Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Creakers

The Creakers

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

What would you do if you woke up to find all the grown-ups had disappeared?

If you’re like Lucy Dungston, you’ll do anything to get to the bottom of it.

With no grown-ups, chaos descends on Lucy’s town. Kids are running wild, building roads of trampolines and eating cereal for every meal – but Lucy wants her mum back, and nothing is going to stop her.

Not even the monsters who live in the upside-down world beneath her bed…

Tom Fletcher’s bestselling story is packed with stinkerful black-and-white illustrations by the disgustingly talented Shane Devries and is perfect for kids to read independently or together with a grown-up!

Thoughts:

I have been meaning to read this book for some time now or anything middle grade by Tom Fletcher after enjoying his picture books with Dougie Poynter. I decided to pick The Creakers to read because I’d heard amazing things about it. I can confirm that Tom Fletcher is a wonderful middle grade writer. I enjoyed this book so much that I’ve decided to use it for my first book club book at school. Yes, that’s right. This bookworm teacher is starting a book club for the kids!

The Creakers centres around Lucy and some neighbourhood kids. When Lucy wakes up one morning, she finds out that all of the grown-ups in the world have gone missing. Initially, all of the other kids were excited by this. They could do what they want! Lucy started to wonder why, how and where they had gone. Lucy discovers that there are creatures under her bed that could be potential suspects for the parent-napping. They’re called the Creakers. Lucy wants her mum back and the Creakers won’t be able to stop her!

I absolutely loved this book! Tom Fletcher’s writing style somewhat reminds me of Lemony Snicket. I love the way he addresses the reader before the chapters. It’s engaging and often funny. The whole way through reading this book, I was thinking about how much children would enjoy it. It’s so entertaining and I’m pretty sure will have many children across the land looking under their beds in search of the Creakers.

I loved how there were a mix of responsible and silly children within the story. Very true to life, that’s for sure! Lucy is a brilliant character, I can imagine that many children will dress up as her for World Book Day. It’s lovely to have a girl as a lead. She’s strong, clever and sensible. I think she’s a great role model for children.

The illustrations by Shane Devries were absolutely adorable and suited the story perfectly. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to The Christmasaurus at some point!

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):
Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing- Judy Blume

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Banned Books #50- I Am Jazz

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books feature. This month we read I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings.

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I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings and Shelagh McNicholas (illustrator)
First published: 2014
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)
Reasons: inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint and unsuited for age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I Am Jazz is quite a new release compared to the books we often discuss, being first published in 2014 a mere four years ago as I write this post. Now I like to think we live in enlightened times and as a result, there will be far fewer recent releases that will be challenged/banned but unfortunately I Am Jazz seems to have the censors all fired up. The reasons as you can see above, make my blood boil. I can’t imagine what it’s like personally to go through the transgender experience but just because you don’t have much personal knowledge on it doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself and that’s what I’ve been doing over the past few years whenever possible i.e. watching documentaries, reading memoirs, discussing the issue with open-minded friends. There ARE individuals out there who feel as if they have been born in the wrong body which quite frankly, must be terrifying and horribly confusing and to have this book challenged/banned is just fanning the flames and the self-righteous attitude of those other people who don’t believe that being transgender is “a thing.” This is particularly true when I consider the reasons – inaccurate and homosexuality. At what point does this book scream inaccurate can I just ask?! That’s a person’s LIFE you’re talking about there. Also, homosexuality which I’ve covered in other banned books posts, which makes me roll my eyes and get a bit cross is NEVER a reason to ban a book. Plus, I don’t believe there was even any mention of homosexuality in this picture book for children anyway. It’s about a little girl who was born in the body of a boy and who is telling us her story of how she longed to be a girl so much, including how there are some people that don’t really understand but how she has super duper supportive parents. Sacrilege! (*in my best sarcastic voice.*)

CHRISSI: The fact that this book is banned is absolutely ridiculous. It really is. I think the most offensive reason for me is inaccurate. INACCURATE? How on Earth can Jazz’s feelings be inaccurate. Only she knows how she feels! As for religious viewpoint? Well… I understand that some religions may not ‘believe’ in people being transgender, but guess what? Some people are. Even if you don’t agree with it, I strongly believe that we need to be more tolerant. There are some parts of other religions that I strongly disagree with, but I’d never slate them for it, because it’s THEIR belief and they’re entitled to it. Much like I Am Jazz deserves a place in the library, in schools and in homes.

How about now?

BETH: As the book was only published about four years ago, I’m sad to say I don’t think attitudes will have changed too much from those who wanted to challenge/ban this book but hopefully we can still encourage people in the community to talk and to better inform those of us who are interested and willing to listen, including myself. As for the final reasons, sex education, religious viewpoint and unsuited for age group – well, I’m sure you can imagine what I think of those! Firstly, this PICTURE book is written in such a way that makes it suitable for children of any age and it’s certainly very scant on details which make it “sex education” in my eyes. Where was the religious viewpoint? I must have missed that but even if there was, I’ve already gone into detail on other banned books posts about my views on religion and how I enjoy reading about other people’s viewpoints on this, even if they don’t match my own.

CHRISSI: Sadly, I think some people would still have an issue with this book which is worrying. It is certainly not a book offensive to the age in which it is intended for. It’s a picture book with a gentle story that definitely needs to be explored. As a teacher, I would certainly use this in the classroom. I know that there’s a girl that comes to mind that I taught in my first year of teaching that would have loved this book. I’m not saying she’s transgender, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she was in the future.  NOTE- This book has been challenged again in 2016… reasons:  because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints and 2017: This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

Urgh. 😦

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This was a very quick, sweet and hopeful read that I think will be very informative for curious children but especially transgender children who it might finally help to realise that they’re not completely alone. I was also thinking it might be a great tool to use for parents at home if children have a transgender member of their class at school to help them understand what their classmate might be going through and to hopefully, iron out those prejudices before they have a chance to develop.

CHRISSI: I thought it was an adorable read. I think it’s important that there are picture books out there aimed at this subject. It’s an educative tool to use in the classroom to help other children to understand. I think this book is needed and the fact that it is challenged upsets me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Banned Books #49- Julie Of The Wolves

For July’s Banned Book we read Julie Of The Wolves. Apologies for the late posting of this feature. It took a while for the book to arrive!

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

Click on the book to learn more about it!

First published: 1972
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2002 (source)
Reasons: unsuited to age group, violence.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Sigh. As I’ve mentioned in past Banned Books posts, sometimes I can see why people have issues with some of the books we review for this feature. Not that I think they SHOULD be challenged/banned but I can see why they might be offensive or problematic. Then there’s other books that we read and throughout the book, I’m struggling to see how anybody could have a problem at all, especially when I look at the reasons behind the challenge. Julie Of The Wolves was one of these latter books for me, I read through it thinking: “Aha! NOW I’m going to find out why there are issues!” And nope, I didn’t. Not even once. Even when I think about back in the early seventies when this was first published – could there have been reasons then? You’ve guessed it – no. I normally like to try and guess the potential reasons and I’m always, always wrong. With Julie Of The Wolves, I couldn’t find a single one!

CHRISSI: I am genuinely confused as to why this book is challenged. I didn’t find it at all offensive. I really am stumped with this one. As for one of the reasons being violence? Really? Children see more violent things on the news which is actually happening in day to day life sometimes so close to them. Video games are a hell of a lot more violent too. I really didn’t see this book as particularly violent. Hunting and death do occur within the story, but it makes sense to the story and most people could rationalise that…

How about now?

BETH: This book is now over forty years old and as it was only challenged/banned in 2002, I don’t believe attitudes have changed much either in the years post publication or since 2002 to the present day. Particularly with these reasons they are giving – I mean, come on! Unsuited to age group?! Where were the unsuitable parts, please someone tell me because I feel like I’m going mad. Seriously. It’s marketed as young adult (possibly even middle grade fiction) and at no point did I feel like this was either too traumatic or indeed too violent for the younger audience. There is hunting and death, sure but it’s necessary for our character to survive out in the Arctic conditions for goodness sake. I honestly think there are many more children’s books (hello Watership Down!) that are more emotionally affecting than this one. *rolls eyes.*

CHRISSI: Definitely not. Again… I’m baffled why this book is challenged. I don’t mean to repeat myself too much but I think the hunting and death in the story is relative to the plot. Children aren’t precious snowflakes. I’d say that from middle grade up they can handle a story like this when worse things are happening in the world that they constantly see, read and hear about.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I thought it was an okay read! I enjoyed Julie’s relationship with the wolves (as a big fan of White Fang when I was younger) and the description of the harsh environment she had to survive in was beautifully done. It was a quick and easy book to get lost in and I thought the illustrations were particularly lovely but I felt Julie’s time spent with her people wasn’t as engrossing or as well written as the parts when she has to get by on her own.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t captivated like I wanted to be. I really liked the illustrations and thought that was a nice touch to the story. I actually wish there were a few more illustrations because I didn’t think the writing of the setting was as evocative as it could have been, especially if we are thinking that children are the target audience for this book. I’m glad that I read this book but it’s not one that will particularly stick with me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Maybe!

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!- I wasn’t captivated but I could appreciate the story!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries #1)

Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about this book, so I was very happy when it was picked to go on our kid-lit choices. You might think… murder? Surely that’s not middle grade… but it truly is aimed at a younger audience than YA. I thought it was a fabulous, sweet read that was incredibly easy to read. It almost had a Nancy Drew vibe to it, but funnier.

Murder Most Unladylike centres around Hazel and Daisy. They both go to Deepdean School For Girls which is a boarding school in England. They set up a Detective Agency and have been investigating pretty trivial crimes until the point when Hazel comes across the body of one of her teachers, Miss Bell. It is then that Hazel and Daisy decide to investigate the murder. They gather evidence and have a suspect list, but will they get to the bottom of it?

I thought this book was incredibly engaging. I can imagine many children getting really engrossed with the story. I loved how the characters were intelligent, they went about collecting their evidence in a logical way! I also loved how their friendship wasn’t straight-forward. Daisy could be a little overpowering and they did have arguments which was perfectly realistic for girls of their age!

The only reason I didn’t give this book 4 stars is that for some children, I think some of the topics covered would be a bit too much. I’m not saying they shouldn’t read it, but it’s definitely something to think about.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (August):
The Creakers- Tom Fletcher

Blog Tour- I’m A Dragon You See (Children’s Book Review)

I'm A Dragon You See

How did I get it?:
Sent to me for the blog tour, this did not affect my opinion of the book!

Synopsis:

Have you ever wondered what a Dragon likes to do for fun? Or what he might look like? Even what he likes to eat. Is it ice cream or pasta? Then ‘I am a Dragon you see’ will reveal all these mysteries and more. Go on an adventure with a fun repeating rhyme and colourful illustrations. A fun way of learning about the importance of friendship and kindness.

Thoughts:

I was approached to read this book for the blog tour, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s a short picture book with some lovely illustrations to go alongside the story.

It’s a very sweet story about what a dragon likes to do for fun, what he might eat and many more different things. I think it’s a really charming story. From a teaching point of view, it would be lovely to use to teach rhyme. There’s certainly plenty of rhymes to pick out. There’s also repetitive language which I know children would quickly pick up and love to repeat.

I think this book would be perfect for 4-7 year olds, especially for the younger range because they’ll lap up the story and enjoy the rhyme and repetition!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A cute read, it doesn’t have as much depth for me to use as a class read, but it is still super sweet and will be going into my book corner for my class to enjoy!

Im A Dragon Banner2

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3)

The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Bad Beginning
The Reptile Room

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted; but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all. If you haven’t got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair. I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

Thoughts:

We have been visiting A Series of Unfortunate Events as part of our kid-lit challenge for the past 2 years. It was a given that the third book would be on the list for this year. I really enjoyed this one. Beth and I didn’t read these books growing up and I’m sad that we didn’t. I totally think we would’ve loved them. I know my nephew enjoys the Netflix show and I’m somewhat intrigued to watch it… but I always feel I should read the books first. I know, I know… I’m weird.

I loved following the Baudelaire siblings tale in this latest instalment. It’s as dark and as sinister as the other two books. Violet, Klaus and Sunny are taken to live with another relative that they hadn’t met before. They come across the terrible Count Olaf once more…in disguise. It is a completely strange story which I’m absolutely captivated by. It’s so over the top but so wonderful at the same time.

The adult characters in this book seem to make awful decisions but I think that’s almost the beauty of the book? It shows children that adults don’t always make the right choices. They can be scared and unsure too.

In the previous two books, the constant defining of words within the narration bugged me, but it wasn’t really in this book. However the meaning of what Sunny babbled was suggested by the author. This didn’t grate on me as much as the defining did, but reading from an adult’s eyes, it does come across as a little repetitive. This is my only complaint really about the story, which otherwise I think is a delightful reading experience!

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):
The Face On The Milk Carton- Caroline B.Cooney

Chrissi’s Class Reads #8

We’ve read another 5 books, so I thought I’d share them with you today!

Remember, clicking on the book image will take you to the Goodreads page for the book!

Danny McGee Drinks the Sea

I wasn’t sure about this book before I read it. It looked like it wasn’t going to capture their attention as there’s not much to it, but I was wrong. My class absolutely loved it and voted for it as one of their favourites as a year. It just shows that they don’t always need an in-depth story to enjoy! Sometimes ridiculous works just as well!

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As a teacher, I love when children make connections between stories they know. This is what happened with this story! It makes my bookworm heart happy.

The Bad Bunnies' Magic Show

I thought this one would be the favourite of my class! They like anything that mentions bad or naughty characters. They did enjoy it, but Danny McGee stole their hearts.

Wilf the Mighty Worrier: Battles a Pirate

Last year, my class read two books in the Wilf series with their last teacher. They requested that we read another in the series, and of course I had to fulfil that request. I don’t think this book is for everyone as not all of my class were engaged by it. However, the majority of them did enjoy the story, laughed out loud and joined in with some repeated language!

Cheesemares

My class really enjoyed this book which didn’t take us long to read at all. It made them laugh out loud at many moments. I liked that it was a short, snappy read after it taking us a while to get through Wilf. They often asked me to read this book, unlike Wilf!