11+, 9+, Children's Fiction, Eva Reads Books!, Summer Reads

The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armour-Chelu – Reviewed by Eva

Eva is back with another cracking review.  This time she’s kicking off my Recommended Summer Reads and chatting about The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armour-Chelu.  Over to Eva…

The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armour-Chelu

A spellbinding, timeless and beautifully told adventure about two sisters and their journey to find each other again.

Sisters Tansy and Belle are the stars of the grand finale of a circus show; a dazzling and perfectly timed trapeze act where they soar through the air like shimmering butterflies. One night, desperate to impress her older sister, Tansy attempts a spectacular jump and falls. Now terrified of heights, all Tansy can do is watch from below while Belle shines above. But when Belle mysteriously vanishes and Tansy’s shadow miraculously comes to life, Tansy discovers that the courage she needs to rescue her sister may have been inside her all along.

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The Butterfly Circus is a heart-warming tale about teamwork, friendship and sisterhood.

Tansy – a twelve-year-old girl with amazing talents – is an incredible acrobat. Everyone loved her, until one night she fell. Now all she does is watch her fourteen-year-old sister Belle, who is also an acrobat, get all the credit and fame. On a grand night Belle was about to pull one of her most exiting tricks, but then she disappeared. Tansy sets out to find where her sister has gone.

This book was both exciting and tense. However, I thought at times the pace made it hard to follow the story, and I had to turn back a few pages to know what was happening. This only happened a few times, and not enough to spoil what was an amazing story.

I loved how in the middle of the book the mood changed, and the world went from happy and jolly to dark and creepy. The writer definitely has the talent to be both funny and scary. I would recommend this book to everyone. It has great characters with unique backgrounds. I would love to read another book by this author.

*

Thank you so much to the lovely people at Walker Books.  Both Eva and I loved The Butterfly Circus!

The Butterfly Circus by Francesca Armour-Chelu was published on the 6th of June and is available in paperback, eBook AND on Audiobook.

About the author

Francesca Armour-Chelu

91UnVQqAu8L._US230_I was brought up in Suffolk building dens & tree houses & although I loved writing & drawing, it wasn’t until an accident & a long hospital stay that I really got into reading; my Dad gave me ‘Pippi Longstocking’ & I fell in love with her – & books.

After school I lived in an abandoned Edwardian railway carriage & made film props before reading English & Drama at Goldsmiths, University of London. After working with children with disabilities I worked in libraries & museum education. When not writing, I work for public libraries and run creative writing workshops.

‘Fenn Halflin & the Fearzero’ was short-listed for the Mslexia Children’s Novel & the Mal Peet Award. It was also long-listed for the Branford Boase Award, the New Angles Prize, & the Little Rebels Award. My short-story inspired by Japanese folklore; ‘The Starving Ghost’, won the Mslexia Short Story Competition & my novel ‘Lemon Ink Over Flame’ was shortlisted for the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize. ‘Fenn Halflin & the Seaborn’ was short-listed for the Mal Peet Award 2017. My next book ‘The Butterfly Circus’, is due out June 2019. – Via Amazon UK

You can follow Francesca on Twitter at @fkarmourchelu

You can follow Walker Books on twitter at WalkerBooksUK

Other books by Francesca…

 

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7+, 9+, Children's Fiction

You’ve Been Were-Wolfed by Tom McLaughlin – Reviewed by Eva

Today I’m delighted to hand the review baton over to lovely Eva.  Eva is a book loving eleven-year-old and I’m thrilled to have her on board to give the low-down on some great children’s books.  Now over to Eva…

You’ve Been Were-Wolfed by Tom McLaughlin

A laugh-out-loud mystery series with a new hilarious case for our heroic nerds to crack in each book.

When Tyler is sent to summer camp, she can’t resist packing one of her latest science projects – the Hologramaphone 3000. Problem is, some of the phone’s functions have EXTREME side-effects, the kind that can turn your best-friend into a ferocious werewolf!

But when SUPER GEEKS Tyler, Dylan and Ashley band together, there’s no problem that they can’t solve – no matter how big, hairy, and terrifying.

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My first review is for a book named You’ve Been Were-wolfed by Tom McLaughlin.

Tyler Fritz is an Einstein obsessed genius, she loves to be a leader and hates the outdoors. One of her friends, Ashley always carries a screwdriver and is allergic to dogs, but she also hates the parents WhatsApp group. Her other friend Dylan is allergic to everything! And she loves sweets.

This a very funny book and the author has achieved what he wanted to make the reader feel. This book is aimed at 7-11 year old’s and is an interesting story told with a strong sense of humour. It has intriguing characters for the reader to explore an engaging story with.

If you liked Pamela Butchart’s My Head Teacher is a Vampire Rat you will surely
love this book. This story has books, phones, outdoors, indoors, squirrels,
woodlice, racoons, dogs and… unicorns! Who wouldn’t want to read it?

*

Thank you so much to the lovely people at OUP.  Both Eva and I LOVED You’ve Been Were-wolfed.

You’ve Been Were-wolfed by Tom McLaughlin was published 2nd May by OUP.  

About the author

Tom McLaughlin

81VoXxh1nnL._US230_.jpgI write pictures and doodle words for Bloomsbury, Puffin, Oxford University Press, Simon & Schuster, Scholastic, The Guardian; Disney, Nickelodeon.

After leaving art college in ’97, I spent nearly 10 years as a political cartoonist for The Western Morning News before going freelance.

I’ve been published both as a writer and an illustrator for a number of publishers, had my books translated across Europe and South America. Apart from publishing, I’ve also spent time script writer and a character designer for several animation channels.

I live in Devon, spend most of my days drinking tea and dreaming up new stories.

More books by Tom…

9+, Children's Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Last year I discovered How To Bee by Bren MacDibble, a fascinating middle grade title that looks at the effects of climate change and poverty.  I felt it was insightful and dealt with important issues wonderfully.  This would make an interesting choice for classroom or book club discussion.  I originally reviewed this for Lovereading4kids but I’m delighted to share it again today in celebration of #WorldBeeDay.  I’m now excited to have a copy of Bren’s latest novel, The Dog Runner which was published earlier this month, also by Old Barn Books .  A review will follow for that asap.  For now lets get back to How To Bee.

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Set in a future Australia in a time when there are no bees and children are employed to scramble through the fruit trees with feather wands, much like the pear farmers of Hanyuan in China are forced to do today. Peony wants to be a bee, a hand pollinator: she’s light, she’s fast, and even though she’s a year too young, she’s going to be the best bee the farm has ever seen…except when you’re only 9, it’s hard to get everyone around you to go along with your plan. A beautiful and fierce novel for middle grade readers, ‘How to Bee’ explores an all-too-possible dystopian social landscape with an intensely compelling and original voice.

How To Bee is unlike any story I have ever read. The narrative voice is heartfelt and the author uses a mild form of dialect to bring both her characters and setting to life. Seen through the eyes of eight year old Peony, we see great hardship and brutality but also friendship, courage and determination. This is at times a harsh and truthful read, tackling difficult issues of environment, poverty and abuse, unafraid to hide the cruelty and yet finding within the beauty of nature, family and what really matters. It’s a story about standing true to your dreams, and that with hard work, love and kindness we can help those dreams come true. It is also a reminder of how precious our natural world is and how we must do all we can to protect it for both us and future generations.

Peony is a pest who dreams of becoming a Bee. It’s a simple life centred on the trees and family. In a world where pesticides have destroyed the bee population it now falls to children like Peony to save the harvest from pests and other dangers that may destroy their precious produce. The best workers who are light and quick become hand-pollinators. Armed with feather wands they climb from tree to tree pollinating the flowers in the hope that they will bear fruit. Peony lives on the farm with her sister Magnolia and Gramps. Her Ma lives and works in the city, coming home every now and then with cash and fresh bruises. At eight years old Peony can’t understand why she doesn’t stay, they live a simple life but they have everything they need. But Ma thinks Peony would be better off working in the city for cash so they can save and build a better future. Strong willed and courageous, Peony is determined to remain in the place she loves and earn her stripes to work as a Bee on the farm.

How To Bee shows that even the smallest person can make a big difference in a challenging world.

How To Bee was published by Old Barn Books on 3rd May 2018.

Visit Bren’s website here to find out more about this fascinating author.

Review coming soon for…

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5+, 7+, Chapter Books, Children's Fiction, Tales Before Bedtime Juniors

Tales Before Bedtime Recommends – Isadora Moon Has a Sleepover by Harriet Muncaster

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Isadora Moon is special

because she is different.

Her mum is a fairy and her dad is a vampire and she is a bit of both.

When Isadora is invited to stay at her friend Zoe’s house she’s excited – she hasn’t been to a sleepover before! There will be midnight feasts, and staying up all night, it’s going to be so much fun!

And while she’s there, Isadora and Zoe are going to work on their cake for a baking competition at school. But will they be able to resist adding a sprinkling of magic to their creation. . . ?

With irresistible pink and black artwork throughout by author/illustrator Harriet Muncaster and a totally unique heroine with an out-of-this-world family, this is a beautiful, charming, and funny series of first chapter books. Perfect for fans of Claude, Dixie O’Day, and Squishy McFluff, Isadora Moon is the ideal choice for readers who want their magic and sparkle with a bit of bite!

This is another delightful Isadora Moon story that is perfect for sharing with your young book lovers or for emerging independent readers to try on their own.  I’ve adored these books right from the very first Isadora Moon Goes To School, not only are they beautifully presented but Isadora is such a sweet little vampire/fairy that you can’t help but fall in love with her.

About the author

Harriet Muncaster

A1v4OWu4yHL._US230_Harriet Muncaster is the author and illustrator of the Isadora Moon series of young reader books, published by Oxford University Press. So far Isadora Moon has been translated into nearly twenty different languages, including Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Japanese, and is available as an audio book.

Harriet has also published picture books with Penguin US, Harper Collins US, and Parragon Publishing. She won the Blue Hen Book Award for her first picture book I am a Witch’s Cat, and was highly commended for the MacMilllan Prize while studying for her second Illustration degree.

Harriet lives with her husband and daughter near some beautiful countryside in Bedfordshire, England.

 

 

2+, Children's Fiction, Picture Books

Meet The Penguins by Mike Brownlow

Meet the penguins! They really want to make some new friends.

But does anyone want to play?

When two penguins arrive from a faraway place and want to make friends, the other animals do not want to play with them. If only they would give the penguins a chance, they might discover how wonderful they really are!

A funny story about welcoming others – brilliantly written and illustrated by best-selling author of Ten Little Superheroes, Mike Brownlow.

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These little penguins are SO ADORABLE!  and yet it would seem that no-one wants to play with them.  Everyone they meet is rather unwelcoming and are either too busy, too concerned about mess, think they won’t understand or simply don’t even see them.  As the story progresses our little penguins become more and more downhearted.  Will there ever find someone to play with?

The illustrations are beautiful, bold and colourful. They are delightfully funny (I especially love the giraffe!) and there is much to discuss on each page.  The story also raises plenty of questions to ask of our young readers and reminds us (even us adults) that saying yes and making time for others can lead to lots of fun with new and old friends.  It’s a great story to share and also to help children begin to look at word formation and recognition with repetition and just a small amount of text on each page.

Meet The Penguins has been published by Oxford University Press and is now available from all good bookshops.

You can follow Oxford University Press on Twitter at @OUPChildrens

About the author

Mike Brownlow

Now I first discovered Mike through one of his first books Little Robots which went on to become an animated show on CBeebies, with the voice talents of Lenry Henry, Sue Perkins, Mel Giedroyc,  Martin Clunes, Emma Chambers and Su Pollard.  You can read more about this on Mike’s website here.  My son and I absolutely loved watching these funny little robots.

He has written many books to share with young book lovers and contributed Ten Little Bookworms to the selection of World Book Titles on offer this year. He understands how important it to learn to read and his books help us to instil a love of books from a very early age. Everything changes when we learn to read. We learn empathy, gain knowledge and nourish the imagination. It’s how minds connect and people understand each other. We need literate citizens more than ever.’ – Mike Brownlow

Find out more about Mike Brownlow by visiting his website here.

You can follows him on Twitter at @mikebrownlow1

5+, 7+, Children's Fiction, Stories to Share

The Royal Rabbits of London: The Great Diamond Chase by Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore – Illustrated by Kate Hindley

 The biggest, most beautiful diamond in the world has been stolen from Buckingham Palace! Shylo and the brave Royal Rabbits of London will do whatever it takes to crack the case and return the jewel to its rightful place.

Then they discover that Russia’s elite sharp-toothed secret-agent minks are in London. Could they have anything to do with the theft? But nothing is quite what it seems, and the Royal rabbits soon realise they might need a bit of help from an old friend to solve this mystery.

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This is the third in The Royal Rabbits of London series and if you are still yet to discover these brave, regal rabbits then boy are you in for a treat. They will hop their way into your hearts and you now have three fantastic tales to catch up on.

Now, you may think that the Royal family is under the protection of the Secret Service and the Royal Guard. But what you may not be aware of is that there is also a team of brave rabbits watching over them. The Royal Rabbits of London are a ‘secret society devoted to protecting the Royal Family and evil across the world.’

These books are fun and full of adventure, with characters you and your young readers will fall in love with. These little rabbits teach us about courage, loyalty, doing what you feel is right, and the importance of believing in yourself – even when you do make mistakes.

Beautifully illustrated throughout and just perfect to share or for confident young readers to read alone.

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Shylo and Horatio crept outside to sit beneath the Weeping Willow.

 

About the authors

Santa Montefiore

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Photo taken by Elaine Fattal and sourced from the Simon and Schuster website.

Santa Montefiore’s books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and have sold more than six million copies in England and Europe. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London. Visit her at SantaMontefiore.co.uk. You can also follow Santa on Twitter at @SantaMontefiore.

 

Simon Sebag Montefiore

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Photo taken by Ian Jones and sourced from the Simon and Schuster website.

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s bestselling and prize-winning books are now published in over forty-five languages. His new book The Romanovs: 1613–1918 has been universally acclaimed and is already a bestseller in the UK, Australia, and the USA where it was on the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks. Montefiore has won literary prizes for both fiction and nonfiction. His latest novel, One Night in Winter won the Best Political Novel of the Year Prize and was longlisted for the Orwell Prize. He is now writing the third novel in this trilogy.

Follow Simon on Twitter at @SimonMontefiore. For more information visit SimonSebagMontefiore.com .

About the Illustrator

Kate Hindley

Kate Hindley is an illustrator who graduated from Falmouth School of Art in 2008. Kate lives in Worcestershire.You can follow Kate on Twitter at @hindleyillos.  For more information visit KateHindley.com

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The Royal Rabbits series is published by Simon and Schuster AND there is a 4th adventure coming this Autumn!  I am very excited about that. You can follow Simon and Schuster on Twitter at @simonkids_uk

 

 

Children's Fiction, Picture Books

The Pooka Party by Shona Shirley Macdonald

How do you get in trouble with the moon?

Throw a great big Pooka party!

High in the mountains lives a magical creature called: The Pooka.  The Pooka loves living there on its own and spends its time singing, gardening, dancing and reading.

One day The Pooka realises, it feels a bit lonely and misses its friends.

So decides to invite everyone to a great big party with music and cake!

Deer Fellow Beeings,

I invite yoo to a

Pooka party, ther

Will be mOOsic

And lotz of cake.

Address: By the

waterfall and near

the hOOj bowlder.

Time: Midnite.

Will anyone turn up?

Or will everyone turn up?

Come to the Pooka Party and find out what happens!

A magical and beautifully illustrated story about loneliness and the power of friendship, by highly acclaimed illustrator, Shona Shirley Macdonald.

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This such a cute book.  I absolutely adore The Pooka.  He reminded me a little of myself.  Those of us that like to spend time alone often get into the habit rather easily and then eventually we realise that it’s actually rather nice to see friends and this is exactly how The Pooka feels.  Even though he spends his time doing all the things he likes he gets lonely and misses his friends.  So he decides to have a party but has he left it too long?  Will they come?  A really lovely story that it super to read aloud and is full of fascinating and stunning illustrations that will give you plenty to talk about.

And if you’re wondering what The Pooka is…

The Pooka

The Pooka or púca (Irish for ghost) is a creature of Celtic folklore.  It is considered to be a bringer of both good and bad fortune and is said to enjoy creating havoc and mischief.  The Pooka, who usually lives in the mountains and hills, is a shapeshifter and can take any form it chooses: dog, rabbit, goat, horse, hare and even human form.

The Pooka Party was published by The O’Brien Press in hardback last year.

Thank you so much to the lovely people at The O’Brien Press for sharing this wonderful book with me.  It’s been a pleasure to read and share.

About the author/illustrator

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Shona Shirley Macdonald is a Scottish author/illustrator based in County Waterford.  Her published illustration includes The Moon Spun Round: W.B. Yeats for Children, edited by Noreen Doody, published by The O’Brien Press in 2016, Rita Kelly’s poetry retrospective Turas go Bun na Spéire and two Scottish Gaelic graphic novels, Cuir Stad air an Stoirm Shnaechda and An Smutag Ghaisgeil.  Her projects range from publications of poetry and fiction to concept artwork for theatre.