Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught life 101

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*Sighs* this might be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday post so far. The actually topic is Ten books that would be on your syllabus X 101. Examples include YA, fantasy, classic literature, feminist literature, you get the idea. I’ve picked ‘life 101’ and I mean it, not in a literal way, but more of the way in which books teach you something. These books include teaching you how to pick yourself up, get over heart-break, family strains. These are the books that have given me something back.

1)       The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch

This book, honest to the word, has helped in ways that I could have never expected it to. It talks of life in such an honest, wonderfully light and subtle way, but it talks of death, love and family too. The fact that author is dying as we read along makes it feel all the more destructive but it has a calming presence. It talks of never wasting time, living every day the way we want to and to take control. I haven’t really looked back since finishing this book.

2)       Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

I’ve never reviewed this book for mylittlebookblog, but I think I might soon. The book follows the main character as he comes to terms with his sister’s death from anorexia. It highlights the struggle of family life, the tough decisions we have to make, and the loss of people close to us. It’s a tale that I always dip into now and again and it’s written in a wonderfully lyrical style. My and sister and I rarely got on a couple of years back but now we’re a solid pair of besties. She’s one in a million.

3)       ‘Giovanni’s Lover by James Baldwin

When I first started this book I didn’t think I would finish it let alone make its way onto this list, but this book taught me that there are some things, we cannot take back. I went through a lot of time not caring how I made other people feel because I barely cared about myself, at all. This book taught me that our decisions, our words, our actions towards others can be detrimental to people that we love. I know it seems trivial but I needed this to speak to me and tell me I needed to stop being an ass.

4)       Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe a controversial choice, but this book helped to change the perception that I needed to plan out, almost exactly, how my life was going to pan out. I panicked about too many different elements in my life; relationships, career, where I was going to live etc. The mother bought this and told me to read it, get some perspective and calm the hell down. This was the starting blocks to letting go a little more and trusting me more.

5)       Remember to breathe by Simon Pont

I have written about this book many, many a time but reading this really helped to break through my wailing and make me think that the collapse of my relationship was merely a blip in the road. I’ve met someone who is miles better for me, and just gets me and this book helped to smooth over all the feelings that were raging at the time.

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6)       Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Another maybe, odd choice? I’ve always worried a lot about where I’m going to be, in terms of career and this book made me think. I know that what I’m doing right isn’t right for me, it’s not challenging me but the main character in this book is all over the place. He’s changing jobs every second, turning up late, drunk, forgetting things falling asleep. Although quite obviously isn’t the way to do it, the way that you can change your life and do something else, even something polar opposite,  made me positive that I’m never stuck. I can always go a different way.

7)       The Fault in our stars by John Green

This also wasn’t going to make the list but I thought, fuck it. It’s a book about adoration, love, belief and pain. But it’s a tale that teaches us that pain and hurt exist, but to live in the present, in the moment you might say if you’re feeling all gushy. This book is worth a bloody read.

8)       The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

I know this appears in all my lists but I couldn’t help myself once again. As I’ve come to terms with my anxiety many things I thought were ‘control-freak,’ tendencies were in fact my anxiety. I’ve struggled with losing friends in the past, holding on despite deceit, awkward silences and their brush-off manner. This book taught me it is okay to lose people, not because you want to but because it’s better, often for both of you.

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9) Pearshaped by Stella Newman 

Another tale about relationships but taken from the other side this book looks at the problems of unhealthy, manipulating and downright awful relationships. We are allowed to say when something is not up and stand up for ourselves. This books says that, loud and clear.

10)       Finally, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

I picked this because, some of the quotes features are so profound and special. I often like to ask people if they would like to be friends with Alice or be Alice, because her sudden change in perception is mind-blowingly beautiful. There are so many twisted bits of knowledge woven in and we see Alice grow as a person. It’s a classic book that means a lot to me and many readers and I’m glad it’s made the list.

I wrote a lot more here than I thought I would surprisingly but I thought this was a list where you really needed to explain why they made the list. This isn’t an extensive list (obviously) and when I read Wild, which I will do, I might have to include that as a bonus book because I think it might just change my outlook on everything but we’ll see. Another day another book.

I do love it when people comment and ask me and the choices, the reasons, and just hearing what you would add so if you have anything pop in down in the comments below. Lots of love and hugs, lizzy. X

Super Sporty 3: The Mechanical Menaces by Ellie Firestone

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I love children’s books because they are always such a lot of fun to read. I think that sometimes books for adults become a little too serious and lack fun which authors that write for the younger age groups get to play with so much. For me children’s books, as I say a lot, are so important in kick-starting that reading love that is so important in a child’s development and if I can help parents out there with suggestions for certain books I’ll try my best. Just a side note if you’re waiting for Amazon and Goodreads reviews, they will be up there soon, I’ve been on a bit of go slow since the festival but they will be up there soon I promise. For now another fun and snappy story for your little ones.

Sporty and her best friend, Harley, are two young horses who play basketball for Horsecitty’s professional team called the Shorthorns. They’re also superheroes.

In this book their adventures continue as they go back in time to save the young Sporty from an alien attack that will leave both superheroes powerless. But with evil robots that are programmed to seek out their targets at all cost, how will Sporty and Harley stop the mechanical menaces?

If you like horses, if you like superheroes, if you like adventure and aliens, then you’ll love Super Sporty and the rest of the Horsecitty gang.

The first thing to note is that I’m coming into this series on the third book so I was a bit confused on starting this because it does just throw you in at the deep end but if I’m right the book follows Sporty and Harley who are trying to save the world from the terribly evil Blarg and Splatt. In this instance our heroes find out that the evil duo are planning to travel back in time to take away baby Sporty’s super powers. If they succeed Sporty will be unable to show Harley her super powers and all will be lost and our heroes will be unable to save the world in the future. Sporty and Harley have no choice but to travel back in time to protect baby Sporty and stop the villains taking over the world. *insert dramatic noooooooooooo.*

I thought this book was a lot of fun; it’s a mix of vivd imagination, funky and childlike illustrations and a real understanding of how to keep a younger audience engaged wholly in the story. The writing is packed with little punchy tit-bits and ways of making your little one smile. The chapters are short enough to hold the attention span of both child and adult and you won’t find yourself getting lost in the story or needing to explain lots of bits. It comes across really well and has a very amusing and entertaining vibe throughout. In terms of content the main characters are talking, flying super hero horses who can time travel, there are both aliens and villiains and a whole barrage of other interesting and exciting characters. What more could you want?

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In terms of the age of the reader it does need to be a slightly older child unless they’re nine or ten because there are a few more difficult words interspersed but I can see this being a great book for children to take in to school and read aloud or at home before bed. It’s got enough intrigue to keep their attention but isn’t too complicated to stop their attention from sticking to the book. I think these books would be just as good being read aloud to a slightly younger child because voices could be added to the different characters to help distinguish and it could be made 6/7/8 year old friendly in that way. My only slight wobbles were one it does get a little ridiculous but I think as you continue it becomes almost like a caricature of a book; it is over the top, it is silly, it is complicated but only in the way that a child can bumble through picking up little bits. Additionally Icky and Troy do speak in what I would call baby voices which could be misconstrued; such as “Drakk say he turn good!” said Icky. “He just now unfreeze you. So maybe he be good.” As an adult I might worry that a child might pick this up as a copy cat style of talking but it’s only a small wobble.

Overall this is quite a complicated but easy to read book with some strong characters a real understanding of how to draw a child in and capture their imagination and pull them in. It has a humorous feel, some feel-good characters and a good use of heroes and villians. The speech may worry me as a parent but maybe I’m being a little picky. Definitely one for your burgeoning readers book shelf.

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BOUT OF BOOKS 2K15

 Bout of Books 14

I thought it was time to finally declare that I, Lizzy at MLBB will this year be participating in the Bout of Books read-a-thon. I’ve wanted to do one of these for a while but I’m always a little late to the party. Not this timeee; if you want to join me in this bookish mission step forward and sign up on the Bout of Books blog!

annnnd for those that don’t know what Bout of Books is… here you go:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I’m not quite sure how many books I will get completed but it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Progress:

Monday

Books Read: 0

Pages Read: 105

Total Read: 105

Minutes Read: Lots of little bits so I’m not too sure.

Notes: I participated in the Fictional World Travel Challenge and I’m currently reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott which I am really enjoying.

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Tuesday

Books Read: 0

Pages Read: 67

Total Read: 172

Minutes Read: I forgot to time this as before 

Notes: Ended up going for a raucous night out with the lovely people I call my friends up in SOT so I failed a little on the reading count. If I finish Little Women and get more stuck into 1Q84 I’ll be a happy bunny.

Progress:

Wednesday

Books Read: 0

Pages Read: 145

Total Read: 317

Minutes Read: Couple of hours

Notes: Feeling much better about the challenge as of today although still have lots to get read. I’m reallly enjoying little women but I understand totally why I struggled so much with it as a younger reader. An evening in with T I didn’t get quite as much done as I wanted but hopefully Thursday we get a bit more done!

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Progress:

Thursday

Books Read: 0

Pages Read: 655 (325)

Total Read: 642

Minutes Read: A few hours 

Notes: I still haven’t finished a book because I switched and instead read The Death of Danny Daggers by author Haydn Wilks (@haydnwilks.) I’m really enjoying Little Women but it is a bit full on and I fancied something a bit lighter in terms of the language used. However, because TDODD it’s an ARC and a PDF copy the writing seems to be super big so although I did read 655 pages, I’m not sure this is a fair showing of how many pages so I’ve divided it by two. Which brings my total so far to 655 #holla.

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Progress:

Friday

Books Read: 2

Pages Read: 330

Total Read: 972

Minutes Read: A few hours 

Notes: Today I finished reading The Death of Danny Daggers by author I Haydn Wilks (@haydnwilks.) I’m really just got into it, got my head down and polished it off. Brilliant book with some superb writing, characters and a really gritty feel. I also finished Little Women, I think I was in such a daze reading it that I didn’t realise I had only one chapter to go, so on the way home to Milton Keynes I finished it off. Pretty perfect.

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Progress:

Saturday

Books Read: 2

Pages Read: 170

Total Read: 1142

Minutes Read: An hour or so

Notes: Apologies for the lack of updates over the weekend. I was at home for the weekend celebrating my sisters birthday and I just didn’t have a minute to get this updated. I didn’t have a lot of time for reading but I started reading ‘What Milo Saw’ by Virginia Macgregor. It’s beautiful so far.

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Progress:

Sunday

Books Read: 3

Pages Read: 249 

Total Read: 1391

Minutes Read: Just over two hours

Notes: After a busy weekend, T and I travelled home for a good rest and although I was so very tired I just about managed to polish off the last of What Milo Saw, and I was so close to tears. I need to write the review up today before I forget how beautiful it all was but yes, three books, read lots more than I thought and I’m tempted to write a close up piece to this challenge. Maybe, we’ll see.

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The Holey’s in the wall by Helen Ryan

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Hellllllllo readers, hope you’re well. I’m thinking of starting a monthly wrap up but because I review every book  I read I wonder whether it’s a bit repetitive. Saying that, I read and reviewed thirteen books in June, honestly how is that possible? Was I not sleeping? But it’s fair to say it’s been a good month in terms of reading and I intend mightily to keep it up. Today’s book is from the wonderful Helen Ryan who wrote the brilliant McSorely’s evil tea, which I adored. So here is my review of her second book and another great little read.

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Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! KABOOM!

Bo had never heard anything like it before. Red and white dust was everywhere and big bits of the Wall crumbled away.

‘Holey terror!’ shouted Mr Buzz in Bo’s left ear. ‘Take cover!’

What would you do if your world was falling apart? Run, hide or try and save the day? The Holeys all live in a gigantic stone wall that is beginning to crumble and fall. They are frightened if the Wall falls what will become of their home?

Bo is the youngest Holey. He is asked to go where no Holey has gone before, beyond the Wall. He must seek the mysterious Builder who the Holeys believe will save them. Bo discovers there is more to life than the Wall that houses them all.

But what happens if Holeys don’t follow the rules?

Well everyone follows the rules. Don’t they?

So the book follows the Holey’s who you may have guessed are covered in holes; four holes to be precise. One hole in the top of the head which houses the little people and one in the chest which holds acres of crops and orchard. The third hole is full of many animals roaming around it (this one is in the Holey’s belly button) and the final hole houses the weather and it’s in the back of the Holey. Got that? The Holey’s are giants if you were wondering and their job is to hold up the wall. One day it begins to crumble, and terrified for their future they send Bo to go and discover what is past the wall.

So, I really enjoyed the ‘oddness’ of this story. The Holey’s I thought are really interesting characters, and the idea that they are covered in holes that house different parts that make up the world is something quite fantastical and original. The book is a lot shorter than the first but I think it works because the age range is slightly younger I think for this book. I thought the idea of Bo discovering the sun and the moon was intriguing and trying to picture how the wall was constructed and the giants will get younger readers really intrigued into the life of the Holeys. I also thought the little people especially Sonny who has a terribly large appetite will raise a few giggles, with the writing being a little disgusting but children adore that kind of thing so it’s a thumbs up from me.

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The writing style is terribly quirky in much more pronounced way which I think works better here because it is a shorter piece of writing as I think it could get over-the-top but Helen manages it well and I can see the similarities between the two books. As the Holey’s have never been past the wall before there are many different things they have never experiences and I liked the repetition of this with the wording ‘You won’t believe this but Holeys don’t know what a keyhole is!’ Children often need something as like this to tie it all together and repetition is always a bonus so I thought that was a clever way to tie everything in. I also really liked, what I think is the interweaving almost of the creation story, (I hope I’ve got this right,) but as the story continues and Bo learns more and more about the world we experience almost the seven days of creation especially which is then all collated at the end. I thought it was clever and an original story-line that toyed with this.

My only complaint would be a little more description on the whole. I really think although the writing moved with pace to get so much in although only a short novel more could have been pushed in about the holey’s physical appearance and the description of the wall because at times I found it difficult to picture it all in my head but it’s a minor quibble. Overall this is a tale of discovery, fantasy and another great book from Helen Ryan, I may have enjoyed McSorely’s a little more but this is still a really wonderful tale.

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Top Ten Tuesdays: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

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Good M’rnin readers and happy Tuesday. I love Tuesdays because myself and the only other lady who works for the company (c’mon engineering catch up,) squirrel away to Morrisons and buy all sorts of things that are terrible for me trying to lose weight, (diet smiet I say.) Todays Top Tuesday’s post is to list ten top ten characters that are fellow book nerds and I’m worried that my list will be the same as everyone else’s so I’ve tried valiantly (and failed) to add more obscure characters. *wails*

Tengo from 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

This book is taking me months to finish but Kenko is die-hard reading/writer and I find his gentle disposition and his attitude to reading and books so easy to relate to.

Meggie from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I struggled with this book as a younger reader but I’m so glad I finished it. She is a delightful young reader and a character I really felt I could relate to.

Hazel and Gus from The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

I can’t decide whether this will appear on all the lists of very few? We’ll see. Both adore books although they are polar opposites in terms of what they like to read. This quote is also utterly beautiful from the book and so, so true.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

Charlie from the Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Cbosky

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Another book I can’t decide whether will spring up on lots of lists, but Charlie loves to read and is encouraged by his teacher to write more and use the books to think and reflect upon his own life.

Mel from Bad Dreams by Anne Fine

Another slightly more obscure book although I am sure many have read this brilliant book. The premise of the book follows Mel who is an book-worm *cheers* and prefers to have her nose stuck in a book than make friends with her classmates. However she is made unwillingly to look after the new girl in school, Imogen, but all is not what it seems to be. Imogen is strange and mysterious and Mel is adamant to find out her secret.

Klaus Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

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I loved this series of books and Klaus being an avid reader with an eidetic memory he had to make the list. Remembering virtually everything he reads he often helped his sisters escape from situations that their archenemy, Count Olaf, lead them to. A real bookish hero.

Liesel from The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

I wasn’t going to include this one but it’s one that had to make the list. Also if you haven’t read this book, you need to. The number of book bloggers I know that have this as one of their *unofficial* favourite books is astonishing.

Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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This is where I fail and just pick characters that just bookish through and through. Cath adores books and revels more in the fictional world than the real world. She’s a little darling.

Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl

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Another very obvious choice but some of these you just can’t keep off the list because, you just can’t.

Finally, Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling

Another pretty clear choice, but I loved Hermione. She is a gem.

They you go wonderful readers, ten bookish characters who love to read.

A Brand New Day by A.S Chung

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Hellllllo readers, another day another book to bring you; I have honestly read some wonderful books recently. I’ve been adding them to Goodreads and Amazon and although I don’t personally do stars you have to on such websites and so many of them are four or five stars. I’m starting to feel a little like a broken record with all the praise however bringing you excellent books is all part of my job. Today a delightful children’s book, that looks at the silver lining of parents separating.

Mondays and Tuesdays are fun, going on cooking adventures with Dad. We look forward to Wednesdays and Thursday too when we get to be a green thumb with Mum. Don’t forget the holidays! Spring breaks with Mum and hot summer camping with Dad. Each day is a truly special day! A Banana Split Story is a series within the Pigeonhole Books collection that features stories about children from separated and divorced families.

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When I received this book I was a little worried, my parents are still together (for reasons that often escape me) but I do remember at school the shock and horror when another child’s parents decided that it was best to split. Even now a number of my friends from university are still a little sour because it’s a big deal and something that no-one wants to see happen. However this book has a very sweet way of looking at it; far from sad the little girl in the story writes of her love of both her parents. Instead of loathing going between the two she treasures the time she gets to spend with both of them separately. Whether it is cutting up tomatoes and eating them with Dad or playing in the garden with Mum and her new step-brother she adores the fun she gets to have with both.

In terms of writing style, I know this is a children’s book but it’s still important, the pages tend to feature two clauses that rhyme in a single sentence. Such as: ‘I love the breezy, sun-kissed school break in the spring, I spend it with Mum and we do almost everything.’ It’s a lovely little touch because I can imagine little ones noticing the rhyme, and because it is carried throughout it makes it all feel thought through and planned. I know I’ve said this before but books for children of a younger age need to be constructed and written with thought because they have the potential to set a child up for a lifetime love of reading. The wording is spot-on in terms of reading age and interesting enough to be quite an enjoyable read.

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The illustrations are utterly beautiful. They are detailed and extensive but minimalist using black, white and a coral coloured red. It makes it look really mature and really honestly wonderful to read. Mainly though I liked that the book doesn’t lecture on divorce but instead almost completely ignores it. It focuses almost entirely on a positive message, with the only real mention of the separation in the last line ‘I love both my parents as much as they love me, I know we’re apart but we will always be three.’

Overall a sweet story with a wonderful message; interesting but simple enough for young readers but also enjoyable for adults to enjoy. This is a brilliant book for parents who have separated to read along with their darling children.

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Books on the Nightstand Summer Book Bingo 2015

Good afternoon readers, hope you enjoyed the lovely posts here today. I found this post from Savage Reads, a blog that I truly enjoy reading, and thought I would create my own. The idea is that sometimes we get into a bit of a rut when it comes to the books that we read, and reviewing extensively books that are sent to me I often end up reading the same things over and over again. However, what about those books we may never end up reading let alone enjoying if we don’t step back and starting reading something a little different.

As Simon puts it,

‘The lovely hosts of Books on the Nightstand podcast, Ann and Michael, have come up with over 140 possibly categories for you which form a bingo card that you can work through, getting a line or full house, and base your reading around over the summer months.

All you have to do to create your own, because I know you are desperate to and why not its super fun, is press on this link here and it should generate a bingo card for you.’

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and here is my bingo scratch card! It’s quite an interesting set of books. Some are going to be quite easy, I think the pseudonym one might finally get me to read The Silk Worm by Robert Galbraith (aka J K Rowling) and I adore reading novellas, but Nonfiction about your home-town and sport-related do not fill with me anticipation to say the least. Saying that I think it could have been a hell of a lot worse. We shall have to see whether I manage it but I’m hoping it sets me on a bookish-adventure. I’ll keep you informed as I go along, and if you have any suggestions please let me know!

Naughty Norman by Leora Lazarus

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Afternoon readers, today I have another children’s book for you to be reviewed. I have recently really found a love for reviewing children’s books because they are so important for kick-starting that love of reading that will then span into the future. I cannot thank my parents enough for investing so much time taking me to the library, dragging me away from the library and reading to me every night. I know, having a friend who now works in the education system that many children don’t get the same privilege. I’m not sure where I would be if I wasn’t reading and didn’t have this adoration of literature that is impossible to quash. A children’s book needs to ignite that passion of reading, so let’s see if this one hits the mark.

Naughty Norman is a beloved character in Teacher Lee’s preschool classroom. He has helped educate thousands of children and he never fails to make circle time fun. Now Naughty Norman can teach counting skills and time concepts to pre-schoolers and early readers in your home

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So the blurb gives next to nothing away which isn’t an issue although it does give you an idea of what’s to come. The basic premise of the book is that Naughty Norman is hiding. Not in the most intelligent places as you discover later on but for now, yes, he is hiding. Norman thinks that he can hide for one whole day and that everyone will miss him. The book counts the minutes as Norman goes through a range of possibilities as the time clicks on, missing breakfast, maybe the house will be sold? Maybe everyone will forget about him? Will Norman be found? It’s something your little ones will find out at the end of the book.

So, what did I think? I actually really enjoyed this book. As my mother will lovingly recall, telling the time was a terribly difficult skill to learn for me. Reading I seemed to pick up with no problem at all, missing phonics and just reading. However, the time, that was a toughie for this little blogger. I thought the illustrations were really lovely. They have the feel that they’ve been drawn by a child and although I’m sure they’re not because they’re a little too brilliant I think they match the tone of the book wonderfully. Although the story doesn’t tell a particular moral or tell a complex story the idea of the minutes counting up and different thoughts appearing in the mind of our main character the book feels as though it has substance as a tale.

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I did also really like the plot of the book. I am sure many of us as children can remember running away to hide, thinking we’ve been away hours to find only a couple of minutes have past. I think this would make a great read-aloud book for both parents and children. My only criticism is based on the age of the book and the illustrations I think the text could have been a little longer. Although the images are quite big it felt as though there was a larger capacity to teach more to the children reading it because it felt like it was a little easy in terms of the length of the text actually in the book. However I think the words used were the perfect age range and that they sat well together.

Overall this is a sweet book with some really nice ideas and one I think readers would really enjoy. I thought the plot line was a lovely thought and the writing style was brilliant for children. With a little more text I thought this could have been more educational however a book I would definitely read to a little one.

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