We have an inspiring Ted Talk for you today. Gever Tulley uses engaging photos and footage to demonstrate the valuable lessons kids learn at his Tinkering School. When given tools, materials and guidance, these young imaginations run wild and creative problem-solving takes over to build unique boats, bridges and even a roller coaster! It’s a short, but great talk.
We have found a lovely way to spend your evening with today’s download: take your bedtime stories virtual with Oliver Jeffers.
We have found a super fun way to spend the evening with your children: exploring your inner artist with free Ken Done worksheets.
There has never been a better time to get reading – reading can provide entertainment, knowledge and comfort, and is a perfect thing to do at home! We know that many of you are having more time to kill, and are asking for suggestions of series books – something substantial that can hold your attention for longer. So this week we are showcasing some of the most popular multi-volume children’s books, guaranteed to give kids hours of reading pleasure – even those who are usually reluctant to pick up a book!
Wings of Fire 1-5 Boxed set by Tui T Sutherland
This fantasy series, set in a world of dragons, has enormous word-of-mouth cred amongst upper-primary aged readers. Five young dragonets strive to fulfil a prophecy that they will end an ancient war and finally bring peace to the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. What sets Wings of Fire apart is that its dragons are the main characters, with a rich and complex civilisation, whilst humans are considered “scavengers” and peripheral to the story. Tui T Sutherland’s impressive world-building has now grown beyond the 20+ books into a big and active fandom. The first three books are now available in graphic novel format.
Slime by David Walliams
Slime is hot off the presses and sure to delight David Walliams’ many fans (as well as creating many more). Inspired by the recent craze for slime, this story sees young Ned discover the origins of slime, and use it to wreak revenge on the horrible grownups who love nothing more than making children miserable. David Walliams is often compared to Roald Dahl and it is easy to see why – his stories are funny, with touches of the grotesque and the fantastical, all underlaid with a call for empathy. David Walliams has published 18 children’s novels. While these are mostly standalone, there are recurring characters to spot, such as Raj the newsagent.
WeirDo 1-9 Boxset by Anh Do
Weir Do is a thoughtful boy with a weird name and a weirder family. The WeirDo books are slice-of-life stories that are packed with illustrations and laugh-out-loud funny – perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The latest is #14 – WeirDo: Vote WeirDo! where Weir’s chances of being elected class captain may be derailed by an EPIC HAIR DISASTER. WeirDo is the first children’s series written by the multi-talented Anh Do, who has gone on to create other bestselling series including Hot Dog, Ninja Kid, Wolf Girl, as well as Mythix.
Kensy and Max 5: Freefall by Jacqueline Harvey
You may already know Jacqueline Harvey from her delightful Clementine Rose and Alice-Miranda series; now she is trying her hand at spy thrillers aimed at both boys and girls. Kensy and Max are twins whose lives are turned upside-down when they are whisked off to London and discover their parents are missing. The race is on to understand the strange things happening around them, and find their parents! There’s mystery, spy craft, exotic locations and lots of chases. Volume 5, Freefall, sees Kensy and Max as agents-in-training, struggling with ethical dilemmas while trying to capture a master criminal in New York.
Welcome to the Brilliant World of Tom Gates box set by Liz Pichon
This is a box set of the first 12 books in the Tom Gates series. (We’re now up to Book 17.) Tom Gates is a series of illustrated diary stories about an endearing but chaotic boy and his family. The pages are heavily illustrated with distinctive doodles and funny little details, the tone is chatty, and the situations are funny and totally relatable. What’s more, Tom Gates is a tried-and-true recommendation for reluctant readers and those who need extra reading support – perhaps Tom Gates books are so accessible because Liz Pichon is herself dyslexic, and she has written these stories to be just what she would have loved to read as a child. The illustrated diary format might even inspire young fans to create their own Tom Gates-style stories!
The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier
The Last Kids on Earth is dystopian fiction with a twist! Unlike dystopian YA, which tends to be dark and grim, this tweens-and-early-teens series shows that a zombie apocalypse can be pretty funny. 13-year old Jack recruits four of his classmates to fight off a succession of monsters after a zombie outbreak hits his hometown. They have to learn to work as a team to stay alive, and they are the world’s last chance against the evil overlord Rezzoch! This Wimpy-Kid-meets-Walking-Dead series has zombies, monsters, wisecracks, and crazy gadgets – no wonder it’s a New York Times bestseller. Now also an animated series on Netflix.
We’ve found quite the Ted talk in light of schools returning today. Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a shift from standardised schools to personalized learning by creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.
Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, The Babysitters Club, anything by Roald Dahl – how much fun was it diving into books when you were young?!
Which books did you love reading when you were younger?
The secret is out – YA (Young Adult fiction) is one of the most exciting and popular book categories at the moment. Gone is the stigma of grownups reading ‘kids books’ – readers of all ages are attracted to YA for its strong narratives, awareness of social causes, and championing of diversity and the authenticity of #ownvoices experience. With strong new releases every season, we’ll take a look at some recent hits:
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
Children of Virtue and Vengenace is the highly-anticipated sequel to Children of Blood and Bone, one of the strongest YA debuts ever. Having brought magic back to the kingdom of Orisha, the feisty heroine, Zelie Adebola, finds out that the unexpected consequences of her actions may derail her fight against oppression. This fantasy trilogy is set in West Africa, with inspiration from Harry Potter, West African mythology and the Black Lives Matter movement. Tomi Adeyemi deftly uses her fictitious realm to explore issues of racism, oppression and slavery. Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a solid second instalment, leading up to a huge finish in the third and final volume.
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for one of the wealthiest families in Atlanta. By night, she moonlights as Miss Sweetie, the author of a newspaper advice column. When her column becomes popular, she uses it to challenge society’s ideas about race and gender, and must step up to overcome the backlash that follows. Stacey Lee is a Chinese-American writer whose stories reinterpret historical events from a Chinese-American perspective. Downstairs Girl is a powerful novel about identity, betrayal and the meaning of family.
Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto
If you love High Fantasy with mythical creatures then be sure to check out The Crown of Feathers saga. Heart of Flames is the second instalment, continuing this story about siblings Val and Veronyka, who dream of joining the Phoenix Riders, a disbanded band of elite warriors who have empathic links to the phoenixes they ride. Within the political machinations and tensions of an unstable world, Val, Veronyka and their friends discover their distinct identities, fall in love, and strive towards their goals. Nicki Pau Preto does a great job of world-building, and of fleshing out her characters, by telling the story from multiple perspectives.
Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan
Award-winning author Renee Watson teams up with poet Ellen Hagan to give us a stirring story about feminist activism and empowerment. Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends attending a social justice-focussed high school in New York. When they realise that sexism and racism are rife even in their progressive school, these strong-willed teens fight hard to make sure their voices – and those of other young women – can still be heard. Watch Us Rise is a dynamic, complex story with a multidimensional, diverse cast. The use of a dual narrative, and the inclusion of art, poetry and blogs to drive the story, add extra interest.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
We Hunt The Flame is a new quest adventure set in a realm inspired by ancient Arabia. Zafira is a strong, skilled hunter tasked to bring back a magical artefact in order to save her world. Disguised as a man for self-protection, Zafira is pursued by, but eventually forms an uneasy alliance with, the King’s Assassin. Will they succeed on their perilous journey? We Hunt the Flame is a story of conquering fear and creating your own destiny; of morality and understanding. Hafsah Faizal is a debut author who has drawn upon her Arabic and Muslim heritage to craft a rich fantasy world. We Hunt the Flame is a read-alike for books by Tamora Pierce, and perfect for fans of the game Assassin’s Creed.
Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon
Sandhya Menon balances classic tropes of YA romance (an exclusive boarding school, young royals, and uber-rich “beautiful people”) with a dash of fantasy, and an earnest exploration of the issues of loneliness and parental expectations, to give a fresh take on the Beauty and the Beast story. Indian princesses Jaya Rao and Isha have been shipped off to the exclusive St Rosetta’s academy to ride out a scandal surrounding younger sister Isha. Jaya vows to take revenge on fellow student Grey Emerson, whose family has been feuding with the Raos for generations, and whom Jaya believes caused Isha’s scandal. Both Jaya and Grey grow in self-awareness and independence during their funny and romantic enemies-to-lovers journey.
The Young Adult genre has grown massively over the past few years. We’ll be sharing some of the newest on the blog on Thursday. What’s your favourite YA book?
This week we are diving into the ever-growing genre of Young Adult books. Karen will be reviewing the hottest titles on the market this Thursday, but for today, we found this little bit of inspo to start your week.