Beth and Chrissi Do Kid Lit- The Worst Witch

The Worst Witch (The Worst Witch, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Mildred Hubble is starting her first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches—and making a mess of it! She can’t ride her broomstick without crashing, she’s always getting her spells mixed up, and worst of all, the teacher’s pet, Ethel, has just become her sworn enemy.

Thoughts:

I read a few books in this series when I was younger. I remember really enjoying it and I have quite a few children in my current class who read this series. I love that it is still appealing to young children now. I think it’s because it’s harmless, magical fun with a great heroine.

Mildred Hubble really wants to be a good witch, however, she can’t stop getting into trouble. Her spells are often unsuccessful no matter how hard she tries. I love this about Mildred. God knows children don’t need to read about perfect characters. They need to read about heroines that have relatable character traits and I believe Jill Murphy does that with Mildred. I love Mildred’s friends and foe (Ethel is a wonderfully awful character!) I think there’s a lot to love in a gentle book about witches. 

I think this book is a perfect read for those children not quite ready for Harry Potter yet. It’s the perfect gateway book in my opinion!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge:
The Christmasaurus- Tom Fletcher

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Just So Stories

Just So Stories (Illustrated) by [Kipling, Rudyard]

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

The stories, first published in 1902, are pourquoi (French for “why”) or origin stories, fantastic accounts of how various phenomena came about. A forerunner of these stories is Kipling’s “How Fear Came,” included in his The Second Jungle Book (1895). In it, Mowgli hears the story of how the tiger got his stripes.

The Just So Stories typically have the theme of a particular animal being modified from an original form to its current form by the acts of man, or some magical being. For example, the Whale has a tiny throat because he swallowed a mariner, who tied a raft inside to block the whale from swallowing other men. The Camel has a hump given to him by a djinn as punishment for the camel’s refusing to work (the hump allows the camel to work longer between times of eating). The Leopard’s spots were painted by an Ethiopian (after the Ethiopian painted himself black). The Kangaroo gets its powerful hind legs, long tail, and hopping gait after being chased all day by a dingo, sent by a minor god responding to the Kangaroo’s request to be made different from all other animals.

Thoughts:

I had dipped in and out of Just So stories being a primary school teacher. I’ve had to use some of them before. Whilst I can appreciate that they’re charming and classic, there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me about them. I don’t find them inspiring to teach or to read. I know that’s probably sacrilege, but that’s how I feel and I pride myself on being honest on this blog. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally appreciate that Rudyard Kipling was a talented writer and I do think he deserves his place in literature. It’s just that this collection of stories doesn’t work for me.

I loved that the stories involved animals. That’s always a winning formula for me. I also liked how the stories had a mix of magic, legend and mythical elements. They were fairy tale-esque and that’s something I always appreciate. The stories explain things like how the alphabet was invented to its audience. I assume it’s directed at children. The narrator of the story often speaks to the reader. I sometimes found this a little disjointing, but it was something that I got used to.

The stories are sweet and I can imagine many enjoy them. They just didn’t capture my heart.

For Beth’s wonderful review, check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge:
The Worst Witch- Jill Murphy

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- I Capture The Castle

I Capture the Castle

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ is the first line of this timeless, witty and enchanting novel about growing up. Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and impoverished family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Her journal records her life with her beautiful, bored sister, Rose, her fadingly glamorous stepmother, Topaz, her little brother Thomas and her eccentric novelist father who suffers from a financially crippling writer’s block. However, all their lives are turned upside down when the American heirs to the castle arrive and Cassandra finds herself falling in love for the first time…

Thoughts:

I had been meaning to read this book for such a long time, so I was pleased when it was picked for our kid-lit challenge. It centres around Cassandra, who lives in a crumbling castle with her sister, stepmother and little brother. There’s also Stephen, the orphaned child of a former servant who lives with the family. Cassandra’s father had written a highly successful book, but since has had severe writer’s block. Cassandra’s father hasn’t done much since releasing his first book. He leases the castle, but is not overly successful in his working life. Through Cassandra’s journal, we learn about family events.

The family are fascinating to follow. Cassandra is an easy character to like. I immediately was invested in their story, eager to know what was going to happen to them. I think Dodie Smith’s writing stands the test of time. It’s still very readable.

I don’t know if it’s something about classics but I never seem to get as stuck into them as I want to. They don’t grip me as much as I like. I think it’s the slower pace to them. I’m really interested to see what Beth made of it. It certainly had that Pride and Prejudice vibe that I know she’ll enjoy.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out here blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Reading next for the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge:
Just So- Rudyard Kipling

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Royal Rabbits Of London (Royal Rabbits of London #1)

The Royal Rabbits Of London

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Life is an adventure. Anything in the world is possible – by will and by luck, with a moist carrot, a wet nose and a slice of mad courage!

Shylo has always been the runt of the litter, the weakest and queitest of all of his family, his siblings spend their days making fun of him for not being like the rest of them. But when Shylo stumbles across a band of ratzis and overhears their evil plan to take a photo of the Queen in her nightie, it’s up to this unlikely hero to travel to London and inform the Royal Rabbits of London about the diabolicial plot! The Royal Rabbits of London have a proud history of protecting the royal family and now the secret society need to leap into action to stop the ratzis… But can a rabbit as feeble and shy as Shylo convince them that Queen is in danger?

Thoughts:

Oh my goodness, this is such a cute book! So cute that I immediately took it into my classroom library ready for my class to enjoy this coming school year.

It centres around rabbits (which are my favourite animals!). Our main character is Shylo, a pretty weak member of his family. His siblings spend most of their time making fun of him for not being as strong as them. Shylo comes across a band of ratzis who are determined to take a photo of the Queen in her nightie. How scandalous! It is up to Shylo, to travel to London to make the Royal Rabbits of London aware of this terrible plot. The Royal Rabbits of London protect the royal family and they need to come up with a plan to protect the Queen… if they believe a meek rabbit like Shylo!

Shylo is such an adorable character and a wonderful role model for young children. Even though he is constantly mocked, he rises above and finds inner strength to save the Queen from a terrible plot. I loved the illustrations, the story line and the perfect balance of adventure and humour. I think it’s one that can be enjoyed by adults and by children. I thought it was utterly adorable.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (September):
I Capture The Castle- Dodie Smith

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Dreamsnatcher (Dreamsnatcher #1)

The Dreamsnatcher (Dreamsnatcher #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life.

Because Moll is more important than she knows… The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. 

Thoughts:

I had heard good things about this author, so I was intrigued to pick up a copy of The Dreamsnatcher. For me, it was a little slow to start but when it picked up the pace, it was hard to put it down.

Our main protagonist is a 12 year old girl called Molly. She wakes one night in the middle of the forest, having being lured there by a nightmare. The nightmare that keeps on recurring. When she arrives there she realises The Dreamsnatcher is waiting for her. He has taken her dreams and wants to take even more. What Moll doesn’t realise, is that she’s actually very important. She and the wildcat, Gryff are the only ones that can battle The Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. We’re thrown into Moll’s world as she begins to unravel secrets through her journey and adventures.

I really enjoyed the world in which this book is set in. Abi Elphinstone’s writing is superb and so easy to read. There’s so much to get stuck into and enjoy. I really think it would capture the attention of both adults and children. The chapters are fairly short so it leaves you eager to find out what is going to happen next.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (August):
The Royal Rabbits of London- Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore

Beth and Chrissi Do Kit Lit- What Katy Did

What Katy Did

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Katy Carr intends to be beautiful and beloved and as sweet as an angel one day. For now, though, her hair is forever in a tangle, her dress is always torn and she doesn’t care at all for being called ‘good’. But then a terrible accident happens and Katy must find the courage to remember her daydreams and the delightful plans she once schemed; for when she is grown up she wants to do something grand…

Thoughts:

I read this book a while back on recommendation from Beth. It was really great to revisit it again. Although I didn’t read it as a child, like Beth did, it still felt nostalgic coming back to it 8 years after I first read it.

It centres around the bundle of energy that is Katy Carr. Katy lost her mother when she was younger and feels responsible for her 5 siblings. Katy’s always getting into trouble. She’s a feisty character who is often in trouble for talking in class, for breaking things and for generally being a bit careless. Katy is involved in an accident which changes her outlook on life. When visited by her cousin, Helen, who is unable to walk, Katy soon learns that her situation isn’t as dire as she thought. She takes on Helen’s advice and feels more hopeful about the future. I really like Katy as a character. She’s feisty, strong and full of energy!

Whilst it does come across as a little old-fashioned (it is over 100 years old!) it’s such a charming read. I liked that it did have a darker more serious side to it. I think it teaches children that life isn’t always straight forward. . I loved how it taught many lessons without being preachy which can be an issue sometimes. Old children’s books really do have something special about them.

For Beth’s wonderful review, check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge:
The Dreamsnatcher- Abi Elphinstone

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree #1)

The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Joe, Beth and Frannie find the Enchanted Wood on the doorstep of their new home, and when they discover the Faraway Tree they fall into all sorts of adventures!

Thoughts:

Well, well, well… I used to be quite the fan of Enid Blyton when I was younger. I loved her whimsical writing and I was looking forward to getting stuck into the adventures once more. It is still totally charming, but I’m a little sad that they’ve changed the name of the characters. I believe Frannie was once Fanny. I can see that children would laugh at that now but they probably would’ve done so when reading it when it was first published too. Beth reminded me that Dame Snap had been changed from Dame Slap. For goodness sake, censorship is a little ridiculous nowadays. I don’t see any harm in those names at all. I know when I read about a character named Dick in my class, the children giggle. I just have to explain that it’s short for Richard and they tend to get over it quickly. This is a story and children aren’t as delicate as we think.

Mini rant aside, I thought this book was just as whimsical and lovely as I remember. I remember absolutely loving Moon Face! 🙂 I loved their magical adventures and always wondered what land would come up next. As an adult, I think I look at it more critically which is a shame. However,  it’s strange to think how easy-going the children’s parents were. It was apparently fine to go off until midnight into a magical land! If you can put little things like that  aside, then I really think this story will bring you a lot of joy. It certainly perked me up!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (June):
What Katy Did- Susan Coolidge