Picture Book Perfect

I want to highlight some truly lovely picture books that I have had the immense joy of reading recently. Luckily, some have arrived as physical copies, though I am still able to enjoy the books that arrive digitally as well.

Five More Minutes, written and illustrated by Marta Altés, published by Macmillan

An adorable story about Dad, raising two boisterous fox cubs. Time is always an issue- it either ticks by too quickly or drags on too slowly. Dad wants five more minutes of sleep, the cubs want more time to play yet at the end of the day, they are all happy to share five more minutes of storytime.

This book celebrates all that happens in the day of a parent and reminds us to share “five more minutes” of time with our children. I am in awe of Marta’s talents as both author and illustrator. The illustrations are gorgeously detailed and full of clues to the busy-ness of the home- from drawings on the wall and toys scattered along the floor. Reading this should remind us to slow down and enjoy moments together.

I Can Catch a Monster, written and Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin, Published by Macmillan.

Woollvin’s distinctive artwork fills the pages of this story of bravery and monsters. Bo is small but mighty, left behind by her brothers on their quest to catch a monster. Bo knows she “is smart and brave and strong” so she too goes in search of a monster.

Monster hunting takes a twist as Bo befriends monsters instead of hunting them, and we learn who the true monsters are towards the end of the story. Bo’s brothers learn never to underestimate the bravery of Bo and her incredible kindness towards monsters. There are so many positive messages to explore in this book.

Bloom, written by Anne Booth, illustrated by Robyn Wilson-Owen, published by Tiny Owl.

Bloom is the beautiful tale of a young girl, happy and thankful for the world around her. She is particularly fond of a pink flower near her school. She talks to it every morning until the man who owns the bloom chases her away.

When the flower starts to droop and lilt, the mans frustrations grow and he blames the gardener, lack of shade, not enough water. It takes him awhile to realise that the key to the flower blooming has been chased away. Finally seeking advice, it is not only the plant that comes back to life. A charming and endearing story full of stunning illustrations.

Animal Explorers, Lola the Plant Hunter. Written and Illustrated by Sharon Rentta, published by Scholastic.

Lola is “a bear on a mission”, determined to sail to the Amazon Rainforest in search of singing orchids. Her grandpa Reggie was an intrepid explorer and Lola wants to follow in his footsteps. She gets ready for her adventure, though all the Arctic animals think she is silly.

Her adventures are captured in her diary every evening just like her Grandpa. The jungle is loud, hot and full of amazing plants and animals. When a mudslide takes Lola and the jungle animals on a ride, she is pleasantly surprised to hear a special sound. Could it be she found the singing orchid after all? This adventure is just the beginning for Lola…where will she go to next? Colourful and delightful illustrations fill the pages!

Picture Book Perfect- Digital Edition

With plenty of books being sent digitally, I have been lucky enough to read and enjoy the the following titles. Whether via Netgalley or sent in PDF by the publishers, these books are worth celebrating.

This is the Path the Wolf Took, Written by Laura Farina, Illustrated by Elina Ellis, Published by Kids Can Press

Gabe, being a brilliant big brother, is retelling some favourite traditional tales to his little sister. However, in his versions of the story, nothing bad ever happens. The big bad wolf does not eat Granny or blow down the pigs’ homes, instead Sir Gabriel dashes in on his trusty steed and scares the wolf away.

“His armour was made of truth, his shield was made of glory and his sword was made of courage”. This line sums Sir Gabriel up perfectly. He is ready to scare the wolf away each time. However, Little Sister is not at all pleased with Gabe’s versions of the stories.

Can brave Sir Gabe save the story and entice his sister back for story time? He will need the power of his imagination, twists and funny endings but I think they might just work. I adored this story, it is perfect for reading aloud and sparking imaginations.

Meesha Makes Friends, written and Illustrated by Tom Percival, published by Bloomsbury.

Tom Percival’s Big Bright Feelings series is an amazing set of books featuring children of all ages and races learning about themselves, their emotions and building their confidence. Stunning stories and pages full of gorgeous illustrations, these books are a must have for every home and school.

Subtle messages are communicated via the story that most children can relate to. This series will build empathy, self confidence and positive self image in all children.

Meesha, a young girl, has talent with making items from paper, She can make things from sound and pictures, but making friends does not come as easily as her designs. Left out and introverted, Meesha decides to make her own friends, and they go with her to a party. For Meesha, this is a scary event and she ends up playing with her “friends” under the stairs, Spotted by a boy, Meesha is worried he will tease her or break her toys. Can she be brave and allow a real friend in?

A wonderful story full of heart and hope, brilliant for those formative years in school where learning to share and make friends is the whole world.

My Best Friend, written and Illustrated by Rob Hodgson, published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

I am a huge fan of Rob Hodgson and was actually on the panel that selected The Cave as Booktrust’s book for all children in reception. It was not a hard choice and I can see this one being as equally well received.
Delightfully illustrated and with bold vibrant colours I can’t wait to get a physical copy to share with children.

Mouse finds himself a best friend….Owl. As we read we can see that Owl really just wants to eat Mouse. Mouse happily believes that Owl is doing nice things for him- like feeding him donuts, playing chase and building a cage for his house.

When Mouse finds himself in a dark tunnel, he hopes Owl will come to rescue him- where could Mouse possibly be?

This brilliant book will make children giggle, laugh and want to protect Mouse- will there be a happy ending?

Buy this book- I can guarantee it will bring a smile to plenty of faces.

Mr Brown’s Bad Day, written by Lou Peacock, illustrated by Alison Friend, Published by Nosy Crow.

I have long been wanting to read this. The cover is so colourful and enticing. Who can resist a tiger in a suit after all?

Mr Brown is a “very important business man” and he has a “very important briefcase”. Leaving the office for lunch with his briefcase, he cannot guess the adventure he will have. When the case gets passed accidentally around town, Mr Brown must chase it! Mr Brown is having a bad day.

It is clear how important this briefcase is, and as the reader, we wonder what important documents are in there! Colourful and bold illustrations make this book stand out and the story is wonderful.

I cannot possibly say what is kept in the briefcase but it was worth the chase for Mr Brown. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for him.

#MGTakesonThursday

Hosted and Designed by Mary Simms on her Book Craic Blog
https://bookcraic.blog/2020/04/09/new-feature-mgtakesonthursday/

Every Thursday, the aim is to promote the brilliant middle grade books we all love so much! There are a few steps needed to participate…

Post a picture of a front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.

Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence from that page. Choose three words to describe the book. Share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

I have recommended some firm favourites and through reading other blogs, have added a considerable number of books to my TBR pile. It is getting harder to decide which to highlight each week as there are so many brilliant books, authors and illustrators I want to shout about.

Written by J.M. Carr, Published by The Cindy Press

This book in three words: Friendship, Danger, WWII

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

“Before you could say Jack Robinson, she’d made an
about-turn, leaped into the road, picked up the spuds,
rubbed them clean on her cardy and balanced them back
on the display.”

Please follow the link below to my full review! Book 2 coming soon!

https://myshelvesarefull.wordpress.com/2019/09/07/the-wonder-girls-by-j-m-carr/

Meet the Gatekeepers- Marie-Louise Patton from Faber!

Marie-Louise kindly answered my questions for my Meet the Gatekeepers feature. I want to keep the answers on my main blog page as they are so brilliant and the diverse answers from each publicist is guiding me on my blogging journey!

How did you get your start in the publishing industry?

I completed an MA in Publishing Media at Oxford Brookes University which
helped me gain a wide understanding of the industry as a whole. I also took
every opportunity I could, be that doing work experience at Penguin Random
House or wearing an Elmer suit for the London Book Fair 2019 as a volunteer. 

What is the most interesting part of your job? 

My job is always interesting! Working with a wide range of people is a highlight; from agents, to authors, journalists and booksellers…I especially love seeing a book I really
adored receiving great press and reviews. It’s really rewarding. 

What are the challenges of your role? 

 A lot of my job is out with my control and changes are happening constantly. We are always kept busy!

Describe a typical day or are no two days alike? 

No two days are the same! Sometimes, I will be at my desk all day answering emails and the following day I could be out with an author at events. This is one of my favourite parts of my job, it’s always varied and exciting.  

Tips for Book Bloggers? 

My tips for Book Bloggers would be to write a great pitch email. We receive countless emails from bloggers on a day-to-day basis. Why should you review this book? I know you love to read, we all do – that’s why we’re in this industry. I’d like to read an email that
makes me excited to send you the book and read your review – not something that
is just copy and pasted.   

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy, a fabulous classic that I discovered only quite recently. A tale of a twenty-year-old woman with pink hair on a jaunt through Paris in the 50s. It’s divine. I also just finished reading the incredible Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa which is shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, it’s completely brilliant and
what I feel to be a must read! I loved every second… 

Dragon Mountain by Katie and Kevin Tsang

Written by Katie and Kevin Tsang
Published by Simon and Schuster

This is one of the most anticipated reads of 2020, and the proof alone is a thing of beauty. Covered in shiny golden dragon scales, along with the title, it is no spoiler that dragons feature in this epic tale.

When Billy lands in China to attend a summer camp to improve his mandarin skills, he cannot possibly dream of what his summer actually holds in store for him.

As Billy and his new camp mates sit around the fire on their first evening at Dragon Mountain camp, they are hooked on the legend of the mountain they sit in the shadow of. The legend is being shared by Old Gold, leader of the camp. He also explains that the 12 children in front of him are the brightest and best, nominated to attend this camp, where not only will they upgrade their Mandarin speaking skills but will learn martial arts, cooking and will test themselves throughout the summer.

The camp mates are split into teams and these teams need to work and live together to win challenges and gain rewards. Billy, Dylan, Charlotte and Ling are teamed up and must work together to solve the first riddle given. This riddle leads them off the beaten track to find dragon fruit, but there they encounter a far scarier scene, a tiger. Little do the foursome know they have just met part of the legend told their first night in camp. However, running for safety back to camp, they are dismayed to find no one believes them, and they are punished for lying.

Bewildered at the reaction, the foursome must travel back to find Ling’s lost jewellery. They learn then that Old Gold’s legend is truth.

It turns out, the Tiger is the curse keeper and he must be defeated to gain access to the mountain. Hidden within the mountain are dragons, who can only be saved by the perfect balance of heart and bravery…aka….Billy, Dylan, Charlotte and Ling.

The foursome battle their way to the dragons and learn that a bond must be formed between dragon and human. Powers are gifted and allies formed. The dragons are amazing, all vastly different with their own blend of magical abilities, powers and image.

I always try to avoid spoilers and so in doing that, I cannot reveal certain important details….what you need to know Is that this is an incredible story, an epic journey and there are some brilliant twists and surprises along the way.

At times I was shocked, frightened, emotional but I was always full of hope. I loved the characters, and their hugely different personalities. I worried they would argue and fight more but the war they are raging is far more important. Their bonds of friendship are strengthened, and they learn to trust in new ways.

I was so thrilled to be able to read this via NetGalley, and am NEEDING book 2 as the twist and cliffhanger ending has left me wanting more dragons, more legends and more answers!

#MGTakesOnThursday

Hosted and Designed by Mary Simms on her Book Craic Blog
https://bookcraic.blog/2020/04/09/new-feature-mgtakesonthursday/

Every Thursday, the aim is to promote the brilliant middle grade books we all love so much! There are a few steps needed to participate…

Post a picture of a front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.

Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence from that page. Choose three words to describe the book. Share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

I have recommended some firm favourites and through reading other blogs, have added a considerable number of books to my TBR pile. It is getting harder to decide which to highlight each week as there are so many brilliant books, authors and illustrators I want to shout about.

Written by Ben Guterson, Illustrations by Chloe Bristol
Published by Square Fish, An Imprint of Macmillan

This book in Three Words! Puzzles, Family, Secrets

Page 11- Favourite Sentence– “She especially loved anagrams, and had already mentally rearranged the letters on the advertising sign at the front of the bus- Fred Daul Transport- to Dreadful Torn Parts”

I discovered this series of books while browsing bookstores in Canada last summer. Immediately drawn to the cover and the following words on the cover; “A lavish hotel, A family secret, A book of puzzles and a veil of magic…”- It was an instant buy and I have since bought the 2nd and will buy the third as well.

Elizabeth is an orphan living with Aunt Purdy and Uncle Burlap. She is shipped off, alone, to the Winterhouse Hotel. Once there, she discovers the hotel is charming, full of a huge library, kind people and puzzles to solve. As she learns about the hotel and its secrets, she discovers a deep connection to the hotel and its mysterious owner, Norbridge Falls.

I loved this book and discovering the secrets of Elizabeth, Norbridge and the hotel!!

I highly recommend the entire series!

Life of Riley, Beginner’s Luck by Simon James Green

Written by Simon James Green
Published by Scholastic UK

Riley has been cursed by a fortune teller, after an unfortunate sneezing episode. He is convinced that a terrible curse is the reason behind all that goes wrong in his life.

There are some hilarious, laugh out loud moments involving glue, flooding bathtubs and dive bombing seagulls. It all happens to Riley- until Brad arrives. Brad is the glossy new kid in town and Riley is keen to be his friend.

In a moment of clarity, Riley remembers the fortune teller, before the curse, saying that “a young man will have a huge impact on you”. Now Brad is the good luck charm to Riley’s misfortunes, or so Riley believes.

Is it just coincidence that nothing bad happens while Brad is around? In order to prove his theory, Riley all but stalks Brad to ensure his safety. With some elements of a more mature book, it is easy to forget that Riley and Brad are only 10.

Simon James Green has created a brilliant middle grade book full of hilarious disasters that plaque a young boy. He is a charming, endearing character and one I was rooting for throughout the book.