Book reviews, activities and ideas. By kids, for kids.
Grown ups can go and have a cuppa.
Q&A with Louie Stowell - Author of The Dragon in the Library (WARNING - includes poo and a weird space dust-eating creature)
The Dragon in the Library is a fun, fast paced adventure, filled with magic and kids saving the world. We asked author Louie Stowell to answer our burning questions...
Q: What are your top tips for budding authors learning to write funny books?
A: Think about what makes YOU laugh. The more fun you have while you’re writing something, the more other people will find it funny. Also, here are a few simple tips for writing humour:
1) Characters who don’t realise they’re doing something (this is called lack of self-knowledge), especially very pompous characters. Make them do really silly things while insisting that they are serious people who should be taken VERY seriously. This works especially well with adult characters.
2) Read a lot of funny books. The funny will seep into your blood without you noticing. Funny is infectious. You can also, if you’re hardcore, study funny books. When you laugh, think… what did the writer do that made me laugh?
3) Poo. See also farts, burps, wee, vomit.
Q: What is your best tip for kids who are struggling with reading (if a dragon isn’t available)
A: Comics! I have always loved comics, and I think they’re for everyone, from the biggest bookworms to people who’d rather be doing almost anything else except read. It’s a different type of storytelling, and it hooks into a different bit of your brain somehow. Whether you like stories about everyday life or ones about superheroes, there are so many amazing comics out there to discover. Always happy to give recommendations! I’m a big fan of The Phoenix, a weekly comic, but also book series like Amulet – a magical adventure involving giant robots.
Q: What is your fave dragon fact?
A: I love that dragons turn up in mythology all over the world and that, in some countries, such as China, they’re seen as the good guys. I’m Team Dragon, so I appreciate that.
Q: And now.. the killer question... Wow us with something we didn’t already know...
A: Tardigrades - also known as water bears or moss piglets - are microscopic (aka very tiny) creatures that can survive almost anything. They’re so tough they could survive in outer space, or in a volcano. They’re also adorable. Look!
Tardigrades. Adorable? Space monster? Evil clawed dust-burrower? What do you think?
Huge thanks to Louie for sharing her answers and freaking us all out with tardigrades! You can follow Louie on twitter here.
You can grab your copy of The Dragon in the Library from our online shop here!
Look at the amazing origami bookmarks made by young artists during our craft session!
Book Review by Mia H: Enchantée by Gita Trelease
One of the most captivating and breath-taking things about this book is the description of Paris in the late 1700s. In fact, all of the description was beautiful, especially that of the clothes and the attitudes towards others, which really helped with the illusion of the historical setting but also got across the fact that some of the attitudes were similar to that of some people today. It is absolutely spell-binding and when you’re reading it, it feels as if you’ve fallen through the pages, back in time. Another thing that was done well in this book was the relationship between the main character Camille and her sister, Sophie; how Camille would do anything to protect her sister, how that motivates her in everything she does, how Sophie is always the deciding factor in all her decisions. However, I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone under twelve, due to violence and strong language (albeit in French). I would recommend this for fans of Wicked like a Wildfire as the magic also involves beautifying things in that, and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, because the beginning that follows Ava’s grandmother reminds me of the setting in this novel.
An excellent recommendation by Esme
Recommended read - The Closest Thing to Flying by Gill Lewis
Present day: Semira doesn't know where to call home. She and her mother came to England when she was four years old, brought across the desert and the sea by a man who has complete control. Always moving on, always afraid of being caught, she longs for freedom.
1891: Hen knows exactly where to call home. Her stifling mother makes sure of that. But her Aunt Kitty is opening her eyes to a whole new world. A world of animal rights, and votes for women, and riding bicycles! Trapped in a life of behaving like a lady, she longs for freedom.
When Semira discovers Hen's diary, she finds the inspiration to be brave, to fight for her place in the world, and maybe even to uncover the secrets of her own past.
We love this book too! Thanks for the fab recommendation, Martha.
Book Recommendation: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti
Thanks for the recommendation, Martha!
We love this book too! Thanks for the fab recommendation, Martha.
Book Review by Mia H: A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison
Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse. Three magical objects with the power to change their fate. Will they be enough to break the curse? Or will they lead the sisters even deeper into danger?
All whilst reading this book, I had an image in my heart of a little town surrounded by rocks beneath a cloudy grey sky with pale green waters lapping at the rocky beaches and an imposing tower rising above it all and casting long shadows on the street below. That is how I imagine Crowstone, where this story takes place. And at the centre of this town there is a rickety old tavern, where a girl with black hair warbles something very nearly reminiscent of a tune, another sits on the floor playing with bugs and rats and a third dreams about rocky mountains and humid, emerald jungles. Those are the Widdershins sisters. And that’s how clearly you can see them all as you read this book. The bond between the sisters in this book is what really makes it special, how they go to such lengths, risk their lives even, for each other. My favourite bits however were the ones with Sorsha, a girl that has a very different family dynamic and has to live with her magical abilities in a society that is not at all accepting of them and has it in for her right from the start. This book was gripping, and is one that you could read all in one day and still feel satisfied at the end. I would recommend this book for children aged 9+ or 8+ for more mature readers. It reminded me greatly of the Huntress trilogy, just because of the whole sea atmosphere of it and is overall thoroughly enjoyable.
Dog Man fan art!
We've been sent this fantastic piece of Dog Man fan art by Mason aged 7
Watch out Dav Pilkey, you've got some competition here! Well done, Mason!
Book review: Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
Part of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
Now it’s Rowley’s turn to give his side of the story. But Rowley has agreed to tell Greg’s story along the way, too. (After all, Greg says one day he will be rich and famous and the world will need to know how he managed it). But Rowley’s stories about Greg might not be quite what his friend had in mind..
What a fun review by Mollie aged 9