Tag Archives: children’s book

CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW: “The Imagination Box” by Martyn Ford

  • imagination boxStars: 5
  • Would I recommend it: Definitely
  • Age range: 9+

” “There is a box. Anything you imagine will appear inside. You have one go, one chance to create anything you want. What would you pick?”

That’s exactly the question ten-year-old Timothy Hart gets to answer after discovering The Imagination Box. The greatest toy on earth.

The top-secret contraption transforms his life but when the box’s inventor, Professor Eisenstone, goes missing, Tim knows he has to investigate.

With the help of a talking finger monkey called Phil, he sets out to find the professor. In order to rescue his friend, he must face his darkest fears and discover the true potential of his own mind.”

 

I picked this book up in the library last summer for SC and I to read as part of the summer reading challenge.

Now, the official guideline says it’s for 9+, well SC was 8 when we read it last year and to be honest I think even a 7-year-old would enjoy it – it makes for a great bedtime read, if you are strong enough to stop despite cries of “Don’t stop reading mummy!”

I thought the back of the book blurb sounded like it could be a fun book, and I was not wrong.

This book is brilliant. It is very cleverly crafted and will appeal to children and adults alike.

There is laughter, lots of it, and without giving any spoilers away let’s just say there are jet-packs to add to the amusement.

There is sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next.

But at its heart is a story about friendship.

When we finished it last year, we definitely gave it a 5 star rating – it would have got more.

Well, imagine our surprise when looking through the books at the library this summer for suitable reads for the reading challenge when lo and behold we spied “The Imagination Box: Beyond Infinity” on the shelves.

A sequel?

Oh yes indeed.

Is it as good as the first book?

Yes, yes and a thousand times yes.

All the characters are back for some more fun with the imagination box, including Phil the talking finger monkey (mine and SC’s particular favourite – he’s very posh don’t you know?)

This time Tim needs to rescue his imagination box after it has been stolen from him. But who can he trust? Can he trust anyone?

Let’s just say I guessed the baddie much to SC’s annoyance. But I didn’t see the ending coming!

Another fabulous read and there is another book coming out – the third in the series – Spring 2017, hopefully.

That will be another one on the list.

If you can lay your hands on a copy of these books, do so. You, and your children, will love them.

So …

There is a box. Anything you imagine will appear inside. You have one go, one chance to create anything you want.

What would you pick?

Let me know in the comments section – happy imagining.

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FILM REVIEW: The BFG

bfg

  • Film Guide: PG
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Would I recommend it: Definitely

Roald Dahl has to rate up there as one of the best and most-loved writer of children’s books … ever.

I love his books and have read them all to SC – and if you get a chance to visit his museum – do – it’s amazing.

We’ve even read his autobiography of his childhood – it’s definitely worth a read and I guarantee you will never look at liquorice laces in the same way again!

But The BFG is definitely a firm favourite.

Being old enough to remember the cartoon version, voiced by the inimitable David Jason, I wasn’t sure that anything could top it let alone a live-action version (seems to be all the rage these days taking an animated film and live-actioning it!)

But, how wrong I was.

The film stayed true to the book with only a slight veering off course at the end – where the giants are not thrown into a pit, but somewhere else and Sophie lives happily ever after, which we never actually find out in the book.

The lovely Mark Rylance took the role of The BFG – totally unrecognisable, but utterly wonderful.  From the moment he emerged from the darkness you warmed to him.

12 year old Ruby Barnhill literally steals the entire film with her portrayal of the orphan Sophie – she was lovely to watch and the moments between her and the BFG were just magical.

Rounding off the main cast is Penelope Wilton as the queen – there is no one who could have played her better.

I laughed – seriously and out loud – I defy anyone not too – especially after the queen and all the royal subjects drink frobscottle (if you’ve read the book you’ll know what happens next!)

I sat mesmerised at the dream catching – truly magical.

I cried – seriously and with tears rolling down my face – there were some very tender moments and the music by John Williams (who better) added to the emotion and I just couldn’t help myself – mind you I do cry very easily when watching, or reading anything.

I sat enthralled from the first moment until the last credits rolled – it was, in my opinion, a great cinemagraphic tribute to one the world’s best writers.

I loved it, so did SC.

If you get a chance to see it, please do – and if you’re anything like me – take a packet of tissues!

“I am brave!”

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CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW – “The Many Worlds of Albie Bright” by Christopher Edge

albie bright

  • Stars: 5
  • Would I recommend it: Definitely
  • Age range: 8-12+

 

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD?

When Albie’s mum dies, it’s natural he should ask where she’s gone. His parents are scientists and they usually have all the answers. Dad mutters something about quantum physics and parallel universes, so Albie gets a box, a laptop and a rotting banana, and sends himself through time and space in search of his mum.

What he finds may or may not be what he’s looking for, but he does learn the answers to some big questions.

An extraordinary novel for anyone who’s ever been curious.

 

I bought this book for SC on a whim because I liked the look of the cover and the detail on the back.

It pretty much stayed on the shelf for a couple of months, until we ran out of books to read. SC was slightly reluctant, but we started reading, and from the first page he was hooked and got rather upset when it was time to stop reading each night – “don’t stop mummy, keep reading!”

I’m not going to give away any spoilers, because that’s not fair.

But, we did learn some fascinating facts about quantum physics (and for someone who pretty much sucked at the subject at school, why were my physics lessons never this interesting?)

At the heart of the book is a story about dealing with loss and grief.  Which for a child’s book is a very deep subject, especially when the subject who dies is your mum, but the book deals with this delicate issue with subtlety and tact.

There are some very touching and poignant moments as well as some rather funny antics along the way – especially the one with the stuffed platypus and when some 90s disco moves are mentioned (those were the days, and yes I did have to give a demonstration to SCC!)

This is an amazing book and would recommend anyone to read it from 8 upwards.  As an adult I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt some stuff I didn’t know before and SC was totally hooked.

But, maybe it’s just us, but we did get slightly teary (OK we got very teary and both blubbed) at the end of the book – so just beware and have some tissues handy!

“We’re all made of stardust!”

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CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW: “The Apothecary” by Maile Meloy

  • The ApothecaryStars: 5
  • Would I recommend it: YES
  • Age range: 8-12 (although for younger readers you can skip the soppy stuff!! and maybe the ocassional “bl**dy”)

I picked up this book in the library to read with SC. The cover looked pretty and the blurb on the back had me thinking it could be quite a good page-turner of a book.

“Janie Scott has just moved to London from sunny LA, and she’s finding it forbidding, dreary and cold. That is until she meets Benjamin Burrows who dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father – a mysterious apothecary – is kidnapped, he entrusts Janie and Benjamin with a powerful book, full of ancient spells and magical potions.

But there are others who seek the book’s secrets – spies in possession of nuclear weapons that could destroy the world …”

Oh my goodness!

We were not disappointed – and I will try not to give away any spoilers.

This book is a fabulous story.  It has it all love, adventure, excitement, magic, history and above all the idea of keeping your mind open to the possibility that anything is possible!

It created quite a bit of discussion in this house, and me having to hark back to school and remembering my History classes about the aftermath of World War 2. I had to explain about the McCarthy Witch Hunts that took place in the States, what the Cold War was, why there was a theoretical “iron curtain” hanging down the middle of Europe and the fact you couldn’t cross over it and even nuclear weapons and how they worked in theory – my goodness my brain got quite a workout – although I think I may have to do a bit of reading up on nuclear physics (it was never my strongest subject at school)

So, on top of all that background history going on throughout the story, there was an exciting adventure and a race against time, intertwined with alchemy, magic and herbal lore.

When you reach the end of the book it does leave a few questions unanswered, but thankfully having look up on the internet there are 2 more books that are sequels to this one – so thankfully we will be able to read on and see what happens 😉

So that’s a quick run-down on what the book has inside without mentioning anything specific about the plot.

There’s just one quote from the book that struck a chord with me:

“… we should not stop at our desire to protect our own children in their immediate world. we want the streets they walk to be safe, and the walls around them to be sound, and we want to be able to put food in their bellies. These are natural desires.

But if we truly want them to be safe and well, we must make the greater world a different place. As it stands, we are all threatened, at every moment, and nothing we do to lock our own doors and earn our pay and tuck our children in bed will make the slightest difference.”

As a parent, you want nothing more than to protect your child from harm. You will move heaven and earth to keep them safe. Sometimes, our best endeavours are not enough and the unimaginable becomes reality. I cannot comprehend how that must feel and I can only imagine that such an awful reality must leave a huge hole in a parent’s life that can never heal.

But I think the above quote cuts deeper than just that of being a parent, and that is being a human being.

This story is about the Cold War, nuclear weapons and the power of fear. However relevant the quote is for that period in time, it is also extremely relevant in today’s world.

There may not be an Iron Curtain, and the Cold War may well have thawed somewhat over the years, but nowadays the threats come from other sources – so how can we protect our children and each other?

It has been said that in order to change the world, we must start with ourselves and become the embodiment of what we want the world to be.

If we fight hate with hate, hate wins. But can we fight hate with love? And if so, how?

So let’s all try to make the greater world a different place – maybe all it takes to start is a smile – it can’t hurt, right?

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