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.

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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

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

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries #1)

Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place . . . and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about this book, so I was very happy when it was picked to go on our kid-lit choices. You might think… murder? Surely that’s not middle grade… but it truly is aimed at a younger audience than YA. I thought it was a fabulous, sweet read that was incredibly easy to read. It almost had a Nancy Drew vibe to it, but funnier.

Murder Most Unladylike centres around Hazel and Daisy. They both go to Deepdean School For Girls which is a boarding school in England. They set up a Detective Agency and have been investigating pretty trivial crimes until the point when Hazel comes across the body of one of her teachers, Miss Bell. It is then that Hazel and Daisy decide to investigate the murder. They gather evidence and have a suspect list, but will they get to the bottom of it?

I thought this book was incredibly engaging. I can imagine many children getting really engrossed with the story. I loved how the characters were intelligent, they went about collecting their evidence in a logical way! I also loved how their friendship wasn’t straight-forward. Daisy could be a little overpowering and they did have arguments which was perfectly realistic for girls of their age!

The only reason I didn’t give this book 4 stars is that for some children, I think some of the topics covered would be a bit too much. I’m not saying they shouldn’t read it, but it’s definitely something to think about.

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 (August):
The Creakers- Tom Fletcher

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