Book Review: Hortense and the Shadow (Natalia O’Hara, Lauren O’Hara)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Puffin

Pages: 32

Release Date: October 5th 2017

Summary:

Hortense is a kind and brave girl, but she is sad–even angry–that her shadow follows her everywhere she goes. She hates her shadow, and thinks her shadow must hate her too. But one cold, dark night, when bandits surprise her in the woods, Hortense discovers that her shadow is the very thing she needs most.

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Book Review: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (Jim Henson, A.C.H Smith)

Publisher: Archaia

Pages: 288

Release Date: April 22nd 2014

Summary:

Sarah has thirteen hours to save her brother from a land where everything seems possible and nothing is what it seems.

Finally back in print and for the first time in hardcover, the novelization of LABYRINTH written by A.C.H. Smith and personally overseen by Jim Henson, is the first in a series of novels from the Jim Henson Archives.

This beautiful hardcover features unpublished goblin illustrations by legendary illustrator and concept artist Brian Froud and an exclusive peek into Jim Henson’s creative process with 50 never-before-seen pages from his personal journal, detailing the initial conception of his ideas for LABYRINTH.

Review:

The first thing to say about this is it’s a massive nostalgia fest. I’m not sure you’d get as much enjoyment out of it if you weren’t a fan of the film/hadn’t watched it when you were younger. This doesn’t apply to me as I was a huge fan of it when I was younger. It came out about five years before I was born but I remember having it on VHS and watching it over and over with my sister and cousins.

Labyrinth is a coming of age fantasy about Sarah, a young girl who resents her stepmother and half brother and wishes the Goblin King would take him away. Lo and behold, the Goblin King (still David Bowie in my head when I read this) does just that and gives Sarah thirteen hours to solve his labyrinth and save her brother. She meets a whole host of colourful characters, learns some lessons about fairness and friendship and eventually faces down the Goblin King. It’s a good old-fashioned adventure story with some great puzzles and riddles and some truly weird characters.

Throughout reading, I was constantly picturing the film. The prose was fairly simplistic: I’m not really sure what age this is aimed at, other than people like me who loved the film. While I really enjoyed reading it, I think it lacked a bit of the magic of the film, and that’s because it didn’t have the film’s amazing visuals: the puppets, the amazing sets, David Bowie… It did remind me how much I loved the film though.

In this edition, there’s extras at the end which were really interesting. There’s several pages of original drawings by Brian Froud, Jim Henson’s longtime collaborator, and notes from Jim Henson when he was coming up with ideas for the film. Froud’s drawings were truly amazing and I could spend ages looking at them. I struggled with Jim Henson’s notes: while the idea of reading them was exciting, I’m terrible at reading handwriting, and couldn’t really make out what a lot of it said. That’s a personal thing, though.

If you’re a fan of the original Labyrinth film and want to have a good old dose of nostalgia then this book is definitely for you.

4

Book Review: Dylan the Doctor (Guy Parker Reeves)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Scholastic

Release Date: August 4th 2016

Summary:

Dylan’s on his way – are you ready to play? DYLAN THE DOCTOR is the first picture book in a series featuring an exuberant stripy dog, who just loves to play. Created by bestselling illustrator Guy Parker-Rees, Dylan is a joyous new character who uses playing and fun to help toddlers explore and understand their world. Today Dylan is playing at being a doctor. He dashes about looking after all of his friends: Purple Puss, Jolly Otter and Titchy Chick. But who will look after poor, tired Doctor Dylan? All his friends, of course! Look out for Dylan’s friend, Dotty Bug, on every page, as she encourages readers to join in with the story.

Review:

I first read this to Little Moore as soon as it popped through our letterbox. He was in a very grumbly mood – possibly teething – but he sat through the whole thing, which I think is a pretty glowing review to start with!

Dylan decides he’s going to be a doctor for the day and helps to tend to his friends various ailments. But looking after everyone takes its toll and Dylan’s friends pull together to look after him too.

I loved the colours in this book. It was really bright, which I think helped keep Little Moore’s attention. I particularly love the design for Dylan, with his almost crayon-like stripy pattern. It’s a great one to read aloud, especially with the ‘Nee-naw’ of the ambulance, which Little Moore loved.

Although I haven’t really used it yet, I loved the idea of Dotty Bug adding extras to the book. She appears on each page and asks little questions to help younger readers join in with the story. I loved this level of interactivity and will definitely use it with Little Moore when he’s older. It’s a great way of involving children and keep them engaged with the story.

This is a charming little story with a great cast of colourful characters, and I’d definitely like to read more of Dylan’s adventures soon!

4

About the Author

GUY PARKER-REES

Guy Parker-Rees is one of the UK’s best-loved children’s illustrators. His many successes include GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE (Orchard) and SPOOKYRUMPUS (Orchard). Guy lives in Brighton.

Website: www.guyparkerrees.com 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Guyguyyug

Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour at the following stops

 

DYLAN-BLOG-BANNER-02Monday 15th August

Chouett

Big Book Little Book

Tuesday 16th August

Powered by Reading

Orchard Book Club’s Mini Reviewers

Wednesday 17th August

The Pewter Wolf

Maia and a Little Moore

Thursday 18th August

Linda’s Book Bag

Fiction Fascination

Friday 19th August

Emma’s Bookery

Winged Reviews

Saturday 20th August

Tales of Yesterday

Get Kids into Books

Sunday 21st August

Library Girl and Book Boy

Acorn Books

Book Review: Belle and Sébastien (Cécile Aubry)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Alma Books

Pages: 189

Release Date: 2016

Summary:

The son of a Gypsy woman, Sébastien is found as a newborn baby in the Alps and brought up by César and his grandchildren Angélina and Jean. Born on the same day, Belle is a beautiful white Pyrenean Mountain Dog who has been neglected and passed on from owner to owner, until one day she escapes from a kennel. When Sébastien rescues the runaway Belle from the wrath of the villagers, the boy and the dog form a lifelong friendship and embark on exciting adventures in the mountains.

First published in 1965 to coincide with the internationally successful television series of the same name, Belle and Sébastien is a heart-warming story of camaraderie, adventure and freedom.

Review:

This was a charming little book about a young gypsy boy raised on the mountains after his mother dies giving birth to him, and a dog who befriends him and learns to trust again, despite the village people who are believe she is a beast who needs to be killed.

When I was sent this I thought it sounded beautiful, though I’d never heard of the television series before. I have to admit I found it a bit hard to read – I struggle with classics and find the language a bit jarring. This book was a struggle at times because the language sometimes drew me out of the story. There were times when the tense would change and I’d find that a bit confusing. It’s also been translated from French so I think that can explain some odd phrases sometimes.

Despite these difficulties, I found the story really charming and loved willful little Sébastien and the blossoming romance between the Doctor and Angélina. But my favourite character was the bossy and gossiping Célestine, who stole every scene and made me laugh grit my teeth – I’m sure in real life she would be incredibly annoying!

If you’re looking for a children’s classic about friendship and loyalty then this is the book for you!

3

Blog Tour: The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight (Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty)

Today on the blog I am hosting a giveaway for The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight blog tour!

Publisher: Scholastic

Release Date: August 4th 2016

Summary:

Leo the mouse isn’t like the other knights. While they like fighting, he’d rather read a book. Leo’s parents are keen to turn him into a proper knight, so they pack him off on a mission to tame a dragon. But Leo knows that books are mightier than swords, and he tames not just the dragon, but a troll and a griffin, too \- by reading them stories. With its witty rhyming text and glorious, detailed illustrations, THE KNIGHT WHO WOULDN’T FIGHT is a joyful, magical picture book about the power of stories.

About the Author and Illustrator

Thomas_Helen_01

Helen Docherty is the author of THE SNATCHABOOK and ABRACAZEBRA. Helen lives in Swansea with her husband, Thomas, and their two daughters

Website: www.helendocherty.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/docherty_helen

Thomas Docherty is the acclaimed illustrator of THE SNATCHABOOK, ABRACAZEBRA and THE SNORGH AND THE SAILOR. He was shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal.

Website: www.thomasdocherty.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/TDIllustration

Giveaway

Enter here to win a copy of The Knight Who Wouldn’t Fight, plus Snatchabook and Abracazebra, also by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour

You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour at the following stops

THEKNIGHT-BLOG-BANNER-02

Monday 1st August

Wonderfully Bookish

The Pewter Wolf

Tuesday 2nd August

Chouett

Library Mice

Wednesday 3rd August

An Awfully Big Adventure

Tales of Yesterday

Thursday 4th August

Powered by Reading

Big Book Little Book

Friday 5th August

Library Girl and Book Boy

Rhino Reads

Saturday 6th August

Linda’s Book Bag

Luna’s Little Library

Sunday 7th August

Emma’s Bookery

Maia and a Little Moore

Book Review: The Castle of Inside Out (David Henry Wilson)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Alma Books

Pages: 150

Release Date: July 21st 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lorina, a young schoolgirl, is led by a black rabbit through a wood to a magical land. There she finds a race of green people, who are all overworked, starving and suffering from the toxic fumes billowing out of a nearby castle. She decides to gain access to the castle for the poor green people, and within its walls she meets the “insiders”, selfish creatures who hoard all the resources and treat the outsiders as slaves. Her quest leads her to encounter the bureaurat, the superviper, the farmadillo and, eventually, the awful Piggident himself.Will she be able to save the green people from the cruelty of these “insiders”?

Review:

When I saw this described as Alice in Wonderland meets Animal Farm I knew I had to read it. Regular readers will know I’m pretty Alice obsessed, and though I haven’t read Animal Farm in ages, I do remember enjoying it (this has made me want to read it again soon). I felt like Lorina’s name, and her sister Edith, were a little nod to the original Alice, whose sisters had the same name. Perhaps Lorina in the story is related to the Alice of the Wonderland story…

The book was everything I hoped for and I adored it. The beginning threw me a little at first as it leaps straight into the story without much introduction, but I soon got into it, and as this is explained at the end as well, I think I’ll like it better next time round (I know this is a book I’ll be re-reading!)

Lorina starts a quest to get food for the starving green people who live outside the castle, and to stop the toxic fumes that are killing them. But inside the castle she meets nothing but obstacles, as an array of creatures reason with her as to why they can’t help the green people.

The word play and puns reminded me of all the best bits of Alice in Wonderland – very clever and funny. This helped to keep the story light enough for children while tackling some dark themes: environmentalism, equality and humanity. The corrupt nature of the insiders perfectly captures and parodies government attitudes and actions in a simple way that children can understand, even if they don’t quite get the comparison. It means the book is fun for adults as well!

A highlight of this book was Chris Riddell’s illustrations, which really bring to life the strange creatures that Lorina meets. I loved the secretary bird the most, but they were all beautifully complex and detailed illustrations.

While a children’s book, this is definitely one that can be enjoyed by adults too, and I look forward to reading this one to the Little Moore when he’s a bit older.

Copy of an art exhibit

Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads #4

Welcome back to Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads! Here is the remainder of our most recent library haul.

Sleepy Cheetah (Mwenye Hadithi)

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This was a fun tale of how the cheetah got his spots and features some mischievous monkeys.

Goodnight Already! (Jory John)

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I really enjoyed this. It’s great as a bedtime story as Bear tries to go to bed and his pesky neighbour Duck keeps bothering him. We liked doing a very grumpy voice for the bear.

Daddy I Can’t Sleep (Alan Durant)

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Because of the title I made Mr Moore read this one first. When I read it we did it in two nights as it’s quite long and Little Moore got a bit fidgety. It’s a good ‘don’t be afraid of the dark’ kind of story.

Harry and the Monster (Sue Mongredien)

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This is another good one for teaching kids not to be afraid of things – in this case the scary monster in Harry’s dreams. His parents help him to overcome this fear with some suggestions that give very funny results.

The Nutcracker (Susan Chandler)

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This one was more for me than Little Moore as I love the ballet! It’s a great retelling with wonderful illustrations, though again it was too long for us to do in one sitting.

Moomin and the Favourite Thing (Tove Jansson)

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I actually found the Moomins pretty creepy as a kid but enjoyed this one. I loved how Thingumy and Bob spoke though it was pretty challenging to read aloud!

Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads #3

It’s been a little while since we’ve had a bedtime read post – I told you they might be sporadic! But here is what we’ve been reading lately.

The Gruffalo (Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler)

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This was in our #parcelsofjoy from the lovely Bex at The Ninja Book Swap. I read this to my sisters when they were younger and it’s great to read again to my son. The rhyming and story are just perfect and it’s definitely a favourite of mine.

Fetch (Jane Cabrera)

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This was a fun read about a cute little dog and has some good counting lines as Fetch helps a different person on each day of the week.

The Great Balloon Hullaballoo (Peter Bentley & Met Matsouka)

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This was a real wacky read as a squirrel and his friends travel to different planets to get shopping for his mum (including cheese from the moon, of course). The illustrations are gorgeous too.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath (Mo Wilems)

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This was easily my favourite of our recent library books. It’s conversational and easy to read, and the pigeon is very funny. We’re trying to get Little Moore to enjoy bathtime more so I read this one a lot! I’d like to check out the other Pigeon books too after reading this one.

Underpants for Ants (Russell Punter)

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This was another favourite. It’s a great phonic book and really fun for me to read, as well as to listen to. There’s great rhyming and lots of words with similar sounds and the story has good humour too.

Little Moore’s Bedtime Reads #2

We’re carrying on with our library books this week: we had a few repeat reads and some new ones as seen below.

Blown Away (Rob Biddulph)

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I had a thing about penguins as a kid so I think I would have loved this book. It was a fun adventure story with beautiful pictures.

Grrrrr! (Rob Biddulph)

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Another great story from the author of Blown Away. A fun rhyming tale about a bear who loses his Grrrrr – not just his voice but the actually grrrr that goes inside his speech bubble. Fun for adults as well as kids.

Lemur Dreamer (Courtney Dicmas)

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My son smiled the whole way through this so there was something about it that he loved. I thought the story was okay, but a bit difficult to follow from the words alone sometimes: it really relied on the pictures accompanying it.

Two Little Bears (Hanna Muschg)

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Repetition and rhyme make this a brilliant bedtime story, and the illustrations are gorgeous.

Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell)

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Classic children’s book – I loved it when I was younger. This time round I probably enjoyed it more than the baby, but I’m sure he’ll love lifting the flaps when he’s older.

Baby’s Day (Little Tiger Press)

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Free Book Start book. Nice and short rhyming book. Baby loves looking at the contrast colours and baby faces.

Elmer’s Friends (David McKee)

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Free Book Start book. Really bright colours and a lovely message about diversity.

Book Review: The Complete Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, Leah Moore, John Reppion)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Diamond Book Distributors

Pages: 184

Release Date: April 19th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Join Alice on her whimsical journey down the rabbit hole! For the first time ever, Lewis Carroll’s beloved masterpiece is faithfully adapted and illustrated in its entirety, including the long-lost chapter, “The Wasp in a Wig!” From her initial meeting with the White Rabbit in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” to her final dinner party with the entire (and outrageous) “Through the Looking Glass” cast, every moment of Alice’s adventures in that astonishing landscape is captured in gorgeous detail. With old favorites like the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter joined now by a long-forgotten Carroll creation, The Wasp, in one of the book’s latter chapters, children and adults alike can rediscover the complete “Alice” tale and fall in love with Wonderland all over again!

Review:

I am a huge Alice in Wonderland nerd – I love the original story, I have a beautiful copy of the complete works of Lewis Carroll, and I love any kind of adaptation too. So obviously I jumped at the chance to review a graphic novel version.

While I enjoyed reading this, I wasn’t wowed by it. It adapts both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The art style felt kind of old fashioned, in a good way: it reminded me of drawings in the Alice books I read as a child. I liked that in this medium the poetry and rhymes Alice recites were brought to life. I felt they missed a trick with the Mouse’s tale, which could have been drawn/written more creatively, as it is in the original story.

I’ve read Alice in Wonderland a lot and am very familiar with the story, and felt I enjoyed this part of the graphic novel more. I’ve only read Through the Looking Glass a couple of times, and not recently, and I struggled through the latter part of the book. Sometimes it was hard to follow the action and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.

While I enjoyed reading this, I didn’t feel it added anything to the story: it’s a very straightforward adaptation, with all of the dialogue appearing exactly as it does in the books. Don’t go in expecting something new: if you’re looking for a faithful graphic novel adaptation of the original story then this is for you.

3