Tuesday 16 September 2014

Finding a Voice by Kim Hood - Blog Tour!

Summary from Goodreads

Jo could never have guessed that the friendship she so desperately craves would come in the shape of a severely disabled boy. He can’t even speak. Maybe it is because he can’t speak that she finds herself telling him how difficult it is living with her eccentric, mentally fragile mother.

Behind Chris’ lopsided grin and gigantic blue wheelchair is a real person — with a sense of humour, a tremendous stubborn streak and a secret he has kept from everyone.

For a while it seems life may actually get better. But as Jo finds out just how terrible life is for Chris, and as her own life spirals out of control, she becomes desperate to change things for both of them. In a dramatic turn of events, Jo makes a decision that could end in tragedy.

This is the story of how an unusual friendship unlocks the words that neither knew they had.

Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 11th 2014 by O'Brien Press 

Guest Post


In a way, I have been doing research for Finding a Voice most of my life. It just so happens that many of my experiences in life have involved people with disabilities and challenges of various kinds.

My ‘day jobs’ have always been very interesting. I’ve taught kids in interesting places—like way up north in Canada and across the globe in Malawi. I’ve also taught interesting kids—kids who had tough times in regular classes because they just didn’t fit. Sometimes they didn’t fit because of mental health challenges, or because reading was a challenge, or because they had a unique way of experiencing the world that made it difficult for others to relate to them. I’ve also supported people with various disabilities to live in their homes. And occasionally, I have had the difficult task of supporting people when they needed the safety of a psychiatric ward in the hospital.

So when I naively started to write this novel, with no outline whatsoever, the characters that emerged came from those experiences I suppose. I wouldn’t say that they are ‘typical’ though, any more than any character in a novel is typical. Stories, even realistic stories, are supposed to be an exaggeration, aren’t they? Just a little happier, or a little sadder, or a little faster paced than our own lives.

And yet, I hope that this is a book that kids can ‘see themselves’ in. There are not enough books out there that depict the vastly varying experiences of kids--about ten percent of who happen to have a disability of some kind. I wonder if authors shy away from writing characters with disabilities because they are afraid of ‘not getting it right’. Even with half a lifetime of experience working with people with disabilities and mental illness, now that Finding a Voice is out there, I am afraid that I didn’t capture the experience of having a disability or mental illness correctly.

The stories that might not be told because of this fear! There are so many ways to find out more about kid’s experiences with disability and mental illness. There is the internet of course, but more importantly, there are real people out there who can share their experience. It’s okay to ask a person with a disability questions (someone you know of course!). There are also people like me—teachers, special needs assistants, therapists, support workers—who would be happy to answer questions about ‘technical stuff’ and maybe even make introductions to someone with a disability who might help with research.

I do hope that if an author has a great story, with a character who happens to have a disability, that the fear of ‘getting it wrong’ becomes less than the need to write the story, because kids need diverse books that reflect the diversity of their lives. I think we have an obligation to write those books.  

About the Author

Kim Hood grew up in a Canada and now lives in Ireland with her family and a menagerie of animals. Writing is her all-time favourite thing to do—nearly a tie with reading. Her first novel Finding a Voice has just been published by O’Brien Press.


Thursday 28 August 2014

Found by Salina Yoon

My Review

Found is a very heart-felt and heart-warming tale full of friendship and doing the right thing. I think I quite possibly loved this a little more than an adult should....

Bear is such a lovely fellow, who stumbles upon a lost bunny while out on his travels. Being such a great guy, he makes it his mission to reunite the poor bunny with it's owner - who Bear is sure must be very sad!

He makes posters and searches high and low. Not having any luck, Bear lets himself have a fun filled day with the bunny he's come to love so much. Bear learns that doing the right thing isn't always the easiest.

We are huge fans of Salina Yoon's big blocky illustrations. They really are rather marvellous and Bear really is super duper cute.

Found proves the point that one man's trash is another man's treasure and our hearts just burst with happiness at Bear's happy ending. A really really beautiful story - we simply adored it!

5 / 5 Stars

*Special thanks to Bloomsbury for the review copy*

Monday 25 August 2014

Specs for Rex by Yasmeen Ismail

My Review

Specs for Rex couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time for us. My little lady got her very first pair of glasses on the very same it really was meant to be!

Rex is such a cool dude, who has just gotten a new pair of glasses. But the glassed are big and round...and red. So, they stick out for everyone to see. Rex doesn't want everyone at school to see his he hides the funniest of places!

Turns out, having super cool glasses isn't such a bad thing when they help earn him a gold star. Even his friends fancy a pair themselves.

The illustrations are made up of big bold brush strokes of striking colour and we just didn't know what to feast our eyes upon first.

Specs for Rex is a super fun story with the most amazing positive message to reassure little glasses wearing folks everywhere. We heartily recommend!

5 / 5 stars

*Special thanks to Bloomsbury for the review copy*

Monday 21 July 2014

Reading Rocks Blog Tour - Why? by Tracey Corderoy

 Summary from Amazon UK

Archie is a rhino with a LOT of questions. He wants to know everything: "Why glue is so sticky? Why do dropped things go SMASH?" If only finding out was a little less messy...Everybody's much-loved rhino returns in this brand-new sequel to No! from the wonderful Tracey Corderoy (Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam and The Little White Owl) and award-winning Tim Warnes (I Don't Want to Go to Bed). Brimming with gorgeous illustrations, this warm, funny book is guaranteed to become a firm favourite. A must for all families with curious toddlers who just love to ask "WHY?"

My Review

Why? is a delightful picture book full of fun, adventure and a little bit of frustration...on the parents part anyway. Every child goes through the why stage and while it can be rather cute and funny at times, it can also have some parents pulling their hair out.

We adored Tracey's last picture book, No! and we were just as pleased with this. My daughter said to me recently "You know, children are allowed to ask lots of questions because that's how they learn about the world around them." I was baffled, who on earth had she been talking to? But it also make me realise that she was exactly right. While an endless stream of questions and whys can be tedious, a child's inquisitive nature is a really great thing.

This storyline sees the super cute Archie asking why? to just about everything. Not only that, he's making the biggest mess along the way. His parents decide to take him to the museum, because lets face it, that seems to be a good place for asking questions...until he starts asking some embarrassing ones...

The ending will most definitely put smiles on faces everywhere!

Tim Warnes' illustrations are so good. They are super vibrant and very busy. We think little Archie is the cutest rhino in rhino history!

Why? is a wonderful picture book that is not only perfect for inquisitive toddlers but also worn down parents. It really is a must!

A BIG 5 stars!

Tracey Corderoy 
Why do worms wriggle? 
Why is rain wet?  
Why cant I eat ice-cream forever! 

When we are young the world is jam-packed with so very much to find out. Possibilities are endless, expeditions imperative, and consequences rarely considered. Finding out is fun and something to be done. Now! Lets go! Quick! 
In Cider with Rosie, three-year-old Laurie Lee finds himself dumped in an overgrown garden bursting with whats, whys and wherefores. Its a place he can neither understand, nor leave alone. A world which is both terrifying and compelling, and one which is his to master: 

‘…The June grass, amongst which I stood, was taller than I was, and I wept. I had never been so close to grass before. It towered above me ... thick as a forest and alive with grasshoppers that chirped and chattered and leapt through the air like monkeys From stone to stone in the trackless yard I sent forth my acorn shell of senses, moving through unfathomable oceans like a South Sea savage island  hopping across the Pacific. 
 Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee 
Laurie Lees words resonated with me, and Archie in Why? also possesses this urge to understand and become master of his world. He too, like some savage South Sea island, moves across his landscape (from kitchen to garden to museum to parents bedroom!) with purpose, enthusiasm, and endless, endless questions!  
But of course, these questions are to be encouraged. His parents know that, and we parents know it too. We want our children to have lively minds, sparkly eyes and muddy fingers – even if their never-ending stream of, WHYS?” keep coming and coming and coming!    

So although Archie is up and asking questions even before the sun rises, would his parents have him any other way? Of course not!  
 Hooray then, for the finders-out of this world! For little Archies up and down this land. For their parents, too this book is for YOU.  
And why not?!  

Tracey was born in South Wales and now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, two daughters and a menagerie of animals. She is a trained teacher and used to run specialist literacy programmes in schools before becoming a full-time writer. Tracey has always had a passion for wonderful literature and began writing for children in 2006.

The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo

My Thoughts

The Colour Thief is a visual masterpiece that we could of happily stared at all day long. It also has some really great positive messages that truly make it a must read!

Zot, lives in a dreary far away land that doesn't have any colour. He stares longingly at the super vibrant earth, deciding he must go and get some of that cheeriness for himself. When he arrives, he is overwhelmed with all the wonderful colours. He opens his suitcase, says the magic words and steals the colours from the world. Zot gets greedy but when leaving for home again he has a last moment flash of conscience.

A little boy shows an act of kindness that fills Zot's heart with joy. One little selfless moment transforms not only Zot's life but also the lives of others in a really beautiful way.

While we loved the storyline itself, the artwork really is something else. Starting off colourless, to build into a riot of vibrancy awesomeness really shows how much life colour can truly bring. Seeing it all be taken away only proves the point.

The colour thief is a glorious riot of life and colour! It shows kindness is a thing to be treasured and proves the point that 'a little colour can go a long way.'

4/5 Stars

*Special thanks to Bloomsbury for the review copy*

Friday 18 July 2014

Harry and the Monster by Sue Morgan & Nick East

My Review

If you're a parent then you've most probably been disturbed in the middle of the night by a loud 'Theres a monster under my bed!!' This laugh out loud picture book shows little guys how to fight back against those big bad bedroom monsters.

The little boy in this story, Harry, is awoken night after night by a big nasty monster. His parents give him some super tips, including imagining pink pants on it's try and make him look less scary. But what do you think monsters are really afraid of?

The ending is hilarious...I think it's hard not to be a little frightened by the thing that frightens our monster!

Harry and the Monster is a really great read full of fun, adventure and surprises. Nick East's illustrations pop right up out of the page and bring everything to life so vibrantly. A perfect bad dream kicker!

4 / 5 Stars

*Special thanks to Little Tiger Press for the review copy*

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr Seuss

My Review

This has to be the most brilliant book in brilliant book history. It is funny, rhymes in a sing songing way and needs to be read with great booming enthusiasm. Warning - this book is not for the timid reader!!

Mr. Brown really is quite wonderful and the different sounds he can do are all rather outstanding. As the reader goes through all the different things the text turns into a bouncing song that begs to be read out loud. Little ears and little mouths will revel in learning and trying out these super sounds with Mr. Brown.

The illustrations are really memorable. They have this old time cartoon feel to them, which is really wonderful.

This is a sounds adventure that will stick in heads everywhere. It is full on fun and packs a big punch. We simply can't recommend it enough!

5 / 5 stars

*Special thanks to Harper Collin's Children's Books for the review copy*