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

Blog Tour- Pilot Jane and The Runaway Plane

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publisher for the book tour!

Synopsis:

Join Pilot Jane, a fun and fearless airline captain, as she travels the world with her best friend Rose, a high-speed passenger jet. Together Jane and Rose have exciting adventures and form a perfect team, delivering their passengers safely to destinations as far afield as Alaska and Australia. But when disaster strikes and Rose falls ill, Jane is paired with ‘lean, mean flying machine’ Mighty Mitch. Can she still get the Queen to her party on time? Featuring a clever and courageous heroine, this action-packed rhyming story celebrates ‘Girl Power’ and shows what you can achieve if you work together. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for take-off!

Thoughts:

I am a primary school teacher, so when I had the opportunity to read this book, I decided to test it on some guinea pigs. Well, some classes at school. I read it with two groups of children. Year 1s (5-6 year olds) and Year 3/4 (7-9 year olds). The book went down well with both classes. Here are some words from their mouths… (real names have been changed)

  • I liked it because it was adventurous. (Mandy, Age 7)

  • I like it because it’s got teamwork. (Natasha, Age 8)

  • I liked it because it had everything a story needs. I think it would be great for younger children. (Tim, Age 9)

  • I think the moral of the story is teamwork. (Hannah, Age 6)

  • I liked it because when the plane broke down, Jane had to  learn to work with a different plane that she didn’t really know.  (Harry, Age 7)

  • I like it because it was for boys and girls. I thought at the start it was just for girls but it changed into boys as well. (Tobias, Age 8)

  • I liked the book because Mitch and Jane had to work together. (Jason, Age 8)

  • I liked the girl and boy power! (Lauren, Age 5)

As for me, I think it’s such a cute book for young children. Both the infant and junior school children took the message from the book, which makes it highly successful in my eyes!

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

Top Ten Freebie- Ten Books I’ve Recently Read To Children

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, it’s a freebie which means we can pick what we’d like to list! I’ve decided to pick ten books I’ve recently read to my class. If you don’t know already, I’m a primary school teacher- I teach 7-9 year olds. I absolutely love reading to them and I’ve read some gems with them since 2015 when I started with my first class.

The World’s Worst Children- David Walliams

The World's Worst Children

They absolutely adored this book. There’s loads of characters who all get a chapter each. These children are horrendous and so fun to read about like Nigel Nit Boy and Windy Mindy.

Billionaire Boy- David Walliams

Billionaire Boy

This is a book that we’ve recently finished. They absolutely adored it and it had them laughing out loud many a time. It’s all about a boy who comes from a rich family who is desperately trying to fit in.

Stone Age Boy- Satoshi Kitamura

Stone Age Boy

This book was great as a hook into our topic of the Stone Age.

Stone Age, Bone Age- Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

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This is factual but great fun.

Matilda- Roald Dahl

Matilda

I will always love Roald Dahl and this book warms my heart. They absolutely adored it and loved to hate the Trunchbull.

The B.F.G.- Roald Dahl

The BFG

Another one they loved. They still talk about whizzpoppers now, it’s amazing!

George’s Marvellous Medicine- Roald Dahl

George's Marvellous Medicine

They loved to hate the wonderfully awful Grandma!

The Twits- Roald Dahl

The Twits

The Twits is such a great read. They were howling with laughter.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory- Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket, #1)

Another one they lapped up quickly. My class were so immersed in Roald Dahl.

My Brother’s Famous Bottom- Jeremy Strong

My Brother's Famous Bottom

I tried this book with my class as the author is said to be similar to Roald Dahl. They liked it and of course, loved the word bottom!

Have you read any of these books? Who is your favourite children’s author? Let me know! Feel free to leave a link to your Top Ten posts and I’ll stop by.

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