Macmillan

Everything All At Once

DSC_0006 (2).JPG

Steven Camden has been one of my favourite poets since I heard him speak at a Federation of Children’s Book Groups Conference a few years ago. He was speaking about his books, ‘Tape’ and ‘It’s About Love’ and his ‘speech’ took the form of a compelling poem which he performed with a passion and energy I have not forgotten. I have been to see him at literary festivals since- and each time am inspired by his love of language and the ease with which he uses words.

‘Everything All At Once’ is a fabulous collection of poems which capture the insecurity and vulnerability of the teenage experience. Some of his poems are beautifully poignant - ‘Those Who Can’t’, ‘Cracks’, ‘Nothing Else’- some very insightful, capturing the essence of emotional experience- the pain of betrayal, the ache of loneliness, an avalanche of emotions. He observes and captures each moment with an ease that is stunning.

Simply brilliant, Steven Camden is a true wordsmith and this is an essential collection.

Everything All At Once Steven Camden

Macmillan ISBN: 978-1509880034

NSTBA PICTURE BOOK CATEGORY LONG LIST part 3

Owl Logo 2019.jpg

With so many wonderful picture books available, this category cause the most debate. Here are the next five on the list…

IMG_0397.JPG

Deliciously silly from the first page, ‘I am a Tiger’ sees a mouse boldly proclaiming that it is, in fact, a tiger. Other animals are taken aback by this bold claim and try to disprove it. However, Mouse, brimming with confidence and conviction, manages to rebuff their claims until a genuine tiger appears. Completely unfazed by this arrival, Mouse simply tells the tiger that it is the mouse and then uses its own brand of logic to identify each of the other creatures. The ending opens the possibility for another Mouse story.

The illustrations are bold, using strong colours for the backgrounds and the bemused expressions of the animals and the confidence of the mouse are just wonderful.Even the end papers join in the fun with Mouse cheekily peeking round tiger strips at the beginning and through a hole in cheese at the end before setting the reader wondering again with the final illustration. Perfect for story time, ‘I am a Tiger’ will have everyone laughing and making up stories! Brilliant and beautiful!

I am a Tiger Karl Newson, illustrated by Ross Collins

Macmillan ISBN: 978-1509855155

IMG_0381.JPG

Matisse’s beautiful art work goes unnoticed until he finds a place full of eager eyes which notice his creations- a playground.The children wonder at Matisse’s art and are inspired to create their own. A wonderful way to introduce children to the work of Henri Matisse and particularly ‘The Snail’, ‘Matisse’s Magical Trail’ lends itself beautifully to celebrating creativity, the joys of close observation and noticing the little things around us. Matisse’s work inspires the children to transform their environment, bringing joy to others along the way.

The illustrations are fabulous, working perfectly with the text to produce an inspirational, artistic story!

Matisse's Magical Trail Tom Hopgood, illustrated by Sam Boughton

OUP ISBN: 978-0192767264

You can read another review of this here.

IMG_0390.JPG

Inspired by the story of a rougheye rock fish caught off the coast of Alaska, ‘Alba the Hundred Year Old Fish’ is a tale of the change in our oceans, particularly coral reefs, and how the actions of just one determined person can make great change. Alba loves to collect beautiful objects which she would gather around her home. However, as the years passed, the number of beautiful objects she could find grew less whilst the amount of strange, unfriendly things in the ocean grew. Finding herself trapped inside a plastic bottle, Alba is washed up on the beach where fortunately, she is found by a little girl who rescues Alba and leads a campaign to clear up the mess.

Clearly showing how the actions of an individual can make all the difference, this is a wonderful story for discussing the problems for wildlife caused by rubbish and pollution. A ‘Did you spot..?’ section at the back encourages children to locate and identify different creatures found on coral reefs, introducing them to these wonderful creatures. A final note also suggests ways of looking after our oceans. The pictures also identify a whole range of alien objects which have found their way to Alba’s home, ruining its beauty and creating hazards for the creatures that live there. A strong message through a lovely story.

Alba the Hundred Year Old Fish Lara Hawthorne

Big Picture Press ISBN: 978-1787412927

IMG_0401.JPG

When a stranger arrives with only a suitcase, everyone is full of questions, particularly when he tells them what his case contains. Suspicious, they force the case open whilst he is asleep and discover the real contents. When the stranger awakes, he finds they have tried to make amends.

Beautiful, poignant and profound, ‘The Suitcase’ reminds us all of the importance of being kind and thoughtful, about standing up to the negative ideas of others and of welcoming ‘strangers’ and making them friends. It is all the more powerful for its simplicity and is a must read in every classroom and home.

The Suitcase Chris Naylor-Ballestros

Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788004473

You can read another review of this here.

DSC_4182.jpg

Liesel lives above the bustling city, watching the busy people below. In a magical pause between tick and tock, Liesel stops time and gets to work, spreading happiness through good deeds across the city. These little acts of kindness have a big impact when the city rumbles back into life.

The importance of taking time, of noticing and of offering a helping hand are celebrated in this beautiful book. Liesel reminds us that there is always a moment to help, to change things, to make life a little better for others and so enrich ourselves. The illustrations are striking with splashes of colour highlighting the places Liesel helps against the muted colours of the city. A wonderful book for sharing, discussing and inspiring random acts of kindness.

Between Tick and Tock Louise Greig, illustrated by Ashling Lindsay

Egmont ISBN: 978-1405286596

You can read another review of this here.

NSTBA READ ALOUD CATEGORY LONG LIST 2019 part 2

Owl Logo 2019.jpg
DSC_4224.jpg

Coming from a magical family who can do extraordinary things, Willow Moss's talent of finding things does not seem very special. Her sisters, with their 'proper magic', take after her mother; Willow, with her long stick-straight brown hair and brown eyes, takes after her father. So whilst her mother and her sisters visit the Travelling Fortune Fair, Willow is left behind to find things for those in need of her services. However, she finds her queue of customers vanished and the most feared witch in Starfell, Moreg Vaine, in their place. Last Tuesday has gone missing and Moreg needs a 'finder' like Willow to help her. And so an unwilling Willow finds herself embarking on a quest to locate the missing day, finding friendship, adventure and a lot of self belief on the way!

This is a wonderful story in so many ways. Full of fabulous characters, the story romps along at an enchanting pace to a very satisfying conclusion. The world of Starfell is full of detail and colour. Wisperia, the largest, most magical forest, 'an unpredictable place with magic fizzing about', the Midnight Market full of 'dangerous and deadly looking goods for sale', Troll Country where few apart from trolls venture- each location is beautifully imagined and described. Great fun to read aloud, there are plenty of opportunities for leaving your audience dying to hear more! The perfect read for those who enjoy adventure with a touch a magic.

Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day Dominique Valente, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

Harper Collins ISBN: 978-0008308391

You can read another review of this book here.

IMG_0030 (2).JPG

Summers staying with their grandparents mean freedom and adventure for cousins, Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh. However, when a day out for a picnic at a nearby stately home leads to a mystery involving a speeding sports car, several shady characters and stories of stolen diamonds, the cousins are in their element and pit their wits against all that comes their way.

Reminiscent of the Famous Five, ‘Clifftoppers’ is a fresh take on these classic stories with a real zest for life and sense of mischief mixed in. Complete with Bella, their dog, there is someone to appeal to everyone in this story and the pacey adventure will keep children begging for more. Full of rich language and vivid descriptions, it makes an excellent read aloud with plenty of action to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. With more stories in the series to come, this also offers other adventures for children to move on to once the class book has been shared. Brilliant!

Clifftoppers: The Arrowhead Moor Mystery Fleur Hitchcock

Nosy Crow ISBN:978-1788004695

DSC_0016 (2).JPG

Storm of Odin is the youngest hound of the Wild Hunt and longs to be chasing through the sky with the other hounds. However, he falls from the sky during his first hunt and lands near Abergavenny. Here he is found by Jessica Price, who longs for a pet. She is alarmed to find that lots of people are very interested in her new puppy and that mysterious, magical things are going on.

Mixing mythology and action with a lovable puppy, ‘Storm Hound’ is a wonderful read. Storm’s voice is a joy to read as he comes to terms with each new misunderstanding about the world he has found himself in. There is plenty of humour in the story, but Jessica is also well written, a very emotionally vulnerable child, reeling from her parent’s split and trying to come to terms with her new life. A rompingly good read!

Storm Hound Claire Fayers

Macmillan Children’s ISBN: 978-1509895045

DSC_0012 (2).JPG

In this fabulous quest, three children with magical talents come together to defeat those who threaten the cloud horses. But magic is forbidden and so brings danger to those who can use it.

Lavishly illustrated, this adventure is full of creative characters and exciting action. The story draws on myths and fairy tales, using elements that will be familiar, yet new! Moving at a pleasing pace, the story is perfect for reading aloud, whilst sharing the illustrations which have all Chris Riddell’s usual charm. Just wonderful!

The Cloud Horse Chronicles: Guardians of Magic Chris Riddell

Macmillan Children’s ISBN: 978-1447277972

IMG_9902 (2).JPG

The Pringle family have fallen on hard times and so determine to try their luck in the north- well, as far north as Uncaster. Travelling by the recently invented train- which gives them their new name- the family discover that they have no lodgings; fortunately, recently widowed Mrs Poskett , has fallen on hard times and needs to take in lodgers. However, they are not the only performers in Uncaster- Baby Bubbles, a child magician, is also performing and his mother dies not appreciate the competition.

Full of fabulous characters, this is a book which was written to be performed. Each character is bursting with personality, offering great potential for getting into role whilst reading. For those who are less confident with their acting abilities, the plot romps along at a pleasing pace with plenty to interest and amuse. The story also speaks of kindness and cooperation and having baddies who get their comeuppance is very satisfying. A fabulous read aloud!

The Steam Whistle Theatre Company Vivian French

Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406376319

You can read another review of this book here.

DSC_0014 (2).JPG

Surrounded by a thick forest, sits David and Penny’s new home – their mother’s childhood home. Along with their father, they have moved to the mysterious house following heir death of their mother. But they are not alone.

The house and the woods themselves are home to other mysterious creatures, like nothing David and Penny have ever seen before. Tiny, hairy Pog, - a magical creature who lives in the attic – is one of the First Folk and protects the boundary between worlds. As the children befriend Pog and he shares with them the secrets hidden below the house, they soon realise that creatures are slipping through from the other world… dangerous creatures… creatures that feed on pain and steal memories. It is up to Pog and the children to stop them! However, David has a secret. Lured deep into the woods, he has made a pact with another creature, a creature of darkness who insists it can bring his mother back.

Full of twists and turns, cliff hangers and wonderfully creepy creatures, this is an action-packed, spine-tingling fantasy adventure. Padraig Kenny has created a captivating magical world.full of strong characters which will have children desperate to hear more. It is also a story about grief and bravery. The children and their father have to learn to exist in a world without their mother; in places it is raw and full of feeling, but at heart, it is a story of family and friendship.

The rich vocabulary makes it a pleasure to read aloud. With its engaging characters and compelling plot, this is a story to share.

Pog Pádraig Kenny

Chicken House ISBN: 978-1911490395