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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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 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 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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault! Is by Jackie Marchant. Previously published as Dougal Trump, it finds a new home with Wacky Bee books, as well as a new name.
Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault! originally published back in 2012 under a slightly different title. Newly named and newly published, Dougal Daley is back!
I, Dougal Daley, am dead! Ok I’m not actually dead. But if I’m not careful I soon will be.
In the first book, Dougal finds himself at risk of death from the mysterious creature in his shed. Chances are he isn’t at risk of death at all, but he sounds like a typical seven year old (much like one I know pretty well…) who over exaggerates things that little bit!
Nobody believes Dougal, so he writes his will in case anything happens. Obviously when you write your will and you’re young you make sure the people who do nice things get the good stuff. If you get on Dougal Daley’s bad side you get disinherited!
Dougal loves football. His last will and testament may well involve football-related things… in fact, a lot of the book has sections where Dougal is planning his football related funeral. There are also tributes to him and his football skills from friends and team mates. H found this hilarious – she loves football and could relate to some of it.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of time for football and things in his everyday life, although Dougal finds himself in all kinds of trouble. Obviously, none of it is his fault..!
Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault is published by Wacky Bee books and is out now. The age range for this book is 7+.
Writer Jackie Marchant says the book was inspired by a messy bedroom and her son asking a question about writing a will.
H says “if you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid you will like Dougal Daley – I want to read more adventures of his now!”
Dougal Daley is illustrated by Loretta Schauer, the prize-winning illustrator.
We’re part of a blog book tour – we’re up first, check out all these other bloggers as the tour progresses! Dougal Daley : It’s Not My Fault gets a thumbs up from H. She loves reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books so this is ideal.
We were sent the book for the purpose of review. The review contains an Amazon Affiliate link.
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 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?
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!
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)
Chloe’s Secret Princess Club is the first in a new series of books from author Emma Barnes.
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 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!
We recently visited the BookTrust offices to learn about them, and what they do.
So who are the BookTrust? Chances are you’ll have come across them at some point. For me, my first time was getting H’s first bag from our Health Visitor, which had an Elmer book in it. It was read constantly – we’d seen Elmer but didn’t have any of the books, and this led to more purchases. The idea of getting a bag with free books and activities was amazing to me. Up until then, the only thing I’d come across which was free were the bags you get when you’re about to give birth.
Finding out that you could get more free books as my child grew up was INCREDIBLE. We knew she loved reading and being read to, and discovering new authors or ones we hadn’t yet read opened up a world of adventures, stories, great things. Needless to say, when anyone who had a child of a similar age said they had a new BookTrust bag, we all made a point of getting them. Once H was at school she got her Booktime pack in reception.
And that, I thought, was that. But no – you see, BookTrust have loads of different schemes, and on the 1st April we headed to their offices and met with them to learn about what they do.
The Letterbox Club is a fantastic service for children aged 5-13 that provides books to children who are in care. Often it can be the first thing they receive which is theirs. The packs are tailored and have books, maths games, stationery and more.
They’re designed to encourage reading and learning at home. There are five levels – Letterbox Orange (5-7 year olds), Letterbox Yellow (7-9 year olds), Letterbox Blue (7-9 year olds), Letterbox Red (9-11 year olds) and Letterbox Green (11-13 year olds).
The books are carefully selected, each child gets a new book every six months. This will build up to their own collection of things that is truly theirs to use and keep. I think it’s a fantastic scheme.
At BookTrust they believe in a society where nobody misses out on the life-changing benefits that reading can bring. They want to get children and families reading. I know we’re extremely lucky with H and how much she loves and enjoys it.
The Letterbox Club isn’t the only service for older children. BookTrust also have a service for schools to sign up, as well as a new service launching later this year, Story Hunters – and while it says which children these packages are targeted towards, it’s open to everyone.
There’s a lot on the BookTrust website too. You can search for books based on ability and age; something which has always confused me with H as she’s such an advanced reader; what exactly would make a book suitable for an 8 year old, when she’s only 4? I’m going to be using this section a lot!
I love the Bookbuzz scheme too – a fantastic choice of books, and for students in years 7 & 8 at school!
At the networking event on April 1st, a lot of bloggers were also authors – and it was great to chat to them. We met the author Sita Brahmachari and received a copy of two of her books. See, this is the other fantastic thing about the BookTrust; they’re working with authors all the time, reviewing books and encouraging children to read. It’s wonderful – and, in case you didn’t realise, they’re a charity.
I knew this, but didn’t realise we could raise money for them – so we’re now thinking of a way to do something. Maybe have H see how many Harry Potter books she can read without sleeping or something! You can also buy Christmas Cards at Waterstones which help raise money, something we’ll be doing this year.
I came away from our meeting knowing that working with the BookTrust was a really positive thing. They’re really making a difference for many children. I have so much more I could write about, but I’ll save that for a follow-up post – and instead direct you over here, where you’ll find so many things.