Sky Chasers

Sky Chasers

How did I get it?
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

An encounter with a boy dangling from the sky changes pickpocket Magpie’s life forever. His family, the Montgolfiers, are desperate to discover the secret of flight. Together with Pierre, Magpie is caught up in a world of inflatable bloomers, spies and unruly animals in a race to be the first to fly a hot air balloon – in front of the King and Queen of France.

Thoughts:

You might look at my previously read by the same author section and infer that I’m quite the fan of Emma Carroll. You’d be right. She’s one of my favourite authors. I always know that I’m in for a decent read when I pick up a book of Emma’s. I really enjoyed reading Sky Chasers and yet it again, it has me yearning to be in Key Stage 2 once more so I can teach it/read it to my class! They’re a little young this year for this book but it didn’t stop me thinking of the ways that this book could be used educatively.

This book comes from an idea by Neal Jackson who was the winner of Chicken House’s The Big Idea Competition. What an idea it was! Sky Chasers is a story that centres around the Montgolfier family. They are part of the race to discover the secret of flight. Alongside pickpocket Magpie, they begin to create a hot air balloon. They need to take it to King Louis XVI.  However, their mission is not easy and they have many obstacles in the way like spies and misbehaving animals.

This story is so much fun and I imagine children would be completely captivated by the tale. I know I was! Emma Carroll’s writing style is simply wonderful and always catapults the reader right into the action. I’ve mentioned before that it feels like you’re inside the story watching the action unfold.

Magpie is a wonderful female character. We’re always looking for strong female leads to inspire our girls at school because quite often it’s a strong male lead. Magpie had gone through so much. She experiences the loss of both parents and has to learn to live and survive on her own. There are some other brilliant characters who are so well developed. I immediately enjoy reading about characters in an Emma Carroll book because they’re well written and incredibly three dimensional.

It didn’t take me long to read this beautiful book! I definitely see myself using it if I ever get back to Key Stage 2. Until then I’ll highly recommend it to my junior colleagues.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful read! Highly recommended!

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Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Girl of Ink and Stars

The Girl of Ink and Stars

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.

But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

Thoughts:

I was really excited when this book was picked as part of our kid-lit challenge. It has been on my radar for quite some time now and this challenge gave me an opportunity to get around to it. For me, this is a solid middle grade read. I started off really loving it, but my enthusiasm waned after a while.

It centres around Isabella who is a cartographer’s daughter. Isabella dreams of lands that her father once mapped. It takes her close friend disappearing for her to begin to explore the world outside of her island. Isabella wants to guide the search. She has knowledge of ink maps and wants to help find her dear friend. The world beyond the island isn’t what she expected at all. Isabella soon encounters things that she thought were just myths are really true.

I loved reading about Isabella’s adventures. I enjoyed the old stories involved within this story. I felt like this made the story very unique. However, I found it really hard to connect to Isabella as a character. There wasn’t anything wrong with her, a perfectly nice character, I just didn’t find myself rooting for her. I actually preferred Lupe, who I found to be incredibly quirky.

I did enjoy how this book was centred around friendship and family. I love books that have friendship at the heart of it. I found Isabella and Lupe’s friendship to be genuine. It was up and down which is totally relatable. As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, I really like books that have strong female characters, especially in middle grade. I think a lot of the time books have male characters as the heroes and we need a better balance!

I thought Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s writing was easy to read and imaginative. I can certainly see why it won the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Awards. There’s so much for children to get stuck into and enjoy.

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 (End of April):
Ratburger- David Walliams

The List Of Real Things

The List of Real Things

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hatchette Children’s Group

Previously reviewed by the same author:

The Apple Tart of Hope

Synopsis:

Grace knows the difference between what’s real and the strange ideas that float around in her little sister’s mind. Their parents died – that’s real. A secret hotel on the cliff-top where their parents are waiting – definitely NOT real. So when grief strikes again, Grace is determined not to let her sister’s outlandish imagination spiral out of control. But the line between truth and fantasy is more complicated than it seems… 

Thoughts:

I enjoyed The Apple Tart Of Hope when I read it a few years back, so I was immediately intrigued by this book. I’m really glad I requested and read this book because it was incredibly heart-warming.

It centres around Grace and Bee who have experienced far too much grief in their life. Grace’s sister, Bee seems to have a very vivid imagination. She believes that their dog can talk, that she’s visited by ghosts and lots more besides. Grace believes that she knows what’s real and what’s not unlike her sister. Grace is determined to show her sister what’s reality. However, she begins to find out that the line between real life and fantasy is much muddier than she had ever anticipated.

I loved the characters, but particularly Bee. I loved that she was so quirky. She wasn’t afraid of who she was. I felt like Grace just wanted to fit in. I loved how Bee was unapologetic. Bee did come across as a little older than she actually is, but that didn’t matter to me. I loved that Bee didn’t care if people thought she was weird whilst Grace was embarrassed of her sister’s quirks.

This book is intended as a middle grade read, so don’t be surprised if you find it to be quite young. It is, but it was also highly enjoyable to read as an adult. It’s so quick to read at just over 200 pages. I loved the hints of magical realism, it made the book stand out for me. I loved how there was a focus on grief, mental health and family.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A very sweet read with a hint of magical realism!

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

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