Beth and Chrissi Do Kid Lit-The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (The Chronicles of Narnia #5)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Lucy and Edmund, with their dreadful cousin Eustace, get magically pulled into a painting of a ship at sea. That ship is the Dawn Treader, and on board is Caspian, King of Narnia. He and his companions, including Reepicheep, the valiant warrior mouse, are searching for seven lost lords of Narnia, and their voyage will take them to the edge of the world. Their adventures include being captured by slave traders, a much-too-close encounter with a dragon, and visits to many enchanted islands, including the place where dreams come true.

Thoughts:

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe will forever be my favourite Narnia book. I have to admit that I haven’t been the biggest fan of the other books in the series. Don’t get me wrong, they’re easy enough to read, it’s just something about them that I don’t seem to connect with as much as other readers do. That said, I enjoyed The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. 

The story starts with Lucy and Edmund Pevensie returning to Narnia. However, this time they had their rather annoying cousin Eustace alongside. I did miss Peter and Susan at the start but soon I adapted to the change and enjoyed reading the story with Lucy, Edmund and Eustace. In this story, they are thrown from the ‘real’ world into the ocean that borders Narnia. They are taken on board the Dawn Voyager and reunited with characters such as Caspian from the previous story. Reepicheep also makes an entrance! All of the crew are journeying to try and discover more about their world and stepping into the mighty Aslan’s country.

This story does have an interesting plot, but for me it took a little too long to get going. As soon as the adventure really began it did make it easier to read! I did appreciate how Eustace changed though. It’s great to see that in a children’s book.

I don’t think I ever completed this series as a child so it’s interesting to read it as an adult. I particularly like finding the moral to the story as there often seems to be with this Narnia series. I do find C.S Lewis to be a little preachy for my liking and that’s why I think I don’t enjoy his books as much as others. Perhaps if I could get past that then I could enjoy them more!

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 (February):
Matilda- Roald Dahl

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Holes

Holes (Holes, #1)

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from school!

Synopsis:

Stanley Yelnats is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses. Now Stanley has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center, Camp Green Lake, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep. There is no lake at Camp Green Lake. But there are an awful lot of holes.

It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. But what could be buried under a dried-up lake? Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment—and redemption. 

Thoughts:

As you may know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I teach in a primary school (4-11 years old), our older children studied Holes last year and I’m afraid to say I hadn’t heard of it. The English co-ordinator at my school said I had to read it. It took me a while but I’ve finally done it and I can see why they were raving about it. It’s such an exciting read which is incredibly easy to devour. I’m so pleased that they study this book as I can imagine it inspires them so much!

Holes centres around Stanley Yelnats who is falsely accused of stealing a pair of shoes. He is sent to Camp Green Lake which is a cam for criminal boys. The boys have to get up early each day and dig massive holes. If they find anything unusual they are to report it and they will be rewarded with some time off digging. The warden isn’t looking for fossils or anything like that. There’s something darker going on.

I found this story to be really exciting. This book isn’t your average children’s book. It’s quite a mature book. The content is dark, but funny at the same time. It’s also completely whimsical. There’s so much packed into its less than 3o0 pages. There are rattlesnakes, poisonous lizards with red eyes, black teeth and white tongues. It really is a feast for your imagination.

I loved how there were multiple story lines within this story. It was really clever how they began to merge together. I don’t usually get on with books that flip from generation to generation but Louis Sachar did it very, very well indeed.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An exciting story that I’m glad that I made time for!

Chrissi’s Class Reads #6

I’ve already read 5 books with my class and I’ve only had them for 10 weeks! That might seem like a long time, but it’s really not when you’re spending time really delving into these books and exploring them deeply with the children.

Lost and Found (The Boy, #2)

Oliver Jeffers is such a fabulous children’s author. His books are often heartfelt and I love that.

17262290I absolutely loved this wordless picture book. Yes, you read that right… a wordless picture book. This stimulated their imaginations so much. They all wrote amazing stories following this book. ❤

8493424As part of the curriculum, children have to be introduced to different books by the same author and make connections. So, I used the wonderful Oliver Jeffers again! This book was adorable.

Sensational!: Poems Inspired By the Five SensesAt first I was dreading the poetry unit that came from this book. As time went on though, the children seemed to ‘get’ poetry more. They loved several poems from this book and I can imagine that I’ll continue dipping into it throughout this school year.

Rama and Sita

Our latest read has inspired our children! I was worried that they might be a bit scared by a ten headed demon king but apparently not…

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Witch Child

Witch Child (Witch Child, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Enter the world of young Mary Newbury, a world where simply being different can cost a person her life. Hidden until now in the pages of her diary, Mary’s startling story begins in 1659, the year her beloved grandmother is hanged in the public square as a witch. Mary narrowly escapes a similar fate, only to face intolerance and new danger among the Puritans in the New World. How long can she hide her true identity? Will she ever find a place where her healing powers will not be feared? 

Thoughts:

I am always excited to read books that involve witches as I enjoy reading that kind of book. However, I felt a little let down by this book which wasn’t as exciting as I wanted it to be. I’d even go so far to say that I was a little bored when reading it. It was simply the author’s writing style that kept me reading. Her writing was particularly easy to read.

The story centres around Mary. Her grandmother is accused of being a witch and is hung in the town. We learn about Mary’s stories through entries in her diary. Mary flees the town. She is able to get onto a boat that is leaving the continent for the New World. Mary lives within a Puritan settlement. She tries to hide her true self, but becomes a target of hate. Mary just wants to be accepted somewhere and not be feared for her healing powers.

The reason why this book didn’t work for me, was because it didn’t feel original at all. I also didn’t feel like there was enough going on to really capture my attention. I understand that I’m probably not the target audience, but I’m not sure there’s enough for any age to be fully drawn into the story. Perhaps I’m wrong, so I think it’s worth giving the book a try, if you’re into historical fiction.

It’s not all bad though. The plot is particularly light and it’s a quick read! It just didn’t work for me.

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

Would I recommend it?:
It’s not for me!- 2.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (December):
Finding Jennifer Jones-Anne Cassidy

Banned Books #41- George

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books post! This month we read George by Alex Gino.

Note: This month’s book was supposed to be The Color Of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa but unfortunately we have not been able to get hold of a copy for a reasonable price so we’ve had to make a last minute switch!

George
First published: 2015
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2016 (source)
Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”

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

BETH: I’m really looking forward to hearing Chrissi’s thoughts on George, she said to me she had “a lot to say,” and I’m very intrigued! I found out about this book a while ago through my sister who has already read and done a full length review of it on her blog. I could have already guessed why the book might be challenged but I was really hoping that it wouldn’t be for the reason stated. *Sigh* of course it is. I was really hoping that in 2016, when this book was originally challenged (published in 2015) we were much more enlightened as a species about transgender issues and a book aimed at children about this subject would not be a big deal. Sadly, I was wrong.

CHRISSI: It actually hurt my heart that this book was challenged. It’s aimed at elementary children and in my eyes isn’t inappropriate at all for that age group. It actually makes me mad that it is challenged. The reason why it’s challenged was because ‘the sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.’ I mean WHAT? Many children know from an early age if they feel like they’re in the wrong body that they were born into. It’s told with a child’s voice. How can it be challenged? I really, really don’t get it.

How about now?

BETH: As George is a very recent release, I’m sure attitudes have not changed very much in the year that it was first challenged. I’d be upset to see it appear again when the list for 2017 comes out but you’re always going to get those people that feel uncomfortable with children’s sexuality, particularly if it happens to be a child determined that they are the opposite sex from the body they have been born into. I think this book is entirely appropriate for the elementary level as it is handled in a very intelligent and sensitive way. In fact, I think children definitely shouldn’t be shielded from these things because in a way, isn’t that confirming to them that being transgender might be strange/wrong (when obviously it is not?!). Of course, if it can help a child that is struggling with their gender assignment and can see themselves in George then that can only be a good thing, I think.

CHRISSI: It definitely has a place for elementary aged readers and those beyond. I think it’s such an innocent read about a topic that isn’t talked about enough. I have experienced teaching a child who is absolutely determined that she’s a boy. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was transgender. I know a lot of people think it’s just a ‘stage’ and for some children it is, but we’re devaluing those for which it’s not by challenging a book like this. Argh, it makes me mad. Children should read books like this, so they know they’re not alone and that people are different. Such a valuable lesson.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a sweet, quick and easy to read novel. I loved the characters and the message it conveyed although I was quite cross for a little while with a couple of the characters which you might understand if you’ve read this book yourself!

CHRISSI: I think it’s an inspiring read. I’m really pleased I’ve read it and I’d certainly recommend it to elementary aged children!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

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!

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!