Tag Archives: children’s fiction

The Truth According to Arthur by Tim Hopgood

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The Truth According to Arthur by Tim Hopgood and illustrated by David Tazzyman, hardback picture book, published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2016.

Arthur has had a little accident involving his brother’s bike and his mum’s car. He knows it was wrong and he really doesn’t want to get into trouble, so he has a go at bending, stretching and even ignoring the truth.

The Truth According to Arthur is a funny book about telling lies, and how the truth will usually come out. The Truth has been personified and appears beside Arthur throughout the book. When Arthur is modifying the truth, he is in fact performing that action on The Truth, which is a great visual for kids. The stories Arthur tells to cover up what has happened are very funny, as are the accompanying illustrations. I really liked the style of illustration; it was colourful, not overly busy, and conveyed the story in an appealing way for younger children.

I read The Truth According to Arthur to both of my sons, one of whom has a propensity for lying. No situation is too big or too small for him to lie about; he even lies about obvious things, such as telling us he put his toy away when it is clearly clutched in his hand… But he has his Arthur moments too. Most recently pretending to have a concussion at school because he liked the fuss and attention, and he got to come home early. So when I came across this book I thought it might be a great book to share with him. Both boys greatly enjoyed the story. It was excellent that they saw that no matter what Arthur did to The Truth, it was still there, waiting to be acknowledged fully. They also saw that when Arthur admitted the truth, his mother wasn’t too angry after all, even pleased that he had told the truth. I think this will help them to understand that telling the truth is the best strategy; there’s no need to have all the worry and upset that comes with lying.

The Truth According to Arthur is suitable for preschoolers and lower primary school children. I think it is best as a shared read with children to help encourage a discussion about being brave and telling the truth. We will be reading The Truth According to Arthur again, repeating the lesson, as I feel that it will have a positive effect on my boys.

 

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Have You Ever Seen? by Sarah Mazor

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Have You Ever Seen? by Sarah Mazor and illustrated by Abira Das, picture e-book, published by MazorBooks in 2018.

Auntie Lily has conjured up some very silly rhymes for the children before bedtime.

I believe that rhymes and rhythm are important for early literacy. Not only are they pleasant to listen to, they are also important for early speech development, and for reading and spelling later on. Silly rhymes are lots of fun and can even help to encourage reluctant readers to get involved. And Have You Ever Seen? is definitely full of silly rhymes.

For me, there were a few things that I struggled with when reading this book. Firstly, the presentation of the mobi. file I was reviewing was awful. The edges of the pages were cut-off, so I adjusted the page size so that I could read all of the text, but then each page of the book was spread across two pages on my reader, as well as being slightly distorted. This is one of the reasons why I prefer to read a physical book, especially in the case of picture books. Have You Ever Seen? is available as a physical book as well as the Kindle edition.

Reader difficulties aside, the story was going along fine until donkey was rhymed with monkey. Yes they both have the same finishing sound, but these words do not rhyme. And to me, an almost rhyme is worse than no rhyme. There were a few examples of this, such as swan and lawn, hippo and depot.

What exactly is the Yak spreading his ketchup on? I think it’s supposed to be a burger, possibly ‘mac’ refers to the fast food burger chain, but I think this rhyme is just forced. The dove “raining pee pee from above”, well, that is actually how birds pee, so this page didn’t really fit with the rest of the silly rhymes, unless the author just wanted to use the words “pee pee” for the laughs.

The rest of the rhymes were just the right sort of funny and silly. I liked the sheep sleeping in the melon and the goat gardening on a boat. The illustrations were quite nice too, capturing the text extremely well. The mouse was super cute, but my favourite picture was the dancing lion.

At the end of the Kindle edition there are a number of rhyme riddles for the kids to solve. This was a nice addition to the story, and a great way to get kids practicing their rhyming skills.

Have You Ever Seen? is suitable for preschool and lower primary school children.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

My Dino Ate My Homework by Ingrid Sawubona

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My Dino Ate My Homework: a story about the fun of learning by Ingrid Sawubona, picture e-book, published in 2019.

Instead of helping the boy with his homework, the dinosaur eats it all up as a tasty afternoon snack. The dinosaur absorbs all the information, making him very smart, and he passes this new knowledge onto the boy.

I’m a little partial to dinosaur books, so I wanted to read this one as soon as I saw it. I enjoyed reading it and sharing it with my kids.

The text rhymes throughout the story, and contains some interesting factoids. My five year olds thought it was pretty funny, especially when the dino did the eating! I learnt that Maine only has one state neighbour, New Hampshire, which I did not know before.

The illustrations are really good. There are pictures on every page, which are detailed and clear, with great use of colour and shading. The boy’s hair and freckles are great! The pictures are also relevant to the adjacent text. My only complaint is that the picture of the food chain is incorrectly depicted as a cycle, rather than an hierarchy.

My Dino Ate My Homework is suitable for preschool and lower primary school children. It was enjoyable to read aloud with my little fellas, and has already been requested for a re-read at bed-time.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm by Pete Planisek

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Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm by Pete Planisek, illustrated by Elizabeth Nordquest, chapter e-book, 42 pages, published by Enceladus Literary in 2016.

Princess Bella is beautiful and kind, but she does not laugh. Eventually the people in her kingdom begin to refer to her as the Ice Princess because no one has ever heard her laugh. One evening after a particularly bad day, Princess Bella is dragonapped from the highest tower of the castle, and removed to a treasure-filled cave high in a distant mountain. Princess Bella quickly befriends the lonely dragon, Spurlock, and they enjoy each other’s company. After a while Princess Bella begins to feel homesick. She can’t stay in a dragon’s cave forever, can she?

A whimsical tale of friendship and acceptance, I quite enjoyed Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm. It was a quick and easy read, with short sentences and simple phrasing perfect for young readers starting out with chapter books.

Each chapter had a colourful illustration at the start showing an image from the story. These were not only cute, but also helpful in making the text less daunting for younger readers.

The story was heart-warming, and it made me laugh, especially when Prince Himmasnob was about! Even his hair was amusing. I have a soft spot for dragons, and I really liked Spurlock. The concept of an ice-skating, skiing, snow-ball tossing dragon just delighted me.

Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm is most suitable for lower to middle primary school children to read themselves, but it would also be a lovely story to share aloud.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Blackbird, Blackbird, What Do You Do? by Kate McLelland

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Blackbird, Blackbird, What Do You Do? by Kate McLelland, hardback picture book, published by Hodder’s Children’s Books in 2016.

Pip is a little blackbird who sets out to discover what it is that blackbirds do. He visits with different birds, trying out the things they are good at until he finds something he is good at.

I rather liked this picture book about finding oneself. Pip met a lot of other birds on his journey, learning a little about each one. All of the birds were interesting and good at various things. I liked that Pip attempted each thing enthusiastically, such as digging a nest, waddling and pecking at seeds, even if he wasn’t very good at it. And he kept trying, despite disappointments. Perseverance and the willingness to try new things are great qualities to encourage in our children, and Blackbird, Blackbird, What Do You Do? demonstrates this nicely for younger children.

The illustrations are very appealing. All of the birds were beautiful and so expressive; I especially liked the owl. And Pip was pretty cute!

My pre-schoolers enjoyed reading this book with me. I was happy that the text was decently sized, making it easier for my boys to try reading it themselves too (beginner readers).

Blackbird, Blackbird, What Do You Do? is suitable for early childhood, pre-school and lower primary school children. It is a nice book to read aloud.

 

Frog on a Log? by Kes Gray and Jim Field

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Frog on a Log? by Kes Gray and illustrated by Jim Field, hardback picture book, published by Scholastic Press in 2015.

The cat insists that the frog sits on a log. Why? Because frogs must sit on logs. The cat goes on to explain that cats sit on mats, hares on chairs, mules on stools…. and on and on.

This wonderfully silly rhyming story is accompanied by cute and funny illustrations. Some of the animals get to sit on some rather uncomfortable items, including irons, forks and poles! My favourite picture is the wizard with his lizard playing the flute with the newt, and the magnifying glass that allows us to see the fleas sitting on peas. The frog can be found in each picture too.

Frog on a Log? is a great read-aloud book which my pre-schoolers love. It is funny, entertaining and can be read again and again. My boys like all the rhyming and it has encouraged them to think of other words that rhyme. We loved the ending!

I highly recommend Frog on a Log? for pre-school and lower primary school students.

 

*Frog on a Log? has also been published under the title Oi Frog!

The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty by Karla Strambini

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The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty by Karla Strambini, hard-back picture book, published by Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd in 2013.

Norman Qwerty’s imagination is highly active. Amazing and wonderful ideas fill his head and are just waiting to burst forth. However, he feels that he is different to others, and that no-one else has thoughts like his, making him feel alone.

A simple story with clear text, The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty told the tale of an ordinary man capable of extraordinary ideas.

The story itself was pretty basic, and I didn’t think that much of it, however, the illustrations were delightful. Done mostly in grayscale, with a hint of colour here and there, they were detailed and interesting. Each page held something new to investigate. I loved that the people were wearing hats that were locked to keep all their new and outrageous ideas in, but that sometimes the ideas still escaped. Most extraordinary of all, was that everyone had different ideas, some ordinary, some strange and some incredible, but all interesting.

I read this book with my two preschoolers, who were both intrigued by the pictures. They pored over the pages spotting new things and pointing out anything that interested them. They were both very taken with the robot bird in Mr Qwerty’s hat. My favourite invention was the hovering light with eyes. We spent quite a lot of time just looking at the pictures.

The Extraordinary Mr Qwerty is suitable for preschoolers and lower primary school children. I think it worked best as a read-aloud book, where we could discuss the illustrations thoroughly together.

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Funny Farm by Mark Teague

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Funny Farm by Mark Teague, hard-back picture book, published by Orchard Books in 2009.

Edward visits Hawthorne Farm for the first time. His uncle, aunt and cousin show him how to help about the farm, by collecting eggs, feeding the pigs, painting the barn, and herding the sheep. The fact that Edward and his family are dogs running a farm is only the first of many odd things at Hawthorne Farm!

Funny Farm is a simple story of a day on the farm, just that the farm is a little different to most. The text was clear and easy to read, with just one sentence per scene; great for younger children. Each page was full of colourful and detailed illustrations full of interesting and unusual things.

My preschoolers thought Funny Farm was pretty good. They liked all the strange things, such as the pigs playing on the swings, the bugs ploughing their own small field, and the sheep brushing their teeth at the water trough. They laughed quite a lot when Edward got chased by the rooster and when he fell into the pig’s food trough! They are keen to read this book again.

Funny Farm is suitable for toddlers and preschoolers.

 

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The Land of the Sourpie by J. S. Skye

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The Land of the Sourpie by J. S. Skye, paperback novel, 198 pages, first published in 2013, this edition published in 2015.

Flurry the adorable little teddy bear is back. He has spent about three months living in MiddleAsia with his new human parents, when he is invited to return to his home town for a visit. Upon arrival Flurry is surprised to discover he has a new little sister, and he is not happy about it at all.

The Land of the Sourpie is the first real adventure for Flurry, where he finds himself far away from home. Along for the ride are Flurry’s new sister, Fall, and his friend, Caboose. They face the perils of the large forest at night, making friends and enemies along the way.

I quite liked this adventure, though Flurry got on my nerves; he was so incredibly mean to his sister. Flurry really didn’t take it well when the news of a sister was broken to him, and I suppose his parents could have warned him about their new child, instead of springing it on him during a visit with his friends, but still, his reaction was over the top jealous. It was a ridiculous notion to think that Mr and Mrs Snow would love Fall more than him. But then I have to remember that Flurry is a very young bear cub, and his actions are like that of a human toddler discovering they have to share their parents with a new sibling.

Another thing I disliked about Flurry was that when he thought he might get in trouble, he let his friends take the blame. And he was too proud to admit when he was wrong, especially when it came to his sister. This behaviour made him more difficult to like in this story.

I liked Fall better. She was the polar opposite to Flurry; sensible, responsible, rule-abiding and humble. She really wanted to do the right thing, but Flurry just wouldn’t listen to her. And Caboose made me laugh, he can’t help but be likeable!

The best bits of this story happened once the bear cubs met the sourpie felines and their estranged brethren. I loved the name of King Jag’War. I hope we will meet these great cats in future Flurry stories, they were such great characters. The pack of wolves the cubs run into are very well described, but far less likeable than the cats. The leader of the pack was really quite scary and evil; I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of him!

I felt that the chapters were a little long for the target audience. My 8 year old likes to “conquer” a chapter in each reading session, but these chapters were too long for her to do that at the moment. Still, it was a good read which left me eager to read the next Flurry adventure.

The Land of the Sourpie is suitable for middle and upper primary school students.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

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The Granted Wish by J.S. Skye

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The Granted Wish by J.S. Skye, paperback novel, first published in 2012, this edition published in 2017.

Flurry the Bear is a cute, little, teddy bear cub who just seems to find trouble around every corner. His concerned parents seek help from Christopher Kringle, the very man that brought life to the teddy bears of the Mezarim. The solution can only work for so long before Flurry finds himself in trouble once more.

The Granted Wish is the first book in the Flurry the Bear Series, which follows Flurry on his adventures. This first book provides details of Flurry’s background; it is his origin story. We learn about Flurry’s parents, and his first years, including his first adventure away from home. Flurry’s story is told as a tale in a book read to a group of young teddy bear cubs, who have all heard the awe inspiring tales of Flurry; his adventures, his bravery, his conquests, (some spread enthusiastically by Flurry himself, no doubt!). I liked this approach to telling the story.

For me, The Granted Wish was a reasonably quick read, with a solid and magical plot, that I enjoyed. It was fun getting to know Flurry, his family and his friends. There was laughter, friendship and discovery, of new things, and of himself, as Flurry began his adventurous lifestyle.

The idea of a whole township of teddy bears living and working at the north pole is wonderful! They were all meticulously described, with varying personalities, just as we have in our own society. I especially related to Mrs Snow’s exasperation over Flurry’s antics! And the amazing Christopher Kringle, who has been re-invented from jolly old Santa with his jelly belly, to a young, vital and strong character who uses his magic to bring life, nuture and guide those around him. He is kind, yet firm when required. As for Flurry, he is a bit mischievous and a bit of a daydreamer, but he is also a loving son, and he does try to do the right thing. However, he has a vain streak (he is an exceptionally adorable little teddy, after all), which can lead to some smugness. I hope Flurry can overcome this tendency in the books ahead.

An interesting start to a what promises to be an exciting series, The Granted Wish, is suitable for middle and upper primary students.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.