#review The Fox In The Box by @AmandaGeeAuthor illustrated by Lee Holland.

 

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The Fox in the Box by Amanda Gee.

 

My Review:

When author Amanda Gee was asking for people to read and review her children’s book, The Fox In The Box I thought that it was probably a bit young for my almost seven year old children, but the cover was so adorable that I couldn’t resist.

And I’m so pleased that I didn’t. We all loved the book, the cute illustrations by Lee Holland work so perfectly with the story, it was fun to read and made my children think about animals and their homes. This really is a wonderful book, it is short but perfect and the rhyming words work really well. The font is clear and easy to read, although my children regularly ask me to read it to them they are both able to read it themselves too.

After reading this book I will definitely be looking out for more from Amanda Gee and I will definitely be buying The Fox in the Box as presents.

Blurb:

When Lydia finds a lost baby fox outside her back door, they set off together to look for his family. But on the way, they discover a terrible disaster is about to overtake their village. Can they stop it…..and will the cub find what he’s looking for?

About the Author:

I have lived in Suffolk all my life and have had a passion for the environment and wildlife for a very long time. In my books for children as well as teaching them about friendship and kindness, I am trying to help educate them about the fantastic world we live in and the amazing animals we share it with.

The Fox In The Box by Amanda Gee and illustrated by Lee Holland is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Q&A: Author Karen King @karen_king @AccentPress

 

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Perfect Summer by Karen King

To celebrate the release of Karen King’s latest book, Perfect Summer, she has joined me to answer some questions about herself and her writing. If you think that you haven’t read anything by Karen King then it is quite possible that you are wrong. Did you read Jackie magazine when you were younger? Perhaps you’ve read one of Karen’s 100+ children’s book to your child at bedtime? Or maybe one of her young adult books? Karen King has been making a living by writing for many years, so the chances are that you have read something by her. But if you haven’t then you can read this Q&A and decide which of her many books you might want to start with.

 

Hi Karen, thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you for inviting me over, Rebecca.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, please? How did you get into writing?

I’ve been a published author for over thirty years. I started my writing career with the teenage magazine, Jackie and spent many years writing for various children’s magazines such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh before concentrating solely on writing books.

You have written many, many children’s books. How does writing for children differ to writing a book for adults? 

Yes, I have, my last count was 120 children’s books. Whoever you write for, whether it’s children or adults, you need a credible, engaging character and a strong story plot so you start off from the same place but children’s books are shorter so the pace is quicker. When you’re writing for younger children you have to be aware of their restricted vocabulary and of the publisher’s limited word count. For children over 9 this is more flexible but even then the story tends to be fast-moving, with action and dialogue superseding description. When I write for adults I find that writing description is the most difficult to do, describing the beach my characters are sitting on, for example, instead of simply saying ‘they sat down on the soft sand’ – probably a result of writing for children’s magazines for so long, when the word count was so restricted there was no room for any description at all.

Can you tell us something that we, your readers, don’t know about you?

Gosh, there’s lots you don’t know about me. Let me think. Well, I can’t ride a bike. I tried when I was younger but I just couldn’t balance, or stop the perishing thing. After ending upside down in a litter bin I decided to give up trying!

Do you have any quirky writing habits? 

I don’t think so. I don’t have to use special notepaper or a certain pen, for example. I’ll write on anything, till receipts, shopping lists, the margins of magazines. I do like to buy pretty notebooks and pens though, but then I don’t like to use them.

 If you weren’t an author what would you be? 

A teacher. I really admire the work teachers do, it’s such an important job. I was all set to start training to be a teacher when I was offered regular writing work on children’s comics. As I had four young children I opted to write instead so I could work from home. Now I often visit schools to talk to children about writing, and my work, as an author which is great.

Do you have a favourite book that you have written and if so why that one?

 Sapphire Blue. It’s my second YA and is about two teenagers, Sapphire and Will, who really love each other and promise to be together forever. Unfortunately, they both die in a car crash and are separated in the after-life. They’re determined to find each other though, and go through all sorts of danger to do that. The theme is ‘can love survive death’ and one reviewer from Ind’tales magazine called it ‘the best YA out there right now’. It’s the story that’s closest to my heart because I believe we carry on after we die, and that we’ll see our loved ones again.

Having written so many children’s books why did you decide to write adult romance?

I like writing romance stories. Back in the early days of my writing career I wrote romance for teens; photo stories and short stories for Jackie, Patches and Loving magazines. I’ve always been interested in writing a romance novel but was too busy earning a living writing children’s books for the first twenty years of my writing career. A romance novel is at least 50,000 words – my chick lit ‘I do?…or do I?’ is 75,000 – that’s a big commitment and as a full time writer I couldn’t spare that time until my family was grown-up.

 

Can you tell us about your new book, Perfect Summer and why we should read it? 

Don’t be fooled by the title as this is rather a gritty book.  It’s set about thirty years in the future when society is so totally obsessed by perfection that plastic surgery (now called body enhancement) is the norm and anyone who is slightly different, or disabled in any way is looked down upon. Morgan, the heroine, has a friend called Summer who is beautiful, rich, has cool parents and a seemingly perfect life whereas Morgan isn’t so beautiful or rich and her little brother Josh has Down’s syndrome.  Morgan and her family get a lot of hassle from the Ministry who want them to put Josh in a Residential Learning Centre, where most disabled children are sent, but Morgan’s family refuse. Then one day Josh goes missing and the authorities aren’t interested so Morgan and Sumer decide to investigate. They, along with another teenager called Jamie whose little sister, Holly, has gone missing too, uncover a sinister plot involving the kidnapping of disabled children and find themselves in danger. Can they find Josh and Holly before it’s too late? Expect a few shocks and to shed a tear or two.

I got the idea for this story when I read an article about girls as young as four and five being worried that they were too fat or too ugly. That’s really sad. I started to think how far this obsession with perfection would go, would it get so bad that people who didn’t have perfect looks would be shunned from society? And how would disabled people be treated? I hope people will read it and start to question whether people should be judged by their looks and that girls, in particular, will stop worrying about having perfect looks. The dedication inside the book says ‘For everyonewho thinks they aren’t beautiful, thin, clever or good enough. Celebrate your uniqueness. There is only one you.’ That’s the message I want to get across.

And finally, where can readers find out more about your books and connect with you on social media?

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Young Adult Books

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karenkingauthor/?hl=en

Thanks for inviting me over to your blog, Rebecca.

About the author:

KK Head and Shoulders

I’ve had over one hundred and twenty children’s books published. I’ve written for many children’s magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. Some of my short stories were featured on Playdays BBC and some of my poems on the BBC One Potato, Two Potato website. I write for all ages and in all genres. YA, story books, picture books, plays, joke books, I’ve written them all.

I also write contemporary romance and have recently signed a 3 book contract with Accent Press. My first book I DO – or DO I? was released in May. Accent Press have also re-released my romances ‘The Millionaire Plan’ and ‘Never Say Forever’ with brand new covers. Book 2 is in the process of publication and I’m now working on Book 3.

Perfect Summer by Karen King is out now and available from Amazon UK, you can also find Karen’s extensive library on Karen’s Amazon author page.

 

 

Review: The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.

 

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The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson.

 

My 5* Review:

I’m not sure that there is a parent or child in the world that doesn’t love at least one Julia Donaldson book. I have six year old twins and her books are often read at bedtime in my house, The Highway Rat being the favourite. Another favourite book is We’re Going On a Bear Hunt which is illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. So when I saw that The Giant Jumperee was written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury I knew that I had to read this book to my children.

We read it on my paperwhite kindle which worked fine but I’m sure that we didn’t get to fully appreciate the wonderful drawings. My children didn’t seem in the least bit bothered as they snuggled close to get a look at the pictures, there were lots of giggles as we read and a few squeals of excitement as they tried to work out what the jumperee might be.

The book is short, it is a very quick read and I think aimed at the younger end of Julia Donaldson fans. My children were probably at the upper end of the target audience and I think that it would be perfect for those who were not quite ready for the scary Gruffalo. It would also be a good book for a young reader to read to an adult.

Overall, this is a wonderful book that I’m sure will be very popular with young children and their parents.

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Random House, for the opportunity to read The Giant Jumperee.

Blurb:

Rabbit was hopping home one day when he heard a loud voice coming from inside his burrow. “I’M THE GIANT JUMPEREE AND I’M SCARY AS CAN BE!” When Rabbit’s friends Cat, Bear and Elephant come to help they are each scared away in turn by the mysterious voice.

He can squash you like a flee

He will sting you like a bee

And he’s taller than a tree!

But who is the Giant Jumperee?

A new read-aloud classic from internationally bestselling author Julia Donaldson, beautifully brought to life by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury.

About the author:

Julia Donaldson is the outrageously talented, prize-winning author of the world’s best-loved picture books, and was the 2011-2013 UK Children’s Laureate. Her books include Room on the Broom, Stick Man, What the Ladybird Heard and the modern classics The Gruffalo, the The Gruffalo’s Child which have sold 17 million copies worldwide and has been translated into seventy languages. Julia also writes fiction as well as poems, plays and songs and her brilliant live children’s shows are always in demand. Julia and her husband Malcolm divide their time between Sussex and Edinburgh.

About the illustrator:

As a child

Growing up in Ipswich, England, Helen Oxenbury loved nothing more than drawing. As a teenager, she entered art school and basked in the pleasure of drawing, and nothing but drawing, all day. During vacations she helped out at the Ipswich Repertory Theatre workshop, mixing paints for set designers. It was there that she decided her future lay in theatre design. While studying costume design, however, Helen was told by a teacher, “This is hopeless, you know. You ought to go and do illustrations – you’re much more interested in the character, and we don’t know who’s going to play the part!”

As an adult

Sets and scenery, not books, remained Helen’s preoccupation for her early adult life as she embarked on careers in theatre, film, and TV. After marrying John Burningham, another of the world’s most eminent children’s book illustrators, and giving birth to their first child, at last she turned to illustrating children’s books. “When I had babies,” Helen says, “I wanted to be home with them and look for something to do there.” Helen and her husband make their home in London, where the she works in a nearby studio. She is also an avid tennis player.

As an artist

Today, Helen is among the most popular and critically acclaimed illustrators of her time. Her numerous books for children include the Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; Smarties Book Prize-winning Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell; We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen; Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, written by Mem Fox, as well as her classic board books for babies. And what does she love most about her work? Thinking up new ideas? Seeing the finished book? Not at all. For Helen, “The best part is when I think I know what I’m doing and I’ve completed a few drawings. In fact, when I get about a third of the way through, and I feel I’m on my way, then I’m happy. It’s like reading a good book – you don’t want it to end.”

The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury is published in the UK on April 2nd 2017 and is available to pre-order from Amazon UK. It will be published in America on April 18th 2017 and is available to pre-order from Amazon US now.

Review: My Underpants Rule by Kate and Rod Power.

 

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My Underpants Rule by Kate and Rod Power.

 

My 5* review:

I think that it is so important to do our best to teach our children how to keep themselves safe, while at the same time not scaring them so that they don’t trust anyone! This book does the job really well.

It is bright and colourful and rhymes well, my two nearly six-year-olds love it, they think that it is fun to read but the questions in it ensure that they are listening and taking in what I’m reading. I really like that it includes the fact that sometimes people do need to see under their underpants, like a doctor or Mummy if they’re sore or unwell. I also like how easily it opens up discussions on who they know who is a safe person that they can talk to.

This book has so many positives and no negatives that I’ve found. If you want to help explain to your child/ren about keeping safe without worrying them about it then this book is a great place to start. I’d suggest that it would be suitable for children aged four to eight, with maybe a bit of leeway each side depending on the child.

Thank you to the authors for writing such a helpful book in such a fun way.

Blurb:

Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville, Gary Glitter… Our children need education for protection and parents need engaging tools to do this. My Underpants Rule! is fun, bright and lively, encouraging toddlers and primary children to empower themselves without causing alarm. “What’s under my pants belongs only to me!” is reinforced by rhymes and scenarios, ingraining what is appropriate and inappropriate, and what to do in difficult situations. Like a nursery rhyme, reading this book with your child will ensure the lessons stay with them for life.

The Underpants Rule is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Review: The Goblin Princess: Smoky The Dragon Baby by Jenny O’Connor.

 

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The Goblin Princess: Smokey The Dragon Baby by Jenny O’Connor.

 

My 5* Review:

When I produced The Goblin Princess to read to my nearly six year old boy/girl twins they were both excited as the cover and the pictures look great. We normally read one chapter a night before bed but both begged me to read more, they just loved the story and the characters. They talked about it in the day and often said that they couldn’t wait for bedtime to read more.

The book itself felt lovely with a high quality cover and paper inside. The illustrations were beautifully done and my children appreciated having coloured pictures to go with a chapter book. The characters were fun and they loved the made up world that created the goblin world. I am so pleased that this is the start of a new series, as we really want to read more!

I leant the book to my niece aged 8 and my nephew aged 7. He refused to read it as it was ‘for girls’ and my niece read it and enjoyed it but said that she felt that it was for younger children as it was quite easy to read. I wouldn’t think that children younger than five would get as much out of it, so I’d say that the book would be best for 5-8 year olds, dependant on their characters and what they enjoy and whether a boy will think it’s too girly! Thankfully my children loved it.

I was given a copy of The Goblin Princess: Smoky the Dragon Baby by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Blurb:

‘I’m so worried about Matty. Her room is always tidy and her clothes are spotless. Last week I even caught her combing her hair!’

The first book using the characters from the hugely popular The Goblin Princess comic strip in Sparkle World magazine, and with gorgeous green pages and illustrations throughout, this is the start of an exciting new series perfect for readers moving on from Rainbow Magic, or who like a slightly different version of a fairy story!

Everything is topsy-turvy in Goblin world and Matty, the Goblin Princess, just doesn’t fit in! Her mum, the Goblin Queen, is always telling her to un-tidy her room and eat up her slug porridge (yee-uk!). Goblins HATE nice things, including their enemies the sparkly Forest Fairies…

Matty has a problem. Her new pet baby dragon, Smoky, is far too good and her parents are threatening to send him away! Smoky is her best friend – can she find a way to make him naughty enough to keep? She just might need the Forest Fairies’ help…

 

The Goblin Princess: Smoky the Dragon Baby is available now from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews

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Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews

Another children’s book! This time a 3* read.

‘I wanted to read Henry Hodges Needs a Friend because my son has struggled with making friends at school, and although things are much better now I still felt that it would be good to read a book about it.

Little Henry is sad because he has no friends, so his parents take him to a rescue centre and he finds the perfect dog who becomes his best friend. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? What’s not to like? Well actually I didn’t like some of it. There were no attempts to help Henry make friends, and while I think that it’s absolutely wonderful that Henry has his dog to be his friend, I don’t think that should be portrayed as a good solution for a child struggling to make friends. It’s a bit like ‘you have no one to play with? I know, let’s get a dog!’

So while it’s a sweet little story it is not something that I will read for my son, he’d be on at me to get a dog!!

I received a copy of Henry Hodges Needs a Friend from the publishers via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager

a tale of two daddies

A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager

A bit of a change for If Only I Could Read Faster with a children’s book! I’m sure that many of you won’t be interested in it but some of you might be, especially when it’s a 5* book that helps normalise different family set ups to children.

‘A Tale of Two Daddies tells the story of a little girl who is asked lots of questions by a friend in the park about life with two Daddies. The story normalises such a family set up which is wonderful to read. The little girl answers the questions in a matter of fact way, helping her friend to understand that having two Daddies is really no different from having a Mummy and a Daddy.

Bonus points to this book for producing a book that will help children to understand different family make ups and that they are still families. My children liked this book and the clear pictures, they are already aware of different family set ups but it is good to reinforce that.

I received a copy of A Tale of Two Daddies by the publishers via Netgalley in return for an honest review.’

A Tale of Two Daddies is available from Amazon UK