Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Creakers

The Creakers

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

What would you do if you woke up to find all the grown-ups had disappeared?

If you’re like Lucy Dungston, you’ll do anything to get to the bottom of it.

With no grown-ups, chaos descends on Lucy’s town. Kids are running wild, building roads of trampolines and eating cereal for every meal – but Lucy wants her mum back, and nothing is going to stop her.

Not even the monsters who live in the upside-down world beneath her bed…

Tom Fletcher’s bestselling story is packed with stinkerful black-and-white illustrations by the disgustingly talented Shane Devries and is perfect for kids to read independently or together with a grown-up!

Thoughts:

I have been meaning to read this book for some time now or anything middle grade by Tom Fletcher after enjoying his picture books with Dougie Poynter. I decided to pick The Creakers to read because I’d heard amazing things about it. I can confirm that Tom Fletcher is a wonderful middle grade writer. I enjoyed this book so much that I’ve decided to use it for my first book club book at school. Yes, that’s right. This bookworm teacher is starting a book club for the kids!

The Creakers centres around Lucy and some neighbourhood kids. When Lucy wakes up one morning, she finds out that all of the grown-ups in the world have gone missing. Initially, all of the other kids were excited by this. They could do what they want! Lucy started to wonder why, how and where they had gone. Lucy discovers that there are creatures under her bed that could be potential suspects for the parent-napping. They’re called the Creakers. Lucy wants her mum back and the Creakers won’t be able to stop her!

I absolutely loved this book! Tom Fletcher’s writing style somewhat reminds me of Lemony Snicket. I love the way he addresses the reader before the chapters. It’s engaging and often funny. The whole way through reading this book, I was thinking about how much children would enjoy it. It’s so entertaining and I’m pretty sure will have many children across the land looking under their beds in search of the Creakers.

I loved how there were a mix of responsible and silly children within the story. Very true to life, that’s for sure! Lucy is a brilliant character, I can imagine that many children will dress up as her for World Book Day. It’s lovely to have a girl as a lead. She’s strong, clever and sensible. I think she’s a great role model for children.

The illustrations by Shane Devries were absolutely adorable and suited the story perfectly. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to The Christmasaurus at some point!

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 (September):
Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing- Judy Blume

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Banned Books #50- I Am Jazz

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books feature. This month we read I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings.

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I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings and Shelagh McNicholas (illustrator)
First published: 2014
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)
Reasons: inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint and unsuited for age group.

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

BETH: I Am Jazz is quite a new release compared to the books we often discuss, being first published in 2014 a mere four years ago as I write this post. Now I like to think we live in enlightened times and as a result, there will be far fewer recent releases that will be challenged/banned but unfortunately I Am Jazz seems to have the censors all fired up. The reasons as you can see above, make my blood boil. I can’t imagine what it’s like personally to go through the transgender experience but just because you don’t have much personal knowledge on it doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself and that’s what I’ve been doing over the past few years whenever possible i.e. watching documentaries, reading memoirs, discussing the issue with open-minded friends. There ARE individuals out there who feel as if they have been born in the wrong body which quite frankly, must be terrifying and horribly confusing and to have this book challenged/banned is just fanning the flames and the self-righteous attitude of those other people who don’t believe that being transgender is “a thing.” This is particularly true when I consider the reasons – inaccurate and homosexuality. At what point does this book scream inaccurate can I just ask?! That’s a person’s LIFE you’re talking about there. Also, homosexuality which I’ve covered in other banned books posts, which makes me roll my eyes and get a bit cross is NEVER a reason to ban a book. Plus, I don’t believe there was even any mention of homosexuality in this picture book for children anyway. It’s about a little girl who was born in the body of a boy and who is telling us her story of how she longed to be a girl so much, including how there are some people that don’t really understand but how she has super duper supportive parents. Sacrilege! (*in my best sarcastic voice.*)

CHRISSI: The fact that this book is banned is absolutely ridiculous. It really is. I think the most offensive reason for me is inaccurate. INACCURATE? How on Earth can Jazz’s feelings be inaccurate. Only she knows how she feels! As for religious viewpoint? Well… I understand that some religions may not ‘believe’ in people being transgender, but guess what? Some people are. Even if you don’t agree with it, I strongly believe that we need to be more tolerant. There are some parts of other religions that I strongly disagree with, but I’d never slate them for it, because it’s THEIR belief and they’re entitled to it. Much like I Am Jazz deserves a place in the library, in schools and in homes.

How about now?

BETH: As the book was only published about four years ago, I’m sad to say I don’t think attitudes will have changed too much from those who wanted to challenge/ban this book but hopefully we can still encourage people in the community to talk and to better inform those of us who are interested and willing to listen, including myself. As for the final reasons, sex education, religious viewpoint and unsuited for age group – well, I’m sure you can imagine what I think of those! Firstly, this PICTURE book is written in such a way that makes it suitable for children of any age and it’s certainly very scant on details which make it “sex education” in my eyes. Where was the religious viewpoint? I must have missed that but even if there was, I’ve already gone into detail on other banned books posts about my views on religion and how I enjoy reading about other people’s viewpoints on this, even if they don’t match my own.

CHRISSI: Sadly, I think some people would still have an issue with this book which is worrying. It is certainly not a book offensive to the age in which it is intended for. It’s a picture book with a gentle story that definitely needs to be explored. As a teacher, I would certainly use this in the classroom. I know that there’s a girl that comes to mind that I taught in my first year of teaching that would have loved this book. I’m not saying she’s transgender, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she was in the future.  NOTE- This book has been challenged again in 2016… reasons:  because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints and 2017: This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

Urgh. 😦

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This was a very quick, sweet and hopeful read that I think will be very informative for curious children but especially transgender children who it might finally help to realise that they’re not completely alone. I was also thinking it might be a great tool to use for parents at home if children have a transgender member of their class at school to help them understand what their classmate might be going through and to hopefully, iron out those prejudices before they have a chance to develop.

CHRISSI: I thought it was an adorable read. I think it’s important that there are picture books out there aimed at this subject. It’s an educative tool to use in the classroom to help other children to understand. I think this book is needed and the fact that it is challenged upsets me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Blog Tour- I’m A Dragon You See (Children’s Book Review)

I'm A Dragon You See

How did I get it?:
Sent to me for the blog tour, this did not affect my opinion of the book!

Synopsis:

Have you ever wondered what a Dragon likes to do for fun? Or what he might look like? Even what he likes to eat. Is it ice cream or pasta? Then ‘I am a Dragon you see’ will reveal all these mysteries and more. Go on an adventure with a fun repeating rhyme and colourful illustrations. A fun way of learning about the importance of friendship and kindness.

Thoughts:

I was approached to read this book for the blog tour, so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s a short picture book with some lovely illustrations to go alongside the story.

It’s a very sweet story about what a dragon likes to do for fun, what he might eat and many more different things. I think it’s a really charming story. From a teaching point of view, it would be lovely to use to teach rhyme. There’s certainly plenty of rhymes to pick out. There’s also repetitive language which I know children would quickly pick up and love to repeat.

I think this book would be perfect for 4-7 year olds, especially for the younger range because they’ll lap up the story and enjoy the rhyme and repetition!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A cute read, it doesn’t have as much depth for me to use as a class read, but it is still super sweet and will be going into my book corner for my class to enjoy!

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Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3)

The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Bad Beginning
The Reptile Room

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted; but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all. If you haven’t got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair. I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

Thoughts:

We have been visiting A Series of Unfortunate Events as part of our kid-lit challenge for the past 2 years. It was a given that the third book would be on the list for this year. I really enjoyed this one. Beth and I didn’t read these books growing up and I’m sad that we didn’t. I totally think we would’ve loved them. I know my nephew enjoys the Netflix show and I’m somewhat intrigued to watch it… but I always feel I should read the books first. I know, I know… I’m weird.

I loved following the Baudelaire siblings tale in this latest instalment. It’s as dark and as sinister as the other two books. Violet, Klaus and Sunny are taken to live with another relative that they hadn’t met before. They come across the terrible Count Olaf once more…in disguise. It is a completely strange story which I’m absolutely captivated by. It’s so over the top but so wonderful at the same time.

The adult characters in this book seem to make awful decisions but I think that’s almost the beauty of the book? It shows children that adults don’t always make the right choices. They can be scared and unsure too.

In the previous two books, the constant defining of words within the narration bugged me, but it wasn’t really in this book. However the meaning of what Sunny babbled was suggested by the author. This didn’t grate on me as much as the defining did, but reading from an adult’s eyes, it does come across as a little repetitive. This is my only complaint really about the story, which otherwise I think is a delightful reading experience!

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 (June):
The Face On The Milk Carton- Caroline B.Cooney

Beth and Chrissi Do Kit Lit- Ratburger

Ratburger

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

“Meet Zoe. She’s got a lot of things to be unhappy about:
* Her stepmother Sheila is so lazy she asks Zoe to pick her nose for her.
* The school bully Tina Trotts makes her life a misery – mainly by flobbing on her head.
* And on top of it all, the dastardly Burt has terrible plans for her pet rat.

I can’t tell you what those plans are, but there’s a clue in the title of this book…”

Thoughts:

I really enjoy David Walliams’ writing, so I try to ensure we have one on our reading list for the kid-lit challenge. Being a primary school teacher, I love reading current children’s literature to find perfect, modern stories for them. As much as they love Roald Dahl, they adore David Walliams too. He really is the closest thing to Roald Dahl than the man himself.

Ratburger tells the story of a girl called Zoe. She’s having a tough time at school. She comes from a poor background, she’s small and an instant target for bullies. Zoe lives with her father and her awful stepmother, Sheila. Zoe’s dad has lost his job and spends most of the time in the pub. Zoe is left at home, with the lazy stepmother, living in a leaning tower block of flats. Zoe’s hamster has just died. She was convinced that she was going to find fame with her hamster as she had spent some time training it. When Zoe comes across a baby rat, she knows she won’t have to give up on her dreams. However, Zoe has to keep Armitage (the rat) away from her terrible stepmother and Burt an evil burger van driver which gives the story a much darker twist.

I felt like Ratburger had some amazing characters in the story. Zoe was wonderful and a fantastic character to follow. Burt and Sheila are so awful that it’s fun to read about them. I always love Raj, the newsagent, who appears in so many of David’s books. I also loved the school teacher, Miss Midge. I love how David Walliams wrote her character. God knows I love a terrible teacher in a story!

I love David Walliams’ books because there are moments that really make you smile or laugh out loud. I also love how there’s something in there for the adults that are reading the book to a child. I’ve noticed with David’s books that some comments can be a bit risque but only if you know the meaning behind it. It goes over most children’s heads.

The reason why I love David Walliams’ books is that they can encourage the most reluctant of readers. They’re genuinely a joy to read out to children. I could easily see myself reading this to a class and it is a definite contender for a class book come September. David’s books also give me inspiration for teaching. There’s so much that can be done with this book if you’re reading it as a class read! 🙂 It made this teacher very happy.

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 (May):
The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3)-Lemony Snicket

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!

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