The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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What We Are Reading Right Now #26

July 13th, 2014 · 8 Comments

It’s been a wintry weekend and we pretty much spent it immersed in books… totally and utterly and literally immersed. Last weekend I decided to do a little bit of a book shuffle, and now we have piles of books almost everywhere. And because of the chaos on, or rather off, the shelves we dived into our book review basket and everybody tackled a book… and here, after filtering out the best from the rest, are our latest and greatest reviews…


The Mother Person: I was so curious about this book that I had to read it and it was fabulous. It is not your typical teen book at all, rather a real life book about real life people, doing real life things and it takes normal-old-life to a new level of funny. Honestly, how many books do you know where the lonely hero is an injured 81 year old, who has been run over by the milk float… and this is the tale of his recovery, as Kelly Christmas his carer and a breathe of fresh air, enters his life. This book is laugh out loud funny in places and really sad in others… it is the story of life, nothing elaborate, or extra-ordinary. He takes a turn from the grey world of slippers and the odd trip to the Charity Shop and starts to see the world in a new light. This book is an optimistic look at life in general – there are always new things to try and dreams to chase. It is an emotional book and a breathe of fresh air, definitely not one of your fast-paced-action packed, dystopian novels that are so trendy. This is an important read that provides insight into the “not so dreary after all” world of the elderly. I would suggest this is a must read, there is the very occasional flowery word, but I would highly recommend this book to any teen, a little less examining of oneself and lot of looking at how others see the world, particularly those who are older than average. There is a reason why many cultures admire and respect their older folk, and there is a lot to learn, in a very humorous way, about old age, in this book. I read it and laughed out-loud, shed the odd tear and insisted on being served tea… until it was finished. Highly, highly recommend this. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.

The Hoods Are Reading…


Hood #1: This year marks 100 years since the start of World War I, so I was interested to read this book myself. Turns out it is a brilliant collection of true stories, all sorts of snippets carefully crafted together to create a collection of real stories from “The Great War.” Pages of fascinating facts, photographs, maps, letters, trench songs, even a recipe. There are graphic descriptions on their fight with fleas, lice and flies… This book will give you a feel for life during World War I like no other… life in the trenches, Gallipoli, bombing raids. This book is one of those books that can really be read by any age, some of the details are, as the war was, pretty grim. This is history presented in an unputdownable way. It reads like a true-to-life-story, but the snippets and really interesting documentation placed throughout will keep you turning the pages, looking for more. Grab this book if you see it… it will bring life to your ideas on “World War 1” like few other books can, it is a quick read… simply because it is fascinating, you will want to read on and know more. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.


Hood #2: So the Young Sherlock Holmes have been re-covered and they are out in full force ready to be read again and again. Hood #2 has loved this series from the start and we have reviewed a number of them as they came out in the past. They are, of course the story of a young Sherlock Holmes… before he grows up and his rise to fame as the most famous detective of all time. He was a brilliant fourteen year old, filled with all the stress of teenage life and an insatiable curiosity for anything out of the ordinary. This series will take you far and wide, they are set all over the world. And more importantly, they are fantastic mystery reads, just packed with villains and puzzles, codes and ciphers, not to mention heaps of gadgets and hi-tec solutions. These are the sort of books you rush through to get to solve the mystery and are quite disappointed that the wild ride is over… never fear it is a six-part series, you can happily keep on reading. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.


Hood #3: Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. This book arrives, hot of the press, with a heap of medals and acclaim, not least it begins its life as a Newberry Medal winner. I had to read it myself to see what all the clamour was about… it is a sweet story as you would expect from one of our favourite authors, Kate Di Camillo. The story of Flora, a comic book addicted young gal, whose life somehow becomes entwined with an exceptional squirrel named Ulysses. Flora is a darling heroine, she is funny, slightly eccentric in a “Harriet the Spy sense” and her commentary on life and those around her is amusing. The squirrel is exceptional after an unexpected incident with a vacuum cleaner. The book is endearing, you will want to climb inside it and you will want to be friends with Flora… tons of superb illustrations by K.G. Campbell to keep the young reader turning the pages. Many comic book-esque sections and jumping around as you readers have come to anticipate in a book, however the leaping from comic strip to text and back again really works in this one and it is loveliness through and through. I loved the word power in this book… not your typical collection of simple words for simple readers… words like capacious and malfeasance leap seamlessly from the page. Don’t expect an incredible life-lesson to be lurking in this book… it is a book for kids, about kids, from their perspective. Anyone above easy-readers would enjoy this… and in fact the squirrel illustrations are so adorable that my easy-reader lever reader has tried to jump in and power her way through this. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.


Hood #4: While this young man loves adores books, he is a dipper… which is why he simply loves fact books, history books, survival and adventure books, the reading of chapter books has always taken a bit of a back seat… and then he discovered the world of Bear Grylls. Bear Grylls has written an outdoor-adventure series of books, the story is fast and it is filled with survival tips. And we finally found chapter books that he will dive into and read… this is new and life changing, and I am thrilled about it.


Hood #5: And in other breaking reading news, this young man has discovered Classic Starts and is powering his way through them at a book or two a day – luckily our library is packed with the series… and I think we could have found “his books” that set him on the path to avid reading… my earlier readers would have nothing to do with “stories-retold” and only wanted the original text… and this young man wants the story fast and now, he is catching up for lost time. He is reading real chapter books, he has raised his game and I am thrilled about it.

And Hood 5 has entered the world of Anthony Horowitz, hugely popular over here for the famous Alex Rider Series and the Power of Five. Here is a history book of his, set in Elizabethan England. You can tell that Horowitz is making up for boring history lessons that he once endured, in this one. This is a re-covered and fresh looking version of a book we have read before, but it is out for the 450 years of Shakespeare celebrations. The hero of this book is the mis-treated Tom, there is a mystery surrounding him and a fast paced “cracker of a book,” filled with treachery and pursuit… and of course dry humour. Beware your library had better stock Anthony Horowitz, because once your kids start reading his books they will not stop. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.


Hood #6: We absolutely loved this book a year ago when we reviewed it, and it is back… in soft cover. And the perfect book for my “maker of everything child.” this book is filled with beautiful works by famous artists and wonderful associated projects for your young artists to join in and do as well. Each famous painting introduces a famous artist… like Matisse, Calder, Escher and Miro… and each artist has a project – mobile, a collage, a pianting, a craft to engage your young artist and connect them with a great artist. You can take a look at the artists and projects here. We love this book totally and are on the look out for it’s companion Get into Art People. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.


Hood #7: Oh have you met Ella Bella? We discovered her in the library and she is just delightful… Another masterful series by James Mayhew, of all the Katie Books fame. Just like Katie finds herself within the works of the great artists so, Ella Bella finds herself inside of the classical ballet stories. She attends Madame Rosa’s ballet school and learns about the classical ballet stories, only every time Madame Rosa plays her magical musical box, Ella is somehow transported right into the story. She finds herself dancing with famous ballerinas and an essential part of the story… these books are loveliness and every little dancers dream, not in a twee way at all. Real stories about real ballets, in a beautiful dreamy setting.

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8: Zoe and Beans Pirate Treasure. Because there is absolutely everything to love about Zoe and Beans… everything. In this story the usual gang finds themselves on a quest for treasure. Pirate treasure in fact. Oscar’s little sister discovers a gold coin in the sand and takes them on a digging spree of note, through a rock pool and even into a dark, dark cave… Eventually they do find wonderful treasure, but as is typical of all Zoe and Beans stories, there is a “sweet” little twist and it is not quite the treasure they were expecting!!! This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.

We would really like to thank PanMacmillan Books South Africa for providing us with a number of books to review for this post. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!

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Tags: Brilliant Books

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marcia (123 blog) // Jul 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I had to look up what dystopian means 🙂 🙂

    LOVE all the insights into the hoods. So pleased that some have found “their books”. Nothing more exciting to get kids into their passion!
    Marcia (123 blog)´s last blog post ..Scary winter & scary inbox

  • 2 se7en // Jul 14, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Hay Marcia… Young Adult lit is fantastic, the authors work so hard to keep their very “distracted by the world around them” readers engaged… and so they make fabulous and gripping reads. However, there are tons of dystopian dramas out their that are dark and futuristic and require spirits, or pre-programmed humans, rushing around creepy man-made worlds. While they are often a “rush of excitement” to read they are not necessarily how I would want to fill my mind. I keep wanted to say: “What is wrong with real life?” Most often life is far more interesting and exciting than the world we imagine, that’s where the expression: “You just can’t make this up…” comes from in the first place… AND as for their books, I firmly believe their is a book that turns a child into a reader… and have I been searching for a fair while with these chaps!!! Otherwise, I hope you all have the most fantastic week!!!

  • 3 Holly C // Jul 14, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Oh my word! I have been off the homeschool blog map for the last year -we had to not homeschool this past year 🙁 Today I decided to catch up on all my favourite haunts. I haven’t been by in so long–but so gorgeously happy to see your children–so much bigger after not seeing them for a year. I look forward to indulging myself in a bit of catch up here 🙂

  • 4 Nita // Jul 15, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I just read your reply to the first comment and agree wholeheartedly.The trend in young adult lit seems more and more dark or futuristic makebelieve and has become so popular but I(strangely!?) don’t get it!!Your take on it is exactly mine-what’s wrong with life as it is?!!!

  • 5 cat@jugglingact // Jul 15, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Oh I adore your book reviews! I was actually standing with ” Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures” in my hands today at Exclusive books, and then rather bought an Afrikaans one for A as she adores English and need to read more Mother tongue. Will surely buy it next time. She is reading me into bankruptcy
    cat@jugglingact´s last blog post ..We have just returned

  • 6 se7en // Jul 16, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Hi Nita… I think that is very definitely a lot of folks view of the whole “YA genre”… I have to say that while I really enjoy books about real life, some of these more weirder looking books are actually very good, unputdownable in fact… But when you look on the shelves one does feel somewhat overwhelmed by the sea of futuristic fantasy. So yes I think we might need a little less aliens, a few fewer spirit people and a lot more authors brave enough to write about “just regular old life.” I am guessing that that’s why a lot of the the classics are just that: classics!!! Hope you have a great week!!!

  • 7 se7en // Jul 16, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Oh Cat, we are so happy to oblige and have plenty more coming your way… Reader’s Warehouse is your friend for new books and the library of course!!! I know my kids appetite for books is nothing short of ferocious. What about creating a book club for kids… hmmm that’s a blog post if ever there was!!! Gonna think about it, otherwise have a great day!!!

  • 8 The Ins and Outs of Teen Reads Right Now... - se7en | se7en // Oct 15, 2014 at 5:13 am

    […] About Real Life: We loved this book… a very grumpy and elderly Frank Derrick has the young and inspired district nurse to thank for a whole new attitude and look at life. Such a great read. […]

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