Category Archives: Book review

Book Review – There’s Only One Kind of Duck

Title: There’s Only One Kind of Duck

Written and Illustrated by: Heather Kilgour

Published by: Heather Kilgour

there's only one kind of duck

This creative non-fiction book encompasses some fascinating, eye-opening facts about ducks within the story of Lee and Alex who are going to the pond to feed the ducks.

Alex insists there is only one kind of duck, but Lee knows better. The author – illustrator, Heather Kilgour, introduces us to a multitude of different species of duck, consolidated by an ingenious duck fact file in the last three spreads. This charming picture book was inspired by the Wetlands Centre in Barnes, London.

Heather’s passion for conservation shines like a beacon on every page. Her superb illustrations demonstrate each duck’s uniqueness and diversity. A duck is simply not just a duck. There are so many different species, that live in different habitats with very different diets. There’s Only One Kind of Duck, carries a very important message for children and their parents – ducks should not eat bread. It makes them ill and pollutes the water.

This book would make the ideal educational gift for your budding conservationist.

“This is a story of diversity that will open your child’s eyes to the richness of the natural world.” Heather Kilgour

It would also provide an excellent introduction into conservation and caring for animals in their natural environment and be used in the classroom to support a topic on animals and their habitats.

To find out more about Heather Kilgour and her illustrations visit her website:


Book Review – Is it a Mermaid?

Title: Is it a Mermaid?

Written by: Candy Gourlay

Illustrated by: Francesca Chessa

Published by: Otter-Barry Books

is it a mermaid

This book is full of interesting facts about the dugong and its history. Bel and Benji meet a dugong whilst playing on a beach in the Philippines. The dugong insists she is a mermaid. Bel is swept away by her imagination and instantly believes this. After all, in Malay the word for mermaid is ‘duyong’. Benji is harder to convince. He does not believe in mermaids and tells the dugong she is nothing but a Sea Cow. Understandably, this upsets the dugong. It is lucky that mermaids are so forgiving. By the end of the book even the most sceptic reader will believe in mermaids.

The story is enhanced by Francesca Chessa’s beautiful Monet-style illustrations. The colours take you on a journey through time, from the morning, to midday and then the glorious sunset and finally the deep blues of twilight when they have to pack up their fun day on the beach to go home. Even the end pages are illustrated as part of the story.

On the surface the themes of Is it a Mermaid? are friendship and kindness but this book carries a deeper message about how the dugong’s habitat of seagrass is under threat.

“They have been listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation and Natural Resources (IUCN).” Candy Gourlay

Seagrass are flowering plants that live in shallow sheltered areas along coastlines all over the world. They are different from seaweed, have bright green leaves and are very important for the biodiversity around our planet.

  • Seagrass meadows act as a natural sea defence by trapping sediment and slowing down currents and waves.
  • They provide a home for many baby fish, including Cod, Plaice and Pollack around our shores.
  • Seagrass meadows absorb and store large amounts of carbon and are vital in the fight against climate change.
  • They absorb nutrients, pollutants and bacteria and help to keep our coastal waters clean.”

Project Seagrass

In the British Isles there is over 22,000 hectares of seagrass that is threatened by pollution and human damage such as boat propellers and chain moorings that can hinder its ability to produce new growth. Two species of seahorse depend on shrimp which inhabit the British Isles seagrass meadows and cuttlefish lay their eggs in these underwater fields.

I love the fact that Candy Gourlay ends the book with this educational message and points readers in the direction of an app called SeagrassSpotter designed by the charity Project Seagrass.

“SeagrassSpotter is a conservation, monitoring and education tool to help us better understand seagrass meadows around our coat.

By using SeagrassSpotter and becoming a Citizen Scientist with Project Seagrass, you can help us learn more about the seagrass meadows in your area, so that together, we can protect them.” Project Seagrass

This book would be ideal to use in the classroom to support work on habitats and conservation.

Is it a Mermaid? is a book to treasure.

To find out more about Candy Gourlay and her books visit or follow her on Twitter @candygourlay and Instagram @candygourlay

To find out more about Francesca Chessa and her illustrations visit  or follow her on Instagram @hollysredboots and Twitter @hollyredboots

To find out more about Project Seagrass visit

To find out more about the app SeagrassSpotter visit or search in the App Store or Google Play.

Book Review – The Salvation Project

Title: The Salvation Project

Written by: Stewart Ross

Published by: Blean Books

salvation project

A fast-paced, exciting dystopian set in a world with no adults. This novel is the conclusion to the Soterion Mission trilogy where a very contagious mini-flu mutated everyone’s DNA, accelerating the ageing process so the human race only live a few weeks after their nineteenth birthday. A scary but brilliant concept. This young adult novel is full of tension and emotion.

With no education and no technology, the population split into two fractions: Zeds and Constants. The narrative unfolds into an emotional roller-coaster of totally believable reactions to such an apocalyptic disaster. A skilful and commendable modern version of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies with hints of Mad Max.

The characters are heart-wrenchingly realistic but coming into the story at the last book I couldn’t help feeling I was missing something. Stuart Ross does provide a very comprehensive ‘previously…’ prologue but I would recommend reading all three books in order to get the full impact of the story and all its complexities.

The haunting ending hits home as it encompasses the fundamental truth that resistance to change is human nature. As with all good books, I was thinking about the conclusion and the character’s struggles to get there, long after the book was finished.

Book Review – The Poo that Animals Do

Title: The Poo that Animals Do

Written by: Paul Mason

Illustrated by: Tony DeSaulles

Published by: Wayland

The Poo that Animals Do

Are jellyfish smelly fish? What does it mean if a rhino kicks up a stink? How can elephant poo fuel a house? Find out many fascinating facts about animal poo, from modern day use to funny animal habits.

This is an innovative and informative book that will catch the eye of even the most reluctant reader. The Poo that Animals Do is full of exceptional snippets and fun facts all about different animal’s poo. The illustrations compliment the facts perfectly and add their own touch of humour.

There are three things I challenge the reader NOT to do when they flick through the pages of this book:

  1. I challenge you NOT to laugh;
  2. I challenge you NOT to hunt for the poo;
  3. I challenge you NOT to learn something.

A child may pick this book up because they think it is fun, silly or even a little bit naughty and they may spend their whole time giggling whilst they read, but when they finally put the book down they really will definitely have learnt something. It may be whether or not jellyfish poo, or how poo is used as camouflage, or even what humans use poo for. What they do with these impressive facts, I’ve no idea!

I believe this is an essential book for class book corners all over the world.

This book review was previously published on the online Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine.


Book Review – The Hurting

Title: The Hurting

Written by: Lucy van Smit

Cover and interior design by: Helen Crawford White

Published by: Chicken House

the hurting

The Hurting is the compelling story of revenge and the desire for independence. This young adult Scandinavian noir thriller that will have you turning the pages to devour more. The protagonist Nell has a sister called Harper who has leukaemia. Nell is her main carer as their mother left and their father is an alcoholic. They have moved away from their home in Manchester to live in Norway, so Harper can go to the world centre for epigenetics in hope of being able to turn off the cancer gene causing her atypical leukaemia. At first, I was shocked at Harper’s behaviour and manipulation of her sister but on reflection I realised this really does reflect the reality of sibling relationships that many books fail to convey.

All the characters and their motivations are realistic. Nell always puts her sister’s needs before her own at the expense of applying to Brit school and realising her own dreams of becoming a singer, song-writer. Her life is on hold until her sister can miraculously get better. When she meets Lukas Svad, the adopted heir to a Norwegian oil fortune, she decides to take a chance and run away from her life just like her mother had, or so she thinks.

Lukas is able to manipulate Nell – just like her sister – using love as a weapon. In his grey-blue wolf skin coat he immortalises the dark and dangerous wolf-boy. Together they kidnap Ulv Pup and embark on a soul-wrenching adventure through the Norwegian mountains, stalked by wolves. The novel is full of lyrical prose and descriptions that evoke dramatic images of the Norwegian mountains and fjord backdrop in such a way the whole area takes on a menacing character of its own, foreshadowing the events to come. In the end, after many bad decisions, Nell learns the truth about Lukas, her mother and the baby.

Lucy van Smit’s debut novel is full of twists and turns fuelled by the need to feel loved.

Book Review – The Adventures of your Brain

Title: The Adventures of your Brain

Written by: Dan Green

Illustrated by: Sean Sims

Published by: Macmillan

The Adventures of your Brain

The Adventures of your Brain is an ingenious, interactive lift-the-flap book by Dan Green. It has flaps hidden beneath flaps, wheels, pull-tabs and pop-ups to fire up every child’s imagination. Jam-packed full of tiny details to explain complex issues in an easy to understand fashion. There is an over-riding theme of everyone being unique, which would make an ideal discussion in the classroom.

It is a book you can return to again and again and learn something new each time. Dan Green displays his excellent scientific knowledge in a clever and succinct way. Children will discover fascinating facts and all about the intriguing intricacies of the human brain whilst having fun.

Utterly brilliant.

This book review was previously published on the online Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine.

Book Review – Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Title: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Retold and illustrated by: Marcia Williams

Published by: Walker Books

Chaucer_s Canterbury Tales

This is an innovative picture book that deserves a mention in the book review slot of my blog. Geoffrey Chaucer’s colourful characters are bought magically to life by Marcia William’s witty comic-book style. She transports the reader back to Medieval England to join Chaucer and his merry band of pilgrims on their journey back to Canterbury. Enjoy their amazing tales and judge for yourself who should win the best story competition.

The tales have been captured by Marcia William’s ingenious comic-strips, which are full of action and humour. This re-telling of a great classic in picture book format, is best suited for the older KS2 child and would be a great asset for those studying Chaucer up to GCSE level.

This fantastic picture book includes all nine of Chaucer’s tales in the correct order – the knight, the miller, the reeve, the wife of Bath, the summoner, the clerk, the franklin, the pardoner and the nun’s priest. Even the most reluctant reader wouldn’t be able to resist exploring the pictures and reading aloud the olde English to gain a fuller understanding of the story’s meaning.