The Boy Who Made the World Disappear by Ben Miller

Oh my goodness me. I LOVED this story! It is a child-friendly romp through space but with an all important message for children everywhere…

Ben Miller’s own children are the stars of the show – how cool is that? The main star is Harrison who absolutely loves anything to do with space. Like most 8 year olds though, he finds it hard to control his temper, even though he realises that actually, his anger tends to show itself when he is anxious or worried about something.

At the start of this story, Harrison is going to Hector Broom’s birthday party. He is not looking forward to it. Hector is a bully who takes great delight in pinging Harrison with his ever-present elastic band. But like 8 year olds everywhere, the thought of missing out is even greater because his whole class is going to be there. Poor Harrison does NOT have a good time. Despite learning about constellations and black holes in Hector Broom’s living room, he and the party entertainer, Shelley, do not hit it off and things go from bad to worse. He does get a special balloon to take home however. A VERY special balloon indeed…

Harrison finds out very quickly that his balloon has very strange powers. I’m not going to spoil it by saying exactly in what way, but what initially seems fabulous and incredibly helpful to Harrison, soon takes an ominous turn and things quickly get out of control. To sort things out, Harrison knows that Shelley is the only one who can help him. But Shelley isn’t home. How can 8 year old Harrison get to Chile to meet her at the The Very Large Telescope (VLT) in the Atacama Desert? Nothing is impossible when you have an enterprising older brother…

A wonderfully engaging, timeless story that is sure to engage children everywhere. I loved it!

‘…anger can be good, important even… But it’s about what you do with your anger…’

Page count: 272

Age group: 8 years +

Links:

Amazon.

Goodreads.

Waterstones.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Simon & Schuster Children’s UK for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

War is Over by David Almond and illustrated by David Litchfield

From the author of Skellig.

‘Outside the dream, the war went on…’

Wow! What a gorgeous, uplifting, sad and poignant book all rolled into one. David Almond wrote this book to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the First World War and he has done an absolutely masterful job. War is Over is aimed at 9-11 year olds but I would extend this to 8-12 at least. It is accessible and engaging – children will love it.

When the story begins, John’s father is away fighting in France and his mum works at the nearby munitions factory – ‘the biggest munitions factory in the world’ – where warships, guns, bombs and shells are made. John can barely remember life before the war and hears about the devastation on a daily basis when fathers of his friends are killed. He realises that he can barely remember what his own father looks like. This first part of the book is quiet and sad. The illustrations are grey, black and cold.

Mr McTavish, John’s Headteacher tells him and the other pupils that they are all at war with Germany – even John – and describes a local man, Gordon, as a coward and a traitor as he refuses to fight. When Gordon is hurt, for refusing to hurt others, and the children hear his screams of pain, the reader gets a glimpse through John’s eyes of just how confusing and barbaric the situation is. John’s questioning, peaceful character is contrasted vividly with that of Alec, who plays at killing Germans and finds the trip to the munitions factory the height of excitement.

There follows an incredible moment. In the nearby woods, John comes face to face with Jan, a German boy from Dusseldorf. He later re-visits Jan in his dreams and finally, writes to him, to explain that he doesn’t feel as though he is at war with him. His letter is found and he is branded a traitor which leads him to ask some very difficult questions of his mum.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, so will just say that it is a very satisfying one. The mood entirely changes and I was left hopeful, perhaps with a little tear in my eye…

‘When the end came, it happened fast.’

Please don’t buy this on kindle – I urge you to go for the hardback or paperback versions, in order to fully appreciate David Litchfield’s stunning illustrations and to allow you to share them with the little people in your life.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Cat Ninja: and a Cabal of Shadows (A Fantastic Tails Adventure Book 2) by Erik DeLeo

Blurb: A missing puppy. An evil gang. And a hidden enemy lurking in the shadows.

She’s a cat. She’s a ninja. She’s a cat ninja. When Miko’s friend Sukoshi the field mouse comes calling with a new job, she agrees to investigate. But when it turns out the job entails helping the family an old enemy, little does Miko know that she’ll need to face her past in order to solve the case before it’s too late.

If you like talking animals, stealthy ninjas, and beating up bad guys, then you’ll love The Cat Ninja. This chapter book deals with many themes including anger, loss, abandonment, and fear. It is perfect for fans of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Redwall by Brian Jacques and The Green Ember by S.D. Smith, along with other fantasy series including The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.

Length: 186 pages

Age Level: 8 – 12

My thoughts: Wow. If you were expecting a cutesy animal story, think again! Miko is one kick-ass cat with a kick-ass reputation, complete with a kobachi sword called Amai Fukushu (Sweet Revenge) and a mouse sidekick (because why wouldn’t she?). As a kitten, she witnessed the death of her mother and brother and as a stray living on the streets she was taken in by a Ninja Master – Kobayashi (‘a rare male tortoiseshell’) who taught her all his skills.

Before leaving her safe, Miko’s mum left her with an heirloom – an omamori – which she wears round her neck as a reminder of what she has lost. Since then, Miko has been out for revenge and whilst completing this new job, she comes up against the dog that she believes was responsible for killing her family. With Sukoshi and Kobayashi at her side, she is sure to succeed. But not everything is as it seems…

“Battling yourself is tougher than any fight with a sword”.

Only £2.99 on kindle at the moment.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Erik DeLeo for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wanted! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom by Heather Tekavec, illustrated by Susan Batori

Blurb: A crime wave has hit the animal kingdom, and Detective X is on the case! Meet some of the animal kingdom’s most wanted offenders. Their rap sheets are filled with beastly infractions such as theft, deception and spitting! Yes, spitting! Join Detective X as he investigates thirteen rascally critters and their distinguishing features including their diet, life span, habitat and more. Will the animal kingdom ever be safe again???

My thoughts: This fantastic book educates without the reader even being aware of it! Each double page introduces a ‘criminal’ and gives details of their ‘crime’, for example, the cuckoo who steals other bird’s nests and ‘lets the other mother do all the work to hatch the eggs’, and my absolute favourite, the caterpillar who sticks petals to his body to camouflage himself! How cool is that?

Each animal has a ‘rap sheet’ which gives lots of details on their appearance, distinguishing features, their lifespan, habitat, diet and ‘gang name’ e.g. herd, shoal. The illustrations are absolutely charming and I learned loads too! Did you know that mole rats have hair in their mouths? No , me neither! Or that wood frogs stop their hearts and freeze solid in winter before thawing out in the summer? An absolutely fascinating book which is illustrated beautifully. A real treat for kids (and grown ups!) with an interest in nature, bugs or animals.

I would like to thank both Net Galley and Kids Can Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For Chloe

“I want to be a Fairy, Mum” said Chloe, as she pulled the nighty on over her head.

“Fairies are sooooooo lucky. They don’t have to go to proper school, only Fairy School. They don’t have to learn Maths”.

Header“In Fairyland, the sun is always shining but you never get sunburnt. Everything is green and there are flowers everywhere. I wouldn’t get told off for picking them because Fairy flowers don’t die”.

fairyland

“Fairies get to wear pretty dresses All. The. Time. Like THE best party dresses ever. They never have to wear a coat, or shoes and socks if they don’t want to. I could wear pink every single day. Even at school”.

pink fairy

“Fairies get to live in a Fairy Castle. I’d never be bored in a Fairy Castle! There would be hundreds of rooms full to the ceiling with toys. I bet they even have an Ice Cream Maker”.

Fairy castle

“Fairies can fly. Only with Fairy Dust though of course. Do you think it would make me sneeze?”

fairy dust 1

“Fairies have magic wands. I could turn Bella into a frog. Only when she was reeeeeeally naughty though”.

fairy frog

“But if I was a Fairy, could you still be my Mum?”

“Close your eyes and I’ll tell you a secret” said Mum. “At night, you can go anywhere and be anything you want to be, as long as you think about it hard enough”.

Chloe laid down and closed her eyes.

“And then in the morning I can come back to you?” she asked sleepily.

“That’s right” said Mum, kissing the tip of her nose. And she watched from the doorway as Chloe smiled and flew away into the night.

sleeping%20fairy