Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.

But none of them can believe Margaret doesn’t have religion, and that she isn’t going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything—family, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush.

Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable—you’ll feel like she’s talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.

Thoughts:

My sister was such a fan of Judy Blume when she was younger, and she is still, to be honest. Let’s not mention her fan-girl behaviour when she met her at YALC a few years back! (Ha!) I was happy to read another book by Judy. It was a re-read for me as I remember reading this book when I was younger. It’s still as heart-warming as it was back then. Judy Blume was writing before Young Adult was really a thing and this book is a little more than middle grade but not quite young adult.

It centres around Margaret who has moved to New York and joined a secret club with some new friends. Margaret and her friends love talking about personal subjects privately with one another. They talk about boys, bras and periods. Margaret doesn’t have a religion and her friends find this hard to believe or understand. What they don’t know is that Margaret privately speaks to God and that’s enough for her.

I absolutely loved this book because I could see a lot of Margaret in my young self. I didn’t talk to God but I was desperate to ‘grow up.’ I think having an older sister definitely made me want to be more like her. I knew I was longing to have my period and then when it arrived I was excited… until the cramps started! Ha. Margaret is such a relatable character to many young girls. I really don’t think this book has aged much at all. Obviously, there’s more choice for sanitary products, but aside from that it’s still very relevant. I’m reading it decade on from its release and it doesn’t seem dated at all. True testament for superb writing from Judy Blume!

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 (February):
The BFG- Roald Dahl

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Banned Books #54- Flashcards Of My Life

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to the last Banned Books of 2018! This month we read Flashcards Of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper.

Flashcards of My Life

Flashcards Of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper.
First published: 2006
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

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

BETH: I amuse myself sometimes. For me, it feels like 2006, when this book was first published was relatively recently. It’s hard to believe it was twelve years ago now! I don’t believe our attitudes were much different back in 2006 from what they are now so as always, I don’t agree with any of the reasons why this book was challenged. Once more, they actually make me roll my eyes. Sexually explicit – I mean, come on! This book is written from the perspective of a young, naive adolescent girl talking about everything that teenage girls tend to talk about…friends, boys, kissing and in no way, shape or form was there anything remotely risque about what she was discussing in her journals.

CHRISSI: 2006… I was at university. I worked with children at the time and whilst they were younger than this book is aimed at, they certainly weren’t as naive as some people believe children are. Children and young teens do talk about boys, kissing etc. etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with anything in this book. It is perfectly natural and it felt really realistic to what a young teen/young adult would write. This book is far from sexually explicit. Come on. Stop underestimating the younger generation!

How about now?

BETH: Definitely not. Unsuited to age group? Well, what age group is this aimed at? Middle grade to young adult? If that’s the case, no it’s not unsuitable. It’s normal teenage ponderings that are perfectly innocent and natural. In fact, I’d worry if a book like this was challenged/banned because I think teenagers need to read a book like this to make them realise that what they’re going through is perfectly ordinary.

CHRISSI:  The only reason this book would be unsuitable to its age group is if it’s age group was 8 years old or younger. I don’t think it is. I imagine this book is aimed at tweens to young adults. It’s certainly not worth banning- especially 12 years later.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Personally, I found myself skim reading parts of this book. At this point in my life, I’m certainly not the intended audience and because of this, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have hoped. I can obviously sympathise with all the feelings that Emily went through as of course, I went through them myself and I’m sure this book will resonate with thousands of other girls across the world.

CHRISSI: It was one of those ‘meh’ books for me. I know I’m not the intended audience, so it’s not necessarily going to grip me. I do think there is much better material out there. I did really like the flashcard idea though. I thought that was great and probably would’ve enjoyed the book more if it was just the flashcards. The stories in-between fell a little flat for me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes- I personally didn’t enjoy it but I know those that it’s intended for would get more out of it.

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!

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!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing (Fudge #1)

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Fudge, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Forever

Synopsis:

Life with his little brother, Fudge, makes Peter Hatcher feel like a fourth grade nothing. Whether Fudge is throwing a temper tantrum in a shoe store, smearing mashed potatoes on the walls at Hamburger Heaven, or trying to fly, he’s never far from trouble. He’s an almost three-year-old terror who gets away with everything, and Peter’s had it up to here!When Fudge walks off with Dribble, Peter’s pet turtle, it’s the last straw. Peter has put up with Fudge for too long. Way too long! How can he get his parents to pay attention to him for a change?

Thoughts:

I read a lot of Judy Blume’s middle grade reads when I was younger, so I was delighted to see the first book in the Fudge series appear on our list of children’s books for 2018. It was a very nostalgic read that I think stands the test of time and is definitely readable to children now.

Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing is all about Peter and his annoying brother who they call Fudge. Fudge is definitely an annoying brother, he manages to wreck nearly everything in his path. He also has their mother exactly where he wants her. Peter feels like Fudge gets away with everything and it frustrates him.

Fudge made me laugh with the escapades he gets himself into. I remember loving this series as a child. I did end up feeling sorry for Peter. I didn’t like how Peter got the blame sometimes for not watching him properly. Fudge got away with so much! I wanted to shake the parents and get them to discipline their child. Perhaps that’s just the adult (and teacher!) in me that has thought too much about the action of the parents. For children, like I did, I’m sure they’ll find Fudge’s actions so funny to read about.

For Beth’s wonderful review, check out her blog HERE.

Next up in Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (October):
Nightbirds on Nantucket-Joan Aiken