The Giant’s Necklace – Michael Morpurgo — February 11, 2018

The Giant’s Necklace – Michael Morpurgo


Synopsis – Cherry was desperate to create a necklace from pink cowrie shells. It had taken her days of careful work, and she was desperate to make it the longest ever. She only had a day left to finish her necklace, and set off on her own to search for more shells. Before she realised, a storm was rolling in, and she was cut off from the shore. It begins to take a dark turn, there was no turning back.

My thoughts – We read this book during University, and we read it over 3 lessons, and we predicted what we think might happen next, which increased the tension. This book is quite dark, and may not be appropriate for some children. The book ends in a very different way to how you might expect it to. The book is very well written and you want to carry on reading to see what happens to Cherry. Cherry is a very determined and persistent character at the start of the book, wanting to finish the necklace before she returns home.

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Classroom ideas – You could use the book to teach water safety, you could have guests in to talk to them about water safety or take them to the local swimming pool. You could ask children to predict what might happen, as the book could go in many different directions, the children could write what they think might happen. The children could consider how Cherry’s family may feel at different points of the book, you could explore this through freeze frames. You could look at Cherry in detail, and write a diary entry as Cherry, describing how she might be feeling at different points in the story. The children could write a newspaper article about what happens.

The lorax – Dr Seuss — February 10, 2018

The lorax – Dr Seuss

Synopsis – A tale of how one persons action can affect the whole world in a childlike manner.

My thoughts – I had seen the film prior to reading the book, and I think the film is a really good adaptation of the book. The book has beautiful illustrations which will engage young readers. They support the book really well, and will support comprehension.

There is lots of rhyming used in the book, which gives it a really nice flow when reading. The language used is also fairly simple, making it accessible for readers of all ages.

Classroom ideas – You could use the book to discuss climate change and environmental issues, which children may not pick up from the book. You could compare it to other book that Dr Seuss wrote. You could do craft activities such as making truffala trees or making one of the characters from the book. You could do some drama, where the children could act out their favourite scene from the book. You could get a class plant which the class have to look after, which could support the teaching of plants in science.

My weird school fast facts: space, humans and farts – Dan Gutman — February 9, 2018

My weird school fast facts: space, humans and farts – Dan Gutman


Synopsis – At the weird school they love to ask questions. Their teacher helps to answer these questions whilst the pupils share fast facts about a range of topics including space.

My thoughts – This is a fun and interesting books for children. The book is filled with quick and interesting facts for children. The illustrations are very cartoon like which would interest the children. There’s quite a bit of humour in the book,which children would find amusing.

Classroom ideas – You could read one of the chapters at the start of a science lesson relating to the topic. For example, reading the space chapter at the start of a space topic to hook the children. There are some activities at the end of some of the chapters which you could do with the class.

Big Day Out – Jacquline Wilson — November 28, 2017

Big Day Out – Jacquline Wilson


Synopsis – Four short stories about different days out, from a pet show to a fair.

My thoughts – I liked that some of the short stories linked to other books that Jacquline has wrote – so you get a bit more of an insight into the characters in the stories. The stories are very short – which doesn’t leave much room for character development or much description. The language used in the book is fairly simple and makes the book accessible for most children. It is probably best for children in year 2 and lower key stage 2.

Classroom ideas – You could use this book to introduce a short story unit, where children could write their own short stories, maybe you could give them a theme that they can all relate to, similar to the big day out. You could look at Battersea shelter and maybe discuss the pros and cons of taking a shelter pet over buying from a breeder.

There’s a Boy in the Girls Bathroom – Louis Sachar — November 9, 2017

There’s a Boy in the Girls Bathroom – Louis Sachar


Synopsis – Bradley Chalkers is the oldest in his grade after having to resist years over and over again. When Carla, the new school councillor, tries to encourage him to improve his behaviour he struggles at first, but over time he gradually changes. What bumps along the road will he face on the road to self-belief?

My thoughts – This was a quick and easy read. It wasn’t one of my favourite books I’ve read, but I did enjoy it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, and found it quite child like, but I think children will enjoy this style of writing. I like how resilient Carla is and how she handles Bradley, as in the end it supports him to make changes in his life and improve his behaviour.

Classroom ideas – You could look at friendships and maybe do a friendship web, looking at who’s friends with who and what they like about each other. You could do a role on the wall to help the children understand the characters in the book. You could also do some drama, and discuss how it made them feel being in character. You could also look at bullying and how it affects someone and what they could do if they were being bullied or knew someone who was.

The BFG – Roald Dahl — October 26, 2017

The BFG – Roald Dahl


Synopsis – Who would believe that giants really exist, and that they eat human beings whilst they sleep at night, apart from one giant, the big friendly giant, who goes around giving people dreams. How will the big react when Sophie sees him giving out dreams one night, and how will they stop the other giants from eating humans?

My thoughts – I love all Roald Dahl books, there something really magical and special about Dahl’s writing that transports me back to my childhood. I read this book with my brother and he was laughing throughout the book at the words that Dahl has created. I loved the illustrations by Quentin Blake that are dotted throughout the book.

Classroom ideas – One idea is to create dream jars and ask children to write their dreams inside it. You could also look at the Queen and Buckingham palace, which could lead to a history unit on kings and queens. The class could come up with more made up words and their meanings like Dahl does in the book. There are a lot of similes used to describe the BFG, the children could come up with some more similes for the BFG or to describe the other giants or Sophie. The children could make dream catchers using paper plates and string. You could try making frogscottle from the book using a recipe online.

The boy in the dress – David Walliams — October 21, 2017

The boy in the dress – David Walliams

Synopsis – Dennis meets Lisa and is able to explore himself in a new way. He has a collection of vogue magazines hidden in his room in an attempt to secretly explore this side of himself. What will happen when he explores who he is?

My thoughts – I think this would be an ideal book to share with a class as it may help to break stereotypes and help pupils to accept others no matter what differences they have. The illustrations break up the book and may help less confident readers when reading the book. It was really well written and I didn’t want to put it down, I wanted to continue on Dennis’ journey and see where he would end up. The book helps to raise awareness of bullying and prejudice as this is a theme running throughout the book.

Classroom ideas – I think they key thing that should be discussed with pupils from this book is stereotypes ‘only girls cry’ (page 18). It would be such a good opportunity to break down these stereotypes before they are fully adopted by children. You should also discuss bullying as this is a theme running throughout the book.

The children could work in groups to create an outfit for someone to wear of the opposite gender, for example they create a dress for a boy, to break down these barriers and stereotypes.

The children could write another chapter for the book or continue a chapter to make predictions of what will happen next in the plot.

You could also teach a topic on Sikhism as there is a character in the book who wears a Patka.

Homecoming – Michael Morpurgo — October 19, 2017

Homecoming – Michael Morpurgo

Synopsis – This book is about Michael who regularly visits Mrs Pettigrew who lives by the sea with her donkey, dogs and hens. However, plans are made to build a power station where her railway carriage is.

My thoughts – I liked the illustrations by Peter Bailey that run throughout the book, and the larger font makes the book less intimidating for less confident readers. I personally didn’t really enjoy reading this book, however, I think younger children would enjoy this book more. There are some words in the book that children may not be familiar with, which would develop their vocabulary.

Classroom ideas – Children could continue writing the book or rewrite the ending, this would ensure that they have understood the plot of the book and the characters well.

The children could research power stations and have a debate about the pros and cons of them, and whether they would like a power station built in their local area.

Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library – Chris Grabenstein — August 22, 2017

Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library – Chris Grabenstein

Synopsis – Mr Lemoncello is a well-known game extraordinaire, who has a heavy involvement in Kyle Keeley’s local library redevelopment. Luckily Kyle wins a competition to get early access to the new library with a group of his peers. They spend a night playing games and exploring the new library, but when the morning comes, the doors are still locked. The challenge has begun, who will find the secret door and get out of Mr Lemoncello’s library first?16054808

My thoughts – This was a really quick and easy read that will appeal to children aged 8 and above. It shows you how important reading is, and how it can, literally, open doors. It shows children how to use a library, how the librarians are there for help and what the archives are along with other things. It’s not one of my favourite children’s books, but I do see that for some children this may bring about a joy of reading, which is so important!

Classroom ideas – You could organise a similar ‘game’ and set the pupils codes and clues that they have to solve to win a prize in the school, or at the local library. You could also look at clues and codes and how they may be used in real life and maybe look at the history of codes e.g. its connection to WW1. You could organise a class trip to the library and see if they can spot any similarities between their library and Mr Lemoncello’s library. The children could play along whilst reading the book and solve the clues alongside the characters in the book, making it very interactive, which may make the book appeal more for some children.

Travels with my sketchbook – Chris Riddell — July 17, 2017

Travels with my sketchbook – Chris Riddell

* I was lucky enough to gain access to a extract of Riddell's book last month to read and submit a quick review. I have only recently heard about the Children's laureate, so it really interested me to see what was involved in the role. It was interesting to get an idea of some of the events that Riddell got to attend as part of his role.
I loved the illustrations done by Riddell, I really like his style of illustrations, and I think that the black and white really allows you to imagine what colours may be used, however, some images do have colour used in them, and this really works with these select illustrations. I also like that they are sketches and not cartoons, which are often seen in children's books.
I think this book would be aimed at upper key stage 2, and would particularly appeal to children who prefer books with lots of illustrations. It could be used if you were looking at illustrations in books, or if you were looking at children's laureates. However, I don't think that I would personally use this book in a classroom as part of a series of lessons. It could also be used to help children to understand chronology as a lot of the illustrations are dated.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this extract of Riddell's book, and I want to read more from Riddell and see more of his work.