The Titanic Detective Ageny by Lindsay Littleson

It’s our turn on The Titanic Detective Agency blog tour today and we really enjoyed this one.

Written by Lindsay Littleson The Titanic Detective Agency is historical fiction and I really liked the fact it was based around the stories of real people.

I imagined it was going to focus on the sinking of the Titanic straight away. Most books seem to start with people boarding it and waving goodbye and then go straight to the crash but The Titanic Detective Agency reminds you that the people on board were real people and that this was a huge adventure for them. You see how excited they were, and how quickly being stuck on a ship with just adults for company got boring for the children  and also realised how seasick some people were, it reminds you that these were just normal people off to start their new lives.

To pass the time until she starts her exciting new life in America, 12 year old Bertha and her new younger friend Madge form The Collyer-Watt Detective Agency. They soon find two mysteries ready and waiting for them to investigate. Firstly there is Mr Hoffman who has two young sons and acts very strangely when talking about his wife who he says died a year ago. Yet the smallest boy, who is only a toddler, remembers her which seems strange to Bertha and even more unusually Mr Hoffman won’t let anyone speak to his sons directly, using the fact that they speak only French to hide behind.

The next mystery comes in the form of Johan, a poor Swedish teenager, who is having to travel alone to join his Father in America. Johan seems to have found a treasure map but it’s in English and he needs help to translate. Bertha is keen to be involved in the hunt for treasure. For her this is a bit of fun but for Johan this could be everything. The big question is whether the mysteries will be solved in time.

You really get into the stories of these people and begin to like them. You can imagine how alone and scared Johan must feel- he is just a couple of years older than me and yet he is crossing the ocean all alone, sharing a cabin in the lower decks with people who resent him being so sick. You get a glimpse of what it was like day to day, the meals, playing games, reading and church services and begin to see what the journey would have been like.

Lindsay Littleson really makes you realise how differently people were treated in 3rd Class to 2nd Class. It’s so strange to think that people in 3rd class where made to line up and be inspected for lice and other illnesses and yet people in 2nd were allowed on even with awful illnesses like consumption.

When the ship hits the Iceberg, even though you know what is going to happen, Littleson really builds the sense of fear. You genuinely felt like you could be there, feeling the cold water seeping into your shoes and not tying your laces in order to get out quickly, trying to find a lifeboat and a way to escape. You want to shout at the 2nd class passengers who don’t realise the water is already pouring in on the lower decks.

Once again you see the awful differences between how the classes are treated. How can the ship have been allowed to travel without lifeboats for all the passengers? How could people be so uncaring that lifeboats were launched half empty?

The sinking of the unsinkable ship is awful, so vivid and well written and you can feel the shock when the women and children realise their husbands and sons are not going to survive.

This book could never have a ‘happy ending’ but Bertha does realise that strength and bravery comes in many forms and whilst her Mother may not be an aviator or an explorer, she is the one holding everything together when everyone else is falling apart. The reader is also reminded that treasure can come in many different forms too.

I really enjoyed this book and passed it to my Mum who liked it so much she read it all in one night. My little sister Lottie has now started to read it too. They have been learning about the Titanic last term at school and this is a great book for bringing it to life for her.

I think this book is ideal for confident readers age 7 plus and would be good to be read as a class book alongside the topic but is also great for anyone to read as it is well written and keeps your attention throughout.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour to find out what other bloggers thought of The Titanic Detective Agency.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Titanic Detective Agency to review but all thoughts are my own.

 

The God of all Small Boys by Joseph Lamb- Book Review

It’s my turn on The God of all Small Boys blog tour today and I loved this book. From start to finish it was really well written and captured my attention. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the fact my Mum insisted reading it with me and made us stop three chapters before the end because it was late!

The book is set in Lochee in Dundee and the descriptions really set the scene, you can imagine what it would have been like to live in the shadow of Camperdown Works and smell the jute from the factory.

The God of all Small Boys is written from the perspective of James an 11 year old boy whose Dad has gone to fight in the War and whose life has been shook up when he has been sent to stay with his Aunt and her family who he doesn’t even know. You can really imagine James’ fear and sadness. He goes from his large comfortable home in the countryside to his Aunt’s home in a tenement block where there is no space and no privacy and he has to share a bed with three of his cousins…one of which hates him.

You feel really sorry for James to start with, he is very sensitive and seems quiet. I can’t imagine how he must feel waving his Dad off to war not knowing when he will come back. His cousin, Billy, resents him being there and starts all his friends off to be mean James, they play some horrible tricks on James. However, it soon becomes clear James is braver than he appears when he stands up to the school bully to help protect Ben, one of Billy’s gang. Billy and his friends Derek, Kevin and Ben start to warm to James and he is soon accepted in as one of their blood brothers.

They go on adventures and create an amazing den, the friendships grow and grow but the thought of the war is never far away. By this time in 1917 the war had been going on a long time and the children had come to realise it wasn’t just about being heroes- the fear of the ‘Man in black’ -the telegram man coming by is never far away, the woman discuss rationing while the younger girls apply to be Land Girls and the boys play at being soldiers while worrying about their Fathers.

Kevin, one of the other boys from their gang, often refers to The God of All Small Boys who he explains is the God who ‘keeps us from breaking our necks on scaffolding…let’s us find pennies in the gutter. He’s the one who grows trees with branches in just the right places, so we can climb to the top….He looks after us…he’s the one who keeps us safe.’ The other boys sort of laugh at Kevin’s God of all Small Boys but they also believe in Him in their own way to. However, when something awful happens they find it hard to make sense of things. I don’t want to give away too much of the story but you should definitely read this book.

I really like the cover too- on the face of it it’s showing boys having fun in the sunset but then you look closer and it reminds you once again of the war and of young men going off to fight as it looks like the artwork of silhouettes of soldiers on a battlefield at the same time.

The God of all Small Boys features so many different issues- war, bullying, friendship, love, poverty and many more- you don’t even realise some of them until you have finished reading and think back. It’s one of those books that gets you thinking for a long time afterwards. Although it’s a children’s book it is brilliantly written and any book that can make my Mum cry should be read by grown ups too.

Don’t forget to head over to www.lisareadsbooks.blogspot.com tomorrow for the next stop on the blog tour.

 

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The God of all Small Boys for review purposes but all thoughts are my own.

Halilit Sounds of the Forest book set review

Review by Charlotte age 7 with some help from Mummy

Sam and I were sent a Halilit Sounds of the Forest book and instrument set. It’s really cute and Sam loves it.

 

The story is a board book so good for toddlers and the instrument looks like an owl and makes a really good owl noise. I have been reading the story to Sam and he has been making the noises at the right place.

The story is about a baby owl waiting for his Mummy to come home and how he hears lots of different sounds and wants to know if it is her.

The pictures are really nice and the story is good for Sam’s age. It isn’t too long and we can read it in one go but there is lots of chance to make his owl noises which he loves. It took him a few times to get used to how to blow through and get the owl sound but he quickly worked it out.

Sam now keeps playing the instrument and it sounds really like there is a real owl here!

I think this book is perfect for children age 3 to 4 but is easy to read for bigger children and the instrument is fun for everybody.

Sam and I really enjoyed sharing this book together.

Disclaimer: We were sent the Sounds of the Forest Set to review, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

What I am reading this Summer- Lottie age 6

I have been reading lots of books this Summer.

My favourite one so far is My Naughty Little Sister it’s about a big girl who lives with her little sister who is very naughty. She gets into lots of trouble.

I have also been reading The Naughtiest Girl Again by Enid Blyton, Elizabeth is at boarding school and sometimes gets into trouble but she in this book she is learning to be calmer and she isn’t as naughty as the sister in My Naughty Little Sister.

My Mum and I have been reading Katy by Jacqueline Wilson which is really good but a bit old for me in places, Katy has had an accident and I have just got to the bit where she has got home from hospital, it’s a bit scary in places.

When we were on holiday I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which helped me plan my chocolate themed birthday party!

I am now looking forward to reading The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan and The Chocolate Factory Ghost by David O’Connell which are going to be given to my friends instead of party bags after my party… I think I will need to have plenty of chocolate to eat while I am reading them!

I would love to know what books your 6 or 7 year olds like at the moment?

 

 

 

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Hopeless Heroes: Here Comes Hercules by Stella Tarakson

I was lucky enough to receive two books from the Hopeless Heros series by Stella Tarakson to review and now it’s my turn on the blog tour to let you know what I thought of them!

Hopeless Heroes: Here Comes Hercules– By Stella Tarakson, Publication date 22nd February 2018

‘When Tim Baker breaks his Mum’s favourite vase it’s the least of his problems. The Greek hero he frees from inside is in danger of doing far worse. To the flowers, the rug-Oh no! Not the kitchen! Hercules is only trying to be helpful but he is just hopeless! It’s time to send this dim demigod home before Tim becomes ancient history.’

The vase was the last thing that Tim’s Dad had given his Mum before he died, even though they needed the money and it was worth a lot she still didn’t want to sell it because it was so important to her so when Tim accidently breaks it he is desperate to get it fixed before she gets home from work. Tim is quickly distracted though when he hears the words FREE AT LAST and finds a tall man towering over him. Tim soon realises that Heroes might be cool and Hercules certainly is strong but a genie  might have been more useful!

Hercules manages to destroy the garden and eat the roast chicken that was meant for dinner even before Tim’s Mum gets home but surely she will understand that heroes get hungry. Except…it turns out Tim is the only one who can see him

Allsorts of strange things happen and no one believes in Tim’s hero so he gets the blame as well as having to deal with worrying about being bullied by a boy from school. Hercules is struggling too- he misses his wife and daughter and wishes there was a way to get back to them. Can they work together to help Tim’s Mum and get Hercules home? What about Leo the bully and Queen Hera, Zeus’ evil wife who cursed Hercules?

Hera’s Terrible Trap, by Stella Tarakson- Publication date 22nd February 2018

Tim Baker thinks his adventures are over until he hitches a ride to Ancient Greece on a stolen vase. Soon Tim finds himself trapped with an Army of Peacocks and a hero who can’t stop admiring himself. PUT THAT MIRROR DOWN, THESEUS! Thank the God’s his new friend Zoe is there to help. Just don’t tell her Dad…

In the second book in the series we see Tim being transported to Ancient Greece on the vase that Hera has stolen back. The evil Hera wants to trap Hercules and Tim is expected to help, Tim ends up on the run and bumps into Hercules. Tim ends up meeting his daughter Zoe and they get to work together hatching a plan to stop Hera.

 

I really like these books from the Hopeless Heroes series, they are funny and they cover issues like bullying really well. I enjoyed how they link to actual Greek Myths and learning a bit more about the people you hear about in mythology.  I like the way the names are brought to life but it is still a story so you feel you are enjoying a book while you are learning rather than reading something for school.

The character of Hercules was great, he is a bit of a disaster but very kind to Tim and he makes me laugh. I really liked it when Zoe arrived in the second book as she was brilliant.

If someone told me to read a story about Greek Mythology I probably wouldn’t have wanted to but I really enjoyed both these books- it was very easy to loose yourself in the story and I read them both very quickly. I loved the way the books were set up- there was lots of Greek style writing which caught your eye and broke it up a bit. The illustrations by Nick Roberts were brilliant, I thought they really made you think of Ancient Greece and they looked like something that should have been on a vase like Tim’s Mums one.

I really enjoyed these books and am looking forward to the rest of the series coming out- there is 10 in total, so plenty to learn and enjoy!

I would say children as young as 6 would enjoy the Hopeless Heroes series but perhaps with a bit of adult help and that children older than me would also like the stories. I think they are perfect for my age (10) and my Mum thinks they would be good for people who aren’t too keen on reading as they are broken up into manageable chapters with plenty of illustrations to keep your attention as well as being funny enough to appeal to most children.

Thanks to Sweet Cherry Publishing for introducing us to this series and allowing us to be involved with the Hopeless Heros Blog Tour. Don’t forget to see what other bloggers thought of them on the tour!

Disclaimer: We were kindly sent the proofs for these books by Sweet Cherry Publishing but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

This post contains affiliate links which means we earn a small amount of commission if you choose to buy via them at no cost to yourself

 

 

 

 

 

Giant By Kate Scott Book Review

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Kate Scott’s book Giant to read and review over the Summer. It was so easy to get into that I read it over just a few sessions.

Giant is about Anzo who is 11 and very, very short. This probably wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of his family weren’t very very tall and  everyone didn’t call him ‘peanut’. He gets teased at school and has to play ALL of the seven dwarfs in the school play. His family want to open a restaurant together and everyone has a job to do except Anzo. He wishes he was tall so that someone would notice him.  It makes me feel sad for Anzo that he is so worried he will never fit in.

Anzo’s friend Elise suggests he tries positive thinking. He is not convinced but gives it a go. All of a sudden, over a week, Anzo starts to grow and grow.  However, Anzo soon learns that being tall perhaps wasn’t the answer to all his problems. Anzo starts to learn that if you want things to change you have to change them yourself. He starts to follow his dreams of becoming a comic book creator and goes on an adventure with Elise.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a great story while covering topics like being proud of who you are and how everyone is different. It made me feel sad at times when it made me think about how sometimes people at school can be horrible but it was good at reminding me to be kind to other people and that everyone has different strengths. I like how it shows it doesn’t matter who you are, you can still do anything you want if you try hard enough.

I think this was a book about feeling different and being lonely but also about friendship and having courage. This book is aimed at 8 to 11 year olds and I think this is about right. I am sure my sister would enjoy the story but she is perhaps a bit young to understand it all, whereas if you are a bit further through school you have probably felt exactly as Anzo has. I think this would be a great book to read as a class, from year 3 onwards as it would have lots of things for the teacher to discuss that are relevant to their children.

Book Review- On The Trail Of The Missing Pets by Marianne Su Yin

It’s always great to come across a new author who you haven’t seen before and I love it when I find a book that is very different to any others I have read before so was pleased when Marianne Su Yin contacted me and asked if I would review her new book- On The Trail Of The Missing Pets, A Mystery In History.

I really like history and have enjoyed reading fact books about World War Two for a long time but I haven’t read any fiction before so this was something a bit different.

It follows the story of Violet Vintage and her dog Spike who travel back in time by using a wardrobe of magic clothes and accessories and this time they find themselves in 1944 in bombed London. All the pets have run off in fright when the bombs were going off and Violet and Spike make friends with their owners and promise to track them down. The mystery is where could they have all gone?

Spike and Violet hatch a plan and travel around London hunting down the person who appears to be taking the pets but will they track him down?

I really enjoyed the style of this book- it’s written in rhyming though the whole thing which is really clever and the drawings are brilliant with lots of detail-my favourite drawing was the very last one, I won’t say what it was off but I like the way it was mainly black and white with certain things in colour.

On The Trail Of The Missing Pets is a good story, suitable for younger children, especially because of the rhyming style it is written in but it’s also got quite a lot of facts in so it’s good for older children too- I didn’t know Buckingham Palace was bombed nine times in a row and that the Royal Family decided to stay.

After the story there was several pages of information about WW2 that was really interesting and had lots of facts that I didn’t know so I especially enjoyed this addition to the story.

I enjoyed this book very much, it was a quick read for my age but I would go back and read it again and my sister loved it being read to her so I would probably suggest it was suitable for children age 6 to 10.

I am looking forward to Violet and Spike’s next adventure!

 

Clever Tykes Books Review and Free Books for Primary Schools

I was pleased when a set of Clever Tykes books arrived in the post for me to review recently as I love having something new to read.

This set contains three books- Walk-It Willow, Code-It Cody and Change-it Cho and all three feature stories about children using their skills for a project or venture, facing challenges along the way and how they overcome them.

My favourite was Code-It Cody but my sister liked Walk-It Willow best, we both thought this one was quite funny, but they were all good and we both enjoyed all three.

I liked the way there were lessons within each story that the main character learnt and also that they made the point that even grown ups make mistakes when trying something new so it doesn’t mean you have to give up. I also enjoyed the way that the books encourage you to come up with new ideas of things you can do using your own skills. There were lots of ideas and advice within the stories for children wanting to learn a bit about running a business but because it’s in the story it doesn’t feel like you are learning which is great for children my age.

The books are easy to read for my age group and are a nice fairly quick story to enjoy, they are a little harder for my sister’s age but she enjoyed them being read to her. I think because of the message within them the books are correctly aimed at KS2 children but they are also good for slightly younger children to enjoy the stories. The illustrations are great too and there are plenty throughout to break it up for less confident readers. I also really like the type of print they have used in the book as it is very easy to read.

The books are sponsored by an initiative by Lloyds Banking Group which means they are offered free in Primary Schools- I had actually already seen one of them on my class bookshelf!

To find out more about the books you can visit the Clever Tykes website where you can buy them individually or as a set to read at home but if you are a primary school then you could visit the Clever Tykes Primary Enterprise Education  page where you can sign up for your school and access free books and teaching materials.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I was sent a set of Clever Tykes books for review purposes but all comments are my own

 

AniMalcolm By David Baddiel- My half term read!

I was lucky enough to review a The Parent Agency by David Baddiel last year and loved it so was thrilled to be asked to review his new book AniMalcom.

The problem with really enjoying a book is that you never know if the author will be able to pull it off again, so whilst I was looking forward to reading AniMalcolm I was a bit unsure as to whether it would live up to my expectations. I needn’t have worried!

Animalcolm is about a boy called Malcolm whose parents LOVE animals. Malcolm is not so keen. His birthday is coming up and he really wants a laptop, he gets… a new pet! He is amazed that he is also allowed to go on the school trip- however he soon finds out they are heading for a farm- not exactly ideal for someone who doesn’t like animals!

When Malcolm arrives at Orwell Farm he meets a goat, called K-Pax, who the farm owners claim is very wise, although Malcolm doubts that! He changes his mind though when the magical goat hypnotises him!

 

Suddenly Malcolm is changing and AniMalcolm appears- will he ever be himself again?! It’s quite hard being an animal when you are not used to it and AniMalcolm has some difficult times –  being stuck on his back as a tortoise (it takes a very long time for another tortoise to help you from that position!) discovering that humans can no longer understand him and coming up against a cat who really doesn’t want to share her spot with another cat.

I was so pleased with this book- David Baddiel is just as funny as ever and really ‘gets’ children’s humour. I read this book in two sittings – I barely put it down and I literally laughed out loud so many times! My very favourite characters are The Dolly’s – Dolly 1, Dolly 2 and Dolly 3 but there are so many great characters that you get into the book really quickly.

The illustrations were great too and really added to the story.

Whether you are an animal lover or not this book is a brilliant read. I would happily give it 10/10. I think it’s perfect for kids age 8 plus to read easily on their own and am definitely going to recommend it to all my friends, but I think younger children would also enjoy sharing it with an adult- my sister is 5 and has just started reading it with my Mum and she loves it.

AniMalcolm is out now in paperback published by Harpur Colins and is available to purchase from Amazon

I can’t wait for David Baddiel’s next book!

 

 

Please note this is a sponsored post and contains an affiliate link but I read the book, loved the book and all views are my own!

 

 

My Favourite Reads This Year

My Current Favourite Books

I have read lots of books this year so far and thought I would share some of my favourites for any children looking for a good read. I still have loads of old favourites that I would read time and time again, such as anything by Roald Dahl but these few are some of my new favourites that I would recommend. I would love to know what you and your children like reading together too!

Hello, is this planet Earth? by Tim Peake

I absolutely love this book, it has the most amazing pictures and I have looked at it time and time again. There are also some really interesting bits to read but it is mostly the photos I keep coming back to. We have given copies of this book to several of my friends for their birthdays and they have all really liked it – it’s definitely one of those books for all ages.

The Night Spinner by Abi Elphinstone

You can read my full review here but The Night Spinner is easily one of the best books I have read in ages. Full of magic and mystery and plenty of suspense this is definitely worth reading. Best suited to children age 8 plus.

The Midnight Gang by David Walliams

I have not finished this book yet but so far it is brilliant and certainly as good as anything else I have  read by David Walliams, I think I will whizz through it in no time!

The Enid Blyton Mystery Series

I have been working my way through these 15 books over the last few weeks and although they were written years ago and feel quite old fashioned in some ways they are still really good stories. I would also recommend these for children age 8 plus.

Star Wars Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

This is a brilliant book for Star Wars fans and is absolutely full of facts and information. I have been dipping in and out of this for months.

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