Thursday, 12 December 2019

Picture This: Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding

I'm almost at the end of the audiobook version of Pride and Prejudice, so this funny picture book was perfectly timed. Thank you New Frontier Publishing for sending me a copy!

Darcy, Lizzie and a host of other favourites are reimagined as farmyard animals, preparing for Christmas by making the mixture for a Christmas pudding. 

This story is about including everyone at Christmas - even Mr Collins the cat, who tries to eat Maria the mouse at the start of the story! - and coming together to celebrate and spend time together. 

It was very sweet and I really enjoyed reading it to my two-year-old. I also learnt about 'Stir-up Sunday', which I hadn't come across before.

It looks like this is part of a series, with two other Mr Darcy books. On the strength of this, I would love to read the first two!

Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding is written by Alex Field and illustrated by Peter Garnavas

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Picture This: Santa's Tight Squeeze

I'm really excited to have five lovely Christmas stories to review this month from New Frontier Publishing. First up is Santa's Tight Squeeze.

As Santa travels across the world, the children he visits generously leave out plenty of snacks and treats to help him on his way. But the more Santa eats, the harder he finds it to squeeze down chimneys and through windows! If he's going to make it round the world in time, he's going to need a plan.

This was a sweet, funny picture book about sharing, which features some lovely drawings from famous landmarks around the world. My toddler really enjoyed the pictures of Santa's reindeer eating treats. This is definitely a story we will read again and again.

Santa's tight squeeze is written by Alex Field and illustrated by Karen Erasmus

Friday, 29 November 2019

Early Readers: The Princess in Black

While I love Biff, Chip and Kipper as much as every other parent forced to read about them on a nightly basis, it's always refreshing to find a new story that my five year old can help me read. 

We read the Princess in Black together, reading a few lines each and it was a really good level for my early reader. 

The story itself was fun and entertaining, and the bright, colourful artwork ensured her interest was maintained throughout. I picked this up from the library for a half term bedtime story, but we ended up reading it at multiple times a day because it was so enjoyable. 

I was excited to learn that this is the first in the series, and will definitely be getting her some of the other titles for more adventures with the Princess in Black (and the Goat Avenger)!

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Picture This: Scruffle-Nut

Scruffle-Nut follows Olivia on a trip to the park with her Nanny Clementine, where she comes across a squirrel who doesn't fit in with the others, as they leave him out and steal his food. Olivia knows what it is like to be an outsider, so she is determined to help Scruffle-Nut. Their meeting is brief, but the episode stays with Oliva throughout her life.

The gentle, lyrical writing and soft, muted colour scheme make Scruffle-Nut a soothing story for the end of the day. It has a lovely, wintery feel so is great for reading under a blanket on a cold day.

Scruffle-Nut is written by Corinne Fenton and illustrated by Owen Swan

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Picture This: Little Spiral

Little Spiral is a soothing, gentle story about a snail moving through a forest, where he encounters a host of woodland creatures, friend and foe. 

Patrick Shirvington's illustrations are beautiful; with detailed depictions of each of the animals Little Spiral encounters. This a great story for learning about the natural world.

The writing is soft and soothing, with lots of sibilance and alliteration, making this a perfect bedtime story for sleepy toddlers.

Little Spiral is written by Pat Simmons and illustrated by Patrick Shirvington 

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Picture This: Twelve Days of Kindness

Twelve Days of Kindness is the story of Nabila and Holly, two friends on a mission to make their entire class kinder and more welcoming. 

When Nabila starts school, she eats lunch alone and is left out of football practice. When she makes friends with Holly, the girls devise a plan to help the rest of their class understand that a good team is kind and accepting of others: the twelve days of kindness. 

Nabila and Holly's 12 step plan would work well in a classroom or youth group - I plan on taking this story along to Rainbows to see what the girls think - as they are a great way to prompt discussions about being a good friend, or to encourage children to come up with their own 'rules' for being kind. 

The bright, cheerful artwork is another great feature of this story.

Thank you so much New Frontier Publishing for sending me a copy to review!

Twelve Days of Kindness is written by Cori Brooke and illustrated by Fiona Burrows

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Diary of a Confused Feminist by Kate Weston

Kat wants to do GOOD FEMINISM, although she's not always sure what that means. She also wants to be a writer, get together with Hot Josh (is this a feminist ambition?), win at her coursework and not make a TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT of herself at all times.
But the path to true feminism is filled with mortifying incidents and when everything at school starts to get a bit too much, Kat knows she's lost her way, and the only way forward is to ask for help . . . {goodreads summary}

I cried with laughter, I cried with sorrow. If I had a time machine, I'd definitely send a copy of this back to my teenage self. Here are three reasons I loved Diary of a Confused Feminist (and think everyone should pre-order it now!)

1) It's laugh out loud funny. I made the mistake of reading it while sitting by my toddler, waiting for him to fall asleep, and had to stop because I was in danger of waking him up even more; I just couldn't stop giggling!

2) It portrays mental health in a very realistic way. I wish I could have read this book as a teenager, because I know how much I would have related to Kat's internal monologue (and I still did in so many ways). This is a brilliant book for teenagers who have ever experienced anxiety, or even ones who haven't and want an insight into what it is like. The coping strategies in the book are ones readers can take on board and I liked the realistic approach to treatment - NHS therapy has a huge waiting list and I know plenty of teenagers who have never managed to start CBT because of waiting times.

3) I loved the way friendship was presented in this story. Kat, Millie and Sam are a brilliant, hilarious trio who felt like real teenagers. I really enjoyed their chat names and would love to be part of their group.

I've got to three points without even mentioning the brilliant feminist messages in this story, or the tips for being a good feminist at the end. At a time when teenage girls are still often wary to refer to themselves as feminists (2 years ago, I listened to a five minute GCSE speaking exam about women's equality where the word wasn't used once!) I think this novel is important and necessary.

Thank you so much BKMRK for letting me review a copy of Diary of a Confused Feminist through Netgalley.