Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Awful Auntie

Awful Auntie

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Gangsta Granny
The Boy In The Dress

Synopsis:

From larger than life, tiddlywinks obsessed Awful Aunt Alberta to her pet owl, Wagner – this is an adventure with a difference. Aunt Alberta is on a mission to cheat the young Lady Stella Saxby out of her inheritance – Saxby Hall. But with mischievous and irrepressible Soot, the cockney ghost of a chimney sweep, alongside her Stella is determined to fight back… And sometimes a special friend, however different, is all you need to win through.

Thoughts:

As many regular readers of my blog know, I’m a primary school teacher, so I really enjoy this kid-lit challenge, because it helps me find new material for my class. With my class (which reminds me, I must sort some reviews!) we’ve read The World’s Worst Children and Billionaire Boy, we’re currently reading Gangsta Granny, so you might say in one way or another I’m making my way through David’s books.

David Walliams does come into some criticism in the teaching world, because his books aren’t technically brilliant and can be a little samey. However, those complaints don’t come from me. I absolutely adore his books. They make my class smile, laugh out loud and read more of his books. If any author can encourage children to read (no matter who they are) I’m a very happy teacher.

This book is actually quite dark! It involves an awful auntie determined to get the deeds to Saxby Hall. To get this, she has carried out something terrible and she’s determined to get her niece Lady Stella Saxby to sign over the deeds. Alongside a cockney ghost named Soot, Stella refuses to back down and fights back against her auntie.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Stella was a great heroine! She was clever, brave and determined to keep what was hers. Aunt Alberta was Trunchbull-esque in her manner. She really was an awful auntie. She was pure evil and I love characters like that. I also enjoyed the characters of Gibbon and Soot.

I don’t know whether this would be too dark for some younger children. There’s death, car crashes, murder, poison, torture… I know we can’t protect children from everything but I don’t know if some of it was too much. I feel some of David’s other books were more heart-warming than this one. However, I don’t think that should put you off. Awful Auntie’s themes might go over the heads of many young children. I’d just approach it with caution if you have sensitive children.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Reading next in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (April):
A Snicker of Magic- Natalie Lloyd

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Cuckoo Sister

The Cuckoo Sister

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

Synopsis:

“Since the day I found out about Emma, I seemed to have gone to the bad. I was rude. I told lies. I listened at doors and read other people’s letters if they left them about. I was always losing things . . . watches, cameras, and silver bracelets. And whenever my mother reproached me, I screamed at her, ‘Look who’s talking? Who lost her own baby? Who lost my sister? Just because you wanted a new dress?'”

Convinced that her family’s problems will end if only Emma is returned by the person who snatched her from her baby carriage, Kate longs for the older sister she never knew. But when a thin, spiky-haired stranger with hard eyes shows up with a letter claiming she’s the long-lost sister, there’s more trouble than ever. This “Emma” is certainly not the sister Kate imagined.

Thoughts:

This book is a real blast from my past. I remember thinking about books I read as a child/young teen last year and for some reason this book came to mind. I immediately text Beth (my sister) and she recalled it too! We then decided it had to go on our kid-lit challenge. We had to rediscover it. The feelings of nostalgia were strong as I read this book. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped, but it was still a lovely blast from the past. Books are certainly different now for teens!

The Cuckoo Sister centres around Kate who finds out that she had a sister named Emma who was taken. Emma was never found, until one day a girl lands on their doorstep with a letter explaining that she’s Emma. This ‘Emma’ knew nothing about her family and it’s a shock to everyone. Kate soon finds out that Emma isn’t the sister that she imagined.

I enjoyed reading this book because it felt quite innocent in its nature. Sure, the characters aren’t the nicest and I don’t think they’re amazingly well developed, but they’re interesting to read about. Both characters frustrated me at points but I loved reading about their interactions with one another. I feel like this book is definitely an old-school coming of age story. It’s about finding out who you really are and learning to accept it.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars.

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (March):
Awful Auntie- David Walliams

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

The Pevensie siblings are back to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.

Thoughts:

I don’t recall reading past The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when I was younger. I don’t think I did, so reading Prince Caspian for the kid-lit challenge was intriguing. I don’t think it quite has the magic of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe but it’s still a decent read. It introduces us to some new people, the Telmarines, as well as going back to the Pevensies who we know well!

The story flips between the Telmarines and the Pevensies. When we are introduced to the new characters we also get to know Caspian and some of the politics surrounding his life and time. Everything changes when the Pevensies are summoned back to Narnia. They have spent around a year in the real world although 1,000 years has passed in Narnian time. The world is very different- Narnia has a changed landscape, politics has changed and the Pevensies have to get used to Narnia not being what they remember.

I never really got the religious messages when I was younger, but I can definitely identify them more reading this series as an adult. I feel like Prince Caspian does still have a subtle religious message. It’s about faith and believing there is something that makes life worth living. At the start, the family have no allies and it is not until Lucy starts to see the wonderful Aslan when others can’t that the message appears to be help comes to those that believe.

Prince Caspian did keep me turning the pages with its fast paced story-line. I love reading about the Pevensies once more. It felt incredibly familiar.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Next in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (February):
The Cuckoo Sister- Vivian Alcock

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The 2017 books are revealed!

2017 brings yet another year of Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit, which has been a fun feature on our blog! As usual, Beth and I have picked 6 books each.

Here are the choices…my choices are in purple, Beth’s in red!

JANUARY- Prince Caspian- C.S. Lewis

FEBRUARY- The Cuckoo Sister- Vivian Alcock

MARCH- Awful Auntie- David Walliams

APRIL- A Snicker of Magic- Natalie Lloyd

MAY- The Sea Of Monsters (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #2)- Rick Riordan

JUNE- The Prime Minister’s Brain- Gillian Cross

JULY- The Reptile Room (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #2) by Lemony Snicket

AUGUST- Fortunately, the Milk- Neil Gaiman

SEPTEMBER- Saffy’s Angel – Hilary McKay

OCTOBER- Black Hearts in Battersea- Joan Aiken

NOVEMBER- Witch Child – Celia Rees

DECEMBER- Finding Jennifer Jones- Anne Cassidy

Have you read any of this books? Can you spot a favourite in there? Let us know!

Talking About Kid-Lit 2016 with Bibliobeth!

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

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2016 and why?

BETH: Tough choice this year as there were a few books I really, really loved. If I had to choose one though it would be The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase. Totally surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and it had such a classic, old-time feel to it which was fantastic.

CHRISSI: Mine would be The Wolves of Willoughby Chase or The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair. I can’t pick… sorry! Both had such charm.

2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2016 and why?

BETH: Hmmm…..Ballet Shoes. Definitely the most disappointing. I struggled to get through it if I’m honest and got a bit bored about halfway through.

CHRISSI: I would say Ballet Shoes as well. I really thought it would be a book that I loved because I’m a massive fan of books that involve dance and love that era, but no, it wasn’t for me.

3) What was the Kid-Lit book of 2016 that surprised you the most?

BETH: The Horse And His Boy for sure. I didn’t have fond memories of it as a child. In fact, it was my least favourite of all the Narnia books. I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered and I actually really enjoyed it!

CHRISSI: It would be Looking for JJ for me as I didn’t expect to be as gripped as I was by the story. I devoured it!

4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2016?

BETH: I fell completely under the spell of Lara Williamson after reading The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair and would really love to read her debut novel A Boy Called Hope.

CHRISSI: I will definitely continue with the Percy Jackson series. I don’t know if I can wait each kid-lit year to read the series though!

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 tomorrow – the big reveal for Kid-Lit 2017! 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: The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair

The Boy Who Sailed the Ocean in an Armchair

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
A Boy Called Hope

Synopsis:

All Becket wants is for his family to be whole again. But standing in his way are two things: 1) his dad, his brother and him seem to have run away from home in the middle of the night and 2) Becket’s mum died before he got the chance to say goodbye to her. Arming himself with an armchair of stories, a snail named Brian and one thousand paper cranes, Becket ploughs on, determined to make his wish come true.

Thoughts:

I was pleased that we picked this book after thoroughly enjoying Lara Williamson’s debut. I was especially intrigued by the title. Although there are some similarities between this book and Lara’s debut they are different stories with different but wonderful characters. The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair is about emotions. It’s about bereavement and difficult family situations.

The story starts with brothers Becket and Billy trying to work out why their Dad has left his long term girlfriend Pearl who they really loved. Becket and Billy are also dealing with grief after their mother died of eclampsia when giving birth to Billy. Becket is especially struggling as he never got to say goodbye to his mother. The book deals with the relationship between Pearl, the boys and their Dad.

It deals with much deeper content than I had anticipated but in a sensitive way. There’s humour which is much appreciated in a rather deep book. Lara Williamson realistically portrays family life and how it’s not always easy. There are so many humorous moments that adults can enjoy as well. I certainly don’t think it’s just a middle grade children’s book. There’s so much to think about.

Being a fan of magical realism, I really enjoyed the paper crane elements of this story. I was really intrigued by the origami cranes and the idea of the butterflies. That made my heart happy.

Whilst this book is about bereavement, it’s not a book that breaks your heart. It’s a hopeful book about acceptance and moving forward. The bond between the brothers is absolutely beautiful and I loved the moments when Becket sat Billy down in the armchair and took him for an adventure. So imaginative, so sweet.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)

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

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Thoughts:

I am one of those who hadn’t read The Series of Unfortunate Events as a child. I know, I know. I don’t know what I was thinking! 😉 However, the wonderful thing about the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge is that I get the opportunity to rediscover books I should have read when I was younger. I really enjoyed this book even though there were some parts that did grate on me after a while. I liked how dark it was. I personally don’t see why middle grade/children’s fiction can’t be dark!

It centres around the Baudelaire siblings who have had an awful few days. They go through something tragic and then things go from bad to worse! I really didn’t think it could get any worse for them…but I’m pretty sure it will continue to be not all sweetness and light considering the name of the series. The siblings are so strong and brave. I really enjoyed their characters and immediately liked them. They weren’t whiny. I can’t stand whiny children. I particularly liked Violet. I thought she was a strong and highly likeable character.

I liked how short the story was and I thought it was well paced. I think it will capture the attention of children and adults alike. The writing style is simple but really descriptive and evocative. I have to say that the only thing that really irritated me with the story is when the narrative seemed to halt for a moment to explain or provide a definition for a word or a saying. I thought it was sweet at first, but then it got a little too repetitive for my liking and I felt that it disrupted the flow of the story.

That aside, I do think this series is well worth exploring and I think we’ll probably pop the next book in the series on our list for next year.

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Reading next for the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit challenge (December):
The Boy Who Sailed The Ocean In An Armchair- Lara Williamson