Books We Are Loving – March 2021

You can find all the other Books We Are Loving so far here.

100 Things to Know About Planet Earth (Usborne)

100 Things to Know about Planet Earth is packed full of information about the weather, animals, natural events, natural hazards, and wonders of the world. My geography and nature loving 8 year old and I worked our way through this book over the winter, and it was really great. Good enough that when we give the book back to the library, I’m going to pick up a copy for us to own. There was enough information to feel like you had learnt something whenever you read a page or two, and also enough to be able to look up more information online (like we did when we read about the bright blue lava that flows from the Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia.) We had some great conversations of the back of it. I’m looking forward to us reading more from this series. I’ll keep you posted.

Maker Comics – Grow A Garden

I’m a big fan of the Maker Comics series and I reviewed their Draw a Comic book here back in June 2020. Grow a Garden is just as good, following a group of gnomes who have gone to a school to learn how to grow things. There are mysteries uncovered, a gnome superhero in their midst, and plenty of learning how to be a gardener along the way. This is a series that doesn’t overly simplify things – if you follow their activites you’ll be tracking light levels and analysing soil, as well as growing plants from seed, hardening them off before getting them into the ground, and helping them grow big and strong. These are books we tend to read through together, and while my kids are less likely to pick them up off their own bat if there is fiction around to choose instead, they are good, fun, informative reads that are worth refering back to later if you need to, and I’m glad we have them.

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay

I don’t think I ruin this book for you if I tell you that The Time of Green Magic is literally Cave Art fan fiction. (As someone who wrote a story off the back of visiting the Bayeux Tapestry when I was 11, I felt very at home.) Basically a blended family move into a new home, and weird things happen. It’s a story that is more about the relationships than the magical happenings, and we really enjoyed it. I have yet to read a Hilary McKay book that isn’t brimming full of heart, and this one is no exception. A proper ‘oh come on mum, just one more chapter!’ book.

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott

My Miss Eight is crazy about dragons. We’re blitzing through all of the dragon books and series we can lay our hands on but there are not as many age-appropriate ones as we would like. Dragons in a Bag has, well, dragons but also magic. And the story is set in modern day Brooklyn with a young male protagonist and an ensemble of multicultural/blended family primary and secondary characters. The setting and characters helped us feel like magic is not something reserved for special people, places or times. You might just find it in a mint tin at the bottom of Ma’s bag.

It was a really enjoyable read aloud, but a word of warning – it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger! We’re looking forward to reading The Dragon Thief.

Who Let the Gods Out by Maz Evans

We listened to Who Let the Gods Out on Audible and I’m glad I opted for the Audiobook. I chose the audiobook because there are four books in the series and if we enjoyed the first I knew I wouldn’t be able to go the distance. Start as you mean to go on and all that. I’m so glad though because Maz narrates the novel and her voices for all of her different characters are brilliant. The dialogue is the best part of this book and kept my kids in stitches throughout. Seriously, if you’re looking for a good example of dialogue in your English lessons, this is a great choice.

Otherwise, the story was interesting enough to keep us chugging along, even if it felt longer than it needed to be. Mister Eleven has always been a fan of mythology and Who Let the Gods Out brings the Greek gods crashing back to modern-day England to save Earth and also Elliot who is caring for his mum with dementia whilst trying to keep it all a secret. The dementia bits are really well done. But there is also a lot about school life and exams which just didn’t resonate with my children at all. In fact, of the two teachers who feature in this story, one is vindictive (which is rather scary) and one is a completely ineffective wet blanket (not especially reassuring). You really do get the feeling Elliot has the weight of the world on his shoulders and no one to look out for him until some rusty gods fall back to Earth. I’m grateful the dialogue was so hilarious as to balance the novel’s depressing premise.

What books are you enjoying this month?

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