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IReadThereforeIBlog

IReadThereforeIBlog

Joined August 2016

Longer reviews can be found at I Read, Therefore I Blog here: ireadthereforeiblog.wordpress.com
review
IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Katie and Kevin Tsang‘s SF adventure for readers aged 6+ (the first in a series) has a lot of set-up, which distorts the pacing, and hand waves over how Suzie has found herself in a TV show that‘s actually real. That said there is a lot of humour, it conveys how cool science and inventions are (provides bonus facts for readers), Amy Nguyen‘s illustrations are lively and fun and there‘s a lot of potential for future books, which I would check out.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
The Uncounted | Alex Cobham
Mehso-so

Alex Cobham is an economist and chief executive of the Tax Justice Network. This deep dive into failures in collating economic and demographic data argues that official figures are skewered against society‘s most disadvantaged and increase inequality, which is further exacerbated by multinational tax avoidance. However, the tone here assumes familiarity with the underlying subject matter and is quite academic, making it difficult to get into.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Silk Fire | Zab Ellor
Panpan

Zabé Ellor‘s debut novel mixes fantasy and SF with LGBTQ+ characters and erotic romance to dull effect. There are too many ideas for the storyline to be coherent or gripping and the self-pitying Koré swerves between seeing sex work as a salvation and as something done by broken people. Twists are telegraphed far too early, the antagonists are caricatures and I simply didn‘t get what Ria or Faziz see in Koré beyond the physical.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Lost in the City | Alice Courtley
Pickpick

Alice Courtley‘s self-illustrated picture book is a celebration of the life and diversity that can be found within cities while also acknowledging how overwhelming they can be. Maya‘s relationship with her Gran is warmly depicted and I liked the little game you play where you have to spot where Sammy is. The illustrations are bold and have a lot of diversity and I enjoyed how Courtley highlights some of the different things to do.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mr Men Little Miss All Different | Roger Hargreaves, Elizabeth Kilbey
Pickpick

Roger Hargreaves and Elizabeth‘s Kilbey picture book (part of the DISCOVER YOU SERIES) uses the MR MEN and LITTLE MISS trade mark silly humour to explore what it means to be different and how characteristics that you think are disadvantages can actually make you special and powerful. It‘s a lot of fun and there‘s advice for parents, care givers and teachers at the end with suggestions on how to read the book with young readers.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mr Men Little Miss Be Kind | Roger Hargreaves, Elizabeth Kilbey
Pickpick

Roger Hargreaves and Elizabeth Kilbey‘s picture book (part of the DISCOVER MORE ABOUT YOU SERIES) uses the MR MEN AND LITTLE MISS trade mark silly humour to explore what it means to be kind and why it‘s important to be kind, both for yourself and for other people. It‘s a lot of fun and there‘s advice for parents, care givers and teachers at the end with suggestions on how to read the book with young readers.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mr Men Go to School | Roger Hargreaves, Adam Hargreaves
Pickpick

Based on his father Roger Hargreaves‘s hugely successful LITTLE MISS and MR MEN SERIES, Adam Hargreaves‘s self-illustrated picture book (part of the MR MEN LITTLE MISS EVERY DAY SERIES), this book is perfect for young readers who are about to have their own first day in school and may be feeling a little anxious about it by showing them how the Mr Men and Little Miss go to school and have their own silly experiences.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Sarah Coyle and Adam Walker-Parker‘s choose-your-own-adventure style picture book for readers aged 3+ is a fun way of introducing children to making decisions and following different story paths. The illustrations are bright and packed with detail, the different adventures are cosy and silly and each has a little activity to keep readers occupied. All in all, I think this is very entertaining and a great introduction to gaming-type books.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
My Life Online | Anne Rooney, Sarah Ridley
Pickpick

Sarah Ridley writes and edits educational books for children and young people. Anne Rooney is an experienced writer of non-fiction for children and adults. Ryan Wheatcroft is an experienced children‘s book illustrator. This solid introduction to online safety for readers aged 6+ (part of a series) covers most of the core issues but I wished it had addressed in-game purchases and in-game currency as it‘s something children need to understand.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
ABC Pride | Louie Stowell, Elly Barnes
Pickpick

Dr Elly Barnes is an educationalist and founder of Educate & Celebrate, a charity that focuses on diversity and inclusiveness. Louie Stowell is a successful children‘s author. This ABC picture book for readers aged 3+ is a colourful celebration of Pride, inclusiveness and social justice with bold illustrations by Amy Phelps that enhance and reinforce its messages plus discussion points at the end to help readers understand the concepts.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Nell Walker is a writer with a Master‘s degree in Creative Writing. This fascinating biography of Marie Curie for readers aged 7+ covers her childhood in Poland (where education opportunities were restricted), her work on radioactivity and marriage to Pierre and role in the development of x-ray machines. Charlotte Ager‘s sensitive illustrations work well alongside photographs and Walker clearly conveys a woman of remarkable spirit and ability.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Dean Atta‘s LGBTQ+ YA novel frames a coming-of-age story within a romance to interesting effect. The economy of Atta‘s verse format works really well to highlight the emotional state of the characters and the gulf between them and Atta sensitively handles the difficulties of being gay within some communities. That said, Mack‘s economic privilege and the disparity between him and K never gets called on and the ending does one boy a disservice.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
The Knave of Secrets | Alex Livingston
Mehso-so

Alex Livingston‘s fantasy novel combines gambling and politics with intricate world building. Unfortunately, the pacing lags, the relationships don‘t convince (notably Ten and Quinol) and the geopolitics political is confusing. I enjoyed the 18th century French inspiration and Livingston‘s put a lot of thought into his card games so while I wouldn‘t rush to read further books in this world, I‘d check out his other work.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

This LEGO STAR WARS tie-in book for readers aged 5+ contains specs and pictures of various LEGO STAR WARS vehicles plus dad jokes courtesy of Poe Dameron who guides you through the various craft. Personally, I think this is one for only the most dedicated fans as it‘s expensive for what it is (a cover price of £12.99) and most of the book is actually the container for the Poe figurine, which you can get with proper kits for about the same price.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Anna Claybourne is an experienced writer of non-fiction for children. This reassuring and informative illustrated book about pandemics and diseases for readers aged 9+ is part of a series about issues related to the planet and will particularly help them to make sense of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. She does a great job of breaking down the causes of pandemics but also deals well with the consequences of it and does so without scaremongering.

8 likes1 stack add
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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

This is the 5th in the JOJO & GRAN GRAN picture book series that accompanies the CBeebies series (which itself is based on a book/characters by Laura Henry-Allain). Sometimes tie-ins can feel stale and ho-hum, but a lot of thought has gone into this and I loved the way it celebrates Black hair and hairstyles. JoJo has a lot of personality and the love between her and Gran Gran is very moving and I think younger readers will thoroughly enjoy it.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

The second in Mario Giordano‘s AUNTIE POLDI SERIES (energetically translated from German by John Brownjohn) is a rollicking crime novel packed with humour, passion and more twists than you can shake a stick at. Poldi is a great creation - a 60-something alcoholic with a death wish who‘s lust for life is reinvigorated by her investigations - such that you can‘t help root for her. I hadn‘t read the first book but I will definitely be doing so.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
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Du Fei is Professor of Mural Painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. His illustrations depicting numerous scenes from the history of the Great Wall of China for readers aged 7+ (part of a series) are gorgeous - packed with detail and information and reminding me of Bruegel. Sadly he is let down by text that is less rich in detail, offering a patchy and uncontextualised history of the wall and its significance.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
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Tim Cooke is an experienced children‘s author and editor with a particular interest in history. This fun introduction to the ancient Greeks (part of a series) aimed at readers aged 9+ has cheerful illustrations by Matt Lilly and gives you a very broad idea of who the ancient Greeks were (perhaps too broad as some topics are a bit random). That said, it‘s a good way of getting youngsters interested in classical history and so is worth a look.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
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Tim Cooke is an experienced children‘s author with a particular interest in history. This terrifically fun introduction to Viking history (one in a series) aimed at readers aged 9+ has cheerful illustrations by Matt Lilly and gives you a great sense of what Viking society was like and who they were as people. I learned a number of things that I hadn‘t known before and I thoroughly enjoyed the humour - perfect for getting youngsters into history.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Rise Above: Leadership Lessons from the RAF | John Jupp, Captain Kelvin Truss
Mehso-so

John Jupp was an RAF Group Captain, set up the RAF Leadership Centre in 2003 and currently works as a leadership consultant. His book gives an interesting description of the RAF leadership model and how the service evolved, but he fails to convince on how it can be applied outside the RAF (which is a unique entity with a unique structure and mission) and also doesn‘t look at where it‘s fallen down and what lessons were drawn from that.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Shy and Mighty | Nadia Finer
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Nadia Finer is the founder of Shy and Mighty, which aims to help better understand, value and support shy people. This is a self-help book (beautifully illustrated by Sara Thielker) for shy readers aged 7+ to help them better understand what shyness is, how it is a benefit and how to take control of it but while I wish I‘d had this book when I was a child, there are points when I think it needed to talk more about when shyness can be destructive.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
You're the One that I Want | Simon James Green
Pickpick

Simon James Green‘s YA gay rom-com is a light hearted affair that nods at PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and GREASE while hitting all the romance notes you‘d expect and throws in some smart observations about how being a gay compares with how TV show gay teens together with genuinely hilarious one-liners and scenes (I particularly enjoyed those with bitchy theatre kids). I‘m not normally a YA romance fan but would check out Green‘s other books based on this.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Sarah Ridley is a writer and editor of educational books for children and young people. Ryan Wheatcroft is an experienced children‘s book illustrator. This useful guide for readers aged 6+ (part of a series) advises on making friends, what friendship means, how friendships can become toxic and how to move on from friends as your interests diverge. It‘s written and illustrated in a sensitive and inclusive way and takes into account social media.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Feeling Angry | Susie Williams
Pickpick

Susie Williams is a children‘s non-fiction author and editor. This is a solid book (part of the TAME YOUR EMOTIONS series) for readers aged 5+ that uses pictures of animals to introduce children to the topic of anger as an emotion, how it feels, why it can be destructive and how they can control it. There‘s a section for parents/carers/teachers at the back on how to tackle the topic plus some further reading suggestions at the back.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Harry Collins is a sociologist and Distinguished Research Professor at Cardiff University‘s School of Social Sciences. This thought-provoking book takes a deep dive into what we mean by ‘intelligence‘ and what it takes to pass the Turing Test, arguing that despite extraordinary developments in artificial intelligence, the Singularity is not at hand but we are in danger of fooling ourselves that it is and thus surrendering to ‘stupid‘ machines.

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Anita Ganeri is an award-winning children‘s non-fiction writer and Toby Newsome is an award-winning illustrator. This powerful book for readers aged 7+ (part of a series on Civil Rights Stories) examines examples of racial injustice throughout history and across the world and gives a potted history of white supremacy and prejudice that explains how this history has created present day inequality and discrimination for people of colour.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Listen, Layla | Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Pickpick

Yassmin Abdel-Magied‘s sequel to YOU MUST BE LAYLA is a solid contemporary book for readers aged 12+ that gives insight into the diaspora experience and what‘s happening in Sudan. I enjoyed Layla‘s enthusiasm and ambition for inventing while the scenes involving her family convey the difference in generational attitudes really well but I would have liked more dialogue between Layla and her parents on what she wants and why it‘s important to her.

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Pat Thomas is a psychotherapist and journalist specialising in child development and Claire Keay an artist and illustrator. This deeply compassionate non-fiction book (part of a series) aims to introduce the subject of poverty to children aged 5+ in a very sensitive way that encourages discussion and understanding without causing stress or worry or causing bullying or alienation. It‘s a great book with wonderful illustrations and worth a read.

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Serhii Plokhy is Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University, director of its Ukrainian Research Institute and a leading authority on Eastern Europe. This absorbing, very readable book looks at a forgotten period in World War II when Stalin permitted the USA to operate 3 airbases in the Ukraine between April 1944 and June 1945 and makes a convincing case for how the US/Soviet experience there fuelled the start of the Cold War.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Sustainable Planet | Anna Claybourne
Pickpick

Anna Claybourne is an experienced writer of non-fiction for children. This book about sustainability for children aged 9+ is part of a series on issues related to the planet and gives a solid summary of what is currently happening to the planet re pollution and climate change and how readers can make changes in their own lives to counter the effects but could be more explicit on how some changes reduce opportunities for younger generations.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Buzz! | Kenneth Carter
Pickpick

Kenneth Carter is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Oxford College, Emory University in the USA. This very easy to read book delves into the psychology of why some people engage in thrill-seeking behaviour (e.g. BASE jumping, eating exotic and potentially deadly foods or sky diving). I found it fascinating and came away with more of an understanding for what drives people to do these things and what they gain from it.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

The 7th in Rhiannon Fielding and Chris Chatterton‘s picture book series is a cute affair that offers structure to care-givers trying to get their little ones ready for bed. I enjoyed Chatterton‘s body positive illustrations of Poppy and her mum and he gets a lot of emotion into the pictures but while Fielding‘s rhyming verses left me a little cold, young children will likely enjoy the countdown to bedtime and Poppy‘s adventures.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mr Men Little Miss: The Royal Party | Roger Hargreaves, Adam Hargreaves
Pickpick

Based on his father Roger Hargreaves‘s hugely successful LITTLE MISS and MR MEN SERIES, Adam Hargreaves‘s self-illustrated picture book has all the charm and silly humour of the original books and although it‘s aimed to tie in with the Queen‘s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, works on its own merits aside from that. I particularly enjoyed Little Miss Naughty‘s devilish cunning and how things nevertheless come good at the end.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Rebel Skies | Ann Sei Lin
Pickpick

Ann Sei Lin‘s debut YA fantasy novel (the first in a trilogy) makes the most out of its very original concept (inspired by Japanese history and culture) and unfurls at a breakneck pace that keeps the action coming thick and fast. However, this is one of those rare books that I wished had at times slowed down to explore and explain some of the core ideas and allow the character relationships to breathe and develop more naturally than they do.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Timothy Williamson is the Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford University. His book aims to explain how to do philosophy well by cantering through various schools, including the history and science of philosophy, to set out how they approach problems. I found some parts (e.g. the history sections) easier to follow than others (notably the logic section) but if you‘re thinking of studying philosophy it‘s definitely worth a look.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Pickpick

Fiona Munro‘s picture board book (with illustrations by Darshika Varma) is perfect for young readers who are finding it difficult to deal with a new baby sibling and gives useful tips for parents who want to help them with that adjustment. Varma‘s illustrations deserve special mention for the inclusivity, including Ruby‘s wheelchair using mum but Munro also gets Ruby‘s emotions spot on and I really felt for her when Ravi snaffled Blue Bear.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Bad Actors | Mick Herron
Pickpick

The 8th in Mick Herron‘s SLOUGH HOUSE SERIES uses a missing person case to incorporate a savage commentary on UK politics. Like SLOUGH HOUSE there‘s a strong set-up feel with Herron manoeuvring characters and motivation for Book 9 but Wheelan‘s return, Taverner‘s tribulations and Shirley‘s rage issues are all a lot of fun, I enjoyed seeing John Bachelor from the novellas and there are some hilarious lines such that I can‘t wait for Book 9.

4 likes1 stack add
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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

James Bishop‘s funny science fiction book for readers aged 7+ has a great emphasis on empathy and wanting to help (even if you‘re not great at it!) and the kind of poo jokes that younger readers will enjoy while Fay Austin‘s jolly illustrations riff nicely on Bishop‘s ideas. However the humour is quite forced at times and a little over-constructed and as a result, it didn‘t quite work for me, although I‘d check out Bishop‘s other books.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mehso-so

Keri Hulme‘s debut literary novel won the Booker Prize in 1985 and it‘s easy to see why, given the fluid, lyrical writing that draws on Māori beliefs. However, this story of three deeply broken people is not easy to read, especially the scenes of child abuse, and it‘s a book that leaves open a number of questions, including Simon‘s background and Kerewin‘s break with her family, while driving towards a happy-ish ending that didn‘t feel deserved.

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Pickpick

Based on his father Roger Hargreaves‘s hugely successful LITTLE MISS and MR MEN SERIES, Adam Hargreaves‘s self-illustrated picture book has all the charm and silly humour of the original books but offers very young readers a chance to learn a little about Eid and Ramadan in a way that‘s entertaining and informative.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Mirabelle In Double Trouble | Harriet Muncaster
Pickpick

The 4th in Harriet Muncaster‘s MIRABELLE SERIES (a companion to her ISADORA MOON SERIES) for readers aged 5+ is an entertaining read packed with mischief as Mirabelle is forced to deal with the consequences of being thought of as a trouble maker. Mike Love‘s illustrations (based on Muncaster‘s original artwork) neatly complement the text and I enjoyed Mirabelle‘s relationship with her older brother. I would definitely read on.

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The second in Daisy Meadows (collectively Narinder Dhabi, Sue Bentley, Linda Chapman and Sue Mongredien) series for readers aged 5+ is a cute and informative affair that‘s pitched at young girls. The illustrations are fine, I liked the fact that Frenchie is a POC and there‘s a good message here about patience and responsibility. The RAINBOW MAGIC SERIES is a bit of an industry behemoth and this book makes it easy to understand its success.

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Ambrose Follows His Nose | Dick King-Smith, Josie Rogers
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Josie Rogers has completed her great-grandfather Dick King-Smith‘s unfinished manuscript for release on what would have been his centenary, creating an utterly delightful read for children aged 6+ that‘s filled with King-Smith‘s warmth and wit. The illustrations by Stephanie Laberis are charming and there‘s a lovely end note by Rogers. Younger readers will enjoy the adventurous bunnies while older readers will enjoy the sly humour and nostalgia.

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Geraint Evans is an award-winning chief marketing officer, turned life coach and public speaker. This is a useful self-help/personal development book narrated in a chatty and engaging style and offering helpful checklists and summaries that draws on (and acknowledges) other work in the field and then adds in Evans‘s own experiences in using them to draw together a comprehensive set of exercises for establishing and achieving personal objectives.

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Bruce Hood is professor of Developmental Psychology in Society at Bristol University. This fascinating book examines the psychology of ownership, including distinguishing between legal, moral and psychological possession, links between ownership and personal identity, sharing, the links between wealth and happiness and how to give it away. I came away with a better understanding of why I have so much stuff that I find difficult to give away.

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Pickpick

The sixth in Swapna Reddy‘s BALLET BUNNIES SERIES for children aged 5+ combines bunnies and ballet in a way that will appeal to girls in particular but which also has a sensible underlying message of what to do if you lose something (and also what to do if you get lost). Bunny Talib‘s illustrations are cute without being cutesy and it‘s great to read a book that shows ballet is for people of colour.

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Pickpick

The second in Alex Falase-Koya‘s superhero series for children aged 5+ (with great, inclusive illustrations by Paula Bowles) is an action-packed affair with important messages about friendship and kindness. Rex was a more threatening supervillain, Pixel has more of a character here than “cute robot” and there are more hints that Joe knows Marvin‘s secret. All in all, the series is developing nicely and I look forward to reading on.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Panpan

Steven D. Levitt teaches economics at the University of Chicago. Stephen J. Dubner is a writer for the New York Times and The New Yorker. This book resulted from a profile that Dubner wrote on Levitt and was a phenomenon when first published in 2005, offering explanations for a variety of questions. It‘s a page-turning read that tells a good story but some of the statistics are questionable and its reliance on racial assumptions very telling.

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IReadThereforeIBlog
Marv and the Mega Robot | Alex Falase-Koya
Mehso-so

Alex Falase-Koya‘s first book in a new superhero series for readers aged 5+ is a charming affair about the power of kindness and imagination with great black representation that‘s well supported by Paula Bowles‘s excellent illustrations. There‘s a lot of set up here (which is understandable), I‘m not sure how kindness powers the suit and the villain is underwhelming but there‘s a lot of scope for future books and I look forward to reading on.