The Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers Diary of Pig

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By Emer Stamp

“Hello.

Me I is Pig. I is big and pink (sometimes a bit brown if I has been rolling in mud). My best friend Duck says I has stopped growing; that I has reached my maximum size. But I don’t think this is true. I is sure when I eats a lot I gets a bit bigger and when I don’t eat so much. I gets a little bit smaller.”

Pig is Back!

Pig is back and he’s on hilarious form in this, his fourth diary in the bestselling series by Emer Stamp. Action and adventure await young readers as Pig finds himself faced once again with those most dastardly of book villains, the Evil Chickens. Stitched up by the atrocious avians and forced to leave the farm, Pig’s life takes a Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers turn that kids will thoroughly enjoy. Old friends and new join in with the fun, farts and frolics as Pig faces danger (and chickens) in order to save the day.

A Poster from Pig’s Website!

A Book With Style

With cracking characters, surprising plot turns and fab illustrations, The Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers Diary of Pig is certainly a book with style. Open it up and you’ll see something different with each turn of the page. Fonts are easy to access and change for each character, which makes for exciting reading. Emer Stamp understands what kids want from a funny book and delivers it impeccably; every teacher looking to inspire reading for pleasure should have a set of her books in their classroom. Also, do check out Emer Stamp’s Pig website- it is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT: there are so many great resources and things to explore. Here it is.

Children across the middle grade age range will love Pig not only for his adventures, but also for his impressive variety of farts which are described in gratifyingly specific detail. I just hope somewhere out there there’s a primary school teacher who’s prepared to take the leap and make this a class reader alongside the science topic ‘The Digestive System’. That would be just too wonderful.

GIVEAWAY!

The Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers Diary of Pig is an absolute corker of a book and you can win not just this little beauty but the whole series by following the blog tour on Twitter and retweeting my review. Good luck!

Thanks very much to Scholastic UK for sending me this copy of The Big, Fat, Totally Bonkers Diary of Pig and for asking me to be part of the blog tour.


I Can Only Draw Worms by Will Mabbitt

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Pure genius, right here people!

I Can Only Draw Worms

I Can Only Draw Worms, suitable for children aged three years and over, is very cool indeed. It’s a picture book, a counting book and a very funny adventure about ten worms. As the narrator confesses, he can only draw worms- so we are told this is what the book is about. A brilliant idea which translates into a book that will have the grown ups laughing just as much as the kids.

Never Mind the Molluscs…

With an eye mugging colour combination of yellow and pink- more usually associated with a certain well-known punk album- I Can Only Draw Worms demands attention and wholly deserves it. Will Mabbitt manages to give counting to ten an anarchic wit rarely seen and much appreciated here. I’m loving the chaotic colouring of the worms themselves and the somewhat unexpected personalities attributed to them. I’m looking at you Worm Four.

…Invertebrates are Truly Great!

See the worms engage in adventure and risk mild peril along the way. I Can Only Draw Worms is not just a lovely book but also very good value: it provides a great way of getting kids enjoying counting with the Brucie Bonus of also beginning to see the wonder of reading for pleasure. And what could possibly be better than that?

I Can Only Draw Worms: as outre a picture book about worms as I have ever read; a triumph and a joy and you’ll love it.

 


Uncle Shawn and Bill and…

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…the Almost Entirely Unplanned Adventure

By A.L. Kennedy

Illustrated by Gemma Correll

An excellent book, but apparently not enjoyed by whippets.

“Badger Bill was having a very bad evening, maybe the worst of his life. He was stuck inside a bag. “

“Meanwhile, on the dark side of an incredibly rainy hill, four llamas were trying to find shelter.”

“”Meanwhile, an extremely tall and quite thin person called Uncle Shawn was sitting near the river. His lanky arms were folded round his gangly, big legs at around about the height of his bony, big knees, which were tucked up under his chin. He was wearing no socks because he had given his last pair to a young squirrel who wanted to play at camping and use it as a sleeping bag.”

Uncle Shawn and Bill (and Some Llamas)

Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Almost Entirely Unplanned Adventure is the first book in a brand new series from Walker Books sure to go down a storm with humour loving readers aged seven years plus. The first three chapters (or sections) each introduce a character or group of characters, as shown in the quotes above, and the story takes us on their adventures which are linked by the magnificent and heroic (and ever so slightly dishevelled) Uncle Shawn.

Having pretty much snorted with laughter throughout my own reading, I’m really keen to spread the love with Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Almost Entirely Unplanned Adventure. It’s a pure pleasure: thoroughly heart-warming with a fun and exciting plot and everything a class reader should be. It conveys the joy of a really great story. Kids will care about the characters and want to know what happens next and adults will enjoy A.L. Kennedy’s rather nifty turns of phrase.  Gemma Correll’s illustrations are blooming brilliant and perfectly suited to the story. I could have photographed so many for this review, but in the end I chose this beauty:

Grinning Cheesily

Other illustrations you can look forward to include depictions of the differences between good and bad adventures, a mean looking man in a rubber suit carrying a bucket of hot porridge with bananas and raspberries, and also a friend with soup. As I say, blooming brilliant.

I’m delighted that Uncle Shawn and Bill is part of a new series as I can’t wait to see what they get up to next. A book that’s sure to stick a big, cheesy grin on everyone’s face!

 


Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans

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Book seen here with terrifying Easter Bunny

“It began on a Friday, as strange things often do.”

Who Let the Gods Out

Elliot’s worries are very much grounded in the real world. His mum isn’t well and whilst Elliot is trying to hold everything together, the money problems keep coming. If he doesn’t find £20,000 in exactly one week they will be turfed out of their farm for good with nowhere to go.

But sometimes life surprises you with a bolt from the blue.

(Or a constellation.)

Possibly the last thing Elliot was expecting to land in their cowshed was Virgo: a young immortal from Elysium, on Earth to deliver ambrosia to a prisoner kept by the Gods near his home. Specifically, under Stonehenge. Thrown together by fate, they join forces but when the delivery goes wrong and the pair accidentally release Thanatos, diabolical Daemon of Death, things get a bit dicey. With the whole of the human race under threat, it’s time to get the big guns involved. Enter Zeus and a cast of Gods like you’ve never seen them before.

MG Roller Coaster

Who Let the Gods is a substantial MG roller coaster of an adventure.  It’s a big story- over 350 pages- and is packed full of action and humour. It’s properly roll around on the floor can’t get your breath funny. The characters are varied and hilarious. For example:

Charon the ferryman crossing passengers over the river Styx is genius, a kind of London cabbie:

“Right-o, we’ll take the Severn- the Wye’s murder this time of day.”

And Zeus, retired for the past 2000 years. An ageing Lothario, schmoozing mortal women and having a blast:

“…he was rather surprised to find Zeus in a badly fitting light-blue tuxedo with a frilly shirt, holding a cheese and ham vol-au-vent. The long white hair was there, albeit badly slicked back with hair gel. And it wasn’t a strapping chest bursting out so much as a gigantic belly.”

Then there’s Sisyphus, who I’m pleased to report has a lisp. Thithyphuth.

I’ll leave you to discover the episode with Her Maj the Queen; sufficed to say it’s rather surprising!

Reader Response

Whether it’s a main character or a brief encounter, the attention given to reader response is second to none. This is why I’d love to teach it and see those reactions first hand. If I were sharing this with a class, I’d have a whale of a time. I’d be going all out with drama, role play, anything to get the children up and enjoying the pure joy Who Let the Gods Out gives. Fun and learning, together at last!

Who Let the Gods Out is the first part of a series and I’m very much looking forward to the next book, out in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 


The Bookshop Girl by Sylvia Bishop

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Illustrated by Ashley King

The Bookshop Girl, with…

…and without whippet

Property Jones

Property Jones loves books. The smell, the feel of the pages, the little differences between them. She understands almost everything about them. Everything that it, except the words. Property Jones has a secret: she can’t read.

Property has managed to keep this secret despite living in a bookshop, the one she was abandoned in at the age of five. You see, Property’s parents left her there and disappeared. She was found by Michael Jones, a logical thinker, who seeing that Property was lost promptly put her in the lost property cupboard. Hence the name.

Six years later, Property, Michael and his mum, bookshop owner Netty, live there as a family. Times are hard but a competition to own the prestigious Montgomery’s Emporium of Reading Delights might just solve all their problems. They enter and await the outcome…

(But why is such a famous and esteemed bookshop simply being given away as a prize? Surely there must be a catch?)

Join Property and the Jones as they enter the most marvellous bookshop ever invented, tangle with some very bad baddies (BOOOO!) and spend time  with a really grumpy cat.

High Adventure

This is high adventure in gorgeously imaginative settings. The narrative is lovely: the book begins and ends with a chapter communicated directly to the reader which makes it a bit different. Sylvia Bishop has great warmth in her style and I enjoyed it very much. I’m sure that children will love it too.

The Bookshop Girl is a really fun mystery. It creates amazing images in the reader’s head that will be remembered long after the last page has been turned. This is a book to be read again and again, each time enjoying favourite parts and taking something new.

The text is nicely spaced out which will help give young readers a bit of room to take the story in. It’s illustrated (as all really good books are) throughout and Ashley King has done a brilliant job visually all the characters and exciting scenes. The Bookshop Girl has it all. It’s a wonderful choice for children aged seven years plus.

 

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this copy.


Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

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Piranhas, Bananas and Whippet

“Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?

What’s wrong with you Brian? You’re a piranha.”

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas

Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys was one of my favourite children’s books last year because every kid I lent it to ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. At the upper end of Key Stage Two, finding a book that your whole class want to take home and read doesn’t happen every day, so understandably I’m a big fan of Aaron Blabey’s work. Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas has a similar feel and will go down really well with younger children because like The Bad Guys, it does funny very well indeed.

Bananas Are Not the Only Fruit

Yes, Brian the piranha likes bananas, but they’re not the only fruit recommended here. Brian knows that in order to get the other piranhas to eat something other than meat, he’s going to have to offer a few tasty alternatives. But much as he tries to tempt with bananas, plums, apples, melons, all that good stuff, what they really would prefer to be eating is….bums. There’s a strong bum theme going on here and that’s got to be a good thing.

Look- he has eyebrows!

Told in rhyming couplets, it’s a shining example of why kids love Aaron Blabey’s books: it’s not too wordy but still tells a fabulously funny story. Also, as you can see, the accompanying illustrations are fantastic. Backgrounds are left white so those piranhas really are the stars of the show, eyeballing the reader rather menacingly and looking like they’re about to swim off the page towards you.

Piranhas, Bums and Belly Laughs

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas is a top choice and a guaranteed kid pleaser. Best bought alongside The Bad Guys as the piranha theme continues. A wonderful book for younger children (and adults) who like a good giggle!

 

Thanks to Scholastic for sending me this copy.


Superbat by Matt Carr

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“Is it a BIRD?

Is it a PLANE?

Er… I think it’s a BAT in a funny little costume!”

Superbat

Pat the bat is having trouble sleeping. Bored of being a normal bat, he wants to be more like the superheroes in his comics. Pat is the kind of bat who has an idea and acts upon it. He gets things done, has a cup of tea and then he does a bit more.

The other bats question that his super powers aren’t actually all that super, being as all bats have them. Although his ears flop a little with sadness, Pat picks himself up, takes his skills and uses them for good! Check out his antics for yourself, enjoy his story and learn more about bats along the way.

A Book with Style

Hands down the most super bat I have encountered in children’s literature with the most super art work; this is a book with style. Some proper colour genius is going on here: we have teal and red and mustard and together they are magnificent. A book that provides not only excellent design but also offers new colourway combinations for the wardrobe as we sashay into spring. What could possibly be better?

Just this: the best aspect of Superbat for me is the message it sends out to young readers that we can all do extraordinary things. What seems ordinary to a bat is extraordinary to us and what we take as normal can provide us with the means to do achieve wonderful outcomes. We can all be amazing with or without the cape. Preferably with though.

We could learn a lot from Pat the Bat. We too can be heroes.

Superbat is full-on, important, technicolour joy.

 

Thanks Scholastic for sending me this lovely book!

 

 


Potion Commotion by Peter Bently & Sernur Isik

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potion-commotion

” The brew had gone barmy!

What hullaballoo!

Soon the whole cottage 

was filled up with goo.”

Halloween Hullaballoo

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any book containing the word ‘hullaballoo’ must be held in great esteem, so I am delighted to be sharing one with you today. Potion Commotion, written by Peter Bently and illustrated by Sernur Isik, is an explosion of joy and delight for younger readers delivered in time for Halloween.

Free Spirit

Betty’s mum is off to the shops. Before she goes she warns Betty to stay indoors as there’s a dragon about and also tells her that once she returns she’ll cook a nice stew for dinner. However, as an independently minded young thing (with lots of marvellous free-spirited curly hair), Betty decides cooking looks easy and has a go at making the stew herself. As Betty and her mum are witches, anything could happen…

Potion Commotion!

Children will adore Betty and her adventuring as she creates the stew (pleasingly free-form), then loses control of it as it grows and grows and gushes through the town, and finally as she comes face to face with the dragon her mum warned her about. The story is told as a poem so it’s a pleasure to read either alone or out loud, as you wish. Reading aloud does allow opportunity for doing a dragon impression though- something I’d strongly recommend you don’t pass up on.

The artwork packs a punch and every page brings another burst of colour- just the thing to light up these dark nights. The pictures add to the narrative, as all the best picture books do, and you’ll be spotting new details with every read.

Potion Commotion: more fun than fireworks and definitely a favourite for Halloween!

 

Big thanks to Scholastic for sending me this lovely book.

 

 

 


The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan

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Extra credit goes to those who can see the whippet's nose in this picture. Chocolate & dogs shouldn't really mix...

Extra credit goes to those who can see the whippet’s nose in this picture. Well spotted!

” ‘In six days there will be no more chocolate in the world…ever!’

That’s what it said on The Seven Show.

Jelly had nearly reached the next level of Zombie Puppy Dash, but hearing this made her plunge the pink puppy into a huge tank of zombie dog food.”

The Great Chocoplot

The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan is a real winner for children seven years plus who like their stories on the lively side.

Both truly funny and imaginatively written, it’s going to tick the boxes for so many readers out there, and maybe even create a few new ones. This is another example of the kind of cracking (sorry) books coming from Chicken House at the minute and if you haven’t already, you should check out their range. Immediately. Well, in a minute.

Chocopocalypse!

After the announcement on The Seven Show that the chocopocalypse is quickly approaching, Jelly (yes I know, it is an awesome name isn’t it?) and her Gran put their heads together to try and get to the bottom of it. Obviously, plot-wise, there aren’t many things as potentially devastating as no more chocolate ever, but with Gran and Jelly on our side we unravel a wonderful mystery of global impact played out with local heart.

We take Jelly to our hearts straight away. On the surface she’s a regular girl from an ordinary family living in a normal town just like yours, but we all know really that there’s no such thing as ‘average’ or ‘ordinary’ and everyone is unique and special. Jelly is sparky, clever and a joy to read about.

Shout Out to all the Grandparents

A big shout out has to go to Gran: a caravan-dwelling, headphone-wearing, scientific icon for our times in my opinion, and Jelly loves her. I also loved Grandad, who we don’t meet as he is no longer with us, but who is described in such a beautiful way. I like this. It’s a little detail that will mean a lot to a lot of children.

Kids who’ve previously enjoyed the stories of Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Roald Dahl and David Walliams are going to click with The Great Chocoplot straight away; others will be drawn in by Sandra Navarro’s fabulous cover and will stay for the ride. A true Books-a-Go-Go book of glory and a feast of fun for young ‘uns everywhere!

 


Mr Mustachio

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By Yasmin Finch & Abigail Tompkins

mr-mustachio

” As Mr Mustachio marches down the street, his extra long, super-duper, curly-wurly moustache flies wildly in the wind, and he smiles with pride.”

Enamoured

Mr Mustachio is a funny and original picture book that the whole family will love.

Mr Mustachio has excellent taste. Who doesn’t love a man in a full length camel coat and a Cuban heel? His moustache is also quite the thing: very long and curly and something he is quite rightly proud of. As you can tell, I’m quite enamoured by him.

When the story begins, all is going well for our fuzzy friend. It’s a lovely day and he’s off for a picnic at the local park. Then disastrously, a freak roundabout accident spells the end for Mr Mustachio’s beloved soup strainer as it becomes irreparably tangled…

Tangled

Many kind souls try to help him untangle his whiskers, but without success. We have one super strong girl, two clever boys and ten tall teachers amongst the volunteers. (I love the detail in the illustration of the teachers who all wear lanyards, quite rightly.) The moustache, tragically, must be removed.

Although his moustache is a thing of the past, Mr Mustachio will not be beaten.

An alternative for his nose neighbour must be found and Mr Mustachio has lots of wonderful and hilarious ideas that are revealed in the story. What would you go for?

Inspired!

This book is a total hoot and kids are of course going to love it. Adults and children reading together will not only enjoy the story but will also have fun imagining who else might have come to help Mr Mustachio and what other crazy alternatives they can think of for his missing moustache.

I’m sure teachers will be excited by the possibilities presented here for creating imaginative ways to encourage writing for pleasure, as well as the reading for pleasure that this story will inspire.

Again, like The Libearian which I recently reviewed, this is an excellent book  for adults to have a dialogue with children about, whilst enjoying a wonderful story – how great is that?

As Mr Mustachio would say, fantabulous!

 

Thanks to Maverick for sending me this cracking book!