5 Ideas for Getting Kids Involved with Nature this Easter Holiday

5 Things Easter (2)1.Have an Easter Nature Hunt! We all know about the traditional Easter Egg Hunt but try a twist on this tradition. Instead you could focus on finding different insects or maybe looking for the signs of Spring. The possibilities are endless and could create lots of fun for the little ones (and grown ups!) in your life.

2. Find yourself a copy of Outdoor Wonderland by Josie Jeffery and Alice Lickens. This is a fantastic guide for kids to being outside. It is packed full of activities that can keep the whole family entertained. I love the wide variety of ideas on offer from Eco Art to ideas for windy and rainy days.

Outdoor Wonderland

3. Make a Field Journal. I have always been a huge fan of journaling and I am keen to find as many ways as possible to get kids involved. A Field Journal (Nature Journal) is a perfect way to get kids out there observing nature. You could even create a family journal! This great video from SciShow Kids is a perfect way to introduce kids to the idea of a Field Journal.

4. Geocaching! You don’t need a GPS device, you can get started with your mobile phone! I love Geocaching as it fits in with my love of exploring. Check out this blog post from Family Sponge for more about Geocaching with kids!

5. Check out the Daylight Explorers Nature and Wildlife Pinterest Board for a wide variety of ideas for crafts, journaling and other nature related ideas. But most importantly enjoy spreading love and appreciation for nature!

Arthur and the Golden Rope

5 Golden Reasons To Love Arthur and the Golden Rope by Joe Todd Stanton.

  1. Oh my goodness that front cover is delicious! Shiny gold, gorgeous greens and my goodness that looming face!

 

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2. The opening- who can resist a story that starts in a room filled with artefacts of great power and rarity? And books filled with tales of adventures and mysterious creatures? Win! I am sure the Brownstone family were DAYLIGHT EXPLORERS!

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3) Arthur Brownstone- An unlikely hero but my goodness he loves exploring (see I told you they were daylight explorers!). The book follows Arthur’s adventures including a grand final quest to save his village. Land of the Vikings. Check.Monstrous Black Wolf. Check!

4) The illustrations. These illustrations drew me in so much. They are filled with gorgeous detail and my Year 4 class couldn’t get close enough to me to see them. My class (who are very honest I’ll have you know) absolutely loved the illustrations and they particularly enjoyed looking for all the small details. Our book talk lasted a long time as they all excitedly shared what they could see.

5) Just read some of the comments from Year 4!

P- “I liked the illustrations.”

H- “It was a nice type of book because it was like someone was telling the story in a story.”

A- “I really liked the adventure.”

L- “I liked the way the book with written with the font and looking like a scroll.”

 

 

Many thanks to Flying Eye Books for sending me a copy of this book. This review from the children and I is completely honest and it was a lovely reading time together. Thanks so much Flying Eye Books and Joe Todd Stanton!

Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure

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A lot of my book purchases start the same, I am browsing my lovely local bookshop (hello Heffers Children’s!) and something grabs my attention. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but sometimes a cover just makes you grab a book and run to the till. That is what happened with Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space. It was also handy for a space mini topic we were doing at school a month or so later. All I can say is my class loved it and it became my most borrowed book for weeks after. So imagine my joy when I was emailed by the lovely Emma of Flying Eye Books to tell me about a new Astro Cat book, Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure. Astro Cat is back to tell us all about the wonderful world of physics! The series is written by Dominic Walliman and illustrated by Ben Newman.

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I am now going to hand over to my lovely class who are going to share some of their thoughts and later we even get to interview Dominic and Ben!

Year 4- Our Thoughts

WM- It is interesting because you get to know more.

BM- It is simple to understand and it is teaching me things. I also really like the colours and illustrations.

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EP- I like it because if I didn’t know what magnets are the book could teach me so I could know more.

ES- I would like more pages!

DA- It is fascinating and just the right length.

 

The Interview

We were then lucky enough to get the chance to email some questions to Ben and Dominic and receive replies!

Year 4- How did you think of so many facts?

 BEN: I just ask Dominic. Hey Dom, how do you think of all those facts?

DOM: I read a lot of books which filled my head up with facts, also, I learned a lot of physics which meant I could make up some of my own.

 Year 4- How long did it take to make the book?

BEN: It took about one year and 8 months. Dominic and I live in different countries now so it is a bit more difficult for us to talk. We use the internet to discuss ideas and share drawings. It would be really, really difficult for us to do Professor Astro Cat books without it.

DOM: Yes it took many drafts, which meant that we made something then talked about how to make it better, and then did that over and over again until we got something that we were really happy with.

 Year 4-Why do you like Science?

BEN: I know Dominic from school and he was always fascinated by science. I love science but I was more interested in art and English when I was at school.

DOM: Have you ever lay in bed at night and wondered why were are here? Or what we are made of? Or where the Universe comes from? Or what time is made of? I like science because it tries to answer questions like this and is so far the best way we have of finding out the answers. I find it endlessly fascinating!

Year 4- Why did you choose a cat for the main character?

BEN: When I was 7, my sister and I would make cartoons of our Grandma’s neighbour’s cat called Fluffy. Everyone in my family, except me, have a cat and I’ve been drawing cats since I was little and love drawing them now. I actually have a dog but sssssh! don’t tell anyone.

DOM: Cats are great! Ben came up with the idea of having the main character called Professor Astro Cat, and when he told me, I thought it was the best idea ever.

 Year 4- What is the title of your next book?

BEN: Its all about bogies. not really! I cant tell you what its about yet but we are working on it right now.

DOM: Professor Astro Cat is in his lab tinkering on his next invention and he can’t wait to unveil it. Not quite yet though… 🙂

 Thank you to Flying Eye Books for a copy of the book, Ben and Dominic for answering our questions and to my lovely class for their thoughts and comments!

Marcia Williams- Part 1

This month I am very excited to join in a celebration of the Children’s Book Illustration Autumn Exhibition. I was given the opportunity to ask the fantastic Marcia Williams some questions and discover some of her inspirations. Over the years I have built up a lovely collection of her books so I was very excited to get this opportunity to find out a little bit more about her! It also gives me a chance to share some of my favourites!

Marcia Williams

Marcia Williams is well known for her distinctive cartoon-strip style and she has written numerous books retelling classics stories, Shakespeare’s Tales and one of my favourites ‘Three Cheers for Inventors’ which is a wonderful way to look at inventors in history. Her bright and colourful pictures are humorous and it is one of those books that the children (and myself!) can’t help but pore over. When discussing her book ‘Ancient Egypt, Tales of Gods and Pharaohs’ she says, “I always think of the Ancient Egyptians as the first comic strip artists, which is probably why I so enjoyed working on the Egyptian tomb paintings in my book, Ancient Egypt, Tales of Gods and Pharaohs. It was fascinating to have the chance to interpret this unique style, adding my own quirks and humour.  It feels very atmospheric and surreal to me, as though the pictures themselves take on the ancient beliefs and powers of the gods!”

Marcia Williams Books

I was also lucky enough to get to ask Marcia some questions!

Daylight Explorers- I am a bit geeky about desks! What is your desk space like?

Marcia Williams- My desk space is an old kitchen table. I have extended it and extended it again, but still it seems too small.  Piles of books, glue, paint, brushes and bits mount up, so that I have trouble finding enough work space.

Daylight Explorers- We love exploring at the Daylight Explorers- where is your favourite place to explore?

Marcia Williams- My favourite place to explore is the beach near Lyme Regis.

Daylight Explorers- How did you get started as a writer and illustrator?

Marcia Williams- I went to a boarding school when I was very young and every Sunday we had to write a letter to our parents.  I hated writing letters, so I wrote and illustrated stories instead.  I loved doing these and just never stopped.

Daylight Explorers- Do you have any writing quirks?

Marcia Williams- I spend a great deal of time walking my dogs when I am in a writing phase.  I like to think that it is ‘thinking time’ but I am not really sure!

Daylight Explorers- If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?

Marcia Williams- Difficult to collaborate with comic strips, but probably a class of school children. When I do workshops in schools the children are always so inventive, they always inspire me!

Thank you Marcia for sharing some of your thoughts and answers! The exhibition takes place Friday 23rd October – Thursday 29th October 2015, 10am – 6.30pm Mon-Sat. 11am – 4pm Sunday. “Our gallery comes offline for a magical exhibition featuring the original published artwork from some of the nation’s favourite children’s books.

You can come along and view the artwork in the Waterstones Jermyn St Cafe at any time during normal shop opening hours.”

Come back in a few days for a closer look at some of Marcia’s books!

10 Reasons to Read First Class Murder by Robin Stevens

First Class Murder

“Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are taking a holiday on the world-famous Orient Express – and it’s clear that each of their fellow first-class passengers has something to hide. Even more intriguing: there is rumour of a spy in their midst.

Then, during dinner, there is a scream from inside one of the cabins. When the door is broken down, a passenger is found murdered, her stunning ruby necklace gone. But the killer has vanished – as if into thin air.

Daisy and Hazel are faced with their first ever locked-room mystery – and with competition from several other sleuths, who are just as determined to crack the case.”

Here are my top ten reasons why you need to go and read First Class Murder!

  1. It is set on the Orient Express. Such an iconic train that immediately heralds images of adventure and mystery. A journey on the Orient Express is now firmly on my to do list.
  2. Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells just get better and better as characters in this book. I particularly liked the opportunity to learn more about Hazel’s family.
  3. A locked door mystery. I mean who doesn’t love a good locked door mystery?
  4. Research. You can really tell that Robin Stevens has done her research in this book. Evidence of this can be found in this blog post where she recounts a trip she took whilst researching for the book. After reading this I found myself with a little smile every time movement on the train was mentioned.
  5. Bun breaks. Nothing else makes me want to head to the bakery more.
  6. The plan of the sleeping car and dining car. I adore books with maps and plans that I have to flick back to.
  7. The characters. Such a rich and varied bunch. I so want to have a talk with the Countess and sit down and have a cup of tea with Hetty.
  8. It’s a page turner! As it is the summer holidays I have the luxury of being to read when I want which means I read this in a day as I could not put it down!
  9. Daisy’s Guide to the Orient Express is great for helping younger readers who may not be familiar with some of the vocabulary used in the book.
  10. The cover. This is the third in the series and I just adore the trio of covers that adorn my book case.

Witches, Arsenic and a trip to the Circus

There has been a bit of a silence on the blog for the past few weeks as two things occurred. One- the end of term. Zzzz. Two- the great DIY extravaganza.

The Great DIY Extravaganza included making more space for books!

The Great DIY Extravaganza included making more space for books!

Enough said! But all that is now done and it is time to start enjoying the summer holidays! I wanted to start by sharing some books I have read recently and then end by sharing a selection of the books I plan to read over the coming few weeks.

At the moment I think I have about 8 books on the go as I can’t focus on just one book at a time. My goal for the rest of the summer is to just read one book at a time! But here are some books I have finished recently and wanted to share with you as super reads.

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Witch Wars by Sibéal Pounder and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson- I am a huge advocate of the phrase you should never judge a book by its cover but I do adore the cover of this book! A fantastic book filled with spells, battles and the world below the sink pipes. We meet Tiga Whicabim, a witch who doesn’t know she is a witch, and follow her on her exploits as a competitor in the Witch Wars. A great read with super illustrations to match.

Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens- The second in the series following the adventures of Wells and Wong, schoolgirl detectives who find that murder follows them wherever they go! I adore the writing style of Robin Stevens and had worried I wouldn’t enjoy their adventures as much with the girls away from their boarding school but happily I enjoyed it even more. I won’t give too much away but seriously, go and read it! I now have the third in the series ready and waiting to read!

Mariella Mystery Investigates: The Ghostly Guinea Pig by Kate Pankhurst- With two out of four of these books all about detectives I think you can see it is a favourite genre of mine! The story follows the adventures of Mariella and her friends who try and solve the mystery of a ghostly guinea pig. This is a great book for younger readers and I have to give the fab a illustrations a quick mention.

Circus of the Unseen by Joanne Owen- this was a reading group read and I should start by saying that along with detectives I also have a thing for the circus. (I should probably add now I also love mermaids and zombies. But not together, that would be a weird mix…or would it?) Anyway Circus of the Unseen gripped me and I could not put it down. ‘When Rosie has an accident at her beloved and recently deceased grandmother’s house, the last thing she expects is to wake up in the middle of a circus. Yet here she is, and according to the sinister Mother Matushka, here she must stay.’ I adored the description in this book and it was only the ending that left me feeling a bit…well I won’t say anymore but if you have read it please let me know what you think!

So now onto the next lot of books! As you can see in the photo below quite a lovely selection.

summer books to read

Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch- Although I have yet to finish the Secret Series I couldn’t stop myself from picking up the first in this new series by Pseudonymous Bosch.

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell- This has been on my wishlist for ages but then one of the lovely boys in my class got me a whole bunch of books as an end of term gift and this was one of them. Thanks O and O’s mum!

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders- another one that had been on my wishlist for ages and another gift from O. Do you have access to my wishlist young man!?

Chicken Mission: Danger in the Deep Dark Woods by Jennifer Gray- I loved Atticus Claw so cannot wait to read this new series.

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders- After hearing so much about it online I just had a to get a copy to read.

Krindlekrax by Philip Ridley- This is actually a reread as I am going to be using it for our topic next term and so I just want a refresh of the story.

First Class Murder by Robin Stevens- See above! And this one is set on the Orient Express, exciting!

Secrets of the Tombs: The Dragon Path by Helen Moss- The Adventure Island series was my first experience of Helen Moss (if you haven’t read them go now and get yourself a copy, I will wait. Got it it? Good I will carry on) and I was excited to hear about her new series, Secrets of the Tombs. The first I read in about a day or so (who needs sleep?) and the second was recently released. I will be making sure the diary is clear when I read this!

Have you read anything recently that you loved? What have you got next on the book pile?

Happy Reading!