#BlogTour: Midnight Magic by Michelle Harrison, illustrated by Elissa Elwick

cover image by Elissa Elwick, published by Little Tiger Press

A magically mischievous kitten, a kind young girl and a purposeful broomstick make Midnight Magic a story that young readers will joyously pounce upon! 

I am delighted to join the blog tour for this enchanting tale today, and honoured to share these beautiful images from Chapter One with you, with many thanks to Little Tiger Press. Enjoy!

Review

Michelle Harrison’s first book for younger readers displays all of her enchanting storytelling skills, wrapped up in rhythmically rhyming text and encased in a package that will grace any bookshelf. I am not judging a book by its cover, but oh my goodness, the sumptuous purple and gold detail is supremely beguiling, as you can clearly see from the images above! Elissa Elwick’s illustrations are charming and expressive and fully encapsulate the fun and warmth of the story.

Before you begin reading, make sure that you have a hot beverage and tempting snack on hand because you won’t want to put this down once you start.

A cat gives birth to two cute and cuddly kittens,  followed, on the stroke of midnight by a third, jet-black sibling. Appropriately-named Midnight is unlike her brother and sister, Foxy and Snowdrop, having a tendency to breathe purple smoke, cause inanimate objects to move and generally cause chaos. For this, she is not popular with her family and in an ultimate act of betrayal she is abandoned and must seek out a new home…

Friendship and joyous adventure abound when she is taken in by Trixie, her rather apprehensive father and incorrigibly adventurous Nan. Weaving bedtime story imagery with a twitch of Midnight’s magical tail the story whisks readers away on an enchanted night time journey.

This is the ultimate magical Halloween read for children in the 6-9 bracket, a heart warming and rib-tickling tale of friendship and fun. It is perfect for newly confident readers to read alone and will also be a lovely bedtime story for younger children. If you are using the story in school, you can access teaching resources created by Scott Evans @MrEPrimary, here.

I am most grateful to Charlie Morris at Little Tiger Press for an invitation to join the blog tour and a review copy of Midnight Magic. Do check out the other stops on the tour for interviews, features and further chapter extracts.

Alphabetty Botty Blog Tour Review: Oi Aardvark! by Kes Gray and Jim Field

Cover image by Jim Field, published by Hachette Children’s Books

To quote a phrase from my early childhood…Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

The latest in the hilarious series of Oi! books in which animals are seated on objects which rhyme with their name was published on 3rd September 2020 and I am delighted to bring you this review courtesy of the letter V on its launch blog tour.

Our favourite animal trio – forceful Frog, condescending Cat and delightful Dog are back and this time Frog is on a mission to seat an A to Z of animals on objects ranging from the ambitious to the zany! With brilliantly witty combinations Frog works his way through his alphabetical encyclopaedia of animals with increasingly outrageous seating arrangements. My personal favourite, of course, is contained within the pull-out section at the end – vipers sit (very uncomfortably it would appear) on wipers! By the end of the book it is safe to say that Frog emerges veritably victorious from his quest!

I completely love this book which I am sure will delight parents, grandparents, carers, teachers, librarians and the small people with whom they share it. It not only entertains in grand style, it introduces phonics and rhyme and with its imaginative list of animals it helps to start building the hinterland of knowledge that is a welcome side-effect of reading for pleasure. The blend of Kes Gray’s imaginative rhyming pairs and Jim Field’s playful and expressive illustrations makes this a picture book that will provide hours and hours of laughter and enjoyment; the expression on the face of the “piggy porker” who provides an unwilling cushion for an orca made me hoot with laughter.

Thank you to Lucy Clayton at Hachette Children’s Books for inviting me to join the blog tour; do check out the other brilliant bloggers who have contributed to this Alphabetty Botty blog tour.

Review: The Nature Girls by Aki

IMG_2318

 

I picked up this book as the cover transported me back to one of my favourite childhood series, the Madeline books, with their iconic description of “little girls in two straight lines.” This time the girls are dressed in pith helmets and yellow safari suits and they travel further afield, but the book has exactly the same warmth and feel-good factor.

The Nature Girls tell the tale of their explorations in rhyming sentences, as they leave their school building with rucksacks packed ready for their adventures. Starting on a tropical beach they dive beneath the ocean to meet a pod of dolphins and numerous fish. Onward into the jungle they trek to look at birds, followed by expeditions to the desert, the savannah, the Arctic and finally a great forest.

Every page is illustrated in a bright, bold style, with only two rhyming sentences which are printed with imaginative font effects. The writer and illustrator Aki has included a wealth of detail in the illustrations which will reward repeated viewing. The final pages explain, in simple and straightforward terms, the biomes featured throughout the book.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents and librarians to share with pre-school and Key Stage 1 children. The sixteen Nature Girls will inspire an early interest in the natural world and all of its diversity. I would have loved to read this to my own children had it been available when they were little!

 

New Rhyming Picture Books by Favourite Authors

Two new picture books arrived in the school library, just before the end of term, so I decided to review them together, whilst I catalogue them.

Go away bird

Firstly, The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson, Illustrated by Catherine Rayner, published by MacMillan.

As with the other books in the Julia Donaldson collection, this is a rhyming story which will entertain and educate early years and key stage 1 pupils. Its enjoyable text tells the story of the elegant grey Go-Away Bird as she sits in her nest, rejecting offers of friendship from the little, green Chit-Chat Bird, the little, red Peck-Peck Bird and the little blue Flap-Flap Bird. However, when trouble raises its eagle-shaped head in the form of the Get-You Bird, the Go-Away Bird might need companions after all.

This is a lovely story for young children, showing the power of friendship and the importance of not rejecting others, even if we are feeling a bit grumpy. I also loved the fact-filled pages at the end of the book which provide some interesting information about this unusual bird. I am sure that this will be enjoyed repeatedly by children of 4+.

 

The second book I wish to review is a perfect addition to our collection of titles to encourage a “reading for pleasure” culture. 

not just a book

 

Not Just A Book by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross and published by Andersen Press, is a full-colour picture book designed to embed and encourage a love of books and reading. The glorious, full-page illustrations in Tony Ross’s inimitable, expressive, humorous style complement the text perfectly. There are only a few words of rhyming text per page describing the different uses that a young girl and her cat can find for a book. My own favourite shows the book being used to funnel the cat’s milk!

However, with the repeated reading that this book is likely to encourage, the final message that books are more than just words and ink will hopefully be internalised by all young listeners and encourage an emotional connection to stories.