12 Nov 2019

(MUDDLED MONKEY TALES) THE ORANGUTAN WHO SANG.

ISBN: 9781910863572
THE ORANGUTAN WHO SANG by JAYE VINCENT (With illustrations by STEW WRIGHT).


Olly is a shy but funky Orangutan, who has an incredible voice and loves to sing but can't control his nerves enough to get any words out. After falling from his perch in his favourite tree, Olly is so embarrassed, he leaves his friends and seeks sanctuary in the jungle. But will Olly discover something on his adventures that means he's finally able to overcome his fears and do what he is born to do ... sing?
- Synopsis

Look up to the sky, gaze into the blue.
Imagine a jungle that's waiting for you.
- First Verse 

Yet right at that moment, Olly started to rhyme, was this his last action before the croc's crime?
Dreaming of nibbling a fine monkey toe, The sound made croc stop and she swayed to and fro!
- Memorable Moment

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from the author.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... A truly charming read, The Orangutan Who Sang may simply be a sweet story on the one hand and yet its one that offers unlimited opportunities for children to discuss how they might be feeling.

Its story captivating; the rhyming narrative a fun way to engage children and one that is guaranteed to have them joining in. 

Olly is an amazing and, with orangutans being all the rage at present, inspired character. Representing all children (big ones as well as small ones) who have ever felt scared or shy; his tale proof that each and everyone of us has a gift whether (like Olly) that be 'the singing and rhyming that makes your friend's grin' or something else. 

And as for the illustrations ... 

So much more than just humorous drawings, as with the narrative the illustrations provide a great opportunity for children to explore their feelings as they (for example) discuss the expressions on Olly's and the other characters (characters which by the way include humans in what I felt was a nice nod to the relationship between us and the animal kingdom) faces. 

I also liked that come the end of the book children were given the opportunity to 'Explore the Jungle!' by way of a short series of questions posed by the gorilla headmaster. Questions that had them discussing what they had just read/seen (how many toucans can you see around the jungle school? etc),  questions that had them exploring why things might be (why do you think Olly is sat on a branch all on his own? etc), questions that have them pondering on just how a character might be feeling (how do you think Olly feels at the end of the story? etc), questions that in turn will hopefully leave the way wide open for them to discuss just how THEY might be feeling. 

ABOUT THE SERIES ... It's so hard for parents to speak to the tiny people in their life about a specific topic which may be troubling them ... so this is the first in series designed for children (3-8) to have fun whilst subconsciously also addressing something that may be on their mind. These stories and illustrations are not only beautifully written but have a subtle moral message that will make hearts sing. Future titles include:

I'm A Horse Of Course ...
In a world that's grim and dark, can Poppet work out who she is really and why she's different? Perhaps a special friend will help her on the way and she can bring colour, magic and sparkle to the world.

The Shark Who Barked ...
Everyone knows that all sharks go "chomp" ... well that is except for this special shark. He goes 'woof'! Can he save his reef from the giant creatures who've come up from the deep and maybe have some giggles on the way?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ... As a father trying to navigate the pitfalls of parenthood, James (Jay) Vincent wrote these books originally as some fun stories to help his daughter through her first years at school but they soon became a passion. As a child who had his fair share of trauma at school himself, it was only when they were read out loud to a pre school group did he realise he had a natural ability to write and bring magical worlds to life.


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8 Nov 2019

THE HOST.

THE HOST by STEPHENIE MEYER.


Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact but Wanderer, the invading 'soul' who occupies Melanie's body,  finds its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of  Jared, a human who has avoided invasion and lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Soon Wanderer and Melanie - reluctant allies -   set off to search for the man they both love.
- Back Cover Blurb

The Healer's name was Fords Deep Waters.
- First Sentence; Prologue

I turned to the cupboards next, kneeling on the nasty carpet to peek carefully inside. I leaned away as I opened the door, afraid I might be disturbing one of the venomous desert animals in its lair.

The first was empty, backless, so that I could see the wooden slats of the outside wall. The next had no door, but there was a stack of antique newspapers inside, covered with dust. I pulled one out, curious, shaking the dirt to the dirtier floor, and read the date.
- Memorable Moment; Page 107


SOURCE ... A charity shop buy.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... Having read the author's Twilight books I was keen to read something else of her's; something that didn't involve sparkly vampires or werewolves and, most of all, didn't involve any romantic cliches.

Oh Well! Two out of three ain't bad. 

The minute the 'beautiful' Edward (sorry did I say Edward? I, of course meant Jared) ... The minute the beautiful JARED was mentioned I thought here we go again; a character so like Edward that I could be forgiven for confusing the two. 

Not that the similarities between this and the Twilight books ended here. The male/female relationships almost without exception ranging from the 'mildly unhealthy' to the downright abusive, the male characters emotionally immature alpha males; the two suitors (would it surprise you to learn there was something of a love triangle going on?) all but beating their chests, literally fighting over who got to carry the damsel (an idealised version of femininity, but of course) off to his cave. 

Other than that ...

A novel that it is said the author herself claims is for those who don't like sci-fi. For myself (not a huge fan of sci-fi it has to be said, I leave that to my other half, not that I can see him reading this any more than I can see him reading Twilight) I thought this had the makings of an interesting novel. Its just a shame that it was poorly executed and, well, rather, what? Lame? Lacking in imagination? Honestly the names of some of the aliens, planets and medicines; you couldn't make them up ... Oh! Except the author could and did.

Then there's the fact that widely accepted as a read for 'adults' (as opposed to the Twilight franchise which was unashamedly marketed as being for Young Adults). I'm sorry but I just don't get it. WHY? What sets The Host apart as being one for the grown-ups?

An edition totalling some 619 minute print size pages (AGGGHHH!) essentially all of them a bit 'meh!'; the characters all too recognisable (at least to those who are familiar with the Twilight series), the world building ... Hmm! Lacking in imagination.



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6 Nov 2019

THE ALPHABET FOR LIFE.


Today it's my pleasure to be participating in the Blog Tour of the Alphabet For Life by Fran Norris as capably organised by Faye at Authoright.

An alphabet book with a difference! Who said A is for Apple? Why not A is for Acceptance? Let's learn the alphabet using words that will inspire and empower everyone to thrive in life! Packed with fun illustrations and thoughtful quotes and themes, the Alphabet For Life is a unique children's book the whole family can enjoy and learn from for a lifetime.
- Synopsis 

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from Faye at Authoright.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.
MY THOUGHTS ... Read by both myself and Mr T. I know it isn't often he feels inspired to pick up any of the books I'm reading but he was intrigued by this one.

What we both thought was an insightful read. Full of colourful fun illustrations that will no doubt be enjoyed by children though as to how much they'll enjoy/understand quotes from the likes of everyone from Eckhart Tolle (A is for Acceptance) through to Arianna Huffington (Z is for ZZZZZZZ) by way of  Thich Nat Hanh (M is for Mindfulness) and any other number of people (some of whom as adults you'll know, others maybe not so) is another matter. However, that said, if used with an adult on hand to explain and perhaps explore the themes, why not?

For myself personally, in this day and age when we are all so aware of the importance of good mental health, I thought The Alphabet For Life, its twenty six tips for living a happier and fuller life inspirational,
a thought provoking and empowering read for tweenagers/teenagers upwards. 

ABOUT THE BOOK ...
Title: The Alphabet of Life
Author: Fran Norris
Release Date: 29th October 2019
Genre: Picture Book
Page Count: 30
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing


ABOUT THE AUTHOR ... Fran Norris is a mother of two living in Devon. Like most parents, her daily life largely involves coming up with creative approaches to making the good-for-you stuff enjoyable and appealing to children. She believes that education should nurture our natural curiosity and empower each individual to reach their fullest potential.

Inspired by the playful way children approach any task, from brushing their teeth to eating toast, Fran is convinced that fun should be at the core of all learning. As a former scientist, Fran approaches life as a wonderful experiment and loves to question everything. Her children provide a never-ending source of mystery and challenges to be solved. Creating THE ALPHABET OF LIFE reconnected Fran with her love of drawing and painting, encouraging her to work as an illustrator now.
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1 Nov 2019

THE BO BOOKS 1 - 3.


'Y' 'BO GO UP!' and 'CAT EGG' by LARRY BAUM (With illustrations by JOANNA PASEK.

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from the author.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... Marketed at children aged two to five years of age (though I'm sure even younger children will find them enjoyable) the Bo Books are based around the concept that reading would be even easier if only simple sounds were used. *

Beginning with 'Y'... the story of a little girl who asks why the sky is blue and the grass is green ... a 1-letter word book with sentences like U C A B? Y? (You See A Bee? Why?) that once mastered, the reader, having a sense of achievement and pride, moves onto the next book.


The story of two friends playing with a ball until an ad on one of their t-shirts leads them to a hot air balloon ride 'BO, GO UP!' is a 2-letter word book that, the readers confidence increasing, leads onto the third book in the series.


The story of what happens when three children  play with a pet cat which has laid an egg ... or has it? 'CAT EGG' is a 3-letter word book with a surprising ending.

 Reading 'Y', 'BO, GO UP!' and even (though not quite so much) 'CAT EGG' did at first feel slightly alien in so much as as adults we are not accustomed to stories written using entirely only 1-letter, 2-letter or even 3-letter words.

However thinking about it, small children do talk using very short words that gradually get bigger as they develop and so, yes, it makes perfect sense that little ones will enjoy the books, the reading of which may well come to them more naturally than books for children which all too often use 'big' words and anything that encourages reading; that makes it that much easier to master has to be a good thing, right?

Fun stories accompanied by detailed full colour double page illustrations that are full of expression. I loved how 'up to date' these books felt; that in 'Y' its a male character (the child's dad?) who takes the girl (his daughter?) to the park, that, rich in diversity, we see not just white characters but also characters of colour.


* For a more detailed explanation of the concept behind the books please click on the link to 'Y' at the top of the post.

PLEASE NOTE ... 
The e-book version of 'Y' is free at http://bobooks.org or https://www.smashwords.com/books/byse...
The e-book version of 'BO, GO UP!' is free at http://bobooks.org or https://www.smashwords.com/books/byse...
The e-book version of 'CAT EGG' is free at http://bobooks.org or https://www.smashwords.com/books/byse...

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