A cute story two mothers separately taking their children on a trip to the beach, when they bump into each o...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
A cute story two mothers separately taking their children on a trip to the beach, when they bump into each other. It sweetly shows the fun had between mother and child, and the love mothers have for their children.
The illustrations are simple, yet beautiful, and just perfect for a picture board book. Delightful to both children and adults, Angie Stevens' illustrations are works of art that would look great on your wall. The slow rhythm and rhyme of the short, sharp sentences of the story will keep very young children attentive, as they listen to their Mummy or Daddy's voice reading them the story.
A really sweet story that would be great for young toddlers!(less)
When I first heard about Bird, I was so intrigued. You only have to read the above to think, "Woah!" And wond...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase
When I first heard about Bird, I was so intrigued. You only have to read the above to think, "Woah!" And wonder what happens next, what this does to a family. I was so eager to read it, and so glad I did. Bird is such a moving story!
Twelve years have passed since Bird's death, yet Jewel's home is still so full of grief. Bird may be dead, but he's not gone. He's there in Grandpa's silence, in Jewel's mum's endless sadness, in her dad's obsession with duppies - evil spirits. Despite no-one speaking about Bird, or allowing Jewel to do so, the Porter's hearts are so heavy with grief, Bird can be felt in the tension that permeates the whole house. There is so much of Bird in that house, to Jewel, it feels as though she is often forgotten, even though she's the one that's alive. She tries so hard to be good and make her family happy, but it's as if they just don't see her. But once she meets John, things change; John sees her, John hears her, John understands her, and his friendship changes her.
Bird is such a heartbreaking story. Jewel is full of her own sadness because of the lack of love she feels. John offers her a glimmer of hope, of what it's like to have someone who wants to talk to her and take an interest in what she has to say, something she doesn't really experience at home. There is so much sadness in this book, you could reach out a hand and touch it. You can understand it, because how awful would it be for a parent to lose a child, but you can't help feeling so sorry for Jewel. She can't do much right.
Bird is full of beautiful imagery and language. Jewel is very philosophical and quite deep for her age, and the way she views things and describes things... it's just remarkable. She's so smart, but with a child's innocence and beliefs, her narration is just gorgeous. It's like listening to the flow of a stream. It's a book that would be wonderful to listen to as a audiobook; it needs to be read out loud
Jewel feels something at the cliff where her brother died, when she sneaks off to go there. Not his presence or anything like that, but the life in everything around her. She is quite ritualistic when she's there.Since she was eight, each year on her Birthday, she would go and add a stone to a circle she created that first year, step inside the circle, and feel the weight of everything just fall away. She also buries pebbles, whispering to them her hopes, her fears, her worries, giving them to the earth to take care of for her. There is something so calming and peaceful about reading of her time at the cliff; like you can feel the tension at her home, you can feel the peace at the cliff. It's so beautiful.
In the same sense, it was really interesting to read about Jamaican superstitions. Jewel's dad and Grandpa took things too far, I feel, but it gave credibility to Jewel's mixed heritage. The various beliefs, like those about duppies, are just fascinating, and help you understand the way of life in her house. Her dad and Grandpa believe these things so completely, and this belief is partly why things are so tense at home. Duppies and Bird's death. Blame and trickery and fear. It's really something.
Bird is such a heartbreakingly beautiful novel about loss, friendship, family and love, and it will gently steal your heart. Let it.
Generally, I don't review children's picture books, but as this one was already sitting in my inbox, I thoug...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Generally, I don't review children's picture books, but as this one was already sitting in my inbox, I thought I might as well as it wouldn't take me too long to read. Unfortunately, it reminded me why I tend not to read picture books. The story isn't really my cup of tea, however, I'm going to review the book based on whether I think children will like it.
The premise of the book sounds pretty good; Falisha has flushed her annoying brother down the toilet, and on orders of her mother, she has to go down the toilet herself into the Kingdom of Yuck to rescue him and bring him back. It's dirty and smelly and made of mush. Will Falisha be able to find her brother in such a big, nasty place?
The illustrations by Danko Herrera are pretty good; they're simple, but show the real nastiness of the Kingdom of Yuck. However, I had some trouble with the writing. In the Product Description on Amazon, it says this book is for four to eight-year-olds, yet the language is a bit off. Phrases are used that you wouldn't hear out of a seven-year-old's mouth, which is how old Falisha is. Phrases like, "In my 7 years...". Nor would a seven-year-old say her mother looked at her "directly". Some of it just seems a little too old. Yet, in the same token, silly words are used in an effort to amuse children, but I can imagine them asking what they mean. Seeing as I don't have a clue what "smelly jelly fellies" are, I'm sure a child wouldn't either. Unless I'm showing my ignorance here, and a felly is something other than the outer rim of a wheel?
To me, it seems like it needs a good edit, but it's too late now as it's already on sale. In all, it's not too bad a book, but I think it will cause quite some confusion for young children.
I don't normally review children's picture books; I don't have any need, there are no close young children i...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
I don't normally review children's picture books; I don't have any need, there are no close young children in my family, and I don't really get too much from the stories as they are for toddlers. Books for children a little older can be really good, but picture books have never really appealed to me. Until I saw When It Snows.
At 30 pages - including the title pages and the very last page, as they are also illustrated - When It Snows is very short book, with very few words on the pages. The story is very simple, but really sweet. What I love most about this book - and what had me wanting to read it in the first place - are the illustrations. The paintings. They are absolutely beautiful! The attention to detail, the light and shade and the undeniable talent of Collingridge... it's just breath taking. These paintings are something I would love to have hanging on my wall, they're just gorgeous! And you can see the texture of the canvas in the paintings too, which I think is just awesome. Watch the trailer to get an idea of just how beautiful the illustrations are. Go ahead, I'll wait.
As I said, the story is really sweet, too. As well as being very Christmassy, in a very simple way, it gets to the very heart of what reading can do; take you and your imagination off on a magical adventure (or rephrase depending on the genre you're reading). It's a book about reading, and as such, it's a great book to encourage children to read more, as it's saying, "This is the wonder of books, they can take you away again and again".
A simply beautiful, magical picture book. Every child should have one, even if it's just so their parents can enjoy the treasure that it is.
Thank you to David Fickling Books for the review copy.(less)
Although I don't read too many children's books, a few people I know raved about how amazing The Lying Carpe...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
Although I don't read too many children's books, a few people I know raved about how amazing The Lying Carpet is, how it was an early introduction to philosophy, and told me I had to read it, and so on their recommendation, I picked it up and gave it a go - and really enjoyed it!
The story is about Faith, a little girl who one day realises she can't move. The tiger carpet on the floor of the room she's in answers when she starts panicking, and explains that she's a statue, and of course she can't move. The Carpet then regales Faith with differing stories about how she ended up in this room, with the book in her lap, staring out the window, and how he became a carpet. Was he really a real tiger who was hunted? Or was he one of many mass-produced fake tiger carpets? Did he really learn to fly from a Persian rug? Is Faith really under a spell that bewitched her into a statue, or is she just a normal statue? Which is true and which is a lie?
I have to say I'm not one of these clever, analytical readers who can read anything and dig deep and see what's happening below the surface. If it wasn't mentioned to me, I couldn't have told you this book is an early introduction to philosophy, I just don't see things like that when I'm reading. The Lying Carpet as a parable, however, I can see. To me, this book is all about self-belief and hope. The Carpet may lie and tell all sorts of stories, but it's through those stories that Faith learns, and that ultimately bring about her self-belief and her hope - not wish - for more.
The stories - or various "truths" - the carpet tells are full of imagination and humour. I particularly liked the part where the carpet tells Faith about his feet expertise and how he once fell in love with a dancing foot. Every single page is beautiful, whether it be through the wonderful language the story is told with, or the fantastic illustrations - whether they cover the whole page or the little "figures" with their notes to go along with a particular part of the story Carpet is telling. You can see some of these gorgeous illustrations on the page for The Lying Carpet on John Lucas' website.
The Lying Carpet is a sweet and imaginative story, and one I could see many children loving.(less)
When I heard Lauren Oliver had written another middle grade story, I was so excited! I absolutely adored Lie...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
When I heard Lauren Oliver had written another middle grade story, I was so excited! I absolutely adored Liesl and Po, so was really eager to read The Spindlers, to be awed at the beautiful writing and wonderful imagination of Oliver - which she again delivered!
The Spindlers is again an enchanting story for young readers, but is a little darker than Liesl and Po. Though Liesl and Po is about death, it's an ultimately uplifting story. The Spindlers is a creepy adventure story full of fascinating creatures and sinister monsters. When Liza realises that the Spindlers have taken her brother's soul, she bravely enters Below to save him, and on her journey to the Spindlers' nests, she meets a number of characters and finds herself in a number of difficult situations. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, how Liza - and the rat, Mirabella, she befriends - get out of one situation only to end up in another, whether it be a dangerous situation or an enchanting, educational one.
I loved the realtionship between Liza and Mirabella. Through Mirabella, Liza - and the reader - learn so much about prejudice - judging based on looks or on what stereotypes say. It's not very preachy, but it does say a lot about how we should treat people as individuals, yet also not judge people for being different. I loved Mirabella, she was just such a funny little character, how she reacted when she was panicked, and her attitude generally. Just because of the way she spoke, I was able to imagine her more vividly. She was fantastic!
I'm not really sure how much more I can say without spoiling the story. The Spindlers is fun and exciting, and definitely a little creepy - but not too scary for the age range. It's as beautiful and enchanting as we've come to expect from Oliver's middle grade writing, but with an darker edge. I didn't love it as much as Liesl and Po, but that's only because, in my mind, Liesl and Po is just perfection, so nothing is going to ever reach it. The Spindlers is a fantastic story that will spark children's imaginations and take them on a spine-tingling ride of excitement!(less)
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Wonder, especially lately as it was RHCP's book for Internation Boo...moreOriginally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Wonder, especially lately as it was RHCP's book for Internation Book Giving Day. I thought it was about time I read it after having had it a while, expecting to completely fall in love with this story. However, although it was a really sweet story, I felt like I was missing something.
Auggie has mandibulofacial dysostosis, a genetic condition that severely affects the face. In every other way, he's a normal boy, but people look and stare whenever he leaves the house. For his protection, his parents have home-schooled him, but now he's ten, they've decided the best thing for him is to go to a proper school. Narrated by him, his sister and his friends, we see his experiences, and the reactions of others; people being freaked out by his appearance, outright bullying, and people deciding that how he looks simply doesn't matter. Wonder is the story of Auggie's year at school.
Wonder is a moving story, and seeing Auggie overcome his fears and start school, despite knowing how hard it's going to be is just so cool. He is such a strong little boy, and goes through so much hassle simply because of how he looks. Some of the things said and how he's sometimes treated are just heartbreaking. The adult edition of the book has Auggie wearing an astronauts helmet on the cover, and I always wondered why - because, for two years, Auggie would not leave the house without wearing it, because he couldn't stand the stares. It's so sad.
It's also sad to read the parts narrated by his sister Via and his friend Jack. As Auggie's friend, Jack is a victim of bullying too, separately from Auggie, which is just awful. And yet, Jack is such a good guy, mostly. It would be so easy to stop it all, just by not hanging out with him anymore, but he sticks by his mate. Via loves her brother, but recently, she has been feeling a little resentful. She's just started high school, and has kept her brother's condition mostly to herself. She doesn't want to be the girl who's brother is deformed. She just wants to be Via. She no longer wants to be known for her brother, but for herself. And because her brother has needed a lot of special care, in and out of hospital, her parents focus a lot more on Auggie. Via has always accepted that this is the way things are, but now she's reached a point where it bothers her, and she would like some attention herself. She really does love Auggie, but now she's letting how she really feels come to the surface, and it's really sad.
However, as sweet as the book was, I didn't love it. I almost felt like I was reading a different book from everyone else. Yes, I enjoyed it, I liked it, but I wasn't wowed by it like everyone else seems to be. Yeah, it was good, the ending was really great, and I'm sure it will be one of those really memorable books for me, but it didn't do all that much for me. I'm not completely heartless, I felt for Auggie, but to me it felt like there was something missing. There was so much potential for this to be an incredibly moving, beautiful story, but it didn't quite get there for me. It's a real unique story, I've not read anything like it before, but sadly, it did fall a little flat for me.
There are a lot of people who have really loved Wonder though, so don't pass it by because of this review. It is worth a read, I did like it. It's just one of those cases where the hype made me expect a whole lot more. You might love it, though. Do give it a go.
I had this book left over from when I planed to do Death and Bereavement Month last year, which became a week event instead. This book really doesn't...moreI had this book left over from when I planed to do Death and Bereavement Month last year, which became a week event instead. This book really doesn't have me as the intended audience, because I simply didn't get it.
Story wise, I suppose it was kind of cute. Slog is convinced this homeless guy he sees is his dead Dad, though his best mate, Davie, thinks he's been taken in by this man and it's a packof lies. I finished it not knowing whether it actually was his Dad, or just a kind homeless man who wanted to help a grief-stricken kid. I'm not sure, but it was sweet.
However, this is a graphic novel, but not in the conventional sense. It's pages of illustration without any text, then pages of text without illustration. However, the illustrations don't seem to match the text, and although I made some guess that some of the illustrations were to do with Slog wanting his Dad back and pretending with toys, others, I had no idea what was going on. And it's really not my kind of art either. I didn't like them. Not my cup of tea at all.
So I would say the story would be better without the illustrations, but it's so short, without the illustrations, I can't see it being publishable. I just didn't really get this book as a whole package. Not written with me in mind. But some may like this unusal take on graphic novels and story-telling.
The Magic Finger is something I've been able to do my whole life. I can't tell you how I do it, because I don't even know myself. But it always happen...moreThe Magic Finger is something I've been able to do my whole life. I can't tell you how I do it, because I don't even know myself. But it always happens when I get cross... and suddenly a sort of flash comes out of me, a quick flash, like something electric. It jumps out and touches the person who has made me cross... From Amazon UK
It's Roald Dahl Day today, and though I don't normally review children's books, I thought I would celebrate the writings of such a brilliant author by reviewing one of his books I loved as a child.
I was never much of a reader when I was a child. I didn't like it, I found it boring. I only discovered my love for reading as a teen, but as you all know, reading is required while at school. So I read whatever I was given to read grudgingly - that is until I discovered Fantastic Mr Fox and The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl. Those two books I could read over and over. I remember I even spent some of my free class play time listening to the audio book of The Magic Finger on the casette player. There was something just so wonderful about this story that kept me coming back again and again.
Now I've read it again as an adult, and the story of a family of hunters who grow wings after the little girl puts her magic finger upon them is just charming. It would be exciting and funny for the children, and the adults will enjoy seeing their children react to it. It's just such a great story!
I think it's brilliant how it's written. Right from the first page you can tell how brilliant Roald Dahl is at getting into a child's head; we find out the narrator is a girl, and the things she thinks are imporant for the reader to know; who her friends are, that they are boys and how old they are. A typical child introduction that is just perfect. What I also think is interesting is that we're never given the narrator's name. She's telling the story about what happened to the Gregg family, and though she played a part in it, it's not her story.
The language is simple enough for a child to understand, but yet still written in a way an adult can enjoy when reading with/to a child. It is also brilliantly written for an adult to read outloud to a child; use of italics and exclaimation marks making it clear when the adult should be using a humourous tone.
And as always, the book is fantastically illustrated by Quentin Blake. Dahl's books would not be the same without Blake's illustrations. Simple but just brilliant, they are the icing on the cake of The Magic Finger; the girl and her magic finger, the Greggs with wings, and the ducks with arms, acting like humans; cooking, playing, on the phone. As an adult, I love them, but a child would find them so funny! Of course, The Magic Finger would be great anyway, but Blake's illustrations make them the full package.
This edition of the book hs a lot of goodies in the last pages, including quotes from Dahl, his favourite things, a timeline of important events in his life, and more! It's really quite interesting!
I will leave you with a quote that made me giggle.
"'I will not eat worms,' said Philip. 'I would rather die.' 'Or slugs,' said William. Mrs Gregg took the two boys under her wings and hugged them. 'Don't worry,' she said. 'I can mince it all up very fine and you won't even know the difference. Lovely slugburgers. Delicious wormburgers.'" (p32)