Friday 13 November 2020

Windrush Child

The England Leonard arrives in feels a world away from Jamaica: it's cold, the people are unfriendly and the father he has come to live with is a stranger. At school, the children are horrible and the teachers don't expect him to succeed. At home, his family struggle to reconnect and secrets from the past threaten to tear them apart. At its heart, Windrush Child explores what it means to be British in a way that has never felt more relevant.

Windrush Child is a moving and powerful novel which will give young readers an important and emotive insight into the experiences of the Windrush generation. It is essential reading on a part of recent British history which is still crucially relevant today, making it a valuable addition to any classroom or school library. 

Zephaniah's writing is captivating from the first page, drawing readers into Leonard's world and making this book difficult to put down as it races towards its heartbreaking conclusion.

Windrush Child is part of the Voices series, produced by Scholastic and this novel is endorsed by Amnesty International, with an endnote explaining the current relevance and context in which Windrush Child has been written. This story is perfect for readers who want to learn more about this period of recent British history, to understand the Windrush scandal, or to read a book which champions inclusivity and diversity. 

If you'd like to read more about Windrush Child, the Booktrust posted a brilliant interview with author Benejamin Zaphaniah here.

Thank you Scholastic for sending me a copy of Windrush Child to review. 

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Kingdom of the Wicked

Twins Emilia and Vittoria are both witches, but that's where their similarities end. Vittoria is bold and daring, Emilia cautious and reserved. Emilia is more interested in cooking in her family restaurant than inviting danger into her life, but when Vittoria is brutally murdered, Emilia will go to any lengths for revenge - even if it means making a deal with a prince of Hell. 

I was completely swept up in the magic and romance of this novel and could not put it down (or stop thinking about it once I got to the end). 

The world building was a real highlight for me - and not just the magical elements, but the Sicilian setting too. Emilia's passion for food left me wishing I board the next plane to Sicily (or at the very least visit an Italian restaurant!) 

The love-hate relationship between Emilia and Wrath was really well done, with some twists at the end which have left me desperate for book two. 

Tensions run high throughout this story, and there are a lot of darker moments. It is a story which often deals with grief, loss and depression, as well as exploring aspects of the seven deadly sins. There are lots of mystery elements to the plot too, with twist that will keep you guessing until the very end. 

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for letting me review Kingdom of the Wicked via NetGalley.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Picture This: Victor

Victor is a hunter who has just achieved his dream of shooting a cheetah. But when he goes to bed, dreams of a different kind take over, which will change the way Victor treats animals for the rest of his life.

Victor has a simple narrative, but will give young readers a lot to think about. It can be used to introduce children to complex topics, such as animal cruelty and hunting, but also more some they will find it easier to relate to, like fitting in and making amends for your mistakes. 

However, it is its illustrations which make Victor truly shine. This picture book is visually stunning with a striking colour pallet in orange, teal and grey. The cover is immediately eye catching and would be difficult to walk past in a shop without stopping for a closer look. Because I read it on the Netgalley app on my phone, I can't take any pictures which do it justice, but it's worth googling to take a look!

Thank you Pushkin Press for letting me review Victor through NetGalley

Monday 9 November 2020

Is There Anybody Out There?


Explore the furthest reaches of space on a hunt for alien life in this fascinating new science book from Dara Ó Briain. 

Is There Anybody Out There? is full of science facts (and the occasional reference to science fiction) about the chances of finding life in space, and the scientists who are helping us search for it. 

Ó Briain's voice is strong and recognisable, and this book is packed with jokes, making it a lot of fun to read aloud. My daughter has laughed, gasped and asked endless questions throughout. 

Luan Valentine's illustrations make this book a visual treat, offering readers everything from water sports on Titan to naked aliens eating pizza (now there's a sentence I never expected to write...) The comic strip at the end of each chapter adds another element of humour and fun, and helped my daughter to visualise her own dreams of travelling into space. 

Is There Anybody Out There? would make a perfect Christmas present for children interested in science and space, or a great addition to a primary school library. 

Thank you Scholastic for sending me a copy to review. 

Is There Anybody Out There? is written by Dara  Ó Briain and illustrated by Luna Valentine. 

Friday 6 November 2020

The Hat Full of Secrets

The Hat Full of Secrets

Henry's got a secret that's too big to share. Grandad suggests he keeps it under his hat, but the hat he lends Henry is still full of Grandad's own secrets, which fly off around the town. As Henry and Grandad track them down, they discover some secrets are best when they are shared. 

This is a wonderful story which my daughter loved. She kept guessing what each secret might be, based on the short, luggage label and we loved all of the little hints in the illustrations as to what Henry's secret might be. 

Wazza Pink's artwork is really special. It's full of bright colours and tiny details, and brings Henry and Grandad's secrets vividly to life. Henry is particularly adorable in his oversized Jones hat! I will definitely be on the look out for more of her artwork in the future.

The blurb describes this story as "timeless" and I can definitely see it being read in our house for many years to come. It is a story which celebrates family and family history, shared memories and secrets. 

 Thank you Little Tiger for sending me a copy to review. 

The Hat full of Secrets is written by Karl Newson and illustrated by Wazza Pink

Thursday 5 November 2020

Hide and Seek History: The Egyptians

Despite being written for slightly older children, The Egyptians has become a firm favourite with my three-year-old, who loves the complex flaps and fascinating artwork. I've lost count of the number of times we have now explored this story at bedtime. 

The Egyptians is visually stunning, with flaps-within-flaps and surprises on every page. It's also packed full of interesting facts about life in Ancient Egypt. Our favourite page is Life on the Nile, with its hungry crocodiles and busy waterways. Other pages tell readers about Egyptian gods, games and rulers, and there's even information about archeology. The pyramids feature on a stunning double page spread which shows them in both night and day, and the flaps reveal their historical and modern significance. 

Prabhat's illustrations are beautiful, with warm jewel tones and endless tiny details. I really hope this is the first in a series, as I would love to see similar stories about other historical civilisations and times. It's a fun format which brings history to life in a way that is fascinating and easy-to-follow. 

The Egyptians is perfect for fans of ancient history and budding historians.

Thank you Little Tiger for sending me a copy of The Egyptians to review. 

The Egyptians is written by Jonny Marx and illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat

Wednesday 4 November 2020

The Midnight Guardians

A beautiful story about finding hope in the darkest of places. 

WWII evacuee, Col is devastated when he learns his older sister will not be joining him for Christmas and runs away from his aunt Clare - straight into the welcoming arms of his childhood imaginary friends, who are a bit more solid and life-like than he remembered. His friends - The Guardians: King of Rouges (definitely not just Rouges), Mr Noakes (a badger in a waistcoat) and Pendlebury (a tiger who can change her size) - have left the spirit world to help Col save his sister from a terrible raid. 

With hints of Narnia and The Dark is Rising, I think this story will be hugely popular (and very deservedly so). The characters are wonderful - everything you could possibly hope for in imaginary friends - and vividly brought to life. Any child who has had an imaginary friend (or three) will love Col's guardians. 

The plot is tense and exciting, and I was never entirely sure how it was going to end. There's lots of humour too - everything from bogie monsters to fairies provide laughter in a story that could otherwise become quite dark, given the seriousness of its setting. 

Wild winter storms, folklore and magic make this an excellent book for reading on a cold winter night. It will make you feel grateful of those you love, and perhaps a little bit more imaginative too. 

Thank you Walker Books for providing me with an advanced copy of The Midnight Guardians for review.