Egmont

Between Tick and Tock

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What would you do if you could stop time? If there was a space between tick and tock, how would you fill it? Everyone always seems to be in such a hurry that there’s never any time to see the little moments. The grey city streets are certainly too busy to notice. But if the hands of time could be stopped and everything shuddered to a halt, the whole world might come to a standstill. What a wonderful thing that would be.

Liesel does have the ability to pause the clock and stop time. She watches the busy world rush by and knows when it’s time to briefly stop the clock. Where there once was frenzy, everything is now frozen in time. She uses the paused moments to make the dull grey city glow with pretty colours. And whilst the clock appears to be holding its breath, Liesel skips through the stillness, making magic happen. Quarrels are mended, baby birds are lifted to safety and library books are returned on time!

It isn’t long before the clock calls Liesal back; the city and its inhabitants cannot remain permanently frozen in time. The ticks and tocks soon return and everything is as it once was. The city splutters back to life, and thanks to Liesal’s kindness, it is all the better for her watchful care.

‘Between Tick and Tock’ is a lyrical tale of what it would be like to stop the clock and fill the moments of time with little acts of kindness. This is a book full of subtle inference and wonderful opportunities for discussion. It is the second picture book by Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay, the first being ‘The Night Box’. Greig’s experience as a poet is evident in this book by her clever use of language and Lindsay’s colourful, simple illustrations really bring the story to life. 

In the classroom, this book could be used to start a series of ‘what if you could stop time’ short stories. Scenarios from the text could be used to inspire free writing e.g. ‘Two ladies in hats stand like statues…’ or ‘The silent city wears a frown…’. Writers could use their senses to write about the city when it stops: what can they see, hear, smell, taste and feel. They could also write from memory about something they have experienced, imagining what it would be like to stop the clock- a birthday party, a ride on a train or a trip to the supermarket.

Between Tick and Tock  by Louise Greig, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay

Egmont ISBN: 978-1405286596

Spies in St. Petersburg

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While Sophie raced off in hot pursuit of the enemy in their last adventure, Lil has returned to London. She is sure that the Bureau is keeping something about Sophie from her and when sent on her next mission, she decides to take matters into her own hands and makes a slight detour to Russia to uncover the truth. However, she finds herself not only unsure of who to trust, but also unsure of her feelings. Will she manage to find Sophie and will everyone survive this time?

I have delayed reviewing this book because although it is my favourite book by Katherine Woodfine so far, I am sulking with her because of something that happens in the story! However, it is such a good read that I have given in!

Well-paced and engaging from page one, ‘Spies in St. Petersburg’ is an excellent read, full of wonderful description. Lil shines through in all she does, captivating all she meets. Sophie continues in her gentle way, yet is made of stern stuff and always comes through in a crisis. A whole cast of new characters enrich the story and there are plenty of humorous moments alongside the tension and intrigue. Russia and its history make a rich background to the story- I want to visit now more than ever!

This is a must read story for anyone who enjoys a compelling mystery. There is an agonising and unexpected twist for those familiar with the characters from the Sinclair Mysteries books which means that everyone will be eagerly awaiting the next instalment with bated breath. I, for one, hope we don’t have to wait too long!

Taylor and Rose Secret Agents: Spies in St. Petersburg Katherine Woodfine,

illustrated by Karl James Mountford

Egmont ISBN: 978-1405287050

Sweep

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Ed’s bad mood started as ‘something small…really small, hardly a thing at all.’ As it grows, he relentlessly sweeps the leaves in front of him, oblivious to the destruction and chaos he is causing. Fortunately, a change comes, clearing the air and allowing Ed to look up once more and enjoy the beauty of the world around him.

Understanding our emotions is so important. Sometimes feelings can overwhelm us and are difficult to control. ‘Sweep’ offers an excellent way of starting conversations about emotions.

The illustrations are delightful. Full of colour and detail, there is also plenty of humour. You can follow the adventures of the cat and dog that can be found in each picture. The characters’ expressions are great, offering plenty to discuss.

The pictures also celebrate lots of pleasurable things to do- things which Ed could engage with if his bad mood wasn’t clouding his judgement and limiting his choices. The joy of being lifted by looking up, noticing the beauty around him and banishing the bad mood is perfectly captured by the kite flying at the end.

Sweep Louise Greig, illustrated by Julia Sarda

Egmont ISBN: 978-1405283779