The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett

A third Emily Gravett review after Wolves and Tidy is being to look like an obsession, which to fair it is!

The Odd Egg is a delightful joy to share with children.  The multi-linked pages seen above remind me so much of the Hungry Caterpillar as each page builds towards the final reveal (Spoiler alert – It’s not a bird!).  Each bird is beautifully illustrated by Emily and even the individual eggs appear to be characters in their own right.

Without doubt, this has to be my favourite page turn as I love to loudly SNAP and what the reactions of an engrossed group of children.  Even the lovely final scene makes me smile and shows that not all families are the same.

Now for the teacher bit.  The great part of this story is the array of feathered friends on show.  Children could explore the different types of birds seen in the book.  The egg laying is a fantastic starting point for science lessons based life cycles and even the open ended question of ‘Which other animals lay eggs?’ is ideal for older children to research from.

I’ll leave you with this link that shows the sheer enjoyment this book brings.

Stars Wars: The Force Awakens

51lwAItnlfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Ok, a confession is required with this book.  As much as I love the Star Wars films, I haven’t dipped my toe into the wider universe of TV series or books.  Even my love of comics has had very few Star Wars centered additions, yet what it has had is plenty from Greg Rucka.  I adore his work in comics (plenty to name but I’ll let you find out yourself) and this is what led to picking up Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Ideal introduction to Sci-fi for younger readers due to the fact it is three short stories based on the characters from the latest Star Wars films.  I for one enjoyed the first story based on Finn’s early days as a stormtrooper as it presents the unknown world of those faceless staples of Star Wars.  While training with his unit, his doubts are portrayed and this links well to what the reader (if they have seen the books) knows of Finn’s future. Greg Rucka develops the characters well and handles the dialogue, that in Sci-fi can be clunky at times due to the technology based language.

Now for the teacher bit.  A decent story that appeals due to the popular characters and being part of a huge entertainment industry giant that is Star Wars.  Any book that gets children engaged and loving reading is well worth a mention.  This maybe the story that turns that reading reluctant, yet keen Star Wars fan into  a book obsessed child.

All in all, an enjoyable book for a fan to cherish.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

81MFSpmz2gL

A blast from the past.  Not all these reviews are new releases because as we all know about book sharing, not everyone has read the books you have loved.  Artemis Fowl has a special place in my heart as I read it long ago in my days as a student teacher.  A friend whose future husband was studying computer graphics created a trailer for it, which I still have today.  Now enough old reminiscing, I have a review to crack on with.

artemis-header

As the above heading shows Artemis is a complex character.  A genius child criminal heir to a fearsome reputation and ambitious to a fault.  His plan is one of pure wonder…a heist to steal fairy technology from the secret underground world they inhabit. This labyrinth is filled with many characters such as Holly Short (Captain in the Lower Elements Recon Police) charged with stopping Artemis, the short-fused Commander Root and Mulch Diggums, a kleptomaniac dwarf with an impressively powerful jaw.  Although Holly Short is the ‘hero’, I can’t help rooting for Artemis despite him not being the most likable character (which criminal mastermind would be).  The relationship between Artemis and his bodyguard, Butler, is a highlight for me as they compliment each other so well.  Brains and brawn in a deadly combination.

The pacing of the story is swift making this an enjoyable read for young and older reader alike.  Also the imaginative aspects such as the fantastical underground world and it’s landscape and the technology that Artemis seeks are great.  Eoin Colfer proved here, along with his other books, that his Irish ideas rule.

af_logo

Now for the teacher bit.  As mentioned, the ideas that pack this book that means it is ideal for descriptive writing as strange creatures, eye-catching worlds and hi-tech weapons are there to explore.  It has also been turned into a graphic novel (much to my delight) so this means producing art is a must.  The contrast between the hulking Butler and the slight Artemis produced some outstanding art when I shared this with an upper KS2 class.

So in short, an old one that packs a punch and with 8 in the series why not give it a go.

Wigglesbottom Primary: The Toilet Ghost by Pamela Butchart

-Wigglesbottom Primary- The Toilet Ghost-6506-3

The great thing about sharing books with my daughter is the fact that she is now sharing them with me.  This recommendation comes from the little lady and I can assure you all that her taste is brilliant.

As the title suggests, this is a book that is purely for fun and it is filled with humour that kids love.  Pamela Butchhart,with a helping hand from Becka Moor, crafts her tales around the title school and the mishaps which send the children into a funny, frenzied, unwarranted over-reactions.  Three self contained stories are great for sharing with a class as the setting means that children can relate instantly.

The Toilet Ghost – What starts as a possible haunted ‘house’ story quickly descends into manic juice bans and water rations to prevent facing the ghost.  Mr Harris and his ‘I-had-an-accident’ box shorts are a highlight in the title story.  The other two stories are equally engaging so please find this book to enjoy yourself.

Now for the teacher bit.  Much like another cracking series, Dirty Bertie, these are 3 stories in one book which is great for getting readers started on denser texts without the need to commit to chapters.  Also a number of the names are fantastic examples of alliteration – Joel Jack and Miles McKay – and great for providing an example of 1st person narrative.

So lesson learnt – share brilliant books with others and the favour will be returned.

Wolves by Emily Gravett

E Wovles 2

Firstly, I have to say I can’t believe this book is 10!  More due to the fact, as mentioned in previous reviews, that Emily Gravett was an author adored by my daughter when she was much younger.

The book is pure genius! Emily Gravett using her awesome imagination to create a hybrid book with the text mostly factual information and a narrative through the illustrations.   Even the little aspects like the library card or the doormat covered with post, prove to be delightful.  The narrative is simple, like most good stories, with a rabbit engrossed in his library book while being stalked by a wolf.  I can whole-heartedly recommend this book as it great.

Now for the teacher bit.  Well as a information text it is a solid base for writing non-chronological reports and for this purpose I have used it across age ranges, either as main content or a starting point for additional research.  As well as this the ‘narrative’ could be retold with the stalking of the rabbit or the letter replying to the library regarding the over-due loan.  I used it once with Year 2 children to develop their understanding of ordering dates by using the library date stamps from the front of the book.

E Wovles

Simply fabulous! Please read and share it to keep this marvelous book in reprints.  I’ll leave you with this fantastic link about how Emily created this little wonder.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket

dark

Lemony Snicket takes his dark style into the format of picture books with aplomb.  A simple story of a boy who is simply afraid of the dark and how he has to face that fear.  A story that every child and adult can relate to, builds the tension based on the ordinary – a set of drawers or a flight of stairs.

As mentioned in another review, I love Jon Klassen’s artwork and with this being a picture book his talents take centre stage and are a sheer joy.  The harsh lines of the stairs and the floorboards along with the use of negative space to frame images is superb.

Now for the teacher bit.  This fantastic clip shows what can be done with a well illustrated picture book: reading aloud, developing reading to build tension and ICT opportunities through animation.  It also a great story for discussing fears and ways to face them.  Due to this it would make an ideal story to share in a circle-time or in a PHSCE lesson.

A short review I know, but when the book is a simple story told so well that all I can say is seek it out and share this great book.

Welcome to your Awesome Robot

Robot1

Very few books combine different genres as well as Welcome to your Awesome Robot – part graphic novel/part instructions.  As a fan of comics, Schwarz has created something that is fun to read and even better to try.  It came into my school in a selection of books and I knew straight away it was exactly what I’d like to read so I took it home and shared it with my daughter.  Her first words ‘We have to make one’ shows how effective the text is…and that is what we did.

Awesome-Robot-21-540x707

We have all been there on Christmas day with young children and watched them open all their presents, only for them to find joy in the boxes.  This is basically the book in a nutshell – take a box and have a fantastic time making a robot.  The use of technical language e.g. BASE UNIT (box) is fun to explore and develops imagination.

Now for the teacher bit.  This is basically a DT unit in a book which could be relabeled as Welcome to your Awesome DT Unit.  I built the unit around exploring real life robots, designing the robots, exploring 3D nets for the base unit (cardboard box) and finally working in teams to make robots that were presented with oral explanations to decide on the best one.  Writing opportunities include instructions based on the robots produced and explanation texts on how it works.  Throughout the book is handy photocopier easy labels and dials that make the robots look fabulous.  All in all, it is a teacher must to buy and keep in the cupboard primed and ready.

A great book that is just fun! Share it with your class or loved ones and watch their faces filled with pride.

 

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

61-b29HpeNL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_

Place three feral children into a stately home and watch the chaos.  A basic view of this book which is far, far more than simple.  The setting allows a vast contrast to the children with stiff upper lips challenged by the odd behaviour of the wild children.  Penelope is our way into this strange situation and as the governess (teacher) to these curious creatures, we get to enjoy the wild ride as she tries to teach, care and control the Incorrigible Children.  Maryrose Wood wraps all of this in a mystery. Who are the children?  Where do they come from?  Why has the Lord taken them into his home?  This keeps the reader wanting to turn each page.

I love the contrast between the characters Lady Constance, who is indifferent to the remarkable children, and Penelope who cares deeply for them.  Both of a similar age, yet leading very different lives as master and servant.

Now for the illustrations – of late Jon Klassen has proved himself to be a fabulous artist for the darker side of children literacy.  His harsh lines and muted colours add to mystery of the origins of the children.

Now for the teacher bit.  As a teacher I find it tricky sometimes to find engaging texts with a historical angle.  I feel that this story could have been translated to modern times, so means that the historical aspect isn’t a gimmick.  The author uses direct explanation to the reader for tricky words and phrases it uses.  In this way it reminds me of the work of Lemony Snicket.  This makes it a language rich text that also provides insights into life in the past.

It is no wonder that this book has spawned a series of stories as it is well worth exploring the world more.

Nimona – Graphic Novel

Nim 3

Well what a ride that was.  As a comic geek I love graphic novels and this one was a sheer surprise.  I knew nothing about Noelle Stevenson before reading Nimona but I will be digging deeper to find more from her after reading this.  The brilliantly named Lord Ballister Blackheart is not your normal villain, although disgraced and rejected by the Institution of Law Enforcement he plays by his own moral code.  That is until Nimona enters his life and chaos ensures.

Skewering the sidekick role, this feisty female makes their partnership both manic and gentle at different times.  The author takes the time to develop the relationship of both so you care when the twists arrive.  Alongside this Noelle Stevenson explores the backstories of the main characters – Just who is Nimona?  Why is she so special?  Why on earth does she want to be a sidekick to a villain? What is Blackheart’s relationship with Goldenlion; the hero of the kingdom?  Filled with adventure, humour, mystery and fantastic artwork, I liken it in style to the popular cartoon Adventure Time in terms of style and pacing.

Nim 2

Now for the teacher bit.  No doubt if you have ever used comics as a way of teaching then turning the speech bubbles into punctuated speech is something you have already explored.  As you can see above, Nimona has quirky humour that is ideal for developing this.  It also has a high level of language for primary school children, mostly due to exposition from the newsreader.  Words such as spacious, cooperating, peculiar, epidemic, infected are all there to expand your child’s vocabulary.

Nim 1

A great read that makes you want to read the next adventure.

 

Tidy by Emily Gravett

Tidy

Now to start this review I have a confession to make, I love Emily Gravett’s work.  It was love at first read (Wolves – review to follow) and although this unrequited love remains, unknown to EG of course), it was only right that I share this with others.  She was the first author my daughter became obsessed with and we enjoyed many of her books.

On Earthday 2017 I happened to be in a local bookstore and saw Tidy.  It’s cover, with the cut out section to frame the main character, was eye-catching enough and to my delight I saw the author.  Without looking at the blurb or flicking the pages it was bought.  Once home and read I could reflect on this great story.

Pete is a badger who likes to be neat.  His mission is simple enough: clean the forest.  Like many a picture book, the tale is simple but the execution of it is not.  Pete reacts to his environment with the best intentions and does what he does best, however the outcome is not one he likes.  The layers of what changes happen and why as well as the resulting impact on the home of all the forest animals is profound.  A great read with an important message.

Now for the teacher bit.  Rhyming prose is fantastic for developing language skills so as a text to share with EYFS children it is ideal.  The use of the changing of the seasons moves the story on but provides a great link to science for KS1.  In the wider sense it could be shared with all primary age children due to the message it presents about how we treat our environment and how we can be a positive change in the world.

Well done Emily, still fabulous in my eyes.