The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club (The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club #1)

The Polar Bear Explorers' Club

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from Faber and I’ve purchased a copy!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer – tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk – but Stella really, really didn’t want that to happen, just the same.

Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages . . .

When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?

Thoughts:

I have loved Alex Bell’s adult and YA books. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out The Ninth Circle and Jasmyn please give them a go. They’re amazing and so underrated, in my opinion. I was super excited to pick up The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. It’s such an exciting story that I believe will pull children in and keep them engaged throughout the story.

Its plot is fast paced and so easy to read. The reader follows a group of young explorers on a quest to find the coldest part of the Icelands as they are separated from their parents. It’s such a fun read. I couldn’t help turning the pages. I practically binge read this book, completely captivated by the story.

The main characters Stella, Shay, Beanie and Ethan were so well written. I immediately liked them, especially Stella. What a wonderful protagonist! I loved how she was such a strong female character. We need more of those in middle grade literature. I also appreciated how she was allowed to go on the adventure after it being notoriously males only. Her relationship with Felix (who she saw as a father) was heart-warming. I absolutely adored the character of Beanie. Such a sweet character that took everything literally. It reminded me of a few children that I teach!

Talking about teaching, I think this book would be perfect for Key Stage 2 children. There’s so much to get stuck into. I loved how descriptive the story was. This book really is jam packed with content. It’s both fairy tale-esque and adventurous. There are penguins, pygmy dinosaurs, cabbages…and more. I think Alex Bell has created such a wonderful world that I can see developing well as a the series continues (I assume it’s a series!)

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A gorgeous middle grade adventure!

Advertisements

Letters From The Lighthouse

Letters from the Lighthouse

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees.

Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adore Emma Carroll’s writing. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to this book any sooner, because my goodness it was amazing. It didn’t take me long to devour. As soon as I get started on an Emma Carroll book, I’m instantly gripped and Letters From The Lighthouse was no exception. I cannot recommend Emma Carroll’s books highly enough. I can’t wait to teach juniors again so I can expose them to her beautiful writing. I will, however, pass this book onto our Year 5/6 teachers, especially because their topic is going to be World War II. This book would be incredibly for those older children to explore.

Letters From The Lighthouse centres around Olive and her little brother Cliff, who are evacuated to the Devon coast after a bomb raid in London. During an air raid, their older sister Sukie goes missing. Olive finds a coded message which seems to link Sukie to Devon. Olive is determined to find out what’s going on with Sukie, but she never expects to find out what she does…

This book does have light and dark moments. I loved the lighter moments, but it was the darkness of humanity around that time that struck a chord with me. It always makes me feel so disheartened whenever I read about what Jewish people went through. I wish things had been different.

I loved the characters Emma Carroll has created. As ever, they are so well rounded and developed. There wasn’t a character that I didn’t feel for in one way or another. There are some genuinely touching moments. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as Emma is a wonderful writer, but the poignancy of this story really touched my heart.

This book may be intended for children, but it’s a pleasure for adults to read as well. It will stay with me for a while, I know that.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A simply stunning read about family, grief and tolerance!

Furthermore

Furthermore

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss

Thoughts:

I was bought this book at Christmas, by my sister and fellow book blogger, Beth. I was really excited to read it, but somehow took over 6 months to get to it. Pesky TBRs… I was super excited to read Furthermore. It looked different to the Shatter Me series and it really was. Furthermore is such a captivating, unique story and I’m thrilled that I read it.

Furthermore centres around Alice who lives in Ferenwood. In Ferenwood it is incredibly colourful and magical. Alice is different to the rest though. She lacks pigmentation so she stands out in her community. However, this isn’t the only thing wrong with Alice’s life. She’s lonely, her father has disappeared and the Surrender ceremony that happens in Ferenwood is looming. Alice’s life is about to get a whole lot more daring…

I absolutely love Tahereh Mafi’s writing. I know that some readers find her writing quite ‘flowery’ and descriptive, but I think it’s beautiful. I’m always captivated by her words and the worlds that she creates. Ferenwood is an enchanting but unusual world. I could picture it as I was reading. I’m a big fan of fairy tales, so this magical middle grade read really did tick a lot of boxes for me. I adored the magic. I thought there was a good pace to the story and a great deal of action amongst the weirdness. I can see that it would captivate many readers both younger, into YA and beyond.

As for the characters… I bloomin’ love them. Alice is so unique but lovable. I loved her sassiness. Goodness knows, I love a sassy character. Oliver took a while for me to warm to, but I enjoyed his character in the end.

I think this book will appeal to a wider age range than middle grade. There’s adventure, fantasy and sass. Surely many people would enjoy that?

Would I recommend it?:
Of course! 4.5 stars

I was worried that I’d hyped this book, but I didn’t… I was captivated right from the start!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events #2)

The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Bad Beginning

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

If you have picked up this book with the hope of finding a simple and cheery tale, I’m afraid you have picked up the wrong book altogether. The story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire children spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle, but don’t be fooled. If you know anything at all about the unlucky Baudelaire children, you already know that even pleasant events lead down the same road to misery.

In fact, within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odor, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the appearance of a person they’d hoped never to see again.

I am bound to record these tragic events, but you are free to put this book back on the shelf and seek something lighter.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

Thoughts:

I enjoyed the first book in the series, which was much darker than I had anticipated. I was looking forward to reading the next book. So many people rave about this series! I can see why. It’s a short read and it’s engaging at the same time. Reading it as an adult, some things about it frustrate me, however, I know I’d have loved it when I was younger.

In The Reptile Room we catch up with the Baudelaire children. They have been moved away from Count Olaf who we know is completely crazy. They’re now staying with a very distant relative who is obsessed with reptiles. He even has a reptile room. Just as the narrator reminds you, something awful will happen to the children… and it does!

I’m really enjoying this series. I’m hooked by the story and want to know what’s going to happen to the children. I’ve certainly been trapped by the story even if a lot of it frustrates me.

As an adult, I get frustrated with the lack of communication and support the children are receiving. I realise that’s me thinking from an adult perspective, but I can’t help being annoyed by it! As with the first book, I’m not completely sold on the constant defining of words. I understand why the narration is like this, but it still grates on me.

Despite my reservations, I’d still highly recommend this series as there’s so much to enjoy! It’s engaging, fast-paced and so easy to read.

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 (August):
Fortunately, The Milk- Neil Gaiman

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- A Snicker Of Magic

A Snicker of Magic

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.

Thoughts:

I saw this book around everywhere a few years back, but for some reason never got around to reading it. I’m pleased that we picked it for our kid-lit challenge. It’s a really cute, magical realism, middle grade read. I don’t think it will be for everyone, but I do believe so many readers will enjoy it!

A Snicker of Magic is about a girl named Felicity who sees words everywhere. She sees them above people, in the air, around the house etc. Felicity lives with her family, but they travel around a lot as her mum can’t settle down for some unknown reason. Felicity and her sister just want to call somewhere home. When they arrive in their mum’s hometown, they wonder if it’ll be the place they finally settle down in. The town has history. It used to contain magic, and some residents believe it still contains ‘a snicker of magic’. As Felicity gets to know the residents, she finds out there’s more to the town and her family than first meets the eye.

This story is incredibly cute. I thought it was so easy to read and the magical realism was fun. It doesn’t have major amounts of plot development, it’s more about the characters. This didn’t bother me though as I liked to read about the characters and their back story.

Natalie Lloyd’s writing is descriptive and whimsical. I think you’ll either really enjoy it or it’ll frustrate you. It really depends on your taste. I think it’s so worth checking out though!

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

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Reading next in Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (May):
The Sea of Monsters- Rick Riordan

George

George

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not….

Thoughts:

I had heard SO much about this book from fellow bloggers that I just knew I had to check it out. I was immediately pulled into George’s story. It’s such an engaging, touching read that I do highly recommend. I can totally see why so many people love it!

The story centres around George who identifies as a girl. At school, they’ve been studying Charlotte’s Web, they’re going to perform the story and George is desperate to be Charlotte. George’s love of the book helps her to show everyone that she identifies as a girl. In George’s eyes, she is a girl, she just has to make everyone else aware of that.

I loved George’s friendship with Kelly. Kelly just accepted George for who she was which was absolutely heart-warming. This book felt realistic to me, because it did have hard moments within it. Everything wasn’t easily accepted and I imagine that’s true to George’s situation. George’s mother wasn’t accepting to begin with and I feel like this is how it could possibly be for many that identify as transgender.

Another thing that I really loved about this book, was that George did feel 10 years old. The writing was incredibly lovely and simplistic. It really felt like I was living George’s life as he struggled with his identity. She was so brave! I think it’s such an inspiring story.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An inspiring story which I think is truly wonderful!

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