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

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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 Snowman

The Snowman: Inspired by the original story by Raymond Briggs

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

One December morning, James is thrilled to wake up to see snow falling.

He spends the whole day making his perfect snowman; he has coal eyes, an old green hat and scarf and a tangerine nose… just like the snowman from his favourite story.

That night, something magical happens- the Snowman comes to life!

He and James take to the skies on a magical adventure where they meet someone very special.

Thoughts:

Aw. The Snowman! I absolutely loved the picture book and the movie growing up. It’s still a story that has a very special place in my heart. When I heard that Michael Morpurgo was writing a story inspired by the original story, I was very excited to get my hands on a copy. I really enjoy reading Michael Morpurgo and I knew that he would do well with this story. He really did. It’s such a Christmas classic and Michael Morpurgo’s words really complement this wonderful story.

James wakes up on Christmas Eve to discover a snow covered world outside. He’s super excited to go out and build a snowman. He spends hours building him and showing him off to is family. Later that night, he discovers his snowman has to come alive and they go on a journey together!

It would be heard to beat Raymond Briggs and I don’t think this is the intention with this book. It’s to pay homage to a wonderful classic. I believe that Michael Morpurgo’s story really adds something to the original story. It’s quite faithful to the original story. I did like how nods to the original story were actually mentioned within the story. A nice touch and a reminder that this isn’t Michael’s original story. However, there are some original moments that he has added into the story, which I very much appreciated- especially because it focused on a difference a child had and I think that’s important.

I can imagine that I will read this story next year to my class around Christmas. It’s such a charming, sweet read and they are all so familiar with the original. It will be nice to compare and contrast… and of course, give them an opportunity to watch the movie too! 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful take on a magical Christmas story!

Father Christmas and Me (Christmas #3)

Father Christmas and Me (Christmas Series, #3)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Christmas

Synopsis:

It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas.

For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs everyday – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests. Also it can get very, very cold.

But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive. Before it’s too late…

Thoughts:

I am super pleased that I had the idea of binge-reading Matt Haig’s Christmas series. I have been absolutely loving it. Before reading this series, I knew Matt Haig was a wonderful writer but this has fully cemented that fact for me. Someone that can write so well for children AND adults is pretty impressive in my eyes. Gushing over with, let’s move on with the review.

Father Christmas and Me centres around Amelia, Father Christmas and Mary (yes Mary, Mary Christmas!) Amelia is living in Elfhelm with Father Christmas and Mary. She’s finding it hard to adapt to life in Elfhelm though. School is different, she looks incredibly different and the weather is always cold. She also becomes a target of a local newspaper and a horrible elf named Father Vogol. Father Vogol is determined to get Amelia out of Elfham. Added to that, the Easter Bunny is feeling pretty resentful… he’ll do anything to spoil Christmas and with Father Vogol on his side, he might just do it!

I absolutely loved this final instalment in the trilogy. Amelia is such a strong character. She’s had a hard life but is still incredibly resilient and is determined to fight evil and save Christmas again. There’s so much to be enjoyed in this action packed tale. It’s very clever and captivating.

I’m going to miss the wonderful characters in this trilogy who I have definitely loved all the way through. I think Amelia is a great character for young people to look up to. Father and Mary Christmas are so wonderfully loving. I absolutely adore The Truth Pixie. Father Vogol is so fun to dislike too. I highly recommend this series, if you’re looking for a fun, engaging, festive read then this trilogy could be for you.

Look out for my review of The Truth Pixie on Monday. I couldn’t resist getting it!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An incredibly heart-warming trilogy!

The Girl Who Saved Christmas (Christmas #2)

The Girl Who Saved Christmas

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this follow up to the wonderful The Boy Called Christmas. Matt Haig truly writes beautiful, magical Christmas stories. I highly recommend picking them up even if you are an adult. We all like a bit of magic at Christmas time, right?

This story picks up during the 19th century and Christmas is approaching. Father Christmas is getting ready to deliver to the world and bring joy, as he loves to do. Trouble happens up in the North and he finds out that the elves are in trouble. He needs a lot of magic to get through it. Meanwhile, the first girl to receive a present, Amelia, is on her own. She has been orphaned. The only friend she has is a cat and even then they end up being parted. Amelia is certainly losing hope and that is the thing that magic runs on. With appearances from Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens, this book really is action packed.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas is so heart-warming. It has some darker themes which I think are important, especially because life isn’t always sweetness and light. It’s so accessible for young children, yet it still utterly appealing for adults too. It barely took me any time to read at all. It’s perfect for curling up with on a cold winter’s day. I think these books are timeless and definitely deserve to be part of a festive collection.

Feel free to come back to visit my blog on Saturday for the review of the third book in the series Father Christmas and Me. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I actually preferred this book to the first in the series which is quite rare for me! A wonderful festive read.

A Boy Called Christmas (Christmas #1)

A Boy Called Christmas

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?

Good.

Then let us begin . . .

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

Thoughts:

I promised myself that I’d binge read Matt Haig’s Christmas trilogy and that is exactly what I have done. Throughout this week, my reviews will be published on this wonderfully charming middle grade series.

A Boy Called Christmas is all about how Father Christmas became Father Christmas. It explores how a human ends up living with elves and how presents began to be delivered to every child across the world on Christmas Eve. It follows Nikolas as he travels through Finland to find his father who has gone on a quest to find a real Elf for the King. The story starts with Nikolas and his father who live in a small cottage. They don’t have much money and life can be a struggle at times. However, overall Nikolas is happy. When his father goes on the quest to find the Elf (and give them some much needed money) he is left alone with his terrible Aunt. Nikolas ends up leaving home to find his father. He isn’t aware that this trip is going to change his life forever.

Nikolas is such a fantastic character. I loved that his life wasn’t easy. Sometimes children’s books don’t focus or dwell on sad moments which is totally understandable. However, I think Nikolas and his struggles made him utterly relatable. He was a character that you instantly rooted for.

I knew that I’d love Matt Haig’s writing because I’ve read quite a few of his books. I didn’t expect it to be as charming as it was though. I loved how magical the story was. I don’t read a lot of Christmas books, but this one really did steal my heart. It had such a sweet message about being good to everyone and passing that goodness on. Certainly not a bad message for any time of year!

This book didn’t take me long to read at all. It’s so easy to read. The reader experiences many emotions as they discover how Nikolas became Father Christmas.

Look out for my review on Thursday of the second book in the series The Girl Who Saved Christmas. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A very charming Christmas read! The series gets better as it goes on, so look out for my review later in the week!

Banned Books #53- King & King

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month, Beth and I read King & King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland.

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Synopsis:

Once there lived a lovelorn prince whose mother decreed that he must marry by the end of the summer. So began the search to find the prince’s perfect match and lo and behold……his name was Lee. You are cordially invited to join the merriest, most unexpected wedding of the year. KING & KING is a contemporary tale about finding true love and living happily ever after, sure to woo readers of any age.

First published: 2000
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2003 (source)
Reasons: homosexuality

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

BETH: I was surprised to see there was only a single reason for this book being banned. Not because I think there should be multiple reasons for challenging it but because they normally come up with a few reasons, no matter how ridiculous to back up why it should be removed from a certain surrounding, like a library or a school. Now I could POSSIBLY imagine why homosexuality could be used as a reason one hundred years ago (not that I agree with it!) but to use that as a reason in the year 2000. We certainly do not live in the age of enlightenment.

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I can see why this book may have banned possibly way back when…but not 2000. That’s only 18 years ago. Why? It actually makes me really cross that this book is challenged. It’s nothing explicit. Just a gentle love story. The fact that it is challenged gives the impression that there’s something wrong with having homosexual characters. No, just no. That’s telling young children that a homosexual relationship is wrong. What if their parents are homosexual? Argh. It just makes me cross.

How about now?

BETH: Sigh. First of all, why are people challenging picture books for children? Like another of the picture books that we have read in our Banned Books series – And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, books set in this format for the younger reader are often hugely helpful in bringing an important message to younger ears in a way they can understand and find fun. So no, I don’t agree with challenging/banning it because of homosexuality either eighteen years ago or right now. Why should sexuality be a reason to ban a book, no matter what age it is aimed at? Surely that’s more likely to enforce prejudices rather than accept the diversity of people?

CHRISSI: Definitely not. I feel so strongly about this book being challenged. 😦 I think it’s sad that in 2018, this book can’t be accepted by all. There’s nothing vulgar or explicit in this story. It’s such a gentle love story. I would have absolutely no problems reading this to young children. I think it explains that love is love no matter who you end up loving.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: As with other picture books I have read, King & King was quick and easy to read and I really appreciated the message it was trying to get across. The art was gorgeous and I found there was so much to look at, I could imagine children staring at the pages for a while, enjoying all the bright colours on offer. It felt for me like a quirky style where you could almost imagine you were seeing different fabrics – newspaper, cotton, silk etc and I can imagine this would be an interesting experience for youngsters too.

CHRISSI: It’s a gorgeous picture book with a wonderful, heart-warming message. I think it’s a lovely book to read to any child.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!