What We Are Reading Right Now #30 – The PanMacmillan Edition…

Once again we bring you a pile of the latest and greatest new kids books, hot of the press…


A Family Read A Loud: We have absolutely loved Sam Angus’ previous books: Soldier Dog and Hero… so much so that I read this as soon as it landed in our review pile and I am saving it until we are finished our current read aloud… to share with the gang. Sam Angus writes war stories… stories about children and animals caught in the throws of the Great Wars. They are incredible reads, she has the knack of carrying your emotions to the edge and back – there will be tears of anguish, there will be tears of joy… there will be tears. In her latest book Captain, you are taken with young Billy Bayliss, who at fifteen faked his way into the war effort, into the heart of Galipolli. Captain is not a donkey, as you might have guessed by the cover, but a quick witted refugee and someone who is of the same age as Billy… together they find themselves in a man’s world. How often we have a romantic ideal of a a distant war, in a distant time, in a distant city. This beautifully written book brings Galipolli home, you will never forget the men and boys that fought for their lives and essentially our freedom. If loyalty and bravery could be learnt within the covers of a book then you would definitely learn those qualities in this book.

The Hoods Are Reading…


Hood #3:

Deep Blue, the first in the WaterFire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly: Hood #3 vanished into this book, and Hood #2 was intrigued after her rave reviews. They both took a day off from the world to read it from cover to cover. I don’t know if I am dying to read a book about mermaids, per se… but I had to take a peak after they both enjoyed this book so much. This book is a mystery… and a saga, it is the first in a series of four. Serafina is a Mediterranean mermaid about to get betrothed to Prince Mahdi, of the Indian Ocean. Serafina is part of the Mer-world, a whole world invented and created just for the saga… Serafina has been having troubling dreams and as you wander into the book you discover that these dreams are more than dreams. You are in the world of mermaids, there will be magic and myth intertwined, and lots of it. This book is not nearly as grown up as it looks, so a good read for the younger teen set. A little love, but nothing untoward or intense, and lots of very capable girls or should I say mermaids directing the story. The book is also full of puns and while the story is a serious one, the puns and humorous style, keep it light. I liked the little details in the book, all the text is blue – adding to the whole “undersea effect.” If you love all things ocean, and pretty and dramatic, then this is a fabulous read… The book ends with a bit of a cliff hanger and you will want the next book in the series to be out already – it isn’t of course.


Hood #4:

Really, Really Big Questions about Science by Holly Cave and illustrated by Marc Aspinall. I totally and absolutely love and adore this book. Everything about it screams vintage. It feels like the kind of fact book I grew up on, only the facts are current. Five Chapters: Life and Living Things; Amazing Me!; The Weird and the Wonderful; Bright Ideas; and the Big Wide World. The whole book reads like the author is chatting to you… the pages are big and clear, with one fabulous question per page and a fabulous retro illustration to go with it. The questions alone are intriguing and enough to get even the most sluggish brain thinking or rather reading: “Why am I always late for school? Why don’t I look like a banana?… Why can’t I jump like a superhero?” and so on. Also, on almost every page there is a little “Brain Burn Box” filled with the most mind blowing fact. The illustrations are glorious and you really do feel like you may have stepped back in time!!!


Hood #5:

Foxy Tales by the Caryl Hart and Alex T. Smith… Oh you are in for some fun… anything with Alex T. Smith on the cover is going to be great fun… Foxy Dubois is a very fancy fox, filled with airs and graces and she is off to Jollywood to find her fame and fortune. Only one thing stands in her way and that is Alphonso Alligator, a delightfully impolite alligator with an insatiable appetite… anything and everything is at risk of being eaten, and a series of burps and other bodily smells and noises are emitted… Much as Foxy tries to get rid of him, she can’t, one of those “friends” that sticks like glue. The illustrations are as much, if not more part of the tale… lots of slapstick funniness. After hood #5 read this one to himself and laughed hysterically out loud to it all… I was forced to read it to the younger group too… they loved it. This book is a bit more work than an easy reader, and a lot less work than your typical chapter book… perfect for the just reading reader. Perfectly silly through and through, the sort of book reviewers would call a delightful romp… and for once they would be right.


Hood #6:

Donna Wilson’s Creative Creatures: We have reviewed this lovely book before, but it is out in soft cover now and worth a second shout out. This is a book for the “makers” of this world… packed. packed with lovely ideas of things to make and do… quick and easy crafts and other’s that will require time and effort. Paper crafts, fabric crafts… owls and kittens, monkeys and foxes… sock puppets, paper dolls, soft houses and pop up cards… there is really a craft for everyone in this book… EVERYONE!!! Now that our child, that just can’t stop making things is old enough to dive in and conquer any craft completely unattended, this book is the book for her!!! Don’t for a moment think this is just another children’s craft book… it is packed with loveliness for all ages and stages. We totally love this book, it is a keeper and will be lying on the coffee table inspiring someone for weeks to come.


Hood #7:

Handa’s Surprising Day by Eileen Browne is just delightful… an easy reader of the sweetest variety, with a story that is interesting and fun to read… Handa is a young gal growing up in a village in Kenya. My children delight in reading stories about children in Africa and really we wish there were more around. Anyway, Handa is your typical young gal who has a tendency to misplace things. One day she leaves home with a large basket of fruit on her head, all the animals she passes on her journey are very happy to help themselves and when she reaches her destination she has a large collection of tangerines instead… life sure is full of lovely surprises. Three really lovely stories in one… and just at the right level for a beginner reader to tackle with a little help.

The Flying Bath by Julia Donaldson: Honestly, who knew that all the bath toys have a wild and energetic play after everyone leaves the house in the morning. The bath goes on a bit of a rescue mission – all over the world. It is Julia Donaldson, so there is clever rhythm and rhyme, lots of it and of course a repeatable chorus that gets louder and rompier towards the end. This is a picture book and it was appreciated as that… but there is a little more, almost all the writing is in speech bubbles, the words are very simple and my beginner readers really enjoyed reading the predictable text and really got that the story was a conversation between the main players. A fun read but not an awesome read… nowhere near as easy reading and poetical as the Gruffalo or A Squash and a Squueze, say.

And the se7en + 1th Books:


Hood #8:

Hugless Douglas by David Melling: I know we have blogged about Hugless Douglas before, but honestly he is so darling and his funny bunnies and cuddly sheep… just the perfect guy to cuddle up with for a story… Everything to love!!! And Hugless has activity books too… filled with adorable pages of “how to draw” and spot the difference, and puzzles and fun for the junior set… but I have to say it is the dozens and dozens of the cutest stickers that get me… I just love them!!!

That’s us… hope you have a weekend full of great reads…

We would really like to thank Pan MacMillan South Africa for providing us with all the 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!!!

6 Replies to “What We Are Reading Right Now #30 – The PanMacmillan Edition…”

  1. Delighted to hear that my book has made it all the way to South Africa – amazing! And so glad that you – and hopefully your kids – are enjoying it. Thanks for the review… And I’ll check the others out, too.

  2. Hay Holly, Thank you so very much for stopping by… the gang are very excited that you left a comment. We thoroughly enjoyed your book… love bringing real science to kids!!! Hope you have a fantastic weekend!!!

  3. We are currently doing a mini-project about the First World War. Captain and Soldier Dog look ideal for this. I couldn’t immediately see on looking them up whether they would be suitable for my five and seven year olds. The seven year old heard War Horse on audio book and loved the book. Just wondered how these compared.

  4. Hi Sarah, Similar genre to War Horse, anything by Michael Morpurgo is of course beautiful, fascinating and gripping. Sam Angus has very quickly become one of our favorite war time authors, well anytime author. We found these books superb, there is nothing untoward or too grownup in them… we read them as a family, and they have created unforgettable memories for us. Another great wartime resource that we reviewed recently was a poetry book… (Hood #3’s choice) also beautiful, funny, sad… special. All the best with your project.

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