The Worst Sleepover in the World

The Worst Sleepover in the World
Sophie Dahl and Luciano Lozano
Walker Books

Seven year old Ramona eagerly anticipates her first ever sleepover when her friend Gracie is coming to stay the night. The plan is Ramona, Gracie and Ramona’s younger sister Ruby would all sleep in the one bedroom and they’d feast at midnight on such goodies as ice-cream sundaes, chocolate buttons, pizza, doughnuts and more. But when Mum gets to hear what the sisters intend, she steps in stipulating crisps, sandwiches and popcorn. Nonetheless the sisters are super-excited and sure they’re about to host ‘the best sleepover in history’.

However when Gracie arrives announcing that she’s ‘quite fussy’, it seems things are not going to go according to plan. Gracie hates all the food she’s offered at tea time, bath time is a damp squib and then when it’s time to pack the lunchboxes for that feast, Gracie again dislikes all the food and turns her nose up at the replacements.

The sleeping arrangements are not to her liking either, and nor is the family’s stinky dog. Is there any possibility that Ramona’s mum can step in, draw on her inner resources and save the day or rather night? Moreover can she do it without upsetting her own elder daughter? And will the girls still be friends in the morning?

Definitely this is a story – a longish one for a picture book – that youngsters can relate to. Sophie Dahl’s first person telling provides lots of details about Ramona and her life, all of which we see through the young narrator’s own eyes while Luciano Lozano’s vibrant illustrations speak volumes too as they show the different events of the evening, night and following morning and both the children’s and Mum’s reactions to them. Indeed there’s lots to explore at every turn of the page.

Vive la difference! is the message that emerges strongly from this fun book.

Brilliant Ideas from Wonderful Women / Little Miss Inventor / Amazing Women Sticker Scenes

Brilliant Ideas from Wonderful Women
Aitziber Lopez and Luciano Lozano
Wide Eyed Editions

Let’s give three rousing cheers for the brilliantly inventive women behind the first car heater, the game Monopoly, disposable nappies, the dishwasher, the domestic surveillance system, Kevlar, maritime flares, non reflective glass, WIFI, one-hand operated syringes,

the submarine telescope, diagnostic tests in medicine, the life raft, windscreen wipers and the E-book.

All these ground- breaking inventions came about thanks to the work of the pioneering, creative spirit of the women featured in this book. Each one has made a significant contribution to science or technology in either the 19th or 20th century and they are each given a spread in this celebratory book.

For several of those included, the invention featured is not their only one. For instance Chicago-born Margaret A. Wilcox is credited with inventing the first washing machine in addition to the car heater discussed here; Hedy Lamarr, in addition to WIFI – surprisingly inspired by piano keys we’re told – invented Bluetooth and GPS. And, Marion O’Brien Donovan went on to invent a number of other things – dental floss, a soap dish that drained and a hanger that could hold up to 30 garments – being some of them.
It will come as no surprise to learn that these women inventors all had to overcome enormous odds to get their work patented and marketed, not least African-American Marie Van Brittan Brown the brains behind the 1966 domestic surveillance system; indeed she (and her husband) weren’t successful in marketing their system although many others made fortunes inspired by the original patent.

Maria Beasley inventor of the life raft did not have her invention taken seriously until the disastrous Titanic sinking. Maria’s life rafts were on the liner but not in sufficient numbers to save everyone.

All this fascinating information and more is included in scientist Aitziber Lopez’s inspiring book.

I love the way, illustrator Luciano Lozano has cleverly incorporated both the inspiration for, and use of each invention, into his amusing spreads.

This is a book I’d certainly want to have in my KS1/early KS2 classroom as well as recommending it for families who want to celebrate with the children, the achievements of women, and that should be every family.

Little Miss Inventor
Adam Hargreaves

Adam Hargreaves (son of Roger) has created a new Little Miss and who wouldn’t love a book with a young female inventor?

Little Miss Inventor has a brain brimming over with good ideas; ideas that she transforms into inventions in her garden shed. Her self-imagined, self-built mobile house is chock-full of her awesome inventions and she loves to create useful things for her friends as well as herself.

One day however, her brain power is tested to the limit: she needs to make Mr Rude a birthday present; but what can one give to a person who hurls insults at everyone he meets. Can she think of something appropriate and if so what could it be?

Feminist power with a STEM theme and a laugh out loud finale for your little ones.

Amazing Women Sticker Scenes
illustrated by Isabel Muñoz
Red Shed

This book contains ten illustrated backdrops  by Isabel Muñoz that include basic key information about ten women who have made in their own fields, significant contributions to society through their achievements in aviation, girls’ rights to education, science, literature, sport, women’s rights and architecture.

In addition there are six pages of stickers to add to the relevant scenes. This could be a good way to introduce the numerous sticker-mad youngsters to these wonderful women.

Amazing Information Books

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Nina (who does like snakes) enjoying the book.

I Don’t Like Snakes
Nicola Davies and Luciano Lozano
Walker Books
On a visit to Kerala (India) a couple of years back I was beguiled by the resident naturalist into showing the local housekeeping staff that there was nothing to fear from the snakes that were found in the grounds and occasionally found their way into the guest cottages. There I was inwardly quaking and having what looked to me a huge snake dangled about my person.

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So, the girl narrator of this wonderful orphidiological extravaganza has my sympathies when she declares, “I really, really, REALLY don’t like snakes!” to her incredulous family members who immediately counter her statement with “WHY?
Every reason she proffers is met with an informative rejoinder that serves to weaken her case; and it isn’t long before her protestations about slithering, icky, slimy skin or flicky tongue have fueled her interest in their sidewinding, twining or flying methods of locomotion, their wonderful mosaic patterned, renewable skins

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and the scent-smelling organ used in locating their prey. Oh and those staring eyes are so informative about their hunting habits too.

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We really know she’s been won over however, when having turned to a large book, our narrator informs her brother about the reproductive habits of snakes

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and finally says – well what do you think?
My subsequent real-life experiences with snakes certainly haven’t won me round but I have to admit that the book has gone some way towards so doing. Davies’ chatty, gently humorous narrative style and Luciano Lozano’s superb illustrations of both human and reptilian characters work so well together. The combination of almost cartoon-like humans and zoologically accurate snake drawings together with the differing type-faces used for the text is enormously effective.A must buy for budding zoologists and for the primary school library.

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Surprising Sharks
Nicola Davies and James Croft
Walker Books pbk
Sharks come in all shapes and sizes, the smallest being not much larger than a bar of chocolate and comparatively few of them have attacked humans. And, did you know that ‘Sand tiger sharks give birth to just two live young— which is all that’s left after those two have eaten the other six babies in their mother’s belly.’
These are just a few of the interesting facts youngsters can discover between the covers of this highly readable, gently humorous re-issue.

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Mick Manning and Brita Granström
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books pbk
This inviting book, published in association with the Natural History Museum, features ten dinosaurs, each having a double spread within which the creature – illustrated in watercolour- introduces itself with a rhyme telling of its dietary habits alongside which is an inset of additional information including name pronunciation, size and geological dating. One of the Brachiosaurus spreads (it has two because it’s so long) includes details about its poo too;

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I didn’t know that fossil poos are called coprolites before I read it here. The book also includes a time line and glossary. A fascinating book for young addicts and one that will likely kindle an interest in those new to the subject.
Equally fascinating and informative and from the same team is

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Woolly Mammoth
In this one, mammoth narrator, gentle giant and ‘veggie warrior with bull-neck power’ takes readers back to the ice-age when these huge shaggy beasts roamed free, sometimes hunted by hungry wolves, bears or hyenas and sometimes by humans.
Both titles would make excellent additions to a family or primary school collection.

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