The Invention Of Hugo Cabret

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Thoughts:

Oh my goodness. I didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I was absolutely captured by this stunning book. It’s such a beautiful reading experience. Brian Selznick has created such amazing illustrations and a captivating story line. I’m sure any child would get something from this book. It’s one I’m going to be recommending to my school ASAP.

The Invention Of Hugo Cabret is about a little boy who looks after clocks in a station. He is left alone and carries on working on the clocks and also something that was a mystery to him… It’s also about a man who had a dream and his dream disappeared before him. I absolutely loved how much emotion was captured in this story. Even though it is essentially a story for children, it can be enjoyed by so many more people. It captures France at the time beautifully.

I loved that each character had something different to give. They weren’t your conventional story characters. I appreciate diversity in literature, particularly children’s literature. It’s so important to represent a range of people.

This is one of the most unique books that I’ve read and that’s down to Brian Selznick’s approach to storytelling. The story is half told through beautiful illustrations. I spent so much time pouring over the illustrations and looking at what they were telling me. The story itself is very simple but it’s engaging. I loved the balance between illustrations and written word. The illustrations really helped me imagine where the story was set. It was like a movie.

I do think there’s something for everyone in this book. It’ll work for you if you’re into graphic novels, films, and a touch of magic.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A unique reading experience. I highly recommend this book!

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The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club (The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club #1)

The Polar Bear Explorers' Club

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from Faber and I’ve purchased a copy!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer – tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk – but Stella really, really didn’t want that to happen, just the same.

Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages . . .

When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?

Thoughts:

I have loved Alex Bell’s adult and YA books. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out The Ninth Circle and Jasmyn please give them a go. They’re amazing and so underrated, in my opinion. I was super excited to pick up The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. It’s such an exciting story that I believe will pull children in and keep them engaged throughout the story.

Its plot is fast paced and so easy to read. The reader follows a group of young explorers on a quest to find the coldest part of the Icelands as they are separated from their parents. It’s such a fun read. I couldn’t help turning the pages. I practically binge read this book, completely captivated by the story.

The main characters Stella, Shay, Beanie and Ethan were so well written. I immediately liked them, especially Stella. What a wonderful protagonist! I loved how she was such a strong female character. We need more of those in middle grade literature. I also appreciated how she was allowed to go on the adventure after it being notoriously males only. Her relationship with Felix (who she saw as a father) was heart-warming. I absolutely adored the character of Beanie. Such a sweet character that took everything literally. It reminded me of a few children that I teach!

Talking about teaching, I think this book would be perfect for Key Stage 2 children. There’s so much to get stuck into. I loved how descriptive the story was. This book really is jam packed with content. It’s both fairy tale-esque and adventurous. There are penguins, pygmy dinosaurs, cabbages…and more. I think Alex Bell has created such a wonderful world that I can see developing well as a the series continues (I assume it’s a series!)

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A gorgeous middle grade adventure!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles #2)

Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Synopsis:

‘Wait, wait! Save us! What’ll we do?’

Simon is determined to become a painter when he grows up so he sets off to London to make his fortune. But the city is plagued by wolves and mysterious disappearances. The Twite household, where Simon is lodging, seems particularly shifty. Before he even gets a chance to open his glistening new paints Simon stumbles right into the centre of a plot to kill the King. And worse than that Simon is kidnapped and sent to sea! Luckily there are two friendly stowaways aboard – the feisty Dido Twite and the spoiled young Justin. But when the ship catches fire things look pretty dire. Can they escape? Will they save the king in time?

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed the first instalment in this series intended for children but totally readable for adults. It has an old-fashioned feel to it which I absolutely love. We learn about a minor character (Simon) from the first book. We are also introduced to new characters such as Dido Twite. I love that this book can be read as a standalone book. You don’t need to read the first one to enjoy this one!

In this story, Simon goes to London to learn how to paint. He’s in search of Dr Field, but no one seems to know where he is or much about him at all. There’s some conspiracy against the King and the Duke and Simon combines studying and working to try and figure everything out.

It’s a book where you have to go with the plot. It’s crazy and silly, but that, in my opinion, is totally its charm. Some things are very unbelievable, but it’s worth going with it for the sheer fun that is this series. I have really enjoyed Joan Aiken’s writing style in the two books I’ve read so far. It’s easy to read and has humour within the story, something I think is very important in keeping young readers engaged.

I have to admit to being a little frustrated with the slang in the book. I know it fit with the character, but I felt it made my reading experience a little stilted which is what affected my enjoyment of the story as a whole. That said, it’s so worth reading, especially if you’ve read the first book in the series.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Next up in Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (November):
Witch Child – Celia Rees

Letters From The Lighthouse

Letters from the Lighthouse

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees.

Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adore Emma Carroll’s writing. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to this book any sooner, because my goodness it was amazing. It didn’t take me long to devour. As soon as I get started on an Emma Carroll book, I’m instantly gripped and Letters From The Lighthouse was no exception. I cannot recommend Emma Carroll’s books highly enough. I can’t wait to teach juniors again so I can expose them to her beautiful writing. I will, however, pass this book onto our Year 5/6 teachers, especially because their topic is going to be World War II. This book would be incredibly for those older children to explore.

Letters From The Lighthouse centres around Olive and her little brother Cliff, who are evacuated to the Devon coast after a bomb raid in London. During an air raid, their older sister Sukie goes missing. Olive finds a coded message which seems to link Sukie to Devon. Olive is determined to find out what’s going on with Sukie, but she never expects to find out what she does…

This book does have light and dark moments. I loved the lighter moments, but it was the darkness of humanity around that time that struck a chord with me. It always makes me feel so disheartened whenever I read about what Jewish people went through. I wish things had been different.

I loved the characters Emma Carroll has created. As ever, they are so well rounded and developed. There wasn’t a character that I didn’t feel for in one way or another. There are some genuinely touching moments. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as Emma is a wonderful writer, but the poignancy of this story really touched my heart.

This book may be intended for children, but it’s a pleasure for adults to read as well. It will stay with me for a while, I know that.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A simply stunning read about family, grief and tolerance!

Hortense And The Shadow

Hortense and the Shadow

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Penguin Random House Children’s

Synopsis:

Hortense is a kind and brave girl, but she is sad–even angry–that her shadow follows her everywhere she goes. She hates her shadow, and thinks her shadow must hate her too. But one cold, dark night, when bandits surprise her in the woods, Hortense discovers that her shadow is the very thing she needs most.

Thoughts:

I am always on the look out for picture books, especially as I have gone back to Key Stage 1 (5-7 years old). I’m currently with the older range of children and I knew from the synopsis that this book would be perfect for my class! I was happy to read it first and know now that I’ll be purchasing a copy for my class!

The story centres around Hortense who is a lovely girl, but she’s very frustrated with her shadow. She can’t seem to work out why it keeps following her around! She hates her shadow and is convinced that the feeling is mutual. Hortense soon finds out that she needs her shadow after an experience with bandits on a cold night.

I really liked Hortense as a character and think many children will be able to identify with her!

I thought this was an adorable story, very fairy tale-esque in its nature. The illustrations are stunning and I think it carries a wonderful theme of self-identity. I can imagine that I’d use it for a discussion about self-esteem because it does explore that throughout the story in an incredibly subtle way.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I’m going to get my hands on a copy of this book to read to my class this year! A wonderful fairy tale!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Saffy’s Angel

Saffy's Angel (Casson Family, #1)

How did I get it?
I bought it!

Synopsis:

The four Casson children, whose mother, Eve, is a fine-arts painter, have all been given the names of paint colors. Cadmium (Caddy), is the eldest; then Saffron (Saffy); Indigo, the only boy; and Rose, the youngest. When Saffy discovers quite by accident that she has been adopted, she is deeply upset, though the others assure her that it makes no difference at all. Saffy is the daughter of Eve’s twin sister, who lived in Siena, Italy, and died in a car crash. Grandad brought Saffy, as a very small child, back from Siena. 

At Grandad’s death he leaves something to each of the children. To Saffy, it is “her angel,” although no one knows its identity. How Saffy discovers what her angel is, with the help of an energetic new friend, lies at the heart of this enchanting story. Unforgettable characters come alive in often deeply humorous and always absorbing events to be treasured for a long, long time.

Thoughts:

I hadn’t heard of Saffy’s Angel before it was picked for our kid-lit challenge. I don’t know what I was expecting really, as I didn’t read anything about the book prior to reading it. I just jumped into it. I found a quintessentially British children’s book.

Saffy’s Angel is about an eccentric family. It’s about a family of four children whose mother named her children after paint colours. The mother in the story is a painter. The father is absent for most of the story! The four children are close to one another and get up to much mischief! Saffron finds out about her younger years which leads to her stowing away to Italy in search for Saffron’s inheritance, a missing stone angel.

I thought this was such a charming little story. I found it incredibly easy to read. It felt like a very British book! It really warmed my heart. I could imagine myself loving this book if I had read it when I was younger. My favourite part of the book was the adorable sibling relationships. Even when Saffy found out about her past, the family still stuck together. I felt sorry for the mother, who had the difficult task of looking after four children practically on her own. The father frustrated me a little bit. I found him to be quite selfish!

The only reason why I haven’t rated this book any higher is because I don’t feel compelled to read the next one. I mean, I would read it… but I’m not running to get a copy.

For Beth’s wonderful review, check her blog here!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit challenge (October):
Black Hearts in Battersea- Joan Aiken

Furthermore

Furthermore

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss

Thoughts:

I was bought this book at Christmas, by my sister and fellow book blogger, Beth. I was really excited to read it, but somehow took over 6 months to get to it. Pesky TBRs… I was super excited to read Furthermore. It looked different to the Shatter Me series and it really was. Furthermore is such a captivating, unique story and I’m thrilled that I read it.

Furthermore centres around Alice who lives in Ferenwood. In Ferenwood it is incredibly colourful and magical. Alice is different to the rest though. She lacks pigmentation so she stands out in her community. However, this isn’t the only thing wrong with Alice’s life. She’s lonely, her father has disappeared and the Surrender ceremony that happens in Ferenwood is looming. Alice’s life is about to get a whole lot more daring…

I absolutely love Tahereh Mafi’s writing. I know that some readers find her writing quite ‘flowery’ and descriptive, but I think it’s beautiful. I’m always captivated by her words and the worlds that she creates. Ferenwood is an enchanting but unusual world. I could picture it as I was reading. I’m a big fan of fairy tales, so this magical middle grade read really did tick a lot of boxes for me. I adored the magic. I thought there was a good pace to the story and a great deal of action amongst the weirdness. I can see that it would captivate many readers both younger, into YA and beyond.

As for the characters… I bloomin’ love them. Alice is so unique but lovable. I loved her sassiness. Goodness knows, I love a sassy character. Oliver took a while for me to warm to, but I enjoyed his character in the end.

I think this book will appeal to a wider age range than middle grade. There’s adventure, fantasy and sass. Surely many people would enjoy that?

Would I recommend it?:
Of course! 4.5 stars

I was worried that I’d hyped this book, but I didn’t… I was captivated right from the start!