Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The BFG

The BFG

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Matilda

Synopsis:

When Sophie is snatched from her orphanage bed by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), she fears she will be eaten. But instead the two join forces to vanquish the nine other far less gentle giants who threaten to consume earth’s children. 

Thoughts:

I bloomin’ love The BFG. Roald Dahl is one of my favourite writers. I absolutely loved him as a child and I still love his work as an adult. I read him to children in my class and they love him. I read this book on a train journey and I actually laughed out loud. Roald Dahl’s writing is so accessible to young children. His work is just as good in 2019 as it was back in the 90s when I first read it.

If you don’t know much about the story, then where have you been? It’s a classic! Sophie is snatched from the orphanage by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). She’s terrified that she’s going to eaten but he couldn’t be further from a terrifying giant. He’s a lovable, sweet friend to her. The two of them join forces and work out a plan to save the children of the world from the other horrifying giants!

The BFG himself is one of my favourite characters. He’s adorable and oh so loveable. I love the words that he makes up! ❤ His lack of education is what makes him so endearing. I hated every moment when Sophie corrected him. Let him be, Sophie! He’s the sweetest. This book just warms my heart and I’m so glad I re-read it this year.

I adore Quentin Blake’s illustrations. His illustrations certainly add something to the story. They’re so timeless. Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake were a dream team.

I would highly recommend the older movie if you haven’t seen it too. I have such fond memories of it.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

Next up on Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit (March):
The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3)- Rick Riordan

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Banned Books #56- Northern Lights/The Golden Compass

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1)

First published: 1995
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence.

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

BETH: Of course not. I’m one of those people who never experienced reading the His Dark Materials series as a child so I only came to it with an adult mentality. Either way, I think I would have had the same opinion. There is no reason on earth why this book should be challenged or banned, ESPECIALLY for the reasons mentioned. As always, I tried to guess the reasons why this book, the first in the series, might have been difficult for some people to stomach and once again, I was completely wrong. I assumed that the fantasy/magical aspect might have offended a few people (even though children clearly love a good, imaginative narrative that doesn’t necessary have to be believable!).

CHRISSI: I have to say no. It’s a load of poppycock. I have no idea why this book was challenged. Like Beth, I thought it might be about the fantasy elements, I know some of the parents of children at my school don’t like fantasy because of religious reasons and I wondered whether that could be it. No. Political viewpoint? Religious viewpoint? This confuses me.

How about now?

BETH: Northern Lights was challenged over ten years after it was published and to be honest, I’m struggling to see why if there were challenges from concerned readers, they didn’t appear prior to 2008? If anyone has any ideas, please do enlighten me! Additionally, it really does irritate me when the reasons for challenging a book point towards a political or religious viewpoint. Now, I’m not a particularly political or religious individual BUT I do like to learn about different attitudes/cultures and viewpoints and I very much enjoy it when there’s a difference of opinion to my own in a novel, unless I feel like I’m being preached to. Saying that however, I really didn’t think there was a strong viewpoint either political or religious in Northern Lights and I’m a bit confused as to where this reasoning has come from?

CHRISSI: I am utterly confused by the reasons for challenging this book. I didn’t think it had a particularly strong political or religious viewpoint. Even if it did, why does it matter? Why should it be banned? Shouldn’t we be allowed to make our own minds up? Shouldn’t we open our minds a little to other’s views?

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I really love His Dark Materials as a series but particularly this first novel, Northern Lights. Lyra is a wonderfully rich character who never fails to make me laugh, the world-building is imaginative and thought-provoking and I adored the adventure aspect of the entire novel. Plus, I absolutely love the idea of having a daemon companion as a unique part of your personality. I’d love to know what yours would be in the comment below if you’ve read this book? Mine would be a ring-tailed lemur!

CHRISSI: Ooh. This is a toughie. Whilst I appreciate that Philip Pullman is a talented writer and that this story is fabulously creative… there’s something about it that I don’t connect with. I have a disconnect with it and I can’t tell why. I usually like fantasy/magical reads but this one leaves me quite cold. I know I am in the minority with that. I certainly wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it! Oh and my daemon would definitely be a lop eared rabbit!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.

But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion, and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything—family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush.

Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable—you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.

Thoughts:

My sister was such a fan of Judy Blume when she was younger, and she is still, to be honest. Let’s not mention her fan-girl behaviour when she met her at YALC a few years back! (Ha!) I was happy to read another book by Judy. It was a re-read for me as I remember reading this book when I was younger. It’s still as heart-warming as it was back then. Judy Blume was writing before Young Adult was really a thing and this book is a little more than middle grade but not quite young adult.

It centres around Margaret who has moved to New York and joined a secret club with some new friends. Margaret and her friends love talking about personal subjects privately with one another. They talk about boys, bras and periods. Margaret doesn’t have a religion and her friends find this hard to believe or understand. What they don’t know is that Margaret privately speaks to God and that’s enough for her.

I absolutely loved this book because I could see a lot of Margaret in my young self. I didn’t talk to God but I was desperate to ‘grow up.’ I think having an older sister definitely made me want to be more like her. I knew I was longing to have my period and then when it arrived I was excited… until the cramps started! Ha. Margaret is such a relatable character to many young girls. I really don’t think this book has aged much at all. Obviously, there’s more choice for sanitary products, but aside from that it’s still very relevant. I’m reading it decade on from its release and it doesn’t seem dated at all. True testament for superb writing from Judy Blume!

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 (February):
The BFG- Roald Dahl

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2018- The Round Up

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our year in Kid-Lit blogging.

JANUARY – The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader -C.S. Lewis

FEBRUARY- Matilda-Roald Dahl

MARCH – The Girl Of Ink And Stars- Kiran Millwood Hargrave 

APRIL- Ratburger- David Walliams

MAY – The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3)-Lemony Snicket

JUNE- The Face On The Milk Carton-Caroline B. Cooney

JULY – Murder Most Unladylike- Robin Stevens

AUGUST- The Creakers- Tom Fletcher

SEPTEMBER – Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing -Judy Blume

OCTOBER- Nightbirds on Nantucket  (The Wolves Chronicles #3)- Joan Aiken

NOVEMBER – Number The Stars- Lois Lowry

DECEMBER- Time Travelling With A Hamster- Ross Welford

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2018 and why?

BETH: This is such an easy one for me! It would be Matilda by Roald Dahl. It was a childhood favourite of mine and each time I re-read it I fall more and more in love with it. Sorry other kid-lit authors on this list – it was always going to be a no-brainer with the king that is Roald Dahl.

CHRISSI: It has to be the legendary Matilda. It’s a wonderful story that is one of my all time favourites. I don’t think many will ever beat it. I found out recently that my 6 year old nephew loves Matilda which is amazing!

2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2018 and why?

BETH: This is so tough but I would have to pick something that might be controversial – The Girl Of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. It was so gorgeously written but unfortunately I just didn’t connect with it as much as I was hoping to.

CHRISSI: The Voyage of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, if I’m honest. I don’t recall reading this one as a child and I wouldn’t be surprised if I started it and gave up! Young Chrissi had no problems DNF-ing books.

3) What was the Kid-Lit book of 2018 that surprised you the most?

BETH: Perhaps The Face On The Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney? I was eagerly anticipating this book as both Chrissi and I were huge Cooney fans back when she wrote Point Horror. However, I believe we were both a bit disappointed with this particular offering and unfortunately, it surprised us in a bad way. 😦

CHRISSI: I have to agree with Beth. I had such high expectations for The Face On The Milk Carton but I really did find it to be a quite unremarkable read which was a shame.

4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2018?

BETH: Most definitely, from Tom Fletcher. I was really excited to read something from him as I had heard such great things about his children’s books. The Creakers was everything I had anticipated and who knows, perhaps there will be something else on our Kid-Lit list for 2019 from him?

CHRISSI: Ooh yes. I want to read more from Tom Fletcher and David Walliams for sure. I’m loving that young children (and young at heart adults!) have so many wonderful authors out there to explore.

For anyone who reads these posts, thank you so much for your continued support, we love doing this challenge and hope to continue it indefinitely. Coming on January 2nd – the big reveal for Kid-Lit 2019! Which titles made it this year? And which titles are we going to have to do er…. another year?!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit-Time Travelling With A Hamster

Time Travelling with a Hamster

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

“My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve.

The first time had nothing to do with me. The second time definitely did, but I would never even have been there if it hadn’t been for his ‘time machine’…”

When Al Chaudhury discovers his late dad’s time machine, he finds that going back to the 1980s requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, burglary, and setting his school on fire. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer…

Thoughts:

I have heard about this book around the blogosphere for quite some time now, so I was pleased to give it a go for this kid-lit challenge. I thought it was okay, but I wasn’t blown away by it, like I wanted to be.

It’s the story of how 12 year old Albert Einstein Hawking Chadhury (Al for short!) is left a letter by his Dad who died 4 years earlier, giving him instructions about a time machine that he invented. Albert’s Dad has asked him to go back in time and help him prevent the accident that led to his death. Al’s life has changed since his Dad’s death. He now lives with Steve, his mum’s new husband and Steve’s daughter Carly. Al is intrigued by the letter and determined to fulfil his dad’s wishes. Al takes his hamster, Alan Shearer along with him to 1984. This is where all the fun and adventure begins!

There are some really fantastic characters to be explored within the pages. I thought Al was lovable and his father Pye too. Grandpa Byron is also a joy.

Personally, I think I would recommend to children at 9 years + as there are some very mature themes within its story. That’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed by a younger audience- I would just proceed with caution with younger, sensitive children. I think this story has a lot to love. It has some wonderfully moments, yet some touching moments as well. It’s all about family and making memories. It’s about making the most of what you have.

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

Would it recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Secrets Of A Sun King

Secrets of a Sun King

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It’s November, 1922. In a valley in Egypt the tomb of a long dead pharaoh is about to be discovered. The world watches and waits for news with baited breath. Thirteen-year-old Lilian Kaye is eagerly following the story. One morning the news takes a sinister turn: a man- a famous Egyptologist- disappears. All that remains of him are his feet. Then Lil’s grandfather is taken suddenly ill, and when a mysterious package turns up for him from the Egyptologist, Lil starts to believe there is truth to the rumours of a pharaoh’s curse.

Thoughts:

Emma Carroll is a marvellous author so I was looking forward to reading her latest instalment. As you can see from my previously reviewed section, I am quite the fan of her writing. Whilst this isn’t my favourite book by Emma Carroll, it is still a solid read and one which I’m sure will appeal to many of her fans, both young and old (er!)

Secrets Of A Sun King is a story set mostly in Egypt. It follows the soon-to-be discovery of the tomb of a long dead pharaoh. Our main protagonist, Lil is following the story. One day, it’s reported that a famous Egyptologist has disappeared. All that remains are his feet. Lil’s grandfather who has a fascination with Egypt suddenly becomes ill. A mysterious package turns up for him… from the Egyptologist. Lil begins to believe there could truly be a pharaoh’s curse.

This book has a terrific pace and plenty of adventure that will keep its readers interested. Lil and her new friend Tulip go to Egypt with Tulip’s mother. Tulip’s mother is reporting on Howard Carter’s dig. Lil and Tulip want to go along to see if they can try to break the pharaoh’s curse.

I believe one of Emma Carroll’s most astonishing talents is creating a plot so vivid that you feel like you’re there within the pages. It’s set post World War I and it seemed incredibly realistic. Emma Carroll always nails the plot without fail. She writes her characters so well, you feel like they’re a friend to you. She really is a terrific writer for young children and I know from personal experience that many educators think she’s simply wonderful!

This book would be so educative for children studying an Egyptian topic. I know I could possibly be, next year and depending on the maturity of the cohort of children I have…this could well be a suggestion for our writing or reading unit of work.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Another solid read from Emma Carroll that doesn’t take you long to devour!

The Christmasaurus

The Christmasaurus

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

The Creakers

Synopsis:

This is a story about a boy named William Trundle and a dinosaur named the Christmasaurus.

It’s about how they meet one Christmas Eve and have a magical adventure. It’s about friendship and families, sleigh bells and Santa, singing elves and flying reindeer. It’s about discovering your heart’s true desire, and learning that the impossible might just be possible . . . 

Thoughts:

I’ve read Tom Fletcher (and Dougie Poynter’s) dinosaur children’s books before. I then read The Creakers as part of a kid-lit feature this year. It got near Christmas and I knew I wanted to read The Christmasaurus. I’m so pleased I did because it was a terrific festive read.

It centres around William Trundle who is a super dinosaur fan. A dinosaur is the only thing he’s asked Santa for, even though he knows they are extinct. William lives with his Dad who loves Christmas. William uses a wheelchair after an accident when he was younger. He’s bullied by an awful girl named Brenda Payne. Life is pretty hard for William. At the North Pole, Santa and his elves have come across a frozen dinosaur egg. They go to great lengths to hatch the egg. Santa knows about William’s desire to have a dinosaur, so he creates a dinosaur that looks just like the Christmasaurus. When Santa is packing up the sleigh, the real dinosaur hops in and the real adventure begins…

I really enjoyed this wonderful Christmas tale. There’s a lot of heart in the story. It carries such a sweet message, which is perfect for children and adults alike. For me, it didn’t quite match The Creakers, but it was a decent, festive read perfect for this time of year. I can imagine many children loving the story, especially those that love dinosaurs.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A lovely tale for Christmas time! Merry Christmas everyone!