella Broomstick to H – “I liked when she went to the human world, it was funny and not scary. I liked she had to do magic even though she wasn’t meant to. If I saw the book in a bookshop I would DEFINITELY buy it! (but I would have to save my pocket money first or ask you, Mummy)”

This post is part of the Bella Broomstick blog tour – see the banner for other fab bloggers taking part. Bella Broomstick is published by Scholastic, and can be bought here. It has a rrp of £5.99. (affiliate link) Lou’s website can be found here and she’s on Twitter here. We received a copy of the book to review for this piece.  Also, huge thanks to Faye Rogers for organising this book tour!

Bella Broomstick blog tour banner, Bella Broomstick