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-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 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.