The Right Hand Rule by R.M Clark

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Christmas is over again – *noooooooo.* This feels a little odd because I wrote this post last month as I knew there was no way I would be able to blog with all the family/friends/life bits going on this months so I’ve been scheduling like a busy bee. I couldn’t decide whether to blog over the Christmas period but I’ve got too many reviews not too. Today’s is a delightful children’s book that I recently had the delight of reading. Enjoy.

Amy, Amanda, Marshall, and Ziggy expect their middle school to be empty on Saturday morning so they can get ready for the regional science fair. They don’t expect a botched experiment to attract a horde of time-displaced ancient Mayans when their unusual science advisor, Frederick Froth, goes missing.

The four must use their unique science skills and work together as they grapple with a Mayan god, the Dark Rift, and the principles of science to rescue Mr. Froth.

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I’m going to start this review the only way I know how – I wish this had been around when I was 7/8 and getting utterly obsessed with reading. The book follows the confusion of a botched science experience at a science fair where a bunch of Mayans appear just as their teacher Mr Froth goes missing. We follow the story with Amy,  Amanda, Marshall and Ziggy who must battle with the evil Mayans, and find their teacher ASAP!

In terms of the characters Ziggy is wonderful – from the very first sentence he comes across a little arrogant but in an utterly adorable and intelligent way. He’s brainy, really clued up on life and a lovely little character. The rest of the bunch have their own ways – I really liked Amanda and definitely thought she gave Ziggy a run for his money at times in the brainy stakes. Each adds their own flourish to the group and although they don’t truly get on at the beginning they learn that their differences and their individual traits will make all the difference when they have to work together; it’s a lovely moral to the tale.

It’s not all about morals, there’s a really exciting scientific, historical enjoyment to this book. Facts and fiction are mixed seamlessly here and throughout the book the author manages to make the dispersed information fun whilst also explaining it in simplistic but interesting ways. At times it does become a little complicated, and think as each of the characters brings in their own knowledge to solve the mysteries it does get a bit technical; it worries me a little that children could get a little confused in the information. Saying this – if read with a parent this would be a wonderful thing to go through together during the tale and make the book more interactive (just a thought.)

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In terms of the writing style it is perfect for the target audience which I would assume is around the age 7/8+. Although it is exciting and well described it is simple enough to be understood without becoming slow or boring. As the tension builds in the second half of the book I thought the suspense and then tension really increased and as we get closer and closer to the end I really couldn’t put the book down. It has a really wonderfully warm feeling mixed with the excitement of solving the mystery. My only wobble was some of the text styling the italics and the over use of exclamation marks for me were a little distracting but that’s a personal preference really.

Would I recommend this? Yes, and if it wasn’t so close to Christmas I definitely would have suggested this as a stocking present. It has the perfect mix of loveable characters, excitement, mystery and science. I think this is also a book that parents and grown-ups would really enjoy reading to their child because it’s exciting and interesting enough to really involve more adult readers too! If there’s a sequel I would love to get my hands on it because I thought this was pretty wonderful. Thumbs up.

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Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye

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Helllllllo readers, another review today from the recesses of my reading life because, me and reading have seriously fallen out. I just can’t get the reading buzz back but it doesn’t feel like a reading slump, more of a reading bust-up. I’m not sure even reading the Chocolate Run, my go to, will help this time.  I just need to clear the air with reading, get into a really, (really) good book  and clear this all up. However, it has allowed me to review a number of books I’ve read but never quite got round to typing up which is always nice. Today a delightful children’s book which was pretty darn lovely.

Hermux Tantamoq is an average mouse who works in his watch shop by day and spends his evenings at home with Terfle, his pet ladybug. But all that changes when Linka Perflinger, daredevil aviatrix, steps into his shop, drops off her watch for repair, and walks out with Hermux’s heart. When a shady-looking rat tries to claim Linka’s watch, Hermux knows that something must be terribly wrong, and embarks on a dramatic quest to find her . . .

As the blurb suggests the book follows Hermux Tatamoq who just happens to be a watchmaking mouse. In his day to day life, he has a little pet ladybird called Terfle, he wears flannel shirts and he has numerous printed images of different cheese from around the world. He has a crush however, on the darling Ms.Linka Perflinger who just so happens to visit his watch shop needing an emergency repair on her watch. From that moment, Hermux’s life will change forever. As Ms Perflinger seemingly disappears our worried friend will go on a hair raising mission to find his missing lady. The journey paved with killers, thieves, snakes, dramatic rescues and a casual Fountain of Youth will be a terrifying mission for the mouse but a brilliant tale to tell.

Now for the fun bit; there’s something just delightful about this tale, a story following a mouse with a pet ladybird; it’s pretty special. The writing is solid with just the right amount of description. Sometimes with fantasy books there’s too much and for children especially, this can bog the story down. Here it is flitted in to help aid the imagination of the child but not so much smother it, if that makes sense? The characters are well described with a lightness of touch and the author works hard to distinguish the villains and the characters we love (mainly Hermux and Ms Linka.) I really liked how Hermux’s humble nature was turned into an inquisitive detective and the mild nature of him made this story doubly sweet.

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I thought the story was clever and the introduction good vs evil makes for a strong plotline to develop the tale and the characters as a whole. I thought the journal from the Jungle of Teulabonari (what a great name) was a brilliant insertion allowing for the introduction of new characters like the army of lab rats and the cosmetics monarch. It sounds a little confusing but it comes together really well. The story twists and turns and I thought the odd names of the characters and places would really help to intrigue younger readers.

In terms of negatives there are some passages of description that are really long. For me a reader who likes description I loved it but for younger readers it could get tiresome and the long and fiddly names could also be a difficulty. This could also cause problems when reading aloud but it’s a small-ish point.

This book for a young reader has everything; suspence, excitement, good vs evil, and some really exciting and well developed characters. A fun book an exciting tale and one to get younger readers really into their reading. Spot on.

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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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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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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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