#BookReview: The Greedy Goat by Petr Horáček #MPBooks

A very funny children’s picture book that’s great for teaching kids too.

The Greedy Goat book reviewTitle: The Greedy Goat

Author/Illustrator: Petr Horáček

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

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Description: Goat is greedy.  She’s had enough of eating grass.  But when she decides to try something different, she gets more than she bargained for.

A hilarious, cautionary farmyard tale that teaches colours and days of the week.

My Review:  This is such a funny book it really made me laugh aloud!  ‘The Greedy Goat’ has such a simple story but it’s so silly, kids will definitely enjoy reading it again and again.  The paperback is wider but shorter than A4 in size and is filled with colourful images on thick glossy paper.  The story is simple, Goat is greedy and having had enough grass she tries a variety of different foods, including typical goat things such as eating a shoe!  I won’t spoil the rest of the tale but it’s very funny and there are some great images throughout.

Fun illustrations

The illustrations really make this story so funny.  I do like Horáček’s style, each picture looks like a combination of pencil, crayon and paint.  Each illustration has a lot of humour in it especially when Goat starts to feel strange after eating so many odd foods.  I don’t think this book would be so funny if it wasn’t for the images!

Some more great images

The ending is really great and has a funny twist on the last page that really made me laugh out loud!  The story isn’t just fun to read but at the same time kids will learn the days of the week as well as several colours and some animals.  And the simple repetitive sentences make this even more enjoyable.  I can’t say a bad word about this book and love looking at it over and over again.  I think adults will find it fun too.  It’s definitely a book I would have loved as a child and would recommend it to everyone, it’s one of my favourites I’ve read this year!

The pictures really lend to the humour! 🙂

-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.

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#BookReview: Nemesis by Brendan Reichs #MPbooks

An amazing YA thriller with a science fiction edge!

Nemesis book coverTitle: Nemesis

Author: Brendan Reichs

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Genre: YA Thriller

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Description: It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, the same man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later she wakes up in a clearing just outside her hometown – alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the crime erased. Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him too, though he does his best to hide the signs. And as the world around them begins to spiral towards panic and destruction, the two troubled teens discover that people have been lying to them their whole lives . . . A YA summer blockbuster thriller for fans of The Maze Runner and The 100

My Review:  Wow! I love a good sci-fi thriller and this book does not disappoint! Set just a few months into the future this book isn’t so much sci-fi as all thriller and it really keeps you gripped from the start. The first pages launch straight into Min’s story where she is being hunted in her home by someone who’s come to kill her. Despite her best effort to escape him, she ends up being killed but then wakes up unharmed in the woods, as she does every two years. From there the story unfolds at a fast pace and we’re introduced to the main story of an asteroid threatening to destroy the earth.

I don’t want to go into too much detail as it would really spoil the plot and every chapter kept me interested in reading it. The first part of this book follows Min’s story, as well as flashbacks she has from her previous birthdays. Chapters alternate between flashbacks and the story now but are all told in the first person. It’s easy to get into the plot right away and although Min’s story kept me really interested in reading this, I started to enjoy this book even more when we started to see Noah’s point of view. After we’re introduced to Noah’s story, also told in the first person, the story alternates between them both, chapter headings always telling you which character you are following.

I really liked where this story went. Although it does seem a little weird that a bunch of teenagers are investigating such high security things, I loved the way the plot went. There’s never a moment to relax as things in the story are always moving so fast. Although this is set just a little way into the future it will appeal to anyone who enjoys science fiction. The further into the story you go the more sci-fi it ends up being and the ending, the answers the teens are looking for are brilliant! Although I did part-guess the ending (one of many guesses), this book really is unpredictable and I had many failed guesses as to what was happening throughout reading this book.

There are only a few uses of the s swear word and although some dark things happen in the story there isn’t anything graphically violent. The description that this book is like ‘The 100’ is not wrong. I haven’t read the book but seen the series and this has just the same amount of intrigue and suspense! It really is a gripping read and the ending is a satisfying one overall considering you find out the general idea of what’s happening, but the book also has a bit of a cliff-hanger ending. If this was a series it’s one of those where you’d be expecting another series to be made and I really hope there’s another book as the story is far from finished. Answers in this book just let to more questions at the end and some amazing twist happens especially with one character I grew to love reading about which totally surprised me. I’d definitely recommend this book to others and will definitely be reading it again.

If you don’t like books that leave you with questions then you might not like this, but if you are looking for a futuristic thriller with a sci-fi edge that will keep you turning the pages and engrossed in reading it them you won’t be disappointed!
-Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy.

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#BookReview: Beck by Mal Peet & Meg Rosoff #MPBooks

A dark YA historical fiction novel that is The Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Year 2016

Beck book coverTitle: Beck

Author: Mal Peet (&Meg Rosoff)

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

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Description: Born of a brief encounter between his mother and an African sailor on the streets of Liverpool in the 1900s, Beck lives a life that is defined by a longing to find his place in the world.  Orphaned and shipped to Canada and the untender care of the Catholic Brothers, he finds little humanity as he journeys westwards.  What will it take for Beck to finally find home?

My Review: ‘Beck’ is a YA historical fiction novel which unfortunately just didn’t hold my attention.  Set, in the beginning, in Liverpool but mostly Canada in the early 1900s the story follows Beck, an orphaned mixed race boy who finds it hard to find a place he can call home.  The first few pages are actually a backstory explaining how Beck came to be, how his parents met, but then the book really starts with Beck being taken to the orphanage and what happens there and beyond.

Although the start of the novel was a bit strange to me, focusing on Beck’s parents and their encounter, I did get into this, at first.  It’s not long before the orphanage ships Beck along with other boys to Canada and this is where the real story starts.  I won’t go into too much detail so I don’t spoil it for anyone but this part of the book for me was the best.  What happens to Beck while staying with the Christian Brothers is very dark but also very compelling.  Although I could guess at the start that Beck would face these sorts of problems, it’s what actually happens and the way things are described that kept my attention throughout this section of the book.  I did think that this story would continue especially after a particular brutal incident, however this part of the novel just ends with another section starting in a different location completely.

The book has four parts and each part is a separate section of Beck’s life.  Usually I don’t mind a story moving along a few months or even years like this, but each part is almost like a separate short story/novella with little reference to what happened previously and although we sometimes see Beck remembering something there’s never a deep look at how affected he is by the events of his past.  In fact the whole novel took on this distant feel to it that I didn’t like and it makes me question whether it’s a YA novel at all.  For me YA means you get to know the characters and what they are thinking but Beck is a very closed character.  We see what he’s doing but we rarely really get inside his head.  It also didn’t help that each time a new part started there is a backstory of the other characters that Beck has just met.  The back story of the last two parts had so much information about Bone and then Grace that it made me lose interest entirely as I really wanted to continue Beck’s story but had to wade through many pages of other people’s back story first.  While the backstory was interesting and helped in understanding the next part I wish it had been explained in a better way, in bits, like most books do.

This novel has some use of the s and f swear words with the f word having multiple spellings due to the dialogue being written as you hear it, with accents such as: “An’ yer don’ wanna go down there.  Tha’s right, ennit”, which I don’t enjoy reading in books especially modern ones as it slows down my reading.  The whole book is dark with violence and abuse which can be hard to read.  Because of this I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone but a mature teen and older.

While the whole book had a lot of potential I just didn’t enjoy reading this.  The ending is a good and satisfying one but with no real resolution to what happened at the beginning.  I liked parts of the story and each part on its own would have made an interesting story but together this whole book just doesn’t work for me and it’s a shame because I really thought it would get deeper into the mind of Beck and the effects of what happened to him.  Some parts of the book read differently too, with parts of the descriptions bordering on too flowery and other parts not. but maybe this is due to the fact that Mal Peet the author died before finishing this novel and some of the text was written by Meg Rosoff.  I don’t know if this had any effect on the overall plot but this book just didn’t appeal to me, despite numerous good review for it, and I won’t be reading it again.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.

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#BookReview: Sam and Jump by Jennifer K. Mann #MPBooks

A great children’s picture book which anyone who’s ever lost their favourite toy can relate to.

Sam and Jump book reviewTitle: Sam and Jump

Author/Illustrator: Jennifer K. Mann

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

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Description: Sam and Jump do everything together.  One day they go to the beach, where they meet Thomas.  They play all day.  But when Sam gets home he realizes he’s forgotten something: JUMP!

My Review:  This is a really sweet and simple tale that many kids will relate to. Sam and his best friend Jump, a cuddly toy rabbit, do everything together. Like many kids with their toys, Sam is very attached to Jump and one day they go to the beach where they have fun together, until Sam meets Thomas. Sam and Thomas end up enjoying the rest of the afternoon together at the beach, but when it’s time to go home Sam forgets poor Jump and doesn’t know what to do.

Simple yet fun illustrations.

It’s hard not to spoil the ending of this story as it’s such a short and simple tale, but it has a really happy ending and I couldn’t help but smile at what happens. I really enjoyed this paperback picture book. It’s a little smaller than A4 in size and filled with thick colourful pages that have such simple illustrations. I really liked these pictures, they are so simple and yet really show the story well. They look like simple pencil drawings and that along with the font used in the book has a childlike appearance that I really enjoyed.

Pictures look like simple drawings.

A lot of children have a favourite toy and can relate to losing that toy, or the idea of losing it, which is why I think a lot of children would like this book. It’s so simple and gives a happy, uplifting ending for what kids may sometimes experience. I certainly would have loved this book as a child and would definitely recommend it to others.

Really sweet pictures, I just love these images! 🙂 ❤

-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.

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#BookReview: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: My Adventure Field Guide #MPBooks

A fun activity book for kids interested in the outdoors with a great tie-in to the book and animation ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt adventure field guide book coverTitle: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: My Adventure Field Guide

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Non-Fiction, Children’s Activity book

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Description: There are so many wonderful things to discover on a nature adventure!

From the changing weather, creep-crawlies or even animal tracks, this guide is packed full of field tips, nature activities and fun facts to think about on your journey.

My Review:  This clever and fun book is perfect for children who are interested and love to explore the outdoors. Using the characters and illustrations from the much loved ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’, this book is packed with facts and things to do for kids.

Images from ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ appear throughout.

The book is an average book size with semi-hardback covers which can be wiped clean on the outside. Inside the pages are very thick and filled with colourful illustrations and text. The book begins by suggesting what kids should pack in order to go on a nature hunt and then each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the adventure such as the sky, what can be found in the ground/soil and plants, etc. Each chapter has lots to discover and find and I’m surprised how educational the book is while being so fun. The chapter about the sky for example explains how rainbows are formed, the lunar cycle and how weather works and the various types of clouds.

Fun activities to do.

Each chapter is really informative (I even learned some things myself) while being very fun due to the way things are easily explained and the short sections of text with lots of illustrations in between. Although the book is called an ‘adventure field guide’ it covers what can be found in urban areas as well as more rural. There are also lots of fun things for kids to do such as creating bird feeders, worm farms and baking some bear feet cookies. And of course the book wouldn’t be complete without mentioning details of the different bears and the caves you could find them in.

Lots of interesting facts to read.

The back of the book has an easy to understand glossary for kids of the more complicated words they may not know such as ‘annelids’ and ‘deciduous’ and there’s also a brief section about climate change which fits well into this whole book. I would have loved this book when I was younger. It’s not only easy and fun to read due to all the pictures but also packed with fun things to discover and do. I think plenty of kids would love to read this book and the tie in with ‘Were going on a Bear Hunt’ is a fun bonus.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.

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#BookReview: No, Nancy, No! by Alice Tait #MPBooks

A really fun flap book featuring London that kids and adults would enjoy.

No, Nancy, No! book cover Title: No, Nancy, No!

Author/Illustrator: Alice Tait

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Children’s Flap Book

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Description: Watch out London, Nancy, coming!

At Buckingham Palace Nancy and Roger discover a lost teddy bear, and the chase is on across the sights of the city to find the children who dropped it!  But little Nancy just can’t help creating a spot of mischief along the way…

Help Nancy spot the children and discover the sights of London!  With flaps to lift, a fold-out map and plenty of surprises throughout, this is a wonderfully interactive story for the whole family.

My Review: This is a very fun flap book that children and I’m sure adults would love to look at. Nancy and her friend, Roger (the dog) spend a day in London sightseeing while trying to track down the two children who dropped their teddy bear. But Nancy can’t help but get up to some mischief while there, mischief that has Roger calling out “No, Nancy, No!”

The first page of the book.

The book is a hardback around A4 in size (a bit wider but a bit shorter) filled with thick glossy pages which show the story really well. Each page opens showing Nancy and Roger at a new location with lots of different details to see in the pictures. Each double page though has at least one flap which when turned shows what mischief Nancy gets up to.

An example of Nancy’s mischief!

The images are really fun. There’s a lot of detail in them and I found myself intrigued. At times it felt like looking at a ‘Where’s Wally?’ book, with so many different things to spot while reading along with the story. The illustrations are also fun as there are some recurring characters that show up in each double page.

Fun and detailed pictures with lots to see.

The story is predictable but also has a nice ending. Despite Nancy’s behaviour she does a good thing and although I guessed the ending of the tale some kids might not and it makes this a very fun book to read. I did enjoy this book when reading it and I think it has a real appeal for kids. The whole story is fun and the flaps are a real bonus, including a special ‘flap’ near the ending which I enjoyed but wasn’t prepared for. The book is also great as it really does a good job of showing off some of the London landmarks, something which could be extra fun for kids who might be visiting the capital.  Overall a really fun book which will really keep you entertained for a long time.

Fun flaps and still lots of detailed pictures.

-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.

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#BookReview: King of the Sky by Nicola Davies & Laura Carlin #MPBooks

An interesting children’s picture book endorsed by Amnesty International.

King of the Sky book coverTitle: King of the Sky

Author: Nicola Davies

Illustrator: Laura Carlin

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

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Description: Starting a new life in a new country, a young boy feels lost and alone – till he meets an old man who keeps racing pigeons.  Together they pin their dreams on a race across Europe and the special bird they hope can win it: King of the Sky.

This is a moving story about the meaning of home which will touch and inspire people of all ages.

My Review:  This is an interesting and very relevant book but I’m not sure if it’s one children will enjoy as much as adults. It’s a hardback book around A4 in size but in landscape rather than portrait. Inside there are thick but matt pages of both illustrations and text. The story is told by the boy, an Italian immigrant, who has recently moved to a mining town in the UK. The boy is lonely and everywhere he looks around him makes him feel like he doesn’t belong in this country. But a kind old neighbour who owns racing pigeons becomes friends with the boy and gives him a pigeon of his own, one he names ‘Re Del Cielo’ (King of the Sky).

Simple images and text.

It’s hard not to give away the whole plot of the story, and I won’t, but through racing the pigeon the boy learns to feel like he belongs in this country despite being an immigrant. The message of the book is very relevant to today’s world with lots of immigration into this and many other countries. The book is in fact endorsed by Amnesty International because of its message of belonging and having a right to a home. I don’t mind the message in this book at all, I think it’s very relevant to our times and as the daughter of immigrants I feel it needs to be told. But the book never appealed to me to re-read it, there’s just something about the look of the pictures that felt a little too depressing.

Simple pastel-like illustrations

The illustrations all look like pastel drawings and they depict the dark and gloomy atmosphere of the mining town (a place that didn’t feel like home to the boy) very well. But I just never warmed to these images and I’m not sure if children would either. Some of the pictures are simple and some have interesting extra details in outlines but I feel like the last image, especially at the end of the story where it ends on a happy note could have had more colour or been brighter to reflect this happiness.

More illustrations of the book 🙂

To me this is an important book for kids to read. The message is very important to get across but it feels more like a book to discuss at school rather than one kids would choose to read. It’s just my personal opinion but this book wouldn’t have stood out for me to read when I was younger.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.

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