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Book Review: A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons

Reviewed by Lottie age 9 (with help from Mum)

I was lucky enough to be sent a proof copy of A Clock of Stars: The Shadow Moth by Francesca Gibbons from Love Reading 4 Kids to review. My Mum and I have been reading it as my bedtime story for the last few weeks.

I couldn’t believe A Clock of Stars was Francesca Gibbons’ first book. It was absolutely amazing. The story is so well written, it draws you in and neither my Mum or I wanted to put it down. We were supposed to read two or three chapters a night but we often went on for four or five! I was sad when we got towards the end as I didn’t want it finish.

The book starts with Imogen and her little sister Marie, who annoy each other like normal sisters, and tells the tale of their adventures after Imogen follows a Shadow Moth through a mysterious door in a tree tree only to discover Marie has followed her and they are trapped, unable to get home. The sisters find themselves in a magical Kingdom and are helped escape some terrifying monsters by a very spoilt prince.

The girls stay with Prince Miroslav and they form a strange friendship that almost creeps up on them. Miro has never had real friends before so it is all new to him and there are a few difficulties along the way.

We felt like Gibbons had created a whole new world – it has a feel of being ancient and a step back in time but it could be any time or place, it is just a complete new world like nowhere I could have imagined.

Despite the fun they are having the children realise they need to get back to their own world as their Mother will be worried. It soon becomes clear that it isn’t going to be as easy as that. They meet lots of interesting characters along the way and get caught up in an important quest that changes the future of the whole Kingdom. This is a great adventure story with twists and turns along the way, there were a lot of cliff-hangers!

I love the characters in A Clock of Stars, they all have their own stories and their own strong points and negatives, even the main characters have faults and weaknesses which makes them so much more believable. My favourite character is the huntress Lofkinye, she is such a brilliant character, with so many stories to tell.  My Mum liked Marie as she enjoyed the way her character developed and grew throughout the book- she is a great peace keeper but also ended up being very brave. The illustrations by Chris Riddell at the start of the book are perfect, they show the characters exactly how I imagined them to be and the Shadow Moth is beautiful- I can see why Imogen would have followed it!

I really like the way A Clock of Stars shows us that heroes can come in all forms and challenges us to reconsider what we think we know about other people.

A Clock of Stars is probably the longest book I have ever read and I think it was right to read it with my Mum to start with, although I am re-reading it by myself now. As it is quite a detailed book I think it is best suited to age 10 upwards but think children age 8 upwards would enjoy it with a parent or teacher.

I absolutely loved A Clock of Stars and would love to read more about the characters. I really hope Francesca Gibbons has another book out soon.

Lottie’s well read proof copy!

 

Disclaimer: We were gifted a proof copy of A Clock of Stars but all thoughts are our own.

proof copy clock of stars

Book Review: Cookie and the most annoying girl in the world by Konnie Huq

Reviewed by Lottie age 9

I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Cookie and the most annoying girl in the world by Konnie Huq from Love Reading 4 Kids and I have loved it. I am now reading it for the third time!

It is a great book for children who don’t like reading huge amounts as it has lots of different styles to catch your attention. Most of it is written as a chapter book, but it is from Cookie’s perspective and really easy to follow, almost like a diary, then it is broken up with emails and lots and lots of drawings and sketches.

I really enjoyed the way Cookie thinks as it is very easy to relate to.

The book follows her story and the lives of her friends Jake and Kenziah as well as the most annoying girl in the world- Suzie Ashby and some other children from their class. Cookie is given some tickets to the Aliana Tiny concert and suddenly finds Suzie Ashby wants to be her best friend, which comes with more problems than Cookie could have imagined.

Cookie suffers with major FOMO and it is this fear of missing out that means she finds herself signed up to The F Factor. It turns out the F Factor isn’t quite what she imagined.

I love the storyline of the book as it is really entertaining. I like the way Cookie ends up learning a bit about herself and her friends but still stays like a normal kid. While there is a bit of a lesson in the book it isn’t too much!

I hadn’t heard of the Cookie books before, but I enjoyed this one so much I asked for the first Cookie book for my birthday.

Konnie Huq’s book is perfect for kids age 8 upwards and is ideal for both bookworms and more reluctant readers.

Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to be sent this book to review but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Back to school

I can’t believe we are going back to school tomorrow. It felt like it would never come but at the same time feels like time has just disappeared.

We have been lucky enough to stay healthy during lockdown and for us it was only difficult because my Mum was shielded so it felt like a really long time before we could start seeing people again.

I am looking forward to getting back to school to see my friends and it will be better doing some of the subjects like science there than it was at home as we will hopefully get to do more practical things. I am not looking forward to early starts, homework and remembering masks for the bus.

I can’t wait for clubs to start up again and to hopefully be able to do hockey after school again as well as at the weekend.

The Summer holidays were really strange this year because we didn’t go on holiday or even for many days out really but we still managed to have a nice time and see some friends.

During lockdown and over the summer we have had three birthdays between the five of us so we have had a good time celebrating these- we even got a bouncy castle in the garden for Lottie’s last week which she loved.

Last weekend we set up our tent in the garden and my friend came over with his and we all camped out for the night which was a good laugh. We had a BBQ, toasted marshmallows and had hot chocolate while we tried to identify the stars and played some card games.

The other highlight of our holiday was the arrival of our two new ducks, Finn and Rose, who firstly kept us busy digging ponds and making sure the garden was safe, and then by generally entertaining us- they now come flapping up to us and have a little walk round us whenever we go out in the garden, it’s like they have been here much longer than they have.

Now it’s time to make sure the bags are packed and uniform is out, ready for the first early start in months.

Good luck to everyone going back this week!

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Star Wars Day Competition

If you have been following our blog for a while you will know that we are Star Wars fans- although my little brother Sam is probably the biggest fan of us all and knows more about it than any other 5 year old I know (except possibly his best friend who is equally obsessed!)

We have asked him to tell us some of his favourite things about it:

Favourite Characters

  • Luke Skywalker
  • Han Solo
  • Darth Vader
  • Emperor Palpatine
  • Obi Wan Kenobi
  • Princess Leai
  • Lando Clarissian
  • Yoda

Favourite Planets

  • Hoth
  • Tatooine
  • Endor

Favourite Space ships

  • X-wing
  • Tie fighter
  • Millenium Falcon

Favourite Film

  • Return of the Jedi

We always do a Star Wars day competition and decided that even though things are a bit more tricky this year we would still run one to hopefully brighten someone’s day. You can enter on Rafflecopter below to win a copy of The Rise of Skywalker on DVD- Sam would love to know who your favourite character is!

 

star wars rey and kylo

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our top 10 family board games and your chance to win a voucher

Today has been a long day, it has been raining all day and we are all getting a bit fed up of being stuck at home. After we finished our school work for the day we decided we would pick some of our favourite games to play which got us thinking about our favourites.

These are (probably!) our top 10:

Othello– We were sent this game to review last year and Lottie and I have played it loads. It’s really straightforward but gets you thinking as you need a bit of strategy planning, it’s a great game for age 7 plus.

othello 4

Reveal- I got this game for my birthday after seeing it when we went to the UK Games Expo last year. It is very funny to play in a group and involves testing your knowledge on TV shows, films and songs at different levels of difficulty.

What’s in the box?– This is such a simple idea, we reviewed it a couple of years ago and loved it, it is now my little brother’s favourite game. You literally just choose something to put in the box and then use the counters to ask yes and no questions to find out what it is. It’s ideal for the whole family even little children.

what's in the box

Randomise- This is one of our most favourite games ever- we wrote a full review here but it involves drawing, acting or describing whatever your cards throw up. It’s really, really funny and one every family should have in their games cupboard.

Villainous– Disney Villainous is a bit tricky to get started with but once you get your head round it then it’s a great game, Lottie absolutely loves this and really likes the fact that it is villains rather than princesses!

Scrabble/ Scrabble Junior– Everyone knows scrabble, it gets very competitive here but we all enjoy it.

Monopoly– I love monopoly, it’s my favourite game and we have lots of different versions. I really like the electronic one and would love the cheaters edition. My Mum hates it when we play, she says we always end up arguing and someone always cheats!

Telestrations– This is a bit like Chinese whispers in drawing and is really funny. It’s a great game for age 8 upwards.

telestrations 1

Think Words Spin– You have to think really quickly in this game and shout out something that matches the catagories and letters. It is quite competitive and harder than it sounds to think of the right word.

Tetris Speed– We like the fact that this is a very portable version of Tetris and it is suitable for anyone adult or child. It doesn’t take long to play and you just have to be really fast and use your memory a bit.

We would love to know your recommendations for other games we might enjoy and in return we are giving you the chance to win a £20 Amazon voucher to treat your family to a new game.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through these we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you

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A birthday party in lockdown

It was my little brother’s 5th birthday earlier this month, with everything else going on it wasn’t quite the day we had planned. This year was the first year he had been excited about having a party and has been talking about it for months. He was very good when he realised he couldn’t have one and asked if we could have an at home party instead so we decided that was what we would do.

It was a bit difficult because my Mum is shielded so no one could go to the shops but fortunately she had already got a few presents and we had ordered ink for our school work so we had some things to use.

Sam spent a few days before his birthday planning a party playlist on Alexa of his favourite songs, he has loved dancing to them ever since.

I made some Happy Birthday signs using his favourite Star Wars characters to go with each letter and we wrapped up the bottom half of the living room door for him to burst through which he thought was really funny.

Normally our birthday cakes are a surprise, sometimes we order them from a lady we know and sometimes Mum makes them but we never know what we are having until the day, this year Sam asked if he could help make his. He asked to have a chocolate cake and he absolutely loved being involved with making it and decorating it. His favourite bit was covering it with Easter sweets and treats that we had left over. It was a bit wonky but he said it was the best cake ever. We did surprise him by adding a Star Wars cake decoration that we had ordered before lockdown started.

sam birthday 4

During the day we played outside and I helped to build his birthday LEGO space set and then in the afternoon we had his ‘At home party’. We arranged a Zoom call with two other families who each have two children, one is Sam’s best friend and one is Lottie’s but they all play really nicely together and I organised a scavenger hunt for them. It worked really well because Sam and his friend are a bit little for video calls but this stopped them from being too shy and had everyone running around laughing.

Once we said goodbye to their friends we played some games together with Mum and Dad including a game of pass the parcel. Sam was amazed that he was allowed to win because we aren’t normally at our own parties. We then played the chocolate game- you have to take turns to roll the dice and when someone gets a 6 they have to quickly put on a scarf, hat and sometimes gloves and then cut up a chocolate bar with a knife and fork, they can then eat as much as they are able before the next person rolls a six. Sometimes you get loads and sometimes you don’t even get the hat on before it is the next person’s turn and it is very funny.

sam birthday 3

After that Sam spoke to some of our family on the phone and we made him a party tea with sausage rolls, mini sausages, pizza and lots of yummy treats.

We watched a film that Sam picked out and then sang happy birthday to him and had cake. We has also planned to have a campfire and toast marshmallows but we ran out of time so we did that at the weekend as an extra birthday treat.

It wasn’t what we planned but Sam had a great day- he said his favourite thing was blowing out the candles on his cake!

 

Sam birthday 2

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Some posts contain affiliate links. If you choose to order using these links we may earn a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you

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The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay book review

By Lottie age 8

I was sent The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay to review by Love Reading for Kids. I love books about magic and mystery and this one is amazing. The whole book feels magical and surprising.

‘Abi and her two step brothers, Max and Louis, find that strange things happen when they are alone in their eerie, ivy-covered new house.

Abi reading alone, finds herself tumbling deep into books, while Louis summons a startling guest through his bedroom window. Even Max has started to see shapes in the shadow in the shadows….

Their busy parents see none of it- but Louis’ secret visitor is growing too alarming to keep secret, and he finds he cannot manage without Max and Abi’s help.

Can they find out where the mysterious creature has come from- and how to get it back there?’

Hilary McKay is an amazing author, she makes you feel like you are really there. I could really imagine I was Abi. The Time of Green Magic is full of mystery and a little bit scary- not enough to frighten you a lot but enough to make you want to keep reading.

The descriptions are so good, you can imagine exactly what the family are like and all that is happening to them. I can see how strange it is for Abi getting used to having step brothers. The book has lots of people’s stories running through it and you get to know all the characters really well and feel like you know them.

I really love this book. I read it within 2 days even though we were still at school when it arrived and have read it again since. I would recommend it to confident readers age 7 and over. If you are looking for something magical to read then The Time of Green Magic is a brilliant choice.

the time of green magic

 

Disclaimer: We were sent a review copy of The Time of Green Magic but all thoughts and opinions are Lottie’s own.

This post contains affiliate links, if you choose to purchase through these we would receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.

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Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Yesterday I made peanut butter cookies from a recipe in my Mum’s BBC Good Food Magazine – they were so easy and really delicious, I would really recommend them. The original recipe can be found here.

These were really quick and easy and I think they are perfect for kids to make on their own, next time I might try adding chocolate chips or some extra chopped nuts but they were delicious both warm and cold. I think they tasted more nutty the following day.

Ingredients

200g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth- I used a mix as that was what we had)

175g golden caster sugar

1/2 tsp table salt

1 large egg

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees/ 160 degrees for a fan oven and line two baking trays
  2.  Mix peanut butter, salt and sugar
  3.  Add in egg- it makes a dough type mixture
  4.  Place large marble size balls of dough spaced out on the trays and gently squash with the back of a fork.
  5. Cook for around 12 minutes until golden around the ages- I found they needed around 16 minutes until they were a nice colour and I turned the oven up for the last few minutes
  6.  Allow to cool slightly on a baking tray before eating!

We would love to hear if you make these, I will definitely be making them again soon.

 

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Life during lockdown

It’s been a strange few weeks since the schools closed and lockdown started. I was looking forward to not having to go to school every day and the first week we were really busy and active at home but it soon got a bit boring.

I know we are lucky that we are all safe and are able to stay home but my Mum is on the shielding list and it seems to have been a very long time since we left the house.

We have had a few arguments and each of us have had days of feeling a bit fed up. We are just trying to make sure we enjoy the time as much as we can. Mum made us all write a diary from the beginning of lockdown which although it is a bit of a pain and I keep forgetting to do, it will be interesting to read back on once we are able to go back to normal life.

I am missing seeing my friends and be able to do proper sports. It is really strange doing school work at home, the teachers are setting us normal lessons, some are fine but some are really difficult to do at home.

We have found lots of things to keep us busy though so thought I would share some of our favourite things that we have been getting up to.

Cooking and baking

We have been taking turns each day to make something or help cook. I have made lots of proper meals like spaghetti bolognaise, shepherds pie and Belgium stew, Lottie has made pizza dough, cakes and cookies and Sam has made pastries and cornflake cakes. Lottie even made a ration cake without egg or fat to go with her topic of WW2, which was actually really nice.

Today I made peanut butter cookies which I think is one of my favourite things I have made and were really easy to do by myself. I will post the recipe when I get chance.

Lottie’s ration cake

 

Games

We have been revisiting some of our favourite games and have restarted our family game nights,. Some of the games we have enjoyed the most have been scrabble, monopoly, battleships, Villainous, Othello, Lexicon Go and Randomise.

Xbox

I have been teaching my little brother how to play some of the games that he isn’t too young for. My Mum says she would never have let me play on the xbox when I was only five but this is a bit different from normal and she is happy that he and I are doing something together. Lottie and Sam have been enjoying playing Crayola Scoot on there a bit. It’s also been good to be able to play with some of my friends online too.

Apps

I’ve been learning French on Duolingo which is pretty good as it is quite straightforward to use and you can do it in short bursts. I have also been playing Lexulous against my Aunt which is a word game that you can play over as long as you like. I am now trying out some stop motion picture apps to see which ones are any good.

In the Garden

At the start of lockdown we were busy with lots of jobs in the garden because we had a shed to dismantle and wanted to build a vegetable patch but now we have done that we haven’t got much more we can do until we can buy some plants and materials but we have had a go at planting seeds and things so will see how they go.

Otherwise Lottie has been spending most of her time either on the trampoline or cartwheeling up and down the garden and I have been teaching Sam to play catch and football and playing Swingball. We got a badminton set a while back that we finally set up the other day- none of us are any good at it but it’s quite funny. I have also been making up obstacle courses for them to run round and to practise my hockey skills on. I don’t think my Rebound Net has ever had so much use!

We took Sam on a minibeast hunt the other day as part of his school work which he really loved doing.

YouTube and Facebook

We have found some good things to watch and explore online. Lottie and Mum have been really enjoying the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals on a Friday night and Sam has loved the zoo’s and Aquariums that are doing videos on Facebook, some of them are really interesting.

Lottie has been doing PE with Joe every day which she loves, Sam has been doing the exercise with Andy from Andy’s Wild Adventures. Lottie has absolutely loved doing ballet with The Ballet Coach on YouTube and does the sessions for both the younger and older age groups, she would now like to start ballet lessons again when we can go out.

All three of us have all been doing some of the art classes and really like Harptoons which is really easy to follow to draw cartoons.

We all really enjoying the Northern Lights tour which worked well on just a phone but was really good on my VR headset- this is definitely worth a look when you have a few minutes.

Reading

I have run out of things to read now so am going to have to ask my parents to order me some e-books until we can buy some or go to the library but I have been rereading a lot of my old books. We had a few review copies to read which we have been doing (and will review soon!) has now Lottie also gone back to reread  some of her old favourites including the Wimpy Kid Books and our set of Roald Dahl books- she is especially enjoying Boy. We have probably read more this last few weeks that we have in a long time and it is always good to go back to some old favourites. Sam got a new Supertato book for his birthday so has been asking for that to be read on repeat since!

Woodwork

My Dad got me some pallets from work and I have some plans of what I might make with them- hoping to have a look this week so if I do something interesting I will share it!

Otherwise my days are basically filled with school work and scrolling through the internet but we aren’t too bored and aren’t arguing too much! I am really looking forward to when things start to feel a bit more normal though.

We would love to hear what you are doing to keep busy?

 

Our lettuces- not much else is growing yet though!

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

This post contains some links to YouTube channels and apps, these are all ones we recommend ourselves and receive no payment or benefit from recommending. We have also included links to items we have mentioned when we have previously reviewed them, in these instances please be aware of any disclaimers on the individual posts.

Finally this post contains some affiliate links, should you choose to purchase through these we may in some cases earn a small commission at no extra cost you yourself which enables us to continue running the blog.

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World Book Day ideas for kids who don’t like dressing up

One of the best things about Secondary School is that I no longer have to think of costumes for different events. I like the idea of World Book Day as I love to read and we love discovering new books but I really, really don’t like dressing up!

Over the years we have come up with a number of ideas that don’t involve too much dressing up and I thought I would share them with you in case you need some ideas.

Ben from Gangsta Granny

This one is quite easy but still looks like you have tried! All you need is a black hoody, black trousers, a balaclava if you have one and then find a draw string bag, if you have a fabric pen you can label it with swag but otherwise just fill it and hang any costume jewellery out from the side- I borrowed my sister’s dress up tiaras and necklaces.

George’s Marvellous Medicine

All you need is jeans and a red t-shirt, you can then carry either an empty medicine bottle and spoon or make your own oversized accessories but this one is perfect if you are more comfortable in your own clothes.

Danny the Champion of the World

This is a bit more like dressing up but it depends on how far you want to go. You could just wear slightly too small clothes and carry a sack or you could also wear wellies and a flat cap and get hold of a pheasant type toy.

Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl books are great for recognisable costumes without having to feel properly dressed up. Charlie just needs clothes that are a bit too small too small and a large homemade golden ticket and Wonka bar

Charlie from Charlie and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs

This is a great for younger kids who don’t want to wear a costume as it just needs jeans, a red jumper and of course, a bucket of dinosaurs so most households can conjure these up quite quickly!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

So easy to do- you just need black shorts, a white t-shirt and a black bag. If you are feeling creative you could draw a mask to hold up too.

Alex Rider

This is a good one for older kids. You just need jeans, a dark t-shirt, a jacket, an ID card and some spy gadgets.

Elizabeth Allen from The Naughtiest Girl in the School

This one is quite easy if you have a blazer, you just need a pinafore dress, shirt, tie and blazer and then something to make a lacrosse stick with!

Matilda

Just a plain blue dress and you can easily be Matilda with a pair of plaits and a pile of books.

Sophie from the BFG

Another easy one from Roald Dahl- Sophie just needs her nightdress dressing gown, slippers, a blanket and a large pair of glasses.

Mary Poppins

A black skirt with a white shirt and a white apron and umbrella would work well for this, even better if you would wear a hat and a necktie too.

Princess Pearl from Zog

Any flowery dress with an apron and a tiara along with a medical kit is perfect for Princess Pearl.

Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz

Great if you already have red shoes and a blue dress, just do the hair and carry a basket. Add a soft toy dog if you can!

We hope this gives you some ideas for children who aren’t huge fans of dressing up and makes World Book Day a bit easier without having to buy new things. We would love to hear your suggestions too!

World Book Day 2018 as Ben from Gangsta Granny

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links- should you choose to purchase through these we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you