Q & A with Childrens Author Stuart Reid

I am very excited to welcome Stuart Reid onto my Blog today, I hope you are ready for bogies, snot, bottom burps and bums…I kid you not! If I say that this author has described as the “Billy Connolley for kids” that should give you some indication of how this post today is going to go!

Stuart is an author of the Gorgeous George books for Children, he is a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and tours schools bringing his books to children everywhere. . I admit I had great fun writing up this post. I hope you all enjoy it…


I don’t know about you, but for me I love Book Covers! Want to have a look at a couple of Stuart’s? (I apologise for reducing the synopsis for each book!)

Gorgeous George and the Zigzag Zit-Faced Zombies

Sneezing, sniffing, snoring and snots! Zombies, zebras and zits! 

Must…..have….bogiieeeeeeeeeeeeeees!

Bogies, baddies, bagpipes and bums! Farting, false teeth and fun!

A must read for children (and anyone else) who love crude, rude, exciting, silly, sometimes smelly and humorous books.


I must admit the kid in me is sniggering sssoooooo much 🙂 🙂

Okay now for the Q & A (aka – author interrogation!) – make yourself comfy…

1.When was the moment that you realised you wanted to write children’s books?

​I’ve always loved writing. When I was 16, becoming a sports journalist would’ve been my dream job (basically being paid to watch football) but I studied Business Management instead because I thought it was sensible. After 25 years in business, I was running a 300-bedroom hotel in Dubai; I had a large house, a maid, a gardener, a swimming pool and two 4×4’s and I realised that I wasn’t happy. Work was unfulfilling and the credit crunch made things much harder. My wife persuaded me to start writing again… anything that would make me happy… and I began writing about people, situations and weird stories that I laughed at when I was 9 years old. I regressed back into my childhood and have never been happier.

I think being happy is your work is important, but still WOW…

2.Where did the idea of taking your books direct to your audience come from?

In 2009, I decided to give up my job… along with my salary, my car, my house, my healthcare and my pension… to start writing children’s books, so my family and I returned to Britain where I finished my first book. I was luckily enough to find a small publisher who agreed to publish the first book but he said “You’ll never make any money being a children’s author” so I started working as an area manager in retail again (which was soul-destroying). I realised that my target market meet together five days a week, forty weeks of the year… if I could tick the education box for the teachers, the reading inspiration box for the parents and the enjoyment and excitement boxes for the kids, then I might have a product that schools could benefit from. Six months after my first book was released my diary was so full with bookings from schools, libraries and book festivals that I was able to give up my proper job again and become a full-time children’s author. Since then, I have hosted over 1,500 events throughout the Uk and Ireland, as well as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, India, Hong Kong and Australia.

Finding your target audience was obviously important!

3.Is there a special standout moment from your books or from your performances?

Yesterday I was boarding a flight in Australia, returning from the Adelaide Festival, when an Emirates check-in staff member asked for my ticket and passport. She looked at the passport and then asked, ‘Are you the author? Were you performing at the Fringe? You asked my husband up onto the stage to be a lady elephant!’ – I nearly wet myself laughing. I also hosted an event in the Middle East with a group of boys from a royal family and almost started a riot. After one of my Edinburgh Fringe events last year, one of the parents described me as ‘Billy Connolly for kids’ – which is a massive compliment but one which I felt wholly inadequate to justify (didn’t stop me putting on my posters though). Writing scenes in my books where kids can help me bring the stories to life is great. Young volunteers help the audience visualise certain chapters by throwing false teeth at me, becoming snot zombies, enacting the water and the mountains and the tents around Justin Bieber’s campsite, as well as unleashing the two cheeky chimpanzees that amuse the crowd and terrorise the elephants.

Audience participation appears to be a key factor and also increases the fun!

4.Its obvious children love these performances from the video. I also noticed the adults loved it as well. Is this something you expected?  

​The more I’ve toured, and met mums and dads and teachers, the more I’ve found that most people still hold onto their inner child… the little person they once were that enjoys silliness, that laughs uncontrollably and helps them realise that it’s okay to have fun. Life can often be challenging but people need to laugh more, to enjoy life as much as possible and never take themselves too seriously. We’re only on the planet for a visit!

Yep, I have many silly, hysterical moments, and thats all I am saying about that lol

5.As I am a lifelong bookworm, I have to ask what were your favourite childhood books?

When I was about nine, I was hooked on a mystery series entitled Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators, where my love of an abstract adventure came from. Before that, the first book I remember reading by myself was Roald Dahl’s The Twits, and loved the monkeys gluing the furniture on the ceiling and Mr Twit pulling off the birds’ legs (which sounds a big gruesome nowadays). I also remember a hilarious book called Fungus the Bogeyman, as up until that point, I never knew you could put bogies in a book! And as a teenager, To Kill A Mocking Bird was the first book I ever read twice.

I remember The Twits and have heard of but never read Fungus.

6. And because I am nosy, what are your favourite books as an adult?

​I am obsessed with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, and have recently started another Stephen King phase. My two teenager daughters are brilliant at recommending books too. I’ve just finished You by Caroline Kepnes, although it was a wee bit rude so I will be having words with that daughter! I couldn’t put John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars down, and it was the first book where I’ve actually cried buckets. Me Before You was very good and I shed a tear or two with RJ Palacio’s Wonder. I still enjoy reading children’s and young adult books, as I need to be aware of market and like to recommend books to little readers and their teachers.

Never too old to read children’s books!

7. And yes, I’m very nosy! What are your interests and hobbies away from books?

​I love cooking and will always be experimenting in the kitchen – creating new tapas dishes is my favourite thing right now. My wife and I love to travel, so if she’s not joining me on my book tours, we try to squeeze in a cheeky wee holiday or weekend break every couple of months. And although my stage shows are quite energetic, and my fitness levels are okay, I don’t play football anymore, as I’m scared of breaking my leg and not being able to perform on stage. Playing FIFA on the PS4 is the best sport I can manage these days.

8. Apart from bringing stories to a younger readers, what are your future aims or dreams for your books?

​If I was to allow myself to have a dream for my Gorgeous George books,it would be a movie or television series, with a young Rupert Grinch playing George, an older, balder Robert Carlisle wearing an enormous ginger moustache would play Grandpa Jock. A younger version of Letitia Wright (from Black Panther) would be Barbara and Allison would be played by the Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, if she had a time machine go back to being a kid again. The adventures would be a mixture of live action, bright animation and full-on CGI, with Simon Cowell as the villain in Giant Geriatric Generator. We’d need a cast of hundreds for the Zig-Zag Zit-faced Zombies story and Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright and Woody Harrelson would have feature too, with time-warp trouser trumpets, aliens, Loch Ness monsters, piles and piles of pink poo, a parody of A Christmas Carol would need to be the festive adventure and there’s also a love story for Grandpa Jock too. But to be honest, I haven’t really given it much thought.

Oh I agree no thought at all hahaha

9. If I could wave a magic wand what would you wish for?

​Wow… you mean apart from the last answer? Well, I suppose I want every kid in the world to see one of my live events, and to feel inspired enough to want to read more books, more often. And not just my books, but any good book. And to learn to love reading, and to share that love of reading with their own children. My books are yucky… they are about boogers, bums and big bottom burps and my characters will never grown up… but I know that every little reader will, and they’ll leave Gorgeous George behind and read other books, better books and more intelligent books but I’d love it if my books were the inspiration for that. Oh, and world peace.

My love of reading started as a child and has been with me ever since!

10. Now the 3 W’s – What is next? Where Will it be? And When will it be?

​It’s already shaping up to be another busy year. My diary is full for months with a short tour of N.Ireland, followed by my first gigs at the Brighton Fringe, then the launch of Book no.8 Gorgeous George and the Incredible Iron-Bru-Man Incident in July. My sixth year at the Edinburgh Fringe is in August with 60+ appearances there, more school events, Book Week Scotland and my first tour of schools in Qatar. There is also the possibility of hosting events in Australia again with Perth Fringe in January 2020 and back across to Adelaide again in February. It’s great to be so busy… I think I have the best job in the world!

Wowsers…very busy and I wish you all the very best. I agree, it does sound like you have the best job!!


Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be appreciated so much 🙂 xx

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery #review

Todays review is for a childrens classic The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Synopsis:

When a pilot crash-lands in the Sahara Desert he meets a stranger – a little prince – who has arrived on Earth from an entirely different planet. By listening to the prince’s stories and his questions about the world, it becomes clear to the pilot that truths about life can reveal themselves in the most unlikely of places.

Translated into 180 languages and selling over 80 million copies, this beautiful and wise tale of childhood innocence will delight readers of all ages. This edition also includes Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s charming original illustrations.

My Thoughts:

This book is one that definitely shows its age. What I mean is how technology has advanced since its original publication in April 1943. This is something that is very obvious and actually adds something to the reading experience. It has an old charm and almost twee-ness to it.

The book has a few moralistic types of messages to it and while they may not always clear during the reading, by the end I think I  found them. What I thought was that things are not missed until they are gone. As the world has moved forward with advances in science, medicine, and technology it is the basic things in life that we do not realise are around. Another is how the world is perceived through the eyes of a child, being simple, basic and without all the noise of life getting in the way. Also the message of everyone being unique, yes we are part of a society of other people, but we all have our own special qualities that make us special to other people. I think different readers would probably get their own ideas of what this book was trying to tell, but these are my thoughts.

I found the story itself to be interesting as I followed The Little Prince from his home to other places before finally meeting a stranded pilot on earth. The pilot is the narrator of this story and recounts what the Prince tells him. At times I did feel a little bit confused as I felt I was missing some of the points that were being made, but as I started to get towards the end things started to become clear.

The story has quite a sombre feel to it as it explains how we do not see what is around us as we are so busy rushing around, jobs, shopping meetings all take time. I think this is something most of us can relate to.

I did enjoy this story and thought it was very thought provoking. It was easy to get caught up into as I followed the Prince on his travels. The end is open to the readers interpretation of what happened to The Little Prince, I have my own thoughts as to what happened to him in my mind and where I think he went, others may think differently. This possible difference in a readers own interpretation is something that makes this book special. I have read other reviews from other readers and while they do have some similarities, there are some differences.

Overall I would recommend this book as I did really enjoy it.

About the Author:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in Lyons on June 29, 1900. He flew for the first time at the age of twelve, at the Ambérieu airfield, and it was then that he became determined to be a pilot. He kept that ambition even after moving to a school in Switzerland and while spending summer vacations at the family’s château at Saint-Maurice-de-Rémens, in eastern France. (The house at Saint-Maurice appears again and again in Saint-Exupéry’s writing.)

Later, in Paris, he failed the entrance exams for the French naval academy and, instead, enrolled at the prestigious art school l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In 1921 Saint-Exupéry began serving in the military, and was stationed in Strasbourg. There he learned to be a pilot, and his career path was forever settled. 

After leaving the service, in 1923, Saint-Exupéry worked in several professions, but in 1926 he went back to flying and signed on as a pilot for Aéropostale, a private airline that flew mail from Toulouse, France, to Dakar, Senegal. In 1927 Saint-Exupéry accepted the position of airfield chief for Cape Juby, in southern Morocco, and began writing his first book, a memoir called Southern Mail, which was published in 1929. He then moved briefly to Buenos Aires to oversee the establishment of an Argentinean mail service; when he returned to Paris in 1931, he published Night Flight, which won instant success and the prestigious Prix Femina. 

Always daring, Saint-Exupéry tried in 1935 to break the speed record for flying from Paris to Saigon. Unfortunately, his plane crashed in the Libyan desert, and he and his copilot had to trudge through the sand for three days to find help. In 1938 he was seriously injured in a second plane crash, this time as he tried to fly between New York City and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The crash resulted in a long convalescence in New York. 

Saint-Exupéry’s next novel, Wind, Sand and Stars, was published in 1939. A great success, the book won the Académie Française’s Grand Prix du Roman (Grand Prize for Novel Writing) and the National Book Award in the United States. At the beginning of the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry flew reconnaissance missions for France, but he went to New York to ask the United States for help when the Germans occupied his country. He drew on his wartime experiences to write Flight to Arras and Letter to a Hostage, both published in 1942. His classic The Little Prince appeared in 1943. Later in 1943 Saint-Exupéry rejoined his French air squadron in northern Africa. Despite being forbidden to fly (he was still suffering physically from his earlier plane crashes), Saint-Exupéry insisted on being given a mission. On July 31, 1944, he set out from Borgo, Corsica, to overfly occupied France. He never returned. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

Galaxy Girl by Bev Smith @BevSmith612 @rararesources #BookReview #Giveaway (UK only)

Today I have my review of Galaxy Girl by Bev Smith to share with you all. My thanks to Rachel at Rachels Random Resources for the invite and to Bev for my e-copy of the book.

Synopsis:

You hate school. Your family is beyond annoying. Your only friend comes from a different planet, and she’s about to leave.

What’s a girl to do?

Fed up with life on Earth, Esme stows away on the spaceship taking Stella back to Planet Kratos.

So begins Esme’s adventure into a world beyond the stars. A world of strange creatures, thrilling journeys, heroic rescues, and instant fame.

Oh, and school. Lots of school.

Along the way, she discovers that friends may be greener on the other side, but they still can’t be trusted.

Millions and billions of light years away from earth, she sets in motion a plan to escape. Unfortunately for her, they aren’t about to let their prize exhibit leave anytime soon…

Purchase Links  Amazon UK  – Amazon US

My Thoughts:

When Esme has the chance to run away with her new alien friend Stella, it isn’t your usual pack your bags and thumb a lift type of runaway plan. Instead she hops onto a spaceship that takes her to a different galaxy and to the planet of Kratos.

Esme feels she is being ignored by her mum, and that her brother and sister get more attention than she does and no-one at school seems to like her much either. This is a story with feelings that a few children will be able to associate with as they grow up. Deciding her life would be better spent elsewhere, she decides to make the most of this offer of a journey. It is a journey that is the proverbial “the grass is greener on the otherside”.

There are various things I liked about this story and at times I felt there were aspects that reminded me of Roald Dahl, the names of teachers is definitely something that would appeal to younger readers. The way the shop names on Kratos were altered made me scratch my head a couple of times until the penny dropped. There are tentative steps into global warming and saving animals from extinction I thought these had been incorporated into the story well. 

Essentially the story of Esma is one of how she feels in her role within her family and also with people around her. As we know the grass is rarely greener on the other side, Esme needs to discover this for herself and experience other things. The story is told through Esma’s blog, updates of her new life, memories of her old life, realisations, and thoughts are all included and each entry is signed off in her unique style.

This is a story that has humour, heart, and morals and comes across very well. A story I think would appeal to younger readers and one I would recommend.

About the Author:

Bev Smith has been a secondary schoolteacher, saleswoman, waitress, wages clerk, youth worker, and holiday park entertainments manager. She has scuba dived the Barrier Reef, lived in a village in Namibia, worked for a charity in Thailand, flown over Victoria Falls and paddled in the sea at Bournemouth. 
Having single-parented her three daughters, she’s been ferociously playing catch up with this writing lark.  She recently completed a Masters in Writing for Children at Winchester University. #galaxygirl is her debut middle-grade book.  
SocialMedia Links – Twitter – Facebook

**Giveaway**

Giveaway –Win 2 x #galaxygirl Mugs and a signed copy of #galaxygirl (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the theRafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random viaRafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

ENTER HERE »» Rafflecopter

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Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be wonderful 🙂 xx

The Bandit Queen by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara #PublicationDay #BookReview

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I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts today on The Bandit Queen by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara. Natalia is the author and Lauren is the illustrator for The Bandit Queen. My thanks to Puffin Books for inviting me to read a copy of this book via NetGalley, my thoughts are my own.

It is published by Puffin Books in Hardback today, its available from Amazon UK.

Last year I read Hortense and The Shadow by Natalia and Lauren you can read my review HERE and buy a copy HERE

Synopsis:

“O Bandit Queen!” the bandits cried. 
“Little horror! Poison weed!
We’ll give you everything a queen could ever need…”

The bandits give their queen treasure, tigers, mischief and mayhem. But sometimes a little girl needs something more…

A book about finding family in unexpected places, from the creators of Hortense and the Shadow.

My Thoughts:

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The Bandits are a mad bunch getting up to all sorts of things such as pinching forks, shouting and crashing about until three in the morning. On one trip the Bandits steal things from an Orphan School, in one box is a baby. They care for her, spoil her, give her their version of an education and make her their Bandit Queen. She grows tired of their childish behaviour and goes to get a proper education, she then realises she misses her bunch of Bandits and they also miss her.

This is a fun read with rhyming sentences that would be great to be read out loud. At the beginning of the story there are a few onomatopoeia words, ideal for engaging a child when being read to, or for that child to sound out.

The story is engaging and while the Bandits are quite naughty they are also fun. At the end of the book there is almost a cliffhanger of sorts, it could be the end or there is the clue that there could be more to come. I like this as it is a way to encourage a child to think about what could happen next, giving them a chance to develop their own imaginative story.

The pictures in this book are fabulous, they are detailed and are relevant to each part of the story and are bright and vivid in their colour, while still holding a slightly whimsical style.

Last year I read Hortense and The Shadow by the O’Hara sisters and while that is a different style of book it does have some similarities, rhyming verse, good illustrations and a storyline that would appeal to young readers.

This is a book that I as and adult enjoyed and think would definitely appeal to readers from around 5 and up, perfect to be read aloud and one I would definitely recommend.

About the Author and Illustrator:

Natalia O’Hara (Author) 
Natalia and Lauren are two sisters from the North of England. In the daytime they edit scripts and design sets, and at night they draw and write together. As children they loved fairytales, animal fables and the stories their Polish grandmother told on snowy nights. Hortense and the Shadow is their first picture book.

Lauren O’Hara (Illustrator) 
Natalia and Lauren are two sisters from the North of England. In the daytime they edit scripts and design sets, and at night they draw and write together. As children they loved fairytales, animal fables and the stories their Polish grandmother told on snowy nights. Hortense and the Shadow is their first picture book.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

#BlogTour : #HemlockJones & The Angel of Death by Justin Carroll @WriterJustinC @annecater #BookReview

Hemlock Jones Cover

I am absolutely over the moon to have had the opportunity to read “hemlock Jones & The Angel Of Death” by Justin Carroll.  My thanks to Justin and Anne at Random Things Tours for a copy of the book and also a spot on the tour. Get your own copy from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

Ten doors down from the home of a world famous ‘consulting detective’ lives twelve-year-old Hemlock Jones, and her recently arrived housemate and unwitting companion, Edward Whitlow. Hired to ‘demystify’ the mystery of a man’s murder by a terrifying angelic spectre, Hemlock and Edward’s investigations will lead them all over Victorian London, uncovering bizarre and deadly foes, figures from Hemlock’s hidden past, and a plot to take over the city… Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death is the first of the Hemlock Jones Chronicles, a series of detective adventures for children and adults, set in Victorian London.

My Thoughts:

Hemlock Jones lives at 211B Baker Street with landlady Mrs. Figgins.  Hemlock is a “demystifier“, she takes the mystery out of a problem and works to solve it.  Edward Whitlow discovers Hemlock’s demystifying talents when he comes to lodge at the same house. When Hemlock takes on a case Edward becomes her unwitting side kick.

This is an absolutely brilliant read.  References are made to the other more well-known “Consulting Detective” and the Doctor just down the road, (I dare not mention their names as it would result in a rather serious scowl or a telling off from Hemlock). In a similar style to the previously mentioned but with twists and turns, Hemlock and Whitlow (12 years old), are determined in their own crime busting escapades.  The fearless Hemlock is undeterred in her quest, with the somewhat quite sweet and willing  Whitlow, they manage to get involved in a rather intriguing investigation.  It is exciting and fast paced,  with steam punk elements in a Victorian London setting, what is there not to love.  It has all the essential ingredients, good goodies, good baddies, deductions, suspense and it is all wrapped around a wonderful story line with characters that are engaging and fun. It had me hooked right from the out set and kept me hooked till the end.

Now I know this is aimed at children from around 8 years and up, and they will love it, but you know what, never mind the children, this grown up loved it loads 🙂  This is a book I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND to younger readers and for big kids (adults) too.  A fun-filled Victorian action adventure packed, steam punk, sleuthing, deductive, murder and mystery.  I really am looking forward to reading more in what I think will be a really exciting series and I am really impatient now for the next instalment.

About the Author:

Justin Carroll

  Ever since he stopped wanting to be a dinosaur, Justin Carroll wanted to be a writer. He graduated with a degree in English Literature and Language from King’s College, London in 2004 and now, in between writing and moonlighting in marketing for a multinational financial services company, he fritters away his time on all manner of geeky things. Shortlisted for several international short story competitions, Justin was a finalist in the 2010 British Fantasy Awards.  Follow Justin on his Website or on Twitter.

See the thoughts of other book bloggers on the tour

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Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give a share or two.  Or go and grab yourself a copy of this wonderful book, I am positive that you will not be disappointed 🙂 xx

#BookReview :Hortense and the Shadow by @oharasisters : @PuffinBooks @PenguinUKBooks

 

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“Hortense and the Shadow” by Natalia and Lauren O’Hara is available now in hardback or eBook.

As Christmas is fast approaching I decided that it was time to have a look at some children’s books, though at first a little unsure of where to start.  Then I had an email via NetGalley for this book, you may call it fate.  I call it magic!

Synopsis:

“Through the dark and wolfish woods, through the white and silent snow, lived a small girl called Hortense. Though kind and brave, she was sad as an owl because of one thing . . . Hortense hated her shadow.” A beautifully illustrated dark fairy tale that will remind you of the fables you read as a child. A treasure not to be missed.

Hortense hated her shadow. Everywhere she went, it went. Everything she did, it did. And every time night fell it grew, tall and dark and crooked.

So Hortense decided: the shadow must go! Only later, alone in the wolfish woods, she learned that a girl without a shadow is far smaller… a fairy tale about light and shadows. 

My Thoughts:

This is a beautiful book with a beautiful story.  It has an old story feel to it, when you read the bio of the authors it is obvious that old stories have been a big part of their lives. I was drawn to the artwork originally, the whimsical, delicate pastel illustrations are superb.  They manage to capture the atmosphere of the setting and the story.  The story itself is based on Hortense and her dislike of her shadow, it follows her everywhere, at night turning into a dark, creepy shadow that was scary. She manages to cut the shadow off, but can feel it’s presence, but one night it comes to her rescue.  Hortense realises her shadow is something that is an extension of herself, can make her appear taller, longer and reach further.

This is a book I would love to have read as a child, and would love to have read to my now grown up children.  It is a story with a message, is beautifully written and I loved the illustrations.

I would like to express my thanks to NetGalley and the Publishers for allowing me a copy of this eARC.  My opinions are my own and are unbiased.

About the Authors:

Natalia and Lauren are two sisters from the North of England. In the daytime they edit scripts and design sets, and at night they draw and write together. As children they loved fairy tales, animal fables and the stories their Polish grandmother told on snowy nights. Hortense and the Shadow is their first picture book.

Visit their Website or on Twitter

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Age Range: 5 – 7 years
  • Publisher: Puffin (5 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141374020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141374024
  • Purchase from Amazon UK

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked this, give it a share.  Or better still, go and buy the book.