Tag: Children’s

Sweaty and Pals Smile by Mac Black

4 and half 1

Sweaty and pals Smile is the third instalment of the ‘Sweaty’ trilogy, with Sweaty and Pals being the first and Sweaty and Pals Again the second. Much in the same vein as the first two books, there is good clean fun between Derek and his faithful pals.

Sweaty and Pals Smile

In this book, Derek and his pals have all moved up a school year, with Derek and Curly having a new teacher, if only for a short time before getting yet another new teacher! The lovable old characters are all still there – smarty-pants Alison Brown and cross Mr Murdoch, as well as new-comers along the road, twins Nicole and Tiffany. There’s fun with teams of trolley racers organised by the local supermarket, Bisko’s, and a girly birthday party which the boys have to suffer!

This lovely paperback by Mac Black is well written with perfect length chapters for children’s bedtime which are complete little stories in themselves. Young children will love the realistic and funny tales of school days, taking photographs and shopping at the supermarket. The pages are liberally littered with wonderful and often amusing illustrations.

Mac Black


Mac Black’s website

Mac Black’s Amazon author profile







Walls by Emma Fischel

Four Stars

Review by Alice

When his parents separate, Ned Harrison Arkle-Smith is less than impressed with their ingenious plan to divide the family home into two – a mum side and a dad side. They hope this will help everyone cope better with the split, but Ned is furious, hating the walls and the changes they make to his much-loved home. As if this is not change enough, his best friend is acting strangely and a new girl has discovered his special place.


Narrated by Ned, Walls introduces us to and explores some of the emotional experiences of divorce through his eyes living with his two sisters, and his parents who have decided that they can no longer continue to live together. However there’s a slight twist to their living arrangements . . . as they continue not to live strictly ‘together’. The book teaches kids a lesson in friendship in a way they can relate to more than if their parents tell them what’s wrong and what’s right. A fun and intriguing concept that readers will delight in.

In my opinion Walls is aimed at children in primary school because a lot of the story is teaching children lessons in how to cope with friendships that might upset them.



Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster


Four Stars

Review by Alice

Esme is a fifteen-year-old girl who lost her mother at the age of eight.  Everyone else seems to have moved on, thinking that Ariane was lost at sea, so why can’t Esme?  But, Esme doesn’t lose hope, she goes searching for her mother to a world full of wonder and magic.
Esme's Wish

Esme’s wish is a book, that showcases the importance of family and trust. This book is very good although it would be even better if we found out a little more about Aaron, Esme’s father, I think it would make the story more interesting.

I think this book is for young adults but is  appropriate for eleven-year-olds and above.






Elizabeth Foster


Elizabeth Foster’s website

Elizabeth Foster’s Amazon profile






Sweaty and Pals Again by Mac Black

4 and half 1

Review by Angela

This is a lovely follow on from Sweaty and Pals. The main theme is fun and adventure for Derek (Sweaty) and his five pals. The style of writing, the length of chapters and the illustrations are very much like the original book and reading it felt very much like carrying on a school year later with more adventures of the Blytheton Road Gang.

Sweaty & Pals Again

The familiar characters we loved are still there, Gran, Grandad and the children’s favourite teacher, Miss Taylor, as well as the rather grumpy neighbour, Mr Murdoch. There are plenty of newcomers too with a couple of girls showing their faces to this all boys gang.

The chapters are just the right length to read one at bedtime and each chapter is a complete short story in itself. Young children will love the realistic tales of birthday parties, trips to the zoo on a bus and making the best of a rainy day inside. The illustrations are lovely and simple and depict the story perfectly.



Red by Libby Gleeson

4 and half 1

Reviewed by Alice.

Red tells the story of a girl who wakes up with no memory and only a single word uttering from her mouth, jay-martin.  After a cyclone destroys her city, a boy named Peri finds her, and as she does not know her own name, nicknames her Red.  Red’s only possession is a locket, a locket full of secrets.  Can Red find out the truth about her past? Can she take the secrets to where they must be revealed?


Red is a fantastic book, it shows an example of the independence of a teenager and how self-sufficient they can be. This book is very different to any children’s book I have ever read. I love how the story has many twists and turns – you never know what is coming round the corner.

There is never a dull moment in Red, it can keep you captivated for hours on end!

It is suitable for ages from nine to thirteen. Libby Gleeson mostly writes children’s books so she is

accustomed to writing for all ages under eighteen.




Jungle Kings & Awesome Kindness

Authors Nancy King & Mary Jo Sterling and Illustrations by Cora Hays

Five Stars

Review by Angela

Jungle Kings

Jungle Kings is book one of a mini children’s series in which virtues, morals and friendship are the main theme. An enchanting story of an elephant calf, Bentley, who meets a lion cub, Carson, and they become friends and playmates. The parent and other adult elephants and lions are a different story, but the depth of friendship of the baby animals rubs off onto the adults.

Awesome Kindness

Awesome Kindness is a story of three zebras, two who are kind and playful and one who is bad tempered and a little bit mean. The two kind ones overlook the temper and meanness and still ask him to play with them. The story is a gentle way of letting children see how to overcome being bad tempered and join play with others without feeling embarrassed, and equally, being friendly towards someone who isn’t always nice.

The illustrations in both books are absolutely beautiful. They are full of colour and emotion and really add to the story, in fact they almost tell the story. Cora Hays is truly talented.

One thing about this book which I’ve not seen in young children’s books before is that certain words are printed in orange or blue. At the back of the book there is a Word Power page for the blue words, a bit like a dictionary for children, and Turning A Phrase for the orange words, which explains phrases like ‘time flies’, ‘butterfly kisses’ and ‘living in harmony’.

The second book in the series, Awesome Kindness, isn’t a story which follows on but is a continuation of jungle animals and their friendship. Each book can be read independently and in either order.


Joyful Trouble by Patricia Furstenberg


Review by Angela

Ana and Tommy, aged 9 and 5, are staying with their grandparents. Their grandfather is telling them a story of ‘Trouble’, a Great Dane dog who was signed up to join the Navy – and this is based on a true story – yes, really! This reality made the story for me. I must admit that it’s not the most gripping of children’s stories, but knowing that there was an element of reality and truth to the story, it gave additional intrigue. Trouble, later to be named Joyful Trouble, is a big slobbery dog who loves to hang around with the seamen of Simon’s Town near Cape Town. Being such a lovable dog he was adopted as ‘one of their own’ by the seamen and travelled, slept and ate with them.

Joyful Trouble

The two children are lovely to hear about, especially inquisitive and spirited 5 year old Tommy, and the dialogue presents polite, well spoken children.  The grandfather is with the children for the whole of the time in the book so there is always adult talk and guidance. The grandmother is fairly stereo-typical, cooking, feeding the children and preparing picnics etc., but an obvious stable character for children.

For UK readers, just be aware that this is written by in South African English and is, at times, a little strange to our ears.