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What We Are Reading Right Now – #17 – An Epic List of the Latest and Greatest Kids Reads…

June 7th, 2013 · 6 Comments

It has been pouring with rain for days and Cape Town is wet, wet, wet… so we did the only thing to do under the circumstances and we tossed all the books we have to review onto the couch and read for days on end – straight through, without pause. This post is the result…

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The books are an eclectic collection of contemporary and recently launched books: teen reads and picture books, timeless classics and futuristic tales. All the books in this post were given to us by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review. Except The BodyGuard Hostage by Chris Bradford, and W.A.R.P the Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer, which were given to us by Penguin Books South Africa, also for review.

This week a new Children’s Laureate was announced and we were thrilled to receive this book for review, celebrating last year’s Laureate. Poems to Perform by Julia Donaldson: This is a lovely book packed with dozens of wonderful poems… Energetic, rhythmical poems, full of opportunities to chant and clap and rhythm along together. We have so enjoyed this book it is packed with plenty of old favourites and lots of poems that were new to us too. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

Endangered Animals Pocket Pops by Sarah Young: Remember a couple of weeks back we reviewed the totally darling and wonderful Travel Pop-Up Guides, well here is another one… Endangered Animals… This book is small and would fit into your hand… but it opens up to a world of wonder… page after page of stunning cut-out illustrations… and filled with little sections of amazing facts to read. We love this book and have read and re-read it over again. There is a glossary and a map to show you where all the featured animals are found: Animals like the Giant Pandas; Siberian Tiger; Polar Bears and our favourite the Black Rhino. Of course there are many more… this book would make a fabulous gift, a brilliant addition to a young explorers backpack and is a definite keeper. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

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Hood #1:

  • Warp the Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer: There is a new Eoin Colfer Series – can I hear a Hoorah from all his fans!!! W.A.R.P. – Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme… This book is all about: time traveling; an assassin; and an F.B.I. Special Agent… and of course a race against time in every sense of the word!!! Chevie a young and enthusiastic F.B.I. agent stumbles across the top secret W.A.R.P. program and instead of relocating witnesses to a different location, the witnesses are relocated back to the Victorian Era… a time of great scientific and technological exploring – read: gadgets!!! In this read you are compelled to gallop to the finish… winding your way through the best of two worlds all the gadgets and trickery of the Victorian Era and all the technology and masterminding of the Modern Era. It is an excellent read and worthy of at least an entire day on the couch!!! We were given this book by Penguin Books, South Africa, to review.
  • Molly Moon and the Monster Music by Georgia Byng We have written about Molly Moon before, a family favourite and the sixth in this fabulous series. Molly Moon is an orphan with some really exceptional talents!!! The books in the series are very fun reads – with “oh so terrible” and exaggerated bad baddies and terribly good goodies… you wander in and out of time, wind your way through mysteries and get caught up in some serious detective work. In this Molly Moon, the all powerful and ever ingenious Molly Moon may well have met her match, her protagonist is a magic coin with a supporting cast of villains. This books are a really fun and rollicking read if you haven’t met this series yet – then it is time. Suitable for anyone who has mastered easy chapter books. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

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Hood #2:

  • Bodyguard Hostage by Chris Bradford: Chris Bradford, the author of the Young Samurai series has a new series coming out…beginning with The BodyGuard: Hostage. I have to say this is exciting stuff… there is a need in the world for young bodyguards to serve and protect the children of the rich and famous. Enter fourteen year old Conner, who is put through the most unbelievable and rigorous training… is it all worth it and will he survive? Finally he is tasked with protecting the President’s teen daughter and the last thing she wants is a body guard. Wants and needs are two very different things, when a sleeper cell is activated with only one purpose: to capture the President’s daughter. This is really a junior Jason Bourne and every single event leads to the next one in an unputdownable way… a very good read!!! We were given this book by Penguin Books, South Africa, to review.
  • The Sleeping Boabab Tree by Paula Leyden: This book is set in Zambia and has a lovely African lilt to it. There is mystery and intrigue and plenty of local magic thrown into the mix. The author very cleverly brings in more than one perspective by telling the story through two narrators, twelve year old Fred and his friend from next door Bul-Boo, and her twin Madillo. Fred has a great granny whose character is filled with ancient tradition and custom… and then their is Bul-boo whose mum works in the local AIDS clinic, her patients start to go missing. Their is a feeling that something creepy is in the air. This book is written true to life and you follow the great granny, Fred and the twins on a journey to find the elusive man-beast. Everyone thinks it is mythical, but is it? With strange appearances throughout the book, suspense builds and builds to a glorious cliff-hanger when one the twins disappears. Turns out great granny has everyone’s best interests at heart… she saves the day. This book is a mystery and filled with African culture and wonderful words, which give the book a magical rhythm all of its own. Eventually in the last chapter everything falls into place. My chapter book readers all loved this one and highly recommend it!!! We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

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Hood #3: Gwyneth Paltrow Notes from my Kitchen Table: This came as a complete surprise to me, I was sent a couple of cookbooks to review and Hood #3, who is sharing more and more interest in cooking latched onto this one. She recognised the star in the front and dived in and has read every single detail from cover to cover!!! She loves and adores this book and has revelled in it from start to finish. I was a bit overwhelmed by a couple of recipes – clearly we are dealing with a star here – did I hear lobster anyone!!! But on digging deeper there are tons of great recipes in this book that are totally and absolutely achievable – by me or my twelve year old daughter!!! Exciting times, I think we may well be moving into a new era in the kitchen!!! So recipes on the “Can we make these this weekend?” list: white bean soup; fried courgette spaghetti; crispy potato and garlic cake; caramelised brussels sprouts; sweet rice bowl; and fudgy chocolate brownies. The book is beautiful, the photographs are fantastic and the crisp clear presentation is just stunning – you feel like you are cracking open a beautiful day when you open this book!!! Not to mention it is written by Gwyneth Paltrow and packed with her ideas and opinions, little sneak peaks into who she is and where she comes from, totally unpretentious, just a mom in the trenches sharing recipes that work for her family and recipes that spark a memory in her life. It is a wonderful read, lovely in fact… and I was thrilled to read it and enjoy it alongside my oldest daughter. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

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Hood #4: Hooey Higgens and the Awards of Awesomeness by Steve Voake: If you want to hear your child chuckling from their room after bed-time, then this is a good one. A typical looking easy chapter book for boys about a chap called Hooey Higgins. This is not the first Hooey Higgins book and I am sure we will be seeking out more of them in the future, because he was a bit of a hit!!! This book is mostly located at school where Hooey is trying to create an awesome award for his friend, Twig, who just never seems to win anything!!! The book is filled with easy to read chapters, as challenge after challenge is presented to Twig, and the school bully continues to win relentlessly… Expect plenty of wild and hysterical boy humour: snot, sweat, and sneers. Eventually Twig leaves the soccer pitch and goes home in despair only to discover that he has won an award…We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

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Hood #5: Super Geek by Glenn Murphy It is packed with quizzes and questions and overall fun. This is a great book for everyone surrounding the reader as well, you have been warned – you will be questioned about dinosaurs, the brain, geography and transport. Heaps of quiz questions, lots of multiple choice… but more than that the solutions are so much more then a one word answer!!! The solutions offer up pages of interesting factoids pertaining to each question. There is nothing glossy or ostentatious about this book – just a paper looking paperback, yet this one would have shot straight into my list of top reads as a kid… because it is packed with easily presented facts that nobody else knows about yet. We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

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Hood #6:

  • My Animal Friends by Dick King-Smith: This author is such a favourite of ours that we jumped at the chance to read this book aloud at dinner. These are really a collection of short stories and tales from his childhood packed with all sorts of weird and wonderful pets. My animal loving child absolutely loved this book, it helped that it is lined with adorable illustrations by Anita Jeram. Some of the stories are unbelievably funny, others poignant and all true to life. You can just sense the writer in this author, right from childhood!!! This is a brilliant little book, very innocuous but also lots of truth. We love it!!! We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.
  • Grim, Grunt and Grizzle-Tail by Fran Purnell: An easy reader for my easy reader!!! It is so lovely to find reading books for easy readers that are packed with fun and interesting stories… gone are the days of boring old plodding books!!! It is a Barefoot Book, so you know it is going to be beautiful… the illustrations are a riot of full colour fun on every single page. The story is a folk tale set in Chile: A king is so annoyed that he turns his three beautiful daughters into oranges!!! In the land of monsters some wild monster brothers hear of the oranges and decide they would each like an orange princess. Pedro the king’s servant sets out to find the princesses… of course it all ends happily forever after.We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

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Hood #7:

  • Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb: is the story of a young lady who was too busy for lunch (I may know her in person!!!). She sits at the table and looks at her lunch for the longest time… eventually some very fun wild beasts come to the rescue… a crocodile, a bear and a wolf, help her by eating her lunch for her. When dinner comes around she can’t wait to meet up with her friends from the previous meal and dashes to the table to share dinner with them!!! Kind of whimsical, very sweet and just right for our slightly wild littlest girl.We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

  • Sam Who Went to Sea by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: Is about an adventurous river rat, who dreams of bigger things than his life in the countryside. He dreams of going to sea… the wide open ocean… and he begins to build himself an oceangoing boat. The curious village neighbours can not believe what they are seeing and think perhaps he has “Spring Fever.” He perseveres through all the seasons and eventually is ready to set-sail. There is no dissuading him and he is off… the neighbours are convinced a terrible fate has befallen him until they receive a letter from the high seas. This is very readable and fun and any young adventurer and potential traveler will enjoy it!!!We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

And the se7en + 1th Books:

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Hood #8:

  • Patrick Wants a Dog by Ekaterina Trukhan: We have blogged about Ekaterina Trukhan before and I have a feeling you are going to be hearing a lot more from this author/illustrator. Her books have a sweetness that is delightful. This is the story of a young boy who’s heart is set on a dog… but none is listening to him, so he sets out in search of one on his own. And you are taken for a wander all over town – and here id the delight: in almost every picture there is just a tail, or a nose, or a paw… of his potential dog. And then Patrick gets nervous there is a large and monstrous shadow ready to punch on him… but he is rescued by the dog. It is love at first sight and they go home together… too sweet for words!!! We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.
  • The Skeleton Pirate by David Lucas: This child has loved pirates since birth and was thrilled to see a pirate book on book pile!!! He is mad about the illustrations in this one… there is lots to look at and explore in every picture!!! I thought the pirates were a little scary – he LOVED them!!! There is lots of pirate talk, “Me hearties,” a walking of the plank and a trip into the tummy of a whale… and the Skeleton Pirate claims he will never be beaten… but his heart is conquered by a mermaid. Together they get the treasure and sail away into the sunset!!! If you are into pirates then this one is “a must” to add to the collection!!! We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.
  • My Daddy by Julia Huberry and Rebecca Elliot: My little guy absolutely loved this book!!! I am guessing that dogs, pirates and then the father person is pretty much a book pile in heaven for this little guy!!! This book is a romp through the dads of the animal kingdom… some are big some are small some are wild some are tall… they all have a mazing strengths and incredible abilities and it is an all round feel good book that ends with all dads are special!!! Very, very sweet!!! Rhyming fun and very little people will love it!!! We were given this book by Pan MacMillan South Africa, to review.

We would like to thank PanMacMillan South Africa and Penguin Books South Africa for giving us the books to review. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are entirely our own!!!

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