King of Shadows

King Of Shadows is a book about an american boy called Nat Feild who goes to London to perform Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Globe Theatre, while he is there he gets sent back in time to Elizabethan London where he is to peform Midsummer’s Night Dream with Shakespeare himself.

Despite the book not being as action packed as many I still liked this book because it got you wondering what would happen next.  I also liked the detail when it came to describing Elizabethan London and the way the people talked back then. Although I enjoyed it I imagine many people would not like it as it was a bit slow to get to the really interesting bits.

Machine Gunners review

The Machine Gunners is a book set in WW2 Britain about a group of kids  who find a German machine gun. They build a fortress in the garden of bombed house and use the machine gun to try and shoot down German planes. when a German plane is shot down the rear gunner lands and is found by the children. He is captured and he helps them build up the fortress. When a technical glitch in the home guards systems send the message the invasion has started the children head to the fortress and the German tries to escape on a boat. It turns out the invasion was a false alarm and the German returns but is shot. So the the children stop seeing each other and the story ends.

I liked this book a lot as it had a good storyline and interesting characters. The way it was portrayed made it seem like it was a proper community. All in all a very good book.

Just So Stories

Just So Stories is a collection of short stories about animals, the stories are usually about how animals got certain features. I enjoy these stories as they are quite silly and very funny. They are quite easy to read and the stories are very short so  you can get through a lot in one sitting. My favourite story  is the one about how Armidillos were created.


Melusine is a book written by Lynne Reed Banks.

It is about a boy called Roger and his family who go on hoiday to an old, decaying chateau. He meets the daughter of the chateau owner and they become friends. The chateau owners daughter is called Melusine. As Roger’s relationship with Melusine continues he realises that something is wrong. He suspects that Melusine’s father – Monsieur Serpe – is abusing Melusine.

One night he realises that Melusine can turn into a snake. When he and his dad explore a tunnel they found near the chateau they end up inside a tower that was locked away from the rest of the chateau and find a weird shrine. When Monsieur Serpe finds them trespassing and tries to shoot them Melusine comes in snake form and attacks her father causing him to fall out a window. Roger and his family head for home bringing Melusine with them but they crash and Melusine disappears. After looking for Melusine they find her back at the Chateau, safe and sound.

I liked this book a lot, it was a bit long but it was made up for by its ability to always make you wonder what happened next. This book did not have any fighting or wars or big exciting events so it may not appeal to some but I liked it anyway.

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist starts off with a young boy called Oliver Twist being stuck in a workhouse when his mother died giving birth to him. One day he asks for more food at dinner and he gets locked in a room for a couple of days, he is then sold to a coffin maker. The coffin makers son insults his mother so he beats him up and after being locked away he runs away and flees to London. He meets a group of criminals but does not know they are criminals until he sees them steal a handkerchief. After he sees them steal a handkerchief he attempts to flee the seen but the man who was robbed sees him running and think he stole the handkerchief. He is chased, caught and taken to the police station. He is released and taken to a rich mans house after he is taken ill, he is looked after there and is happy. He goes to run an errend in London and is kidnapped by the robbers he fled. He is kept there and starts to fit in as he sees nobody else. He is involved in the robbery of a house but is shot when he is found by the house owners. he is left in a ditch by the two other robbers who were with him. He is taken in by the family he had to rob and is happy again. He meets the old family he was with and they decide to figure out his origins. They gain information from one of the criminals but she is killed when she is found out. The families find out more about Oliver when one of the criminals confesses, some of the criminals are chased and one dies after accidently hanging himself attempting to escape from police. the families find out Olivers origins and then reveal it with some criminals present and witnesses.

I really liked this book as it had an amazing storyline but it was a bit confusing at times.

Stay at home Tuesday (not going far Weds)

We’re struggling even more this week than last time I complained, the old hayfever nightmare.  You name it we try it, alternative and regular therapies.  At best they take the edge off.  Sam spent Monday night in my bed whimpering every time I got near to dropping off because his throat is so sore, bless him.  Last night was better but not much.  My throat hurts too and have a muzzy, sinus blocked, sleep deprived head.  I’m not a fan of summer.

It’s a tricky time of year.  We could do with school holidays starting now, with the necessary change in routine Jack being about brings, the hiatus from home ed activities and other clubs and ideally a prolonged break away.  We could down tools and have a break at home but in reality I know that it would lead to too long a break and cause more problems in the long run than it solves in the short term.  Voice of experience here!  The ideal would be a half way house, that Sam would get completely engaged in a project of his own interest and we’d just go with that.  But he’s completely unmotivated.

We’ll muddle through, we always do.  Hopefully a few weeks of a few trips away from home will help rejuvenate us (assuming of course plans aren’t scuppered by rail strike). Looking for positives I don’t get a crisis of confidence any more.  I know full well that it is external factors upsetting our balance and by September we’ll be cruising again.  I also know what doesn’t work for us when we hit this block (well lots of things that don’t work, I’m sure there are more to discover) and am getting better at finding what does.

General grumble aside, the days aren’t a total right off.  There are always rays of sunshine.

Sam has spent a lot of time this last week or so on live Mathletics.  In the past he has always stuck to the first couple of levels which were well with in his comfort zone.  He has however with encouragement gone up to level 3 which is probably about right – 3/4 being his level.  Today he has been playing level 5 and actually doing a very competent job.  But it was the change in attitude from a year ago or even a month that astounded me.  He tells me that he’s addicted to level 5 as it is “a proper challenge and sometimes he even gets two wrong and it is not like level 2 where he only makes mistakes from trying to type too fast!” Wonder where my little perfectionist who would wobble and strop when he didn’t get 100% and refuse to try again went?

I’m doing a FutureLearn course on Propaganda and Ideology which is really interesting.  Motivated by that and current politics I dug out a book on Human Rights I’d bought a while ago.  It’s a real beauty, covers the articles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights as a picture book illustrated by famous illustrators.  Gave rise to lots of discussion.  Will hopefully find the motivation to follow up (I’ve put a post full of links on the FB page if anyone is interested).

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We’ve also been doing some more hands on maths but the camera appears to have gone awol (presumably it is in Jack’s room) so something to come back to.  A bit of charity shop, skate park, seeing Grandad pottering.  I’ve tried to interest him in some computer programming with only limited success.  We continue on the Rainforest reading.



Our Favourite Christmas Books

Sam has always been a why? how? that doesn’t make sense… sort of child.  Christmas and the ‘magic’ around it has always baffled him a bit.  I get the impression that he has always wanted to believe but never really has.

He used to struggle with the whole idea of fiction.  He understood the idea of it not being true but didn’t really get why people would bother with it if it wasn’t true.  He’s always preferred fact based books.

About 4 years ago I started looking for book dealing with the science of Father Christmas, after a search I came across this one in a little book shop on the IOW and instantly fell in love.


It is a truly beautiful book.  Not only is it beautifully illustrated but the content is amazing.  Presented as a non-fiction book it comes up with some wonderfully inventive ways to explain some of the trickier aspects of Christmas magic.

My favourite parts are the explanation of some of the equipment fitted on to the sleigh and the revelation that the Northern Lights are the elves having a disco.

Its a perfect blend of fact and fantasy, after all the best fiction has an element of truth and believability.   4 years on Sam still picks it up all year round.

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Copies have been hard to get (although Amazon now has copies) and for a couple of years I have been trying to source a copy as a present.  Having found it on Amazon, I found a companion.


Not as good as Santa Claus but still very, very good and comes with an Elf Diploma.  Lovely books for children outgrowing the 100’s of Christmas story books.

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